Een bezoek aan het Koninklijk Paleis in Bangkok staat bovenaan de wensenlijst van elke bezoeker. Het werd gebouwd in 1782 door Koning Rama I, die Bangkok benoemde tot nieuwe hoofdstad van Thailand. Het paleis was vervolgens 150 jaar lang de thuisbasis van het koninklijk huis.
De prachtige gebouwen op het terrein tonen de smaak en de tijdsgeest van de opvolgende koninklijk leiders. Hoewel de huidige (en langst regerende) monarch van Thailand, Koning Bhumibol Adulyadej nooit in het Koninklijk Paleis heeft gewoond, wordt het ook nu nog gebruikt voor officiële en feestelijke gelegenheden. Op het terrein is Phra Kaew Morakot, het grootste heiligdom van Thailand, te vinden met daarbij de tempel Wat Phra Kaeo. Dit intens vereerde Boeddhabeeld is gemaakt uit één stuk jadegesteente en dateert uit de 15de eeuw. Om echt alles uit je bezoek te halen, kun je het best een gids inhuren, die alles kan vertellen over het Koninklijk Paleis en de kleurrijke geschiedenis.
Wiang Kum Kam is an ancient “lost city” located on the banks of the Mae Ping River. It was founded in the 13th century by King Mangrai and was the royal capital prior to Chiang Mai. Wiang Kum Kam was abandoned in the 16th century due to flooding, and was only rediscovered in 1984.
Wiang Kum Kam has been partly restored to its former glory and visitors can tour the ruins of ancient temples and see the carved stone tablets unearthed by archaeologists. Some of the sites have plaques with information in English and guides are available for hire.
For a crash course in the history of Chiang Mai, pay a visit to the Arts & Cultural Centre in the heart of the old city. Using a mixture of labeled artifacts, audio recordings, photographs, and life-size dioramas, the centre’s multimedia exhibits take you on a journey from Chiang Mai’s ancient past as the Lanna Kingdom to its present as a modern, cosmopolitan city. Topics include royalty, religion, agriculture, and hill tribe people. There are also subtitled videos about the history of Chiang Mai that you can watch in air-conditioned comfort.
In addition, the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre serves as a venue for special exhibits and cultural events. Enquire with the staff about upcoming events like dance or music performances.
The Chao Phraya River (or Mae Nam Chao Phraya) runs north to south through Thailand, whose most notable and densely populated cities lie along the river's main tributary.
In Bangkok, the Chao Phraya is a major transportation artery. A vast network of ferries and water taxis, known as long tails, ferry locals and tourists up and down the river, connecting with the city's main sights. For many, these boats are the preferred way of getting around Bangkok, whose streets are often choked with traffic.
Several boat lines compete for business on the river and its canals and you’ll find variations in price and distance traveled. If you start at Tha Sathon (accessible via sky train at Saphan Taksi), you'll chug sedately past (or be able to disembark at) Chinatown, Wat Arun, Wichai Prasit Fort and the Grand Palace. There’s no denying it - the Chao Phraya is a murky and sometimes smelly river, but even a short boat trip along it gives you a fresh perspective on the city.
A major destination among travelers in Bangkok, The Marble Palace is aptly named for its design, which is entirely made from Italian marble. Completed in 1911, the temple is the home of the golden Buddhist statue called Phra Buddhajinaraja and is still a live shrine, often filled with patrons who make offerings or light candles inside.
Buried beneath the statue is said to be the ashes of King Chulalongkorn and outside the main shrine in the gallery are more than 50 statues of Buddha depicted by several different cultures and variations of Buddhism in the region.
Located near to the Dusit Palace, the spacious complex on Si Ayudhya Road is built on the site of an older temple and was once used as the headquarters of Thai troops fighting against the Laotian army.
Also known as the Don-Rak War Cemetery, the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery commemorates victims of the building of the Burma Railway during World War II.
Located on Saeng Chuto Road, the main road of the city of Kanchanaburi, the cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and contains the graves of Australian, British and Dutch POWs who were forced into labor by the Japanese, who controlled the area at the time of the Burma Railway construction. A nearby privately funded museum, the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum, contains interactive displays describing the history of the railway and the prisoners who died building it. The city of Kanchanaburi is easily accessed by rail and bus from Bangkok, and the war cemetery is located about a 5 minutes walk from the city's main station. The central Bangkok railway station has trips to the Burma Railway and stops to let visitors view the cemetery.
If you’ve ever wanted to chat to a Buddhist monk, pull up a chair at Wat Chedi Luang. As you enter the wat from Th Phra Pokkao, turn right and you’ll see some tables under a sign reading ‘Monk Chat.’
The partially ruined wat dates back to the year 1441, and is most famous as the former home of the incredible Emerald Buddha. Nowadays, a jade replica fills the eastern niche of Wat Chedi Luang, and you can see the original in Bangkok at the Wat Phra Kaew.
Wat Chedi Luang has undergone a restoration program, which has added several Buddha images, porticoes and statues.
If you only see one temple during your time in Chiang Mai, Wat Phra Singh (also known as Wat Phra Sing Waramahawihan) should be it. Set in the heart of the old city, the temple was founded in 1345 and is home to Chiang Mai’s most sacred relic – the Phra Singh (Lion Buddha image).
The temple consists of many buildings, but the most spectacular is the golden wihan that houses the Phra Singh. Look for classic Lanna architectural features like the three-tiered roof, white chedi with an octagonal base, and lion statues guarding the entrance. It is possible to go inside to see the Buddha statue, just remember to remove your shoes first. Wat Phra Singh is an active temple and lucky visitors may see chanting monks or a blessing ceremony. Many novice monks study here and are happy to practice their English by sitting and chatting with tourists in the temple gardens.
Coral Island, or Koh Larn, is a picture-postcard island off the coast of Pattaya. The popular day-trip destination is set up for underwater diving in the surrounding coral, glass-bottom boat tours and beachfront relaxing at one of several beaches on the island.
Activities like sea-kayaking and parasailing are also catered for, and buffet lunches are served on the sand.
Tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog in 1943 gebruikte het Japanse leger dwangarbeiders, zowel Geallieerde krijgsgevangenen als Aziatische burgers, voor de bouw van een spoorweg tussen Thailand en Birma. Deze diende ter ondersteuning van het transport van troepen en voorraden. De spoorweg was 415 meter lang en liep van Bangkok naar Rangoon. De werkomstandigheden voor de arbeiders waren verschrikkelijk met lange dagen en verzengende hitte. Toen het spoor gereed was, waren er 12.612 geallieerde strijders en tienduizenden Aziatische burgers omgekomen.
In 1947, na het einde van de oorlog, werd de Dodenspoorweg gesloten. Tien jaar later werd het deel tussen Nong Pla Duk en Nam Tok heropend, en tegenwoordig kunnen bezoekers over deze donkere periode in de geschiedenis leren door over hetzelfde spoor te reizen tussen Bangkok en Kanchanaburi. Het deel van de originele spoorweg dat langs het Wampo-viaduct komt biedt spectaculaire uitzichten.</
Whether it’s dried durian paste and spicy bowls of hot curry or prayer beads and bath towels, the halls of Warorot Market definitely have a little something for everyone. The indoor hub for local ingredients and inexpensive clothing is a perfect place for travelers to sample local cuisine and stock up on handmade items and cheap souvenirs. The streets surrounding the market are also lined with stalls selling handicrafts and artwork from area hill tribes at a fraction of the cost.
Wat Suan Dok’s brilliant golden spire stretches high into the skyline of the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai and has done so just west of the old city walls since the 14th century. The name roughly translates to "field of flowers," as the temple stands on a site that was once the garden of a ruling monarch. Today, the ashes of some of the royal family are tucked into the wat’s spires, as homage to leaders past.
Wat Suan Dok is a favorite among travelers, particularly photographers, who gather amid the temple’s ornate structures during sunrise and sunset to capture impressive photos filled with rose-colored light. A 500-year-old bronze buddha—one of the largest in the region—also makes this a popular stop. Aside from the structure itself, there is a Buddhist university at the site as well. Monks in training are often eager to share conversation and practice their English with visitors in informal "monk chats."
This Buddhist temple near Doi Suthep mountain is also known as the “Tunnel Temple,” both for its unique network of underground tunnels and its location in the forest. There is a large stupa to visit, as well as “talking trees,” which feature words of wisdom in both Thai and English. Monks here live in a very natural setting, among deer and ponds full of fish and turtles.
Stroll the temple grounds under trees and across trails, or explore the underground tunnels, featuring many shrines to Buddha. It is said that the tunnels, dug underneath an artificial mound, were created to keep a highly regarded monk who was prone to wandering from getting too far from the temple. It was later abandoned, adding to its ancient, wooded feel—but today several monks live on the site. Its tranquil environment makes it a popular spot for meditation.
Bij Madam Tussauds kun je altijd de grote sterren als Brad Pitt en Angelina Jolie zien, maar in de vestiging in Bangkok zijn ook een aantal regionale grootheden te zien.
Zo zie je er de Birmese oppositieleider Aung San Suu Kyi, de Dalai Lama en president Mao Zedong, samen met een aantal andere actuele en historische politieke figuren. Als je van kunst en wetenschap houdt vergeet dan vooral Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso en de vader van moderne kunst in Thailand, Silpa Bhirasri, niet. Ook zijn er veel popsterren te zien, zoals Michael Jackson, Madonna, Lady Gaga en Justin Bieber. Of geef grote sporthelden als Mohammad Ali, Yao Ming of Serena Williams een hand. Madame Tussauds in Bangkok is te vinden op de 6de verdieping van het recent gerenoveerde Siam Discovery in het centrum van de stad.
Home to the four-faced golden statue of Brahma called Phra Phrom, the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok is one of the top religious destinations in the country. The place of frequent traditional Thai performances and worship, the 20th century shrine was originally built in order to cleanse the area of any bad karma and bring luck to the hotel that commissioned it, but stands today as a monument on its own merits.
The shrine is decorated with seemingly hundreds of floral garlands or fruits and even meats, and pilgrims and followers will light incense on the steps leading up to the shrine or donate money, paying their respects to Brahma around the clock.
Located on Thanon Rama and Thanon Ratchadamn to the north of the Four Seasons Hotel, the shrine also has an interesting history. In 2006, a man was beaten to death by bystanders after he desecrated the statue with a hammer early one morning, leaving most of it in ruins.
Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar is perhaps the city's most popular must-do attraction. The colorful mix of regular shops and stalls create a unique market buzz.
You’ll find everything for sale here, from ersatz designer brands to embroidered hill tribes textiles, lacquerware, silver jewelry, carvings, silks, ceramics and antiques.
The best range of antiques is on the second floor of the covered market building called the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, to the north of the busy intersection near a narrow cross street.
The Mae Ping River cuts through Chiang Mai just a few blocks east of the old city and night market. In central Chiang Mai the banks of the river have been developed and are home to hotels, open-air restaurants, and bars, while in the countryside the river retains its natural charms. The ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam is also set on the banks of the Mae Ping River south of Chiang Mai.
Sight-seeing tours and dinner cruises along the Mae Ping River available. For the more adventurous, kayaking and rafting trips can be arranged.
This urban oasis in the heart of bustling Bangkok offers travelers and locals a 142-acre escape from the chaos of the city. Towering trees, well-designed playgrounds and an artificial lake where visitors can rent boats and float in peace are part of the draw to popular Lumpini Park. Runners follow worn paths that wind through the grounds and cyclists loop through the park between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. Lumpini Park is the perfect place to relax, unwind and recover before heading back into the street of Bangkok.
SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World, formerly called Siam Ocean World, is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest aquariums, encompassing 110,000 square feet (10,200 square meters) of exhibit space and over a million gallons (5 million liters) of tanks. The aquarium is divided into several themed areas, including the innovative Shark Walk, where instead of passing through an acrylic tunnel, visitors walk above a tank where five species of sharks swim.
Popular aquatic residents include a colony of African penguins at Rocky Shore, an array of colorful and often bizarre seahorses at Seahorse Kingdom, short clawed otters in the Tropical Rainforest and a host of mesmerizing jellies. For an additional fee, guests can participate in feeding boat rides, behind-the-scenes tours, 4D cinema screenings and shark tank dives.
This eco-agricultural village in northern Thailand is the present home of four hill tribe groups: the Lahu, Palong, Lahu and famous long-necked Karen tribe. Built in 2005 as a cultural preservation project, the village brought together the different tribes into one community and became accessible to visitors.
Set peacefully in the hills among rice fields and thatched-roof houses, the village grants the opportunity to experience hill tribe life in one place. Walk through the winding trails and see women wearing brightly colored textiles—many of them weaving and spinning clothes. Many of the tribes have migrated from nearby Myanmar (Burma) and maintain their cultural traditions, including the wearing of several brass rings around women’s necks. There are various handicrafts on display throughout, including jewelry, dolls and textiles—the sale of which provides income for the people here.
The Taling Chan Floating Market is one of Bangkok’s top destination spots with a network of vendors selling fresh produce, meats and fish from boats on the canal Khlong Chak Phra. It is only open during the day on the weekends and is popular with both local residents and visitors who come take part in the age-old tradition of the floating markets.
Shoppers who attend the market, which was opened in front of Taling Chan District Office during the 1980’s to commemorate the 60th birthday of King Bhumibol, can enjoy the sounds of traditional music during the mornings to kick off the day as well as even pick up several non-food items including plants, flowers and the odd Thai souvenir very cheaply.
Getting to the market takes a good hour and a half from the main areas of Bangkok and can either be reached by boat or more efficiently by taxi.
Chiang Saen is a town in northern Thailand on the bank of the Mekong River that is known for its historic ruins. Though Chiang Saen is a small, sleepy town by modern standards, until the 14th century it was home to a powerful independent kingdom. Ruins of the ancient kingdom of Chiang Saen can still be seen, including temples, Buddha images, and the old city walls, and there is an excellent history museum.
Chiang Saen is also near the "Golden Triangle" where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. The town offers hotels and guesthouses as well as restaurants, banks, and an immigration office.
The kinetic city of Bangkok has plenty of transportation options. Whether it’s balancing aboard the back of a moto or relaxing in the air-conditioned comfort of a minibus with music blasting, this is a city that’s made to move. Travelers agree that the easiest, safest and cheapest way to traverse the city is aboard the Bangkok Skytrain. This elevated subway system allows visitors to take in the view and skip the traffic jams. More often referred to as “BTS,” the clean and convenient Skytrain fills up during rush hour, but tends to be easy to board all other times of day.