Things to do and what to eat in Thailand ?
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Temples (back to top)

The Grand palace & Wat Phra Kaew
(The temple of the Emerald Buddha)

The Splendid Grand Palace enclosure is home to many ornate temples and buildings with a variety of architectural styles. Gold leaf, reflective tiling and Buddha images are to be seen everywhere. The magnificent Wat Phra Kaeo, a treasure trove of Thai arts and home to the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most revered Buddha image, is at the heart of the complex, but there is much else of interest to be seen in the Grand Palace compound, such as the Royal Thai Decorations and Coin Pavilion, where a permanent exhibition of royal regalia, decorations medals and coins dating back to the early 11th century is on display. Visitors are advised that polite and modest dress is essential.

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Neighbouring the Grand Palace enclave, this temple is considered the largest in Bangkok. The famous Reclining Buddha, constructed in 1832, is enshrined in this temple. This 46 metre long and 15 metre high gold-plated Reclining Buddha, the eyes and feet inlaid with mother-of-pearl brings to mind the Lord Buddha’s entry into Nirvana. The sole also shows 108 auspicious characteristics of the true “Buddha”

Wat Pho was also the first centre of public education in the Kingdom. Nowadays, it is an important centre for the teaching and administering of traditional Thai massage. Where Siam Sabai employees graduated.

Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)

This famous Bangkok landmark is on the Thon Buri side of the Chao Phraya River, directly opposite the Grand Palace complex and easily accessible by boat from the Bangkok side. The temple dates back to the Ayutthaya period. The temple was enlarged by King RamaII and King Rama III. Renovations were completed in the reign of King Rama IV. The emerald Buddha was enshrined in this temple for a brief period before King Rama I built the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo on the Bangkok side.

The landmark of this temple is a 79 metre tall massive central pogoda, “Phra Prang”, and four smaller ones at each corner. The ornamentation of the central pagoda consists of encrusted pieces of porcelain which sparkle in the sun. Despite its name, the best photographic opportunities are in the late afternoon with the sun setting in the red sky behind the temple.

To visit the temple, shuttle boats from the Tha Tian Pier at the south-west side of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo area are provided regularly. The Chao Phraya Express Boat stops at the Tha Tian Pier and there are several Thon buri canal tours, which include the temple.

Sources ; Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Travel Guide

Festivals (back to top)

Songkran Festival

Songkran is the Thai traditional New Year and an occasion for family reunion. At this time, people from the rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to celebrate the festival. Thus, when the time comes, Bangkok temporarily turns into a deserted city.

The festival falls on April 13 and the annual celebration is held throughout the kingdom. In fact, “Songkran” is a Thai word which means “move” or “change place” as it is the day when the sun changes its position in the zodiac. It is also known as the “Water Festival” as people believe that water will wash away bad luck.

This Thai traditional New Year begins with early morning merit-making offering food to Buddhist monks and releasing caged birds to fly freely into the sky. During this auspicious occasion, any animals kept will be set free. Paying homage to one’s ancestors is an important part of the day. People will pay their respects to the elders by pouring scented water over the palms of their hands. The elders in return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity.

In the afternoon, after performing a bathing rite for Buddha images and the monks, the celebrants both young and old, joyfully splash water on each other.

The most-talked about celebration takes place in the northern province of Chiang Mai where Songkran is celebrated from April 13 to 15. During this period, people from all parts of the country flock there to enjoy the water festival, to watch the Miss Songkran Contest and the beautiful parades

In Bangkok, the Buddha image “Buddhasihing” is brought out from the National Museum for people to sprinkle lustral water at Sanam Luang opposite the Grand Palace.

Written by THAI TRAVEL

The Loi Krathong Festival

The Loi Krathong Festival is the most romantic festival in Thailand, especially in modern times. Almost without exception, young lovers will go out in pairs to spend the evening together, floating krathong(vessels with flowers, lit candles and joss sticks) and saying silent prayers. The festival is celebrated nationwide in Thailand with different unique characteristics of festivities.

Happened to be in Thailand in November, you will experience the most spectacular Loi Krathong Festival. The festival is a tradition has been observed for no less than 700 years since the Sukhothai period (1238-1438), in the reign of King Phra Ruang (1347-circa 1374). It is traditionally performed on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, which falls on last week of the month of November every year.

The word loi means to float and krathong means a receptacle traditionally made of banana leave for holding small items of food, flowers, and other offerings in a religious ceremony. So, loi krathong simply means to float such vessels (with flowers, lit candles and joss sticks) on water. This is done either as thanksgiving and worship to the Goddess of Water or as a kind of homage paying to the legendary footprint the Buddha left on the bank of the River Narmada in India

The Loi Krathong Festival is the most romantic festival in Thailand, especially in modern times. Almost without exception, young lovers will go out in pairs to spend the evening together, floating krathong and saying silent prayers. The festival is celebrated nationwide in Thailand with different unique characteristics of festivities.

Written by THAI TRAVEL

Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival

Phi Ta Khon, or the Ghost Festival is held in Dan Sai, Loei province, about 500 km North of Bangkok. The whole event is called Bun Luang and is composed of a number of individual festivals: Phi Ta Khon, the Ghost Festival a merit-making ceremony normally held in March.

The first day is the Ghost Festival itself; it is also called Wan Ruam(assembly day). The town’s residents invite protection from Phra U-pakut, the spirit of the Mun river. They then hold a series of games and take part in a procession wearing masks made of rice husks or coconut leaves with hats made from rice steamers, plus patchwork clothing. They also wear bells and wave wooden phalluses. The origins of this part of the festival are traditionally ascribed to a Jataka story in which the Buddha made a long journey and was presumed dead. The celebrations on his return were so raucous as to wake the dead.

On the second day, the villagers dance their way to the temple and fire off the usual bamboo rockets to signal the end of the procession. The festival organizers also hold contests for the best masks, costumers and dancers, and brass plaques are awarded to the winners in each age group. The most popular is the dancing contest

Then comes the last day of the event, the villagers then gather at the local temple, Wat Ponchai, to listen to the message of the thirteen sermons of the Lord Buddha recited by the local monks

Then it is time for the revelers to put away their ghostly masks and costumes for another year.

From now on, they must again return to the paddy fields to eke out their living through rice farming as their forefathers did

Sources ; Essays on Thailand by Thanapol Chadchaidee, Thai Travel Magazine

Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival

The rocket festival, known in Thai as 'Bun Bang Fai,' is an ancient local festival that has been carried out continuously till modern times. It is popularly celebrated in Yasothon, a province in Thailand's northeast, and is usually held in the second week of May. 

In Thailand, the month of May is the beginning of the rainy season and farmers are ready to begin planting their rice fields. The festival is associated with traditional beliefs in the supernatural powers that help promote the production of rice crops for the coming planting season. 

The legend has it that once there was a rain god named Vassakan who loved to be worshipped with fire. The townspeople created a rocket or 'Bang Fai' to send to heaven, where the god resided. They believed that the god would hear their entreaties and bless them with plentiful rain for rice cultivation. So the celebration is entirely to the god of rain. 

Like several other Thai festivals, Buddhist monks would be in attendance for the ceremony. The rockets, launch platforms and other decorations for this event are prepared for several weeks before the actual event. An average rocket is some nine metres in length and carries 20-25 kilograms of gunpowder. Originally the rockets were made out of natural materials, but these days, they are slightly more sophisticated. Rockets are packed with several kilos of gunpowder instead. In order to make the rocket festival much more fun, various competitions for the biggest and highest flying rocket are held, all conducted with the undying Thai spirit of 'sanook'.

On the festival day, rockets are paraded to the launch site. Villagers dress in colorful traditional costumes, playing, teasing and dancing, to accompany the procession.  The climax of the festival is the launch time. The rockets are fired from their launch platforms one by one. Noisy folk music and cheers can be heard for each liftoff. The rocket that reaches the greatest height is declared the winner. The owner of this rocket dances and pushes for rewards from the crowds. The owners of rockets that exploded or failed to fly are thrown in the mud. 

Whether or not their wishes are granted as they believe, the festival helps strengthen and promote harmony among the villagers, which will be needed when the new crop season begins.

Sources ; www.thailand.com

Delicious Thai Food (back to top)
   

"Tom Yum Goong" Spicy Shrimp Soup:

Hot coconut soup with chicken, lemon grass, galangal, fresh lime juice, mushroom, chili, kaffir leaves and coconut milk topped with cilantro.

  "Tom Kha Kai" Coconut Soup with Chicken:

Hot coconut soup with chicken, lemon grass, galangal, fresh lime juice, mushroom, chili, kaffir leaves and coconut milk topped with cilantro.

  "Pad Thai " Thai Fried Noodle:

Rice noodle stir-fried with choice of meat, egg, tofu, radish, shallot, chive, bean sprout in our Pad Thai sauce, topped with peanut, carrot and lime.

Getting around Bangkok (back to top)

Public Transportation :
Public buses and air-conditioned buses are plentiful and inexpensive within metropolitan Bangkok. The red and grey air-conditioned microbuses are for longer urban journeys. A bus route map can be obtained from most hotels and bookshops.

Taxis and Tuk Tuks :
Hotel taxis have fixed fares. Public taxis are air-conditioned, comfortable and have starting fares of 35 Baht for the first 3 kilometers and approximately 5 Baht for every additional kilometer. Be sure the driver resets the metre every time you enter the vehicle. Tuk Tuks, three-wheeled taxis, are a symbol of Thailand. They are popular for short journeys and can cost anywhere from 20 Baht to 150 Baht, depending where one chooses to go. Important : fares must be bargained for before the journey is undertaken as there is no metre

Motorcycle Taxis:
The fastest way to plod through the traffic congestion of Thailand’s major cites is by motorcycle taxi. Look for the driver with the colored vest. Fares are negotiated before departure. Hold on tight.

River Taxis:
There are many types of boats that navigate the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Private “cigarette long-tail boats” are fast and available for tours of the city’s huge canal system. A 2 hour private tour runs about 500 Baht. Public river taxis run from dawn till dusk from Khlong Toei to as far north as Nonthaburi. The journey takes over an hour. Smaller trips between other landings can cost as little as 9 Baht.

Skytrain :
There are tow lines in operation : the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line. BTS skytrains run daily from 6.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m. with frequent service throughout the day, particularly during rush hours. The fare is based on the distance traveled.

Subway :
The MRT Chaloem Ratchamongkhon Line has 18 stations and operates from 6.00 a.m. throughout 12.00 p.m. and connects many of the top tourist attractions with the accommodation areas, and the business district. The fare is based on the distance traveled.

Cannal Boat :
Khlong Saen Saep Cannal boats operate from Banglamphu across the city to Ramkhamhaeng University. Tickets are bought onboard. Note that the piers are a little hidden away, which makes sometimes difficult to find.