Tag - chaopraya river

What to do in Thailand

What to do in Thailand
What to do in Thailand
What to do in Thailand
What to do in Thailand

In this exotically inviting land where the weather is usually hot and sunny, travel is easy and the food is delicious and plentiful, there isn’t really much that you can’t do. No matter what you are into, whether it be extreme sports, sunbathing, exploring, discovering a new culture or pure hedonism, Thailand is the perfect place to do it, whilst getting a tan at the same time.

Thailand’s temples – known as wats – are big, richly decorated and contain an interesting assortment of treasures. Every town has a large assortment of temples, with perhaps the highest concentrations in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya. Some temples not to be missed are Wat Arun on the Chaopraya river in Bangkok, Wat Po, also in Bangkok and Chiang Mai’s Wat Benchamabophit. Whilst in Chiang Mai, climb Doi Suthet to see Wat Doi Suthep, which offers stunning views over the area.

As well as spectacular scenery, Thailand’s islands and beaches offer a good opportunity to take part in diving and snorkeling, the clear blue water offering glimpses of colourful coral and fish. Koh Tao is rapidly becoming the most popular island for diving and snorkelling, whilst Koh Phi Phi and Phuket are also popular. Other water ports available include sailing and windsurfing. At many places, bungee jumping and rock climbing are the order of the day, whilst paintballing offers a good opportunity to let of some steam.

Thailand has some beautiful golf courses, some designed by skilled international golfers. Muay Thai is the national sport and no trip is complete without watching a match or even training and competing yourself.

The amazing landscape makes Thailand a great place for walking and trekking, the hill tribe villages to the north making a great stop over or a three or four day trek.

Many come to this deeply spiritual country to learn about meditation, and there are numerous meditation courses available. Whilst here, you can also learn the ancient art of massage or join yoga classes on the beach.

Thai food is some of the best in the world, and you will find some outstanding restaurants, offering everything from international style dining, dining aboard river cruises or simply eating at a tiny table on the street.

The spas and saunas are also a great place to unwind and be pampered; whilst for many cosmetic surgery and cosmetic dentistry provide the opportunity for self improvement. Also, there are plenty of chances to indulge in a little retail therapy.

Thailand has a great selection of outdoor markets, floating markets, stores and shopping centres. Do not miss Bangkok’s Chatuchak market, MBK, Paragon or the night bazaar at Suan Lum, whilst Chiang Mai’s Night Market draws visitors from all over the world.

For people wishing to take in some culture there are some interesting museums, art galleries, exhibitions and displays of Thai dancing. Thailand also has some interesting theme parks, shows and zoos such as Sri Racha Tiger Zoo.

There is always something to see and do in Thailand, and the numerous festivals can add colour and life to your holiday, especially if you are lucky enough to be in the country during Songran or Loi Krathong.

There are plenty of opportunities to get in touch with nature in the national parks, such as Khao Yai where parts of the movie The Beach was filmed or Koh Samet, where the outstanding natural beauty has led to its being preserved as a national park.

Whatever you decide to do, there never seems to be quite enough time, and it is almost certain that Thailand’s charms will draw you back time and again.

Surprise in the City

Surprise in the City
Surprise in the City
Surprise in the City
Surprise in the City
Surprise in the City

I have lived in Bangkok for several years and like to think that I’ve sampled most of what the city has to offer. I’m usually among the first to visit a new bar or restaurant and the person my friends turn to for travel advice.

So when my family visited during my birthday and told me they were going to show me a new side of the city, I was more than slightly skeptical. For the past few days I had been playing tour guide to these Thailand newbies, and now it was their turn to take the lead. They were, however, completely right. On the evening of my birthday we took a taxi to River City Pier No.2 next to the Phra Pinklao bridge on the far side of the river.

My father disappeared into the River City Shopping Complex and reappeared a few minutes later with tickets and a triumphant smile on his face. Taking my arm, he ushered me down to the waters edge, where the Chaophraya Princess cruise ship was waiting. I had often seen this boat and others like it gliding along the Chaopraya River in the evenings, but it had never occurred to me to go on a trip. It was just for tourists, surely.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I stepped aboard the cruise ship not knowing quite what to expect and was immediately soothed by the light saxophone music playing in the background. This ship was elegantly decorated in oriental and occidental styles and felt slick and sophisticated.

We were led to the top deck, which was large and had a large number of tables and chairs placed around the edge. After being seated we were each presented with a ‘welcome drink’ fruit cocktail and told that the cruise would start in just a few minutes.

There are many other families and couples on the deck and the air is charged with excitement and expectation.
At 8pm we began our journey, gliding down the Chaophraya River towards Taxin bridge. On the way we pass the famous sites of Wat Arun, The Grand Palace, Bang Khunprom Palace and the Kanlayanamitr temple. Although quite familiar sights for me by now, I have never seen them from the middle of the river at night. All the sites are illuminated, giving them a magical quality.

Cruising serenely down the river has an enchantingly relaxing effect. Gone are the heat and crowds that can make this trip somewhat stressful during the daytime and there is a cool breeze coming from the river.

Before long it is announced that the international buffet is open. Everyone grabs a plate and charges to the center of the deck, where there are dozens of dishes to choose from; anything from fresh seafood and sushi to spicy Thai curries and steaks cooked to order. Everything is presented stylishly in large silver tureens and both looks and tastes wonderful. It’s not often that I get the chance to combine my favorite Thai and western dishes and we all dine happily while a beautiful female vocalist sings in the background.

Just as we are finishing our meal the boat turns around and makes its way back along the river. Now knives and forks are replaced with cameras as people snap away at the unique views of some of Thailand’s most beloved sites.

Once again I am encouraged to play tour guide and reveal some interesting ‘facts’ about the things we pass, although this time it is pure parody. Unless, that is, Wat Arun really is the birthplace of Indiana Jones and also Thailand’s oldest radio tower.

After two hours we return to the River City Pier. Our journey is at an end. My father turns to me, grinning expectantly and I have to admit that he’s done it. For those of us who think we know the city well take note: there is always some wise guy with a guidebook and a fresh perspective ready to make us eat our words. All with the best of intentions, of course.

Information:

Trips on the Chaophraya Princess Cruise cost 1,350 baht for adults and 1,000 baht for children under ten. The fee includes a welcome drink, international buffet, live band and a two hour boat trip.

For more information and booking visit www.thairivercruise.com.

About the author:

Kirsty Turner (Kay) is currently living in Bangkok where she teaches English at Rajabhat Suan Dusit. Kay has kindly agreed to write for KhaoSanRoad.com and share her love of all things Thai and, especially, all things Khao San Road!