Thailand has a wide variety of fascinating natural and cultural attractions to excite and thrill visitors from around the world. In the North, the forested highland features the jungle-clad mountains inhabited by colourful hill tribes while the Northeast is the land of past civilisations. In the South, there lie the world’s most beautiful islands under year-round sunshine, while the central region covers a large plane of fertile land suitable for agriculture – the rice bowl of Thailand.
Before travelling to any part of the country, the visitors are advised to visit several places of interest in Bangkok first. Indeed, Bangkok is a capital city with distinctive cultural and natural attractions which could not be described in a few pages. The following are recommended places to visit; The Grand Palace or the Emerald Buddha Temple. It has been described as one of the most memorable Asian architectural fantasies in colour, shape, designs and artistry. On the west side of Sanam Luang, is the National Museum which is said to be one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in Southeast Asia. Standing beside the Grand Palace itself is Wat Po or Temple of the Reclining Buddha which is Bangkok’s oldest and largest temple. The temple is also regarded as the first centre of public education and is sometimes called, “Thailand‘s First University”.
Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River on the Thonburi side is Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn. It is one of Bangkok’s most memorable landmarks and always appears in all tourist brochures. The most attractive structure in the temple is the 82-metre-high pagoda or Phra Prang in Thai.
Not far from Chitrlada Palace, home of the King, standing on Si Ayutthaya Road is Wat Benchamabophit or the Marble Temple. It is well-known because its main chapel is a prime example of modern Thai architecture. The courtyard behind the main chapel exhibits 53 Buddha images, most of which are copies of famous images and styles from all over Thailand and other Buddhist countries.
Off U-Thong Nai Road next to the National Assembly across from the west side of the Dusit Zoo is Phra Thi Nang Wimanmek (or Vimanmek Teak Mansion) which is the world’s largest, beautiful L-shaped and three-storey mansion made entirely of golden teak. It was the home of King Rama V. The interior of the mansion contains various personal effects of the king and a number of art objects.
Located at the end of Soi Kasemsan 2 opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road is Jim Thompson’s Thai House. This remarkable Thai-style house was the work of Mr. Jim Thompson, an American who came to Thailand at the end of the Second World War and revived the Thai silk industry. On display in the main house are his splendid, small Asian art collection and his personal belongings.
Finally, another places which should not be missed are Thai boxing stadiums. In fact, Muay Thai or Thai boxing can be seen at two boxing stadiums, Limpini or Ratchadamnoen. Thai boxing is both a sport and a self-defence as the boxers are allowed to use almost any part of their bodies. It is a most exciting show indeed.
These are the ourist attractions in Bangkok in brief. Another places left without mentioning are the Weekend Market, Dusit Zoo and China Town etc. If possible, visitors to the Thai Kingdom are also advised to visit other places of interest outside Bangkok e.g. Wat Phailom. This temple is a sanctuary of the open-bill storks. It is located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River in Pathumthani Province. From December to June, thousands of these storks come to nest in the temple area.
Another recommeded place of interest is the Ancient City in Samut Prakan Province. This is the world’s largest outdoor museum, also in this province is the Crocodile Farm. It is a very large farm with over 30,000 crocodiles, both fresh and salt-water crocodiles can be seen here.
Then, going down south west of Bangkok about 80 kms is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, here small boats laden with all kinds of tropical fruits and vegetables and other produce from the orchards or nearby communities assemble for business. Going up north of Bangkok in about 76 kms is Ayutthaya Province. Here the magnificient ruins of the old city still remain and some have been renovated.
Due to her richness of cultural heritage and beautiful natural attractions, visitors to Thailand will not be disappointed as it is well worth the journey. They will be greeted with a warm welcome and receive hospitality extended to them by local people. They will realise that this is their home away from home. Everybody is welcomed to Thailand, a land of smiles. It is better to see with their own eyes than reading from tourist brochures.