Where to Go for Thailand's Finest Cultural Experiences
Thailand 06.02.2015 Transindus
As one of Asia's premier holiday destinations, Thailand is packed with cultural experiences and treats for all tastes.
One of the country's most popular cultural trips is a visit to the Grand Palace. Constructed in 1782, this Bangkok attraction was the official residence of each King of Siam right from when it was first opened. Although the current Monarch, King Bhumibol, does not reside at the Palace, it is still used for many official events throughout the year. The huge footprint of the Palace takes in numerous attractions, such as the Museum of the Emerald Buddha Temple.
Housed within the museum are artifacts from both the Emerald Buddha facility and the Grand Palace. Among the varied selection of exhibits on show are the bones of the white elephants owned by past kings, as well as architectural models of the Grand Palace.
Another must-see piece of Thai heritage can be found at Wat Na Phramen. This is the only one of Thailand's ancient temples to have remained intact after the second Ayutthaya-Burmese war. Also known as the Monastery in Front of the Funeral Pyre, the temple is located in the northern part of Ayutthaya. It was constructed back in 1503, during the reign of King Ramathibodi II, and underwent a lengthy renovation process in 1914, with this lasting all the way until 1957. A key part of any trip to Wat Na Phramen is the ordination hall. Here, a stunning Buddha statue can be found. This Phra Buddha Nimitr Vichit Maramoli Sisanpeth Boromtrailokanat statue sits in the Subduing Mara posture and is a definite must-see.
The ruins of Ayutthaya, meanwhile, give a fascinating insight into how this once prosperous region was turned to rubble, only to then be brought back to life. Situated around 75 km from Bangkok, this former capital city of Siam is unmissable for any visitors to the country. As well as the aforementioned Wat Na Phramen, Ayutthaya is home to a treasure trove of delights, including the Buddha’s Head at Wat Mahathat. Visitors here will see the head encased within the grip of an overgrown banyan tree.
Holidaymakers in Thailand looking to sample some of the country's arts, as well as learn about its history, are in luck.
One of Thailand's primary art forms is kohn dance. Kohn is a mix of numerous dance styles and was traditionally performed by masked male dancers in the royal court. It can still be seen in modern-day Thailand, with a female-led version of the dance known as kohn phu ying also in use.
Music also forms an important part of Thai culture. The music produced within Thailand reflects its close ties with countries as varied as China, Italy, Greece and those from Africa. There is a rich heritage of Thai classical compositions, such as piphat, mahori and khrueang sai. Folk music is also widely popular throughout the country, while imported pop acts have also found favour in recent decades among the Thai people. Sports, meanwhile, are also high valued in the country, with a form of kick boxing known as Muai Thai being the national sport, although football is on the rise in terms of popularity as well throughout the country.
A break exploring the culture of another country would not be complete without indulging in the local cuisine, thankfully this is another area in which Thailand delivers. Spice and aromatic flavours are of high concern within Thai cooking, as is the creation of a harmonious dish – you will not find ingredients merely thrown together onto a plate here. Visitors to Bangkok keen to explore the local cuisine will want to investigate award-winning eateries such as the Issaya Siamese Club and Le Beaulieu at the Plaza Athenee. The perfect end to a culture-soaked break in Thailand.