Even without its beautiful beaches, Thailand’s rich cultural heritage would ensure the country’s status among the world’s top holiday destinations. Filled with resplendent examples of wood carving, stucco, stained-glass mosaic, lacquer work and gold sculpture, monuments such as Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok or Lampang’s Wat Phra vividly underline the richness of Thai classical arts.
No less evocative of the country’s imperial past is the traditional masked drama form, khon, in which ornately costumed dancers recount stories from the Hindu epic, the Ramakien. We always recommend our clients attend a kohn performance at the famous Sala Chalermkrung in the capital, where the dramas are accompanied by a traditional piphat orchestra – a wonderful experience!
In the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai is the place to experience the cultural legacy of the Lanna Kingdom. Rise early to watch lines of monks in flame-coloured robes making their morning alms round through the pretty backstreets of the old quarter and learn the secrets of the spicy local cuisine at a cookery school.
Further north, the market towns and upland villages of the Golden Triangle region offer fascinating insights into the lives of ethnic groups such as the Hmong, Shan, Akha, Yao, Lahu and Lisu. Our favourite destination in the regional capital, Chiang Rai, is the Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park, where a collection of beautiful mansions and pavilions set in soothing tropical gardens host weaving and jewellery-making demonstrations.