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cultural explorations destinations
Adventures in Thailand > Cultural Explorations Destinations

Cultural Explorations Destinations


Central Thailand

Home Stays & Cooking

For the ultimate cultural experience, nothing beats a home stay. In Bangkok, perhaps one of the best places to experience traditional Thai living is at the award-winning Rose Garden Resort and home to The Thai Village and Cultural Centre. The shows here portray captivating scenes of everyday life in rural Thailand and provides a vivid introduction to Thai living. The Rose Garden also offers Thai Cooking Classes. For a more earthy and homey experience, The Thai House is a good alternative. Both the Rose Garden and The Thai House are able to hold a limited number of guests in their traditional Thai houses therefore advance booking should be made. Other recommended cooking schools are Oriental Thai Cooking School, the Blue Elephant Cooking School and Bai Pai Thai Cooking School. However, most hotels do offer Thai Cooking classes therefore be sure to check if the hotel you're booked at offers such courses.

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Giving Alms

Giving alms is a form of merit making where contributions are provided to monks that walk the streets in the early morning seeking donations in the form of food and other useful products from staunch Buddhists. Waking up early in the morning to view this tradition is well worth the effort as this earmarks the typical Thai way of life. If you're interested in participating, feel free to consult the hotel or guesthouse you are slaying in. Hotel staff should be able to tell you where the nearest temples are located and which routes the monks take within the hotel's vicinity in order to make your offerings.

fresh markets  

Fresh Markets & Floating Markets

A large number of fresh markets can still be found in the capital. One of the more popular markets, Pak Khlong Talat, more commonly known as the Flower Market, is a fresh market that sells all kinds of produce including flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables. Also visit the floating market, a traditional mode of buying and selling that used to be commonly found in any riverside town or city canal like Bangkok. In floating markets, vendors paddle sampans down waterways to sell their produce. Today these floating markets have moved outside of the city. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a 1.5 hour drive from Bangkok and is the country's most colourful and largest floating market. Other lesser know floating markets are the Taling Chan Floating Market in Bangkok and the Bang Khu Wiang Floating Market in Nonthaburi.

The Pottery Village

Located 30 km. from Bangkok is the pottery village of Koh Kret (Kret Island), an island located on the Chao Phraya River where pottery makers of Mon descent live. The clay pottery made here has its own distinctive characteristics that is typically Mon. A half-day trip to Koh Kret can be delightful as this can be conducted by boat. Bicycles can also be rented to explore this little island where the Mon people still more or less maintain their traditional no-fuss lifestyle.

Thai Homes

There are several Thai Houses in Bangkok you can visit ie The Jim Thompson Museum, Ban Kukrit, Ban Khamthieng and Prasart Museum. These 4 private museums all have one integral theme; they demonstrate traditional Thai living and within their grounds, and hold traditional Thai teak houses that are more than 100 years old, in addition to, displaying rare artifacts and antiques. In particular, Ban Kamthieng, located on the grounds of Siam Society, offers a fascinating variety of Thai flora and Bangkok's only real ethnological collection. Another interesting site is the Suan Pakkard Palace on Si Ayutthaya Road that houses 5 traditional teak homes, the most prominent being a black Lacquer Pavilion.

Thai Living: Dance, Art & Theatre
Thai Dance

The Patravadi Theatre in Bangkok is one of the country's more active theatres that not only stage performances but also offers traditional Thai dance lessons. The theatre offers simple homey apartments for students who wish to live close to the theatre grounds. However, accommodation is limited so do make advance bookings. To get an over view of ancient Thailand through the expression of dance, Siam Niramit in Bangkok and Alangkarn in Pattaya City offer nightly colourful and spectacular performances detailing ancient Thai history and the Masked Thai ballet/opera based on the Hindu Ramayana, referred to as Ramakian by Thais.


For art lovers, the National Art Gallery displays traditional and contemporary works by Thai artists as well as a collection of works by national Thai figures such as the current monarch and Thailand's former Prime Minister. Other noteworthy galleries are The Art Centre at Chulalongkorn University and the Art Centre at Silpakorn University.

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The National Theatre on Na Phra That Road in Bangkok is the official arts centre for Thai classical performances such as Khon (Thai Classical Masked Dance) where special performances/concerts are staged. Other noteworthy theatre in Bangkok are the Chalermkrung Royal Theatre on New Road - a historic venue for Thai dance performances, concerts and plays as well as the occasional film festival, the Thailand Cultural Centre on Ratchadapisek Road - a centre for social, educational and cultural activities and home to a permanent exhibition on the history of Thai people, and the Bangkok Playhouse on New Phetchaburi Road - a private theatre where contemporary plays, music, mime and puppetry are staged, as well as exhibits of paintings and sculptures.

Traditional Thai Art


One of the best Thai art experiences is perhaps the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre performances. The ancient Thai puppetry art called Hun Lakhon Lek involves the animation of a puppet by a host of puppeteers - usually 3 persons per puppet; each portion or limb is controlled by one person, no strings are used. The performance is a combination of Thai ballet and puppetry that is beautifully orchestrated, where the term "bring to life" is almost an understatement. This ancient art of Hun Lakhon Lek or miniature puppetry is a must for all visitors to Thailand as the theatre is the only remaining troupe that performs this unique form of puppetry. Located on the grounds of the Lumpini Night Bazaar, the theatre has a permanent exhibit on the history of Thai puppetry as well as demonstrations on how these puppets are made.

  thai massage  

Thai Massage

Wat Pho, located within close proximity of the Grand Palace, is the centre of Thailand's traditional medicine, housing the Institute of Massage. Visitors to the temple are invited to experience a traditional Thai massage and if you're interested, learn the art through a 10 - 15 day course conducted in Thai and English. However, traditional Thai massages are commonly found all over the place throughout the entire country in hotels and massage parlours. When embarking on a massage at parlours be sure to check that the facility is certified to ensure that the masseuses are qualified.

thai boxing  

Thai Boxing

Thai boxing is an art form to which kickboxing is based. This rather lethal and violent art of defense allows boxers to use their knees, elbows and feet to fend off opponents. Thai boxing fights are organized all over Thailand however, the 2 principal rings are Lumpini Boxing Stadium and Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium in Bangkok. Despite being a rather violent sport, the start of each boxing bout involves a ritual Paying respects to teachers and elders, expressed through the brutishly elegant movements by the boxers accompanied by a live traditional Thai band - this is often referred to as the Boxing Ballet. If you're interested to learn Thai Boxing, Jitt Gym near Khao San Road and the Muai Thai Institute in Pathumthani offer courses that include instruction, accommodation and food; both are located in Bangkok. For the more confident, join the Pattaya International Muai Thai Training School that train professional fighters.



The National Museum in Bangkok clearly maps out the changes to Thailand and its people throughout the centuries. Located within the same general vicinity of the National Museum is the Royal Barge Museum where the highly elaborate carved royal barges are housed and exclusively used by the King during auspicious occasions.

The Dusit Palace is home to the world's largest golden teak mansion called Vimanmek Palace; the first building in Thailand to have electricity and running water, The Ancient Cloth and Silk Museum displays an interesting collection of antique silk as well as the different types of silk from all over Thailand and, the SUPPORT Museum where such traditional art as yan lipao (fine reeds weaved to make traditional ladies' hand bags) are preserved and taught to the younger generation. The Royal Carriage Museum here houses the royal ceremonial carriages and other unusual vehicles owned by the Royal Family.

Perhaps the most unique museum is the Cat Museum. This privately owned museum exhibits historical information and live Siamese pure breeds ie; the Siamese Seal Point (Korat), the Siamese Bronze, Khao Manee and Vichienmart. The Siamese Cats play a very important in Thai culture particularly in northeast Thailand where a live Korat or Vichienmart cat is part of the rain making procession.

For a quick overview of Thailand's culture and history, Ancient City is the ideal place to visit as it features replicas of the kingdom's prominent historical sites that have been painstakingly recreated. The Thai Human Imagery Museum is also worth a visit, detailing traditional Thai living and culture using life-size fiberglass images of the ordinary Thai persons, as well as local celebrities and personalities.

Northern Thailand

Thai living

Experiencing the traditional way of life with hill tribes in northern Thailand can be a highly invigorating experience. In northern Thailand, there are a number of different tribes. You can choose to overnight at the ethnic villages of the karen, lahu, or shan tribes or, visit the nong khiew development centre in chiang dao district which will take you to hill tribe villagers working on farms. Trips here usually include charming performances of traditional folk singing and dancing. When in the north, also be sure visit the akha hill tribe in sa-ngao development centre located in chiang saen district. For more details on hill tribe villages, see and the Thailand Ecotourism & Adventure Travel Association (TEATA) at .


The Hall of Opium Museum in northern Thailand is a great place to visit that includes permanent exhibits of opium cultivation and even samples of actual opium plants and ganja bushes, Here tile history of opium and ganja is traced, definitely a unique place to visit for the more curious.


Elephants are very much part of the northern Thailand culture as these impressive creatures were once used in the timber industry to help clear forests and transport timber. Since the banning of logging in Thailand, domesticated elephants have since found a role in the tourism industry performing logging demonstrations and showing off mahout skills. The Chiang Dao Elephant Camp is one of the best places to watch elephant demonstrations. Al the Mae Kok Elephant Camp in Chiang Rai, the elephant rides takes you through the surrounding forest and to nearby Karen hill tribe villages, For a more in-depth experience, the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang gives visitors the opportunity to sign-up for mahout training and gain first-hand experience on nature, wildlife and, of course, elephant.

thai elephants  

Western Thailand

Thai Living. In Kanchanaburi there is an opportunity to experience the Mon culture where you can watch them perform traditional dance and songs. Visitors may also sign-up for short stays in Kanchanaburi to live with Mon tribe.


rides through the jungle is popular with visitors to Thong Pha Phum and Sangkhla Ruri District in Kanchanaburi and can be incorporated into a longer trek featuring mountain biking and rafting.

Southern Thailand

Thai Art & Dance

A highly elaborate but well choreographed extravaganza of Thai history and culture as well as traditional Thai dance is held daily at Phuket Fantasea; a local theatre dedicated to providing a brief over view of Thai history and culture in general.

Thai Living

Thai Living experience in southern Thailand involves visits to fishing villages and to Koh Panyi - a sea gypsy village built on stilts in the Andaman sea. This trip involves a 1-hour boat ride from Phuket and is usually incorporated with visits to a pearl cultivating island - Naga Island, snorkeling and archipelago explorations. Thai living in southern Thailand is of course incomplete without coconut and monkeys that are trained to pick coconuts for their owners which are usually pan of the package to a southern province.

Northeast Thailand


The northeast is famous for the Surin Annual Elephant Roundup, usually held in the 3rd weekend of each November. Here more than a hundred domesticated elephants take part in an elaborate re-enactment of how wild elephants are herded and trapped. Included in the show is a war parade and the re-enactment of the elephant-back battles between Thai and Burmese armies where both the elephants and participants are colourfully dressed in ancient costumes. A fantastic sight not to be missed!

Best time to Experience Thai living & Culture

The best time to experience Thailand's rich culture is during the Thai summer which sees the celebration of the Thai New Year or Songkran on 13 April. Celebrated with angst, the Water Festival or Songkran, involves a number of merit-making ceremonies including the splashing of water on friends and strangers alike. This is a happy and carefree time of the year and is the country's most important and most anxiously awaited public holiday.

The cool season during November - December is also a good time to visit Thailand, as temperatures are milder, with little threat of rain. In November, Thais celebrate Loi Kratong where elaborate floats made from banana stalks and leaves are decorated with fresh flowers and candles, and set afloat. This is a ritual where the release of the float symbolises the casting off all previous sins, bad luck and karma.

References / Service Provider

To locate the best service provider, visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand's website and for updates on attractions, activities and festivals. Another good source is the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) website at for listings of its qualified members. Also visit the Thailand Ecotourism & Adventure Travel Association (TEATA) at for trip ideas and service providers.



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