Insider Tips - Thailand

  • © DuMont Photo Archive / Christian Heeb

Our top insider tips for Thailand:

 

Magic Garden

A magical world awaits travellers on Ko Samui. High up in the hills, tucked away in a jungle landscape, is the Tamin Magic Buddha Garden. Its Buddha statues and mythical creatures would make the perfect backdrop for an Indiana Jones film. (Admission: 80 baht.) Equally worthwhile is a trip to the island’s landmark, the 15m (49 ft) high Big Buddha, as well as the Hin Lad and Namuang waterfalls. 

 

The China Inn Cafe

The China Inn Cafe in Phuket Town is a feast for your eyes as well as your taste buds: the city mansion in Sino-Portuguese style is 100 years old, the Thai cuisine is delicious and the fruit yoghurt is decorated with a blue flower. Phuket Town | 20 Thalang Rd. | Tel. 0 76 35 62 39 | Budget–Moderate

 

Chill out on the beach

Rustic wooden bungalows surrounded by shady trees, grilled fish under palm leaf roofs and the fire show on the beach: Porn’s Bungalows on Ko Chang hark back to the days when backpackers had this island to themselves. A rustic resort right on Kai Bae Beach, shaded by a mix of old broad-leaved trees and coconut palms. A hot spot for travellers, who take advantage of the comfortable cushions on the terrace restaurant. Most of the modest bungalows are made of wood, with either palm or ‘normal’ roofs, and have their own showers; there are also a few stone chalets with air conditioning. 26 rooms | Tel. 08 92 51 92 33 | Budget

 

High fashion, low cost

A maze of alleyways with hundreds of shops: in Bangkok’s Siam Square the capital’s trendy youth snaps up the latest creations from Thai designers at bargain prices. Note: since only a few tourists shop here, extra large sizes are difficult to find. Rama I. Rd. | Across from the Siam Paragon Shopping Centre

 

Stairway to heaven

Located 6 km (4 miles) outside Krabi Town, Wat Tam Sua (Tiger Cave Temple) is part of a temple complex where monks live and worship among a maze of natural caves surrounded by jungle. Inside one of the caves are what appear to be tiger paw prints embedded in the stone. But the biggest attraction is the climb up 1,272 very steep steps to the top of the temple mountain, from where there are breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the Andaman Sea.

 

Dining out with a temple view

The terrace at The Deck, a restaurant near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, provides a stunning view over the Chao Phraya to the Temple of Dawn. Only a few minutes’ walk from the Grand Palace - yet well away from the streams of tourists. Culinary delights such as pumpkin soup, grilled breast of duck or mushroom risotto tastes best on the terrace with a view of the river and the Wat Arun Temple. Boutique Hotel Arun Residence | 1055 Soi Pratu Nok-yung (alley behind the Wat Pho) | Tel. 0 22 21 91 58 | Moderate

 

Learner drivers

You can take an elephant ride just about anywhere in Thailand, but at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (93 km/58 miles south of Chiang Mai) you can actually learn how to be a mahout (elephant rider) and get a certificate to prove it. The centre runs a variety of programmes designed to immerse you in the daily routine of working elephants and their mahouts. Learn how to sit on and steer an elephant; take it bathing and then home to its night-time jungle quarters; join in with the elephant shows; visit the elephant hospital; and, on the longer programmes, stay overnight at the jungle camp and even learn about elephant herbal medicine. 

 

Mae Salong

This village (also called Santi Khiri, 50 km/31 miles northwest of Chiang Rai) on the flanks of the 1,800m/5,900ft high Doi Mae Salong is inhabited by descendants of Chinese Kuomintang soldiers, who fled to Thailand through Burma (now Myanmar) after Mao Zedong’s Revolution. They grow tea, coffee and vegetables. Various wares from China are sold at the market which is also frequented by members of the various hill tribes. The Chinese Martyr’s Museum is located at the entrance to the village. A good place to stay is the Khumnaipol Resort, which has small but clean rooms with good views out across the valley. 24 rooms | Tel. 0 53 76 50 01 | Budget

 

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