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NORTHERN THAILAND   108                                                                                                                             B A N G K O K & N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • H i s t o r y 109

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         BANGKOK &
                    Bangkok &                                                                                               Rise of Thai Kingdoms
                                                                                                                            It is believed that the first Thais migrated
                                                                                                                            here from modern-day Yúnnán and Guǎngxī,
                                                                                                                                                                                      FAST FACTS
                                                                                                                                                                                          Area 514,000 sq km

                    Northern Thailand                                                                                       China, settling into small riverside farming
                                                                                                                            communities that eventually fell under the
                                                                                                                            dominion of the Angkor empire of present-
                                                                                                                                                                                          Capital Bangkok
                                                                                                                                                                                          Country Code %66
                                                                                                                                                                                          Population 65 million
                                                                                                                            day Cambodia.
                    It might be the saffron-robed monk riding the Skytrain, or the sensuous smell of spices                                                                               Money US$1 = 32.80B (baht)
                                                                                                                               By the 13th and 14th centuries, what is
                    wafting up from a curry, or elephants strolling down the street alongside you, but at some              considered the first Thai kingdom, Sukhothai,                 Seasons high Nov-Feb, low Mar-Jun,
                                                                                                                            began to chip away at the crumbling Angkor                    monsoon Jul-Oct
                    point Thailand enters the soul.
                                                                                                                            empire. The third Sukhothai king, Ramkham-                    Phrases sà-wàt dii (hello), laa kàwn
                       All roads lead to Bangkok they say, and this fabled country is the Mekong region’s most              haeng, developed a Thai writing system and                    (goodbye), khàwp khun (thank you)
                    popular destination by far. In part this is because of all the irresistible attractions – the ancient   built Angkor-inspired temples that defined
                                                                                                                            early Thai art. This kingdom is regarded as
                    ruins, the hill-tribe treks, the glorious temples, the golden beaches – but Thailand has also           the cultural and artistic kernel of the modern        tion. A brief respite came, with reinstated
                    earned this status because of its comfortable balance between East and West, foreign and                state.                                                voting rights and relaxed censorship. But
                    familiar. Thailand is arguably the world’s most accessibly exotic location.                                Sukhothai’s intense flame was soon snuffed         in October 1976, a demonstration on the
                                                                                                                            out by another emerging Thai power, Ayu-              campus of Thammasat University in Bang-
                       While the rest of the Mekong region suffered various incarnations of war and isolation,              thaya, which was established by Prince U              kok was brutally quashed by the military,
                    Thailand got a head start welcoming visitors, making it the easiest country in the region to            Thong in 1350. This new centre developed              resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries
                    travel around. But don’t mistake convenience for lack of adventure or diluted culture. True,            into a cosmopolitan port on the Asian trade           and the reinstatement of authoritarian rule.
                                                                                                                            route courted by European nations attracted           Many activists went underground to join
                    many visitors get stuck in various backpacker ghettos (often happily so), but the tourist trail still   to the region for commodities and potential           armed communist insurgency groups hiding
                    bypasses huge swathes of the country. Yes, Thailand can still facilitate journeys of discovery.         colonies, though the small nation managed to          in the northeast.
                                                                                                                            thwart foreign takeovers. For 400 years Ayu-             In the 1980s and 1990s there were slow
                       Though Thailand’s path through modern history differs greatly from other countries in                thaya dominated Thailand until the Burmese            steps towards democracy, pushed along by
                    the Mekong region, its connection is more than just geographical. The ancient ebb and                   destroyed the capital in 1767.                        massive, and sometimes violently repressed,
                    flow of empire spilt myriad cultures across the north of Thailand and took Thai traditions                 The Thais eventually rebuilt their capital         street protests, but eventually civilian gov-
                    well beyond the nation’s current borders. Lao, Khmer and Yunnanese influences remain a                  in present-day Bangkok, established by the            ernment was restored. Thailand’s 16th con-
                                                                                                                            Chakri dynasty, which continues to occupy             stitution was enacted in October 1997 by
                    vital part of today’s Thai tapestry.
                                                                                                                            the throne today. As Western imperial-                parliamentary vote; Thailand’s first charter
                       Whether Thailand is solely intended as your gateway to the region or you come here with              ism marched across the globe, King Mong-              not written under military order. During these
                                                                                                                            kut (Rama IV, r 1851–68) and his son and              tumultuous times, King Bhumibol Adulyadej
                    a laundry list of sights to check off, you’ll be planning your return before you’ve even left.          successor King Chulalongkorn (Rama V, r               (Rama IX, r 1946–) defined a new political
                                                                                                                            1868–1910) successfully steered Thailand into         role for the monarchy. Although powerless
                                                                                                                            the modern age without becoming a colonial            to legislate, the king came to be viewed as a
                       HIGHLIGHTS                                                                                           vassal. Their progressive measures included           paternal figure who restrained excesses in the
                           Get back to nature at Khao Yai National                                                          adopting Western-style education and dress. In        interests of all Thais.
                           Park (p156), one of the world’s finest parks                                                     return for the country’s continued independ-
                                                                                     Hill-tribe                             ence, King Chulalongkorn returned huge tracts         Economic & Political Roller Coaster
                           Visit timeless hill-tribe villages (p138) as               Villages
                                                                                                                            of Laos and Cambodia to French-controlled             During the 1990s, Thailand was one of the
                           you trek through the northern mountains                                       Chiang Khan
                                                                                                                            Indochina.                                            so-called tiger economies, roaring ahead with
                           Take time out from the fast lane in soporific                                                                                                          one of the world’s highest growth rates. But
                           Chiang Khan (p168)                                        Historical Park                        A Struggling Democracy                                the country’s unabated growth imploded in
                           Cycle around the awesome ruins of                                                                In 1932 a peaceful coup converted Thai-               1997, leading to a nearly three-year recession.
                           Sukhothai Historical Park (p150)                                         Khao Yai                land into a constitutional monarchy loosely           Thailand’s convalescence progressed remark-
                                                                                                   National Park            based on the British model. Nearly half a             ably well and it pulled an ‘early exit’ from the
                           Explore the gleaming and seamy sides of
                                                                                                                            century of chaos followed. During the mid-            International Monetary Fund’s loan package
                           Thailand’s chaotic capital, Bangkok (p113)                             Bangkok
                                                                                                                            20th century, a series of anticommunist               in mid-2003.
                                                                                                                            military dictators wrestled each other for               The ambitious and charismatic billionaire
                                                                                                                            power, managing little more than the sup-             Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister
                                                                                                                            pression of democratic representation and             in 2001, promising to eliminate corruption,
                                                                                                                            civil rights. In 1973, student activists staged       invest in impoverished villages and insti-
                                                                                                                            demonstrations calling for a real constitu-           tute affordable health care. He delivered on
NORTHERN THAILAND   110 B A N G K O K & N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • Pe o p l e & t h e P o p u l a t i o n                                                                                       B A N G K O K & N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • R e l i g i o n 111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       BANGKOK &
                                                                                                                                                            0                                 200 km
                      NORTHERN THAILAND                                                                                                                     0                                120 miles
                                                                                                                                                                                                           NO, THEY’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT FRUIT
                                                                Mae Sai Chiang
                                                                        Saen             Huay Xai                                                                                                          Faràng means guava, but it’s also the word Thais use for foreigners and can be merely descrip-
                       (BURMA)                       Mae Salong
                                                                       110          Chiang                                                                                                                 tive, mildly derogatory or openly insulting, depending on the situation. While it is almost always
                                                     Tha Ton                                                                     Luang
                                                            Fang             Chiang Khong                                       Prabang                                                                    the former, you will graduate to the latter by being clueless or disrespectful towards the culture.
                                                                                        Doi Phu Kha                                                                                                        Here are some tips on avoiding that:
                                                       107               Chiang         National Park
                                              Pai                                                                                             LAOS
                                                                         Kham                                                                                          VIETNAM                                Stand when the national anthem is played.
                                      Mae Hong

                                                                                                                  g River
                                                                           1                 1148
                                      Doi Inthanon                                                                                   Vang Vieng                                                               Don’t lick stamps, which usually bear an image of the king, or your fingers. To the Thais only
                                        (2595m)          Chiang Mai                           Nan
                                                                                                                                                                                                              animals lick things.

                                   108                   Lamphun
                                                                                      101                                                                   Paksan

                                        Doi Inthanon               Lampang                                                                                                                                    Keep your feet on the floor, not on a chair, and never step over someone (or something –
                                       National Park                                                             Pak          VIENTIANE
                                                                                    Phrae                       Chom                             Beung         Wat Phu Tok
                                                             Ko Kha
                                 Sariang                              Den                                                                     212 Kan                                                         there might be a Buddha image in it) sitting on the ground.
                                                                      Chai                               Chiang                  Si
                                      Kkeuan                                                             Khan                                Nong Khai
                                     Phuniphon                                     Utaradit                                  Chiangmai
                                                                                                                                                         222 Nakhon                                           Don’t touch Thais on the head.
                                                      Si Satchanalai                                                 Loei
                                                                                                          203                                      22           Phanom           Tha Khaek
                                                       Sawankhalok                      Dan Sai                          Phu Phrabat                                                                          Dress modestly.
                                    Mae                                                                                 Historical Park Udon       Sakhon                 Renu Nakhon
                                                        Sukhothai                                                                            Thani Nakhon
                                    Sot                                             Phitsanulok                                                                             That Phanom
                                                 105         Tak                                            Phu Kradung                                     Phu Pan
                                 Myawaddy                          101                                      National Park                2
                                                                                            Lom Sak                                                       National Park        Savannakhet                 For more tips on earning the respect of locals, see p74.
                                                Lang San                                                                      12                            Mukdahan
                                              National Park                            Phichit                                  209                       Kalasin
                                Mawlamyine                      Kamphaeng                                Phetchabun Khon Kaen                                     Mukdahan
                                                                   Phet                                              Mahasarakham                                National Park
                                                                                        11          21
                                                                       1                                                                                                   Amnat
                                                       Nakhon Sawan                                 Chaiyaphum                 225           219        Roi Et            Charoen                        leave? Because Thais know how to make visi-            try, many of whom have been in Thailand for
                                                                                                                                                         Yasothon         Ubon         Pha Taem
                                   Three    Payathonzu
                                                        Uthai Thani                                                                           Ban Tha    214           Ratchathani     National Park     tors feel like superstars.                             generations, make up over 10% of the popula-
                                                                                                          205                                  Klang                             Chong Vang                                                                     tion. Ethnic Chinese probably enjoy better rela-
                                   Pass        Sangkhlaburi Chainat                                                                  Phimai                                       Mek Tao
                                                 Thong Pha
                                                                Singburi                  Pak
                                                                                                   Ratchasima        Surin
                                                                                                                            Si Saket
                                                                                                                                                                              Chamrap                    The National Psyche                                    tions with the majority population here than
                                                   Phum               Lopburi
                                                                          Saraburi 2
                                                                                         Chong      (Khorat)                        24
                                                                                                                    Chong Jom Choam Sa-Ngam
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Thais are laid-back, good-natured people               in any other country in Southeast Asia. Other
                                          Hellfire         Suphanburi
                                             Pass       Nam Tok     Ayuthaya
                                                                                      Khao Yai
                                                                                     National Park
                                                                                                           Rong                           Phu Chong Nayoi                                                who live by a philosophy of sànùk (fun), and           large minority groups include Vietnamese in
                                           Dawei         323       Nakhon               Prachinburi                O Smach
                                                                                                                                           National Park
                                                                                                                                                                                                         every task is measured on the sànùk meter.             the far east, Khmer in the southern side of the
                                                                   Pathom                          Aranya
                                                  Kanchanaburi                BANGKOK              Prathet
                                                                                                                             Veng                                                                        Thai-on-Thai culture is tougher to unravel,            northeast and Lao spread throughout the north
                                                                                                                                          Poipet                          CAMBODIA
                                                        Ratburi                                      Chachoengsao                                                                                        but the guiding principles are nâa (face) and          and east. Smaller non-Thai-speaking groups
                                                 Samut Songkhram                   Samut                                                                         Angkor Wat
                                                                                                                             317                                                                         elder-junior hierarchy. Thais believe strongly         include the colourful hill tribes living in the
                                                         (Phetburi)                                 Pattaya                    Ban                                                                       in the concept of ‘saving face’, that is, avoid-       northern mountains.
                      ANDAMAN                                                                             Rayong            Pakard     Psar Prohm
                                                                                                                                                                                                         ing confrontation and endeavouring not to
                                                               Hua Hin                 Sattahip           Ban Phe
                                                                                                     Ko Samet                   3                                                                        embarrass themselves or other people (see the          RELIGION
                                                                                                              Ko Chang
                                                                                                                              Trat       Hat Lek                                                         boxed text, p73). All relationships follow sim-        Country, family and daily life are all married
                                                                                                                                           Cham Yeam
                                                                         Prachuap                        Ko Chang National                                                                               ple lines of social rank defined by age, wealth,       to Theravada Buddhism (as opposed to the
                                                                         Khiri Khan                        Marine Park
                                                                                                                              Ko Kut
                                                                                                                                                                                                         status, and personal and political power. The          Mahayana schools found in East Asia and
                                                                      Thap Sakae
                                                                   Bang Saphan
                                                                                                                                                                          PHNOM                          elder of the table always picks up the tab.            the Himalayas). Every Thai male is expected
                                                                                                                                                                                                         The junior in the workplace does the menial            to become a monk for a short period in his
                                                                                                                                                                                                         chores. The Western mindset is so different            life since a family earns great merit when a
                    some of these promises, but also showed                                                                 showered soldiers with flowers and food. Even                                in this regard that it becomes something of a          son ‘takes robe and bowl’. Traditionally the
                    disdain for the press and civil liberties. His                                                          go-go dancers staged an outdoor show for the                                 handicap in Thai society.                              length of time spent in a wat is three months;
                    heavy-handed crackdown on the decades-                                                                  men in uniform. At time of writing elections and                                Religion and the monarchy, which is still           during the Buddhist lent (phansǎa), which
                    old Muslim insurgency in the far south only                                                             a new constitution were due for October 2007.                                regarded by many as divine, are the culture’s          begins around July and coincides with the
                    flamed separatist and terrorist tendencies.                                                                                                                                          sacred cows. You can turn your nose up at fish         rainy season, or when an elder in the fam-
                    But, thanks to his proactive response to the                                                            PEOPLE & THE POPULATION                                                      sauce or dress like a hippy, but don’t insult          ily dies.
                    2004 tsunami that killed thousands on Thai-                                                             Thais are master chatters and will have a shop-                              the king and always behave respectfully in the            More evident than the philosophical as-
                    land’s Andaman coast, Thaksin easily kept                                                               ping list of questions: where are you from, are                              temples. This applies to pictures of the king,         pects of Buddhism is the everyday fusion
                    his job in the February 2005 election. His                                                              you married, do you have children? Occasion-                                 including on Thai currency and stamps.                 with animist rituals. Monks are consulted to
                    popularity soon plummeted due to a host                                                                 ally they get more curious and want to know                                                                                         determine an auspicious date for a wedding
                    of issues including a controversial tax-free                                                            how much you weigh or how much money                                         Population                                             or the likelihood of success for a business.
                    US$1.9 billion profit from the sale of his                                                              you make; these questions to a Thai are mat-                                 About 75% of citizens are ethnic Thais, further        Spirit houses are constructed outside build-
                    telecom corporation and, in the opinion of                                                              ters of public record and aren’t considered im-                              divided by geography (north, central, south            ings and homes to encourage the spirits to live
                    many, disrespecting the king.                                                                           polite. They also love to dole out compliments.                              and northeast). Each group speaks its own Thai         independently from the family, but to remain
                       On 19 September 2006, army chief Sonthi                                                              Foreigners who can speak even the most basic                                 dialect and to an extent practises regional cus-       comfortable so they bring good fortune to the
                    Boonyaratglin led a bloodless military coup.                                                            Thai are lauded as linguistic geniuses. Why do                               toms. Politically and economically the central         site. Food, drink and furniture are all offered
                    Bangkok citizens were so overjoyed that they                                                            some foreigners come to Thailand and never                                   Thais are dominant. People of Chinese ances-           to the spirits to smooth daily life.
NORTHERN THAILAND   112 B A N G K O K & N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • A r t s                                                                               B A N G K O K • • O r i e n t a t i o n 113

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 BANGKOK &
                      Roughly 95% of the population practises                           Architecture, however, is considered the        major cities reduced to beggars and sideshows.         of Thailand’s past, present and future, and a
                    Buddhism, but there is a significant Muslim                      highest art form in traditional Thai society.      Friends of the Asian Elephant (%0 2945 7124; www.ele   superb subject for any urban connoisseur. In
                    community, especially in southern Thailand.                      Ancient Thai homes consist of a simple teak and the National Elephant Institute       fact, nowhere else is Thailand’s khwaam pen
                                                                                     structure raised on stilts. The space under-       (p149) work to protect them.                           thai (‘Thai-ness’) more apparent than when
                    ARTS                                                             neath also serves as the living room, kitchen,                                                            watching people continue their villagelike
                    Music                                                            garage and barn. Rooflines in Thailand are         Environmental Issues                                   lives in front of the 21st-century façade.
                    TRADITIONAL                                                      steeply pitched and often decorated at the         Like all countries with high population den-              Following the fall of Ayuthaya in 1767,
                    Classical central Thai music features an                         corners or along the gables with motifs related    sity, there is enormous pressure on Thailand’s         the capital was briefly brought to Thonburi
                    incredible array of textures and subtleties,                     to the naga (mythical sea serpent).                ecosystems: 50 years ago about 70% of the              before moving across the river in 1782. But
                    hair-raising tempos and pastoral melodies.                          Temple architecture symbolises elements         countryside was forest, it’s now 28%. In re-           the name Bangkok, baptised by foreigners,
                    Among the more common instruments is                             of the religion. A steeply pitched roof system     sponse to environmental degradation, the               actually refers to a small village within the
                    the pìi, a woodwind instrument with a reed                       tiled in green, gold and red represents the        Thai government has created a large number             larger beast. The Thais call their capital Krung
                    mouthpiece; it is heard prominently at Thai                      Buddha (the Teacher), the Dhamma (Dharma           of protected areas since the 1970s. Following          Thep, or City of Angels, a much shortened
                    boxing matches. A bowed instrument, simi-                        in Sanskrit; the Teaching) and the Sangha (the     devastating floods, exacerbated by soil ero-           version of the very official tongue-twister:
                    lar to examples played in China and Japan,                       fellowship of followers of the Teaching).          sion, logging was banned in 1989. Air and              Krungthep mahanakhon amonratanakosin
                    is aptly called the saw. The ránâat èhk, is                                                                         water pollution are problems in urban areas,           mahintara ayuthaya mahadilok popnopparat
                    a bamboo-keyed percussion instrument re-                         Theatre & Dance                                    and though things are improving, Bangkok is            ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet ma-
                    sembling the Western xylophone, while the                        Traditional Thai theatre consists of six dra-      one of the world’s most polluted cities.               hasathan amonpiman avatansathit sakkathat-
                    khlùi is a wooden flute. This traditional or-                    matic forms: khǒhn, formal masked dance-              Though Thailand has a better record than            tiya witsanukamprasit.
                    chestra originated as an accompaniment to                        drama depicting scenes from the Ramakian           most of its neighbours at protecting endan-
                    classical dance-drama and shadow theatre,                        (the Thai version of India’s Ramayana) and         gered species, corruption hinders the efforts.         ORIENTATION
                    but these days it can be heard at temple fairs                   originally performed only for the royal court;     Roughly 250 animal and plant species in                Mae Nam Chao Phraya (the Chao Phraya
                    and concerts.                                                    lákhon, a general term covering several types      Thailand are on the International Union for            River) divides Bangkok from the older city
                       In the north and northeast there are several                  of dance-dramas (usually for nonroyal oc-          Conservation of Nature list of endangered or           of Thonburi. Bangkok can be further divided
                    popular wind instruments with multiple reed                      casions), as well as Western theatre; lí-keh,      vulnerable species, with tigers being one of           into east and west by the main railway line
                    pipes, which function basically like a mouth-                    a partly improvised, often bawdy folk play         the most threatened because poachers con-              feeding Hualamphong station. The older part
                    organ. Chief among these is the khaen, which                     featuring dancing, comedy, melodrama and           tinue to kill the cats for the lucrative Chinese       of the city, crowded with historical temples,
                    originated in Laos; when played by an adept                      music; mánohraa, the southern-Thai equiva-         pharmaceutical market.                                 bustling Chinatown and the popular trav-
                    musician it sounds like a rhythmic, churning                     lent of lí-keh, but based on a 2000-year-old                                                              ellers’ centre of Banglamphu (home of the
                    calliope organ.                                                  Indian story; nang, or shadow plays, limited                                                              famous Khao San Rd) is sandwiched between

                                                                                     to southern Thailand; and lákhon lék or hùn
                                                                                     lǔang puppet theatre.
                                                                                                                                        BANGKOK                                                the western side of the tracks and the river.
                                                                                                                                                                                               East of the railway is the new city, devoted to
                    Popular Thai music has borrowed much from                                                                           pop 7.5 million                                        commerce and its attendant skyscrapers and
                    the West, particularly its instruments, but                      ENVIRONMENT                                        Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts.           shopping centres, particularly the Siam Sq,
                    retains a distinct flavour. The best example of                  About as large as France, Thailand stretches       You are now entering Bangkok, a city always            Sukhumvit and Silom districts.
                    this is the rock group Carabao. Performing for                   from dense mountain jungles in the north           on the move. Ancient temples in the shadow                This simple sketch of Bangkok’s layout does
                    more than 30 years now, Carabao has crafted                      through flat central plains to southern tropi-     of space-age shopping malls, soaring sky-              an injustice to the chaos that the city has ac-
                    an exciting fusion of Thai traditional forms                     cal rainforests. Covering most of the country,     scrapers towering over tumbledown hovels,              quired through years of unplanned and rapa-
                    with heavy metal.                                                monsoon forests are filled with a sparse can-      ubercool cafés and restaurants surrounded              cious development. A good map, such as Lonely
                       Another major influence on Thai pop was                       opy of deciduous trees that shed their leaves      by simple street stalls, Bangkok is the nexus          Planet’s Bangkok City Map, will be a big help.
                    a 1970s group called Caravan. They created                       during the dry season to conserve water.
                    a modern Thai folk style known as phleng
                    phêua chii-wít (songs for life), which features                  Wildlife                                              GETTING INTO TOWN
                    political and environmental topics rather than                   Thailand is particularly rich in bird life, with      The Airport Express bus (150B) runs four convenient routes to/from central Bangkok between
                    the usual moonstruck love themes.                                over 1000 recorded resident and migrating             5am and midnight. Typical metered taxi fares from the airport are 200B to 250B to Th Sukhumvit,
                       The latest pop craze is hip-hop, best epito-                  species; approximately 10% of the world’s             250B to 300B to Th Khao San and 500B to Mo Chit bus terminal. Toll charges (paid by the pas-
                    mised by Thaitanium and Joey Boy.                                total. Thailand’s most revered indigenous             senger) vary between 20B to 60B. A 50B surcharge, payable to the driver, is added to all fares
                                                                                     mammal, the elephant, is integral to the coun-        departing from the airport.
                    Sculpture & Architecture                                         try’s culture; it symbolises wisdom, strength            Public buses (around 35B) stop and drop at the public transportation centre, 3km from the
                    On an international scale, Thailand has prob-                    and good fortune. Sadly, elephants, both wild         terminal via free shuttle. If you’re going to Siam Sq, Sukhumvit or Silom, use the On Nut Skytrain
                    ably distinguished itself more in traditional                    and domesticated, are now endangered, hav-            station bus (No 552). For Banglamphu, the Victory Monument bus (No 551) will get you pretty
                    religious sculpture than in any other art form.                  ing lost most of their habitat and their tradi-       close. You can also get buses direct to Aranya Prathet (187B) and Nong Khai (454B) on the
                    Thailand’s most famous sculptural output has                     tional role in society. No longer employable          Cambodian and Laos borders respectively.
                    been its bronze Buddha images, coveted the                       in the timber industry, the domesticated el-             The Airport Train Link to central Bangkok could open by 2008.
                    world over for their originality and grace.                      ephant and its mahout often wander through
NORTHERN THAILAND   114 B A N G K O K • • I n f o r m a t i o n                                                                                                              B A N G K O K • • S i g h t s 115

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BANGKOK &
                    INFORMATION                                             STA Travel (Map pp118-19; %0 2236 0262; www.sta                                                                         (tower). These broken ceramics are discarded
                    ATMs, banks, currency-exchange kiosks and     ; 14th fl, Wall Street Tower, 33/70 Th Surawong)      THE GEM SCAM                                            ballast from Chinese merchant ships.
                    internet cafés (charging around 30B on Th               Vieng Travel (Map p121; %0 2280 3537; www                       If anyone offers you unsolicited advice
                    Khao San) are widespread.                     ; Trang Hotel, 99/8 Th Wisut Kasat)             about a gem store, you can be sure that you             Chinatown
                                                                                                                                            will soon find there is a ‘sale’ or some such           Gleaming gold shops, towering neon signs
                    Emergency                                               DANGERS & ANNOYANCES                                            nonsense there. They, or another partner,               and shopfronts spilling out on to the side-
                    Tourist police (%1155; h24hr) English-speaking          Bangkok’s most heavily touristed areas (Wat                     might also explain how you can sell bulk                walk – welcome to Chinatown, the epicentre
                    officers.                                               Phra Kaew in particular) are favourite hunting                  quantities of gems in your country. When                of Bangkok’s bustling commercial cult. The
                                                                            grounds for con artists. Smartly dressed and                    you get home you’ll find that they are worth            neighbourhood’s energy is at once exhilarat-
                    Internet Resources                                      slick talking (not all are Thai), their usual spiel             far less than you paid, and might not even              ing and exhausting; and it’s fun to explore at
                    Bangkok Recorder ( Good         is that the attraction you want to visit is closed              be real gems.                                           night when it is lit up like a Christmas tree.
                    nightlife site.                                         for the day. This is the bait for the infamous                                                                          Slicing through the centre of the district, the
                    Khao San Road ( News, reviews       gem scam (see boxed text, opposite) or per-                                                                             famous Sampeng Lane (Map pp118-19; Soi Wanit) is
                    and profiles of Bangkok’s famous tourist ghetto.        haps the resurfaced card game scams – you                    present home. In between it was seized by Lao              jam-packed with the useful and the useless,
                    Real Thai ( Local Bangkok     won’t win either so don’t play. Also annoying                forces and carried off to Luang Prabang and                all at bargain prices. On the corner of Th
                    foodie takes a bite out of the Big Mango.               are the túk-túk drivers who hope to make a                   Vientiane, where it was later recaptured by the            Yaowarat and Th Chakrawat is Thieves Market
                                                                            commission by dragging you to a local silk or                Thais. The admission fee includes entrance to              (Nakhon Kasem; Map pp118-19; cnr Th Yaowarat & Th Chakra-
                    Medical Services                                        jewellery shop, even though you’ve requested                 Dusit Palace Park (right).                                 wat), so named for the ‘hot’ items previously
                    The following hospitals offer 24-hour emer-             an entirely different destination. Turn down                     Within the same grounds is the Grand Palace,           sold here.
                    gency service and English-speaking staff.               all offers of ‘free’ or too-cheap-to-be-real                 the former royal residence now used only for                  On the western edge of Chinatown is Pha-
                    Prices are high, but so is the quality. Use these       sightseeing and shopping deals.                              certain ceremonial occasions; the king’s cur-              hurat, a small Indian district. Th Chakraphet
                    numbers to call an ambulance.                                                                                        rent residence is Chitlada Palace (closed to the           is chock-a-block with Indian restaurants and
                    BNH (Map pp118-19; %0 2632 0550; 9 Th Convent)          SIGHTS                                                       public) in the northern part of the city.                  shops selling Indian sweets.
                    Bumrungrad Hospital (Map pp118-19; %0 2667              Ko Ratanakosin Area                                              Just northeast of Wat Phra Kaew the Lak                   Wat Traimit (Map pp118-19; Th Yaowarat; admission
                    1000; 33 Soi 3, Th Sukhumvit)                           Most of Bangkok’s must-sees reside in com-                   Meuang (City Pillar; Map pp118-19; Th Ratchadamnoen Nai;   20B; h9am-5pm) shelters a 3m-tall, 5.5-tonne,
                                                                            pact, walkable Ko Ratanakosin, the former                    admission free; h8.30am-5.30pm), home of Bang-             solid-gold Buddha image that was ‘discov-
                    Post                                                    royal district. Wat Arun is just a short ferry               kok’s city spirit, is generally alive with the             ered’ when it was being moved in the 1960s
                    Main post office (Map pp118-19; Th Charoen Krung;       ride across the river in Thonburi.                           spectacle of devotion, including traditional               and the stucco exterior hiding it, presum-
                    h8am-8pm Mon-Fri, 8am-1pm Sat & Sun)                       Wat Phra Kaew (Map pp118-19; %0 2224 1833; ad-            dancers.                                                   ably during one of Burma’s many invasions,
                                                                            mission 250B; h8.30am-3.30pm), also known as the                 Wat Pho (Map pp118-19; Th Sanamchai; admission 50B;    cracked. The labyrinthine passageways of Wat
                    Tourist Information                                     Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is an archi-                   h8am-5pm) sweeps the awards for superlatives:              Mangkon Kamalawat (Neng Noi Yee; Map pp118-19; Th
                    Bangkok Tourism Division (Map p121; %0 2225 7612;       tectural wonder of gleaming gilded stupas,                   it’s the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok,             Charoen Krung; h9am-6pm), locus of Vegetarian
          ; 17/1 Th Phra Athit; h9am-7pm)   mosaic-encrusted pillars and rich marble pedi-               dating from the 16th century. It houses Thai-              Festival activities (see p174), hold Buddhist,
                    TAT main office (Map pp118-19; %0 2250 5500;            ments. The highly stylised ornamentation is a                land’s largest reclining Buddha and it has the             Taoist and Confucian shrines.
                    ground fl, 1600 Th Petchaburi; h8.30am-4.30pm)          shrine to the revered Emerald Buddha, which                  biggest collection of Buddha images in the
                                                                            is housed in the main chapel. Actually made of               country. The big attraction is the stunning                Other Attractions
                    Travel Agencies                                         jasper, the 75cm-tall Buddha image endured an                reclining Buddha, 46m long and 15m high.                   Elegant Dusit Palace Park (Map pp118-19;
                    Not all Bangkok travel agencies are trustwor-           epic journey from northern Thailand, where                   The figure is modelled out of plaster around               %0 2628 6300; admission 100B, free with Grand Palace
                    thy, especially for cheap airline tickets. Try:         it was hidden inside a layer of stucco, to its               a brick core and is finished in gold leaf. The             ticket; h9.30am-4pm) is a relaxing destination
                                                                                                                                         affiliated Wat Pho Thai Traditional Massage School         with multiple museums. The must-see is the
                                                                                                                                         (Map pp118-19;%0 2221 3686; Soi       1868 Vimanmek Teak Mansion (Map pp118–19),
                        THÀNǑN & SOI                                                                                                     Penphat, Th Sanamchai) is the most famous centre           reputedly the world’s largest golden teakwood
                        Throughout this book, thànǒn (meaning ‘street’) is abbreviated as ‘Th’. A soi is a small street                  of its kind.                                               building. In the early 20th century Rama V
                        that runs off a larger street. The address of a site located on a soi will be written as 33 Soi 3, Th               The National Museum (Map p121; %0 2224 1402;            lived in this graceful 81-room mansion and
                        Sukhumvit, meaning off Th Sukhumvit on Soi 3.                                                                    Th Na Phra That 1; admission 40B; h9am-3.30pm Wed-         today it contains a treasure-trove of early
                           Building numbers can be confounding; the string of numbers divided by slashes and dashes                      Sun), reportedly the largest in Southeast Asia,            Ratanakosin art objects and antiques. Com-
                        (eg 48/3-5 Soi 1, Th Sukhumvit) indicate lot disbursements rather than sequential geography.                     provides an overview of Thai art and culture,              pulsory English-language tours last an hour.
                        The number before the slash refers to the original lot number; the numbers following the slash                   though labelling isn’t always illuminating.                Other exhibits in the park include handi-
                        indicate buildings (or entrances to buildings) constructed within that lot. The preslash numbers                     Wat Arun (Map pp118-19; admission 20B; h9am-5pm)       craft displays in Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall (Map
                        appear in the order in which they were added to city plans, while the postslash numbers are                      is a striking temple named after the Indian god            pp118–19) and the Royal Elephant Museum (Map
                        arbitrarily assigned by developers.                                                                              of dawn, Aruna. It looms large on Mae Nam                  pp118–19), which discusses but doesn’t house
                           Some Bangkok soi have become so large that they can be referred to both as thànǒn and soi                     Chao Phraya’s west bank, looking as if it were             pachyderms. Traditional Thai dances take
                        (eg Soi Sarasin/Th Sarasin and Soi Asoke/Th Asoke). Smaller than a soi is a trok (sometimes spelt                carved from granite; a closer inspection reveals           place at 10.30am and 2pm.
                        tràwk, meaning alleyway).                                                                                        a mosaic made of broken porcelain cover-
                                                                                                                                         ing the imposing 82m Khmer-style praang                                                 (Continued on page 122)
                         A                                                                     B                                                        C                                                                                    D                                                                                                        E                                                              F
                                                                                                                                                                                     ya                                                                                                 Th D                                                                                                      To Ayuthaya
                                                                                                                                                             hra                                                                                                                            ech                                                                                                      (36km)
                INFORMATION                                                                                                                   Mae Nam Chao P                                                                                                                                   atun
                Chinese Embassy............................... 1 D5

                Lao Embassy....................................... E5
                                                                 2                                                                                                                                                                                                             rap
 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 a     Rd                                                                                                                                              1
                SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES                  (pp114–22)                                                                             PAK
                Baan Dvara Prateep............................ B1
                                                               3                                                                            KRET
                Manohra Cruises................................4 B7
                World Fellowship of Buddhists........... 5 D6

                EATING                                 (pp124–6)                          3
                Vientiane Kitchen.............................. 6 D6

                ENTERTAINMENT                                 (pp124–6)

                                                                                                         Ko Kret                                                                                                                                                                               Don Muang                                      Don Muang
                RCA.................................................... E5
                                                                      7                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Airport

                SHOPPING                           (p127)

                                                                                                                                                                                                     y (2n
                Chatuchak Weekend Market............. 8 D4

                                                                                                                                                                                                 d Sta
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th C
 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ng                                                                                                                                                                                           2

                TRANSPORT                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Wa
                Eastern Bus Terminal .......................... E6
                                                                9                                                                                                                                                                                                   a
                Northern & Northeastern                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            304
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             GREATER BANGKOK

                   Bus Terminal............................... 10 D4
                Southern Bus Terminal .....................11 B5                                                                                                                                                                                                               Laksi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              g Talat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          g Ban


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             BANG                      Th

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             KHEN                         Ra

                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th Prac



                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Ngam


 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wa                                                                                                                                                                                                     3
                                                                                                                                  NONTHABURI                                                                                            n





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             31                           ad



 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                 10 Park                                                                                                                                                                                                               4


                                                                                                                    g                                                     BANG

                                                                                                                  an                                                                                                                         Chatuchak                              Lat Phrao
                                                                                                          Khlong B                                                         SEU

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Khlong Bang Luang



                                                                                     KRUAY                                                                                      Bang Seu                                                     Mo Chit
                                Khlong Maha Sawat                                                                                                       Phra
                                                                                                                                                                                Kamphoeng Pet                                                Ratchadapisek
                                                                                                                                                    ao               Th                                                    8
                                                                                                                                                                          Pad                                                                                                           Talat Phahonyothin
                                                                                                                                            m                                   at                                             Saphan Kwai


                                                                                                                                                            SI YAN                                                                                                                       Sulthisan                                                                     Th


                                                             338                                                                                                                                                                                   HUAY


                                                                                          11                                                                                                                                                      KHWANG

                                                                                                                                                                                                     Th P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Huai Khwang

               To Nakhon                                                                                                                           Th

                                                                                                                                      THEWET             Rat                                                                                           Thailand

               Pathom (32km)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                336

                                                                                                                                                               wit                                                                                                                             Soi 39
                                                                                                                                                                   hi                                                                                  Cultural                                                                 2

 5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (Soi                                                                                                                      5


                                                                                                                                                 DUSIT                                                                                                                                                              Pracha Uthit)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th Thiamrua
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      di R



                                                                                                                                                        Chitlada                                                                                              1
                                                              BANGKOK                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BANG



                                                                NOI                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mhaeng                    KAPI
                                                                                                                         BANGLAMPHU                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th Ramkha

                                                                                                 Wat                Bangkok Noi                                                                                                                                     Rama IX                        Royal City Ave
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Makkasan                                   Th Rama IX
                                                                                                                         KO RATANAKOSIN                                         Th
                                                                                                                                                                                          Phe                                                                                                                              7
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Th Ph

                                                                                                                                                                                      Th Phra                                                                                                         uri Tat
                                                                                                                                                                                              Ra          m I                                                      Khlo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        n                                               Mai
                                                                                          THONBURI                                  CHINATOWN                                                                                                                                g Sa
                                                                                                                    Wat                                         Hualamphong

                                                                                                                    Arun                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Th Phetburi Tat Mai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Soi 21 (A

                                                                   Khlong Bang kok


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      hong Lo

                                                                                                                                                                            Phrom KHLONG
                                                                                                                                                                            Phong TOEY          Lumphini

                                                                                                                                                                                 Th               Park                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           (1st Stage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Soi 55 (T

                                                                                                                                                                              5         kh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Expressw )

                                                    Tha Phetkasem                                                                             THUNG                                        um
                                                                                          Wong                                             MAHAMEK
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Soi 63

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Soi 71

                                                                 4                      Wian Yai                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ong
                                                                                                                                                                                   Lor                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     han
                                                                                                                                         See Central Bangkok Map (pp118–19)                          Ekamai                                                                                                                                                                                                            Prak
                                                                   Wat Pak Nam                                                                                                   Th         6                                                                                                                                                                                                              Khlong
                                                      asem n
                                                              e                                                      on            Th Narathiwat
                                                                                                                                                                                    Ram                                                                                                                                                                           em
                                             h P        haro                                                      kh
                                                                                                                                                                                          a IV 9
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Kas                                                  To Suvarnabhumi
                                           T                                                                   Na                  Ratchanakharin                                                                                                                                                                                                         ng
                                                   si C                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 u                                         Soi 77                International

                                               Pha           DAO                                            en                                                                                           Phra                                                                                                                                        Kr

                                           ng                                                           aro                            TROK                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Airport (17km)
                                      Khlo               KHANONG                                     Ch                                CHAN                                                        Khanong ung

                                             lon                                                 Th                                 Th Chan                                                                 ha                                                                                                                                         On Nut
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Th Si

                                                                                                                                                                                                       n g P

                                                    Dao                                     4                                                                                KHLONG               Khlo
                                                           Khanong                                           Tha Ratchasingkhon
                                                                                                                                                                               TOEY                                                                                                                                                                                  PHRA
                                                                         Tha Daokanong                       Wat Ratchasingkhon                       ay

                                                                                                                                                  sw                           PORT                                                                                                                                                                                KHANONG
                                                                                                                                               res ge)

                                               BANG                                             Krungthep          THANON                  Exp st Sta

                                               KHUN                                               Bridge              TOK                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rama IX

                                               THIAN                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wat Thammamongkhon                                      Royal

                                                                                                                                         Wat Chong Nonsi


                                                                                                                      Th Ram

 7                                                                                                                           a III                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       7


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Soi 101


                                                            ng                            Su

                                                          lo                                 ksa

                                                                                                 wa                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Soi 103 (Soi Udom Suk)
                                                        Floating                                    t       RATBURANA


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            BANGNA                                                    34
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a  o

      r R


         g R



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               5 km
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             3 miles

                                To Damnoen Saduak                                                    Skytrain & Stations                    PRADAENG
                               Floating Market (56km)
 8                                                                                                   Subway & Stations                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To Samut Prakan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     CTRY                          CITY

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        0                                                                                              1 km
        118                      CTRY
                                      CENTRAL BANGKOK                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   0                                                                                        0.5 miles                                                119

                             A                                                                                 B                                                                                                                            C                                                                                                  D                                                                                                                   E                                                                                                 F                                                                                                                                       G                                                                                                                 H

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     So i








                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   on y o
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Soi                                                                                       Th

                                                                                                                                                                                                         9                                                                                        Rat

1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           1





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Ph a h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ratchathiwat                                           33          29



                                                              See Banglamphu Map (p121)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dusit                Dusit


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              25                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ari

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Park                                                                                                                                                                                                         Phayathai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   So i
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ok                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Huay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Park                                                                                                                                                                                                                       e-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th                                                                                                                                          Chitlada                                                                                                     Ra                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Khwang
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Si                                                                                                                                  Palace                                                                                         Kh                 tch

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  tha                                        Dusit                                                                                                                                                                                      gS                          ise                       Sanam

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Zoo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Pao






                                                                                                                                                                                                                   et 1


                                                                                                                                                      sem                                                                                                                                                                                        Park                                                                                                                        Rat

                                                                                                                 ay                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             w



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                                                                                                                                   So                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Th


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ai -

                                                                                                                                     i 1                                   Soi                                                                                                                                        Royal                                                                                                                                                                   Victory          Rat

2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cha                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2



                                                                                                                                                                           Soi 6                                                                                                                                      Club
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Monument                   wit

                                                                                                                                                                                4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        89



                                 31                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              D in                                                                                                                                        Rama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th Ratchaprarop



                                                                                      Banglamphu                                                                              lon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Da                                                                                                                                    IX



                                                              Saphan                                                                                                              gB                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  eng

                       Khlong Bangkok                                                                                              o                                                                                                                                         Ka                                 Th


                                                                                                                                ph                                                                                                                        88

                                                     No         Phra                                                                                                                             an                                                                                se                                                                                                                                                       Th
                                                       i                                                               a                                                                                 gla                                                                                                               Ph

                                                              Pin Klao                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Si A


                                                                                                                                                                                                            mp                                                                                                                its
         Bangkok Noi                                                                                              ha                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 y ut

                                                                                                                                                                                                                hu                                                                                                               an                                                                                                                       h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              an                                                                                                                                                                                    aya


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 So i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            aw                                                        ul




                                                                                                                 Th Ratc                                                                                                                                Na
                                                                                                                                             hadamno                                                                                             Th                                                                                Bangkok
                                                                                                                                                                             en Klan                                                                                                                                               Adventist
                                                                                                                                                                                                     g                                    108                                Th Lan Luang                                                                                                                                                                          Phayathai
                                                                                 Sanam                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Hospital                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Th Phra Ram IX
          k                Trok Lang                                                                                                                         Phra                                            Wat
Th Phranno
                                                                                                                            Th Buranasat
                                                                                                       Th Ra

                             Wang                                                Luang                                                                      Nakhon                                        Rajanadda                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Asoke
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            100 Th                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Ratch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Damron                                                                                                                                                                        Th                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 adapis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         o r ip h a

                           Soi Wa                                                                                                                                                                                                                        g Rak                                                                                                                                                                              Petc                                                                                                                                                                                           Makkasan                                                                                                ek Exp
         Soi Ma Toom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 m VI
                           Rakhan t                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              hab                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     wy


                                                                   Ko                                                                                                                                                                         Wat       Khlon                                                                                                                                                                                        uri

                                 g                                                                                                                         Th Mah                                                                                             g Saem

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Soi 1
                                                               Ratanakosin                                                                                        anot                                                                       Saket
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Th B


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Th Ra
                                Wat                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         b                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               94

3                               Rakhang                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Ratchathewi                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     3

                                                                                                                  Th Atsad


                                                                          40                                                                                                                                                                                      Th

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         B am
                       Th Arun

                                                                                                                                                                                        Th Burapha

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Khlon a Chai
                                                                                                                                                                        Th Tri Thong

                                                                                           Th Sana

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ra C
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 g One

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Meu                                                                                                                                     45                       Pantip
                                                                                                                                           Th Fuang Na

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Th Petchab

                                                                         Grand                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ang                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          101                                                                                                                                                                      uri Tat Ma



                                                                         Palace                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Soi Kasem 102                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  21

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                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th M


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    44     Siam                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Khlong Saem Saeb                                                         Phetburi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Th Y

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Th Phr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Th Ratchda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     a Ram                                               Discovery       95

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                             ri n

                                                                                                                                                   Th Charoen Krung                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I                                57                                       Central

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           oi Nan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             sem                                                                                                          Centre Siam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th With

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Soi Chi
                                                                                           38                                                                  81                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     National                   Centre                                                                                                                                                                        68
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Khlong Phng Kasem

                                                                                                            Phahurat                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Plaza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    adung Ka

                      on                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stadium                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          105

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                   gM                                                                                                                                 69                                                                                                               n


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                                                                                                                                Th Ban Mo


                                                                                                                                              Th Phah                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             92               Siam                                                                                                                                                                                                                          58

                                                                                                                                                     urat                                                                              Th                                                                                                                                                                           National                                                                                                                                                         Chitlom                                                                                                                                          79


                                                                         39                                                                  43                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Soi Chu Square


                                                                                                                                                             r iph et

                                                                                                                                                                                                         30                                     ar                                                                                                                                                                                             lalongk              Erawan                                                                                                                                     22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 i – Bangkok                                                                           orn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Soi 21 (As
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  oe                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ploenchit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Th Kru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               37                                                                                                                                                  Th Chu      56                                    Shrine                                                                                   50                                        99 Th                                                                                    61                                                                                                                   10

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      n                                                                                                                                                                   lalongko                                                                                                                                                                            Ploenc


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i Dunant
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              0                                200 m
   120         CENTRAL BANGKOK (pp118–19)                                                                                                                            BANGLAMPHU                                                                                                                                                                                                               0                             0.1 mile                                    121

                                                                                                                                                                                              A                                                                               B                                                                                              C                                                                            D
INFORMATION                                             SLEEPING                               (pp122–4)      ENTERTAINMENT                          (pp126–7)
                                                                                                                                                                   INFORMATION                                                                           EATING                                       (pp124–6)
Australian Embassy..................... 1          F6   238 Guesthouse....................... 43 B4           Bed Supperclub........................ 79 G4         Bangkok Tourist Division....................1 A4                                      Arawy.............................................. 13 D6
Bangkok Immigration Office.......2                 F6   A-One Inn................................44 E3        Brown Sugar.............................80 F5        Vieng Travel...................................... 2 D3                               Hemlock...........................................14 B4
BNH ...........................................3   E5   Asia Hotel.................................45 E3      Chalermkrung Royal                                                                                                                         May Kaidee......................................15 C5                                                                                                                                                                                1
Bumrungrad Hospital................. 4             G4   Atlanta .................................... 46 G4       Theatre.................................81 B4     SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES                       (pp114–2)                                   Roti-Mataba.....................................16 B3
                                                                                                                                                                   Jitti's Gym Thai Boxing & Homestay...3 B5                                             Shoshana..........................................17 B4                                                                                                                                                      Thewet
Cambodian Embassy...................5              F5   Bangkok Centre Hotel.............. 47 D4              DJ Station.................................82 E5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     11         T
                                                                                                                                                                   May Kaidee....................................(see 15)                                Ton Pho...........................................18 B4                                                                                                                                            Ayu h Si
Canadian Embassy......................6            F5   Davis........................................ 48 H6   Living Room............................. 83 G4       National Museum...............................4 A5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ttha
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Kh                         ya
French Consulate........................7          F5   Eugenia.................................... 49 H4     Lucifer......................................84 E5   Wat Mahathat................................... 5 A6                                  DRINKING                                         (p126)                                                                                                                           lon
French Embassy......................... 8          D5   Grand Hyatt Erawan.................50 F4              Lumphini Stadium ....................85 F5                                                                                                 Baghdad Café..................................19 C4                                                                                                                                  g          Ph
German Embassy........................9            F5   La Résidence Hotel...................51 E5            Nana Entertainment Plaza........ 86 G4               SLEEPING                                  (pp122–4)                                   Center Khao San..............................20 C5                                                                                                                                                ad
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Th             un
                                                                                                                                                                   Baan Chantra.....................................6 C3                                 Hippie de Bar....................................21 B5                                                                                                                                      Kr        gK
Indian Embassy........................ 10          H4   Majestic Suites......................... 52 G4        Natayasala................................87 F5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          un        as
                                                                                                                                                                   Chai's House......................................7 B4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                g         em
Irish Embassy............................11        F5   New Road Guesthouse............. 53 D5                Ratchadamnoen Stadium.......... 88 C2                Donna Guesthouse.............................8 C5                                     SHOPPING                                  (p127)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             K       as
Israeli Embassy..........................12        F4   Niagara Hotel...........................54 E6         Sala Rim Nam.........................(see 55)        New Siam Guesthouse........................9 B4                                       Th Khao San Market........................22 C5
Japanese Embassy.....................13            F5   Oriental Hotel.......................... 55 D5        Saxophone Pub &                                      New World Lodge Hotel..................10 C4
Main post office....................... 14         D5   Pathumwan Princess.................56 E4                 Restaurant........................... 89 F2       Sri Ayuttaya Guest House.................11 D1
Malaysian Embassy...................15             F5   Pranee Building.........................57 E3         Shela........................................90 F5   Villa Guest House.............................12 C3
Myanmar Embassy................... 16              D6   Soi 1 Guesthouse..................... 58 G4           Soi Cowboy............................. 91 H4
Netherlands Embassy................17              F4   TT Guest House....................... 59 D5
New Zealand Embassy..............18                F4   Wendy House...........................60 E3          SHOPPING                                 (p127)
Spanish Embassy...................... 19           H5                                                        Mahboonkrong........................92 E4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Th
STA Travel................................20       E5   EATING                                  (pp124–6) Patpong Night Market..............93 E5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      em
TAT main office....................... 21          G3   Al Hussain................................ 61 G4 Pratunam Market......................94 F3
UK Embassy..............................22         F4   Bà-mìi Hong Kong.................... 62 C4 Siam Paragon............................95 E3
US Embassy..............................23         F4   Ban Chiang.............................. 63 D6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So
Vietnamese Embassy................24               F4   Bourbon St Bar &                                     TRANSPORT                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i5
                                                           Restaurant............................ 64 H5 Air China................................. 96 D5
SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES                (pp114–22)           Cabbages & Condoms............. 65 G4 Air France................................ 97 D5

Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall........ 25 D1                 Eat Me .....................................66 E5 American Airlines...................(see 99)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2

Blue Elephant Thai Cooking                              Gourmet Paradise...................(see 95) British Airways..........................98 E5




   School.................................. 26 D6       Maha Naga.............................. 67 H4 Cathay Pacific Airways..............99 F4



Health Land .............................27 E6          Mahboonkrong Food                                    Khlong Taxis (Tha Phan Fah).. 100 C3



Lak Meuang ............................28 B3               Centre................................(see 92) Khlong Taxis (Tha Pratunam )..101 F3                                                                                                                                                  Santichaiprakan                                                                                                    6


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Royal Elephant Museum...........29 D1                   My Collection...........................68 F4 Khlong Taxis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Port Sumen

                                                                                                                (Tha Ratchathewi)..............102 E3                                                                                                                                                                                                                               So
Sampeng Lane......................... 30 C4             Old Siam Plaza......................... 69 B4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fort                                                                                       i 1


Silom Thai Cooking School....... 31 D6                  Pizzeria Bella Napoli................. 70 H5 Khlong Taxis (Tha Withayu)... 103 G3                                                                                                                                                            16
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  19                                       Soi
Thieves Market........................ 32 C4            Royal India............................... 71 C4 KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines....(see 106)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ai                                                            So
Vimanmek Teak Mansion.........33 C1                     Sara-Jane's...............................72 F5 Lao Airlines.............................104 E5                                                                                                                                                                        k K
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            TroC h a e                                                              i 2
Wan Fah Cruises...................... 34 D5             Tamarind Café......................... 73 H5 Lufthansa Airlines................... 105 H4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10
Wat Arun................................. 35 A4         Th Phadungdao Seafood                                Northwest Airlines..................106 F4                                                                                                18                                  9                                                                                                                  Kh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i                                  Banglamphu

                                                           Stalls..................................... 74 C4 Orient Thai............................ 107 H5                                                                                                                                                                      Tr                                                                             lon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         i C kh
Wat Benchamabophit.............. 36 D2


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Wat Mangkon Kamalawat....... 37 C4                                                                           Qantas Airways......................(see 98)


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Wat Pho................................... 38 B4        DRINKING                                      (p126) South African Airways............(see 97)                                                                                            At                                                                                                                                                                      mp                                                                  4
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Wat Pho Thai Massage School..39 B4                      Balcony.....................................75 E5 Thai Airways International...... 108 C3                                                                                         Ph                                                                                                   Th            ai

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Wat Phra Kaew........................40 B3              Cheap Charlie's........................ 76 G4 Thai Airways International......109 E5                                                                      1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Th h S

Wat Traimit............................. 41 D4          Moon Bar at Vertigo.................77 F5 United Airlines........................110 F4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ph

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Yok Yor Marina & Restaurant.. 42 C5                     O'Reilly's Irish Pub....................78 E5 Vietnam Airlines......................111 G4                                                                                                                 7                                                                                                              Tan                                                 Su

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NORTHERN THAILAND   122 B A N G K O K • • A c t i v i t i e s                                 Book accommodation online at   Book accommodation online at                                   B A N G K O K • • S l e e p i n g 123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BANGKOK &
                    (Continued from page 115)                                                                                                     At the bottom end, rooms (around 180B)                low-key neighbourhood just beyond Chi-
                                                                                   DRESS FOR THE OCCASION                                     are quite small with thin walls and shared                natown, this family-run guesthouse boasts
                        Wat Benchamabophit (Marble Temple; Map pp118-              Thai temples are sacred places and visitors                bathrooms. At this price, just show up and                a shaded courtyard. The shared bathrooms
                    19; Th Si Ayuthaya; admission 20B; h8am-5.30pm), built         should dress and behave appropriately.                     start hunting as most cheapies don’t take res-            are very clean.
                    under Rama V in 1899, is made of white                         Wear shirts with sleeves, long pants or skirts             ervations. In the high season (November to                   238 Guesthouse (Map pp118-19; %0 2623 9287;
                    Carrara marble and is a stunning example of                    past the knees, and closed-toed shoes. Sa-                 February), it’s wise to take the first bed you            238 Th Phahurat; r 400-600B; a) This converted
                    modern temple architecture. The real treasure                  rongs and baggy pants are available on                     can find. As a rule, you can arrive anytime at            shophouse within walking distance of Ko
                    here is a rear courtyard containing a multitude                loan at the entry area for Wat Phra Kaew.                  night and find a place to crash.                          Ratanakosin has generous rooms with all
                    of Buddha images from all periods of Thai                      Shoes should be removed before entering                        Thewet, the leafy district north of Banglam-          the basics.
                    Buddhist art.                                                  buildings. When sitting in front of a Buddha               phu near the National Library, is another                    Bangkok Centre Hotel (Map pp118-19; %0 2238
                       Jim Thompson House (Map pp118-19; %0 2216 7368;             image, tuck your feet behind you to avoid                  travellers’ enclave, especially for families and          4980;; 328 Th Phra Ram IV;
          ; Soi Kasem San 2, Th Phra Ram I;      the great offence of pointing your feet to-                the over-30 crowd.                                        r from 1400B; ais) You can see your train
                    admission 100B; h9am-5pm) is the beautiful house               wards a revered figure.                                        Chai’s House (Map p121; %0 2281 4901, 49/4-8 Soi      pull into the station from this hotel tower. It
                    of the American entrepreneur Jim Thomp-                                                                                   Rongmai; s/d 165/275B) This family-run guesthouse,        has all the usual midrange amenities.
                    son, who successfully promoted Thai silk                                                                                  all with shared bathrooms, is a quiet and se-
                    to Western markets. Atmospherically sited                   Meditation                                                    cure spot that enforces a 1am curfew.                     Siam Square & Pratunam
                    on a small khlong (canal), his remarkable                   World Fellowship of Buddhists (Map pp116-17;                      oVilla Guest House (Map p121; %0 2281 7009;           Siam Sq lies conveniently along both Skytrain
                    house was built from salvaged components                    %0 2661 1284;; Soi 24, Th Sukhumvit)           230 Soi 1, Th Samsen; r 250-500B) This old teak house,    lines. A low-key, DIY traveller community
                    of traditional Thai houses. His collection of               hosts meditation classes on the first Sunday of               tucked away down a small alley, is wrapped                bunks down on Soi Kasem San 1.
                    Thai art and furnishings is equally superb.                 every month and can link you up with English-                 in a leafy garden. The atmospheric rooms are                  Pranee Building (Map pp118-19; %0 2216 3181;
                    Compulsory tours in English and French run                  speaking teachers situated across Thailand.                   furnished in period pieces and antiques, but              931/12 Soi Kasem San 1; r 450B; a) One of the cheap-
                    every 10 minutes.                                              Wat Mahathat (Map p121; %0 2222 6011) has three            it’s shared bathrooms all the way.                        est options on the street, Pranee isn’t fancy
                                                                                daily meditation sessions (7am, 1pm and 6pm)                      Sri Ayuttaya Guest House (Map p121; %0 2282 5942;     but the rooms are large with air-con and hot
                    ACTIVITIES                                                  and the International Buddhist Meditation                     Soi Thewet, Th Si Ayuthaya; d 350-500B; a) Sri Ayuttaya   water; the bathrooms are a tad decrepit.
                    Spas & Massage                                              Centre here hosts twice-monthly lectures.                     has romantic rooms with hardwood floors,                      Wendy House (Map pp118-19; %0 2216 2436; Soi
                    Depending on the neighbourhood, prices                         Baan Dvara Prateep (Map pp116-17; %0 1845 5445;            exposed brick and other stylish touches.                  Kasem San 1; d incl breakfast from 1000B; a) As profes-
                    for massages tend to stay fixed: around 250B      ; 53/3 Mu 5, Ko Kret) is more             New World Lodge Hotel (Map p121; %0 2281 5596;        sional as they come with genuine Thai-style
                    for a foot massage and around 500B for a                    relaxed than the strict temple environment,         ; Soi 2, Th Samsen; r from 1300B;    concern for the guests. Rooms are on the small
                    body massage.                                               with the focus on relieving stress.                           a) New World is large but unassuming.                     side though.
                       Wat Pho (Map pp118-19; %0 2221 3686; Th Sanam-                                                                         Rooms on the 4th or 5th floors boast terraces                 Asia Hotel (Map pp118-19; %0 2215 0808; www
                    chai; h8am-5pm) runs the nation’s premier                   Muay Thai ( Thai Boxing)                                      overlooking Khlong Banglamphu.                  ; 296 Th Phayathai; d from 2900B; as) A
                    massage school (p115) and has air-con ser-                  Sweating distance from Th Khao San, Jitti’s                     oBaan Chantra (Map p121; %0 2628 6988;                  favourite of ageing backpackers who’ve moved
                    vice there, but the massage pavilions inside                Gym Thai Boxing & Homestay (Map p121; %0 2282       ; 120 Th Samsen; d from 2200B; a)      beyond guesthouses, this huge place has a
                    the temple itself provide a greater sense of                3551;; 13 Soi Krasab, Th Chakraphong;        Unlike many other boutique hotels, Baan                   good location and large rooms. A walkway
                    tradition.                                                  training from 300B) specialises in training foreign           Chantra prefers comfortable and roomy over                from the Skytrain is another plus.
                       Spas are becoming increasingly popular in                students of both genders.                                     fashionable and pinched. Many of the house’s                  Grand Hyatt Erawan (Map pp118-19; %0 2254 1234;
                    Thailand, and while Health Land (Map pp118-19;                                                                            original teak details remain.                   ; Th Ratchadamri; r from US$150;
                    %0 2637 8883;; 120 Th Sathon          FESTIVALS & EVENTS                                               Also recommended:                                      as) Within striking distance of the top
                    Neua; treatments from 750B) is more down-to-earth           Bangkok International Film Festival (www.bangkok              Donna Guesthouse (Map p121; %0 2281 9374; off             shopping malls, the Erawan provides one of
                    than most, the pamper factor still soars.          Emphasises Asian cinema. Held mid-January.          Soi Damnoen Klang, Th Ratchadamnoen Klang; d 250-         Bangkok’s most prestigious postcommerce
                                                                                Royal Ploughing Ceremony The King commences rice-             350B; a) Clean and quiet with big twin beds. Shared       slumbers.
                    COURSES                                                     planting season with a royal-religious ceremony at Sanam      bathrooms.                                                   Also recommended:
                    Cooking                                                     Luang in early May.                                           New Siam Guesthouse (Map p121; %0 2282 4554;              A-One Inn (Map pp118-19; %0 2215 3029; www
                    Run out of a private home, Silom Thai Cooking                                                                   ; 21 Soi Chana Songkhram, Th Phra; 25/13-15 Soi Kasem San 1; d from 600B;
                    School (Map pp118-19; %0 4726 5669; 31/11 Soi 13, Th        SLEEPING                                                      Athit; s 290B, d 320-490B; as) Very clean spot with       a) Simple, but good value.
                    Silom; 1000B) offers an introduction to home-               The following districts offer widely different                self-accessible lockers. Some facilities are shared.      Pathumwan Princess (Map pp118-19; %0 2216
                    cooking and ordinary Thai life.                             experiences. It can take quite a long time to                                                                           3700;; 444 Th Payathai; r from 3700B;
                        May Kaidee (Map p121; %0 9137 3173; off Soi Dam-        get around the city, so choosing your location                Chinatown                                                 as) Family favourite connected to MBK shopping
                    noen Klang Neua;; 1000B) teaches          is as important as choosing your hotel.                       A stay in this chaotic neighbourhood of-                  centre and Skytrain.
                    all-vegetarian cooking. There is a restaurant                                                                             fers a distinctly anonymous experience from
                    (p125) here too.                                            Banglamphu & Thewet                                           the usual walking-ATM treatment you’ll get                Silom
                        Blue Elephant Thai Cooking School (Map pp118-19;        Banglamphu, the neighbourhood that includes                   elsewhere. The downside is that traffic is                The city’s financial district along Th Silom
                    %0 2673 9353;; Thai Chine Bldg,        the backpacker street of Th Khao San, is a well-              horrendous.                                               is not the most charming area of town, but
                    233 Th Sathon Tai; 3300B) is considered Bangkok’s           padded landing zone for jet-lagged travellers.                   TT Guest House (Map pp118-19; %0 2236 2946;            it is conveniently located for nightspots and
                    most gourmet cooking school.                                It’s getting quite gentrified these days.                     516-518 Soi Sawang, Th Maha Nakhon; r 250-280B) In a      the Skytrain.
NORTHERN THAILAND   124 B A N G K O K • • E a t i n g                                           Book accommodation online at                                                                        B A N G K O K • • E a t i n g 125

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                BANGKOK &
                       New Road Guesthouse (Map pp118-19; %0 2237                  Davis (Map pp118-19; %0 2260 8000; www.davis                   Also recommended:                                           teak furniture and bone China, the ambience
                    1094; 1216/1 Th Charoen Krung; d 600-700B; a) This   ; Soi 24, Th Sukhumvit; d from 3000B;             May Kaidee (Map p121; %0 9137 3173; off Soi                   is delicate and intimate, everything that Bang-
                    friendly cheapie near the river is sandwiched                  as) Boutique hotel with stunning, Asian-themed               Damnoen Klang Neua; mains 50B; hlunch & dinner)               kok’s fine-dining scene is lacking. The menu
                    between luxe hotels.                                           rooms.                                                       The most popular, but not necessarily the best, of several    is firmly international.
                        Niagara Hotel (Map pp118-19; %0 2233 5783; 26                                                                           veggie shops in this area. Cooking classes are also offered       Also worth a try is Gourmet Paradise (Map
                    Soi 9/Suksavitthaya, Th Silom; d 700B; a) From the             EATING                                                       (see p122).                                                   pp118-19; %0 2610 8000; ground fl, Siam Paragon, Th Phra
                    outside Niagara looks like just another                        No matter where you go in Bangkok, food                      Roti-Mataba (Map p121; Th Phra Athit; mains 60-80B;           Ram I; mains 60-250B; hlunch & dinner), an upmarket
                    crummy no-tell motel, but inside is one of                     is always there. There is so much variety                    hlunch & dinner Tue-Sun) This Bangkok legend does             international food court.
                    the best bargains in Silom. The rooms are                      just on the street that you can go days with-                a whirlwind business of kaeng mátsàmàn (Thai Muslim
                    immaculate.                                                    out stepping inside a restaurant. Enacting                   curry).                                                       Silom
                        o La Résidence Hotel (Map pp118-19;                        the modern equivalent of hunter-gatherers,                                                                                 Office workers swarm the shanty villages of
                    %0 2233 3301; 173/8-9 Th Surawong; d 1200-1500B, ste           many visitors skip from stall to stall sampling              Chinatown                                                     street vendors for lunch and simple Indian
                    2700B; a) La Résidence is a boutique inn with                  kǔaytǐaw (noodles), plates of râat khâo (rice                When you mention Chinatown, Bangkokians                       restaurants proliferate towards the western
                    playfully and individually decorated rooms.                    and curry) or mùat phàt (stir-fries) for 25B                 begin dreaming of noodles, usually prepared                   end of Th Silom and Th Surawong, but this
                    A standard room is very small and fittingly                    to 40B.                                                      by street vendors lining Th Yaowarat, near                    area is known for its elegant restaurants pre-
                    decorated like a child’s bedroom. The next                        When the need comes for a restaurant,                     Trok Itsaranuphap (Soi 16), after dark. Of                    paring international fusion and royal Thai
                    size up is more mature and voluptuous.                         Bangkok’s best are the décorless mom-and-                    course, the dining is good in the Indian dis-                 cuisine.
                       Oriental Hotel (Map pp118-19; %0 2659 9000; www             pop shops that concentrate only on the food;                 trict of Phahurat too.                                           Sara-Jane’s (Map pp118-19; %0 2676 3338; 55/21 Th
          ; 48 Soi Oriental/Soi 38, Th Charoen      most of these restaurants hover around 60B                      Old Siam Plaza (Map pp118-19; ground fl, Th Triphet;       Narathiwat Ratchanakharin; mains 100-200B; hlunch & din-
                    Krung; d US$300; as) While the rest of the city                to 100B for a main dish. Higher prices always                mains 50-100B; hlunch) The Thai version of Willy              ner) One of Bangkok’s most famous faràng has
                    jumps overboard for the new Zen trend, the                     bring more ambience, and dining in Bang-                     Wonka’s factory turns seemingly savoury in-                   built a small food empire from the marriage of
                    classic Oriental stays rooted in its Victorian                 kok’s fashionable or touristy restaurants is                 gredients like beans and rice into syrupy sweet               Isan (northeast Thailand) and Italian food.
                    past. It is consistently rated as one of the best              sometimes more for show than for flavour. All                desserts, like lûuk chúp (miniature fruits made                  Eat Me (Map pp118-19; %0 2238 0931; 1/6 Soi Phiphat
                    hotels in the world and prides itself on per-                  the great international cuisines, from Mexican               of beans) and tàkôh (coconut pudding in ba-                   2; mains 200-400B; hdinner) A little bit of cosmo
                    sonalised service.                                             to Japanese are available too.                               nana leaves), right before your eyes.                         Sydney has blossomed here off Th Silom.
                                                                                                                                                   Th Phadungdao Seafood Stalls (Map pp118-19; Th             Chic, minimalist décor is accessorised by ro-
                    Sukhumvit                                                      Banglamphu & Thewet                                          Yaowarat; mains 160-300B; hdinner) After sunset, this         tating modern art. And lest we forget, the food
                    Th Sukhumvit is the commercial corridor of                     This area near the river is one of the best for              frenetic street sprouts outdoor barbecues, iced               is creative and modern, spanning the globe
                    the newest part of Bangkok; the western side is                cheap Thai eats and because of the travel-                   seafood trays and sidewalk seating.                           from pumpkin risotto to tuna tartare.
                    a busy sex tourist sector. If you’re not amused                ler presence, Western and vegetarian food                       Also recommended:                                             Head to the very popular Ban Chiang (Map
                    by this, you may want to stay elsewhere,                       are well represented. Prices are lower and the               Bà-mìi Hong Kong (Map pp118-19; Th Yaowarat; mains            pp118-19; %0 2236 7045; 14 Soi Si Wiang, Th Surasak; mains
                    though the sex scene is far from ubiquitous                    quality higher as you move away from Th                      50B; hdinner) There is a veritable noodle adventure           100-180B; hlunch & dinner) for northeastern Thai
                    and there are many other charms.                               Khao San.                                                    behind the big red sign.                                      cuisine.
                       Atlanta (Map pp118-19; %0 2252 1650; 78 Soi 2, Th Su-          Arawy (Alloy; Map p121; 152 Th Din So; mains 35B;         Royal India (Map pp118-19; %0 2221 6565; 392/1 Th
                    khumvit; d from 400B; as) You half expect Hum-                 hbreakfast & lunch) This matron of meatless is               Chakraphet; mains under 100B; hlunch & dinner) North          Sukhumvit
                    phrey Bogart to trot down the stairs in this                   one of the best Thai vegetarian restaurants                  Indian cuisine heavily influenced by Persian flavours.        This avenue is the communal dining room of
                    perfectly preserved, midcentury lobby. The                     in the city.                                                                                                               most of Bangkok’s expat communities, from
                    rooms are skeletal in comparison, but good                        oTon Pho (Map p121; %0 2280 0452; Th Phra                 Siam Square & Pratunam                                        Italian to Arabic.
                    for the price. Sex tourists are forbidden.                     Athit; mains 80-100B; hlunch & dinner) This converted        Locals, not wandering faràng (Westerners),                       Cabbages & Condoms (Map pp118-19; %0 2229 4611;
                       Majestic Suites (Map pp118-19; %0 2656 8220; www            floating dock does all the staples with the ex-              are the primary target of the food vendors                    Soi 12, Th Sukhumvit; mains 150-200B; hlunch & dinner)
          ; 110-110/1 Th Sukhumvit; s/d 1160/1500B;   pertise of a Thai grandmother. The lack of                   on Soi Kasem San 1, so you know you are                       This restaurant is the ideal introduction to
                    a) Small and friendly, the hermetically                        décor inversely matches the strength of the                  getting some quality grub. It’s a who’s who of                Thai food for anyone still fine-tuning their
                    sealed rooms deliver privacy and quiet, even                   food.                                                        Western and Japanese fast-food chains across                  chilli radar. Plus all proceeds go towards sex
                    with screaming Sukhumvit right outside. It’s                      Hemlock (Map p121; %0 2282 7507; 56 Th Phra Athit;        the rest of Shop-landia.                                      education and AIDS prevention programmes
                    positioned between Soi 4 and Soi 6.                            mains 80-200B; hdinner) Living-room-sized res-                 oMahboonkrong Food Centre (Map pp118-                       through the Population and Community De-
                      Eugenia (Map pp118-19; %0 2259 9011; www.theeu               taurants line Th Phra Athit and form a social                19; 6th fl, Th Phra Ram I; mains 40-60B; hlunch & dinner)     velopment Association (PDA), headquartered
          ; Soi 31, Th Sukhumvit; r from 5800B; as)             gathering point for Banglamphu’s bohemians.                  The typical shopping mall food court in Thai-                 next door.
                    Colonial manor houses aren’t an indigenous                     This cosy gem has an eclectic range with many                land is similar to Western ones in that the                       Vientiane Kitchen (Map pp116-17; %0 2258 6171; 8
                    legacy in Thailand but this anachronistic 12-                  items that don’t usually pop up on menus.                    food is cheap. The difference is that it’s also               Soi 36, Th Sukhumvit; mains 150-220B; hdinner) Mǎw lam
                    guestroom hotel indulges in the anomaly.                          Shoshana (Map p121; off Th Chakraphong; mains 100-        fresh and flavourful. Buy coupons from the                    (traditional northeastern Thai music) bands
                       Also recommended:                                           150B; hlunch & dinner) One of Khao San’s longest-            ticket desk and then cash in whatever you                     play the rollicking tunes of the Isan countryside
                    Soi 1 Guesthouse (Map pp118-19; %0 2655 0604;                  running Israeli restaurants, tucked away in an               don’t spend.                                                  while the fiery tôm yam kûng (hot and sour
          ; 220/7 Soi 1, Th Sukhumvit; dm          unnamed, almost secret alley beside the petrol                  My Collection (Map pp118-19; %0 2655 7502; 2/10            soup), lâap mǔu (minced pork salad) and kài
                    250-350B; ai) Extraordinarily clean and comfy dorms            station, Shoshana serves gut-filling falafel-                Th Withayu; mains 250-320B; hlunch daily, dinner Fri &        yâang (grilled marinated chicken) will give you
                    plus wonderful owners.                                         and-hummus plates.                                           Sat) Full of pretty things like antique linens,               a bee-stung pout without collagen injections.
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BANGKOK &
                                                                                                                                            Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)                                   Patpong Night Market (Map pp118-19; Patpong Soi 1
                       GAY & LESBIAN BANGKOK                                                                                                Lumphini Stadium (Map pp118-19; %0 2251 4303;          & 2, Th Silom; h6pm-midnight) More popular than
                       Bangkok’s homosexual community enjoys nearly unprecedented tolerance. Utopia (www.utopia-asia                        Th Phra Ram IV; h6pm Tue, Fri & Sat) and Ratcha-       Patpong’s Ping-Pong shows; it’s full of pirated
                       .com) and the Lesbian Guide to Bangkok ( are good resources.                                  damnoen Stadium (Map pp118-19; %0 2281 4205; Th        goods.
                          Patpong Soi 2 and Soi 4 have the highest concentration of gay dance clubs in the city. DJ                         Ratchadamnoen Nok; h6pm Mon, Wed & Thu, 5pm Sun)          Pratunam Market (Map pp118-19; Th Phetburi; h8am-
                       Station (Map pp118-19; %0 2266 4029; 8/6-8 Soi 2, Th Silom) gets a mixed Thai-faràng crowd and                       host Thailand’s biggest muay thai matches.             6pm) The in-town version of Chatuchak.
                       has a kàthoey (transvestite) cabaret. Old-timer conversation bars, such as Balcony (Map pp118-19;                    Foreigners pay 1000/1500/2000B for 3rd-                   Th Khao San Market (Map p121; Th Khao San; h11am-
                       %0 2235 5891; 8/6-8 Soi 4, Th Silom), are over on Soi 4.                                                             class/2nd-class/ringside seats: advance res-           11pm) T-shirts, artwork, souvenirs and traveller
                          Bangkok has just started to develop a lesbian-only nightclub scene with easy-going Shela                          ervations needed for ringside. Don’t buy               ghetto gear.
                       (Map pp118-19; Soi Lang Suan, Th Ploenchit) currently a favourite.                                                   tickets from the hawkers hanging outside
                                                                                                                                            the stadium. Lumphini might move, so ask               GETTING THERE & AWAY
                                                                                                                                            before travelling here.                                Air
                        Tamarind Café (Map pp118-19; %0 2663 7421; 27 Soi    ENTERTAINMENT                                                                                                         All flights use Suvarnabhumi International Air-
                    20, Th Sukhumvit; mains 200-250B; hlunch & dinner) Pa-   Bangkok’s entertainment scene goes well be-                    Traditional Arts Performances                          port (%0 2723 0000;,
                    cific Rim cuisine goes vegetarian at this sleek          yond its naughty side – Nana Entertainment                     As Thailand’s cultural repository, Bangkok             pronounced ‘soo-wan-na-poom’, 30km east
                    eatery sharing space with Gallery F-Stop. It’s           Plaza (Map pp118-19; Soi 4, Th Sukhumvit) and Soi Cow-         offers visitors an array of dance and theatre          of the city. See p177 for specific information
                    one of the most creative menus in town.                  boy (Map pp118-19; off Th Sukhumvit) lead the way              performances.                                          about international air services and p178 for
                        Maha Naga (Map pp118-19; %0 2662 3060, Soi 29, Th    in that scene – but even if you’re usually in                     The Art Deco Chalermkrung Royal Theatre             a list of domestic airlines.
                    Sukhumvit; mains 300-700B; hlunch & dinner) Its East-    bed by 9pm, Bangkok still offers interesting                   (Map pp118-19; %0 2222 0434; Th Triphet) provides
                    meets-West flavours receive mixed reviews,               postdinner diversions, from flash cinemas to                   a striking venue for khǒhn (masked dance-              Bus
                    but Maha Naga has a setting to die for: a pan-           traditional cultural performances.                             drama based on the Ramakian). Don’t wear               Buses using government bus stations are far
                    Asian fantasy of winking candles, Moorish                                                                               shorts, singlets or sandals when you visit.            more reliable and less prone to incidents of theft
                    courtyards and Balinese carvings.                        Dance Clubs                                                    Sala Rim Nam (Map pp118-19; %0 2437 3080; Soi 38,      than those departing from Th Khao San.
                        Also recommended:                                    The trick in Bangkok is to catch the right club                Th Charoen Krung; 1850B; h7-10pm), the Oriental            The Northern & Northeastern bus terminal (Map
                    Al Hussain (Map pp118-19; 75/7 Soi 3/1, Th Sukhumvit;    on the right night. Bangkok Recorder (www.bang                 Hotel’s affiliated dinner theatre, has superb          pp116-17; %0 2936 2841), commonly called Mo
                    mains 150-250B; hlunch & dinner) An open-air café documents the rotating theme                  classical dance and mediocre food. Dusit               Chit station (sàthǎanii mǎw chít), serves al-
                    in a winding maze of cramped sublanes known as Little    nights and visiting DJ celebs. Cover charges                   Palace Park (p115) hosts free classical dance          most every destination covered in this book,
                    Arabia.                                                  range from 500B to 600B and usually include                    performances.                                          including unexpectedly, Aranya Prathet. Take
                    Bourbon St Bar & Restaurant (Map pp118-19;               a drink. Don’t even think about showing up                        The ancient art of Thai puppetry has been           the Skytrain to Mo Chit and transfer onto city
                    %0 2259 0328; Soi 22, Th Sukhumvit; mains 150-300B;      before 11pm and always bring ID.                               rescued by Natayasala (Joe Louis Puppet Theater; Map   bus 512, 3, 49 or 77.
                    hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) Highly regarded Cajun/          A safe bet, RCA (Map pp116-17; Royal City Avenue, Th        pp118-19; %0 2252 9683,; Suan Lum       Use the Eastern bus terminal (Ekamai; Map pp116-
                    Creole, American and Mexican meals.                      Phra Ram IX) is a block full of nightclubs offering            Night Bazaar, Th Rama IV; 900B; h7.30pm).              17; %0 2391 2504) – take the Skytrain to Ekamai –
                    Pizzeria Bella Napoli (Map pp118-19; %0 2259             good times for all kinds. Lucifer (Map pp118-19; %0                                                                   if you are headed to Cambodia via Hat Lek
                    0405; 3/3 Soi 31, Th Sukhumvit; mains 200-500B;          2234 6902; 2nd fl, Soi Patpong 1, Th Silom) and its consist-   SHOPPING                                               and the Southern bus terminal (Sai Tai Mai; Map pp116-
                    hlunch & dinner) A boisterous crowd gathers in this      ently tripped-out techno-rave soundtrack is                    Bangkok is not the place for recovering sho-           17; %0 2435 1200) in Thonburi (take bus 30 from
                    Little Italy spot.                                       currently a keystone of Bangkok’s dance halls.                 paholics because the temptation to stray               Banglamphu) for Nakhon Pathom.
                                                                                Lounge on a row of mattresses at Bed Sup-                   from the path is overwhelming. The best of
                    DRINKING                                                 perclub (Map pp118-19; %0 2651 3537; 26 Soi 11, Th             Bangkok’s shopping centres line the Sky-               Train
                    Center Khao San (Map p121; Th Khao San) offers front-    Sukhumvit), between a meal and a spin on the                   train through Siam Sq. Among your choices              Bangkok’s main train station, Hualamphong
                    row views of the road’s multicultural carnival           dance floor.                                                   are the gleaming Siam Paragon (Map pp118-19;           (Map pp118-19; %0 2220 4334; Th Phra Ram IV) handles
                    and bands upstairs, while Hippie de Bar (Map                                                                            %0 2610 8000; Th Phra Ram I; h10am-10pm) and           all services to the north and northeast. Ignore
                    p121; Th Khao San) has chill DJs. Low-key Baghdad        Live Music                                                     Mahboonkrong (MBK; Map pp118-19; %0 2217 9111;         all touts here and avoid the travel agencies
                    Café (Map p121; Soi 2, Th Samsen), just over Khlong      The Bangkok Gig Guide (                Th Phra Ram I; h10am-10pm), which is just a few        just outside the train station. Bangkok Noi (Map
                    Banglamphu, is a sardine-tight shishah (water-           is a good source of who’s on which stage. Of                   air-conditioners and escalators fancier than           pp118-19; Thonburi) handles services to Nakhon
                    pipe) bar that also serves alcohol.                      late, Th Khao San has become a hot venue for                   a street market.                                       Pathom; it can be reached by river ferry to
                        Th Silom and Sukhumvit represent the                 Thai indie bands.                                                                                                     Tha Rot Fai.
                    stock-and-trade of Bangkok bars: English-                    Bangkok’s jazz scene is strong with Living                 Markets
                    and Irish-style pubs and yuppie clubs. O’Reilly’s        Room (Map pp118-19; %0 2653 0333; Sheraton Grande Su-          Don’t let the bargaining put you off, it’s good        GETTING AROUND
                    Irish Pub (Map pp118-19; 62/1-2 Th Silom) and Cheap      khumvit, 250 Th Sukhumvit) and Brown Sugar (Map pp118-         fun for seller and buyer.                              Because of parking hassles and traffic jams,
                    Charlie’s (Map pp118-19; Soi 11, Th Sukhumvit; hclosed   19; %0 2250 1825; 231/20 Th Sarasin) two sure bets.               Chatuchak Weekend Market (Map pp116-17; h8am-       hiring a car for getting around Bangkok is
                    Sun) have wallet-friendly happy-hours for the                Another always enjoyable Bangkok institu-                  6pm Sat & Sun) The mother of all markets sprawls       not recommended.
                    neighbourhood’s wage-slave faràng. The Moon              tion is Saxophone Pub & Restaurant (Map pp118-19;              over a huge area with 15,000 stalls and an
                    Bar at Vertigo (Map pp118-19; %0 2679 1200; Banyan       %0 2246 5472; 3/8 Th Phayathai) with brilliant acous-          estimated 200,000 visitors a day. Everything is        Boat
                    Tree Hotel, 21/100 Th Sathon Tai), outside on the 59th   tics and up-close views of the reggae, rhythm                  sold here, from snakes to handicrafts to aisles        See the boxed text (p128) for the lowdown on
                    floor, will take your breath away.                       and blues, and jazz acts rocking the house.                    and aisles of clothes.                                 water travel in Bangkok.
NORTHERN THAILAND   128 B A N G K O K • • G e t t i n g A r o u n d                                                             A R O U N D B A N G K O K & C E N T R A L T HA I L A N D • • S a m u t P r a k a n 129

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BANGKOK &
                       VENICE OF THE EAST                                                                                             clearly explain the layout. Fares vary from 10B               the Ancient City is architecturally sophisti-
                                                                                                                                      to 40B, and ticket machines only accept coins,                cated and definitely worth the trip.
                       In Bangkok’s early days, khlong (canals), not roads, transported goods and people, and the mighty              but change (plus various discounted passes                       Ordinary bus 25 (5B) and air-con bus 507,
                       Mae Nam Chao Phraya was the superhighway leading to the interior of the country. All life centred              including the one-day, 120B unlimited ticket)                 508 and 511 (16B to 18B) ply regular routes
                       on this vast network and Thais considered themselves jâo náam (water lords). Most of the canals                is available at the information booths.                       between Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal
                       are gone now, but aqua-transport still flows through Bangkok. It offers a glimpse into the past,                                                                             and Samut Prakan. The trip can take up to
                       and, where the rail lines don’t yet run, it’s often the swiftest way to get around.                            Taxi                                                          two hours, depending on traffic. From Samut
                          The Chao Phraya River Express (; tickets 10-32B) has four boat lines on             Fares for metered taxis are always lower than                 Prakan’s bus station, cross the main road and
                       the river – two express (yellow, orange or blue flags), the local (without a flag) and the tourist             those for nonmetered taxis. Insist your driver                catch white or red sǎwngthǎew 36 (7B) which
                       service that stops at different piers – plus small boats running back and forth across to Thonburi             uses the meter; sometimes they ‘forget’. Fares                pass the Ancient City.
                       (3B per trip). Services run roughly 6am to 6.30pm.                                                             generally run from 50B to 80B in central Bang-
                          The quickest option for getting from Banglamphu (use Tha Phan Fah) to points east, such as                  kok and passengers pay freeway tolls. Taxi                    NAKHON PATHOM
                       Siam Sq, are the khlong taxis (8-16B; h6am-7pm) on Khlong Saen Saep.                                           drivers sometimes seem to know less about                     Nakhon Pathom, 56km west of Bangkok,
                          The loveliest and leafiest trips are through the remaining canals in Thonburi such as Khlong                the city than you do, so grab your hotel’s busi-              claims to be the oldest city in Thailand, but
                       Bangkok Noi and Khlong Mon, the latter featuring orchid farms. Long-tail boats can be hired                    ness card to guarantee getting home.                          the only clue to its longevity is the Phra Pathom
                       from most piers for about 700B per hour.                                                                          Motorcycle taxis typically camp out at the                 Chedi, originally erected in the early 6th cen-
                                                                                                                                      beginning of a residential soi to transport                   tury. The current bell-shaped structure right
                       Dinner Cruises                                                                                                 people the last few kilometres home. Soi trips                in the heart of town was built over the original
                       Combine river transport with dining for a unique Bangkok experience. Yok Yor Marina & Res-                     usually cost 10B, but, for about the same price               in the early 11th century by the Khmer king,
                       taurant (Map pp118-19; %0 2863 0565;; 885 Soi Somdet Chao Phraya 17, Thonburi; adult/child    as a túk-túk, they will take you anywhere.                    Suryavarman I. This alteration created the
                       120/60B plus meal costs; h8-10pm) is a favourite among Thais celebrating birthdays.                                                                                          world’s tallest Buddhist monument, 127m
                          For a little more entertainment, Wan Fah Cruises (Map pp118-19; %0 2639 0704; River City Shop-              Túk-Túk                                                       high. A museum (admission by donation; h9am-4pm
                       ping Complex; dinner cruise 1200B, h7-9pm) operates a wooden boat complete with Thai music and                 Some travellers swear by túk-túk, but most                    Wed-Sun) has some Dvaravati sculpture.
                       dance. Or for a more regal touch, Manohra Cruises (Map pp116-17; %0 2476 0022; www.manohracruises              have a hard time bargaining a fair price; pa-                    Other worthwhile stops include Phra Phut-
                       .com; Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa, Thonburi; cocktail/dinner cruise 500/1700B, h7.30-10pm) runs a fleet of   tience and a winning smile help. Still, sur-                  thamonthon, a 15.8m-tall Sukhothai-style stand-
                       converted teak rice barges. Cocktail cruises run between 6pm and 7pm.                                          viving the hassles, the hairpin turns and the                 ing Buddha statue, and the lifelike fibreglass
                                                                                                                                      suffocating exhaust is part of the Bangkok                    sculptures of the Thai Human Imagery Museum
                                                                                                                                      experience.                                                   (%0 3433 2607; admission 250B; h9am-5.30pm Mon-Fri,
                    Bus                                                        Metro                                                     If a túk-túk driver offers to take you on a                8.30am-6pm Sat & Sun).
                    Bangkok’s bus service is frequent and frantic,             Bangkok’s subway or underground (depend-               sightseeing tour, walk away – it’s a touting                     Air-con bus 997 and 83 (41B, one hour)
                    so a bus map (like Bangkok Bus Map by Road-                ing on your nationality) connects Bang Sue             scheme designed to pressure you into pur-                     leave frequently to Nakhon Pathom from
                    way) is a necessity. Don’t expect it to be 100%            train station, near Mo Chit bus terminal, in           chasing overpriced goods.                                     Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal, and they
                    correct though; routes change regularly.                   the north with Hualamphong train station in                                                                          can drop you off at the Thai Human Imagery
                       Fares for ordinary (non-air-con) buses vary             the centre, stopping in Sukhumvit and Silom                                                                          Museum and near Phra Phutthamonthon.
                    from 7B to 8B (red/green buses) to 8.50B (red
                    express). The white-and-blue air-con buses
                                                                               along the way. The system will be greatly ex-
                                                                               panded in coming years, including stops in
                                                                                                                                      AROUND BANGKOK &                                              To return to Bangkok, catch a bus on Th Pha-
                                                                                                                                                                                                    yaphan, a block from the train station. Bus
                    range from 11B up to 19B, depending on the
                    distance travelled. Orange Euro 2 air-con
                                                                                  Trains operate from 6am to midnight and
                                                                                                                                      CENTRAL THAILAND                                              78 to Damnoen Saduak leaves from the same
                                                                                                                                                                                                    stop. Coming by rail, your best bets are the
                    buses start at 12B.                                        cost 15B to 39B, depending on distance. Un-            The fertile plains stretching north from the                  regular runs from Bangkok’s Hualamphong
                       The following bus lines are useful for tour-            limited travel cards cost 120/300B for one/            Gulf of Thailand are the cultural heart of the                station (from 35B, two hours).
                    ists who are travelling between Banglamphu                 three days.                                            country. The early Thai nation evolved along
                    and Siam Sq:                                                                                                      the ‘mother waters’ of Mae Nam Chao Phraya                    DAMNOEN SADUAK FLOATING
                       Bus No 73 Huay Khwang to Saphan Phut                    Skytrain                                               and grew to greatness in the former capital of                MARKET
                       with stops at MBK (connect to BTS Sky-                  The elevated Skytrain (rót fai fáa) whisks you         Ayuthaya. Every place featured here is day-                   As iconic to Thailand as temples and palm
                       train), Hualamphong (connect to train                   through ‘new’ Bangkok (Silom, Sukhumvit                trip distance from Bangkok, but Lopburi and                   trees, the wooden canoes laden with fruits
                       or MRT subway), Chinatown and Saphan                    and Siam Sq) in air-conditioned comfort with           Ayuthaya are best as overnighters.                            and vegetables, paddled by women wear-
                       Phut (connect to River Express).                        some interesting bird’s-eye views to boot.                                                                           ing indigo-hued clothes and wide-brimmed
                       Bus No 15 Tha Phra to Sanam Luang with                     The Sukhumvit Line follows its namesake             SAMUT PRAKAN                                                  straw hats, at Damnoen Saduak (h7am-4pm Sat &
                       stops at MBK, Th Ratchadamnoen Klang                    street and swings all the way north to near            Samut Prakan’s main claim to fame is the An-                  Sun) are a sentimental piece of history. This is
                       (accessible to Th Khao San), Sanam Luang                Chatuchak Weekend Market and Mo Chit bus               cient City (Muang Boran; %0 2323 9253; www.ancientcity        the most famous and most touristy of Thai-
                       (accessible to Wat Phra Kaew).                          terminal, while the Silom Line runs from the           .com; admission 300B; h8am-5pm), a 130-hectare out-           land’s floating markets, but it’s also the most
                       Bus No 47 Khlong Toei Port to Depart-                   Siam Sq area to the banks of Mae Nam Chao              door museum with 109 scaled-down replicas                     photogenic. Get there before 9am to beat the
                       ment of Lands with stops along Th Phra                  Phraya. Expansions are planned on both.                of Thailand’s most famous historic monu-                      tour-bus hordes.
                       Ram IV, MBK, Th Ratchadamnoen and                          Trains run frequently from 6am to mid-              ments, including some that no longer survive.                    Air-con bus 78 and 996 go direct from
                       Sanam Luang.                                            night and the handy maps in the stations               Visions of Legoland may spring to mind, but                   Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal (82B, two
NORTHERN THAILAND   130 A R O U N D B A N G K O K & C E N T R A L T HA I L A N D • • A y u t h a y a                                                                                                                                                 A R O U N D B A N G K O K & C E N T R A L T HA I L A N D • • A y u t h a y a 131

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              BANGKOK &
                    hours), starting at 6am. Boat hire along the                        Chantharakasem National Museum (Th U Thong; admis-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         To Northern Bus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Terminal (4km);
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Bangkok (78km)
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 km
                                                                                                                                                                                0.5 miles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
                    canals costs about 300B per hour.                                   sion 30B; h9am-4pm Wed-Sun) is in a striking 1577

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Wat Maheyong
                                                                                        palace, but the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Wat Kudi Dao
                    AYUTHAYA                                                            (Th Rotchana; admission 30B; h9am-4pm Wed-Sun) has a
                    pop 90,500                                                          more impressive collection.

                    In their race to reach the Gulf of Thailand,                            The most distinctive example of Ayuthaya
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Dusit
                    three rivers (Chao Phraya, Pa Sak and Lop-                          architecture is Wat Phra Si Sanphet (admission

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             To Bangkok
                    buri) converge to form the island of Ayuthaya,                      30B) where three bell-shaped chedi (religious


                    the former Thai capital. The rivers formed                          monuments) taper off into descending rings.

                    both a natural barrier to invasion and an                           Built in the late 14th century on the grounds
                    invitation to trade. From 1350 to 1767, Ayu-                        of the royal palace, this was the once the city’s                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Th Watkluay
                    thaya was the cultural centre of the emerging                       largest and most important temple. The adja-


                                                                                        cent Wihaan Phra Mongkhon Bophit houses a huge


                    Thai nation and by the end of the 17th cen-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pa Sak
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mae Nam
                    tury, the population had reached one mil-                           bronze seated Buddha.


                    lion. Many foreign visitors proclaimed it the                           Wat Phra Mahathat (admission 30B) is presumed                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Th U Thong

                    most illustrious city they had ever seen, but                       to be one of the first Khmer-style praang built


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Wat Suwan
                    eventually the river defences were unable to                        in the capital, but shutterbugs invariably snap                                                              Lopb


                    repulse the Burmese and after two years of                          more pictures of the Buddha head engulfed


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Phom Phet

                    war the capital fell; the royal family fled to                      by tentacle-like tree roots. The 15th-century                                                                                                                                                                     Soi 1                 Th Naresuan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ao Phra                                                      ya
                    Thonburi, near present-day Bangkok, and the                         praang across the street at Wat Ratburana (ad-                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Th Khlong Makhamriang                                                                                               Mae Nam Ch

                    Burmese looted the architectural and religious                      mission 30B) is in better condition. Nearby Wat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Rotchana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Th Pamaphrao

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th Dechawat
                    treasures. Today a modern, surprisingly un-                         Thammikarat, which probably predates the

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Th Bang Ian
                    touristy city has sprung up around the holy                         Ayuthaya period, stands out for the singha

                    ruins and life still largely revolves around the                    (guardian lion) sculptures ringing the remains


                    river. The famous Loi Krathong festivities (see                     of the central chedi.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Th Chee Kun                                                            Th Chee Kun
                    p174) take place in Bang Pa-In, 24km south

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Th Naresuan (Chao Phrom)
                    of Ayuthaya.                                                          INFORMATION


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wat Suwannawat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ayuthaya Phra
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Historical Ram

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Th Pa Thon
                                                                                          Ayuthaya Hospital.................................................. 1           C4
                                                                                          Post Office..............................................................   2   E1

                    Information                                                           TAT ....................................................................... 3   C3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Wat Kuti

                    ATMs and internet cafés are abundant, espe-

                                                                                          Tourist Police.......................................................... 4      C3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        g   n

                    cially along Th Naresuan.

                                                                                          SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Wat Phra
                    Ayuthaya Hospital (%0 3524 1446; Th U Thong)


                                                                                          Ayuthaya Historical Study Centre........................... 5                   C3

                    Post office (Th U Thong; h8.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri,                      Chantharakasem National Museum.........................                6        E1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Th Si Sanphet


                    9am-noon Sat)                                                         Chao Sam Phraya National Museum...................... 7                         C3

                                                                                                                                                                                             Khao Thong - P

                                                                                          Elephant Kraal.........................................................8        D1

                    TAT (%0 3524 6076; 108/22 Th Si Sanphet; h8.30am-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wat Phutthaisawan
                                                                                          Wat Chai Wattanaram........................................... 9                A3


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Old Royal

                                                                                          Wat Na Phra Mehn..............................................10                C1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Mae Nam

                    Tourist police (%1155; Th Si Sanphet)                                 Wat Phanan Choeng............................................11                 E4
                                                                                          Wat Phra Mahathat............................................. 12               D2

                                                                                          Wat Phra Si Sanphet............................................ 13              C2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Th Khlong Thaw

                                                                                          Wat Ratburana.................................................... 14            D2


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Memorial Pagoda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Queen Suriyothai
                    A Unesco World Heritage Site, Ayuthaya’s

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wat Lokaya
                                                                                          Wat Thammikarat................................................ 15              C2                                                              Pa Mok
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               tha   ya -

                    historic temple ruins are scattered throughout                        Wihaan Phra Mongkhon Bophit........................... 16                       C2                                   Th

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               St Joseph's

                    this once magnificent city, and along the en-

                    circling rivers. A good way to visit the ‘off the                     Baan Lotus Guest House....................................... 17                D2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Phu Khao Thong
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (Golden Mount)
                    island’ sites is on a boat tour (from 200B per                        PU Guest House................................................... 18            D2
                    hour), easily arranged at various guesthouses                         Tony's Place..........................................................19        E2
                                                                                          Woraburi Hotel ....................................................20           E3
                    or at the pier near the night market. Most
                    temples are open 8am to 4pm and many are

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wat Kasatthirat

                    illuminated between 7pm and 9pm.                                      Baan Khun Phra....................................................21            E3

                                                                                          Chao Phrom Market.............................................22                E2

                                                                                          Hua Raw Night Market..........................................         23       E1

                    ON THE ISLAND                                                         Malakor............................................................... 24       D2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       am

                    Before hitting the ruins, bone up on their                            Phae Krung Kao....................................................25            E3

                    history at the modern and interesting Ayuthaya

                    Historical Study Centre (%0 3524 5124; Th Rotchana;                   Air-Con Buses to Bangkok.................................... 26 D2
                    admission 100B; h9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri, to 5pm Sat & Sun).               Air-Con Minivans to Bangkok.............................. 27 D2


                    Ayuthaya also has two national museums. The                           Main Bus Terminal................................................28 E2
NORTHERN THAILAND   132 A R O U N D B A N G K O K & C E N T R A L T HA I L A N D • • L o p b u r i    Book accommodation online at   Book accommodation online at                          C H I A N G MA I • • O r i e n t a t i o n 133

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BANGKOK &
                    OFF THE ISLAND                                                          oHua Raw Night Market (Th U Thong) and                    Post office (Th Phra Narai Maharat)                      roast chicken) with sticky rice, klûay khàek
                    The main wíhǎan (sanctuary) of the modern-                           Chao Phrom Market (Th Naresuan) offer a good va-             TAT (%0 3642 2768; Th Phraya Kamjat; h8.30am-            (Indian-style fried bananas) and other de-
                    looking Wat Phanan Choeng (admission 30B) con-                       riety of Thai, Chinese and Muslim dishes,                    4.30pm)                                                  lights. There’s a vegetarian pavilion in the
                    tains a 19m-high sitting Buddha image. On                            including roti sai mai, a flaky roti wrapped                                                                          centre.
                    weekends the temple is crowded with pilgrims                         around melted palm sugar.                                    Sights
                    from Bangkok who pay for saffron-coloured                                                                                         The former palace of King Narai, Phra Narai              Getting There & Away
                    cloth to be ritually draped over the image and                       Getting There & Away                                         Ratchaniwet (%0 3641 1458; Th Sorasak; admission 30B;    Lopburi’s bus station is almost 2km outside
                    buy bags of fish to empty into the river.                            BUS                                                          h7.30am-5.30pm) is a good place to begin a tour          the old district. Buses head to Bangkok’s
                       Wat Chai Wattanaram (admission 30B), built in the                 Ayuthaya has two bus terminals. Buses from                   of Lopburi. Built between 1665 and 1677, it              Northern bus terminal (air-con 130B, 3½
                    17th century and extensively restored in the                         the south, west and east stop at the main bus                has an unusual blend of French and Khmer                 hours) every 20 minutes.
                    1980s, is a good example of Angkor-Khmer                             terminal, which is near the guesthouse area.                 styles. Inside the grounds is the Lopburi Na-               There are frequent train services through-
                    style. It’s also a premier sunset-watching                           Frequent buses serve Bangkok’s Northern                      tional Museum (h8.30am-4.30pm Wed-Sun), which            out the day south to Bangkok’s Hualamphong
                    spot.                                                                bus terminal (63B, 1½ hours) and Lopburi                     houses an excellent collection of Lopburi pe-            station (local/rapid/express 28/125/170B,
                       Instead of destroying Wat Na Phra Mehn                            (45B, two hours). Minivans, departing from                   riod sculpture, as well as an assortment of              4½/three/three hours). The local train to Ay-
                    (admission 30B) during their 1767 conquest, the                      Th Naresuan, east of the main bus terminal,                  Khmer, Dvaravati, U Thong and Ayuthaya                   uthaya (13B) takes about an hour. Lopburi’s
                    Burmese made it their headquarters. The                              run to Bangkok’s Victory Monument (60B,                      art and traditional tools.                               train station is on the edge of the old town and
                    bòt (central sanctuary) contains an amazing                          two hours).                                                     Prang Sam Yot (Th Wichayen; admission 30B; h8am-      has luggage storage if you are just making a
                    carved wooden ceiling depicting the Bud-                                Long-distance northern buses stop at the                  6pm) represents classic Khmer-Lopburi style              short stop here.
                    dhist heavens while the smaller wíhǎan has a                         northern terminal (%0 3533 5304), 5km east of the            and is a Hindu-turned-Buddhist temple.
                    stone Buddha in a European pose (sitting in a                        centre. It has services to most major northern               Originally, the three towers symbolised the
                    chair). Also to the north is the elephant kraal, a
                    restored version of the stockades once used for
                                                                                         towns, including Sukhothai (216B to 300B, six
                                                                                         hours), Chiang Mai (605B to 805B, nine hours)
                                                                                                                                                      Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
                                                                                                                                                      Now two of them contain ruined Lopburi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                               CHIANG MAI
                    the annual roundup of wild elephants.                                and Nan (500B to 800B, eight hours).                         style Buddha images. The monument is lit                 pop 204,000
                                                                                                                                                      up at night and constantly crawling with                 To Thais, Chiang Mai is a national treas-
                    Sleeping                                                             TRAIN                                                        monkeys.                                                 ure; a cultured symbol of nationhood. For
                    PU Guest House (%0 3525 1213; 20/1 Soi Thaw Kaw                      Trains to Ayuthaya leave Bangkok’s Hualam-                      Other Khmer ruins in the old town in-                 visitors, it’s a cool place to kick back and
                    Saw; s/d from 200/300B; ai) Most of Ayuthaya’s                       phong station (15B to 66B, 1½ hours) almost                  clude Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat (Th Na Phra Kan;       soak up some Thai-ness while still having all
                    budget options are clustered around the mini-                        hourly between 6am and 11pm. From Ayu-                       admission 30B; h7am-5pm) and Wat Nakhon Kosa             the comforts of home close at hand. Beyond
                    traveller ghetto of Soi 1, Th Naresuan, includ-                      thaya, the train continues north to Lopburi                  (Th Na Phra Kan), both dating to the 12th century,       the city limits, Chiang Mai Province boasts
                    ing this low-key, well-rounded place.                                (13B to 57B, one hour) and beyond, or to                     and Prang Khaek (Th Wichayen), Lopburi’s oldest          a multitude of mountains and more natural
                        Tony’s Place (%0 3525 2578; 12/18 Soi 1, Th Naresuan;            the northeast.                                               monument, which went up sometime in the                  forest cover than any other province in the
                    r 200-500B; a) The party atmosphere keeps this                                                                                    11th century.                                            north, so trekking and other outdoor outings
                    longtime favourite packed.                                           Getting Around                                                  Two churches for foreigners were founded              are big business.
                        Baan Lotus Guest House (%0 3525 1988; 20 Th                      Bikes can be rented at most guesthouses                      during the reign of King Narai. A partial brick             The old city of Chiang Mai is a neat square
                    Pamaphrao; r 500B) This old teak house overlook-                     (30B to 50B per day). A túk-túk trip should                  and stucco tower is all that’s left of Wat San           bounded by moats and remnants of a medieval-
                    ing the lotus-covered pond is beautifully                            be about 20B on the island and around 40B                    Paolo (Th Ramdecho) while the wíhǎan at Wat Sao          style wall built 700 years ago to defend against
                    restored, smartly appointed and splendidly                           from the train station.                                      Thong Thong (Th Wichayen), with its incongruous          Burmese invaders. A furious stream of traf-
                    managed.                                                                                                                          but intriguing Gothic-style windows, is now              fic flows around the old city, but inside nar-
                        Woraburi Hotel (%0 3524 9600; 89 Th Watkluay; r from             LOPBURI                                                      a Buddhist temple.                                       row soi branch off the clogged arteries into
                    1800B; ais) This eight-storey tower has                              pop 62,800                                                                                                            a quiet world of charming guesthouses with
                    a touch of Bangkok sophistication and most                           Founded during the Dvaravati period (6th                     Sleeping & Eating                                        leafy gardens.
                    rooms get a bear-hug view of the river.                              to 11th centuries), Lopburi serves visitors                  Nett Hotel (%0 3641 1738; 17/1-2 Th Ratchadamnoen; r
                                                                                         an interesting juxtaposition of ancient brick                200-350B; a) The clean and friendly Nett has             ORIENTATION
                    Eating                                                               ruins and not-so-ancient shophouses and                      newly tiled air-con rooms.                               Th Moon Muang, along the east moat, is the
                    Baan Khun Phra (%0 3524 1978; 48/2 Th U Thong; mains                 hotels. But most visitors come here, often as                   Thepthani Hotel (%0 3641 1029; Th Phra Narai Ma-      main traveller centre. Intersecting with Th
                    40-80B; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) The intimate riv-                a pit-stop on their way to Chiang Mai, to see                harat; r 400B; a) Rajabhat University’s hotel has        Moon Muang, Th Tha Phae runs east from the
                    erside terrace restaurant behind its namesake                        the resident troop of mischievous monkeys                    spacious rooms with cable TV. Blue buses                 exterior of the moat towards Mae Nam Ping,
                    guesthouse serves good nibblers.                                     that make one of Thailand’s oldest cities their              between old and new town pass here.                      changing into Th Charoen Muang across the
                       Malakor (Th Chee Kun; mains 50-100B; hlunch & din-                home and playground.                                            White House (Th Phraya Kamjat; mains 60-120B; hdin-   river where it passes the train station. The
                    ner) This charming, two-storey wooden house                                                                                       ner) This pleasant little spot opposite the TAT          trendy Th Nimmanhaemin area is west of
                    has an incredible view of Wat Ratburana,                             Information                                                  office offers a range of quality Thai-Chinese            the old city.
                    which is stunning after dark.                                        There are several banks in the old part of                   specialities.                                                Navigating Chiang Mai is fairly simple, but
                       Phae Krung Kao (mains 60-200B; hlunch & dinner)                   Lopburi.                                                        Central Market (off Th Ratchadamnoen & Th Surasong-   a copy of Nancy Chandler’s Map of Chiang
                    One of several floating restaurants on Mae                           Hospital (%0 3662 1537; Th Ramdecho)                         khram; h8am-2pm) Just north of the palace, this          Mai is a good investment. Several free, ad-
                    Nam Pa Sak.                                                          Police (%0 3642 4515; Th Na Phra Kan)                        is a great place to pick up kài yâang (fried or          filled maps are also available.
NORTHERN THAILAND   134 C H I A N G MA I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             C H I A N G MA I • • I n f o r m a t i o n 135

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BANGKOK &
                                                   To McCormick
                                                 Hospital (200m);
                                               Chiang Mai Arcade
                                             Bus Terminal (1km);
                                             Thai Massage School
                                             of Chiang Mai (5km)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             INFORMATION                                              Wat Phan Tao.......................... 19 C3           Juicy 4U................................... 41    D3
                     0.3 miles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 To Chiang Mai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Train Station (1km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Office (500m)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Main Post
                      500 m


                                                                                                                           ru               ngrat                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chiang Mai Ram Hospital........... 1                A1   Wat Phra Singh.........................20 B3           Just Khao Soi.............................42      E4
                                                                                                                    Th Bam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  oen Mua
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Chinese Consulate...................... 2           B4                                                          Mike's...................................... 43   D2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Post Office.................................. 3     E2   SLEEPING                                               Pratu Chiang Mai Night

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             TAT.............................................4   F3   Chiangmai Gold Star Hotel....... 21               D4      Market................................. 44     C4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Char

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Wat Chaimongkhon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Tourist Police...............................5      F3   Daret’s House........................... 22       D2   Ratana's Kitchen....................... 45        D3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             UK Consulate...............................     6   F1   Galare Guest House.................. 23           F3   Riverside Bar & Restaurant........ 46             F2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     amph                                                                                                                                                                                    US Consulate...............................7        E1   Julie Guesthouse....................... 24        C3   Si Phen Restaurant.................... 47         B2
                                     Prince Royal’s


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Th Chiang Mai

                                                                          Soi 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lamchang House...................... 25           C2   Whole Earth Restaurant............ 48             E4



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Mae Nam Ping

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     t                                                                                                       SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES                                      Montra House.......................... 26         C2





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           oen                                                                                                               Baan Thai....................................8 C2        Parasol Inn................................ 27    C3   DRINKING


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     h C

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Chiang Mai Arts & Cultural                               Rachamankha........................... 28         A3   Heaven Beach........................... 49 C2


                                                                                                               Th Wat                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Centre.....................................9 B2        RCN Court................................ 29      C2   Pinte Blues Pub......................... 50 D3




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Soi Anusan
                                               at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.......... 10 E3                  Siri Guesthouse......................... 30       C2   Rasta Café..............................(see 49)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Soi 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Soi 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th Si Do
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Chiang Mai Rock Climbing                                 Sri Pat Guest House.................. 31          C2   Riverside Bar &



                                                                Ch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Adventures........................... 11 C4            Tri Gong Residence................... 32          C1      Restaurant..........................(see 46)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Chiang Mai Thai Cookery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Ban Haw
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ng Khla

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               School.................................. 12 D3         EATING
                                                    g                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Th Cha                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ENTERTAINMENT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Gap's Thai Culinary Art                                  Antique House.......................... 33        E3


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              g Meh                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bubbles..................................... 51 E3

                                                                     Na                                                                                                                                                                                    Th Khan                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Chang Khlanhan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               School................................... 13 C3        Anusan Night Market................34             E4

                                                                              e                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Soi 1                                                                                                                                                                                p

                                                                           Ma                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Prac                                                        Lek Chaiya................................ 14 C3         Aroon (Rai) Restaurant............. 35            D3   SHOPPING


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Saen Fang
                                                                                                                                                                                                   ng M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Mae Ping River Cruises............. 15 F4                Chiangmai Saloon..................... 36          E3   Talat Warorot............................52 E2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Th Kamphaeng Din

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Sunday Walking Street............. 16 C3                 Galare Food Centre...................37           E3




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Thai Farm Cooking School........(see 8)                  Giorgio Italian Restaurant..........38            E4   TRANSPORT
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th C

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Wat Loi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Herb Garden............................. 39       D3

                                        ut                                                                                                         ong                                                                                      i2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Soi                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wat Chedi Luang...................... 17 B3                                                                     Contact Travel...........................53 E3


                                             Sam                                                                                            aw                                                                                      So
                                                                                                                                        tch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wat Chiang Man...................... 18 C1               House....................................... 40   D2   North Wheels........................... 54 D2




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wat Phuak Chang
                                                                                                   Th Wichayanon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wat Phan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sai Kham

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Tha
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wat U

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i Kroh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Soi 4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            INFORMATION                                                                            Tourist Information


                                                                                                                                                                                                         Ka                                                                                  Soi 5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Th Lo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Soi 6                                                                                                                                                                                                                en
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  g                         You will stumble over internet cafés, banks                                            TAT (%0 5324 8607; Th Chiang Mai-Lamphun; h8am-

                                     rn                                                                                                                                                      Th C                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ra                              and ATMs on seemingly every street you visit                                           4.30pm) Keeps a list of registered trekking guides, plus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Tha Phae




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            in Chiang Mai.                                                                         maps and brochures.

                                                                                                                                   Th Chaiyaphum                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Th Kotchasan



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Th Moon Muang
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Wat Dok
                                                                                                                                    Soi 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Emergency                                                                              DANGERS & ANNOYANCES
                                                                                                                                                Soi 8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Wat Sai

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          13 14
                                                                                                                                                          Soi 7

                                                                                                                                                                             Soi 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tourist police (%1155; Th Chiang Mai-Lamphun)                                          Many travellers report that their belongings

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pratu Chiang Mai

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wat Muang
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   (particularly credit cards) stored at Chiang

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Phan An

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wat U Mong Wat Pan
                                                                                                                                            Wat Lam

                                                                                                                                                                              49 8



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Internet Resources

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Th                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Mai guesthouses have gone walkabout. If you


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chiang Mai Online ( Basic                                     stow your bags while you go trekking, make

                                                                                                                                            Th Ratchaphakhina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Soi 5

                                             Th Sanam Kila

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Klang Wiang


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   an itemised list of all belongings, including

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            information about Chiang Mai and comprehensive accom-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wat Duang
                                                                                               Pratu Chang Pheuak

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   travellers cheques, and note your credit card
                                   Tribal Museum (3km)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            modation listings.
                                    Traditional Massage
                                    Bus Station (125m);
                                     To Chang Pheuak

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Night Market
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Pratu Chiang Mai
                                      Velocity (300m);

                                       Chetawan Thai
                                       School (1km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ra Pokk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 la                  o                                                                                                                                                                   Th Suriw
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th Ph                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    City Life ( Posts articles on                                    balance. See Guest House Blues (p139) for

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               19 27

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Th Ratchadamnoen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            local events, culture and art, along with current news                                 further warnings.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Th Ratwithi


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            developments.                                                                             Take care in the unlit backstreets around
                                                                                                                                  Wat Hua

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   the Night Bazaar. A few women have been

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th Ratchamankha


                                     Th Chotana ak)
                                                                                                                                                                                        Women's Prison

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Th Bamrungburi



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th Chang Lor

                                  (Th Chang                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        attacked.
                                                                                                                                                                                         Chiang Mai

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wat Chai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Phra Kiat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chiangmai Mail Weekly newspaper; good source of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th Inthaw
                                               Chiang Mai National

                                                                                                                                                        Th Wiang Kaew
                                                Wat Jet Yot (6km)

                                                Museum (5.5km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Walking Street (300m)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            local news.
                                                                            Th Mani Nopharat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hospital (500m)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Old Medicine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            City Life Oriented as much towards residents as tourists,                              Temples
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To Saturday
                                                                                                                Th Si Phum

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thung Yu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Jao Mengrai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wat Phra

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Chiang Mai has more than 300 temples –

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            with articles on local culture, politics and people.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Si Koet


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   almost as many as Bangkok. The temple archi-

                                                                                                                                                              Th Singh
                                                                                                                                                                       arat                                                                                                                                                         Th Samlan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Medical Services                                                                       tecture here is markedly different from other

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ngoen Kong

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Th Thiphanet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chiang Mai Ram Hospital (%0 5322 4861; 8 Th
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wat Meun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   parts of Thailand. Notice the intricate wood-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th Inthawarorot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pratu Suan Prung

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chiang Mai International
                                                                                                                                            Phrao Nai

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         of Chiang Mai (150m);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bunreuangrit) The most modern hospital in town, with                                   carvings and colourful murals; hallmarks of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To Vegetarian Centre
                                                                                                                                             Wat Pa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Buak Hat Park

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Airport (2km)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            higher-than-average prices.                                                            the Lanna period (13th and 14th centuries).
                     CHIANG MAI


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wat Meh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            McCormick Hospital (%0 5326 2200; 133 Th                                               Three-tiered umbrellas adorning the tops of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 To Wat Suan Dok (1.5km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Meditation Centre (7km)

                                             disa                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Kaew Nawarat) The best-value place for minor                                           the temples, Singha lions guarding the en-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Wat U Mong (4km);

                                                     tsa                                                                                                                Th Arak
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            treatment.                                                                             trances and high-base chedi are all Burmese

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Northern Insight

                                   To Darling Wine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Th Bunreuangrit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Th Om                                                                                                              influences.
                                   Lanna Muay;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Th Suthep
                                                                          Th Hua

                                   Pub (1km);
                                   Pub (1km);

                                   Thai (3km)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A perfect example of Lanna architecture,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Main post office (Th Charoen Muang; h8.30am-                                           Wat Phra Singh (Th Singarat) is the star of the inner-



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-noon Sat & Sun)                                                    city’s soaring stupas. Established in 1345, this
NORTHERN THAILAND   136 C H I A N G MA I • • A c t i v i t i e s                                                 Book accommodation online at                                           C H I A N G MA I • • C o u r s e s 137

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 BANGKOK &
                    wat contains murals depicting Lanna customs                 Park north of the city, is worth a visit. Video            action in this ‘competitive’ (read: cut-throat)                  Wat Pho massage school in Bangkok. Offers tuition in foot
                    and dress, a scripture repository and the city’s            shows run between 10am and 2pm and cost                    business and it’s important to shop around                       and Thai massage.
                    most revered Buddha image, Phra Singh (Lion                 20B to 50B.                                                before signing up. Most treks include visits                     Lek Chaiya (%0 5327 8325;; 25
                    Buddha).                                                                                                               to hill-tribe villages, some jungle action, plus                 Th Ratchadamnoen; 5-day course 4000B) Khun Lek, a Thai
                       Wat Chiang Man (Th Ratchaphakhinai), the oldest          Chiang Mai Night Bazaar                                    the option of rafting or elephant rides. See the                 woman who has been massaging and teaching for more
                    wat within the city walls, was erected by King              Chiang Mai’s leading tourist attraction is the             boxed text, p138, for further information.                       than 40 years, specialises in jàp sên (similar to acupressure)
                    Mengrai, Chiang Mai’s founder, in 1296. Two                 legacy of the original Yunnanese caravans                                                                                   and the use of medicinal herbs.
                    famous Buddha images (Buddha Sila and the                   that stopped here along the ancient trade                  COURSES                                                          Old Medicine Hospital (OMH; %0 5327 5085; www
                    Crystal Buddha) are kept here in the wíhǎan                 route between Sīmáo (in China) and Maw-                    Buddhist Meditation                                    ; 78/1 Soi Siwaka Komarat, Th
                    to the right of the main bòt.                               lamyine (on Myanmar’s – Burma’s – Indian                   Northern Insight Meditation Centre (%0 5327 8620;                Wualai; 10-day course 4000B) The OMH curriculum is very
                       The huge ruined chedi at Wat Chedi Luang (Th             Ocean coast). Today the bazaar (cnr Th Chang     ;             traditional, with a northern-Thai slant. A two-day foot
                    Phra Pokklao) either collapsed during an earth-             Khlan & Th Loi Kroh; hsunset-midnight) sprawls over        donation) Offers 10- to 26-day individual intensive courses in   massage course (2000B) is also offered.
                    quake in 1545 or from cannon fire in 1775                   several blocks with the epicentre at the Th                Vipassana with English-speaking interpreters available.          Thai Massage School of Chiang Mai (TMC;
                    during the recapture of Chiang Mai from the                 Chang Khlan and Th Loi Kroh junction.                      Wat Suan Dok (%0 5380 8411, ext 114; www.monk                    %0 5385 4330;; Th Chiang Mai-
                    Burmese. A partial restoration has preserved                Made up of hundreds of street vendors,           ; Th Suthep; retreats/courses free) Wat Suan Dok         Mae Jo; 5-day course 5300B) Northeast of town, TMC has a
                    its ‘ruined’ look while ensuring it doesn’t                 several different roofed areas and ordinary                has a two-night, three-day meditation retreat at the end         solid, government-licensed massage curriculum. Transport
                    crumble further.                                            shops, the market offers a huge variety of                 of each month, as well as an overnight meditation course         to the school is included.
                       The large, old teak wíhǎan at Wat Phan Tao               handicrafts, as well as designer goods (both               every Tuesday (2.15pm Tuesday to 1.30pm Wednesday).
                    (Th Phra Pokklao) is one of Chiang Mai’s unsung             fake and licensed) at very low prices, if you              Informal ‘monk chats’ are offered 5pm to 7pm Wednesday           FESTIVALS & EVENTS
                    treasures.                                                  bargain well.                                              and Friday.                                                      Flower Festival The mother of Chiang Mai festivals
                       Modelled somewhat imperfectly on the                                                                                                                                                 features parades of flower-draped floats. Held February.
                    Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India, Wat                    Walking Streets                                            For a more casual introduction to Buddhism,                      Loi Krathong This nationwide festival (see p174) is cel-
                    Jet Yot (Hwy 11) was built to host the eighth               A more chilled-out shopping experience than                attend the Sunday afternoon (3pm) lectures at                    ebrated with gusto in Chiang Mai in October and November.
                    World Buddhist Council in 1477. The seven                   the Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai’s Sunday Walk-                Wat U Mong (opposite) or drop by for ‘monk                       Winter Fair Held late December to early January, this is
                    spires represent the seven weeks Buddha was                 ing Street (Th Ratchadamnoen; h4pm-midnight Sun) is        chat’ from 1pm to 6pm at Wat Chedi Luang                         a big event on the Chiang Mai calendar, with all sorts of
                    supposed to have spent in Bodhgaya after his                very popular. Blocked off to traffic, the street           (opposite) where you can ask questions.                          activities and interesting visitors from the hills.
                    enlightenment.                                              fills with colourful stalls selling wares ranging
                       Built in a forest grove in 1373, Wat Suan Dok            from food to hill-tribe crafts. Buskers playing            Cooking                                                          SLEEPING
                    (Th Su) contains a 500-year-old bronze Buddha               down the street add to the atmosphere. Th                  Cooking classes (usually costing 800B to                         Most budget lodging guesthouses are clus-
                    image and colourful jataka murals, but the                  Wualai, the new Saturday Walking Street (h4pm-             1000B per day) are a big hit in Chiang Mai.                      tered on either side of the east moat, and most
                    scenic sunsets are the biggest attraction.                  midnight Sat) isn’t as popular.                            Try the following:                                               will arrange free transport from the bus or
                       The forest temple of Wat U Mong (Soi Wat U                                                                          Baan Thai (%0 5335 7339;;                train station if you call.
                    Mong), dating from Mengrai’s rule, has a fine               ACTIVITIES                                                 11 Soi 5, Th Ratchadamnoen)                                          Lamchang House (%0 5321 0586; Soi 7, Th Moon
                    image of the fasting Buddha. Brick-lined tun-               Ping River Trips                                           Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School (%0 5320 6388;                    Muang; r 90-170B) This wooden Thai-style house
                    nels in an unusual-looking large, flat-topped               From a small pier behind Wat Chaimong-           ; 47/2 Th Moon Muang)                   has lots of character, including some Thai
                    hill were supposedly fashioned around 1380                  khon, Mae Ping River Cruises (%0 5327 4822; www            Gap’s Thai Culinary Art School (%0 5327 8140;                    decoration and fresh flowers in the rooms
                    for a clairvoyant monk; some are still open       ; Th Charoen Prathet; per person; 3 Soi 4, Th Ratchadamnoen)                   and a small garden restaurant. Bathrooms
                    for exploration.                                            400B; h8.30am-5pm) offers two-hour daytime                 Thai Farm Cooking School (%08 7174 9285; www                     are shared.
                                                                                cruises in long-tail, roofed boats through the   ; 2/2 Soi 5, Th Ratchadamnoen)                   Julie Guesthouse (%0 5327 4355; www.julieguest
                    Museums                                                     countryside with stops at a small fruit and                                                                       ; 7 Soi 5, Th Phra Pokklao; dm 60B, r 90-300B) This
                    Lanna history and works of art are documented               flower farm.                                               Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)                                          funky place has a colourful range of rooms,
                    at the superb Chiang Mai National Museum (%0                                                                           Lanna Muay Thai (Kiatbusaba; %0 5389 2102; www                   and the covered roof terrace with hammocks
                    5322 1308;; Hwy 11; admission 30B;   Rock Climbing                                    ; 64/1 Soi Chiang Khian; day/month             and the garden café with a pool table are good
                    h9am-4pm Wed-Sun) northwest of town.                        Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures (%0 6911 1470;         250/7000B) The former training camp of famous kàthoey            places to meet other travellers.
                      Chiang Mai’s former Provincial Hall, a          ; 55/3 Th Ratchaphakhinai; 1-/3-   (transvestite) boxer Parinya Kiatbusaba welcomes foreign             Siri Guesthouse (%0 5332 6550;
                    masterpiece of Thai architecture, has been                  day course 1800/6600B) leads climbing and caving           students.                                                        .com; Soi 5, Th Moon Muang; r 300-350B) This new
                    converted into the Chiang Mai Arts & Cultural               trips to an impressive set of limestone cliffs,                                                                             place offers fantastic-value rooms stylishly
                    Centre (%0 5321 7793;;          known as Crazy Horse Buttress, about 20km                  Traditional Massage                                              decorated with dark-wood furniture and some
                    Th Phra Pokklao; admission 90B; h8.30am-5pm Tue-Sun).       east of town. The office offers gear sales and             More visitors learn to pummel bodies the Thai                    Thai touches.
                    There are interesting interactive historical dis-           rentals and a partner-finding service.                     way in Chiang Mai than anywhere else. We’ve                          Chiangmai Gold Star Hotel (%0 5323 2492; 53 Th
                    plays, temporary art exhibitions and more in                                                                           received good reports about the following:                       Sitiwong; r 350-750B; a) Straddling the budget-
                    the 15 rooms.                                               Trekking                                                   Chetawan Thai Traditional Massage School (%0                     midrange divide, this friendly 29-room hotel
                        Whether you plan to do a hill-tribe trek                Chiang Mai is one of the most popular places               5341 0360;                    is a little old fashioned but has character. The
                    or not, the Tribal Museum (%0 5321 0872; admis-             in Thailand to arrange a trek. Many guest-                 _en.html; 7/1-2 Soi Samud Lanna, Th Pracha Uthit; 5-day          large rooms are decorated with ornate Bur-
                    sion free; h9am-4pm Mon-Fri), at Ratchamangkhla             houses and lots of travel agents want a slice of           foot/Thai massage course 5500/7000B) Affiliated with the         mese furniture and Thai pictures.
NORTHERN THAILAND   138 C H I A N G MA I • • T re k k i n g Ti p s                                                                                                      C H I A N G MA I • • E a t i n g 139

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                BANGKOK &
                                                                                                                                     Sri Pat Guest House (%0 5321 8716; www.sri               EATING
                       TREKKING TIPS                                                                                    ; 16 Soi 7, Th Moon Muang; r 900B; a)     You won’t lack for variety in Chiang Mai as
                       Thousands of visitors trek into the hills of northern Thailand each year. Most come away with              Rustic-looking tiles in the bathrooms and rat-              the city has arguably the best assortment of
                       a sense of adventure, but, due to bad guides or incompatible group members, some are disil-                tan furniture give this 17-room guesthouse                  restaurants outside Bangkok.
                       lusioned by the experience.                                                                                a chic Thai-modern style. All rooms have a
                           Do your homework before you sign up for a trek. Ask how many people will be in the group               terrace and plenty of extras.                               Thai
                       (six to 10 is a good range), find out exactly when the tour begins and ends (some three-day                   Galare Guest House (%0 5381 8887; www.galare             Si Phen Restaurant (%0 5331 5328; 103 Th Inthawarorot;
                       treks last less than 48 hours) and be sure you know exactly what the tour includes so you are              .com; 7/1 Soi 2, Th Charoen Prathet; r 1100B; a) Set in     mains 40-80B; hlunch & dinner) Si Phen serves both
                       not hit with additional expenses.                                                                          an old-style Thai house on the river near the               northern- and northeastern-style dishes, in-
                           As for choosing the guide, many work freelance, so there’s no way to predict which com-                Night Bazaar, this friendly and well-managed                cluding a variation of sôm-tam (spicy papaya
                       panies will give the best service, but at least make sure your guide is licensed. The TAT office           guesthouse has spacious rooms with some                     salad) made with pomelo fruit.
                       in Chiang Mai (p135) maintains a list of licensed agencies and is making efforts to regulate               charm.                                                          Aroon (Rai) Restaurant (%0 5327 6947; 45 Th Kotch-
                       trekking companies. Ultimately, the most important thing to do is talk to people who have just                Rachamankha (%0 5390 4111; www.rachamankha               asan; mains 40-90B; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) A top
                       returned from a trek.                                                                                      .com; 6 Th Ratchamankha; r 6900-18,000B; asi)               spot for Chiang Mai specialities, such as kaeng
                           Also, don’t overestimate your level of physical fitness; you’ll be crossing mountainous terrain        This architect-owned hotel, filled with ex-                 awm and kaeng khae, curries which rely on local
                       in unpredictable weather. The best time to trek is November to February, when the weather is               quisite Lanna antiques and artworks, feels                  roots and herbs for their distinctive, bitter-
                       refreshing, there’s little or no rain and wildflowers are in bloom.                                        like the compound of a 16th-century temple                  hot flavours. The spacious open-air dining
                           Trekking can be arranged in numerous towns, and there are benefits to organising your trek             built for royalty.                                          area upstairs catches the night breeze.
                       outside Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Prices tend to be lower, the companies smaller and friendlier              Also recommended:                                            Just Khao Soi (%0 5381 8641; 108/2 Th Charoen Prathet;
                       and you usually get into more remote areas. Of course, the downside is that there are fewer                Daret’s House (%0 5323 5440; 4/5 Th Chaiyaphum;             mains 100B; hlunch & dinner) Chiang Mai is famed
                       companies to choose from and less opportunity to get the low-down from fellow travellers.                  r 180B) A longtime travellers’ fave with well-worn rooms.   for its fine khâo sawy, a Shan-Yunnanese con-
                                                                                                                                  Montra House (%0 5341 8658; Soi 5, Th Ratchad-              coction of chicken (or, less commonly, beef),
                       Visiting Hill-Tribe Villages                                                                               amnoen; r 200B; i) Basic but spotless digs, some with       spicy curried broth and flat, squiggly wheat
                       The natural scenery can be stunning, but just about everyone who treks does so to visit villages.          shared bathroom.                                            noodles. This place offers a gourmet version
                       The term ‘hill tribe’ (chao khǎo, or ‘mountain people’, to Thais) refers to ethnic minorities living       RCN Court (%0 5341 8280; 35 Soi 7, Th Moon Muang;           of it, letting you create your own.
                       in mountainous northern and western Thailand. Each hill tribe has its own language, customs,               r 300-450B; ai) Well-equipped rooms and lots of                 Also recommended:
                       mode of dress and spiritual beliefs. Most are of seminomadic origin, having migrated to Thailand           extras like a small fitness centre.                         Ratana’s Kitchen (%0 5387 4173; 320-322 Th Tha
                       from Tibet, Myanmar (Burma), China and Laos during the past 200 years or so. The Tribal Research           Tri Gong Residence (%0 5321 4754; www.trigong               Phae; mains 30-90B; hlunch & dinner) Inexpensive Thai
                       Institute in Chiang Mai estimates the total hill-tribe population to be around 550,000.                    .com; 8 Soi 1, Th Sribhum; r 600B; ai) Stylish rooms        dishes from several regions, and a few faràng favs.
                           For the hill-tribe groups of Thailand, tourism is a mixed blessing. Since the Thai government          with rattan and teak furniture surrounding a courtyard.     Antique House (%0 5327 6810; 71 Th Charoen
                       is sensitive about the image it displays to the West, tourism has forced it to improve some of             Free wi-fi.                                                 Prathet; mains 80-160B; hlunch & dinner) Eat northern
                       its policies towards hill tribes, but tourism has also contributed to the erosion of traditional cus-      Parasol Inn (%0 5381 4011;;              Thai dishes in an elegant teak house.
                       toms. Because trekking is big business, some villages have become veritable theme parks with               105/1 Th Prah Pokklao; r 1000-1500B; ai) New hotel
                       a steady supply of visitors filtering in and out, creating exactly the opposite environment to the         just off Sunday Walking Street.                             Chiang Mai is full of interesting day and night
                       one trekkers hope to find. In fact, the only villages that now offer a truly authentic experience                                                                      markets serving inexpensive and tasty foods.
                       are ones you shouldn’t be visiting. But that’s not to say that sensitive and inquisitive visitors can’t                                                                The buzzing Anusan Night Market (Soi Anusan,
                       have a meaningful experience. Treks do still offer a chance to see how traditional, subsistence-              GUESTHOUSE BLUES                                         Th Chang Khlan; hdinner), known mainly for its
                       oriented societies function and if you have a good guide you will learn a lot.                                Beware bus or minivan services from Th                   seafood, is part of the Chiang Mai Night Ba-
                           It’s impossible to leave a community unaffected by your visit, but observing local taboos                 Khao San in Bangkok that advertise a free                zaar (p136). The nearby Galare Food Centre (Th
                       (which your guide should explain) greatly minimises the impact. The following protocol applies                night’s accommodation in Chiang Mai. What                Chang Khlan; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) features Thai
                       to pretty much all villages.                                                                                  usually happens on arrival is that the ‘free’            classical dancing nightly. Also recommended
                                                                                                                                     guesthouse demands you sign up for one                   is the Pratu Chiang Mai Night Market (Th Bamrung-
                           Do not hand out candy, pens or other small gifts. These may bring smiles to the children,
                                                                                                                                     of their hill treks immediately; if you don’t,           buri; hdinner) where people tend to make an
                           but it brings shame to their parents and cultivates a tradition of begging. If you want to give
                                                                                                                                     the guesthouse is suddenly ‘full’. Some-                 evening of eating and drinking.
                           a gift, talk to your guide beforehand about materials the local school or health centre may
                           need.                                                                                                     times they levy a charge for electricity or
                                                                                                                                     hot water. The better guesthouses don’t                  International
                           Dress modestly no matter how hot and sweaty you are.                                                      play this game.                                          Juicy 4U (%0 5327 8715; 5 Th Ratchamanka; mains 50-
                           Always ask for permission before taking photos, even if you think nobody is looking.                          Many cheaper guesthouses make more                   135B; hbreakfast & lunch) Silly name, but serious
                                                                                                                                     money from their restaurants and tour serv-              food. This cute café serves fantastic organic
                           Show respect for religious symbols and rituals. Don’t touch totems at village entrances or any
                                                                                                                                     ices than room charges, hence you may be                 breakfasts, create-your-own sandwiches, sal-
                           other object of obvious symbolic value without asking permission.
                                                                                                                                     pressured to eat and to sign up for a trek;              ads, smoothies and juices.
                           Set a good example to hill-tribe youngsters by not using drugs. An increasing number of                   you might even be evicted if you don’t.                     Chiangmai Saloon (%08 1930 2212; 80/1 Th Loi Kroh;
                           young people in the villages are now hooked on opium, heroin and amphetamines, in part                    It’s always best to ask if it’s OK to take a             mains 80-300B; hlunch & dinner) Ignore the ersatz
                           due to the influence of young trekkers.                                                                   room only.                                               Wild West décor and head straight for the
                                                                                                                                                                                              huge steaks and Tex-Mex.
NORTHERN THAILAND   140 C H I A N G MA I • • D r i n k i n g & E n t e r t a i n m e n t                                                                                       N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D 141

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BANGKOK &
                        Giorgio Italian Restaurant (%0 5381 8236; 2/6 Th                      Darling Wine Pub (%0 5322 7427; 49/21 Th Huay
                    Prachasamphan; mains 100-250B; hlunch Mon-Sat, dinner                  Kaew) Darling serves fine wines by the glass           BUSES FROM CHIANG MAI
                    daily) Chiang Mai’s most ambitious, and some                           or bottle in a sophisticated but relaxed               Destination                            Bus type                 Fare (B)                Duration (hr)
                    say the best, Italian eatery features a full range                     atmosphere.                                            Bangkok                                air-con                  434                     11
                    of pasta and exceptional salads.                                          Pub (%0 5321 1550; 189 Th Huay Kaew) In an old      Bangkok                                VIP                      651                     10
                       House (%0 5341 9011; 199 Th Moon Muang; mains                       Tudor-style cottage set well off the road, this        Chiang Rai                             ordinary                 100                     4
                    200-790B, tapas 50-110B; hdinner) This ambitious                       venerable Chiang Mai institution semisuc-              Chiang Rai                             air-con                  140                     3
                    restaurant occupies a mid-20th-century house                           cessfully calls up the atmosphere of an English        Chiang Rai                             VIP                      280                     3
                    that once belonged to an exiled Burmese                                country pub.                                           Mae Hong Son (via Mae Sariang)         ordinary                 187                     8
                    prince. The menu successfully fuses Thai and                              Bubbles (%0 5327 0099; Th Charoen Prathet) The      Mae Hong Son (via Mae Sariang)         air-con                  337                     8
                    European elements, complemented by an ex-                              Pornping Tower Hotel’s disco heaves with a             Mae Hong Son (via Pai)                 ordinary                 142                     7
                    cellent wine list.                                                     mix of locals and faràng remembering how               Mae Hong Son (via Pai)                 air-con                  200                     7
                       Also recommended:                                                   to do rave moves. The 100B entrance ticket             Nan                                    ordinary                 158                     6
                    Mike’s (Th Chaiyaphum; mains 40-115B; hdinner)                         exchanges for a drink.                                 Nan                                    air-con                  221                     7
                    Damn good hamburgers served until 3am.                                                                                        Pai                                    ordinary                 80                      4
                    Herb Garden (%0 5341 8991; Soi 1, Th Ratchad-                          SHOPPING                                               Pai                                    air-con                  142                     4
                    amnoen; mains 40-150B;hbreakfast, lunch & dinner)                      From modern art to Burmese antiques, you               Sukhothai                              ordinary                 167                     6
                    Unusually, the Thai food here is as good as the Western.               can buy just about anything in Chiang Mai.             Sukhothai                              air-con                  234                     5
                    Riverside Bar & Restaurant (%0 5324 3239; 9-11                         Even long before tourists began visiting the
                    Th Charoenrat; mains 75-200B; hlunch & dinner) A river                 region, Chiang Mai was an important centre
                    cruise (70B) departs nightly at 8pm.                                   for handcrafted ceramics, silks, umbrellas,         Mai Province. From the town centre, a túk-           30B for short trips and 40B to 60B for longer
                                                                                           silverwork and woodcarvings; and today              túk or chartered sǎwngthǎew to the Arcade            ones. Chiang Mai still has loads of sǎamláw,
                    Vegetarian                                                             it’s still the country’s number-one source of       bus terminal should cost about 50B to 60B;           especially in the old city around Talat Waro-
                    Chiang Mai has a huge choice of vegetarian                             handicrafts.                                        to Chang Pheuak, get a sǎwngthǎew at the             rot. They cost around 20B to 30B for most
                    food thanks to its love of all things healthy.                             The city’s top shopping stops are the Night     normal 20B per person rate.                          trips. There are five fledgling fixed-route
                      Vegetarian Centre of Chiang Mai (%0 5327 1262;                       Bazaar (p136) and the Walking Streets (p136).                                                            bus services (the free maps available at TAT
                    14 Th Om Muang; mains 15-30B; hbreakfast & lunch Mon-                  Other good retail destinations are Talat Warorot    Train                                                show the routes), three with white air-con
                    Fri) Sponsored by the Asoke Foundation, an                             (off Th Chang Moi; h5am-6pm), the oldest and most   The train station (%0 5324 5364; Th Charoen Muang)   buses (10B) and two with red sǎwngthǎew
                    ascetically minded Buddhist movement, this                             famous market in Chiang Mai, which has a            is on the eastern edge of town, and many             (15B), but most people still use the regular
                    cafeteria serves some of the cheapest food                             little of everything, and Th Tha Phae with a        travellers arrive by overnight train from            sǎwngthǎew.
                    in the city.                                                           mix of antiques, jewellery, homewares and           Bangkok. Advance booking is highly advised.             There are numerous car-hire agencies in
                       Whole Earth Restaurant (%0 5328 2463; 88 Th Si                      clothes.                                            There are seven rapid and express trains per         town with reliable cars from 1000B. Two
                    Donchai; mains 120-300B) Set in a teak house, with a                                                                       day between Chiang Mai and Bangkok with              well-regarded agencies are North Wheels
                    suitably mellow atmosphere. The food is well-                          GETTING THERE & AWAY                                prices starting at 231B for 3rd-class fan seats      (%0 5387 4478;; 70/4-8 Th Chai-
                    presented Thai and Indian, both vegetarian                             Air                                                 and running to 1353B for a 1st-class air-con         yaphum) and Alternative Travel (%08 1784 4856;
                    and nonvegetarian.                                                     Regularly scheduled international flights           sleeper. The trip takes anywhere from 12 to; 56 Mu, 9 Th Mea Faek Mai), the
                                                                                           arrive at Chiang Mai International Airport (%0      15 hours.                                            latter specialising in cars with drivers and
                    DRINKING & ENTERTAINMENT                                               5327 0222) from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia),                                                                 customised tours.
                    The ale flows fast and furiously at the strip of                       Kūnmíng (China), Singapore, Taipei (Tai-            GETTING AROUND                                          Traffic is a bit heavy, but Chiang Mai is
                    bars along Th Moon Muang near the Pratu                                wan), Vientiane and Luang Prabang (Laos),           Airport taxis cost 120B. Pick up a ticket at the     small enough that everything is accessible
                    Tha Phae. It’s a familiar sight: lots of sweaty                        and Yangon and Mandalay (Myanmar).                  taxi kiosk just outside the baggage-claim area,      by bike. Rentals cost 30B to 50B a day from
                    faràng, cheap beer and miles of neon. More                                Domestic routes include Bangkok, Mae             then present the ticket to the drivers outside       guesthouses and various places along the east
                    low-key is the cluster of rustic outdoor bars                          Hong Son, Pai and Sukhothai. Discount               arrivals. The airport is about 3km from the          moat. Contact Travel (%0 5381 2444; www.activethai
                    behind Th Ratchaphakhinai, such as Rasta                               flights to Bangkok can go as low as 899B one        city centre. Public bus 4 (red sǎwngthǎew, ; 73/7 Th Charoen Prathet) and Velocity (%0
                    Café and Heaven Beach, serving cheap beers                             way, almost as cheap as a VIP bus.                  15B) and 10 (white bus, 10B) run from the            5341 0665;; 177 Th Chang Pheuak)
                    and cool tunes to travellers and expats.                                  See p177 for further information on in-          airport to Th Tha Pae between 6am and 9pm.           rent good-quality rides.
                       Riverside Bar & Restaurant (%0 5324 3239; 9-                        ternational airlines and p178 for details of        You can charter a túk-túk or red sǎwngthǎew
                    11 Th Charoenrat) In a twinkly setting on Mae                          domestic carriers.                                  from the centre of Chiang Mai to the airport
                    Nam Ping, this is one of the longest-running
                    live-music venues in Chiang Mai. Two cover                             Bus
                                                                                                                                               for around 65B.
                                                                                                                                                  Hordes of red sǎwngthǎew circulate the
                                                                                                                                                                                                    NORTHERN THAILAND
                    bands play nightly and the food is reliably                            There are two bus stations in Chiang Mai: Ar-       city with fares of 15B to 20B per person,            The peaks and valleys of northern Thailand
                    good.                                                                  cade (%0 5324 2644), northeast of town, handles     but drivers often try to get you to charter.         are the guardians of an abundance of natural
                       Pinte Blues Pub (33/6 Th Moon Muang) Another                        Bangkok and most long-distance routes, while        The sǎwngthǎew don’t have set routes; you            and cultural attractions that make the area a
                    old-timer (open more than 20 years), Pinte                             Chang Pheuak (%0 5321 1586), north of the centre,   simply flag them down and tell them where            must for most travellers traversing the king-
                    serves only espresso and beer.                                         primarily handles destinations within Chiang        you want to go. Túk-túk only do charters at          dom. The first true Thai kingdoms arose in
NORTHERN THAILAND   142 N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • Pa i                             Book accommodation online at                                                                                     N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • M a e H o n g S o n 143

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   BANGKOK &
                    the north, endowing this region with a wide                Sleeping                                                       PAI
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                200 m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            0.1 miles
                    range of traditional culture and architecture,             The most atmospheric guesthouses are spread
                                                                                                                                                          A                                            B                    To Pai Airport (1.5km)               C                                                   D
                    which are now the country’s most beauti-                   along the banks of Mae Nam Pai and they
                    ful Thai temple ruins. It’s also the home of               number in the dozens.
                    Thailand’s hill tribes. But the scenic beauty                  Good View Guest House (Ban Mae Yen; r 100-250B)
                    of the north has been fairly well preserved:               This sociable place about a kilometre out of                  1
                    the region boasts more natural forest cover                town has simple, shared bathroom, A-frame
                    than any other.                                            bungalows and rooms with views of the
                       Northern Thais (khon meuang) are very                   mountains and rice fields. There are lots of                                                                                            Th
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ch                                                    Ma
                    proud of their local customs, consider-                    thatched communal areas with hammocks,                                                                                                          ais
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         hra                                                  Na
                    ing northern ways to be part of Thailand’s                 and places for campfires.                                                                    Wat Luang                                                       m         13                                         m


                    original culture. Look for symbols frequently                  Shan Guest House (%0 5369 9162; off Th Rang-                                                                                                                            Klang                                        i

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                14         10
                    displayed by northern Thais to express cul-                siyanon; r 100-300B) This well-run and well-worn                                                                            So

                                                                                                                                                                                                                i 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Wat Pa
                    tural solidarity – clay water jars placed in               spot is close to Pai’s nightlife. A dining and

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             5                       Kham


                    front of homes, kàlae (carved wooden ‘X’                   lounging pavilion sits in the middle of a big                                                                                                                                                                                4

                                                                                                                                                                                             Th                                                             So
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ra                                                          iW

                    motifs) that decorate house gables, Shan or                pond.                                                                                                                tch
                                                                                                                                                                                                           am                           2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 a   nch
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        a loem                                   3

                    hill tribe–style shoulder bags and the sêua                    Baan Pai Village (%0 5369 8152; www.baanpaivil


                    mâw hâwm (indigo-dyed rice-farmer’s shirt)       ; Th Wiang Tai; r 500-650B) Beautiful wooden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   7                                     To Pairadise (900m);
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Good View Guest House (1.5km);

                    worn on Friday at many banks, universities                 bungalows set among winding pathways and                                                                                    12                                         That Mae Yen (1.5km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thom's Pai Elephant Camp (7km); EATING
                    and other institutions.                                    a garden give Baan Pai charm.                                                                                               1                                       Tha Pai Hot Springs (8km) Angie's Kitchen............................7 B2
                                                                                   Pairadise (%0 9838 7521;; 98 Mu                                  Market                                                                                                              Baan Benjarong............................8 B3

                    PAI                                                        1, Ban Mae Yen; bungalows 650-1000B) Atop the ridge,                                                                                          SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cher Xin Jai..................................9 B2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Edible Jazz..................................10 C2
                    pop 3000                                                   Pairadise features superstylish, spacious and                                                                                                 Thai Adventure Rafting................1 B3
                                                                                                                                              3                                                                              Thom's Pai Elephant Camp Tours..2 B2                         DRINKING
                    The hippy trail is alive and well in Pai, a cool,          chic bungalows among a pretty garden. The                                                                                                                                                                  Bebop Cafe................................11 A3
                    moist corner of a mountain-fortressed valley.              spring-fed pond is suitable for swimming.                                                                                                     SLEEPING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Baan Pai Village...........................3       D2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Taku Art Bar...............................12 B2
                                                                                                                                             To Chiang
                    A solid music, art and New Age scene has                       Also recommended:                                         Mai (98km)              11
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Pai River Corner...........................4       D2        TRANSPORT
                    settled in with the town’s more permanent                  Pravee’s House (%0 5369 9368; Soi Wanchaloem;                                                                                                 Pravee's House............................5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Shan Guest House........................6
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bus Station.................................13 C2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Minivans Station........................14 C2
                    population of Shan, Thai and Muslim Chi-                   r 200-600B; a) An attractive house with large rooms
                    nese, though in the high season Pai can feel               and small verandas.
                    completely overrun by faràng. The town itself              Pai River Corner (%0 5369 9049; www.pairivercorner           music (live and otherwise) and the pop-arty                                                         it’s a solid link in the tourist trail. The town’s
                    can be explored in a matter of minutes, but                .com; Th Chaisongkhram; r 3000-6000B; a) Elegant             décor are rather funky.                                                                             population is predominantly Shan, but the feel
                    the real adventure lies along the paths in the             rooms by the river for the design-conscious.                   Also recommended:                                                                                 is more a Thai town than minority mountain
                    hills beyond.                                                                                                           Angie’s Kitchen (%0 5369 9105; Th Rangsiyanon;                                                      getaway.
                                                                               Eating & Drinking                                            mains 30-100B; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) All the                                                      Among the province’s biggest draws are
                    Sights & Activities                                        Pai’s expat population has generated a large                 typical Thai and Western dishes balanced by unusual fruit                                           the ‘long-necked’ Padaung refugee villages
                    Guesthouses can provide information on local               and varied roster of restaurants.                            shake mixes.                                                                                        where women wear brass coils to push down
                    trekking for as little as 700B per day if no rafts             Cher Xin Jai (Th Ratchadamnoen; mains 20B; hbreak-       Bebop Cafe (Th Rangsiyanon) This old traveller favourite                                            the collarbone and rib cage. Opinions vary on
                    or elephants are involved.                                 fast & lunch) This simple place with low tables              hosts blues, R&B and rock bands nightly.                                                            whether visiting these villages is construc-
                        Thai Adventure Rafting (%0 5369 9111; www              on rattan mats serves delicious and cheap                                                                                                                        tive (they fled ethnic conflict in Myanmar
          ; Th Rangsiyanon) has a great   vegan Thai food.                                             Getting There & Away                                                                                and survive on tourist dollars) or exploitive
                    reputation (some companies are very lax                        Edible Jazz (Soi Wat Pa Kham; mains 30-90B; hlunch       Siam General Aviation (%0 2664 6099;                                                  (body modification was dying out before
                    about safety). Its two-day white-water rafting             & dinner) The cushions-on-the-floor atmos-                   has daily Chiang Mai flights (one way 1450B,                                                        tourists started coming, now young girls are
                    trips from Pai to Mae Hong Son cost 2400B                  phere makes this place a good choice for                     35 minutes).                                                                                        getting it).
                    per person.                                                a leisurely late-night pasta, sandwiches or                     Buses to Chiang Mai (ordinary/air-con
                        Elephant rides through the jungle are just             Mexican. Jazz CDs play in the background                     80/142B, four hours) and Mae Hong Son                                                               Information
                    one of the choices at Thom’s Pai Elephant Camp             and occasionally the Thai owner breaks out                   (ordinary/air-con 70/98B, three hours) leave                                                        There are plenty of banks with ATMs and
                    Tours (%0 5369 9286;; Th       the guitar.                                                  five times daily. Air-con minibuses (150B) to                                                       foreign-exchange services on Th Khunlum
                    Rangsiyanon; 1-/2hr rides 300/450B). Other options             Baan Benjarong (%0 5369 8010; Th Rangsiyanon;            these towns go hourly.                                                                              Praphat. Internet access is widely available.
                    include bamboo-raft trips and hill-tribe vil-              mains 40-120B; hlunch & dinner) It doesn’t look                                                                                                                  Post office (Th Khunlum Praphat; h8.30am-4.30pm
                    lage stays.                                                much from outside, but this could be the best                MAE HONG SON                                                                                        Mon-Fri)
                        Across Mae Nam Pai and 8km southeast                   Thai food in Pai, and the tables in the back                 pop 8300                                                                                            Srisangwal Hospital (%0 5361 1378; Th Singhanat
                    of town is Tha Pai Hot Springs (admission free,            have views of the rice paddies.                              Hemmed in by mountains, Mae Hong Son,                                                               Bamrung)
                    soaking 50B), a scenic, well-kept local park.                  Taku Art Bar (Th Rangsiyanon) Partially owned            Thailand’s far northwestern provincial capital,                                                     TAT (%0 5362 3016; Th Khumlum Praphat; h8.30am-
                    There is a dry-season camp site (30B per                   by a well-known Thai artist, Taku is the main                feels like the end of the road, but because of                                                      4.30pm Mon-Fri)
                    pitch) here.                                               centre for visiting Thai hipsters. Both the                  the surrounding beauty and hill-tribe villages,                                                     Tourist police (%1155; Th Singhanat Bamrung)
NORTHERN THAILAND   144 N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • M a e H o n g S o n                                                                                           Book accommodation online at                                                                  N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • T h a T o n 145

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           BANGKOK &
                    Sights & Activities                                                                                                        Sleeping                                                                                       as) This lush, ecofriendly resort 9km out-                 lesser degree, for hill-tribe treks. The relaxing
                    More impressive than Shan-built Wat Phra                                                                                   Johnnie House (%0 5361 1667; Th Pradit Jong Kham;                                              side town (free transport available) features              ride down Mae Nam Kok is a big hit with
                    That Doi Kong Mu itself are the views of Mae                                                                               r 100-250B) The new rooms with private hot-                                                    Shan-style wooden bungalows with stylishly                 tourists, and the villages along the way are
                    Hong Son from this hill located west of town;                                                                              water showers and lake views are an excellent                                                  decorated interiors. To encourage community-               geared up for visitors.
                    especially when early-morning seas of fog                                                                                  deal here. The shared bathrooms are much                                                       based tourism, most of the employees come                     The best places to stay in Tha Ton tend to
                    fill the valley.                                                                                                           more basic.                                                                                    from local villages.                                       be on the opposite side of the river from the
                        Burmese-style Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong                                                                                  Pana Huts (%0 5361 4331;; 293/9                                              Also recommended:                                       riverboat dock, including spic-and-span Thaton
                    Kham are the focal points of the Poi Sang Long                                                                             Mu 11 Pang Moo; bungalows 400-500B) These cute bam-                                            Princes Guest House (%0 5361 1136;                         Garden Riverside (%0 5345 9286; r 300-500B; a).
                    Festival in March, when young Shan boys are                                                                                boo huts on a jungley hill on the edge of town                                       ; Th Pradit Jong Kham; r 150-      From Chiang Mai’s Chang Pheuak termi-
                    ordained as novice monks. The boys, dressed                                                                                have pots of flowers and other charms. There                                                   400B;ai) Spotless, great-value rooms on the lake.          nal you can take a bus (ordinary 90B, four
                    in ornate costumes, are carried on the shoul-                                                                              is a campfire pit in the rustic communal area                                                  Romtai (%0 5361 2437; Th Chumnanatit; r 250-600B;          hours, seven daily). Direct or air-con mini-
                    ders of friends or relatives around the temples                                                                            and the food is quite good.                                                                    a) Spacious, clean rooms and bungalows looking over        vans (120B, 3½ hours, half-hourly) depart
                    under festive parasols.                                                                                                        Piya Guest House (%0 5361 1260; 1/1 Th Khunlum                                             a garden.                                                  from behind Chang Pheuak on Soi Sanam Kila
                        The guesthouses in town arrange treks                                                                                  Praphat; bungalows 600B; a) This well-managed                                                                                                             for Fang where yellow sǎwngthǎew continue
                    (per person per day about 700-800B) to the nearby                                                                          place has cement bungalows with wooden                                                         Eating & Drinking                                          to Tha Thon (20B, 40 minutes).
                    hill-tribe villages and white-water rafting on                                                                             floors set around a quiet garden with small                                                    Sunflower Café (%0 5362 0549; Th Udom Chaonithet;             Chiang Rai–bound boats (350B, three to
                    Mae Nam Pai. Reliable operators include                                                                                    lotus ponds. There is a pleasant lake view from                                                mains 40-150B; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) A fine place    five hours) taking up to 12 passengers leave
                    the following:                                                                                                             the restaurant up front.                                                                       to while away some time, Sunflower offers                  Tha Ton at 12.30pm. More comfortable
                    Friend Tour (%0 5361 1647; 21 Th Pradit Jong                                                                                   Sang Tong Huts (%0 5362 0680; www.sangtonghuts                                             freshly baked breads, serious soups and salads,            six-person charters are available for 2200B.
                    Kham)                                                                                                                      .com; bungalows 700-1600B; s) Each of these ec-                                                and popular pizzas.                                        Another alternative are three-day bamboo
                    Rosegarden Tours (%0 5361 1577; www.rosegarden                                                                             lectic hillside huts on the edge of town is in-                                                   Kai Mook (%0 5361 2092; 23 Th Udom Chaonithet;          house-raft rides with stops in the villages
          ; 86/4 Th Khunlum Praphut)                                                                                       dividually styled and decorated using many                                                     mains 55-160B; hlunch & dinner) This smart, open-          along the way. Guesthouses run these trips
                    Sunflower Café Tour (%0 5362 0549; www.sunflow                                                                             natural materials. Staying here brings a sense                                                 air restaurant has one of the better Thai-                 for 2500B per person, but if you organise it
                    ercafé; Th Udom Chaonithet)                                                                                        of being in nature.                                                                            Chinese menus in town, with creative special-              yourself, it could cost around 1900B for a
                    Tour Merng Thai (%0 5361 1979; Th Khunlum                                                                                      Fern Resort (%0 5368 6110;; 64 Mu                                      ties like yam bai kùt (yam with fern leaves).              six-person raft.
                    Praphat)                                                                                                                   Bo, Tambon Pha Bong; standard/deluxe/ste 1500/1800/2500B;                                         Crossroads (Th Singhanat Bamrun; mains 50-200B) This
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              two-storey bar set in a wooden house is a                  CHIANG RAI
                      MAE HONG SON                                                                                                                                                0
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             300 m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               0.2 miles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              friendly, laid-back place with a pool table and            pop 73,300
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              huge cocktail list.                                        Leafy and well groomed, Chiang Rai is more
                                       A                                                                   B                                                         C                                               D                           Also recommended:                                       liveable than visitable, lacking any major
                                                                                                                      Soi 1
                                                                           Pai (111km)                                                                                                                                                        BBQ Corner (%08 1385 7277; Th Udom Chaonithet;             tourist attractions; though the fact that it’s
                       To Pana Huts (280m);
                       Sang Tong Huts (300m)                         21                                                                                                                                                                       all-you-can-eat 69B; hdinner) Cook your all-you-can-eat    less polluted and more laid-back than Chiang
                      1                                                                                                                                                           Post Office.....................................1      B2   meal right at your table.                                  Mai are good enough reasons to come here,
                                                                      Th K

                                                                                 Wat Hua
                                                                                                                                                           Airport                Srisangwal Hospital........................2           C2   La Tasca (%0 5361 1344; Th Khunlum Praphat; mains          plus it’s an exceptional spot for arranging
                                                                                            Th                                                                                    TAT ...............................................3   B2

                                                                                                               Wattana                                                            Tourist Police..................................4      B2   90-145B; hlunch & dinner) Decent pizzas, pastas and        hill-tribe treks.
                                                                          lum P

                                                                                       12        Market                                                                                                                                       calzones.
                                                                                                                  Jong Kadit

                                                                                                                                                                                  SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

                                                                                                                   Th Pr

                                                                                                                                                                                  Friend Tour..................................... B2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Getting There & Away

                                                                                                                                                                                  Rosegarden Tours........................... B2
                                                                                                                                                                                  Sunflower Café Tour..................(see 19)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 6                                                                       You’ll have no problem finding banks and
                          Kong Mu
                                                                             20                            Sing
                                                                                                                hana             4
                                                                                                                                                           Th Niv
                                                                                                                                                                 es Pisa
                                                                                                                                                                                  Tour Merng Thai............................7 B2             Thai Airways (%0 5361 2220;; Th Sing-      internet access.
                                                                                                                        t Ba                                                      Wat Jong Kham.............................8 B3
                          (1500m)                                                                                            m  rung
                                                                                                                                                                                  Wat Jong Klang..............................9 B3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              hanat Bamrung; one-way 1270B) and Nok Air (%1318;          Orn’s Bookshop (%08 1022 0318; h8am-8pm) Turn
                                                                                                                    5                22                                           Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu.......10 A2             ; one-way 900B) fly to Chiang Mai in         right down the soi past Boonbundan Guest House.

                                                                                                                  Th U
                      2      10                                                                                        don
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              35 minutes. PB Air (%0 5361 4369;;           Overbrook Hospital (%0 5371 1366; Th Singkhlai)
                                                                        w 6                                                    Cha
                                               ong Muay

                                                                    Cho                                                              oN
                                                                  om 18
                                                               Ud                           16                     14
                                                                                                                                                                              2   Johnnie House..............................11          B2   one-way 2370B) flies direct from Bangkok.                  Post office (Th Utarakit; h8.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri,
                                                                                                 19                                                                               Panorama Hotel............................     12      B1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 There are two bus routes from Chiang Mai:               9am-noon Sat & Sun)
                                                                                                                                                  a th

                                           Th Pha Do

                                                                                                                  Nong Jong                                                       Piya Guest House.........................13            B2

                                    Wat Phra                                                                        Kham                                                          Princes Guest House.....................14             B2   the northern (ordinary/air-con 142/200B, seven             TAT (%0 5374 4674; Th Singkhlai; h8.30am-4.30pm)

                                     Non                                                    1

                                                                                                                                                                                  Romtai..........................................       B3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              hours) is faster by about an hour and has the              Tourist police (%1115; Th Phahonyothin)


                                                                                                                  9       8
                                                                                                                               15                                                 EATING                                                      best scenery, but the southern (ordinary/air-con
                                                                                                                                                                                  BBQ Corner..................................16         B2
                                                                                                                                                                                  Kai Mook...................................... 17      B2   187/337B, eight hours) includes more bathroom              Sights
                                                                                                                                                                                  La Tasca.......................................18      B2   breaks and smells better (ie fewer motion-sick             In the mid-14th century, lightning cracked

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sunflower Café.............................19          B2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              passengers).                                               the chedi at Wat Phra Kaew revealing the

                      3                                                                                                                                                           DRINKING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         much-honoured Emerald Buddha (now at

                                                                                                                                                                                  Crossroads....................................20 B2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              THA TON                                                    Bankgok’s Wat Phra Kaew, see p114). There

                                                                                                                                                                                  Bus Station...................................21 A1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In the far northern corner of Chiang Mai                   is now a near copy of the original sculp-
                                                                          To Fern Resort (7km);
                                                                          Mae Sariang (139km)                                                                                     Thai Airways................................22 B2           Province, little Tha Ton is the launching point            ture here, and another at nearby Wat Phra
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              for river trips to Chiang Rai, and, to a much              Singh. Wat Rong Khun, 13km south of town,
NORTHERN THAILAND   146 N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • C h i a n g R a i                                                                                                                        Book accommodation online at                                                                           N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • G o l d e n T r i a n g l e & A r o u n d 147

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             BANGKOK &
                    is a unique contemporary take on temple                                                                                                  Mirror Art Group (%0 5373 7412; www.mirrorart                                                                                       garden, a lounge area along the river and free                     Getting There & Away
                    design.                                                                                                                     ; 106 Mu 1, Ban Huay Khom, Tambon Mae Yao)                                                                                    bikes. Some profits go towards community                           Chiang Rai Airport (%0 5379 3048), 8km north of
                       The Hilltribe Museum & Education Center                                                                                            One-week homestay programmes are a spe-                                                                                                projects.                                                          town, fields eight daily Bangkok flights. Air
                    (% 0 5374 0088;; 620/1 Th                                                                                     ciality. Volunteer opportunities available.                                                                                                City Home (%0 5360 0155; 868 Th Phahonyothin;                  Asia (%0 5379 3545;, with prices
                    Thanalai; admission 50B; h9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm                                                                                       Natural Focus (%0 5371 5696; www.naturalfocusecot                                                                                  r 400B; ai) Down a tiny soi, smack in the                          starting at 1400B, is the cheapest. One-Two-Go
                    Sat & Sun), run by the nonprofit PDA, is very                                                                               ; 129/1 Soi 4, Th Pa-Ngiw, Rop Wiang) Specialising                                                                              middle of town, this quiet four-storey hotel                       (%0 5379 3555; and Thai Airways
                    educational.                                                                                                                          in nature tours.                                                                                                                       offers excellent value.                                            (%0 5371 1179;; 870 Th Phahonyothin)
                                                                                                                                                              PDA Tours & Travel (%0 5374 0088; crpdatour@hot                                                                                        Golden Triangle Inn (%0 5371 1339/6996; www                    are the competition.
                    Trekking                                                                                                                    ; Hilltribe Museum & Education Center; 620/1 Th                                                                      ; 590/2 Th Phahonyothin; r incl breakfast         Chiang Rai is also accessible by a popular
                    More than 30 travel agencies, guesthouses                                                                                             Thanalai) Culturally sensitive tours led by PDA-                                                                                       800B; a) Though it has 39 rooms, all with tile                     boat journey originating from Tha Ton (see
                    and hotels offer trekking trips. Daily rates                                                                                          trained hill-tribe members.                                                                                                            or wood floors and stylish furniture but no                        p145 for details). Boats head upriver daily
                    average 950B per person. Profits from the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    TVs, this place feels more like a home than                        at 10.30am.
                    following agencies go directly to community-                                                                                          Sleeping                                                                                                                               a hotel.                                                              Chiang Rai’s bus terminal (%0 5371 1224; Th
                    development projects.                                                                                                                 oAkha River House (%0 5371 5084; www.akha                                                                                                 Also recommended:                                               Prasopsuk) is in the heart of town. Buses head fre-
                       Akha River House (%08 9997 5505; www.akhahill                                                                                      .info; 423/25 Soi 1, Th Kohloy; s 100-200, d 150-300B;i)                                                                               Pam’s Guest House (%08 9433 5134; Th Jet Yot;                      quently to Bangkok (air-con/VIP 511/900B,
                    .com; 423/25 Soi 1, Th Kohloy) Wholly owned and                                                                                       This Akha-owned guesthouse has comfort-                                                                                                r 150-250B) Plain, but clean and friendly.                         11 hours), Chiang Mai (ordinary/air-con
                    managed by Akha people.                                                                                                               able rooms and bungalows in a manicured                                                                                                Boonbundan Guest House (%0 5375 2413; 1005/13                      100/140B, three hours) and Chiang Khong
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Th Jet Yot; r 170-500B; a) The old favourite has some-             (ordinary 57B, 2½ hours).
                      CHIANG RAI                                                                                                                                                                                               0
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             500 m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            0.3 miles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 thing to suit every budget.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Legend of Chiang Rai (%0 5391 0400; www                            GOLDEN TRIANGLE & AROUND
                                         A                                                                    B                                                                                C                                                                      D                ; 124/15 Th Kohloy; studio                 The tri-country border between Thailand,
                          To Boat Pier (50m)                                                                                                                                                                                                                         To Legend of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chiang Rai (2km)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 3900-5900, villa 8100B; ais) Perfect if you want                   Myanmar and Laos forms the legendary
                          To Mirror Art Group (15km);
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 to be pampered.                                                    Golden Triangle, a mountainous frontier
                      1   Akha Hill House (23km);
                          Tha Ton (50km)                                                        Ko                          Dusit Island                                                                                                                                                                                                                            where the opium poppy was once an easy
                                                                            Th                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Eating                                                             cash crop for the region’s ethnic minorities.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th Ka

                                                                                            sit                                                              9                                                                                                                                   Muang Thong Restaurant (%0 5371 1162; Th Phahon-                   As early as the 1600s, opium joined the Asian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         w Law

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nam                    yothin; mains 60-100B; h24hr) Packed nightly for                   trade route, along with spices and other natu-
                                                  Th At-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Thai and Chinese dishes such as kaeng pàa                          ral resources, and the world was soon hooked

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 phèt, a delicious duck curry.                                      on opium and its derivatives, morphine and
                                                                                           Th Trai

                                                                                      7                                                                                                                            Th
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Wat               To Chiang Rai            Aye’s Restaurant (%0 5375 2535; 869/170 Th Phaho-               heroin. While Myanmar and Laos remain big

                     Th Ratch                                                                                                 8                                                                                                Sing
                              adat     Damrong                                                                                                                                                                                            khla         Bunreuang           Airport (8km);
                                                                                 Th Reuang Nakhon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   i                  Chiang Saen (67km)         nyothin; mains 90-500B; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) Rat-           players in the drug trade, Thailand has suc-
                                                           Th N

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th    Uta
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 tan furniture and parasols give this friendly                      cessfully stamped out its cultivation through

                      2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              King Mengrai                spot a slightly colonial feel, and everything                      crop-substitution programmes and aggressive
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th W

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 from the steak schnitzel to the curries is tasty                   law enforcement. Today the region’s sordid

                                                                                                                                                                 Th R

                                                 rakit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           and well presented.                                                past is marketed as a tourist attraction. Sop


                                        Th Uta

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Th Thanalai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Old Siam (%0 5371 4282; 541/2 Th Phahonyothin;                  Ruak, which sits at the junction, has become
                                                                                                                                   Th S



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Th Si


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 mains 105-250B; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) Low                    a tour-bus tourist trap, but other villages in


                    Natural Focus                          Th Thanalai

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 lighting and lovely decoration make this teak                      this area are worth a look.

                                  tha                            Daru Aman Mosque

                                                                                                                                  Clock                                                                 12
                     Th                                       Wat Ming Meuang                                                                                                                                                                                          Wat Si
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 house a romantic gem. The fish and curry
                               Soi 1

                                                                                                                                  Tower                                                                                                                                Koet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Th P

                                                                                           Th Banphaprakan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Th Phahon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 yo       thin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 dishes are quite good.                                             CHIANG SAEN
                                                                                                                                                        13                                          21                                                                                              Also recommended:                                               pop 55,000
                                                                                                                                              Th Je

                      3                                                                                                                                           19                               11                                                                                            BaanChivitMai Bakery (%08 1764 7020; Th Prasop-                    Despite steady riverbarge traffic trade with
                                                                                                                                                t Yot

                            INFORMATION                                                                                                                                                                           18
                                                                                                                                                        Th Premaviphat                                                                                              Th Chao
                            Orn's Bookshop..................................1                            B3                                                                                                                                                                 Chai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 suk; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner Mon-Sat, dinner Sun)               China, Chiang Saen remains a pretty sleepy
                                                                                                                                                                             Th Phahonyothin

                            Overbrook Hospital............................2                              B2                                                        14                           Café                 20
                            Post Office.........................................3                        B2                    1
                                                                                                                                              10                                                                                                                                                 Profits from this Swedish bakery at the bus station support        town. You can while away a day exploring
                            TAT ...................................................4                     B1
                            Tourist Police..................................... 5                        C3                                                                                               15
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 work with orphans.                                                 the scattered ruins of the long-extinct Chiang
                                                                                                                                   Wat Jet Yot                                                     Th San Pannat                                             Th Prasopsuk                        Cabbages & Condoms (%0 5395 2314; 620/1 Th                         Saen kingdom, visiting the small Chiang Saen
                            SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
                            Akha River & Hill House...................(see 9)                                  EATING                                                                                                                                                                            Thanalai; mains 35-200B; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner)               National Museum (%0 5377 7102; 702 Th Phahonyothin;
                            Hilltribe Museum & Education Center..6 C2                                          Aye's Restaurant..............................14 C3                                                                                                                               Decent northern Thai food, and all profits to PDA.                 admission 30B; h8.30am-4.30pm Wed-Sun) or watching
                            PDA Tours & Travel..........................(see 6)                                BaanChivitMai Bakery......................15 C3
                            Wat Phra Kaew..................................7 B2                                Cabbages & Condoms.....................(see 6)                                                                                                                                    Il Pirata (%08 9758 9173; 868/8 Th Phahonyothin;                   boat traffic.
                            Wat Phra Singh..................................8 B2                               Il Pirata.............................................16 C3                                                                                                                 1     mains 50-200B; hlunch & dinner) A simple Italian-run                  Simple but good-value rooms and A-frame
                      4                                                                                        Muang Thong Restaurant................17 C3
                            SLEEPING                                                                           Night Market....................................18 C3                                                                                                                             Italian restaurant.                                                bungalows, a handy (though slightly noisy)
                            Akha River House...............................9
                            Boonbundan Guest House................10
                                                                                                               Old Siam..........................................19 C3                                                                                                                                                                                              location opposite the river and night mar-
                            City Home........................................11                          C3    TRANSPORT                                                                                                                                                                         The night market, off Th Phahonyothin, of-                         ket, plus a variety of travel services available
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             To Wat Rong Khun (13km);
                            Golden Triangle Inn..........................12
                            Pam's Guest House..........................13
                                                                                                               Bus Terminal....................................20 C3
                                                                                                               Thai Airways....................................21 C3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chiang Mai (191km)                               fers a good collection of food stalls, plus music                  on site have made Chiang Saen Guest House
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 and dance shows.                                                   (% 0 5365 0196; s/d with shared bathroom 80/100B,
NORTHERN THAILAND   148 N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • C h i a n g K h o n g                                   Book accommodation online at                N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • L a m p a n g & A r o u n d 149

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   BANGKOK &
                                                                                                                                             Sleeping                                                         religious paraphernalia and woodwork.
                       CROSSING INTO CHINA: CHIANG SAEN TO JǏNGHÓNG                                                                          Doi Phukha Guest House (%0 5475 1517; 94/5 Soi 1,                Nearby, Baan Sao Nak (Many Pillars House; %0 5422
                       Although it was once possible to travel by cargo ship from Chiang Saen to Jǐnghóng in China,                          Th Arayawarat; s/d 100/150B) The helpful English-                7653; admission 30B; h10am-5pm) is a huge teak
                       now it’s only permitted via passenger boat through Xishuangbanna Tianda Tourism & Shipping                            speaking owner is the best asset at this ram-                    Lanna-style house supported by 116 teak pil-
                       (%0 5365 1136, 08 9637 1178; one way/return 4000/7000B; h8am-5pm). The office is located on the                       bling old house north of the centre.                             lars and furnished with Burmese and Thai
                       main road opposite the Chiang Saen port (1km south of the ferry pier). The 50-seater speedboat                            SP Guest House (%0 5477 489; Soi Tok Huawiang Tai;           antiques. Three rooms display northern Thai
                       goes through Myanmar and Laos but passengers stay on board. To do this trip you must already                          r 250-350B; a) All rooms at this well-situated                   crafts.
                       have your visa for China (quicker to arrange from Chiang Mai or Bangkok). The people at Chiang                        guesthouse are large and well-equipped, mak-                        The wooden mondòp (a square, spire-
                       Saen Guest House (p147) can book you a ticket and help you get a visa for China. It takes at                          ing it the best value in town.                                   topped shrine room) at Wat Pongsanuk Tai is
                       least four workdays to get the visa.                                                                                      Dhevaraj Hotel (%0 5471 0078; www.dhevarajho                 one of the best remaining local examples of
                          The trip from Chiang Saen to Jǐnghóng takes 15 hours when conditions are good. During drier              ; 466 Th Sumonthewarat; r incl breakfast 700-1200B;       original Lanna-style temple architecture,
                       months the going is slower, as rocks and shallows can hamper the way. When this is the case                           ais) This city-centre hotel is a tad dis-                        which emphasised open-sided wooden build-
                       a night’s stay in Guanlei is included. Boats depart from Chiang Saen on Monday, Wednesday                             organised, but the rooms are clean with the                      ings. The old town’s other fine structures
                       and Saturday at 5am.                                                                                                  amenities you’d expect at this price.                            include Wat Si Rong Meuang and Wat Si Chum,
                                                                                                                                                                                                              both built in the late 19th century by Bur-
                                                                                                                                             Eating                                                           mese artisans.
                    s/d 200/250B, bungalows 250B) a longtime favourite             people who aren’t getting on the morning’s                Yota Vegetarian Restaurant (Th Mahawong; mains 10-                  In the village of Ko Kha, 18km to the south-
                    with travellers.                                               first bus or ferry.                                       35B; hbreakfast & lunch) The owner here is the                   west of Lampang, lies Wat Phra That Lampang
                      Chiang Saen is most easily reached by                           Buses depart hourly for Chiang Rai (57B,               friendliest lady in town, and she will not let                   Luang, arguably the most beautiful wooden
                    bus via Chiang Rai (33B, 1½ hours). Blue                       2½ hours) and daily for Bangkok (air-con/VIP              you walk away hungry.                                            Lanna temple in northern Thailand. It is an
                    sǎwngthǎew go to Chiang Khong (60B, two                        493/985B, 12 hours). Boats taking up to 10                   Da Dario (%08 7184 5436; Th Mahayot; mains 40-160B;           amazing structure with walls like a huge me-
                    hours).                                                        passengers can be chartered up the Mekong                 hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) This Italian restaurant              dieval castle. Three small museums outside
                                                                                   River to Chiang Saen for 2700B.                           gets it right in all regards from the homy at-                   the southern gate display Buddha images, fes-
                    CHIANG KHONG                                                                                                             mosphere and attentive service to it’s mixed                     tival paraphernalia and other ethnographic
                    pop 9000                                                       NAN                                                       Western and Thai menu. Breakfast and lunch                       artefacts. To get here, catch an eastbound
                    More remote yet more lively than Chiang                        pop 24,300                                                are served at the Th Mahayot location and                        sǎwngthǎew (20B) on Th Rawp Wiang to Ko
                    Saen, Chiang Khong is an important mar-                        Nan was a semiautonomous kingdom until                    then the action moves around the corner to                       Kha’s sǎwngthǎew station where it’s a 3km
                    ket town for local hill tribes: several villages               1931, and it still retains something of its               Th Anantaworarittidet at 5pm.                                    chartered motorcycle taxi ride (30B) to the
                    inhabited by Mien and White Hmong are                          former isolation and individuality along with                The night market on Th Anantaworarit-                         temple.
                    nearby. Lots of travellers pass this way be-                   parts of the old city wall.                               tidet by the junction with Th Pha Kong, has
                    tween Thailand and Laos. Several banks have                                                                              some tasty food stall offerings.                                 NATIONAL ELEPHANT INSTITUTE
                    branches in town with ATMs and foreign                         Information                                                                                                                The National Elephant Institute (%0 5422 8035;
                    exchange services.                                             Internet services and banks with ATMs are                 Getting There & Away                                   ; admission 50B; helephant bathing
                      There is no shortage of lodging in town,                     easy to find.                                             PB Air (%0 5477 1729; flies to Bang-              9.45am & 1.15pm) protects elephants by promot-
                    much of it on the river. Reuan Thai Sophaphan                  Post office (Th Mahawong; h8.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri,         kok (one way 3160B) once daily.                                  ing ecotourism, providing medical care and
                    (%0 5379 1023;; 8 Th Sai Klang;       9am-noon Sat & Sun)                                          The government bus station is about 500m                      training young elephants. The centre features
                    r 200-600B;i) has spacious rooms in a beautiful                Tourist information centre (%0 5471 0216; Th Pha          southwest of town. Buses travel frequently                       elephant shows (10am, 11am and 1.30pm)
                    teak building while the southern location of                   Kong; h8am-5pm)                                           to Bangkok (air-con/VIP 388/770B, 10 to 11                       and rides through the surrounding forest.
                    Nomad’s Guest House (%0 5365 5537; 153/4 Mu 3, Baan                                                                      hours), occasionally to Chiang Mai (ordinary/                    Rides operate between 8am and 3.30pm and
                    Sop Som; r 200-500B; i) makes it a good place for              Sights & Activities                                       air-con/VIP 158/221/440B, seven hours) and                       cost 100B (10 minutes) to 800B (one hour)
                                                                                   Survey the town’s distinctive Lanna and Thai              once daily to Chiang Rai (air-con 150B, seven                    depending on duration. There are also a va-
                                                                                   Lü–influenced temples and take a look at Wat              hours).                                                          riety of mahout courses including a one-day
                       CROSSING INTO LAOS: CHIANG                                  Phumin’s murals. Visiting the National Museum                                                                              introduction (2500B) and a three-day (8000B)
                       KHONG TO HUAY XAI                                           (%0 5477 2777; Th Pha Kong; admission 30B; h9am-noon,1-   LAMPANG & AROUND                                                 homestay programme.
                       Ferries (20B) make the passage from Chiang                  4pm) helps to pass an unhurried day. Many visi-           Lampang is like a low-key, laid-back little                         Bus and sǎwngthǎew (25B) bound for Chiang
                       Khong to the Lao village of Huay Xai fre-                   tors stop in Nan only long enough to arrange a            Chiang Mai. Like its larger sibling, Lampang                     Mai will drop you off 1.5km away where vans
                       quently between 8am and 6pm from Tha                        trek into mountainous Doi Phu Kha National Park           was constructed as a walled rectangle and                        (20B) shuttle visitors to the centre.
                       Reua Bak, a pier situated at the northern                   (%0 5470 1000; admission 400B) and Mabri, Hmong,          boasts magnificent temples.
                       end of Chiang Khong. If you’re driving,                     Mien, Thai Lü and Htin villages.                                                                                           HORSE CARRIAGE RIDES
                       there’s the option of a vehicle ferry (US$50).                 Ever reliable Fhu Travel Service (%0 5471 0636;        Sights & Activities                                              Lampang is known throughout Thailand as
                       The two-day boat trips to Luang Prabang           ; 453/4 Th Sumonthewarat) has been       TEMPLES & MUSEUMS                                                Meuang Rot Mah (Horse Cart City) because
                       are a good way to continue on. For infor-                   leading treks to hill-tribe villages in the sur-          Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao is one of the many                         it’s the only town in Thailand where horse-
                       mation on crossing the border in the other                  rounding mountains for two decades. Tours                 former homes of the Emerald Buddha, now                          drawn carriages are still used as transport. A
                       direction, see p314.                                        start from 800B per person per day. Fhu also              residing in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew (p114).                      15-minute/one-hour ride around town costs
                                                                                   offers boat, bike and elephant trips.                     Its Lanna Museum (admission by donation) displays                150/300B.
NORTHERN THAILAND   150 N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • S u k h o t h a i                      Book accommodation online at   Book accommodation online at                            N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • S u k h o t h a i 151

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                    Sleeping & Eating                                               modern town of Sukhothai (12km from the                       esque moat. Wat Sa Si is a classically simple                        Other recommendations:
                    Tip Inn Guest House (%0 5422 1821; 143 Th Talat Kao;            ruins) is the embodiment of ordinary.                         Sukhothai-style temple set on an island. Wat                      Ninety-Nine Guest House (%0 5561 1315; 234/6 Soi
                    r 100-160B; ai) Friendly hosts, very basic                                                                                    Trapang Thong, next to the museum, is reached                     Panitsan; s/d 120/150B) A two-storey teak house sur-
                    rooms. A renovation is planned.                                 Information                                                   by the footbridge crossing the large, lotus-                      rounded by gardens.
                       Riverside Guest House (%0 5422 7005; www.the                 Post office (Th Nikhon Kasem; h8.30am-noon Mon-               filled pond that surrounds it. It remains in                      River House (%0 5562 0396; riverhouse_7@
          ; 286 Th Talat Kao; r 300-600B, ste 800B;   Fri, 1-4.30pm Sat & Sun)                                      use today.                                              ; 7 Soi Watkuhasuwan; r 150-350B)
                    a) The walls are thin, but this characterful,                   Sukhothai hospital (%0 5561 0280; Th Jarot                                                                                      Simple, tidy rooms in an old teak house overlooking the
                    restored teak building tucked away near the                     Withithong)                                                   Other Zones                                                       river.
                    river is still a champ. There is a midnight                     Tourist police (%1155) At Sukhothai Historical Park.          In the northwestern corner, Wat Si Chum                           Old City Guest House (%0 5569 7515; 28/7 Mu 3;
                    curfew.                                                                                                                       contains a massive seated Buddha tightly                          r 120-600B; a) A range of rooms around an old teak
                       Pin Hotel (%0 5422 1509; 8 Th Suan Dok; r from 450B;         Sights & Activities                                           squeezed into an open, walled mondòp.                             house close to the Historical Park.
                    a) The pristine and quiet Pin feels like a                      SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK                                     Somewhat isolated to the north of the city,
                    Hyatt or Marriott, only smaller and more                        The original capital of the first Thai king-                  Wat Phra Pai Luang is similar in style to Wat Si                  Eating
                    intimate.                                                       dom was surrounded by three concentric                        Sawai, but the praang are larger. The large,                      Kuaytiaw Thai Sukhothai (Th Jarot Withithong; mains
                       Heuan Chom Wang (%0 5422 2845; 276 Th Talat                  ramparts and two moats bridged by four                        bell-shaped stupa at Wat Chang Lom, to the                        20-30B; hlunch & dinner) This is a good spot to
                    Kao; mains 40-120B; hlunch & dinner) This romantic              gateways. Today the remains of 21 historic                    east, is supported by 36 elephants sculpted                       try Sukhothai-style kǔaytǐaw.
                    riverside spot in a beautiful old teak building                 sites lie within the old walls, with another 70               into its base. Wat Saphaan Hin, on a hill 4km                        Poo Restaurant (%0 5561 1735; 24/3 Th Jarot Withi-
                    serves northern and central Thai fare.                          within a 5km radius. The ruins are divided                    west of the old city walls, features a 12.5m-                     thong; mains 25-80B; hbreakfast, lunch & dinner) This
                       Riverside Bar & Restaurant (%0 5422 1861; 328 Th             into five zones, and there is a 30B admis-                    high standing Buddha image looking back                           simple bar-restaurant in the heart of town
                    Thip Chang; mains 45-225B; hlunch & dinner) Set in a            sion fee for each zone; the central zone is                   to Sukhothai.                                                     offers great breakfasts, hearty sandwiches
                    rambling old teak structure on the river, this                  40B. A 150B ticket includes entrance to all                                                                                     and very tasty Thai dishes – plus delectable
                    is the place to be in Lampang. There’s live                     sites and associated museums. Thailand’s                      Sleeping                                                          chocolates.
                    music, a full bar and an enormous menu of                       Loi Krathong festival originated here and is                  Most accommodation is in New Sukhothai,                              Dream Café (%0 5561 2081; 86/1 Th Singhawat; mains
                    vegetarian, northern Thai and Western dishes,                   celebrated over five days. In addition to the                 and budget options predominate. The local                         60-140B; hlunch & dinner) This compelling café is a
                    though pass on the pasta.                                       magical floating lights, there are fireworks,                 taxi mafia is particularly obnoxious here;                        treasure-trove of 19th-century Thai antiques.
                                                                                    folk-dance performances and a light-and-                      don’t believe anyone who tells you a guest-                       The food is no slouch either, with a selection
                    Getting There & Away                                            sound production.                                             house has closed. Many guesthouses offer free                     of sandwiches, pastas, Thai standards and
                    PB Air (%0 5422 6238,; one way 1950B)                The historical park (h6am-6pm), known as                   pick-up from the bus terminal.                                    ‘stamina drinks’.
                    flies daily to Bangkok. Buses to Lampang                        meuang kào (old city), is best reached from                      Garden House (%0 5561 1395; tuigardenhouse@yahoo                  The night market (Th Jarot Withithong & Th Rat
                    (ordinary/air-con 51/71B, two hours) leave                      town by frequent sǎwngthǎew (15B, 30 min-                     .com; 11/1 Th Prawet Nakhon; r 150B, bungalows 250-350B;          Uthit), near the bridge has tasty treats and
                    Chiang Mai’s Arcade terminal every half-hour                    utes) leaving from the south side of Th Jarot                 ai) This popular and great-value place                            many vendors have bilingual menus. There
                    during the day and also from a small bus sta-                   Withithong near Mae Nam Yom. Bicycles                         has characterful bungalows with large terraces                    is a collection of food stalls and simple open-
                    tion near TAT. The bus terminal (%0 5427 7410)                  (20B per day) are the best way of getting                     and well-kept rooms in a wooden house. The                        air restaurants near the ticket kiosk in the
                    in Lampang is some way out of town; 15B                         around the park and can be rented near the                    restaurant screens movies nightly.                                historical park.
                    by shared sǎwngthǎew. You can also travel                       park entrance. The park operates a tram serv-                    Ban Thai (%0 5561 0163; banthai_guesthouse@yahoo
                    between Lampang and Chiang Mai by train                         ice through the old city for 20B per person.                  .com; 38 Th Prawet Nakhon; r 150B, bungalows 250-450B; a)         Getting There & Away
                    (2nd/3rd class 50/23B, two hours).                                                                                            As friendly as they come, Ban Thai’s excellent                    Bangkok Airways (%0 5564 7224; www.bangkokair
                                                                                    Central Zone                                                  rooms (the cheapest with shared bathrooms)                        .com) operates a daily flight from Bangkok
                    SUKHOTHAI                                                       Ramkhamhaeng National Museum (%0 5561 2167;                   sit around an intimate garden. This is a great                    (1700B, 70 minutes) and Chiang Mai (1440B,
                    pop 39,800                                                      admission 30B; h9am-4pm) provides an excel-                   resource for local information, and it runs a                     40 minutes). Bangkok Airways charges 120B to
                    The Khmer empire extended its influence                         lent introduction to Sukhothai history and                    range of interesting bicycle tours (half-/full                    transport passengers between the airport and
                    deep into modern-day Thailand before a for-                     culture.                                                      day 400/700B).                                                    Sukhothai; the airport is 27km out of town.
                    midable rival arose in 1257 to undermine the                       The crown jewel of the old city, Wat Maha-                    Lotus Village (%0 5562 1484; www.lotus-village                    The bus terminal (%0 5561 4529) is 4km north-
                    distant throne’s frontier. Naming its capital                   that, is one of the best examples of Sukhothai                .com; 170 Th Ratchathani; r 350-1350B; ai) These                  west of the town centre. Options include Bang-
                    Sukhothai (Rising Happiness), the emerging                      architecture, typified by the classic lotus-bud               Thai-style houses with tastefully decorated                       kok (air-con/VIP 273/407B, seven hours),
                    Thai nation flourished militarily, claiming                     stupa that features a conical spire topping                   modern rooms and bungalows sit in a lush                          Chiang Mai (ordinary/air-con 167/234B, five
                    lands as far north as Vientiane, and culturally,                a square-sided structure on a three-tiered                    garden among lotus ponds. There’s a spa, arty                     hours) and Khon Kaen (ordinary/air-con
                    developing a Thai alphabet and distinctive ar-                  base. This vast assemblage, the largest in the                boutique and communal seating area.                               179/322B, 6½ hours).
                    chitecture and art. All this was accomplished                   city, once contained 198 chedi, as well as                       Ruean Thai Hotel (%0 5561 2444; www.rueanthaiho
                    in 150 years, before Sukhothai was superseded                   various chapels and sanctuaries. Some of the        ; 181/20 Soi Pracha Ruammit, Th Jarot Withithong; r 250-   Getting Around
                    by Ayuthaya to the south. If you can only                       original Buddha images remain, including                      2500B;ais) This antique-filled, two-storey                        A chartered sǎwngthǎew should cost 40B
                    digest one ‘ancient city’, Sukhothai should top                 a 9m standing Buddha among the broken                         hotel has heaps of character and prices to                        to any guesthouse from the bus terminal.
                    the list; the ruins here are better preserved and               columns.                                                      meet everyone’s budget. The cheapest rooms                        Shared rides (10B) run down Th Jarot
                    less urban than those at Ayuthaya. While the                       Wat Si Sawai, just south of Wat Mahathat,                  are nothing special, but hit the midrange and                     Withithong. Sǎamláw and motorbike taxi
                    old city will charm the pants off anyone, the                   has three Khmer-style praang and a pictur-                    they are quite nice indeed.                                       rides should cost 30B in town or 80B to the
NORTHERN THAILAND   152 N O R T H E R N T HA I L A N D • • S i S a t c h a n a l a i - C h a l i a n g H i s t o r i c a l Pa r k      Book accommodation online at   N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • N a k h o n R a t c h a s i m a ( K h o r a t ) 153

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           BANGKOK &
                    historical park. Poo Restaurant and several                                    KAMPHAENG PHET                                                                                                               Tourist police (%1155; Th Chang Pheuak) Opposite
                    guesthouses hire motorcycles.                                                  pop 27,500
                                                                                                   Kamphaeng Phet (Diamond Wall) was once
                                                                                                                                                            NORTHEAST THAILAND                                                  bus terminal 2.

                    SI SATCHANALAI-CHALIANG                                                        an important front line of defence for the               For most travellers, and even many Thais, the                       Sights
                    HISTORICAL PARK                                                                Sukhothai kingdom. It’s a nice place to spend            northeast is Thailand’s forgotten backyard. In                      In the city centre, the Thao Suranari Memorial
                    Set amid rolling mountains 56km north of                                       a day wandering around the ruins and expe-               some ways Isan, as the region is called, offers a                   honours a local heroine who led the inhabit-
                    Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Chaliang were                                    riencing a small northern provincial capital             glimpse of the Thailand of old: rice fields run                     ants against Lao invaders during the reign of
                    a later extension of the Sukhothai empire.                                     that sees few tourists.                                  to the horizon; water buffalo wade in muddy                         Rama III (r 1824–51). A holy shrine, the statue
                    The 13th- to 15th-century ruins in the his-                                       The Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park (%0 5571           ponds; silk weaving remains a cottage indus-                        receives visitors who offer gifts and prayers
                    torical park (%0 5567 9211; admission 40B or free with                         1921; admission 40B; h8am-5pm) contains a number         try; pedal rickshaw drivers pull passengers                         or hire singers to perform Khorat folk songs
                    all-inclusive Sukhothai ticket; h8.30am-5pm) are in the                        of temple ruins and the very fine remains of             down city streets; and, even for people who’ve                      The steady activities of the devotees make for
                    same basic style as those in Sukhothai His-                                    a long city wall. The Kamphaeng Phet National            had to seek work in the city, hearts and minds                      a lively cultural display. Behind the memorial
                    torical Park, but the setting is more peaceful                                 Museum (%0 5571 1570; admission 30B; h9am-noon &         are still tied to the village.                                      is Chumphon Gate, the only original city gate
                    and almost seems untouched. The informa-                                       1-4pm Wed-Sun) has a collection of artefacts from           You’ll also find as many differences as simi-                    still standing.
                    tion centre (h8.30am-5pm) distributes free park                                the Kamphaeng Phet area plus the usual sur-              larities to the rest of Thailand. The language,                         For a dose of Khmer and Ayuthaya art, visit
                    maps and has a small historical exhibit. Bikes                                 vey of Thai art periods, while the Kamphaeng             food and culture are more Lao than Thai, with                       Maha Wirawong National Museum (%0 4424 2958; Th
                    (20B) can be hired around town, or take the                                    Phet Regional Museum (%0 5572 2341; admission 10B;       hearty helpings of Khmer and Vietnamese                             Ratchadamnoen; admission 10B; h9am-4.30pm Wed-Sun),
                    tram (20B) site to site.                                                       h9am-4pm) next door fills a series of central            thrown into the melting pot. And though it’s                        housed in the grounds of Wat Sutchinda.
                        Wat Chedi Jet Thaew has seven rows of stupas                               Thai-style wooden structures on stilts set               Thailand’s poorest region by far, based on
                    in classic Sukhothai style. Wat Chang Lom has                                  among nicely landscaped grounds.                         an official government Well-Being Index the                         Sleeping
                    a chedi surrounded by Buddha statues set in                                       Among the many temples outside the city               people of the northeast are also the nation’s                       Doctor’s House (%0 4425 5846; 78 Soi 4, Th Seup Siri; r
                    niches and guarded by the fine remains of                                      wall (included in the historical park ticket)            happiest; a fact that is evident if you spend                       150-180B) One of the few cheapies where guests
                    elephant buttresses. Head along the riverside                                  are Wat Phra Si Iriyabot, which features the shat-       even just a little time here.                                       bearing rucksacks are the norm, this old
                    for 2km to Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat (admis-                                 tered remains of standing, sitting, walking                 And spend time here you should. The scen-                        wooden home has three shared bathrooms,
                    sion 10B), a very impressive temple with well-                                 and reclining Buddha images sculpted in the              ery along parts of the Mekong is often nothing                      but it is not for party animals as the gate is
                    preserved praang and a variety of seated and                                   classic Sukhothai style, and Wat Chang Rawp              short of amazing, Angkor temple ruins pepper                        locked at 10pm.
                    standing Buddhas. Climb to the top of the hill                                 (Elephant-Encircled Temple), which is just               the region and superb national parks protect                           Tokyo Hotel Mansion (%0 4424 2873; 331 Th Sura-
                    supporting Wat Khao Phanom Phloeng for a view                                  that, a temple with an elephant-buttressed               some of the wildest corners of the country.                         nari; r 240-366B; ai) Around the corner from
                    over the town and river.                                                       wall.                                                    Thailand’s tourist trail is at its bumpiest here                    the bus terminal, this hotel shows a little
                        The beautiful pottery of the Si Satchanalai-                                                                                        (English is rarely spoken), but the fantastic                       more attention to detail than most of Kho-
                    Sukhothai area was once exported across                                        Sleeping & Eating                                        attractions and daily interactions will likely                      rat’s cheapies.
                    Asia. Much of it was made in Si Satchanalai,                                   Three J Guest House (%0 5571 3129; threejguest@hotmail   be highlights of your trip.                                            Srivijaya Hotel (%0 4424 2194; 9-11 Th Buarong; r 480-
                    and rejects, buried in the fields, are still being                             .com; 79 Th Rachavitee; r 200-500B; ai) This pleas-                                                                          530B; a) The Srivijaya is much too ordinary
                    discovered. Several of the old kilns have been                                 ant collection of bungalows, the cheapest with           NAKHON RATCHASIMA (KHORAT)                                          to deserve its self-appointed ‘boutique hotel’
                    carefully excavated and can be viewed along                                    shared facilities, in a pretty garden has a very         pop 215,000                                                         label; nevertheless the comfy, spic-and-span
                    with original pottery samples at the Si Satch-                                 hospitable host. Bicycles and motorcycles are            Khorat, the brash gateway to the northeast, is                      rooms guarantee a good night’s sleep.
                    analai Centre for Study & Preservation of Sang-                                available for rent.                                      a city you grow to know. Get past the sprawl                           Rachaphruk Grand Hotel (%0 4426 1222; www
                    khalok Kilns (admission 30B or free with the all-inclusive                        Phet Hotel (%0 5571 2810; 189 Th Bamrungrat; r 500-   along Hwy 2 and you’ll find a distinctly Isan             ; 311 Th Mittaphap; r 1200B; ais)
                    Sukhothai ticket). There are two groups of kilns                               800B; ais) This comfortable hotel features               city with many quiet nooks (inside the east                         ‘Grand’ is laying it on a little thick, but the
                    that are open to the public: one in Chaliang                                   spacious, well-maintained, modern rooms                  side of the historic moat, for example), where                      only hotel in this class in the city centre is a
                    and the larger outdoor Sawankhalok Kilns                                       with views over Kamphaeng Phet.                          Thai life, largely untouched by the country’s                       decent bet if you fancy a few business-style
                    site 5km northwest of the Si Satchanalai                                          A small night market sets up every evening            booming tourist industry, goes on in its own                        comforts.
                    ruins.                                                                         in front of the provincial offices, near the old         uncompromising way.
                        Wang Yom Resort (Sunanthana; %0 5563 1380; bun-                            city walls, and there are some cheap restau-                                                                                 Eating
                    galows 600-1000B; a) has rustic, worn bungalows                                rants near the roundabout. There are also a              Information                                                         Cabbages & Condoms (%0 4425 3760; 86/1 Th Seup Siri;
                    in a mature garden just outside the old city.                                  few floating restaurants on the river, includ-           There are banks galore in Khorat, all with                          mains 35-180B; hlunch & dinner) Like the original
                    It’s nothing special. There are more choices in                                ing Phae Rim Ping (%0 5571 2767; mains 40-140B;          ATMs and exchange services.                                         in Bangkok, this is dining for a cause to help
                    the nearby town of Sawankhalok, about 20km                                     hlunch & dinner).                                        Net Guru (%0 4425 7441; Th Phoklang; per hr 20B;                    the PDA. It has a leafy terrace to indulge in a
                    south of the park.                                                                                                                      h24hr)                                                              carefully crafted menu of Thai and Western
                        Si Satchanalai-Chaliang Historical Park is                                 Getting There & Away                                     Post office (Th Jomsurangyat; h8.30am-4.30pm Mon-                   favourites.
                    off Rte 101 between Sawankhalok and new Si                                     The government bus station is across the river,          Fri, 9am-noon Sat)                                                     oRabiang Pa (%0 4424 3137; 284 Th Yom-
                    Satchanalai. From Sukhothai, take a Si Satch-                                  so hop off in town when you arrive. Buses to             Ratchasima Hospital (%0 4426 2000; Th                               marat; mains 40-220B; hlunch & dinner) The leafiest,
                    analai bus (38B, 1½ hours) and ask to get                                      Bangkok (air-con/VIP 215/274B, five hours)               Mittaphap)                                                          loveliest and lowest-key restaurant on this
                    off at meuang kào. The last bus back leaves                                    and Sukhothai (ordinary/air-con 39/70B, 1½               TAT (%0 4421 3666; 2102-2104 Th Mittaphap;                          stretch of Th Yommarat has a massive picture
                    around 4.30pm.                                                                 hours) leave throughout the day.                         h8.30am-4.30pm) On the western edge of town.                        menu for risk-free ordering.
NORTHERN THAILAND   154 N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • N a k h o n R a t c h a s i m a ( K h o r a t )                                                                                                                                                                                                      N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • A r o u n d N a k h o n R a t c h a s i m a 155

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To Khon Kaen (198km);
                                                   A                                                B                                                   C                                                        D                                                    19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   E                Nong Khai (356km)                      F                                                                               G                                                                           H


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                                                                                                                                                        Trok Samo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Th Chakkri

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Th Ku
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th Yommarat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Manat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Mae Gim Hang

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Th Phonlan
                      2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Market                                                                                                                      15                                                                                   2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Th Sura                                   21
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     11         nari

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Th YoThano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Th Thanonaos
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           10                                                                                                                                           Th Atsadang
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     13                                                                                                                               Wat Phra
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ri                                                     g                                                              7                                                                                                        Narai Maharat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                na                                                 Th Phoklan                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pratu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        S                                                                                                  1                                                                                                                                                                                       17    Phollan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Kudan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Chinese                                                                                                                                                                       City Pillar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Th Buarong
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Th                                                                   Temple                                         14                                                                                                                           Th Chumphon

                                                             Soi Lampru                                                                                                          am                ontri        Jom                                                                                                                                                                                  16                                                                                           Wat Boon
                                                                                                                                                                        Th Mukkh                                      sur                                                                                                                           Klang Plaza 2
                                                                                                                                                Nakhon                                                                                                                                                                           2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Th Chainarong
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            an                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Th Mahat Thai
                                                                                                                                             Ratchasima                                                                          gy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Th W
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Th Jomsurangyat
                                           Th Mukkhamontri

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Salagrang                                                                                                      Th Saphasit
                                                                       Th Seup Sir


                      3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sutchinda                                                                                                                                             20                                                         3

                                                   Soi 4            12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Th Kamhaeng Songkhram
                                                             8                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pratu Chainarong
                      4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Th Ratchanikun

                                                                                                    Wat Pa Salawan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           To Buriram (120km);
                                             INFORMATION                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Surin (170km);
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ubon Ratchathani (320km)
                                             Net Guru...................................... 3 F2
                          Th Mittaphap

                                             Post Office................................... F3          SLEEPING                                                         Rabiang Pa................................15 G2
                                             Ratchasima Hospital.....................3 B2               Doctor's House............................8     A3               Th Manat Night Bazaar..............16 G3                                                                                                                                                                                  Chum
                                             TAT.............................................4 A3       Rachaphruk Grand Hotel..............        9   E2               Wat Boon Night Bazaar............. 17 H2                                                                                                                                                                                  Thang
                                             Tourist Police................................ E1          Srivijaya Hotel............................10   F2
                                                                                                        Tokyo Hotel Mansion.................11          E2               TRANSPORT
                                             SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES                                                                                                         Bus Terminal 1............................
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  18         E2
                      4                      Chumphon Gate........................(see 7)               EATING                                                                                                    19
                                                                                                                                                                         Bus Terminal 2............................          E1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4
                                             Maha Wirawong National                                     Cabbages & Condoms...............12 A3                           Buses to Dan Kwian...................20             H3
                                               Museum................................... F3             Kai Yang Wang Fa...................... F2  13                                                             21
                                                                                                                                                                         Local Bus Stop............................          F2
                                             Thao Suranari Memorial...............7 F2                                                             14
                                                                                                        Ming Ter.................................... F2                  Motorcycle Rental......................22           E2

                                          To Pak Thong
                                           Chai (35km);
                                         Bangkok (250km)

                        Khorat is overflowing with tasty Thai and                                                                       buses, use terminal 2 (%0 4425 6006) off Hwy                                                                   1 takes you past the train station and near                                                                                                   11th, Prasat Phimai (%0 4447 1568; admission 40B;
                    Chinese restaurants serving cheap meals, par-                                                                       2. There are frequent departures to Bang-                                                                      Doctor’s House and the TAT office, while                                                                                                      h7.30am-6pm) shares a number of design fea-
                    ticularly along Th Ratchadamnoen near the                                                                           kok (air-con 212B, three hours), Ubon Rat-                                                                     sǎwngthǎew 15 takes a scenic route to bus                                                                                                     tures with Angkor Wat, including the roof of
                    Thao Suranari Memorial. Two notables are                                                                            chathani (ordinary/air-con 155/279B, seven                                                                     terminal 2.                                                                                                                                   its 28m-tall main shrine, and may have been
                    Ming Ter (%0 4424 1718; 698 Th Ratchadamnoen; mains                                                                 hours) and Nong Khai (ordinary/air-con                                                                            Túk-túk and motorcycle taxis cost between                                                                                                  its model. Thanks to a superb restoration,
                    25-60B; hbreakfast & lunch), a simple vegetarian af-                                                                220/338B, six hours).                                                                                          30B and 70B to most places around town.                                                                                                       Phimai projects a majesty that transcends its
                    fair, and Kai Yang Wang Fa (Th Ratchadamnoen; whole                                                                    Eleven trains a day connect Khorat with                                                                     Several shops on Th Suranari near the inter-                                                                                                  modest size. There is a grand sound-and-light
                    chicken 75B; hlunch & dinner) with takeaway grilled                                                                 Bangkok’s Hualamphong train station (1st/                                                                      section with Th Buarong hire motorcycles.                                                                                                     show at the ruins the second weekend of No-
                    chicken. The Wat Boon Night Bazaar (Th Chumphon)                                                                    2nd/3rd class 460/221/95B), and 10 continue                                                                                                                                                                                                                  vember, as part of the Phimai Festival, and a
                    is the best night market for dining, though Th                                                                      to Ubon Ratchathani (1st/2nd/3rd class                                                                         AROUND NAKHON RATCHASIMA                                                                                                                      smaller version the last Saturday of the month
                    Manat Night Bazaar (Th Manat) is also fun.                                                                          268/133/58B). The fastest trains to Bangkok                                                                    Phimai                                                                                                                                        from October to April.
                                                                                                                                        take 4½ hours.                                                                                                 One of northeastern Thailand’s finest surviv-                                                                                                    Phimai National Museum (%0 4447 1167; Th Tha
                    Getting There & Away                                                                                                                                                                                                               ing Khmer temple complexes sits at the heart                                                                                                  Songkhran; admission 30B; h8.30am-4pm), outside
                    There are two bus terminals in Khorat. Ter-                                                                         Getting Around                                                                                                 of this innocuous little town 60km northeast                                                                                                  the main complex, has a fine collection of
                    minal 1 (%0 4424 2899; Th Burin) in the city centre                                                                 Sǎwngthǎew (8B) run fixed routes through the                                                                   of Khorat. Originally started by Khmer King                                                                                                   Khmer sculpture, including a serene bust
                    serves Bangkok and towns within the prov-                                                                           city, with most starting at bus terminal 1 and                                                                 Jayavarman V in the late 10th century and                                                                                                     of Jayavarman VII, Angkor’s most power-
                    ince. Other destinations, plus more Bangkok                                                                         then passing down Th Suranari. Sǎwngthǎew                                                                      finished by King Suryavarman I early in the                                                                                                   ful king.
NORTHERN THAILAND   156 N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • K h a o Ya i N a t i o n a l Pa r k      Book accommodation online at   Book accommodation online at              N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • S u r i n & A r o u n d 157

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BANGKOK &
                      Phimai is usually a day-trip destination,                           person tents for 100B. Simple dorms (50B) are               ruins. Most are little more than jumbled piles             Rong. Once in Ban Ta-Ko you can wait for one
                    but there are a few places to crash, including                        another option if not in use by groups.                     of laterite block, but Prasat Meuang Tam (Lower            of the buses or sǎwngthǎew from Nang Rong
                    the squeaky clean Boonsiri Guest House (%0                              There are many restaurants outside the                    City; admission 30B; h6am-6pm), which gets few             that will pass through Ban Ta Pek (10B) and
                    4447 1159; 228 Th Chomsudasadet; dm 150B, r 450-650B;                 park, plus five inside it.                                  visitors despite sitting only 7km southeast                then continue as previously mentioned, or
                    ai).                                                                                                                              of Phanom Rung, is in good shape. Though                   take a motorcycle taxi all the way to Phanom
                      Buses for Phimai leave frequently from                              Getting There & Away                                        it also has an ancient past, Wat Khao Angkhan              Rung (300B return).
                    Khorat’s bus terminal 2 (37B, 1¼ hours).                              To reach Khao Yai you need to connect to                    (hdaylight hr), some 20km west of Phanom                      Motorcycle taxi drivers will add Meuang
                                                                                          Pak Chong, which is on the highway between                  Rung atop another extinct volcano, stands                  Tam onto Phanom Rung for about 100B.
                    Craft Villages                                                        Bangkok (ordinary/air-con 115/148B, 2½                      out for its flamboyant nouveau Khmer–style
                    South of Khorat are two of Thailand’s most                            hours) and Khorat (ordinary/air-con 45/77B,                 buildings that sort of harken back to the age              SURIN & AROUND
                    successful craft villages. Dan Kwian pottery has                      1½ hours). Pak Chong is also on the rail line,              of empire.                                                 pop 41,200
                    a rough texture and rustlike hue and the clay                         but trains are slower than the bus, especially                                                                         Quiet Surin doesn’t have much to say for itself
                    is moulded into all kinds of objects, including                       if coming from Bangkok.                                     Sleeping                                                   until November, when the provincial capital
                    reproductions of ancient Khmer sandstone                                  You can catch a sǎwngthǎew to the park’s                Phanom Rung can be undertaken as a day trip                explodes into life for the Elephant Roundup
                    sculpture. Buses (12B, 30 minutes) run from                           northern gate (25B, 45 minutes) from in front               from Khorat, Buriram or Surin, each with a                 when some 300 pachyderms come to town
                    near Khorat’s south city gate.                                        of the Pak Chong 7-Eleven store 300m west of                full spread of lodging choices. But the closest            to perform battle re-enactments and other
                       Jim Thompson bought much of his silk                               the ordinary bus terminal. It’s another 14km                place to lay your head is Nang Rong where                  tusker tricks.
                    in Amphoe Pak Thong Chai. Buses (30B, 40                              to the visitor centre and park guards are used              several places stand out. You can arrange mo-
                    minutes) leave Khorat’s terminal 1 every                              to talking drivers into hauling faràng up there.            torcycle and car hire and guides at each.                  Information
                    half-hour.                                                            Some shops on Pak Chong’s main road hire                       oHoney Inn (%0 4462 2825; www.honeyinn                  Microsys (Th Sirirat; per hr 15B; h24hr) You can access
                                                                                          motorcycles.                                                .com; 8/1 Soi Si Kun; r 200-350B; ai) A longtime           email here.
                    KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK                                                                                                            travellers’ favourite, this welcoming guest-               Post office (Th Tanasan; h8.30am-4.30 Mon-Fri,
                    Up there with the world’s finest national parks,                      PHANOM RUNG HISTORICAL PARK                                 house manages to be very homey despite the                 9am-noon Sat & Sun)
                    Khao Yai (%08 1877 3127; admission 400B; h6am-9pm)                    Crowning the summit of a spent volcano, a                   functional design. It’s 1km northeast of the               Ruamphet Hospital (%0 445 1392; Th Thesaban 1)
                    incorporates one of the largest intact mon-                           good 70 storeys above the flat fields below,                bus station.                                               Siam Commercial Bank (Th Sratara; h10.30am-
                    soon forests in mainland Asia, which is why                           Phanom Rung (%0 4463 1746; admission 40B; h6am-                oP California Inter Hostel (%0 4462 2214;               8pm) Has ATM and exchange facilities inside Surin Plaza
                    it was named a Unesco World Heritage Site –                           6pm), will impress even those suffering acute               Th 59/9 Sangkakrit;; r 250-500B;   shopping centre.
                    that and the abundant wildlife, including                             temple overload. Dating from the 10th to                    ai) Newer and cosier than Honey Inn,
                    some 250 elephants (best spotted on a night                           13th centuries, Thailand’s most spectacular                 this hostel is on the far east side of town and            Sights
                    safari) and one of Thailand’s largest hornbill                        Angkor monument faces east towards the                      is another friendly and helpful choice.                    Surin is best enjoyed as a base for day-tripping
                    populations. The park has many miles of trek-                         sacred capital of Angkor in Cambodia. It was                    Cabbages & Condoms (%0 4465 7145; Hwy 24;              to nearby attractions.
                    king trails and some superb waterfalls.                               first built as a Hindu monument and features                r 240-1500B; ai) This pleasant PDA-run re-                    To see Surin’s elephants during the low
                       Most of the hotels around Khao Yai offer                           sculpture relating to the worship of Vishnu                 sort (all profits to charity) is ringed by gardens         season, visit the Elephant Study Centre (%08 1879
                    park tours (the two listed following have some                        and Shiva. Later the Thais converted it into a              and little lakes west of town, and has a full              2773; donations appreciated; h9am-5pm) in Ban Tha
                    of the most lauded guides) and this is really                         Buddhist temple.                                            range of rooms.                                            Klang, about 50km north of Surin. Dozens
                    the ideal way to visit. Prices start at around                           One of the most striking design features                                                                            of the performers at the annual festival live
                    1000B, though compare companies carefully                             is the promenade leading to the main en-                    Getting There & Away                                       here, some in traditional Suay homes shelter-
                    because some include the park entrance fee                            trance. The avenue is sealed with laterite and              From Buriram take a Chanthaburi-bound bus                  ing both elephants and humans, and there
                    while others do not.                                                  sandstone blocks and flanked by sandstone                   to Ban Ta Pek (ordinary/air-con 35/55B, 1½                 are one-hour shows (donations expected)
                                                                                          pillars with lotus-bud tops. The avenue ends                hours, every 40 minutes) where you’ll need to              daily at 10am and 2pm. The village hosts an
                    Sleeping & Eating                                                     at the first and largest of three naga (mythical            take a motorcycle taxi (150B) or sǎwngthǎew                Elephant Parade, with all the pachyderms
                    There are many hotels on the road to the park,                        serpent) bridges. The central prasat (tower)                (300B for three people) the rest of the way.               brightly painted, around May’s full moon for
                    but you can also sleep in the park itself.                            has a gallery on each of its four sides, and                These rates include waiting times while you                the new monks’ ordination ceremony. Buses
                       oGreenleaf Guest House (%0 4436 5024;                              the entrance to each gallery is itself a smaller            tour the ruins.                                            from Surin (30B, two hours) run hourly. The
          ; Th Thanarat; r 200-300B) This                  incarnation of the main tower. The galleries                   Buses from Nang Rong to Chanthaburi also                village homestay (%08 1879 2773; per person 250B)
                    place has some of the few budget rooms out-                           have curvilinear roofs and false-balustrade                 pass through Ban Ta Pek (20B, 30 minutes,                  programme includes three meals and a little
                    side nearby Pak Chong.                                                windows. Once inside the temple walls, check                every 40 minutes), or you can take one of the              elephant time.
                       Khao Yai Garden Lodge (%0 4436 5178; www                           out the galleries and the gopura (entrance                  five daily sǎwngthǎew (20B, 45 minutes) from                  Several renowned craft villages are within
          ; Th Thanarat, r 350-2500B;                  pavilion), paying particular attention to the               the market on the east end of town that go to              easy striking distance of the capital, including
                    ais) The lodge has a good variety of                                  lintels over the doors. The craftsmanship                   the foot of the mountain (where a motorcycle               Ban Tha Sawang where exquisite ‘ancient bro-
                    rooms in a lovely garden setting.                                     at Phanom Rung represents the pinnacle of                   taxi to the top will cost about 30B less).                 cade silk’ is made on enormous looms worked
                      There are two campgrounds offering basic                            Khmer artistic achievement, on a par with                      Those coming by bus from Khorat (air-con                by four women simultaneously. The village
                    two-sleeper bungalows (800B) and fancier                              the bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat.                              78B, two hours) or Surin (air-con 65B, two                 is 8km west of Surin city via Rte 4026, and
                    three-bedroom villas (3500B). You will pay                               The rice-growing region around Phanom                    hours) should get off at Ban Ta-Ko, a well-                sǎwngthǎew (12B, 20 minutes) run regularly
                    30B per person to camp and can rent two-                              Rung is peppered with dozens of minor Khmer                 marked turn-off about 14km east of Nang                    from the market in Surin. Eighteen kilometres
NORTHERN THAILAND   158 N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • S u r i n & A r o u n d                             Book accommodation online at                N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • U b o n R a t c h a t h a n i 159

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 NORTHERN THAILAND

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     BANGKOK &
                    north of Surin via Rtes 214 and 3036 are Ban                       Pirom-Aree’s House (opposite) lead a wide
                    Khwao Sinarin and Ban Chok known for silk and                      range of tours to these places, as well as nearby      VISITING PREAH VIHEAR TEMPLE IN CAMBODIA
                    silver respectively, though you can buy some                       Khmer ruins.                                           Cambodia’s Preah Vihear (p225) ruins, known as Prasat Khao Phra Wihan in Thailand, are all but
                    of both in each village.                                              The Surin National Museum, about 5km south          inaccessible from the south so to see them you’ve got to go through Thailand. Catch a bus from
                       Saren Travel (%0 4452 0174; sarentour@yahoo                     of town on Rte 214, was built years ago and            Ubon Ratchathani to Kantharalak (37B, 1½ hours, half-hourly) and then a sǎwngthǎew to Phum
                    .com; 202/1-4 Th Thesaban 2; h8am-5pm Mon-Sat) and                 looked set to open in mid-2007.                        Saron (30B, 40 minutes, half-hourly), which is 10km before the temple. From here you’ll have to
                                                                                                                                              hire a motorcycle taxi to the park; figure on 200B return with a couple of hours’ waiting time. A
                                                                                                                                              truck will cost 400B for four people. If you are coming from the west, you can get to Kantharalak
                       CROSSING INTO CAMBODIA: THE POPULAR ROUTES                                                                             from Si Saket (40B, 1½ hours, half-hourly) and continue from there as above.
                       Thai–Cambodian border crossings are open 7am to 8pm. Cambodian visas cost US$20 (riel and
                       baht are also accepted) at the border and you must bring a passport photo. Officials routinely
                       ask for ‘stamp fees’ or other such bollocks; refuse, remain polite, and they will usually relent.                   Sleeping                                                         hours), as well as Chiang Mai (air-con/VIP
                                                                                                                                           Sangthong Hotel (%0 4451 2009; 279-281 Th Tanasan; r             690/960B, 14 hours) and Bangkok’s northern
                                                                                                                                           80-500B; a) This labyrinthine older property                     terminal (ordinary/air-con/VIP 248/342/495B,
                       Chong Jom to O Smach                                                                                                is run with jet-engine precision by smiling                      eight hours).
                       Eight sǎwngthǎew (40B, 3½ hours) and eight minibuses (60B, two hours) run daily from Surin
                                                                                                                                           staff. The 125 rooms range from some rachitic                       Surin is on the Bangkok–Ubon train
                       to Chong Jom. Once on the Cambodian side, there are shared taxis to Siem Reap (US$10, seven
                                                                                                                                           shared bathroom cheapies on the roof to large                    line and there are nearly a dozen services
                       to eight hours). This is not the easiest border to access but because so few foreigners use this
                                                                                                                                           and comfy midrangers. Air-con rooms start                        daily to each. A 1st-/3rd-class seat to Ubon
                       crossing, it’s relatively hassle free.
                                                                                                                                           at 240B.                                                         (three hours) starts at 140/31B; to Bangkok
                          For information on travelling this route in the reverse direction, see p222.
                                                                                                                                              oPirom-Aree’s House (%0 4451 5140;                            (eight hours) 1st-/3rd-class prices begin at
                                                                                                                                           Soi Arunee, Th Thungpo; r 120-200B) The new set-                 346/73B.
                       Aranya Prathet to Poipet                                                                                            ting 1km west of the city for this longtime
                       This, the busiest border crossing, is the direct route to Angkor Wat. Frequent daytime buses                        budget favourite can’t be beat. Simple wooden                    UBON RATCHATHANI
                       (ordinary/air-con 118/207B, four to five hours) from the Northern bus terminal and two trains                       rooms (all with shared bathrooms) in two                         pop 115,000
                       (3rd class 48B, six hours, 5.55am and 1.05pm) per day connect Bangkok with Aranya Prathet. Do                       new houses and a shady garden overlook an                        With many interesting temples, frontage
                       not take the direct Siem Reap buses promoted along Th Khao San or you will end up with an                           old flower-filled rice paddy. Pirom knows all                    along Mae Nam Mun, Thailand’s second-
                       extra-long and uncomfortable ride meant to ensure that you arrive so late you will want to stay                     about the region.                                                longest waterway, and a sluggish character,
                       at the guesthouses the bus operators are in cahoots with.                                                              Surin Majestic Hotel (%0 4471 3980; www.sur                   few Thai cities reward aimless wandering as
                          After running the gauntlet of touts and scammers (ignore them all; you do not need to change           ; 99 Th Jit Bamrung; r 800-1800B, ste 3000B;       richly as Ubon.
                       money before entering Cambodia or get assistance getting the visa) you’ll get to the border and                     ais) This shiny new top-ender behind                                With the nearby Thai–Lao border crossing
                       then things get pretty hassle free. Take the free shuttle to the Poipet ‘Tourist Lounge’ (five to 10                the bus terminal has plenty of extras, such as                   at Chong Mek drawing a steady stream of for-
                       minutes away) which is the bus terminal for Siem Reap (bus 40,000r, taxi US$40 to US$50; five                       a fitness centre.                                                eigners, Ubon is an increasingly popular des-
                       hours), Phnom Penh (bus 60,000r, taxi US$70 to US$80; seven to eight hours) and Battambang                                                                                           tination. The hotel scene is glum, but there are
                       (bus 32,000r, taxi US$40, share taxi 10,000r, pick-up inside/outside 16,000/8000r, three hours).                    Eating                                                           plenty of good restaurants and well-stocked
                       The public buses, around the corner, are slightly cheaper than the private.                                         Petmanee 2 (%0 4451 6024; Th Munrasat; mains 20-80B;             stores offering a chance to stock up on the
                          To travel this route in reverse, see p222.                                                                       hlunch) This simple spot between Ruamphet                        good life before heading off into rural Laos.
                                                                                                                                           Hospital and Wat Salaloi is Surin’s most fa-
                       Hat Lek to Cham Yeam                                                                                                mous purveyor of sôm-tam and kài yâang.                          Information
                       Buses to Trat (ordinary/air-con 188/257B, 5½ hours) are frequent from both Bangkok’s Eastern                           Larn Chang (%0 4451 2869; 199 Th Siphathai Saman;             Internet Pirch (382 Th Phrom Rat; per hr 10B; h9am-
                       bus terminal and Northern bus terminal, with those from the latter also stopping at Suvarna-                        mains 30-180B; hdinner) This old wooden house,                   11pm)
                       bhumi Airport. The easiest way to Hat Lek from Trat is the air-con minibuses (110B, one hour,                       with a garden and a rooftop patio overlook-                      Post office (Th Si Narong; h8.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri,
                       every 45 minutes between 6am and 6pm). Sǎwngthǎew (50B) also trundle to Hat Lek from the                            ing a surviving stretch of the city moat (now                    9am-noon Sat & Sun)
                       bus station when full.                                                                                              known as Sǔan Rak or Love Park), serves tasty                    Saphasit Prasong Hospital (%0 4524 0074; Th
                          Motorcycle and automobile taxis will take you across the border for 50B to 80B. Most people                      Thai and Isan dishes.                                            Saphasit) Has 24-hour casualty.
                       take the fast boat to Sihanoukville (US$15, four hours) which leaves at 8am. There are also mini-                      Surin has a good night bazaar (Th Krung Si                    TAT (%0 4524 3770; 264/1 Th Kheuan Thani;
                       buses going to Sihanoukville (550B) and Phnom Penh (650B) leaving at 9am from the taxi stand                        Nai; h5-10pm) with an excellent selection of                     h8.30am-4.30pm)
                       on Ph 3, north of the creek before Ph 12. The journeys take about five and six hours respectively                   Thai and Isan dishes, including, as always,                      Tourist police (%1155; Th Suriyat)
                       on bad roads. There is accommodation on the island of Koh Kong in Cambodia, but if you leave                        barbecued insects. Two blocks west, ven-
                       Trat on the 6am minibus, you can make the boat connection that morning.                                             dors fronting the municipal market serve                         Sights
                          Cambodian visas cost 1200B here; dollars and riel are not accepted. The money changers                           until 2am.                                                       Housed in a former palace of the Rama VI
                       are notorious for short-changing you around 30% to 40%, and even the honest ones offer the                                                                                           era, Ubon National Museum (%0 4525 5071; Th Kheuan
                       lowest rates in the country. The ‘Health Quarantine’ office on the Cambodian side of the border                     Getting There & Away                                             Thani; admission 30B; h9am-4pm Wed-Sun) is a good
                       is a scam, walk right by.                                                                                           Surin’s bus terminal (%0 4451 1756) connects                     place to delve into Ubon’s history and culture
                          For details on travelling this route in the opposite direction, see p249.                                        the city to most others in the region, includ-                   before exploring the city or province. Just
                                                                                                                                           ing Khorat (ordinary/air-con 93/130B, four                       north of the museum is Thung Si Meuang Park,
NORTHERN THAILAND   160 N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • U b o n R a t c h a t h a n i                                                                                                                                                                         Book accommodation online at             N O R T H E A S T T HA I L A N D • • U b o n R a t c h a t h a n i 161

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                      UBON RATCHATHANI                                                                                                                                                                      0
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               300 m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 0.2 miles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             with its adorable little Lan Xang-style sǐm
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (chapel).                                                         THE BIG BANG
                                     A                                                              B                                                                                               C                                                                   D                       The two most interesting temples are                           Yasothon, 100km northwest of Ubon Rat-
                          To Bus Terminal (4km); Wat
                          Phra That Nong Bua (3.5km)
                                                                                                                        INFORMATION                                                                                                  SLEEPING                                                just north of the city, and easily reached by                     chathani, just might be Thailand’s most
                                                                                                                        Internet Pirch.............................1
                                                                                                                        Post Office.................................2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Sri Isan Hotel...........................12 C5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Sri Isan Hotel 2......................(see 12)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             sǎwngthǎew. The square chedi at Wat Phra That                     dreary provincial capital – except during the
                      1                                                                                                 Saphasit Prasong Hospital..........3                                                                   C3    Tokyo Hotel.............................13 B3           Nong Bua is richly adorned with jataka reliefs                    thunderous Rocket Festival (Bun Bâng Fai)
                                                                                                                        TAT........................................... 4                                                       C4
                                                                                                                        Tourist Police.............................5                                                           C3    EATING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             and is an almost exact replica of the Maha-                       in the second weekend in May. Similar rain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Boon Ni Yon Uthayan..............14 C4                  bodhi stupa in Bodhgaya, India. The bòt at                        and fertility rites are held across Isan, but
                     To Yasothon                                                                                        SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES                                                                                          Jumpa-Hom...........................(see 21)
                     (100km)                                                                                            Thung Si Meuang Park...............6                                                                   B4    Kai Yang Wat Jaeng.................15 C3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Wat Ban Na Muang sits on a boat; a ceramic-                       nowhere as fervently as in Yasothon where
                                                                                                                        Ubon Cultural Centre.................7                                                                 A2    Khrua Ruen Pae.......................16 C5              encrusted replica of King Rama IX’s royal                         the largest homemade missiles are packed
                                                                                                                        Ubon National Museum.............8                                                                     B4    Night Market...........................17 B4
                                                                               ani                                      Wat Jaeng.................................9                                                            C3                                              18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Night Market............................ B3             barge Suphannahong, complete with a                               with 120kg of explosives.
                                                          7                ath
                                                                                                                        Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram.........10                                                                      B4                                              19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Night Market............................ B2             sculpted crew, to be precise. The wíhǎan also
                                                                                                                        Wat Thung Si Meuang............ 11                                                                     C4    Night Market...........................20 C5
                                         Tower                                                                                                                                                                                       U-Bake....................................21 D3         has a boat-shaped base, this time the prince’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                    To Airport
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             personal craft, and the temple’s entrance gate                purveyor of kài yâang, sôm-tam, sausages and
                      2                                                                                                                                                                                                              SHOPPING
                                                                             m                                                                                                                       (750m)                          Camp Fai Ubon........................22           C3    is an immense statue of Airavata, Hindu God                   other Isan cuisine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Grass-Root.............................. 23       C4    Indra’s three-headed elephant mount.                             Khrua Ruen Pae (%0 4532 4342; mains 60-250B;
                                                                                        Th C

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Punchard.................................24       C4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Punchard 2...............................25       B3       South of the city is Wat Pa Nanachat (www                  hlunch & dinner) One of four floating restaurants

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   , where English is the primary            on Mae Nam Mun, Krun Ruen Pae serves up
                                               Th Jaeng Sanit

                                                                                                        Th Upalisan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             language. It holds little interest as a tourist               tasty food and a relaxed atmosphere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To Wat Ban
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Na Muang (7.3km)      destination, but a senior monk is available                      Sharing a water- and plant-filled wooden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           deck are U-Bake (%0 4526 5671; 49/3 Th Phichit Rang-
                                                                                                                              Th Pha Daeng

                                                                                                                                                                                                        5                                                                                    most days after the 8am meal to answer ques-
                                                                                         Th Suriyat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             tions about Buddhism. Any Si Saket–bound                      san; chocolate cake 40B; hlunch & dinner), which has
                                                                                                                                                                        Th Nakhon

                                                                                            18                                                              9                                                                   3                                                            bus can drop you on Hwy 226, about 500m                       internet access, and Jumpa-Hom (%0 4526 0398;
                      3                                                          Th Saphasit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             from the entrance.                                            mains 65-1500B; hdinner). Both the bakery and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Th Ph

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Th Bu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Th Thepyothi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the chichi restaurant serve Thai, Chinese and
                                                                                                        Th U

                                             Th Chaqala

                                                                                                                        13                                                                                  22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Sleeping                                                      Western cuisine.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ha N
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             River Moon Guest House (%0 4528 6093; 43 Th Sisaket              Ubon has many small night markets (h4.30pm-

                                                                                      Central                                            Th Phichit
                                                                                     Hospital                                                                                                                                                                                 Wat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             2; r 120-150B) This ramshackle place 200m from                midnight) rather than a large one.

                                                                           Th P                                                                                                                                                                                             Burapham         the train station somehow manages to exude


                                                                                       Chai                                                                                                                                                      rit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            rang                                                                                                           Shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                         Th Lu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Phalo                                                    a positive vibe. Facilities are shared.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sri Isan Hotel 2 (%0 4525 4544; 60 Th Ratchabut; r       The speciality of Ubon Province is natural-
                                                                                                                                             Th Ratchabut

                                                                                                                                        6                             11
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             160-350B; a) This older, dishevelled place, hid-              dyed, hand-woven cotton and you’ll find a
                      4                                                          Th Si Narong                                                               4                                               14
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             den behind its flashier sister sleeper, is, for the           fantastic assortment at Grass-Root (%0 4524 1272;

                                                                                                                              17                                                                 ni
                                                                                                                   10                                                              Th Kheuan Tha
                                                                                                                              8                         24                                                                                                                                   price, one of the city’s better budget hotels.                87 Th Yutthaphan; h9am-6pm) and Camp Fai Ubon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wat Tai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tokyo Hotel (%0 4524 1739; 360 Th Uparat; r 220-         (%0 4524 1821; 189 Th Thepyothi; h8am-8pm Mon-Sat).
                                                                                                        Th Supat

                                                                                                                                                                                           Th Phrom Rat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             600B; a) The Tokyo is rather bland, but it’s a                Punchard (%0 4524 3433; 158 Th Ratchabut; h8am-8pm
                                                                          Wat Supatanaram
                                                                                                                                                     ep                                                                                                                                      well-run midranger with some humble budget                    Mon-Sat) and Punchard 2 (%0 4526 5751; 156 Th Pha
                                                                                                                             Th              Phromth
                                                                                                                                                   12                                                                                                                Ko Hat                  rooms in the old building.                                    Daeng; h9.30am-8.30pm) stock a wider array of
                                                                                                                                              20                                                                                                                     Wat Tai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  oSri Isan Hotel (%0 4526 1011; www.sriisan               handicrafts.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mae Nam                                                                ; 62 Th Ratchabut; r 550-1300B; ai) Natural