Time and budget allowing, it’s not hard to find a Chao Phraya riverside hotel in Bangkok for a night’s stay. What’s harder is to find a place rich with art and an atmosphere that makes you feel at home while taking you back in time to an earlier age in the river’s history.
This 10-room contemporary hotel with a taste of “Thainess” stands on 100 square meters in a tiny alley just off Chiang Mai Street, in the same neighborhood as the fascinating tourist destination Lhong 1919. “Amdaeng,” the hotel’s name, belonged to a fabled woman from the past and was suggested by the “Amdaengkhlee” on a former owner’s land deed from the Rama V era.
All the main architectural elements inside and out are painted vermilion: posts, beams, floors, walls, ceilings, so that looking from the other side of the river it stands out clearly from its surroundings. Coming in from the other side you approach the entrance through a maze of alleyways, as the scene gradually opens up to reveal a red building that seems to be composed of separate sculptures joined together to become one grand form in which the architect envisioned people living.
Inside is a restaurant with a quiet calm feeling, lowering the dial on the red, and also more masculine: The feminine “Amdaeng” calls for some male balance, so the restaurant is named “Nye,” meaning “mister” in Thai. The restaurant materials and décor are simple and straightforward but rich with art, bringing to mind the phrase “blue and white,” for the indigo-patterned tile of China favored by Chinese social clubs and found everywhere in old China. Up above is a fabulous roof deck with a sort of “grandstand” for viewing the river rising upwards in tiered circles like the chedi of a Thai temple. In the future this area will be a nighttime bar.
Guest room décor shows a mix of styles reflecting Thai as well as other cultures: Chinese, European, Indian. To recall an earlier era when the dominant cultures were mixing in a formative way, aging techniques are used to alter the look of the glass, the floor tile is dimmed with a charcoal color, antique furniture is used, and remodeling has added beauty and refinement to an atmosphere of bygone days so as to live up to the catchphrase, “The most romantic hotel in Bangkok.”
From time to time, it’s good to leave a hectic lifestyle behind. Escape to the countryside and enjoy life in the slow lane. Priceless! There’s nothing like staying close to nature and being surrounded by mountains and lush paddy fields. Do something you’ve never done before. You can be a part of a local community by getting involved in farm activities.
Collect freshly laid eggs from the chicken coop, pick mushrooms from the nursery, and get vegetables straight from the garden. Even cook your own meals using seasonal ingredients from the community. Or treat yourself to a chicken coop sauna amidst rice fields, a spa idea you never imagine. There are plenty of reasons a farmstay is the perfect experience as you learn to live in a natural environment. Ahsa Farmstay is offering tourists a chance to stay overnight on a working farm. It’s a place to be happy and have fun as you interact with people in the community and learn about their heritage and culture of farming.
From Mueang Chiang Rai, head north towards Doi Mae Salong. About half way there, you come into Mae Chan District. Ahsa Farmstay is located on 85 Rai (33.6 acres) of land surrounded by views of the rolling terrain, fertile grounds and lush plains. The luxuriant vegetation encompassing the farm house makes the atmosphere calm and relaxing. The property owners have spared no effort in making sure visitors are happy physically and mentally as they gain an understanding of local culture and the beauty of traditional Lanna architecture.
Ahsa Farmstay is the work of Creative Crews, an architectural design firm passionate about traditional Lanna architecture. By looking at the northern heritage from a different perspective, they are able to create a home that’s modern in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience. Ahsa Farmstay consists of four buildings. The property owners’ home sits at the center of the rectangular floor plan flanked by two-story buildings that provide guest accommodations on the left and right wings. There are four guest rooms in all. A pavilion that’s up front by the entrance provides a place to unwind and relax, and room for activities.
Khun Im, who oversees Ahsa Farmstay, says the design concept is inspired by a desire to be a part of the local community. This is the first phase of an on-going experiment. The farm owners are a family that reside in this community. By living on the property, they are on hand to take care of their guests at all times. Determined to preserve their way of life, they prefer not to travel some distance to work in the city. And that’s what gives rise to the farmstay project.
“We have good relationships with the community and hire local carpenters to build. They are rare these days, but we find some in the neighborhood. For quality assurance, they work under our supervision. The project is built almost entirely of wood recycled from old houses. Our architects take the time to do it right. They go through each and every piece and handpick only the ones that meet specified construction standards,” he said.
An architect on the team added, “Reclaimed wood is the main building material because it can be sourced directly from the community. It comes in handy since some villagers are willing to sell it as reusable material. In the end, it’s about finding new use for old wood and adapting it to serve new purposes. Once the villagers see that we can do it well, they adopt the idea and technique to better suit their construction needs. In the end, it adds up to the continuation of cultural heritage and preservation of traditional Lanna architecture by passing on the skill and knowledge to young people in the community.”
Besides old wood, the team is able to put other recyclable materials to good use. They include concrete roof shingles that are rare nowadays. They are made the old-fashioned way using the pedal powered pottery wheel. Also known as the kick wheel, it’s an ancient manufacturing technique that has been passed on in the local community. To prevent leaks, the roof is covered by two layers of shingles. The weathered concrete look is beautiful. That’s not all. Ahsa Farmstay is also decorated with items of handicraft and furniture sourced directly from the community.
All things considered, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. It gives other families in the neighborhood some idea of how they can offer a form of hospitality and lodging where guests can stay overnight at the home of locals and learn about their culture. It’s an opportunity to play host, cook food and share their lifestyle and culture. Like so, Ahsa Farmstay is planning on providing more guest rooms as demand for cultural tourism increases. And it works both ways. New lodgings will be built by local carpenters, which in turn generates supplemental incomes for the local community. In the big picture, it amounts to promoting a kind of tourism intended to support the conservation of cultural heritage, skill and knowledge in the community.
The designer wraps it up nicely. “It’s important that visitors refrain from causing changes in the community’s way of life. More than anything else, the farmstay provides the opportunity of learning something new about rural culture. Visitors are welcome to join in daily activities of locals. Architecture has a role to play for the betterment of society. The homes built by locals not only promote cultural tourism, but also contribute to efforts at sustainable development in the area.”
By looking at old Lanna architecture from a new perspective, a design team is able to create a home that’s up to date in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience.
This story is from Modern Vernacular Homes Special Issue: Happiness Matters. (Available here in Thai and English)
A lot has changed since the time of Venice of the East, for which Bangkok was lovingly known. Along came the railway system that ushered in an era of mass travel, followed by the building of many transport routes. As people’s lifestyles changed, shopping malls were mushrooming everywhere, and mass transit light rail systems were introduced. Now it’s a city of skyscrapers. See what it’s like then and now.
Built in the reign of King Rama V, the Stupa of the Golden Mount dominates the skyline above the junction of two canals, Ong-ang and Mahanak, main routes for travel by water since the early days.
Bangkok Railway Station, also known as Hua Lamphong, then and now.
Completed in 1942, the Victory Monument serves as Kilometer Zero on major routes linking Bangkok with other parts of the country. It was designed by famous architect M.L. Poum Malakoul.
The historic Mahakan Fort overlooks Ratchadamnoen Avenue with the Stupa of the Golden Mount in the backdrop.
A bustling street market opposite the Temple of Dawn is home to river view hotels, among them Sala Rattanakosin and Sala Arun.
The Giant Swing bespeaks the influence of Brahmanism on Thai society in olden days. The swing is gone now; only the red tower remains in front of Wat Suthat Thepwararam.
Above, Silom Road in its early days. Below, the vibrant central business district is served by passenger rail transport — the elevated BTS and underground MRT. The Siboonrueng Building, a familiar sight on Silom, is scheduled for a teardown to make room for a new project.
Siam Center, then and now. The busy intersection in Pathumwan District has become a passenger rail transport hub conveniently linked to business and shopping destinations via the Skywalk.
Ratchaprasong Intersection, then and now. The area is home to the Erawan Shrine, a widely revered Brahman shrine erected in 1956.
Views from the top of the Baiyoke 2, tallest building in Bangkok from 1997 to 2016.
Back in the day, the Post and Telegraph Department doubled as the Central Post Office in Bangrak District. There’s a river pier at the rear of the building that once upon a time was a British consulate. Nowadays, it’s home to the TCDC, Thailand Creative and Design Center.
Many ask what is so fascinating about Pattani. We hear about negative events in the South of Thailand from time to time. But have you ever wondered what it’s really like to visit Pattani? Here’s an inside story.
Naturally charming, Pattani is a cosmopolitan area with many small town secrets waiting to be discovered. You will love southern hospitality, the friendly and generous reception that locals, for the most part Muslims and Thais of Chinese descent, give their visitors. For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at 5 good reasons why you should pay them a visit.
Adventure: Take the Tunnel of Bushes through a Mangrove Forest
If you travel the world in search of adventure, the sight of a centuries-old mangrove forest and a tunnel of bushes that runs through it will fill you with awe. It’s home to tropical trees and woody plants with countless prop roots that thrive to form dense thickets. The unspoiled forest covers the entire coastal swamp that’s flooded at high tide. Dubbed one of Thailand’s healthiest wetland ecologies, the Bang Poo Mangrove Forest in Yaring District lies along Pattani Bay and only 25 kilometers from the provincial seat.
It’s quite an education to stop by the Yaring Mangrove Forest Study Center. Take a boat ride under forest canopies, then head out to sea and back. The service is offered by villagers. Learn how to collect sea mussels like locals do. On the way back, take a moment to observe sea birds on the bay and coastal wetlands, where sedges and other grass-like species thrive. They provide raw material for sedge basket weaving industries in the area. It could be your most exciting ride, and the view is fantastic.
The mangrove forest was originally part of ancient coastlands that had grown to form an impenetrable mass around Pattani Bay. After a period of neglect, concerted efforts have been successful in restoring it to good health. Nowadays, tour activities vary from season to season, ranging from boat rides into the forest on nights aglow with fireflies, to stargazing night rides, to homestays at affordable prices.
Old World Charm, Chinatown, and Cool Café
Like other settlements in an earlier time, Pattani originally was a regional hub of commerce. The charming old town sits on the banks of the Pattani River that provides convenient access to the open sea and areas in the hinterland. This is evident in the way shop houses and people’s homes are located along river banks. You will like a quiet saunter on Pattani Pirom Road from Ruedee Intersection to Anohru Road.
Since ancient times, the little Chinatown at Anohru had been a region of diverse cultures, where Thais, Indians and Chinese met for the buying and selling of goods. It’s also home to the holy shrine of Lim Kor Niew, a goddess widely revered for her supernatural powers. Other main tourist attractions include relics of a bygone society, such as the ancestral home of the Kunanurak clan, and the residence of Khunpitakraya, son of Chinese monk Kunanurak who governed Pattani in the past.
Anohru Road is famous for cozy Chinese style inns, charming wood homes, and Sino-Portuguese architecture. Coffee lovers shouldn’t miss the old town’s greatest hangouts – All Good Coffee & Bakery (which is right next to a famous Hainan chicken restaurant), and IN_T_AF Café & Gallery.
Looking for a holy place to pray to God? There are the famous Krue Se Mosque and the Central Mosque of Pattani. Dress properly if you intend to visit.
Delicious Food, Good Tea, Great Roti, and all
Pattani food culture is interesting for it brings people together to enjoy good eating. There is happiness in their eyes as people meet and eat together in their favorite restaurants. If Roti, or Chapati, is your thing, you shouldn’t miss the Wae Mah Roti shop. It’s always full of people, but it’s worth a visit. There’s the slightly salty, crispy crunchy kind to suit every pleasure of taste. The best place no doubt, if you want to eat like locals do. And it’s inexpensive, too!
For a more modern atmosphere, there is Chaba Roti & Coffee located behind Mor Or (call sign of the Prince of Songkhla University at Pattani). It’s located on Samakkee Road Route B. Their famous tea recipes go together very well with Roti. A nice place to dine alfresco.
By the way, if strong tea is your thing, go to a small shop called Cha-Indo & Roti located on the same road. Right opposite from it stands Papa TaGu Restaurant that serves Khao Mok, the Thai Muslim version of Indian Biryahni. The fragrant yellow rice dish is served with chicken, fish, beef, or goat meat. All good. Take your pick. If you dine together as a group, it’s better to order trays of food and come away satisfied every time. You will love the Arab rice they use, which is perfectly fluffy and not sticky.
If the ambience of a restaurant is important in entertaining guests, we recommend Baan De Nara. Try out their signature yellow curry with mackerel and coconut milk. You may also like Solok, a traditional southern dish made of bell peppers stuffed with fish, shrimp, and a healthy dose of curry, a lesser-known recipe but delicious nonetheless.
Chinese food is meant to be savored and enjoyed. For that, we recommend London, an old restaurant widely admired for enchanting Chinese cuisine. Their highly pleasing recipes are on par with those that you get in Bangkok no doubt. But for a mouth-watering Rad-Na meal (stir-fried noodle with pork and kale soaked in gravy), go to Num Ros Restaurant, and you won’t be disappointed.
A Vibrant and Growing Scene of Art and Design
You may have heard of the Koleh boat that over time has come to symbolize culture and the way of life on the Malay Penninsula. But there is more to Pattani than just the Koleh boat.
Nowadays, at a continually increasing rate the young generation of Pattani has taken a keen interest in art and design. As a result, an art gallery called “Patani Art Space” was born. It has achieved its objective in promoting the works and ideas of up-and-coming young artists in the three southernmost provinces.
Over the past several years, their designs have received proper recognition. Take for example the Benjametha brand of ceramics, which earned a few DEmark design awards; the Batik of Baan De Nara, which some Japan buyers bought for Kimono making; and the Tlejourn brand of footwear that turned recycled ocean waste into products of quality and value.
The force behind this success was Rachit Radenahmad. He teamed up with Melayu Living, a local creative group. Together they succeeded in staging “Pattani Decoded”, the province’s first Design Week showcasing works by local artists, designers and community members in August 2019.
OTOP as Memento of Your Visit
Your adventures in Pattani are not complete without something to take home or a souvenir to remind you of your visit. For that, we recommend Roti Achiva, a local brand of crisped-to-perfection meals made by members of the Vocational College of Pattani. It’ so delicious it’s hard to stop eating. By the way, there’s another Roti brand called Miss Millah, which is also very good. It’s part of OTOP, an acronym for the “One Tambon, One Product” project. Take your pick. Or go for dried banana strips and fish flavored rice chips that are equally popular.
River Festival 2019 The Fifth Annual Celebration of Thailand’s River Culture Illustrating the Concept of “River Consonance”
Every river has an amazing true story to tell. To celebrate our beautiful and fulfilling culture and heritage, ThaiBev is happy to support the tourism industry’s River Festival 2019 scheduled for November 9-11 in Bangkok. Now in its fifth year, the landmark event recognizes the importance of the ASEAN Cultural Year 2019. Everyone is invited to experience the charms of civilizations situated beside the river at 10 cultural heritage waterfronts along the Chao Phraya River during the three-day period. They focus on the concept of “River Consonance”.
The Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, or ThaiBev, is assisting with this effort in close cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Royal Thai Navy, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and a network of business partners. Together, they are able to draw on prior experience to make the fifth edition of the River Festival a continuing remarkable success for 2019.
This year, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s ASEAN Affairs Department also joins forces. Its contribution to the “River Festival 2019” supports government policies that are aimed at making Thailand a center of cultural tourism and engaging with worldwide audiences. The show is timed to coincide with the ASEAN Cultural Year 2019 proclaimed to raise public awareness of the identity, diverse culture and heritage of the Region.
The driving forces behind this year’s celebration include Mr. Itthiphol Kunplome, Minister of Culture; Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, President of the River Festival 2019; and Mr. Kamolnai Chaixanien, Senior Vice President of the Thai Beverage Public Company Limited; as well as main sponsors from the private sector and partner networks. Details of the River Festival 2019 and the “River Consonance” concept were given during a press conference at Wat Kalayanamitr.
The city’s main tourist attractions during the festival period include spectacular light and sound shows, retail businesses, and nighttime entertainments in outdoor venues of historic significance. The 10 truly amazing places to visit are Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Wat Prayurawongsawat, Wat Kalayanamitr, Yodpiman River Walk, Tha Maharaj, Asiatique the Riverfront, Lhong 1919, SookSiam@ICONSIAM, and Wat Rakhang (Temple of Bells) that was built during the Ayutthaya Period.
The ornate shrines and vibrant street scenes are located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. They are some of the most visited destinations among pilgrims as well as foreign tourists and locals. During the three-day festival, visitors can enter the five temple grounds and pay homage to the Buddha at night. Or stop and take a moment to admire the beauty of the Chao Phraya River from all 10 riverboat piers.
If you’re into music, know that 11 universities across the capital are giving performances in various genres from popular music with wide appeal to classical. They are Chulalongkorn University, Thammasat University, Srinakharinwirot University, Silpakorn University, Kasetsart University, Ramkhamhaeng University, Dhurakij Pundit University, Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, Rangsit University, Bangkok Thonburi University, and Bangkok University Rangsit Campus.
Experience the charms of Thai culture and Thai identity at venues of historic significance on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. No better time than now. Soak yourself in the concept of “River Consonance” during the River Festival 2019, scheduled for 9-11 November 2019, 17.00-22.30 hours. For updates please visit www.riverfestivalthailand.com and facebook/riverfestivalthailand
The River Festival 2019 is an annual cultural celebration, which is now in its fifth year. Data collected from previous years indicated that participating retail businesses could generate incomes for local communities amounting to more than 2 million baht in three days. Each year, the event attracted more than 200,000 visitors, both foreign and local. Exit interviews showed more than 90 percent of visitors came away impressed about efforts at fostering the progress of Thailand’s culture through greater awareness of its heritage. To sum up, it’s a festival that contributes significantly to the betterment of society and culture, as well as the future of the tourism industry.
Highlights of this year’s River Festival
It’s an opportunity to come in contact with pop stars, among them Sinjaroen Brother, Praw Kanitkul, Nont Tanont and other celebs, who give concerts at Asiatique. While there, find out what the concept of “River Consonance” means to you, and what kind of music is the happening thing. Step in for a surprise. Plenty of music to enjoy both on the boat and on the piers, plus performances by the CU Band and CU Chorus from Chulalongkorn, and the TU band and TU Chorus from Thammasat. Not to mention country music by up-and coming bands from Kasetsart, Srinakarinwirote, Ramkhamhaeng, Dhurakij Pundit, Suan Sunandha Rajabhat, and Bangkok Thonburi universities. There’s also jazz and international by Silapakorn. That pretty much ensures that fun is had by all.
The opening of Pier 10
To celebrate a very important year marked by the coronation of a new sovereign, H. M. King Rama X of Thailand, a new riverboat pier is officially opened on the Chao Phraya River. The pier at Wat Rakhang has since been renamed “Pier 10”. The new call sign coincides with proclamation of 2019 as the ASEAN Cultural Year and the fact that the ASEAN Region has 10 members. The 10-pier system bodes well for the future of river traffic in the inner core of Bangkok, which is home to the longest river bend running through the capital.
To reiterate the importance of 2019 as the ASEAN Cultural Year, more VIP Cruises up and down the Chao Phraya River will be added for pleasure. Representatives of the international community will be invited to participate in various promotional activities, offering them the opportunity of experiencing the charms of Thai culture and interacting with members of the local community, from temples to schools to people’s homes. The heart of the matter is a multicultural neighborhood that’s home to three religions, four beliefs, and five ethnic groups who coexist peacefully in harmony at “Ka Dee Jeen”, a midtown area in Thonburi. The activity is cohosted by the Supatra Group.
Something of interest to the media is the “Unseen Cruise Tour”, a series of activities at Wat Rakhang Pier. Begin the day with a photo contest aptly titled “One Shot Knockout”, which is scheduled for November 10 from 07.30 to 14.00 hours. At nightfall, enjoy outdoor movies featuring two of the best of Thai cinema, น้ำตาลไม่หวาน (Sugar Not Sweet), and เกาะสวาทหาดสวรรค์ (Paradise Island) that were part of the exhibits at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2019.
The journey is incomplete without a visit to Lhong 1919 and Asiatique, two famous riverboat piers on the south bend of the Chao Phraya River. Plenty of activities and fun you can do for enjoyment. From here, you can travel on to SookSiam@ICONSIAM and take part in the celebration of its first anniversary. Along the way, collect rubber stamps as proof of having visited all three riverboat piers, and you can enter for a chance to win a “Happy Pouch” from the River Festival 2019.
You may also like: … The River Festival Lamphun.
The best event you can’t miss is the Loy Krathong Festival, which is happening at the same time as the River Festival in Lamphun. The venue for dual celebrations is the bank of the Kuang River that’s a lifeline of this beautiful northern city.
The River Festival Lamphun offers the opportunity of experiencing Lanna culture that’s renowned for exceptional northern hospitality. During this time, the street is full of locals and visitors as the crowd gathers to pay respect to Phra That Hariphunchai Temple, home of the gilded stupa that’s the heart and soul of Lamphun town. By night the sky is aglow under floating lanterns during the “Festival of a Hundred Thousand Lights”.
What makes Lamphun famous is the rich riparian ecosystems and forests that thrive within the city. Art lovers shouldn’t miss the art market where pieces are bought and sold through fairs and exhibitions in art shops. The festive season is a paradise for those looking for good deals on local products. Be spoilt for choice when it comes to authentic northern food prepared by locals as well as up-and-coming young chefs. By and large, it’s an immersive experience to enjoy in the lead-up to Loy Krathong Night on 11 November.
Don’t miss out on it! The River Festival Lamphun is happening on 7-11 November on the bank of the Kuang River from 17.00 to 22.00 hours.
Located on the southern coast of Bali, Canggu is known for beautiful rolling rice fields and the roar of the surf. The fast growing village is roughly half-an-hour drive from the upscale resort area at Seminyak that lies further south. Looking for good food, good vibe? Here are ten best places to eat in Canggu, from trendy café to Balinese style restaurants to cool spots to post on Instagram.
One of the favorite hangouts in Canggu, Café Organic means exactly that. Good food comes from natural farming methods. Feel the atmosphere. The interior space in shades of white is adorned with lush tropical gardens. There are healthy desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth.
A restaurant with beautiful rice field views, Warung Gouthe is well known for its home-style brochettes. The skewered meat or fish chunks grilled or roasted to perfection come in a tray with an excellent side dish of salad. You will love panini, a sandwich made with toasted Italian bread and the tantalizing aroma of a country style kitchen.
A favorite place serving breakfast and lunch, Cabina Bali is about good food, great company, and the opportunity to share the happiest moments in life. Here, food comes in a floating basket, so you don’t even have to get out of the pool. Girls in bikinis love it for the Gram.
Calm down and relax at Parachute as you take in the view of surrounding rice fields and lush vegetable gardens. If you prefer to eat alfresco, there are parachute canopies for that. Inside, coffee smells like heaven, and the aroma of baked goods will simply overwhelm you.
My Warung Canggu
Nothing beats a steak grilled to perfection. My Warung Canggu is a place to give yourself a nice treat or the ultimate indulgence. It goes together well with artistic and definitely exciting interior design. There’s even a confession room in case you think you’ve eaten too much.
Founded on the Indian Subcontinent by the Buddha around 500 BC, Buddhism is a widely followed religion across Southeast Asia, especially the Mainland. Temples and the Sangha, communities of monks, nuns, novices and laity, play a critical role in preserving good practice and his teachings to the present day. Here are 9 sacred places around the Region to visit on your long journeys through life.
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Siem Reap, Cambodia
One of the largest and most resplendent religious monuments in the world, Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II who ruled the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple around the turn of the century. The temple complex sits on 1.6 million square meters (about 400 acres) of land in Siem Reap, a province on the northern shore of Tonle Sap in central Cambodia. The enduring pride of Khmer architecture was constructed of sandstone adorned with a breathtaking richness of sculptures in bas-relief. It was inscribed on the List of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1992. The ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2012 made Angkor Wat and Borobudur (in Indonesia) sister sites as part of an effort at promoting cultural tourism in the Region.
Among the world’s largest religious sites, Borobudur in central Java is on a par with Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Built in the 9th Century, it was a center of Buddhism at the time the Srivijayan Empire became the first kingdom to dominate the islands of Sumatra and neighboring Java. Borobudur is representative of Javanese architecture that blends the concept of Nirvana, the final goal of Buddhism, with the native custom of venerating ancestors. Located on a highland 40 kilometers from Yogyakarta, the magnificent Borobudur temple overlooks rolling hills, lush forests and twin volcanoes. Its nine-tiered floor plan consists of six square platforms placed one above the other, three circular atriums at the top, and pagodas. They are decorated with beautiful reliefs and a total of 504 Buddha statues. Guinness World Records make in the world’s largest Buddhist temple, while UNESCO added it to the World Heritage Sites in 1991.
THE ANANDA TEMPLE
A sea of temples and pagodas in central Myanmar is a wonder to behold. The ancient city of Bagan was capital of the Pagan Kingdom from the 9th to 13th Centuries. During that time, thousands of Buddhist temples, dome-shaped shrines and monasteries were constructed. Among them, the Ananda Temple was built by King Kyanzittha in 1105 A.D. It’s very well preserved and accessible to visitors. Inside the most revered temple of Bagan, huge Buddha statues stand facing east, west, north and south in the corridors illuminated by natural light. The building is built of white sandstone that’s characteristic of ancient Mon architecture.
THE TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA (WAT PHRA KAEW)
Located on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha was consecrated in 1784 during the reign of King Rama I, founding father of the Rattankosin Kingdom and the first monarch of the reigning Chakri Dynasty. Inside, the Emerald Buddha reposes on an elevated altar surrounded by gilded décor. The bright green stone statute of the Buddha is regarded as the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. The royal temple stands embraced by dome-shaped shrines, pagodas, and religious halls. The corridors are adorned with mural paintings depicting episodes from Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic of ancient India. It’s now one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions.
THE SHWEDAGON PAGODA
The historic 99-meter-tall Shwedagon Pagoda stands surrounded by a sea of 68 smaller stupas. It’s also known as the Golden Pagoda for the gilded dome-shaped structure that dominates the Yangon skyline. Legend has it that the large religious monument was built some 2,500 years ago, but archeologists put its beginning between the 6th and 11th Centuries based on evidence of Mon temple architecture. Shwedagon is regarded as the most sacred pagoda for the people of Myanmar. As gestures of respect, visitors are required to remove their shoes on entering the temple compound. From past to present, people have donated gold and gemstones that go towards restoring the pagoda to its original splendor. “Shwe” is a local word for gold, while “Dagon” is the old name of Yangon.
THE TEMPLE OF DAWN (WAT ARUN)
One of the most ancient temples in Thailand, the Temple of Dawn is located across the river from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace. The Buddhist temple that existed on the site was originally called Wat Makok. As the Ayudhya Period ended and Thon Buri became a new capital, the temple was renamed Wat Chaeng. In the early Rattanakosin Period, the name was changed to Wat Arun as a symbol of the first light of a new day. The Buddhist temple is renowned for its colorfully decorated pyramidal structures. The tapering conical towers, known as Prangs, are adorned with a mosaic of ceramic tiles and glass that shimmers in the sunlight. The Prangs of Wat Arun are best viewed from across the river. They were on the logo of the Bangkok Art Biennale that just ended.
The historic business hub of Bangkok is on CNN’s List of “Best Districts for Street Food” and “Top Ten Chinatowns in the World”. Whether it be fine dining or quick one-dish dinners, you can find some of the best meals in Yaowarat. Combine your favorite pastimes into one-day adventure. Living ASEAN recommends stopping by these places.
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9:00 Coffee at Ama Hostel
Start your day at Ama Hostel Bangkok, a recently renovated Chinese style building located at 191 Soi Sapanhan off Chakkrawat Road in Samphanthawong area. The café in the forward section of the hostel offers coffee that smells so good. There’s nothing like the warm aroma of a steaming cup of coffee to wake you up to a beautiful day in old Chinatown. Nearby, push cart vendors serve delicious Kuichai meals and Kuay Jub noodes.
10:00 Shop at Sampeng Market and Yaowarat
A stone’s throw away from Ama Hostel stands Sampeng Market, a shopper’s paradise for goods at bargain prices, both retail and wholesale. The area is well known for many gift shops and stores selling fabrics, clothing and accessories, toys and seasonal decorating materials. Follow Chakkrawat Road and you come to Yaowarat Road.
12:00 Lunch at the Canton House
Enjoy the pleasure of authentic Chinese food at the Canton House. Established in 1908, the restaurant has since been renovated to give it unique appeal characterized by raw construction materials. The Canton House is located at 530 Yaowarat Road, Samphanthawong area. You will love the bite-sized Dim Sum in steamer baskets, steamed pork rib with black bean sauce, and fried Mantou (buns) with condensed milk. Thai and Western meals are also on the menu.
13:00 Wat Leng Noei Yi
The historic Wat Leng Noei Yi is rooted deeply in this community of Thai citizens of Chinese descent. Founded in 1871, the temple has been involved in every facet of life of the followers of Buddhism. It sees the busiest time during the period leading to Chinese New Year celebrations. Slowly burning joss sticks are used in paying tribute to the Lord Buddha. It’s good idea to avoid getting smoke in your eyes.
14:00 Jay Noi’s Kuichai Meal
About 250 meters to the right of Wat Leng Noei Yi stands a famous push-cart business selling fried Kuichai meals. Jay Noi’s Kuichai is renowned for being one of the most delicious vegetable meals in Yaowarat. Located on Charoen Krung Road, the humble push cart vendor sells Kuichai at 10 Baht apiece. The menu also includes fried Taro and Jicama (a globe shaped root vegetable). They are equally delightful.
15:00 Cakes at Wallflowers Café
Beat the heat in the afternoon with yummy mouthwatering cakes served with frothy Thai tea with cheese. Located at 31-33 Soi Nana, Pom Prab area, Wallflowers Café sits on the upper floor of a florist’s shop, which provides inspiration for many beautiful items on its menu. The café is owned and operated by an architect who has great interest in the art of coffee making.
It’s said that waterways are the wellsprings of civilization, and that does appear to be true. Looking back many thousands of years to the earliest prototypes of human civilization it seems they all had close relationships with and originated along water sources. Civilizations in the Nile Delta, the Huang He basin, along the Indus River, the Tigris-Euphrates, and in Thailand itself, humanity’s ways of life began with connections to waterways used for consumption, travel, and agricultural use.
The international festival of contemporary art Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) 2018 echoes this historic heritage of civilization by exhibiting the works of artists both Thai and foreign along one of Asia’s ancient and majestic waterways. Come along today as we take you to see art on the Chao Phraya riverside, and, by the way, take a few breaks to scarf down some truly delicious food.
Saphan Taksin SkyTrain Station
Our starting point today is the Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain station, itself an important landmark. Foreigners are familiar with it for its location in the heart of Charoen Krung district and its access to the Chao Phraya Express Boat and cross-river ferries, for travel to major points such as Asiatique the Riverfront, ICONSIAM, Wat Arun, Maharaj Pier, and many others.
For a taste treat in the Charoen Krung area, we’ll first take you to “Thip Hoi Thot Phukhao Fai,” a superb fried shellfish shop in Soi Charoen Krung 50 known for the freshness of ingredients coming direct from the sea each day. We recommend the Hoi Thap Hoi (“Shellfish on Shellfish”) for 90 baht, featuring deep fried mussels spread on top of a layer of oysters for a crispy-outside, soft-inside taste, with oysters that are delightfully fresh and juicy.
Thip Hoi Thot Phukhao Fai(Shop is in the front of the tiny 1 Khuha Building, tucked away in Soi Charoenkrung 50)
Thip Hoi Thot Phukhao Fai Restaurant Open Monday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Tel: 0-2233-1116
Full from our Thip Hoi Thot Phukhao Fai meal, leaving the shop we see Robinson’s Department Store, a Bang Rak landmark since 1992 and an early indicator of the commercial boom this area was about to undergo.
Robinson Department Store, Bang Rak Branch
Just past Robinson we glance across the street to see another of this area’s great restaurants, “Prajak Roast Duck.”
Prajak Roast Duck(directly across from Robinson’s)
Prajak Roast Duck has a long history in Bang Rak, and is famous for its roast duck, tender, skin crispy to perfection, and delicious. Today we’re ordering kiaow mee kung pet (“mee noodles with dumplings, shrimp, and duck”) and kiaow kung chin toh (“prawn dumplings”) with crispy-skin roast duck on top, for an intensely savory taste without needing to add any seasoning at all.
. . . continuing our walk along Charoen Krung Road, at Soi 40 we reach a major Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 location, with Festival exhibits at three venues: the East Asiatic Building, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and the OP Place Shopping Plaza.
Going up the 2nd floor of East Asiatic Building we find an exciting group of works, including Diluvium, an installation art piece which transforms the room in a uniquely disturbing way, by Korean female artist Lee Bul. Then there is Nothing Is Less Comparable 2018 by Sara Favriau, a sculptress from France skilled in creating art works from wood. Moving on, we see Pyramid Shape Sculpture, an extremely unusual and striking sculpture by Andrew Stahl, and Performing Textiles, which poses questions about various social issues, especially women’s rights, with artist Kawita Vatanajyankur using her body as a tool for “women’s work at home.”
Leaving the East Asiatic Building we encounter Lost Dog, a more than 3.8-meter-tall sculpture by Aurèle Ricard, towering in front of the Mandarin Oriental.
Turning left into the OP Shopping Plaza right next door, there is more great art on exhibit, beginning with Jrai Dew: a radicle room, a mixed-media presentation by Art Labor, a Vietnamese group of artists. Next is Listen to the voice my Land Papua, a painting on canvas by Moelyono. And there is QUALITY: quality, by Latthapon Korkiatarkul, which urges us to think and pose questions about our lives and surroundings.
OK! We’ve seen quite a bit of art! Let’s go pamper ourselves a little with a visit to the organic café “Farm to Table.” This tiny place is hidden away near the Pak Khlong flower market, with a warm and familiar atmosphere suitable for a good sit-down chill. Let’s order lod chong+ ice cream (75 baht), a mix of soft, smooth organic ice cream with the signature sweetness of lod chong dessert noodles.
Shop:Farm to Table organic café Open: every day, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Tel: 0-2115-2625
Feeling fat and sassy after a restful stop, we exit the shop to head out again on our art odyssey. There are two more BAB 2018 exhibition locations right nearby: Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn, or Wat Pho, and Wat Arun Ratchawararam.
In the Wat Pho grounds six important art works are on display, including Paths of Faith, by Jitsing Somboon – a collection of white robes, backs embroidered with the word “faith” in Thai, Chinese, and English – and Zuo You He Che, by Huang Yong Ping, which uses sculptures of fantastic animals to depict stories based in Chinese culture.
If you get tired looking at the Wat Pho exhibitions, you can walk across Maharaj Road and into a tiny alley on the Chao Phraya riverside. There you’ll find another super-cool café hidden away, the Blue Whale Café.
TheBlue Whale Café
The Blue Whale Café is a tiny Maharaj Road district coffeehouse set in the soi opposite Wat Pho. What makes it special is the ambiance, a sky blue décor matching the name. We order the signature dish, “nom anchan (“butterfly-pea milk) for 120 baht, colorful, eye-catching, photogenic! Check in there and have a taste: milk, butterfly pea, mixed, for an incredible new taste.
Once you’ve filled yourself up with this treat, let’s check out one more place. Right near Phra Athit Pier is “Khun Daeng’s Kui Jap Yuan,” is one of the area’s best-known spots for Thais and foreigners alike, and should be experienced at least once. We suggest the Kui Jap Juan (45 baht), which Khun Daeng is justly known for: soft, viscous noodles in a mellow soup that needs practically no additional seasoning.
Khun Daeng’s Kui Jap Yuan
Shop:Khun Daeng’s Kui Jap Yuan Open: every day, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Tel: 0-2282-0568
. . . Full of delicious kui jap but still not sated with all this art? Then hop on a boat, cross to the other riverbank and see more at the Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan and Wat Prayoonwongsawat Worawihan BAB expositions.
So, have you experienced a full menu of awesome art works and fabulous eats along the Chao Phraya riverside? Well, remember: Bangkok Art Biennale 2018’s “Beyond Bliss” is held until February 3, 2019, at a full 20 venues, not just here, but all over the city of Bangkok!
We’ve told you already about “6 cafés with cool designs for us to stop in after a visit to BAB 2018,” right? Well, now we’d like to take you on a tour of BAB’s urban zone, with four more primo cafés we’ve picked out. Besides an attractive drink menu, as with ones we gave you before, each has a uniquely cool atmosphere, and they definitely aren’t far from exhibits at Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) 2018 international festival of contemporary art . . . so come on, don’t be a stuck-in-the-mud, let’s go check ‘em out!!
/// THAILAND /// Story: Taliw /// Photo: Sroisuwan.T, Wara Suttiwan and Taliw
Hungry Me & Thirsty You
The Hungry Me & Thirsty You café, on the bank of Khlong Saen Saep, stands out for its yellow color tones and chic atmosphere. It’s a bit of a secret, hidden away in the Yelo House creative space. But it’s just a short 350-meter walk from there to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), a major BAB 2018 exhibition location.
Yelo House is a warehouse converted into a multipurpose space right on Khlong Saen Saep, with this “secret” café inside. Besides a great drink and snack menu to refresh your body with, there’s also real food to be had.
Hungry Me & Thirsty You stands out for its cool half-glass-house design looking out on Khlong Saen Saep and some colorful graffiti for scenery. At midday the sun shines in to give the yellow-toned café a warm look. As evening stretches into darkness, Hungry Me & Thirsty You morphs into a hangout where we can socialize with the gang.
Besides its unique identity, another good point is that there are art fairs and various activities here, which can be a lot of fun depending on what Yelo House has going on when you visit. In any case, enjoy snacks and food to your heart’s content, and then . . . hop over to the BACC for another hit of BAB 2018!
Our suggestion today is a sweet snack and a light drink to relax from the heat. Start with the refreshing Apple Ginger drink (120 baht), apple juice blended with ginger for a sweet mellow taste tending just a bit toward sour. For those who like milk, we recommend ELLA (120 baht), a dark tea with honey and milk served in bottle form. It’s chilled already, so no need to add ice to muck up the taste.
Now to bakery items: we recommend the Chocolate Memories Cake (200 baht), with a soft frosting on top and a rich chocolate taste along with a succulent texture. Eaten with the Apple Ginger drink it becomes perfection itself. Or you could try the Lemon Poppy Butter Cake (150 baht), a lightly moist butter cake, sweet-tasting with a hidden sour. At first blush it may look ordinary, but the taste is extraordinary, and we’re betting you won’t stop at one piece.
Address: Soi Kasemsan 1, Rama 1 Road (BTS National Stadium, Exit 1)
• Business hours: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., closed Mondays (kitchen opens 11:30)
• FB: www.facebook.com/yelohouse/
Samples of art on display at the Bangkok Art Biennale International Contemporary Art Festival 2018
Heekcaa is a hot spot that tea lovers absolutely should know about. It’s located on the 2nd floor of Siam Discovery, midway between two BAB 2018 locations, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and Siam Paragon. Actually, walk just 750 meters further on and you can enjoy the BAB exhibits at Central World, too.
For this second shop, we recommend you try an original recipe from China that Siam Discovery and café Heekcaa have found hits the spot for many tea lovers, the signature drink of this café, “cheese tea.”
This drink is both a best-seller and the signature Heekcaa offering, under the name Heekcaa Cheese (90 baht). It has the charming taste of oolong, but is topped with soft cream cheese for a rich taste with a nice salty sweetness. Green tea powder is sprinkled on top for an added subtlety. We recommend when drinking it to raise the glass at a 45-degree angle, for a blended flavor of oolong and cream cheese.
If you aren’t a cream cheese fan, Heekcaa has plenty of other dishes to choose from, for instance the fruit juice Full Cup Passion Fruit(99 baht), a jasmine tea blended with the unique sweet-sour taste of passion fruit, a refreshing drink that’s definitely not boring!
Besides blended teas of premium freshness, another Heekcaa highlight is its simple but elegant atmosphere, subtly relaxing in color tones of grey-white in a well apportioned space, perfect for sitting and chatting with friends or simply chilling.
Examples of works on exhibit at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018international festival of contemporary art
House of Eden
At the House of Eden café you’ll have no trouble pleasing the palate. Snacks or main dishes, you’ll experience perfectly delicious flavors in newly created dishes, especially the Thai fusion food. This half-café, half-restaurant is on the 2nd floor of Siam Discovery, an easy walk to or from BAB 2018 expositions, whether at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Siam Paragon, or Central World.
This is the second branch of the café, with the first in Groove at Central World This new outlet is remarkable for its rose-gold color, built around the unusual concept of a “Tree of God.”
What catches the eye here is the décor: the color selection gives it a cute, sweet ambience, and at same time there is the transformative Tree of God theme that gives a heavenly feeling to dining here. Furniture designed in the same color scheme and style adds to this artifice.
There is a really wide variety of food and drink choices here. You can eat light, or eat heavy, really filling up on Thai fusion, whose distinct flavors make it the favorite of many. With that in mind, here are some meal suggestions for hungry folks.
Start with a Chicken Wings Eden Sauce (260 baht) appetizer. This is fried chicken enhanced with the café’s own special sauce for a mellow, playful taste. Moving towards the main course, we suggest Spaghetti Bacon Garlic(270 baht), with its hot, peppery Thai-style flavor with dried chilis and garlic, a perfect match for the soft noodles and crispy bacon. And don’t forget to order Grilled Kurobuta with Mala Sauce(370 baht), which really adds flavor to the meal, especially the delicacy of grilled-to-perfection Kuroba pork with Mahala sauce, chili-hot and served with grilled vegetables to go along with the heat.
Besides main dishes, House of Eden has lots of fruit drinks, tea, and sweets to try out. There’s Passion Sunrise(220 baht), a “mocktail” with a pleasant combination of sweet and sour, for an appropriate contrast with the spicy hot of a main dish. Enjoy it with a light dessert such as Panna Cotta: softness topped with fresh fruit.
Examples of art works on display at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018international festival of contemporary art
Boyy & Son Café
Boyy & Son is the last café we’ll bring you to visit today. It provides a comfy atmosphere in the Chidlom-Ploenchit district, and it’s only 700-meter walk from there to yet another BAB 2018 art exhibit location, Central Embassy.
A super-cool café that grew out of a fashion brand, it connects to Flagship Store, so the décor has a “minimal luxury” style stressing simplicity and warmth, while at the same time luxury is revealed in its selection of materials.
The décor here is simple. The furniture is based around benches constructed of gorgeous terrazzo-style polished stone. There’s a feeling of openness, with on one side glass walls letting in natural light for an atmosphere of comfort and warmth, and on the other a supremely beautiful ocean aquarium, an impressive feature that is softened with green pastels.
Drink and dessert menus here are unique, staring with the their signature Iced Boyy & Son Caramel(120 baht), notable for its homemade caramel sauce, flavorful with special fresh ingredients such as sea salt. This drink is delightfully rich, as a thick jelly adds texture. Continuing on, for chocolate lovers there’s the Iced Dark Chocolate Mint(140 baht), a dark chocolate from Valrhona Chocolate, a French brand known for some of the most delicious chocolates in the world. This is served with a blend of mint syrup for its characteristic fragrance and flavor.
Finally, we recommend a new product, freshly baked, the Almond Croissant(130 baht). This is warmed before serving: crispy on the outside, soft and luscious on the inside, and chock full of almonds. This dish makes for some fun eating, and goes perfectly with either of the two drinks above.
Address: Floor G, Gaysorn Village (Gaysorn Tower)
Hours: open every day, 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Examples of art works on display at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018international festival of contemporary art