Grand Palace, Bangkok
This is the most important palace in Thailand today and is located in the same compound as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which means that you can get fit two attractions into one excursion. Built in 1782, this remarkable structure was originally used as the official royal residence but now serves as a museum. Consisting of several different buildings each dating from different periods during the last two hundred years, it is a fascinating display of a unique combination of both traditional Thai and western style architecture. It is now one of the country’s top tourist attractions and should not be missed.
The Museum of Forensic Medicine, Bangkok
One of the country’s more unusual attractions and certainly not one for the faint hearted, this particular museum is home to the preserved bodies of several of Thailand’s infamous murderers. Among those on display are See-Uey, the Chinese child murderer who ate the children’s organs after he murdered them and another anonymous murderer who was originally imprisoned for rape and murder, was released and committed the same crime again on a child. There is also a bisected head with a bullet lodged in the brain on display. Visit it only if you think you can handle the aforementioned and worse.
Crocodile Farm, Bangkok
This is the world’s oldest and largest farm of its kind and is home to over sixty thousand crocodiles. While the highlight of the show is the crocodile wrestling, you can also see tigers, elephants, lions, monkeys and a number of poisonous snakes. To catch one of the shows you need to be at the farm at either 10.00am or 3.30pm. The wrestling is not to everyone’s taste but there is plenty to see besides. You can take a ride on an elephant or a camel, shop for authentic crocodile skin handbags or belts (a little cruel considering the location but anyway), relax in a pedal boat on the lake or just enjoy the spectacular scenery. A good place to spend a few hours and only ten kilometres from Bangkok city centre.
Bridge on the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi
The Bridge on the River Kwai is located just over 120 kilometres northwest of Bangkok. Originally built by prisoners of war and forced labourers during the Second World War, it is estimated that almost one hundred and twenty people died during the bridge’s construction. Envisioned by the Japanese as an important link between Thailand and Burma, the bridge has also been the subject of a world famous novel and movie of the same name. Today, a visit to this location will reveal a cemetery in which over seven thousand of the unfortunate victims of the bridge building are buried as well as several tribal villages buried in the hills and numerous magnificent waterfalls. There is also a festival which takes place in late November and early December where sound and light shows re-enact scenes from the bridge’s ill-fated construction.
Phi Phi Islands
A recent addition to Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions, the two islands which make up this group (Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le) lie forty kilometres south west of Krabi and about the same distance from Phuket. And the reason for their increased popularity – they were the location selected for the recent Hollywood blockbuster, ‘The Beach’. Apart from this claim to fame, however, they are home to some of the best examples of natural beauty which the country has to offer. A combination of transparent seas, coral beds and breathtaking cliffs ensure that a trip to either of the two islands will be one you will treasure forever. While Phi Phi Don is quite populated, Phi Phi Le remains largely uninhabited and unspoiled and boats from the former bring visitors on one-day trips to see the famous Viking caves as well as the unique and edible swiftlet nests which are used in bird nest soup. Phi Phi Le also offers excellent snorkelling conditions well worth exploring.