Top 3 Thai cities for history enthusiasts

Posted on July 1, 2015 by Guest Writer
View of Wat Arun Temple from the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok

Though Thailand may be famous for beach holidays, vibrant, bustling markets, and island resorts, it has a lot to offer to tourists who are interested in its rich history and cultural background.

Bear in mind that many guides and providers of package holidays to Thailand recommend that you dress modestly when out and about and this is essential when visiting places of worship.

In no particular order, here are our top recommendations for heritage tourism destinations across this stunning country:

Ancient City of Ayuttaya

Ayutthaya  

The Ayutthaya historical park, part of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, comprises the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya.

The city was founded in 1350 and for several centuries it was the capital of the Thai empire, then known as Siam. This stunning city was then sacked and destroyed by Burmese invaders in 1767, but is still a fascinating destination if you are interested in Thai heritage.

Before you head into the park itself, stop by the tourist centre for a great exhibition that will give you the contextual knowledge you need to make the most out of your visit.

The area has a number of other attractions, including the floating market, palaces, and a plethora of fascinating temples. The Wat Dhammikaraj temple, for example, is strongly recommended to those interested in Thailand’s art history.

Emerald Temple, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Bangkok

Thailand’s bustling capital city is well-worth a visit, not just for its atmosphere of constant excitement. The city boasts several historical attractions which are sure to be of interest.

The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha are must-see attractions, though the grounds of Wat Phra Kaew in which these attractions are situated, include over 100 buildings, all of which look like they could have come right out of a fairy tale.

Hiring a guide at the ticket kiosk is recommended, as the murals tell stories which may be difficult to interpret without a foundation of knowledge about the epics depicted in these decorations. The Hindu temple of Sri Mariamman is also likely to be of interest – it’s quite different to other places of worship, particularly when compared with our western churches.

Wat Phra Singh Temple, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai and the surrounding area

The city of Chiang Mai is often chosen as a base for backpackers and other tourists who wish to explore northern Thailand and its secluded hill tribes. The city itself is a thrilling mishmash of the old and new with a truly impressive selection of temples, markets and culinary options.

If you only visit one temple while in the Chiang Mai area, the Wat Phra Singh is highly recommended as it provides a classic example of Lanna art and architecture. The intricate exterior is unforgettable while the art displayed inside is equally beautiful.

The temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is 15 kilometres from Chiang Mai and provides splendid views over the city. Legend has it that the spot for the temple was chosen in the late 1300s by a white elephant. Though climbing the stairs leading to the temple can be a little tiring in the Thai heat, it is worth it for the view of the city alone. If you aren’t up for taking the stairs, there is also a tram available. The numerous shrines, as well as the ornate staircase are, of course, also beautiful.

If you’re looking for more adventure, trips and treks to the surrounding hill tribes can be arranged. There are a number of centres and museums dedicated to the hill tribes, including the museum and education centre in Chiang Rai which is often recommended as a starting point for your trip.

Wherever you travel on your holidays to Thailand, you are likely to be surrounded by monuments and other constructions with cultural significance. From intricately adorned temples to grand palaces and ancient ruins, this country is home to such an incredible wealth of historical buildings that it would be impossible to see them all. We hope that you enjoy visiting this selection of our favourites.