Museum day – Thailand’s quirkiest exhibition spaces
Though popular hot spots for queer travellers, the LGBT+ venues lining the streets of Bangkok and Phuket aren’t the only places of ‘queer’ culture in Thailand: there is a good deal of unusual and downright bizarre attractions in the country, some of which we’ve covered before.
And who would be surprised? Thailand is home to all kinds of curiosities, from fish that walk on land to a festival dedicated entirely to monkeys. If you’d like to ditch the beach for stranger things (or the monsoon rain forces you to), head to the below museums for an ode to the odd…
Siriraj Medical Museum, Bangkok
Nicknamed the ‘Museum of Death’, the Siriraj extends a warm welcome to visitors who dare to step inside its halls. There are actually five museums here so this place really has something for everyone. In the mood for parasitology? You’re covered. Looking to learn about forensics instead? You’ve come to the right place. And speaking of forensic science, a truly sinister yet fascinating display is the mummified body of Uey Sae Ung, the kingdom’s first known serial killer. Though divide your time wisely: the many preserved snakes and spiders want some love, too! Conveniently located inside Thailand’s largest hospital, you can’t miss the Siriraj – even if you want to.
Erawan Museum, Samut Prakan Province
The Erawan Museum lies just south of Bangkok and is an altogether more easy-going experience, albeit offering its own share of quirks. Take, for instance, the building itself: a massive, three-headed elephant statue weighing 250 tons and looming almost thirty metres into the sky (because why not?). The museum’s three floors depict the underworld, the human world and the second heaven in Buddhist cosmology, Tavatimsa. Inside, you’ll find an eclectic mix of relics from different cultures and religions, though the most stunning antiques are perhaps ancient Buddha sculptures from Thailand’s various historical periods. This place is no doubt beautiful, but its over-the-top architecture and interior make for an otherworldly sight!
The Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Chiang Mai
When scientific power couple Manop Ratana Rittirong Gul and Rattana Rumpa Rittirong Gul got together, they decided to open a museum devoted to bugs (haven’t we all been there?). Located in Chiang Mai, the Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders is a haven for insect taxidermy-aficionados, displaying over 10,000 species of critters. Can’t get enough of mosquitos during your vacation? Check out the 400 different types exhibited here and look out for the species that bit you on the way in! There are fossils on show at the museum as well, but if a bug’s life is what you came for, head straight for the art gallery where oil paintings of nudes posing with giant mosquitos will forever change the way you think about insect repellent.
Tilleke & Gibbins Museum of Counterfeit Goods, Bangkok
It’s hardly surprising this museum is by appointment only – after all, it’s based inside working law firm Tilleke & Gibbins, on the 26th floor of Bangkok’s Supalai Grand Tower. The firm established the attraction in 1989 to educate visitors about the dangers of counterfeit products. Roughly 4,000 confiscated items are split into fourteen categories of displays, from Fendy purses to Marz bars and iFones. Though its exhibits make for a bizarre and sometimes perplexing sight, there’s a real benefit of visiting: guides explain how to tell a fake from an original product. Seeing many LGBT+ visitors end up shopping around Phuket’s Patong beach at some point during their stay, we’d say this is a useful skill to have!
Photography by Mike Behnken [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]