Thailand has its fair share of sublime, untouched and simply beautiful places. But it’s the bizarre corners of any country that often make for the best travel anecdotes! Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the Kingdom, or you find yourself on Thailand’s shores every other month – you’re sure to stop and stare when you encounter our four favourite weird and wonderful places in the country. Read on for some seriously queer experiences in the ‘Land of Smiles’!
To all intents and purposes, Bangkok’s first ever department store is a living museum. Wander around its seven dusty (no, seriously!) floors and look out for sports equipment, music instruments and fashion items – all of which we’d call antique at this point. Appropriately, the products in its windows are bleached out by decades of sunlight, making them perfectly complementary of the building’s retro aesthetics and architecture. Don’t leave before you’ve marvelled at our favourite curiosities here, a self-explanatory ‘sauna in a suit’ and the incredible ‘vibra bed’ (don’t ask). The only thing that’s not all that weird about this place are the people working here, many of whom don’t seem to understand what all the fuss is about. You’ll recognise them by their pink polo shirts with – wait for it – stag emblems.
Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai
Opened in 1997, Chiang Rai’s ‘White Temple’ is the creation of local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. The all-white building sits amidst a complex that will baffle any devoted temple hopper with its statues depicting superheroes. Enter the remarkable structure by a bridge spanning a sea of demons (if you dare) and take in the temple’s wondrous interior with your own eyes: Michael Jackson, Kung Fu Panda and Freddy Krueger have all been eternalized in whimsical murals. While the building’s white colour symbolizes purity and wisdom, a golden structure on its side points to the physical and the human desire for materialistic things. Naturally, it houses the visitor restrooms.
Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park, Chiang Mai
Looking for a really crap holiday experience? You’re in luck: at Chiang Mai’s Elephant Poo Poo Park, pachyderm excrements mean big business and attract curious visitors (though not by means of smell). Jokes aside, the outdoor museum is all about eco-tourism, leading travellers through Thai-style pavilions that explain the process by which elephant stool is turned into paper. This procedure saves trees and provides jobs. Though it appears staff can’t do all the work themselves: visitors are invited to work their magic on their very own pile of poop (as in an elephant’s) – lucky you! If you still want more, pick up some excrement-based souvenirs for your beloved ones (no irony here) from the ‘poo-tique’ or visit the café serving fruit and vegetables from an on-site garden. Just don’t ask what dung they use.
Sala Keoku, Nong Khai
This sculpture park near the Laotian border might just take the trophy as the single most bizarre attraction in all of Thailand. Built by Bunleua Sulilat, the complex’ purpose is to spread the wisdom Sulilat imbibed from a cave-dwelling, celibate hermit during his youth. With more than a hundred unique sculptures, some of which twenty-five metres high, the park is truly a sight to behold! Look out for Sala Keoku’s most jaw-dropping installation, the ‘wheel of life’, which mirrors human progression from birth to death in a rather (for lack of better words) ‘peculiar’ way. Oh, and don’t forget to thank the artist for his vision before leaving – his mummified body is on display in the on-site pavilion!