Meaningful travel experiences happen when tourists are able to explore a country like a local. With so many tourist hot spots luring in travelers, it can be difficult to decipher which attractions are off the beaten path. Be a traveler instead of a tourist by visiting one of these nine places in Thailand every local is proud of.
Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport and many of the country’s most well-known fighters have become family names. Muay Thai in Thailand is what football is to the United States: people cannot get enough of it. This is why one of the most epic places every local is proud of is the New Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, particularly after receiving its recent makeover. Muay Thai matches are considered sacred, and many Thais gather to cheer on the fighters.
Thais are extremely proud of their past. Having never been conquered by foreign powers for an extended period of time, locals delight in sharing their history and putting on display what it is that makes something Thai. A great example of all things Thai is the National Museum Bangkok. It is one of the largest and in-depth museums in all of Southeast Asia, displaying Thai artifacts and relics that showcase the best of the country’s art, culture, and history.
No other attraction in Thailand seemingly retains such a good balance of both Thai and foreign visitors than the Erawan Shrine. The sparkling Brahman shrine sits at the busy Ratchaprasong intersection, enticing even the busiest of city-goers to stop and admire its beauty. Though many would dub it as a tourist hot spot, the grounds in which the shrine sits are often made up entirely of locals. It is believed those who visit will receive good luck, and Thais will light incense and bring colorful marigolds as offerings to the statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of Brahma, which sits within the shrine.
The monarchy is highly revered by all Thais. Royal palaces are found in cities across the country, and one of the most breathtaking of them all is the Bang Pa-In Palace. Its superior location along the Chao Phraya River makes it one of the most memorable, with the exterior reflecting off the adjacent water. Construction of the European-style structure began in 1872 and ended in 1889 and is split into two zones, one of which is reserved for the royal family. Located in the city of Ayutthaya, this is one city and palace visitors should try to include on their itineraries.
Also found in the city of Ayutthaya are the ancient remains of what used to be the capital of Thailand. Founded in 1350, the city was later destroyed by the Burmese. It remained in power for many years, however, as it was a major international trading port and welcomed many merchants. The city today is home to the remains of the capital, many of which took more than 100 years to build. In 1991, these ruins were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Thais are proud to have been able to restore and preserve these amazing relics.
The second UNESCO World Heritage Site on our list is the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, which the Khao Yai National Park is part of. Though there are many national parks in Thailand, this one carries special significance in that it was the first ever national park to be established in the Kingdom. It is home to many elephants, Thailand’s national animal. It remains a popular getaway destination for foreigners and Thais alike. Visitors frequent the park to hike, birdwatch, or simply relax.
Boasting of having some of the largest and highest falls in all of Thailand is the Thi Lo Su Waterfall. Its powerful falls are fueled by the Mae Klong River, with the waterfall coming in at about 450-meters wide and 250-meters tall. Regardless of size, the falls themselves truly encompasses all that is beautiful about the country’s northern region, with the water cutting through the surrounding lush jungle.
Visitors to Sukhothai Historical Park should prepare to be dazzled. The ancient city was the first capital of Thailand and is filled with stunning archaeological relics of what used to be. It thrived until about 1378, and the time in which it flourished is known as the golden age. The city accomplished many things under the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng, for example, creating the Thai alphabet.
While there are plenty of temples across the country Thais are proud of, many of these religious structures are constantly flooded with tourists. The temples remain important structures of course, but they seemingly become less exceptional when there is hardly has any leg room to explore. This is not the case at Wat Pha Sorn Kaew in Petchabun. Otherwise known as the Temple on a High Glass Cliff, the temple opened in 2004 and has been luring in visitors slowly but surely. Tourist infrastructure has yet to be completed, making it a difficult endeavor for visitors to actually get to. Because of this, the temple grounds, made up of millions of colorful mosaic tiles, remains a bit off the beaten path.