Offbeat Thailand - silk weaving, cooking classes, visiting elephants, thai dances, traditional accommodations
Thailand, though it has become become very crowded due to the throng of tourists and locals landing in the city, still has a lot to offer. From tradition and culture to the buzz of modern life, the Thai experience will leave you with memories for a lifetime!
Wat Mahathat - Sukhothai (Source: Mike Behnken)
Since you have mentioned Thailand as a whole, I have given some places to visit for seeing silk-weaving in Bangkok, an elephant safari in Phuket, off-beat and traditional cooking classes in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok, and a place to visit elephants in Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Bangkok. Have a read!
wat mahathat bangkok (Source: telmo32)
Charoon Weavers are one of the oldest silk makers and term themselves 'unique'. They started weaving in 1970 and their skill has pivoted them to being one of the most respected companies. Their designs are amazing and the weave extraordinary. Definitely a place to go to - if only to watch the weavers at work, mesmerizing in threading together the silken strands to create exotic draperies, bed linen and a host of other things.
Address: Mrs.Juree Wongtreenatrkoon (OR) Mr.Chatupon Wongtreenatrkoon, 566/120 Sathupradit Road, Yannawa
Tel.: (662) 682-1975, (662) 294-1144
silk factory (Source: Tim Snell)
Lertluck Thai Silk is another silk maker pretty well known in Thailand. Their weavers are skilled in producing smooth and soft silk which will feel like butter and melt your heart. You can not only buy silk from them, but they can also sew the silk into beautiful clothes for you in traditional styles.
Address: 2nd Floor, Old Siam Plaza, Burapha Road, Phanakorn
Strands of silk (Source: Jeremiah Roth)
For this exotic experience, there is no better place than the Khao Sok and Khao Lak's forested regions of Phuket.
Khao Lak has not been discovered for long. A tiny place in Phang Nga, it remained hidden just north of Phuket Island. Completely offbeat with only the well read arriving here, this small place holds within itself as many as three national parks .
Khao Sok stands a mere ninety minute drive from Phuket. Essentially a National Park, the area offers stunning views. A forest teeming with tropical birds and flora and fauna, many endemic to the region.
Phuket Elephant Trek (Source: iris)
If you want to keep it a short affair, go for one of the 30 min elephant treks. However, I doubt that will hardly suffice.
A Khao Lak Nature Tour is much more like it. Rates are at $86.28 for the half day tour. And here's what to expect (did I mention the bamboo rafting?):
A lumbering trip through beautiful shaded forest and rubber tree plantations with incredible views from the mountainside stretching out over the Andaman Sea. See fascinating elephant antics such as 'massaging' against a tree or picking leaves with its trunk, and be amazed as the large creature deftly navigates a narrow pathway clinging to the side of a mountain. After the ride, take a dip in the cool pool at the base of a waterfall, reached by an easy 10-minute walk.
Bamboo Rafting & Elephant Trekking (Source: Khao Lak Nature Tour)
a final good bye to our bamboo raft. (Source: eric molina)
If you want to get up close and personal with Thai elephants, then the best way is spending a day with them. Become a mahout, learn about an elephant’s daily life, listen to how they communicate, be a part of their social bonds and interactions, play with them. There are farms, shows and safaris that have fun, educational and intensive courses which teach visitors how to approach an elephant, elephant farm management, elephant’s feeding and dietary requirements, mahout’s tasks and responsibilities, elephant life cycle, trunk inspection, and more. You will soon be an elephant expert while having the time of your life!
One Happy Elephant, smiling (Source: Dennis Jarvis)
Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai is a great place to indulge in such activities. They rescue and adopt elephants and provide them with a large area to live a free life. Since its establishment, many ababy elephants have been born in the farm, with 4 babies being born in 2011.
Fees: $140 for the Elephant owner for a day activity
Hours: 7:30am-4pm (pick-up and drop from/to your hotel)
Address: 299/22 Siwalee Rachapreuk MaeHea, Chiangmai
Tel.: +66-819922551 / +66-816710958
Elephants at Patara Elephant Farm (Source: adam fletcher)
Pattaya Elephant Village is a sanctuary for former working elephants. Established in 1973, this village provides a shelter for those elephants which, for injury or ill health, cannot be used for heavy work in the jungles of Thailand. The fees you pay for visiting this haven goes towards the care and provisions for the elephants housed here.
Fees and hours:
(Source: Patara Elephant Farm)
Address: 48/120, Moo 7, Tambol Nong Prue, Pattaya City, Chonburi
Tel.: 038-249818 / 081-8114249
Elephant Village (Source: Lin Mei)
Another place is the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo, a popular destination for adults as well as for children. This is more of a theme park with events as the Elephant Theme Show and the Crocodile Wrestling Show. You can see the tropical garden and waterfalls on an elephant’s back and visit the orchid nursery. For lunch or dinner, you can indulge in Continental cuisine, halal or Indian food at the Erawan Restaurant.
Entrance fee including all shows: Adult $17.44 (550 baht), child below 130cms $11.10 (350 baht)
Hours: Park - Daily from 8:30am-5:30pm | Office - Monday to Friday 8:30am-5:30pm
Address: Petkasem Road K.m. 30, Samphran District, Nakhon Pathom Province (Contact Office: 461/31 Nonsi Road , Yannawa, Bangkok)
Tel.: +66 (0) 2295 2938 / +66 (0) 2295 2939
The Samphran elephant show (Source: Jeffrey Burka)
The Asian cuisine revolution that took the world by storm is written in history. It is as though the variety sprang up simultaneously all over the world. Decades later, another aspect of the same cuisine is fast picking pace - the making of it. While in South East Asia, it is mandatory to look beyond the temples.
Mortars and pestles (Source: Jessica Spengler)
In a lovely traditional home-setting is Baan Thai in the heart of Chiang Mai - a cooking school that offers its customers the chance to explore and cook Thai food from experienced teachers. Their courses span from evening classes to much longer ones with opening hours from 9:40am. - 4:00 pm.
For a price of $28.76 per person, which includes a recipe book, all ingredients and transportation from and to your residence, it is a steal.
"I went with two friends to Baan Thai Cookery School. I had been to a cooking course before in Chiang Mai but Baan Thai was so much better. It was easy and fantastic. I have only been home for less than a week and have already cooked one of the recipes. Thank you it was a highlight of my trip."
Baan Thai (Source: Baan Thai: Guest Book)
Another equally good option in Chiang Mai is A lot of Thai - homegrown cooks with a distinction of being excellent in their profession teaches travelers the art of churning out the local delicacies with each day in their calendar having a different highlight dish. Try to make it on a Friday - they cook their best dishes then.
Prices range from $31.96 to $41.54 per person for the half (9.30 am - 1.30 pm) and full day (9.30 am - 4.30 pm) courses, respectively.
Cooking School (Source: Bill Stilwell)
If you are willing to travel a little (17 kms to be precise) out of Chiang Mai, and if you do not mind the occasional mud-splatter, head over to Thai Farm Cooking. The name explains it all - actual plucking of the farm products, fresh ingredients, real country atmosphere and food!
Call Nathalie for details (speaks English, French and Dutch) at 087 174 92 85 for details. The price tag is inexpensive at $25.56 per person. It seldom gets better than this. There's more than cooking to be learnt here -
When you partake in a cooking course at the Thai Farm Cooking School, you will become part of the magical world of 1000 trees. Not only will you learn the basics of organic cooking, but you will definately see how a Thai family with many years of experience and resourcefulness creates a self-sufficient and independent farm.
The Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School (Source: ThaiFarmCooking.com)
The Blue Elephant Cooking School runs its operations in two places - Bangkok and Phuket. Their offers start at $57.52 per person for the half day classes. Having played hosts to Miss Universe contestants, to locals and travelers alike, you can assured, they know their thing.
One of the most endearing aspects of a cultural visit to Thailand are the classical dances often accompanying dinner. There are many restaurants in Bangkok that offer the diners the subtle blend of culinary tastes and artistic skills of the dancers. The magnificent costumes, the detailed makeup and the slow moving steps are all quite enchanting.
New Year’s Dance (Source: Steve Jurvetson)
The Silom Village restaurant is particularly well known for this.
A visitor's take on the dances:
If you get a chance to view thai dancing, do it. Its really different to anything in the western world, very serene and calm, but often tells a story....Even if you dont understand whats going on, its still worth watching just to marvel at the costumes, and listen to the music....
Thai dancing, Bangkok (Source: VirtualTourist)
Thai Cultural Dance (Source: Jason D' Great)
There is an amazing list of things to see and do in Thailand. Do write back if you would like us to give you more options closer to Bangkok, so as to minimize travel time. What about some great places to shop or pick up local souvenirs? Until then,
No street lights.. (Source: Dennis Jarvis)
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