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Bangkok

Country: Thailand
Population:5,104,475
Time Zone:UTC+7
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Wat Arun
Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng, is situated on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different to the other temples you can visit in Bangkok. Wat Arun (or temple of the dawn) is partly made up of colourfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water. Wat Arun is almost directly opposite Wat Pho, so it’s very easy to get to. From Saphan Taksin boat pier you can take a riverboat that stops at Pier 8. From here, a small shuttle boat takes you from one side of the river to the other.
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Chatuchak Market in Bangkok
You may think you’ve visited some pretty amazing markets in your lifetime, but we’re fairly sure that none will come close to beating the sheer size and variety found at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market. It really is a sight to behold, and it’s arguably the best place in the whole city to buy souvenirs and all manner of other things. But beware; the size, heat, and crowds of thousands of people are not for the faint hearted though our guide to Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok should help you navigate and survive this awesome place!
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Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok
Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road and the surrounding district is one of the best known localities in the Thai capital. Unlike some districts in the city you won’t find beautiful temples or palaces here; Sukhumvit Bangkok is better known for its Westernised feel and consists of bars, restaurants and shopping malls that you’ll find alongside sois that are filled with even more bars (salubrious and otherwise) and massage parlours. The sex trade is difficult to ignore with prostitutes almost everywhere you look, and you wouldn’t come to Sukhumvit Road for the traditional Thai culture, but even so, it’s one of the most visited neighbourhoods in the city. So why the interest? Read on to discover our recommendations for amazing places to visit on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok.
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MBK Shopping Center
MBK Center is probably Bangkok's most legendary shopping mall, popular with both tourists and locals, and busy with shoppers every day. There are eight floors packed with 2,000 shops that sell everything from clothing, fashion accessories, handbags, leather products and luggage to furniture, mobile phones, electric appliances, cameras, stationery and DVDs. Launched in 1986, MBK Center is a beehive of activity, especially on weekends, when half of Bangkok converges to shop for bargains. It's not as up-market or stylish as neighbouring Siam Discovery, Siam Centre and the glitzy Siam Paragon, but it offers a mind-boggling range of goods spread over 89,000 square metres and is considerably less expensive. On the ground floor of MBK, you will find lines of stalls selling fashion, shoes and handbags, fast food outlets and a Tops Supermarket, with an open space dedicated to sales offering prices discounted by 30% to 50%. As you move up the levels you’ll find enclaves of products almost randomly placed. Part of the fun of MBK is exploring the long straight paths looking out for things that take your fancy. As a rough guide, fashion is mostly on the lower floors, a mass of electronics on the 3rd and 4th floors, with home furnishings and souvenirs on the 5th and 6th.
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The Grand Palace
The dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in Bangkok. It’s one must-see sight that no visit to the city would be complete without. It was built in 1782 and for 150 years was the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government. The Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of the Thai people. Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom.
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Asiatique The Riverfront
Asiatique successfully combines 2 of the most popular shopping experiences in the city: a night bazaar and a mall. Around 10 minutes downriver from Saphan Taksin BTS station, this once-bustling international trade port transformed into a huge replica warehouse complex with over 1,500 boutiques and 40 restaurants. Open from 5pm, spending an evening here is no problem: you’ll have good fun browsing the boutiques, picking up gifts or something for yourself. You’re also guaranteed to find something you’d like to eat and if this isn’t enough entertainment, nightly highlights range from Calypso ladyboy cabarets to classic Thai puppet shows.
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Wat Saket
Wat Saket in Bangkok Old Town is an Ayutthaya-era shrine with a gleaming gold chedi in Bangkok. Also called the Golden Mount, it occupies an 80-metre-tall man made hill that was built during the reign of King Rama III. The temple welcomes worshippers year-round, though it’s busiest during its annual temple fair in November, during Loy Krathong. The temple grounds have mature trees and typical Buddhist structures such as a main prayer hall, ordination hall and library. Wat Saket was the capital's crematorium and the dumping ground for some 60,000 plague victims in the late-18th century. At the base of the Golden Mount, you’ll find an unusual cemetery covered in vines and overgrown trees. It emits a rather spooky out-of-era vibe. Once you arrive at the top of Wat Saket, you’ll be surrounded by a wall of bells and panoramas of Bangkok Old Town.
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Khao San Road
Khao San Road - The popular book 'The Beach' famously described Khao San Road as "the centre of the backpacking universe". Judging by the truth-seeking travellers who converge here it's a phrase that sums it up pretty much perfectly. On Khao San itself and the streets either side, you can shop, exchange tales and prepare for you next stint on the backpacker trail. Packed into a 1 km-long strip are budget guesthouses and mid-range hotels, internet cafes, bars, restaurants, massage parlours, travel agents, bookshops, market stalls, tattoo shops and much more. So much, in fact, that the people, peddlers and party spirit have spilt over into nearby Soi Rambuttri. With its carefree, anything-goes vibe, it's quite unlike anywhere else in Bangkok.
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The Artist House
The Artist's House (The Artist's House) is a centuries-old house turned gallery in Thonburi, across the Chao Phraya River. Owned by Khun Chumpol Akkapantanon, it’s an excellent spot to escape from the city’s modern buildings and hectic traffic for a day. Baan Silapin (and its neighbourhood) dates back to the 1800s. A boardwalk leading to the gallery is lined with shops, cafes, local restaurants, and a temple. You can also spot many unusual and human-sized statues painted in white, red and black sitting by the water. The Artist's House has a tall, white stupa dating back to the Ayutthaya period standing in the backyard. You can see plenty of traditional paintings, masks and, puppets throughout the building. It’s most popular for hosting traditional Thai puppet shows, where intricately-made puppets are manipulated by artists dressed in black. Shows take place on a small wooden stage every day at 2pm, except Wednesdays. It’s a good idea to call in advance as the theatre sometimes performs in other parts of the city, usually during special events.
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Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
The charm of ancient city of Ayutthaya Thailand continues to gain tourists’ attention as a historic attraction. Not only the old moments but also the new things that shine. When it comes to historical buildings, Ayutthaya travel is well known for temples and palaces. But in addition to that, a variety of food is also another magnet. You can find fresh river prawns, fish, noodles, and even the never-miss dessert like cotton candy wrap. So, remember to plan your eating trip whenever you visit Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is one of Thailand’s historical and majestic highlights. The capital of Thailand, then known as the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was a glorified as one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia and a regional power for 417 years.
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Lumphini Park
Lumpini Park (or Lumphini Park) is one of the largest green spaces in central Bangkok. Founded in the 1920s, this inner-city park spans over 500,000 sq m and is home to various flora and fauna. Over the years, it's become a popular gathering spot for Bangkok residents, who would gather for a round of jogging, light workouts, aerobics, and leisure activities throughout the day. Lumpini Park appeals to just about everyone – you'll often find the elderly practising tai chi and couples lounging by the lakeside, as well as 9-to-5 workers relaxing on benches and enjoying exercise in the evenings. On weekends, this green space is often populated by families and the cheery sounds of children. Lumpini Park's onsite facilities include paddle boats, playgrounds, and an outdoor gym. Before sunset, you can sweat it out at Lumphini Park's free aerobics sessions and high-energy techno tunes. There's also a basketball court if you want to shoot some hoops. Local jazz outfits (sometimes a classical orchestra) often perform during late Sunday afternoons.
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Bangkok Khlongs and Canals
The 'Venice of the East' nickname in fact predate Besso's scribblings by hundreds of years. However, though it is unclear when exactly the phrase was born, it is clear that no tourist guide since (book, person or website) has been able to resist this captivating cliche. Like Burma's 'Mandalay', it evokes the romance of the Orient, only Bangkok-style: of languid sampans drifting down tree-lined canals, of stoic locals living next to them in floating wooden shophouses, of city life before the advent of tuk-tuks and traffic jams. But does the Venice of the East still exist? Yes and no. Many canals were drained or filled because of the risk of cholera they posed, or to make way for badly needed roads. Unlike the city's Chao Phraya River, little or no trade passes along those that remain. However it's not a tale of total stagnation. In places remaining khlongs are, though pungent, still picturesque. Old bridges survive, crooked houses still crowd the waters edge. For a few measly baht you can whiz past them, engulfed in noise and heat and fumes, rancid water flying toward you as the boat surges forwards (for speed and sheer exhilaration they put Venice's gondolas to shame!). Or take a gentle stroll along canal paths, peeking with every few steps into a new home, stepping as you go over shoes or passed elderly ladies watering potted plants.
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Phnom Bakheng Hill
It is a testimony to the love of symmetry and balance which evolved its style....in pure simplicity of rectangles its beauty is achieved. It is a pyramid mounting in terraces, five of them ...Below Bak-Keng lays all the world of mystery, the world of the Khmer, more mysterious ever under its cover of impenetrable verdure. Phnom Bakheng is located 1,30 meters (4,265 feet) north of Angkor Wat and 400 meters (1,312 feet) south of Angkor Thom. Enter and leave Phnom Bakheng by climbing a long steep path with some steps on the east side of the monument (height 67 meters, 220 feet) In the 1960 this summit was approached by elephant and, according to a French visitor, the ascent was "a promenade classic and very agreeable. Arrive at the summit just before sunset for a panoramic view of Angkor and its environs. The golden hues of the setting sun on this vista are a memorable sight.
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Angkor Night Market
The First Night Market In Cambodia. It is located just off of Sivatha Road, in the heart of the town. It is an outdoors market, but is covered by a roof to protect it from the elements. With around 240 shops, it is the biggest and most interesting night market to see.
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Angkor Wat
There are few places anywhere on earth to match the splendour of Angkor Wat. The temple is one of the largest monuments to religion ever built and is truly one the wonders of the world. Believed to have been constructed as a temple and mausoleum for King Suryavarman II at the peak of the Khmer empire in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat is probably the best-preserved of the Angkorean temples. As with other Angkorean temples and walled cities such as Angkor Thom, the central theme of Khmer architecture revolved around the idea of the temple-mountain.
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Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom is undeniably an expression of the highest genius. It is, in three dimensions and on a scale worthy of an entire nation, the materialization of Buddhist cosmology, representing ideas that only great painters would dare to portray. Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire, was a fortified cit enclosing residences of priest, officials of the palace and military, as well as buildings for administering the kingdom. These structures were built of wood and have perished but the remaining stone monuments testify that Angkor Thom was indeed a "Great City" as its name implies. Temples inside the walls of the city described are Bayon, Phimeanakas, Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Prah Palilay, Tep Pranam and Prasat Suor Prat. Symbolically, Angkor Thom is a microcosm of the universe, divided into four parts by the main axes. The temple of the Bayon is situated at the exact center of the axes and stands as the symbolical link between heaven and earth. The wall enclosing the city of Angkor Thom represents the stonewall around the universe and the mountain ranges around Meru. The surrounding moat (now dry) symbolizes the cosmic ocean.
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Ta Prohm Temple
Shrouded in dense jungle the temple of Ta Prohm is ethereal in aspect and conjures up a romantic aura. Fig, banyan and kapok trees spread their gigantic roots over stones, probing walls and terraces apart, as their branches and leaves intertwine to form a roof over the structures. Trunks of trees twist amongst stone pillars. The strange, haunted charm of the place entwines itself about you as you go, as inescapably as the roots have wound themselves about the walls and towers', wrote a visitor 40 years ago. Ta Prohm is among the largest of the monuments in the Angkor complex, the inscription gives an idea of the size of the temple. The complex included 260 statues of gods, 39 towers with pinnacles and 566 groups of residences. Ta Prohm comprises a series of long low buildings standing on one level, which are enclosed by rectangular laterite wall (600 by 1,000 meters, 1,959 by 3,281 feet). Only traces of the wall are still visible. The center of the monument is reached by a series of towers connected with passages. This arrangement forms a ' sort of sacred way into the heart of the monument’; three-square galleries enclose the area.
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Banteay Srei
The tenth century temple of Banteay Srei is renowned for its intricate decoration carved in pinkish sandstone that covers the walls like tapestry. Banteay Srei is an exquisite miniature; a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest; the very thing that Grimm delighted to imagine, and that every child's heart has yearned after, but which mature years has sadly proved too lovely to be true. And here it is, in the Cambodian forest at Banteay Srei, carved not out of the stuff that dreams are made of, but of solid sandstone.
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National Museum of Cambodia
The National Museum of Cambodia houses one of the world's greatest collections of Khmer cultural material including sculpture, ceramics and ethnographic objects from the prehistoric, pre-Angkorian, Angkorian and post-Angkorian periods. The main activities of the National Museum of Cambodia include exhibiting, safeguarding and promoting understanding of Cambodia’s cultural and artistic treasures. Keeping objects safe and working to ensure the repatriation of pieces stolen from Cambodia are important aspects of the museum’s work, particularly as looting and illicit export of cultural material are a continuing concern. In addition, the Museum strives to engage its visitors through its exhibitions and to fulfil its role as an integral part of the community. The Museum believes that Cambodia’s cultural heritage is of great value and can provide a source of pride and identity to the Cambodian people who have lost so much in recent decades. The availability of multilingual Museum tour guides and Publications, as well as the Museum’s public library, all serve to increase the accessibility of the collection both for local and international visitors.
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Royal Palace of Cambodia
Cambodia’s Royal Palace complex was begun by King Norodom I (ruled 1860-1904) in 1886, when the capital was moved to Phnom Penh. Most buildings were completed before World War I, with involvement by French administrators and Thai designers and architects. French influence can be seen in the formal gardens which enhance the palace, and there are some European-style buildings on the grounds. Now Royal Palace is a home to His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Sihamoni, King of Cambodia. Royal palace has four gates. The eastern Victory Gate leads directly to the entrance of the throne hall and is used only by royalty and VIPs. The northern or funeral gate is only opened after the death of a monarch. After being embalmed, the monarch’s body is kept in state at the palace for three months, with the face hidden by a one-kilogram solid gold mask, before being taken out via this gate. The west or executing gate was used by condemned prisoners exiting the palace to be killed. The southern gate is reserved for use by commoners and it is through this gate the public reaches the Silver Pagoda. At the top of palace’s throne hall, note the four pale, almost clown-like faces, which represent the all-seeing king. The hall itself is painted vivid yellow, a symbol of Buddhism, and white, for Hinduism, the two main faiths of Cambodia until they were combined into one by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. The central door of the five at the front of the throne hall are reserved for royalty and VIPs. Inside, note the 1913 ceiling mural telling the story of the Ramayana. The thick carpet supplied by China in 1993 matches the lotus-bud floor tiles.
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Silver Pagoda
Wat Preah Keo Morakot (Silver Pagoda) is located in the southern portion of the Royal Palace complex. The pagoda was formerly known as Wat Uborsoth Rotannaram because it is where the King worshiped, prayed and practiced every Buddhist Silas Day. In the additional, the royal family and officials also held Buddhist ceremonies there.This pagoda has no monks. However, this Majestic King Norodom Sihanouk lived there for one year when he entered the monkhood on July 31, 1947. Because the pagoda has no monks, visitors usually refer to it as Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot. When the King celebrates Buddhist ceremonies, monks from other pagoda such as Wat Unaloam and Wat Botumvattey are invited to attend the ceremonies. Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot was built between 1892 and 1902, during the reign of King Norodom, but at that time it was constructed of wood and brick. Its design is base on Cambodian architectural style. Then Banhchos Khan Seima ceremony was held on Feb 5, 1903. There are 1,650 art objects housed in this temple. Most of them are Buddha figures. They are made of gold, silver, bronze and other valuable materials. Some are decorated with diamonds. They are gifts from the King, the royal family, dignitaries and other people who worship at Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot, where they pray for peace and prosperity, for happiness and for the preservation of Cambodian cultural heritage for the next generation. In front of the throne, site a Buddha statue made of gold, weighing 90 kilograms (about 200 pounds) and decorated with 2,086 diamonds. The biggest diamond is on the crown. It is 25 millimeters. This statue was commissioned in 1904 by King Sisowath, following the suggestion of King Norodom. King Norodom said, after his body was cremated the gold casket should be melted to make Buddha statue representing Preah Srei Araymetrey. This Buddha statue is named Preah Chin Raingsei Rachik Norodom.
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Koh Panyi
Koh Panyi (Koh Panyee) is a surprising village almost entirely built on stilts in Phang Nga Bay near the famous James Bond Island. Koh Panyi is a very unusual and exciting site to discover, but it can be hectic, especially at lunchtime because of the many seafood restaurants welcoming all the visitors. The trick is to get there early and be the only visitor in the village! If you want to have Koh Panyi almost for yourself, rent a car and drive early to the Surakul pier in Phang Nga, then rent a longtail boat which will take you there within 20 minutes. It’s not cheap, maybe 1,500 baht, but it is worth it if you want to have a lot of time in front of you to take photos of Koh Panyi with no tourists on them, and most importantly, have a different vision of this very unusual place. Even the boat ride itself is fascinating, gliding through the mangrove and between colossal limestone rocks. Circling the village gives you an excellent idea of its size and shape. You will then disembark at the main piers, where a dozen seafood restaurants get ready for their busy lunchtime.
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Similan Islands
The Similan Islands form a fabulous archipelago in the Andaman Sea, just 120 km north-west of Phuket island. These small islands are so strikingly beautiful; you don’t even need to be an excellent photographer to come back with amazing photos. Most people go there on a day trip tour, but the best way to enjoy the Similan islands is to stay for two days. It’s a little far from Phuket and can be tiring to get there on a speedboat. This way, you’ll have some fabulous beaches almost for yourself in the morning and the evening, and having the beaches for yourself is absolutely priceless. The archipelago consists of 9 islands, but you will only have time to visit 2 or 3. The first is very well known for its iconic landmark made of giant boulders perched at the top of a hill overlooking the incredibly clear water of the bay below. You’ll arrive in the morning and will have just a bit of time to explore it and even climb on top of it, maybe one hour, but do it if you can, the view from up there is worth it! Climbing to the boulders isn’t too hard since steps and ladders have been installed all the way to the top. This will give you a beautiful bird view of the entire bay. The shadow of the boats floating above white sand will give you an idea of how clear the water is.
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Phang Nga Bay
John Gray’s crew cares about you and nature; they speak a decent to exciting English and will tell you a lot about what you are about to see and discover. Boats never get crowded, and food on board is excellent. You’ll be asked to respect Nature around you as much as they do, which means no touching, no loud talking and of course no smoking while you are exploring the famous ‘Hongs’ (enclosed lagoons, usually only accessible through a narrow tunnel when tides permit). They also try to avoid crowded places: a Hong with a hundred canoes in it is not exactly a grand vision of nature at its best. On the way, you will be amazed to see the size and the amount of these fantastic limestone formations rising straight up from the sea and covered with dense vegetation. While moving from one island to another, the crew will throw some chicken bits in the air, and dozens ‘Bramany Kites’ (some Sea Eagles) will flock and dive behind the boat.
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Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
Samet Nangshe is a superb panoramic viewpoint in Phang Nga Bay. It’s a little far outside Phuket island, but if you have a car or a big bike, it is worth the drive. From up there, you can admire the fantastic limestone formations of Phang Nga Bay, but it requires a good deal of effort. You need to drive 25 kilometres past the Sarasin bridge that connects Phuket to the mainland, but the drive in the backcountry on Thailand is fantastic. The road is surrounded by trees and palm trees all the way, and when you approach your destination, you are rewarded by the jaw-dropping Nangshe bay which is beautiful, even from the road. There use to be a serious 20 minutes climbing (and in a way there still is), but a pickup truck will be waiting for you to drive you up there regularly. We recommend you to use it. 90 baht is definitely worth the energy saving! Note that if you choose not to use the pickup truck, there is still an entry fee to go up. Once you reach the top, don’t expect a peaceful, solitary hilltop as there is always a little crowd of avid photographers, amateurs and professional. Families and teens are all over the place taking all kinds of creative poses for their selfies. It’s a real Instagram playground.
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Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi islands are some of the loveliest in Southeast Asia. Just a 45-minute speedboat trip or a 90-minute ferryboat ride from either Phuket or Krabi, these picture postcard islands offer the ultimate tropical getaway. Featuring classic tropical beaches, stunning rock formations and vivid turquoise waters teeming with colourful marine life, it is paradise perfected. Phi Phi is a group of six islands. The two main islands are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. The larger and inhabited Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its lovely shores while the smaller uninhabited Phi Phi Leh hosts stunningly beautiful bays and beaches, including the world-famous Maya Bay, which was the set where The Beach (with Leonardo Dicaprio) was filmed.
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Chalong Temple
Wat Chalong, the largest, most revered and most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket was built at the beginning of the 19th century, 1837 according to some sources. Chalong Temple (officially Wat Chaiyatararam) is one of the Must-See places in Phuket, together with the nearby Big Buddha of Phuket as they are relatively close to each other. The tallest building on the grounds of Wat Chalong is a 60 meters tall stupa (chedi) sheltering a bone fragment of Lord Buddha. Walls and ceilings of the temple are decorated with beautiful painting retracing the most significant steps of Buddha’s life. Each floor is also full of large donated golden statues. Wat Chalong Chedi is built on three floors so feel free to climb all the way to the top floor terrace to get a beautiful bird view on the entire temple grounds. Few more steps will lead you to a glass display where the fragment of bone can be contemplated.
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Phuket Big Buddha
Big Buddha Phuket is a 45-meter-tall white marble statue visible from anywhere in the southern part of Phuket. It is probably at the top of everyone’s ‘Must-Do in Phuket‘, and for a good reason. The views from up there are breathtaking. The statue is built with people’s donation and is still under construction. If you feel like doing something to help to finish the broad base of the Buddha, you can sponsor a piece of white marble for 300 to 1,000 baht depending on the size. Phuket Big Buddha started in 2002 as the foundation stone was laid by General Phijit Kulawanich, Privy Councilor on May 22, 2002. The official name is ‘Phraphutthamingmongkhol-akenagakhiri Buddha’ that translates as “Happiness on top of Nakerd mountain”
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Karon Viewpoint
Karon Viewpoint Thai name is Kho Sam Haad, which means ‘The Hill of the Three Beaches’, and once you reach the place, you will see exacly that: three beaches. If this is your first trip to Phuket, you probably will stop a few minutes at this popular and beautiful panoramic landmark to admire the view from the top of the hill. You really can see three magnificent bays from up there. The closest and smallest one is Kata Noi Beach. A bit further is the beautiful Kata Beach with its island ‘Koh Poo’ which means Crab Island, and in the far, the very long Karon Beach. With such a strategic location on the side of the road leading to the famous Promthep Cape, everyone stops for a selfie on their way to Nai Harn. Some visitors rest a bit longer in the shade of the Gazebo to enjoy some drinks or snacks bought at the tiny shops located a few steps down below. Some have a chat with the now well-known reggae guy always hanging there selling some necklaces and accessories.
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Chu Chi Tunnels
The Chu Chi Tunnels are part of a massive war museum in Ho Chi Minh. They offer visitors a sneak-peek at the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in 1948. The site has over 120km of underground tunnels, with trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres. After the war against the French, Vietnamese soldiers expanded the tunnels and included effective air filtration systems, which helped them survive the Chu Chi carpet-bombings. It is now one of Ho Chi Minh’s most iconic attractions. You can enjoy plenty of activities during your visit. A popular option is following the narrow routes of the underground tunnel. Before entering the underground tunnels, visitors watch a short film of Chu Chi Tunnels so that they understand how the tunnel system works. Parts of Chu Chi Tunnels are also cemented and widened so that the crawl is less harrowing than it would have been in the past.
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Binh Tay Market
Binh Tay Market, constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. Unlike Ben Thanh Market in District 1, this market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam. Also known as Cholon Chinatown Market, Binh Tay Market occupies a two-storey building along Thap Moui Street. Travellers can also find an assortment of handicrafts, lacquerware, and textiles that are sold in bulk, though goods are not varied compared to other (more touristy) markets in downtown Hanoi. Along with the interesting historical and cultural aspect of Cholon, Binh Tay Market is great for experiencing the local lifestyle and sampling unique Vietnamese-Chinese delicacies.
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Jade Emperor Pagoda
Emperor Jade Pagoda, also known as Tortoise Pagoda, is one of the five most important shrines in Ho Chi Minh City. Built at the turn of the 20th Century by a community of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in Southwest China, this pagoda is a fine representation of Mahayanist branch of Buddhism that is practised widely in Vietnam. In the main hall, the Emperor Jade Chua Ngoc Hoang or the 'God of the Heavens' reigns supreme. Aided by two assistants, the Emperor decides who can enter this higher realm. Those who don't pass this gate will meet with the formidable 'God of Hell', on the left, who will send sinners to one of the 10 levels of hell. Life in purgatory is magnificent if somewhat gruesomely represented by the intricate carvings on the temple wall, depicting different kinds of punishments that await transgressors. In a different hall, the goddess of fertility Kim Hua, surrounded by figures of women and small children, blesses childless couples who pray for an offspring here. The goddess of mercy Kuan Yin, who forms a very important part of any Taoist temple, has an altar in a room on the top floor. Emperor Jade Pagoda is a living and working shrine very much in use by the locals who come here to prayer or make votive offerings of flowers and light candles and joss sticks. With worshippers coming and going, the temple can get busy and feel a little cramped. Its dimly lit, the narrow passageways filled with smoke lend an atmospheric feel to the place, adding to its charm.
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War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City first opened to the public in 1975. Once known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes’, it's a shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War. Graphic photographs and American military equipment are on display. There's a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a fighter plane, a single-seater attack aircraft. You can also see a conventional bomb that weighs at 6,800kg. American troops had used these weapons against the Vietnamese between 1945 and 1975.
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Cao Dai Temple
The Cao Dai Temple was finished in 1955 when the Cao Dai Army was formed following the Japanese occupation of Indochina. Caodaists believe that all religions are ultimately the same and seek to promote tolerance throughout the world. The Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Confucius, in addition to Joan of Arc and Julius Cesar are all honoured at this temple. There are nine hierarchies of worship including a pope, cardinals and archbishop with festivals, rituals and prayer all practised regularly. The temple is similar in design to a Christian Cathedral featuring side aisles and an altar, as well as a long central nave, all positioned as they would be in a Christian Church, there is even a high dome decorated with clouds and saints. The main focal point is a Divine Eye symbolising God which has the Ying and Yang icon in its pupil. Ceremonies take place daily with two services accompanied by musicians and a choir singing in English to traditional Vietnamese music.
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Galerie Quynh
Spending time with Quynh Pham, founder and director of Galerie Quynh, is always a delightful experience, and highly recommended as a starting point for one’s expedition into Saigon’s dynamic art scene. Her eyes alight with passion during one-on-one tours. For more than a decade, Galerie Quynh has been Saigon’s leading art space, championing the country’s most established and emerging artists.
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Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace was the base of Vietnamese General Ngo Dinh Diem until his death in 1963. It made its name in global history in 1975. A tank belonging to the North Vietnamese Army crashed through its main gate, ending the Vietnam War. Today, it's a must-visit for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City. The palace is like a time capsule frozen in 1975. You can see two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace parked in the grounds. Reunification Palace was the home and workplace of the French Governor of Cochin-China. It has lush gardens, secret rooms, antique furniture, and a command bunker. It's still in use to host important occasions in Ho Chi Minh, including APEC summits. The Reunification Palace has five levels. The basement features tunnels, a war room and telecommunications centre. The war command room has original maps on its walls. Period telecommunications equipment are also on display. Its adjoining basement rooms display war propaganda materials. On the third floor, there's a card playing room while the fourth houses a casino. Reunification Palace's rooftop terrace is fitted with a heliport.
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Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 1880s by French colonists, is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam. Located in Paris Square, the name Notre Dame was given after the installation of the statue ‘Peaceful Notre Dame’ in 1959. In 1962, the Vatican conferred the Cathedral status as a basilica and gave it the official name of Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. Measuring almost 60 metres in height, the cathedral’s distinctive neo-Romanesque features include the all-red brick façade (which were imported from Marseille), stained glass windows, two bell towers containing six bronze bells that still ring to this day, and a peaceful garden setting in the middle of downtown Ho Chi Minh City District 1.
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Mariamman Hindu Temple
Mariamman Hindu Temple is a sacred Hindu Temple dedicated to the goddess of the Rain ‘Mariamman’. This temple was built in the late 19th century by traders coming from India and has been well preserved. This complex is the only Hindu temple in Saigon and is believed to have miraculous powers giving luck and wealth to its visitors. The outer wall of the Temple has a collection of interesting statues of different gods and goddesses like Mariamman, Vishnu, Brahma and Ganesha. The main hall of the complex (The Rajagopuram) stands twelve metres tall and inside you find a well-maintained statue of Mariamman flanked by her protectors ‘Maduraiveeran’ and ‘Pechiamman’. If you would like to enter the Mariamman Hindu Temple than do not forget to take of your shoes and dress appropriately. To favour the goddess of the rain you can also take some offerings such as joss sticks, jasmine, lilies and gladioli. These can be bought in front of the entrance. In the near vicinity of this temple, you can also find Ben Thanh Market. Entrance to the temple is free of charge and can be visited from 07:00 – 19:00.
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Saigon Central Post Office
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a beautifully preserved remnant of French colonial times and perhaps the grandest post office in all of Southeast Asia. Located next door to Notre Dame Cathedral, the two cultural sites can be visited together and offers visitors a chance to imagine life in Vietnam during the times of the Indochinese Empire. The building was designed by Alfred Foulhoux and features arched windows and wooden shutters, just as it would have in its heyday in the late 19th Century. The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh was constructed between 1886 and 1891 and once inside, the looping arches, intricately designed marble floors and antiquated telephone boxes all serve as a reminder of the importance the post office played in days before email and mobile phones. Although the architecture is distinctly French, the large portrait of Ho Chi Minh hanging high above everyone at the far end of the building reminds everyone we are definitely in Vietnam. Painted onto walls overhead are two maps of the region; one of them showing the telegraph lines that crisscross Vietnam and Cambodia and the other displaying a map of the Saigon region in 1892. Although the experience is a fascinating glimpse into history, the fact that this is still a functioning post office makes the experience even sweeter, and we encourage everyone to send a letter or postcard from here – it’s a piece of living history where even the old fashioned glue pots are still in use for sticking stamps to letters. There are two wings branching out from the main office, selling souvenirs, postcards and lacquerware but the prices are inflated and the same products can probably be found elsewhere for a better price.
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Saigon Opera House
The Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh is an elegant colonial building at the intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street in District 1, very close to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and the classic Central Post Office. The restored three-storey 800-seat Opera House was built in 1897 and is used for staging not only opera but also a wide range of performing arts including ballet, musical concerts, Vietnamese traditional dance and plays. Performances are advertised around the building and information can be found in the state-operated tourist information centre close by. The exterior has the appearance of polished pearl and makes a great place to photograph – especially at night when bathed in a soft, orange light. The entrance is through a vaulted archway that is kept in immaculate condition; inside, expect swathes of red velvet, classical friezes and hardwood floors. Although the official name of the building is The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh it is by far more commonly known as the Saigon Opera House and after the restoration work in 1995, the building is just as it was at the turn of the 19th Century.
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Bitexco Financial Tower
Ho Chi Minh City’s Bitexco Financial Tower & Sky Deck stands 262 metres high at the centre of the city’s business district and offers visitors an unparalleled city view from its Sky Deck. Designed by renowned American Architect Carlos Zapata, this 68-storey tower houses offices, shops, restaurants, and a helipad. CNNGo recently ranked the building fifth in their listing of the world’s 20 most iconic skyscrapers. The structure also received an ‘Excellence in Structural Engineering’ award from NCSEA in 2011 and is currently the 124th tallest building in the world. The main attraction at the tower is the Sky Deck where visitors can enjoy dramatic views across the bustling city below. Sky Deck visitors are accompanied by an English-speaking guide and can also enjoy interactive touch screen fact boxes delivering information on points of interest regarding city landmarks seen from above.
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Artinus 3D Art Museum
Artinus 3D Art Museum is an interactive art gallery, which gives it visitors a truly wonderful experience in the magic of 3D. This museum has more than 100 different 3D paintings, created by Korean artists. The artworks are created in a way that the visitors can step inside them and be part of some stunning 3D scenes. You will be amazed by all the optical illusions on display and surely have the chance of taking many pictures which will blow your friends’ minds. You can be trapped in a bottle, fight with a dragon and much more. Among the nine zones are the wildlife world, ancient Egypt, Renaissance art, Oceans and, of course, Vietnam. The Artinus 3D Art Museum is not overcrowded and therefore gives its visitors the time to enjoy the art and take pictures at their leisure.
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Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park - is a national park in Quang Binh province in central Vietnam with an area of 885 km². The National Park has the oldest karst mountains in Asia, which has formed about 400 million years ago. There are hundreds of caves, underground rivers and long underground passages with stalactites and stalagmites. In 2005 the park has been discovered a new species of gecko. The park has about 300 caves and caverns with a total length of 70 km. British and Vietnamese scientists have examined 20 km. There are many underground rivers, streams and waterfalls in the park. Phong Nha - Ke Bang included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Serious exploration of the caves began only in the 1990s when it first Cavers forced deep into Phong Nha Cave, one of the longest cave systems in the world. Paradise Cave was discovered in 2005, and in 2009 a team found the world's largest cave - the Son Doong. In 2015, the public was given access to two cave systems. Serious exploration of the caves began only in the 1990s when it first Cavers forced deep into Phong Nha Cave, one of the longest cave systems in the world. Paradise Cave was discovered in 2005, and in 2009 a team found the world's largest cave - the Son Doong. In 2015, the public was given access to two cave systems.
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De Dong Hoi Citadel
De Dong Hoi Citadel - is located in the centre of town. It is a complex of high fences and towers. A citadel is a fortress that dominates the city. This fort had to defend the king and the capital from the Nguyen dynasty defend since 1630. The citadel is 1,500 meters away from the Nhat Le beach and it is adjacent to the Nhat Le River on the east side and the forest on the west side. Only two gates and a moat remain of the citadel. You can climb up in the gates, but inside you will find syringes and burnt debris. Dong Hoi citadel has played an important position in many periods of history. In 1885 the French army attacked the citadel, but the people and soldiers of Dong Ha defended the citadel well and won the battle triumphant, that's why the French had to withdraw. During the war between Vietnam and France in 1945-1954, the locals also made several attacks on the citadel. Nowadays there is no more war in Vietnam, but the beautiful Dong Hoi citadel is still alive as an honourable symbol of the brave country. It draws many visitors from all places in Vietnam and around the world.
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Tam Toa Church
Tam Toa Church is a Catholic church located on Nguyen Du Street, Dong My Ward, Dong Hoi City, Quang Binh Province. The church was built in 1886. Han Mac Tu was baptized here in 1912 with the Christian name Nguyen Trong Tri Franois. In the eight years from 1964 to 1972, the US air bombardment of North Vietnam. Dong Hoi was flattened, Tam Toa church was bombed only the bell tower remained. After the Geneva Agreement in 1954, the whole Tam Tran migrated to the South. Since then the church has been abandoned. During the Vietnam War, Tam Toa Church was bombed 48 times by the United States Air Force. On February 11, 1965, the church was hit by a bomb, leaving only the bell tower with bullet holes. Dong Hoi town was razed by US bombs and the church bell tower became a war relic. On February 26, 1997, the People's Committee of Quang Binh province issued Decision No. 143 / QD-UB, The court has become a war crimes vestige and is historical-cultural vestiges of the province, which need to be strictly protected. October 23, 2008, Quang Binh People's Committee and the Bishop of Doai was united and signed a memorandum saying: "The old Tam Toa Church is now evidence of war crimes. The two sides will maintain and embellish in order to protect and serve the traditional research and education for the young generation... In the Quang Binh tour short or long, visitors more or less have the opportunity to visit many historical relics, evidence of war in this land. Tam Toa Church is the largest Catholic church in Quang Binh, also the largest and only church of Dong Hoi city, located in the heart of the city.