Night market with South style curries Surat Thani

You probably end up on this page because you are looking for a way to get to Koh Samui. But I hope that I can convince to stay in Surat Thani for a night as well. The main reasons are two. Surat Thani has one of the most underrated rivers and canal tours in the country, and a night food market that is full of delicious southern food. Surat Thani is an important city on the southern railway net and also hosts a harbour.

Before Bangkok Airways built the airport on Koh Samui in 1989 you had to take the ferry to Samui from here. Now there is an option to fly direct from Bangkok and not only by Bangkok Airways. From Surat Thani you are also close to the small resort town of Khanom, read more here. You are also just an hour from the amazing Cheow Lan lake that should be on everyone’s itinerary on a trip to the south of Thailand. Read more here.

Tapi River delta Surat Thani
Boats and nipa palms

Surat Thani city has two main attractions

If you have limited time you should at least experience two things in Surat Thani:

Nai Bang delta
Nai Bang delta

Tapi River ride in Nai Bang

Many people have been on the khlongs/canals in Bangkok to see the life along the river there. But the delta of Surat Thani will take you through very lush vegetations with nipa(nypa) and coconut palms as well as areas of mangroves. The nipa grows in brackish water. It has long leaves rising in the typical palm like tufts from the rootstock.

The delta is a world of tunnels framed in green and shadows dancing on the water surface when the sunlight sippers through. Look out for cormorant lizards gazing in the sunlight. Now and then a brightly blue coloured kingfisher will add some variation into the green monotonous landscape and sometimes white cranes are spotted also contrasting with the viridescent vegetation.

Weathered old wooden household’s blend with modern concrete buildings and kids still bathe from the doorsteps of their houses.

This tour is normally locally arranged and on tour we have been with a fisherman named Khun Panu. He will demonstrate his skills with the knife on how to make different handicrafts and decorations out of the nipa stem.

Boats here normally don’t have roof, so bring a hat for sun protection.

Tapi River delta Surat Thani
A handy man
Canal life Surat Thani
Life along the canals /Surat Thani

The most marvelous thing is that he has a long tail boat that doesn’t sound like “hell”.

Boat traffic in Surat Thani
Traffic on the canal

Tapi River is the longest river in southern Thailand. It got its name from an Indian river. (แม่น้ำตาปี) The source is in the Khao Luang mountain. The river empties into the Gulf of Thailand at Bandon Bay near Surat Thani city. The total length is 230 kilometer.

San Chao the shrine night market in Surat Thani

The market gets its name from the shrine San Chao and consists of is a small alley with shops located on both sides of the road. The entire route is full of local delicacies. You can spot an abundance of fried chicken, pad thai noodles, and the most exciting southern curries (kao rat gang). You choose from a few curries from the shop and add as topping on your rice, or you can order many curries on separate plates. Some restaurants have chairs and tables some are more the mobile hawker style. If you had a hot evening you can also escape into an air-conditioned Swensen’s for some ice cream.

Link to the night market on Google maps here.

Going to Koh Samui?

Are you planning to go to Koh Samui? There are multiple options. Seatran and Raja ferries operate from Don Sak on the mainland. Don Sak is about one hour from Surat Thani by bus. The trip to Koh Samui takes roughly 1 h 30 minutes.

Link to Seatran here.

Link to Raja here.

Lomprayah is a faster but a more expensive company. With their catamaran, you can travel from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan as well. The link to their webpage is here.

Throughout the years I have stayed at the unremarkable but decent Diamond Plaza hotel in Surat Thani. It works perfectly for one night. Nothing fancy, clean and big rooms though.

Diamond Plaza Surat Thani
Diamond Plaza hotel
Surat Thani ferry
The Kho Tao ferry
City Pillar in Surat Thani
City Pillar of Surat Thani in the background

View of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos

Infamous or legendary, actually involving a huge area involving Northern Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Southern China. A region where all kinds of smuggling have taken place historically. Mostly famous for opium that used to be the currency in the hills here, but also for guns, gems, human trafficking and amphetamine. There is a long history relating to this going back to the opium war. Then the migration of hill tribes into Thailand bringing opium with them. Then the trade of colonial powers like England and France and complicated allegiances during the Indo – China conflicts. The smuggling involved and involves even today various drug lords and regional armies.

Back in the days, it was the Shan commander Khun Sa, General Li Mi of the Kuomintang, and in more recent times people like Wei Hsueh-Kang, commander of the United Wa State Army and in big in the jade and drug trade. There are plenty of players and involvement and corruption is plentiful high up in the hierarchy of Myanmar’s top brass. But not digging deeper into that here, the point is just that the real Golden Triangle was and is so much more than a sign declaring where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. The Golden Triangle is today a tourist attraction called สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ Saam Liam Thong Kham. Locally known by the name Sop Ruak, since this is where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River.

Reginald Le May about the Mekong and Golden Triangle

Reginald Le May served with the British legation in Bangkok for a while and also as Vice Consul in the north. In An Asian Arcady is an account of a long trip he took by an elephant in 1914.

Below my feet the river bank went sheer down for nearly fifty feet; the river itself was a mighty expanse of water flowing swift and clear, with just the top of an island showing, and far away on the other side the bank rose fully as high again, lined with row upon row of tall palms, looking like small shrubs in the distance.

Reginald Le May, An Asian Arcady, Cambridge 1926. Reprinted in Bangkok 1986.

When you are travelling to Sop Ruak there will be police and military checkpoints, a witness that trade and smuggling is still present. But the landscape at Sop Ruak, even though recently infested with casinos on the Myanmar and Laos side, is very picturesque. One of the best places to enjoy the view is to have a lunch on the terrace of the Golden Triangle Imperial hotel with the view of the border meeting of the three countries. If the restaurant is busy, they set up a buffet here with some nice springrolls, pad thai and other dishes. I always saved myself for the creme caramel dessert. Staying overnight at this classic hotel is also not a bad idea, but make sure to book a room with Mekong River view.

For my touring in the north, I have only stayed overnight here a few times. Sop Ruaks attractions consist of the viewpoint, a small tourist market and two opium museums.

What is also popular is to rent a boat to go out on the Mekong to get close to the neighbouring countries borders. A close up to the casino in Myanmar. In the old days, we usually went to the small Laotian island Don Sao. It was charming and laid back, kapok trees growing here and there. It was just to get a flavour of Laos, maybe try some Beer Laos, enjoy some knockoff deals, or buy a postcard and post it from Laos.

Nowadays the landscape has changed completely on Don Sao, with the casino, a China Town and an arena. The island is apparently on lease to China. In more recent years we have preferred not to go to Don Sao. But if you intend to, make sure that you bring your passport.

Sop Ruak the golden triangle view
Standing in Thailand, on the other side of the Ruak river is Myanmar and crossing the wider Mekong River there is Laos.

If you don’t overnight here, just a half day is more than enough before you continue to Chiang Saen or Chiang Kong.

Four things to recommend to do in Sop Ruak/Golden Triangle:

  1. Have lunch at the Golden Imperial for the view and atmosphere(sit outside). You can also go to the top of Wat Phra That Doi Phu Kao. Walk the Naga staircase or follow the road up to the hilltop for stunning views.
  2. Visit an opium museum (you will also learn about the hill tribes and their culture). House of Opium or the larger Golden Triangle Hall of Opium.
  3. Shop around at the small market
  4. Take a boat ride on the Mekong

When you are in this area it is well worth continuing to the charming riverine Town of Chiang Sean. Read more about it here.

Documentary about Khun Sa

If you like to dig in a bit deeper in some of the poppy, opium and heroin-related history to the area. Here is a YouTube video documentary about Khun Sa, the most wanted, unwanted drug lord or freedom fighter that was a friend and foe with everyone.

Khao Lak, Laguna, sunset

In our family, we have a special love for Khao Lak. We have been enjoying the long walkable beaches with all those incredible sunsets since the pre – tsunami times. It did take some time from the tsunami 2004 until we came back again though. Not so much out of fear of a new tsunami, more of a coincidence. But once we were back we just kept coming just like in the old days. From Chiang Mai it is very convenient to fly to Phuket. Less than two hours and then it is just 1.30 to 2 hours drive to Phang Nga province and the paradise of Khao Lak. We just prefer the more quiet laid back atmosphere compare to the more intense Phuket. (Well, talking pre-Covid Phuket) .

But when you have passed over the 660 meters long Sarasin bridge that separates Phuket from Phang Ngha is feels like you are entering a slower and more relaxed world. Up to what you like of course, but for us the winner is the more tranquil and classy Khao Lak area. Khao Laks name comes from the top of a mountain, basically the Lak mountain. Basically, it was just a small village and a rubber farming community when some Thai people started up some bungalow business in 1986.

I personally always loved the lush and the green and the fact that Khao Laks resorts are embedded in this environment and the don’t kind of interfere with each other. The owners of the hotels in Khao Lak almost seem to have some kind of consensus (again pre – pandemic) as to not allowing big, low cost group tour agencies to push them around regarding the prices. Even though you see groups in hotels in Khao Lak, no company or nationality has ever been too dominant on a particular resort we have stayed in. Sun chairs are rarely directly on the open beach, you will find them in the shade in direct connection to the beach. They can be quite close to one another but you still don’t get that feeling while walking the long beaches

Khao Lak is also perfect if you don’t fancy boat transfers. The transfer from Phuket Airport is a scenic transfer apart from the first part that you might spend in heavy traffic on Phuket island. There is also a possibility to reach Khao Lak from Krabi. So you don’t have to feel restricted to Phuket Airport. Krabi airport is expanding at the moment. The transfer from Krabi will take you 2,5 to 3 hours counting in the traffic.

Khao Laks beaches

  • Khao Lak Beach
  • Bang Niang Beach
  • Khuk Kak Beach
  • Natai Beach
  • Nan Tong
  • Pakarang Beach
  • Pakweeb Beach
  • Thai Muang Beach
  • White Beach

Some great resorts in Khao Lak

I will not claim that these are the best resorts in Khao Lak. But we have great experience in the family from the four resorts listed below.

Eden Beach Resort Khao Lak

Very new hotel. Bali meets Santorini kind of style. Stylish with Feng Suei installations, bamboo and straw roofs. Very good pool and an enjoyable stretch of beach. Just outside the hotel, there are a few restaurants and shops. A short car ride ride from the hotel you find the “Loud Burp” restaurant offering some of the best seafood in the area. The restaurant has seatings for dinner. Popular among the local crowd. The a bit strangely named Isarn Seafood restaurant is very close to Eden as well. The food in Eden is decent, and the breakfast ok. Maybe it is richer during non pandemic times. However the breakfast room is quite small. What is impressive is the bakery at Eden, both the cakes and the presentation is something to write home about. One of the owners bakes herself, so it is a great homemade touch. Loved their Macadamia cake. Just 1h 15 minutes to Phuket Airport.

Kalima Resort & Villas Khao Lak

Another impressive and modern Khao Lak resort. Very close to Eden. Kalima has more than one pool area and lots of different activity areas, you can borrow a kayak and paddle into the mangroves and close to the elephant nature park. Actually, you can see the majestic animals coming down for their morning baths. Very kid friendly resort, almost an all inclusive touch. The beach is ok, but a little less impressive than the other hotels mentioned here. We enjoyed the restaurants very much, but the breakfast had a feel of quantity before quality. The hotel is also close to Phuket Airport.

Khao Lak Laguna Resort

Mega sized and classic installation in Phuket and Khao Lak, this hotel is very close to Khao Lak downtown. Easy just to walk there. The hotel has a lot of sunbeams, a nice pool. Great Thai decorations and some birdlife in the area. If there is anything to complain about it will be the size of it all. But again a luxury problem, older people can find the walk to and from the lobby quite tough. Some heavy stairs on the way. The hotel has a fantastic breakfast, in a fanciful breakfast room.

Manathai Khao Lak

We have been to Manathai three times. When the kids were younger Manathai had many great offers for kids. We could sleep in one room all four of us. No need to book two rooms. They also had free ice cream for kids everyday in those days, and if adults ate in the hotel restaurants the kids could get free meals. They also have a very nice club for children. Manathai is 4 star hotel but with a 5 star hotel service. Great pool, great beach, and many choices for breakfast. The hotel is a bit far from downtown Khao Lak and a longer drive from Phuket Airport. We honestly didn’t leave the hotel much. There were two restaurants very close to the hotel on the beach. Hope they will reopen after Covid.

Haven’t stayed at JW Marriott but it is apparently top class according to friends that are regulars there. Many families choose Sands hotel because they have built a kind of waterpark within their hotel area. It is nowadays a play-land for kids. Personally, I have never been disappointed anywhere in Khao Lak. But that is maybe just because I love the area so much. But on the whole, hotels here are top – notch.

Excursions from Khao Lak

Excursions you can make from Khao Lak, Ko Khao Kao, Surin, Similan and Tachai islands. In April 2021 the charge to go to Similan Islands was about 1800 baht per person. Or why not go over to Takua Pa for a great food experience. Famous for Dim Sum and authentic Chinese food. This is a very friendly old mining town and once a harbor. Read more here about a wonderful Dim Sum brunch at Takua Pa.

Don’t miss the chance to visit the wonderful Khao Sok nationalpark with its stunning scenery at the Chaew Lan lake. Read more here: Khao Sok and Chaew Lan lake.

There are also excursions to learn Thai cooking and visiting Elephant Conservation camps. Again a bit unclear what the situation will look like post – covid.

Hotels in Khao Lak have been offering amazing promotions during the pandemic. Eden Hotel as low as 1200 baht per night for a standard room. Eden hotel have been selling vouchers on their website during the pandemic.

A friend of mine stayed at Marriot for 3500 baht per night, inclusive of breakfast. So as long as the pandemic is here, there are definitely discounts.

Sunsets are exceptional in Khao Lak. To quote Angela Abraham, “The sunset comes as a settled heart to the horizon, as if the sky itself could speak of love”. Angela Abraham@descriptionari

Some restaurants to try in Khao Lak

The loud, noisy, big Burp restaurant. Excellent local seafood place In Khao Lak that often fills up with the local crowd. See the link here.

For fair European, or rather more Scandinavian food Viking was always the place we would go. The restaurant always included Swedish style pizza salad to all main dishes. Last time we were in Khao Lak, the restaurant seemed to be closed though.(Will advise you to do a you an update via Google Maps).

E-Sarn Seafood next to Eden Resort was surprisingly good.

Be Friend restaurant just outside Manathai used to be the local favourite. Tables and chairs in the sand. Great sunsets. Hard to say if they are still there due to the pandemic. But just a 5-10 minutes walk to the right from Manathai.

Most of the time we have ended up eating in the hotels, or just a short walk on the beach you might find a great local restaurant.

Temple in Hang Dong Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of Lanna holds an enormous temple treasure. Here is a photo odyssey of some of the incredible temples in and outside the city. I earmarked only 20 out of 300+ temples to explore! But we all need to start somewhere.

Temples are great witnesses of past times. Even though some buildings are not the same original buildings in full as when they were built, they still carry a story from that time in history. In Chiang Mais history prosperous times went together with temple building and renovations. It comes hand in hand. You can often find parts of the old temple somewhere in the vicinity, a relic, a gong, a part of the old roof. Some of the temples host small museums. It is not necessary to be a Buddhist to find interest in temples. If you arrive in the early morning or early evening there might be monk sermons and chanting. There is often a certain Buddhist peacefulness and some sense of a mystery that one is not yet part of that adds to the atmosphere. A feeling of escapism.

Temples are architecturally interesting and reminders of ancient Lanna and Thai culture. Even though Buddha is officially not recognized as a God in Therevadha buddhism, temples are still built for eternity. While normal peoples houses were not. So temples are often the best remains of history that we have, with their meditation halls and temple towers in brick or sandstone. Stupas or chedis are memorials of enlightenment and is considered to bring enlightenment to the present. The temple towers named, stupas, chedis, prangs and many other names have the function to demonstrate the enlightenment and wisdom that comes with it to be a victory over ignorance. The escape from suffering made Buddhist followers overwhelmed by joy so they started to build stupas by the millions. Stupas are sermons in stone and often they also claim to hold relics of the Buddha. They help people turn their minds from the hedonistic pleasures and directs them towards their own higher potential. So to understand Chiang Mai, the old kingdom of Lanna and indeed Thailand and a majority of its Buddhist population.

Please do take your time to visit some of the magnificent temples we have in Chiang Mai. There is no lack of good coffeeshops with cool air-conditioning for those needed breaks when you feel a bit “templed out” once in a while. Also try to look for the small soi / side street temples, or the ones in the countryside that tourists don’t visit as much. Then you can often truly feel that calm and harmony that comes with the territory.

1. Wat Phra Sing

Location click here.

Wat Phra Sing
Wat Phra Singh. A temple considered royal by the highest degree since 1935. Wat Pra Singh is situated at the end of the main Rachadamnoen road of Chiang Mai running east from the temple, via the old Tapae Gate down to the Ping River. The temple has an ornamented library.

2. Wat Sri Suphan – The Silver Temple

Location in Google maps here.

Silver Temple of Chiang Mai
Silver color in aluminum and silver. This temple is located just by the Wualai silver street of Chiang Mai. Here is a new temple built on the sight of an old but cherishing the handicraft of the famous silversmiths of the area. People in this area are often descended from the Shan state in todays Myanmar. The Lanna king Kawila brought back a lot of silver workers from that area after a raid into the area. The old Sri Suphan was a temple where people in the old days would pray that their sons and husbands would comeback alive from wars. The silver and goldens colours of the temple makes it stand out. On occasions, you can see workers working aluminium that will be a part of the temple, Jataka(Buddha life tales) and from the Ramakien. A temple not to miss in Chiang Mai.

3. Wat Dok Kham

Location in Google maps here.

Wat Dok Kham
Wat Dok Kham is near to the Thapae Gate. A minor temple with a viharn, a chedi and the eye catching pavilion. A good place to start if you are located in Chiang Mais old town.

4. Wat Doi Kham

Location in Google maps click here.

Wat Doi Kham
Morning walk at Wat Doi Kham. Best seen in the morning. It is possible to drive up or do the morning exercise through a short natural trail and then followed by this staircase protected by Naga guardians up to the temple itself. You will be rewarded with great views of Chiang Mai from the hill of the golden mountain temple. This is a very living temple. Thai people come from all parts of the country to seek success in business from making merit here. Avoid this temple during the Thai national holidays. It is very crowded and heavy traffic to get in and out.

5. Wat Chedi Luang

Location in Google maps here.

Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang in blue hour. A majestic brick construction that is best seen in the evening with lights and in the blue hour. Once partly destroyed in an earthquake, this temple is also home to the city pillar of Chiang Mai and once upon a time an important centre for Buddhist monks all over South East Asia.

6. Wat Doi Suthep

Location in Google maps here.

Wat Doi Suthep
Doi Suthep temple, actually the name of the mountain where it is located. There is a tale of a white elephant bringing the relics of the Buddha to this spot and the whole temple is a story about Buddhism. Leading up to the temple you have the longest Naga balustrade in Thailand and on top you find the 24 meter gold gilded octagonal Chedi. Revered by Thai people all over the country. The temple is somewhat the guardian temple of Chiang Mai. The holiest and most visited temple. I prefer an early visit before the buses with tours come. It can be very crowded here at times.

7. Wat Hang Dong (Wat Ban Dong)

Location in Google maps here.

Wat Hang Dong
Wat Hang Dong called a nearby relative to Wat Ton Kwaen. Another jewel of Lanna architecture 12 km outside town.19th century or earlier.

8. Wat Suan Dok

Location in Google maps here.

Wat Suan Dok
Wat Suan Dok after a rainy night. The royal burial grounds for Lanna kings. The ashes were brought here from several places in Chiang Mai in the early 20th century. The white Chedis, contrasting the golden one against the blue sky and sometime clear visibility of Doi Suthep. This is the “flower garden temple”. The area was once used as a Royal flower garden by the ruler of Chiang Mai. The tallest golden Chedi in Sri Lankan style is 48 meters high and contains the relic of the Buddha. The Suan Dok area is an active Buddhist studying centre. They used to offer monk chats as well.

9. Wat Ched YodThe Seven Spires Temple

Location in Google here

Wat Ched Yod
Wat Ched Yod. A piece of India in Chiang Mai, with a feeling similar of being in the Angkor region of Siam Reap. This is a pilgrimage site for people born in the year of the snake. A copy of the Mahabodhi temple in Northern India, Bodhigaya where the Buddha reached enlightenment. I enjoy this temple best in the early morning.

10 . Wat Umong – The Tunnel Temple

Location on Google maps here.

Wat Umong
Wat Umong, smiling Buddha. An area that differs. Mysterious tunnels, meditation grounds, nature area, and a graceful Chedi. This is a temple area that is very active in many ways and also with some art installations. The whispering forest and the proximity to the cafe and art area surrounding Wat Umong makes a half day to this part of town worthwhile. I would call it Chiang Mais own little Kyoto.

11. Wat Ton Kwen (Wat Intharawat)

Location in Google Maps here.

Wat Ton Kwaen
Wat Ton Gwaen(kwaen) . Miniature, minimalistic, a lot of woodwork, less gold. This is the wonder of Hang Dong outside Chiang Mai. You will probably be alone here, at least it will not be crowded. Charming and tranquil. Built in the year of 1848 and you can feel the village presence from Tong Kwaen village where it is located.Festival in June early year.

12. Wat Ket Karam

Wat Ket Karam
Shortly just Wat Ket. Exciting temple in an interesting area. You find it on the west side of the Ping River. The Chiang Mai citizens who were living here were of Chinese, European, and Thai origins. Wat Ket Karam was the centre of this community. Before the emergence of train travels, the main port for marine transport between Bangkok and Chiang Mai was located here. Inside the compound is a museum of the old days. Nice place to go in the evening, you can continue to the restaurants and bars along road the iconic Rubber Tree Road nr 106.

13. Wat Bupparam

Location on Google here.

Wat Bupparam
Wat Bupparam. Not far from Chang Klang road, easily accessible in down town though with an entrance. It holds the largest teak Buddha in Thailand, 400 years old. A classic Burmese Chedi and a Donald Duck statue. Yes, you saw right.

14. Wat Rajamontean (Wat Rachamontien)

Location on Google here.

Read more about the temple on this link. Sights in Chang Puak and Sri Poom Road.

Wat Rajamontean
Wat Rajamontean, the eye catching from the moat with its large Buddha statue, but also well worth a visit inside with the red lacquered pillars on a white marble floor and a Buddha type Shan/Burmese royal style. I very much like the statue of Rama and Sita. The temple offers monk chats.

15. Wat Kuan Khama

Location on Google maps here.

Read more about the temple here.

Wat Kuan Kama
Wat Khan Khama. The legend says that a horse owner commissioned the temple for the love of his deceased horse. A very unique temple with about 20 horse statues facing the main road.

16. Wat Ban Den

Location in Google click here.

Read more in a separate article here, Wat Ban Den a Dreamlike Vision.

Wat Ban Den
Wat Ban Den. An old temple turned into a complete new temple grounds with so many different beliefs, directions of Buddhism, colours and architectural mix. Wat Ban Den has to be experienced. Like it or not. It is the most overwhelming temple we have in Chiang Mai. But you need to travel outside town.

17. Wat Lok Moli

Location in Google maps here.

Wat Lok Moli
Wat Lok Moli. The ashes of some members of the Mengrai dynasty were placed in this temples Chedi. The Bihari is currently under renovation(2021).The temple is famous for the viharn’s sweeping three-tiered roof. Inside the viharn a superabundance of artworks decorates the walls and ceilings. 

18. Wat Rai Neua or officially Wat Si Pho Thong

Location on Google maps here.

Wat Rai Neua
Wat Si Pho Thong (Wat Rai Nuea). This temple very off the beaten track not to far away from Wat Ton Gwen has some village treasures like a huge drum and gong. I like coming here in the evening listening to the temple bells and monks meditating, birds singing in the background. And you have this interesting section of murals that depict daily life and festivals in a contemporary and traditional way at the same time.

19. Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang (Wat Hua Khuang)

Location on Google Maps here.

Wat Hua Kuang
And old Chedi holding a Buddha relic in a fairly new temple area rebuilt in 1993. The whole temple was deserted for a while. But now guilded and like a fairy tale in red and white. Early morning is a great time to visit. Historically an important temple for religious and military meetings.

20. Wat Inthakhin Sadue Muang

Location in Google Maps here.

Wat Inthakhin
Gets its name from being the first temple in 1296 with the Holy Chiang Mai city pillar. Small temple with a nice museum. Early morning visit to recommend.

Behavior and dress code

  • When in temples, always cover your shoulders wear knee long shorts. Don’t wear singlets or hot pants and such, Dress conservatively. Don’t forget to take off your shoes when you enter holy areas.
  • Normally it is ok to take pictures of the Buddha images in Thailand. But not always, such as the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew. Also pay attention not to climb Naga staircases or, hold Buddha’s hand and no posing with Buddha. Thai people often take pictures together with Buddha images but most of the time they are sitting properly and below the Buddha image.
  • Buddhist Monk’s are not allowed to touch women so please keep the distance. So no selfies with the monks.

The Thai temple explained

Frangipani | Plumeria| Temple Tree

Plumeria, Frangipani

Frangipani is the flower that many of us foreigners instantly fall in love with in Thailand, or South East Asia. You most probably encountered the flowers in a spa bath in Thailand, if you have ever been to one. The Laotian even made it their own flower. It is the symbol of the national carrier Lao Aviation, and declared a national flower. In Laos it is called Dok Champa. Plumeria is the more scientific name and it derives from Charles Plumier, a French botanist (1646 – 1704). He was regarded as one of the most important botanical explorers of his time, Plumier served as a botanist to King Louis XIV of France. He did many journeys to the New World documenting plants and animal species. The name Frangipani comes from the name of a 16th century Italian nobleman who created a perfume with a similar scent used for gloves.

Often named Temple tree, this tree is appreciated all over the region, but it is originally from the West Indies. (Source Plants in the Tropics). In the region, the tree is believed to protect you from ghosts and demons.

After the introduction of the early rainy season this year our trees are now in full bloom.

The tree drops leave all year round, but mostly during the dry season. So the tree can be & like a coral looking creation with flowers in bloom but no leaves. If you cut off a branch you will have milk-white liquid pouring out of it, but the cuttings can be replanted and in no time in the tropics, it will grow to become a tree. You can grow a rainbow of Frangipanis since the choices of flower colours is so varied, and the perfume is divine.

Frangipani is not hard to grow but demands a lot of work due to the leaves. The long leather-like leaves drop all the time, so every day you have to work out to pick up large amounts of leaves.

Plumeria or Frangipani is truly an iconic symbol of South East Asia. And it does give you some nice shadow in your garden.

Frangipani
Frangipani comes in numerous colours. We have the white/yellow kind and a pinkish/white version.

Mon Cham(Jaem) used to be a location where a lot of Royal Project vegetable produce was grown, and to some extent still is. After becoming more known to the public from a popular drama series this became a kind of hot spot in the mountains near the valley of Mae Rim. 2013 we went to what was one of the few glamping sites at the time, ran by the Royal Project with excellent food, nice views, a small field with flowers and a private toilet for your tent on the slope.

But as I mentioned the situation has exploded up there with new camping and glamping sights. Not very different from how a once – isolated paradise beach suddenly becomes mega popular. And it is hard to criticise the hilltribes from profiting and making a living from it. However, there has been a decision to clear the area of some of this camping grounds, not being legal and the land actually designated as grounds for growing vegetables.

Mon Cham
Flowery fields forever.

If you decide to go here, it will be a warm hearted atmosphere with lots of Thai tourist checking in rather late, enjoying hot pots, and drinking until early morning when they often leave quite suddenly as well. If you are looking for that quiet, isolated camping site. You should probably search somewhere else.

Mon Cham is also OK for a day trip. Come and take selfies with fields of flowers, and enjoy good coffee.

Here are some of my photos from January 2013. It was indeed a rather cold night. But I still remember the panorama views and the fantastic scones and coffee in the morning.

Glamping in Mon Jam
The perfect morning after a cold night in the tent Mon Cham.

Some facts about Mon Cham:

Mon Cham is situated on a hill ridge in a place called Mong Nong Hoi village in Mae Rim. First it was a forest called Kiu Seau. Then, villagers converted the area to opium production. For a long time it has been part of a Royal Project, that took over and changed the area into vegetable production. Recently so many terraces are turned into camping sites. Also, on the top of the mountain Mon Cham has a famous viewpoint called ‘Mon Long’, people go there to see the” sea of mist”.

The chips maker shows a lot of creativity on the market when it comes to inventing new tastes of chips. It has been a kind of trend among tourists in Asian tourism to hunt for new exotic flavours from famous brands. I am first and foremost thinking of all the different Kit Kats(new flavour of the year every year) that you can explore in Japan and different versions of Coca Cola(remember the white one that was supposed to look lite water but tasted like a bad version of Sprite).

So when in Thailand forget about salt and vinegar, sour cream and extra barbecue. Why not explore Lay’s local chips flavours. Bring home some inexpensive souvenirs.

Here are some examples of tastes that are VERY Thai indeed. Even some very Esan/Isarn that is North Eastern flavours.

Lays chips Thailand
Hot Pot, or suki is what everyone eats all the time in Thailand. When it tastes Esan/North East it will be spicy and sour.
Lays Thailand Potatoe Chips
Larb is a very herbal and sometimes spicy meat sauce typical for Esan/Isarn. Goes perfect with sticky rice and papaya salad and apparently as chips.
Lays Thailand Potatoe chips
Chili and lime are two very distinct Thai flavours. So, yes very Thai indeed.
Lays Thailand exotic chips
This one feels like it could be a bit more South East Asian in general flavoured but Made In Thailand. The Xo sauce is actually a signature of Hong Kong. Developed in the 1980s. It consists of dried seafood, including dried scallops, fish, and shrimp, cooked with chili peppers, onions, and garlic.
Lays Chips in Thailand
Squid and hot chili, the perfect match

Lay’s was founded in 1932 by Herman Lay in Tennesse, Nashwille. Currently owned by PepsiCo.

If you are interested in these unique Thai flavours, try the first 7/11 or Mini Big C. A quick search on Google will also reveal that they are sold online.

Lays chips Thailand
And of course, sweet basil. “Horapaaa.”
Lay exotic chips in Thailand
Anyone? Original with a touch. Not only salt but also egg.
Lays amazing chips
The prawn chips need both salt and spices
Lays chips on the Thai market
Mieng Kam is one of my favourite snacks. A basic mieng kam includes fresh betel leaves, shallots, ginger, lime with lime zest, as well as fresh chilli, peanuts, roasted coconut and dried shrimp. Why not add potatoes?? So it’s done!!
Ghost chili, more like the devil himself chili. Spicy and aroi!
Prik is chili Zab Zeed is a kind of term used for a spicy and delicious papaya salad for instance

May the list continue😁.

Just recently my old Honda City broke down just when I was about to park it at a barbers shop near a 7/11 not far from my home. At the exact spot where the car stopped there was a lottery vendor, and this lady had a customer. First, they looked a bit shocked by my awful parking, but when they saw that the car was overheated and me going to 7/11 to buy some water for the cooler they both started to write down the number of my license plate. Once I got the car started again I moved it park a bit in the shadows not far away from the hairdresser’s shop. But the very moment I stepped in to cut my hair, the lady directly asked the same question.

–What’s the number of your license plate hihihi?

This is maybe the most classic way to look for a good lottery number nowadays, to check the license plate number, and it seems that no tragedy is too morbid to get good luck from. It happens frequently after accidents that license plates are checked. I heard stories from quarantine hotels in Bangkok now during the covid pandemic that staffs have been buying lottery inspired by the room number where they have encountered cases of people with covid.

The Mae Nak Shrine on Sukhumvit in Bangkok

Some people in Bangkok will look up a shrine in Sukhumvit 77 to get the blessing of a spirit to win the lottery. The spirits name is Mae Nak. She died prematurely while giving birth and her husband was at the time not home. The husband Maak was fighting in a war.

Mae Nak dearly loved her husband so her spirit refused to move on to afterlife. When the husband returned home he knew nothing about the death of his wife. The couple went on living as nothing had happened.

One day the husband realized that she was just a ghost and he hid from her in a temple. The local ghost doctor came to the rescue and cut a piece of Mae Naks forehead bone and captured her spirit in a bottle.

Later, a shrine committed to Mae Nak spirit was constructed. The folktale is over 100 years old but to this day people still go to the shrine for guidance and trying to get signs to win the lottery and some men go there to try to avoid military service. The get the right draw in that lottery. Since Mae Naks husband was called to battle it is said that she is not in favour of military service and can be of help if you want to avoid it.

The Snake Case

Many years ago a snake fell on my chest from some temple ruin in Sukhothai historical park. It fell to the ground and I lightly stepped on it, but it didn’t bite. It just escaped. But my two Thai friends were so happy and said: – Khun Per. This means that you will meet your partner soon. Wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not. But at the time I was more busy trying to calm down a bit after what for me was a completely new and unique happening. Also dreaming of a snake is said to a message that you soon will meet a partner. And some people might think that seeing a small snake is equivalent to choosing number five in the lottery, and a large snake is a sure number six.

Bees in the house

In Thailand you might also be surprised to see when a neighbours house has been invaded by bees. They just leave the beehive and the bees swarming around. This is very much considered to be a totem of good luck. Listening to a gecko calling ” geeechoo” “geechoo” 7 times should also be a good reason for buying a lottery ticket. And if a small lizard enters your house, speak to it softly and kindly and you will have some great fortune coming your way.

Don’t cut your hair on a Wednesday superstition

The classic superstition that you can not cut your hair on Wednesdays in Thailand. That it would be bad luck has probably something to do with the fact that royals had their haircut on Wednesdays in the past so it was both the fact that hairdressers were not available and that it was absolutely a no do to cut the hair as a common person on a Wednesday. No way that you could compare yourself to nobility.

The Monk and Astrologist advice

Always consult the monk or fortune teller to get the perfect date for a wedding, starting a company, taking a new car out of the showroom , prior to installing the foundation pile for a new house, and arranging the house warming party. For our familly we have done all of this. The monks decided the wedding date. Actually they moved the date from just a few days from before the tsunami 2004 to a month earlier. Which for me was extremely lucky, otherwise I would have had most of my family on holiday in Phuket during the tsunami. Monks recommended we have a silvered coloured car. Lucky us that we wanted the same. Well, 14 years later it is still working. We did get the blessing and sprinkling of the car. Thai people can be very pragmatic though. If they disagree with the colour suggested by the monks they might buy whatever color of the car they prefer, but to be on the safe side they will have a sign on the car saying that this is not a white car, it is a black car or ! That would please both sides, monks and car owner.

The Name Change

Something that is fairly common in Thailand is name changes if you consider yourself a victim of bad karma. So bad events are not always something good anyway. If you need a name change, you will look up a holy person that will find a more suitable name for you looking in to events and birthdate and more in your personal history. Sometimes, it is enough to correct bad luck with repeated visits at temples. A Thai friend was a bit unlucky to kill a snake in her house by throwing the heavy spirit house on the snakes head. Two bad things in one call there, destroying a spirit house and killing a large animal. But it was all adjusted by enough temple visits.

Anyhow, I always found the perspective that something unlucky can anticipate something good as a bit charming. In Europe, I remember often hearing people worrying that something bad would happen to them after they had some luck or a stroke of success. So when in Thailand, take your chances to buy lottery tickets when “shit happens”.