What would roses have to do with kick boxing when they are on opposite sides of the spectrum? Bangkok is famous for the unusual; therefore it is not unusual to find just such a mix in a tourist attraction in Bangkok City! While you are in Bangkok and not sure of what else that would be of interest aside from the regular temple tours and shopping sprees, give the Thai Cultural at Sampran Riverside Tour a try for something of the unusual. It is one of the sightseeing in Bangkok attractions that offers something of the unusual that you would normally have to go out of your way to the rural countryside to experience but can find it right here in Bangkok City. Quite a number of the attractions at Samphran are a lost art but brought to the venue for the education and entertainment of tourists so that they can better understand Thai culture and traditions.
A visit to Sampran Riverside which was formerly known as the Rose Garden starts off in the afternoon. Tours for Sampran Riverside can be booked online from the Thaitourismguide website and it is best to book in advance. Transfers are available from any hotel in the central business district (CBD) of Bangkok which makes it easy for tourists to visit the place as it is quite a distance out of the city. The tour starts daily at 12.00pm to 6.00pm and is one of the also popular tours for sightseeing in Thailand among tourists. Your arrival at Samphran Riverside would be warmly greeted with a refreshing drink and cool towels to freshen up before heading for a tour of the facilities. The concept for Samphran Riverside is a blend between cultural, ecotourism and agro tourism. They are well noted with numerous certifications for organic farming and if your tour falls on a weekend, you will have the opportunity to visit the farmers market and the floating market. On regular week days there are still ample activities to keep you fascinated during the entire tour.
The shows at Sampran Riverside are divided into two sections; one is a cultural show with more than one hundred and fifty performers while another section provides demonstrations of cultural handicrafts, traditional Thai foods and a sampling of traditional herbal remedies from their organic farms. First item on the itinerary upon your arrival at Samphran Riverside is a walk to their auditorium. The ring side seats at the auditorium gives you a good all round view of the stage where the performances are held. The Thai Village cultural show consists of traditional ceremonies, cultural dances, rituals and sports. The show lasts about an hour and guests will have a chance to see and experience the Thai heritage, culture and way of life.
See what a Thai wedding is like! The lively performance follows the ancient Thai marriage customs which depicts the courting of the bride by the groom, the arrival of the bride and groom to the family house and the ritual of the marriage vows. These customs encompass all the Thai values of being humble, filial, joy of togetherness as a family and friends as well as all the pageantry that goes along with the custom. It is a noisy and colourful event shared not only by family and friends but also the community. Did you know that if you would like to have a Thai traditional wedding in Thailand it can also be a formal marriage registration complete with just such a wedding ceremony? Or maybe you would like to renew your wedding vows with a Thai wedding ceremony!
Next up is a form of Thai martial arts. Kick boxing or better known as Muay Thai is now fast becoming a popular sport even in the Western countries. However, Muay Thai is a martial arts sport that has a lot of beliefs, customs and traditions embedded in the sport. It was a form of self-defence during the warring years of old Siam but now a popular form of extreme sport and recreation. The rituals leading up to the actual kick boxing performances are steeped in a unique form of ceremonies where homage is paid to the deities of each fighter and also their masters. The kick boxing sport requires a very high degree of stamina, endurance and physical fitness and the kick boxing matches are action packed but always with a good example of sportsmanship. Fighters use their hands, elbows, feet and knees as weapons of attack and self-defence. You will get to watch the rituals and ceremonies leading up to the kick boxing demonstration and even get the chance to try a few practice moves with the boxers themselves if you dare!
Another martial art performance is the Thai traditional sword fighting that is practiced by both men and women warriors and it dates back almost six hundred years in Thai history. The skills of each warrior are honed to perfection and in the performance you will get to observe the intricate moves and skills with the swords by these men and women performers.
Following this would be the Thai cultural dances from the north, south, east and west of Thailand. Each of these dances differs in their costumes, moves and music. The elegance of a Thai dancer is quite bewitching to watch and these performances were a form of entertainment in olden Siam especially in the royal courts and on special ceremonial days.
Outside of the auditorium is the elephant show where you can have the opportunity for an elephant ride or to watch a short performance by the elephants on the type of work roles that used to be done in the logging industries. The show is kept to a short minimum so as not to tire or agitate these docile mammals. For most part of the day they are sheltered, fed and bathed by their caretakers and actually enjoy a semi-retired status at Samphran Riverside.
The other interesting activities at Samphran Riverside are their demonstration workshops where guests are given a tour of the various cultural and traditional activities, some of them now considered a form of lost craftsmanship. One such workshop is where you can learn to weave traditional toys from bamboo leaves and rice stalks. The skill is in the weaving of the leaves to form items like fish and grasshoppers which are then attached to dried stalks. These toys were made for children mostly in the rural areas or in the olden days to keep them entertained. There is also a workshop that teaches you how to make medicated balms and massage balls which are used in traditional Thai massages. The ingredients of herbs and various roots are picked from the organic farms at Samphran Riverside. You can make these medicated balls and take them home as a souvenir to be used for joint pains and a light herbal massage.
Those interested in Thai cuisine can see a demonstration for fruit carving at one of the booths. The Thai people are noted for their intricate fruit and vegetable carvings that accompany the table dressing for a colourful culinary display. If you are also interested to know how certain traditional Thai desserts are made, there is a stall where you can learn how to make a grilled banana and coconut dessert. You can sample the dessert at this stall. There are also clay work stalls where you can make small pots and figurines or even learn how to make flower decorations from orchids and other sweet smelling flowers.
A must not miss place is the organic Rose Garden of Thailand in Samphran Riverside where they have the biggest variety of roses now grown and cultured successfully at Samphran. Some of these roses are award winning varieties that you do not often see elsewhere such as the Black Rose. There is also a tour of the rice growing section where you can experience rice growing and harvesting activities. Try your hand at the wooden mills that are used to separate the husk from the rice grains and you will appreciate the efforts and hard work that goes into that serving of fragrant rice on your plate the next time you eat a plate or bowl of rice!
There are demonstrations of bamboo stick dancing for those who feel energetic enough to participate. It is a lot of hops and skips to a rhythm and can be quite fun to try. Otherwise you can take home a picture souvenir of yourself in traditional Thai costumes at the traditional dressing booth. If you are not afraid of snakes you can take a picture with their resident albino snake which is a fairly large sized python, this is not for the squeamish!
Before departing back to your hotel, the tour ends with a visit to the local product and produce retail outlet where you can buy memorabilia and souvenirs to remember your trip to Samphran Riverside. Most of the products here are made by the local farmers who are learning how to do organic farming methods. You can purchase items such as balms, organic soaps and skin cleansers as well as local produce such as honey, snacks and even t-shirts and decorative items.
All tours to Samphran Riverside include full transfers from hotels located in the city centre and the tours to Samphran require advance booking from Thaitourismguide in their online site. The tour duration is a good five hours or a little more but the amount of activity makes it a well worth visit. The Thai culture at Samphran Riverside is one of the attractions for sightseeing in Bangkok activities for a lot of tourists who would like an agro tourism experience that is not too far out of the city. So the next time if you are visiting Bangkok, try not to miss this tour to Samphran Riverside and have an eye opening cultural and traditional experience the Thai way!