The Royal Grand PalaceThailand
is a country that is as diversified as it is amazing. However, for the traveler from Muslim countries or for those with a special diet of kosher or vegetarian food, this issue can crop up, as Thailand seemingly offers more Westernized and Thai food that does not really practice the Kosher or Halal methods of food preparation. This myth can now be put aside as Thailand is currently in the field to attract more tourists from the Muslim countries as well as those who are sensitive to certain types of food. Muslim visitors to Thailand can now arrange halal meals with tour packages of Thailand for their convenience.

The certification of “Halal” means that food is prepared in the ways accorded by the Muslim community. There are diverse communities of Muslim in Thailand as well, so the availability of this type of food preparation is not scarce. Most hotels already practice this method to attract Muslim customers and even for some fast food preparations it is a staple offering. There are Muslim communities in Bangkok as well as other parts of Thailand that provides such cuisine.

Apart from that, there is also the option of vegetarian food where most of the ingredients are soy, vegetable and gluten base. As Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country, vegetarian food is easily available. There are options from Indian vegetarian restaurants to Thai vegetarian restaurants. Therefore, the travelers who are reliant on these types of cuisine will not find it difficult to obtain.

Pattaya coral islandSome example of tours and sightseeing packages in Thailand offered by which is remarkably suitable for Muslim travelers to Thailand include the Safari World and Marine Park Tour with buffet lunch as well as the Half day Coral Island Tour with Indian Buffet lunch. Both these examples of tours offered by are vegetarian and halal menus. Travelers to Thailand with special food preferences can request for Halal, vegetarian or kosher food menu prior to booking a tour package to Thailand, especially for sightseeing and tour packages in Thailand that includes buffets or set menus.

This in turn offers a wider selection of cuisine for gastronomes in Thailand as we now get to savor a more diverse choice of international cuisine from the usual fare. Visitors from these countries will now also be able to fully enjoy their holidays to Thailand, without the worry of where and what to eat or where they can perform their daily prayers.

Aside from the food issue, most major hotels also provide Signage in the rooms to indicate the direction for prayers for the Muslim traveler, also known as the direction of “Kiblat.” Some places for sightseeing also have special places or rooms for prayers specifically for Muslim travelers. The sensitivity of these travelers is on the increase in the tourism sector as Thailand is all out to increase its tourism intake from such countries as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Middle East. Another such example of a tour and sightseeing package that offers not only Halal food but also prayer rooms is the sightseeing and tour to the Big Bee Farm in Pattaya where numerous activities are available to learn all about the bees, honey production, acupuncture with bee treatments, cooking with bee products and more.

It would also interest the Muslim traveler to know that there are several mosques within Bangkok itself where if they so desire, can go and perform their daily prayers if they are staying longer than the time allocated for “kadur”, or known as combining two sessions or more of prayer a day to a singular prayer session. In Bangkok City, the Muslim traveller can have access to mosques which are available in the Silom and Bangkrak areas, and Soi 3 in Silom is a predominantly Hindu Muslim area which makes getting a nice Halal restaurant convenient and easy.
Nong Nooch Paradise Garden in PattayaOther places where it is also easy for Muslim travelers to visit aside from Bangkok City are Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Samui. This is because there are really no shortages of Indian and Muslim restaurants in these places. For instance, a Muslim traveler who would like to visit Pattaya, can make arrangements for a half day tour to Coral Island including Indian buffet, which is vegetarian to occupy their half day, then go watch the Alangkarn Theater in Pattaya. Dinner in Pattaya has plenty of options, from Arabic food to Indian and even Halal western restaurants.

Thailand is such a diversified tourist attraction, there are really no limitations for any types of traveling preferences and the tour agents in Thailand are professional enough to make the necessary enquires and recommendations based on a travelers needs and requirements provided they are given notice in advance. Therefore, even Muslim travelers or those who have special needs including the disabled will still be able to enjoy a good holiday in this remarkable country. A point to note where Muslim traveler will really be able to enjoy themselves are also on the islands of Phuket and Koh Samui all the way down to Hatyai where people in the south are one could say, have a higher percentage of Muslim people and therefore more choices of food, mosque and lodgings. Some of the big tour and travel companies in Thailand such as are leading the way for travelers from these nationalities to enjoy their visits to Thailand in the most convenient and suitable way. If you are a traveler from these countries, please do check with your preferred tour agent in Thailand on the options available for such tour packages in Thailand ahead of time prior to your travels.

That being said, there is no reason why Thailand is only suitable for certain types of travelers. The diversity and flexibility of various cultures now in Thailand, has opened the door for travelers of all nationalities regardless of culture or religious backgrounds to now enjoy a part of Thailand from the adventures to the sightseeing and even the cuisine!


Cycling Adventure in China Town BangkokEvery major city in the world more or less has a little Chinatown of its own, Bangkok not being any different has a thriving community of Thai Chinese who have settled there since 1783. If you are looking for a unique experience in Thai Chinese culture, Yaowarrat Road with its prominent Chinese Ceremonial Gateway is the entrance way to an exciting little “township” of its own!

A tour of Chinatown is not normally found on regular tour itineraries but one unique way to explore Chinatown is on a bicycle tour of Chinatown, which is often offered by a tour agent. This is also a great way to explore the district as most of the roads are small and narrow streets.
One thing you will notice as you walk or cycle down Yaowarrat Road is the Chinese characters on the huge business signage boards’ right next to the Thai characters. The Mandarin language is still widely used, though at one point in the history of Thailand it was not encouraged due to the communist incursions as well as to encourage the use of the Thai language in the country. It started to pick up in the late 1970s and now there are Chinese Schools (of which some are very prominent) throughout the country.

Chinatown in Bangkok is a maze of small Sois or rather streets and alleyways that wind and weave through a fabric of noise, market places, medicinal halls, temples, and housing. The Chinese community of Thailand has managed to preserve their unique identity throughout the centuries, which is evident in the way they trade, their cuisine, and even in the items, they trade. They say that you can find just about anything in Chinatown. The most ideal bicycle tours of Chinatown are those that will bring you to a few places within the district and also to some of the lesser known but just as famous tourists’ sites such as the Chinese temples and monumental gardens. One great example of a bicycle tour in Chinatown is the one that does an early morning ride which includes a tour guide who can explain the intricacies of the Chinese community in Thailand while bringing you to try the local Chinese food, to see the wet market and central business district of Chinatown as well as into the back alleyways where many of the original housing are still located with the old traditional Chinese influenced exterior and decors.
China TownAn immediate impression of Chinatown would be this greasy, noisy, smelly hotchpotch of narrow streets filled with traders selling their wares and dead animals hanging from hooks over steaming pots and charcoal fires. To some extent it is still very much the same but gone is the era of opium dens, gambling houses and brothels seemingly replaced by fancy restaurants, medicinal halls, vibrant market places and off course gold! A bicycle tour with a tour guide of Chinatown will also give you ample time to explore all the little delights of this old district. It is also more practical to do the exploring on a bicycle in Chinatown as you can easily weave in and out of the small sois and get to any place within the district without wasting time in the traffic jams of the district plus it is also a great workout as you will enjoy seeing more of the place and experiencing the typical Chinese cuisine. You will also be more relaxed and less tired compared to walking the length of this exotic district and market place. It is a lot easier to park a bicycle than to park a car in Chinatown!

There are not many foreign faces in Chinatown as the tour companies often skip that and the best way to explore this place is to take slow walks or as recommended, to take a one day bicycle tour of Chinatown or half day bicycle tour of Chinatown and do a trip of self-discovery among the small lanes, alleyways and market places. The appeal of Chinatown is its unique culture especially during the Chinese New Year. At this time, streets will be transformed into a colorful playground of lights, decorations, and performances to usher in the new Chinese calendar year. You can still see Lion and Dragon dance performances in Chinatown during this time of the year in a gaily procession down the main road.

The district of Chinatown is also one of the most photographed places because of the exotic feel and allure of the place and also because of the numerous neon lights that light up the district in the evenings. Most of these bicycle tours of Chinatown can be a private tour of two or more persons or a join in group bicycle tour of Chinatown where you can also get to meet other tourists who come along for the ride and a great way to make friends while travelling in Thailand. The tour guides who accompany the cycling tourists are also well versed in the English language, so there are no problems in communication to make this an enjoyable and relaxed trip. There are plenty of stops along the way for you to rest up, have a good meal and drinks as well as a chance to meet up with the locals.

Looking for a place to stay in Chinatown is not hard, there is everything from a budget backpacker’s hostel to five star establishments plus the great fact that Chinatown is not too far from “Little India” and the ever-popular district of Khaosan, which is a backpacker’s haven. However, Chinatown is not known for its bars and late-night entertainment rather more for its cuisine, wholesale shopping, traditional Chinese massage and acupuncture as well as the many medicinal halls and shops selling gold.

If you are looking for very authentic Chinese food, then head out to Yaowarrat Road. You can still find cuisine with recipes handed down over the generations, which make up for their secret in a great dish. Mooching among the many stalls and vendors it is not hard to find a tasty morsel or two as a snack to keep your tummy from rumbling as you explore this quaint little district. The tour guides who accompany you on the bicycle trip around Chinatown will know the best places to recommend and which of the vendors or stalls have the best and most tasty foods for you to try. This is much better than you exploring the place on your own and not knowing where and what to eat or even where to start your exploration of the district. The shop owners if they have the time are always ready for a chat with foreigners though they do not really speak much English but this is the novelty of the place.

Access to Chinatown is easy via the MRT, BTS, klongs (small canals), buses, taxis, and the present tuk-tuks. The nearest MRT station is the Hua Lampong MRT exit, which is also, where you can take trains that connect you to other parts of Thailand. If you fancy taking a tuk-tuk, make sure you bargain the price and they do not mislead you to other parts for a rip-off, especially if they charge you a ridiculously low price. The average for a tuk-tuk ride is approximately THB80. So, the best alternative is still a booking for a bicycle tour to Chinatown, where the tour company will organize the necessary transfer from the hotel to the starting point of your bicycle tour.

Looking for night entertainment in Chinatown is pretty scarce, but a short BTS ride to Silom and Sukhumvit or a taxi ride to Khaosan Road is where you can party all night long. Some of the things you can do at Chinatown are if you are daring enough, is try the renowned Snake Tonic! It is reputed to be able to heal just about any ailments you may have. Does not catch your fancy? Then try the market of Talat Kao, which is the main trading market of Chinatown in Bangkok. There is a delicacy here that is a soup made from fried and boiled fish stomach. It may look unappealing but taste really good! Alternatively, give the bird’s nest soup a try another reputed elixir for strength and beauty. Tired from all that walking and cycling, try a Chinese massage, acupuncture or reflexology. They differ from the traditional Thai massage and are a good way to find out any hidden ailments you may have! Visit the Kuan Yin Shrine, where she is believe to be the Goddess of Mercy, which is included in a bicycle tour to Chinatown itinerary. If shopping is the main item on your list, you will not be disappointed as Yaowarrat has some of the biggest wholesale shops in electronics and other goods including gold and jewelry.

So if you are looking for something different to do while in Bangkok and want to experience a different culture, make your way to Yaowarrat Road. Take your time to look around and savor the experience!

All About Tattoos In Thailand

tattoo in Thailand

So, you want a tattoo, but not sure where to go and get a tattoo in Thailand. You have only heard that Thailand produces some of the most refined tattoos in the market, but where do you start going to look for one? You may have noticed the Thais or even foreigners sporting a great looking tattoo somewhere on their body and wondered where they might have had it done. Well, Thailand is the right place to go and have one should you so happen to be visiting Thailand. Tattoos serve two purposes in Thailand, one for the adornment of the skin and the other for religious reasons.

The tattoo industry in Thailand does contribute a big part to the tourism industry of Thailand. One might also think it is unsafe to have a tattoo done in Thailand but on the contrary as they are very hygienic in their practice and do change needles from user to user. However off course prudence is better than ignorance and there is no harm in checking that they do change the needles. Tattoo parlors can be found anywhere in the city and in busy tourist places. If you are visiting Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui or Chiang Mai, it is definite you will find a good choice of tattoo parlors available.

tattoo in Thailand

If you are in Bangkok, you can head out to Khaosan Road or Phat Pong near Silom where there are many such parlors available. The only difference is the designs offered and the pricing. There are also different techniques used to create a certain design, so that will have to depend on your preference. These are for non-religious tattoos and are available in any tattoo parlor.

tattoo in ThailandReligious tattoos on the other hand have significance on the bearer of the tattoo. Most religious tattoos, also known as “Sak Yant” in Thai is available in a temple and initiated by the monks. Not every temple has this service and you will have to look for it. One such temple in Bangkok is the Wat
Pho Temple
where they also have a school for traditional massage in Bangkok. Please be aware that these tattoos are mostly for men and those who are ordained as monks. Rarely will a monk perform such tattoos for women, but there are also some who would do it only by special request. These tattoos are normally in the form of Buddhist scripts, icons, or charms. They are to protect the bearer, strengthen his faith in the proses of being ordained or to provide a specific charm if he is a temple devotee such as those who perform incredible feats as Ma Songs during the Vegetarian Week Festivals in Thailand. As the Thais are a superstitious lot, they also have religious tattoos on their bodies as spiritual charms to ward off evil and mediums will normally have a few somewhere about their body as protection! The bearer of these tattoos can invoke the power of the scripture or charm and go into a trance like state. Therefore, these tattoos are not normally done for you unless you have a specific religious purpose. Lately the Thai Government has imposed a restriction on religious tattoos as they feel it was being exploited so temples are more cautious as to who they make these tattoos for.

tattoo in ThailandAside from that, all other tattoos are available easily in the market. If you are looking for one to commemorate a special reason, to declare your love or just be drunk and silly enough to get one done but regret it the next day, you will have no difficulty in finding one while in Thailand!

Mysticism In The Garden Of The Gods

Ancient city tour Muang boranThailand is steeped in much mysticism and culture that relates to religion. This is significant in the many temples and places of worship in the country. Hinduism is a great influence in many of Thailand’s religious icons, traditions and culture. The Ramakien which is an epic story of the Gods and Deities was derived from the Ramayana and adapted to Thai beliefs. If you were to visit the temples in Bangkok City on a tour of Bangkok City Temples you will notice many statues and symbols of Hindu origin. Many of the religious personalities can be seen in the emblems of Government departments and company logos. There are also many shrines dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesh, which is the Elephant God or known in Thai as Papikanae and one of the oldest and most famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Ganesh is located in Silom in Bangkok.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

The Thai strongly believe that there is one God for each day of the week similarly there is one Buddha position for every day of the week. One great place to see an adaptation of these Gods in their full splendour is at Ancient City or better known as Muang Boran. Located in the district of Samut Prakan, half hours drive out of Bangkok city centre; it is the first creative project by the enterprising philanthropist Khun Lek Virayaphan. There are guided tours to Ancient City which is a half day tour that should not be missed while you are enjoying your holiday in Bangkok.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

This particular section in the Ancient City is known as Garden of The Gods. It might also interest you to know that there is an association between the names of the days in Thai to that of the names given to the Gods and the planets. The vast garden is beautifully maintained and the sculptures of the seven different Gods adorn various sections of the garden. One of the largest and most prominent sculptures is that of the God called Phra Athit the God of Light. He represents “Sunday” and is depicted sitting on an elaborate chariot drawn by seven sky horses and driven by Phra Arun. The name “Arun” means dawn and is similar to the famous Temple of Dawn called Wat Arun in Bangkok. Phra Athit is said to be influential, noble and distinguished. Another large sculpture is that of Phra Chan the God of the Moon who represents Monday. He can be seen astride a chariot driven by ten horses. One gets the impression that he is dignified, gentle and suave. Just to digress a little, it is believed that people born on various days are said to have these same characteristics of the Gods imparted to them. So make a note of which day you were born and see if the character of these Gods are similar to yours!

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

Tuesday is attributed to the God Phra Angkhan that is seen riding a huge water buffalo. His planet of influence is Mars and therefore is also known as the God of War. His characteristics are hot tempered, hard-working and controversial. You could adapt the saying of “blood, sweat and tears” to him. Many of these sculptures are very intricate in detail and provide a great insight into how the Thai people associate their lives with that of the prevailing Gods. Phra Budha (not the Buddha as we know it) rules over Wednesday. His dedicated planet is Mercury and is seated above a great elephant as his steed. He symbolizes wisdom, intellectual and communication. He is said to be wise and knowledgeable. In Thai culture, the elephant is also the symbol of wisdom and knowledge as well as bravery.

Garden of Gods
Garden of Gods

Moving on to Thursday, we have Pharutsabodhi. He can be seen riding a deer with huge antlers and carrying a writing slate. He also represents the planet Jupiter and is considered a heavenly seer and tutor to the Gods and Deities. It is also noted that Thursdays are dedicated to the teaching profession in Thailand. He represents knowledge, education and teaching.This next God is much sought after in terms of having children born on this particular day. This is the God Sukra who rides in on a hefty bull. Sukra is the ruler for Friday is a heavenly seer and also tutor of the Gods. However his atributes are wealth and a taste for the arts. The best of both worlds, money and talent!Last but not least is Phra Sao also known as Sani or in Hinduism as Shiva. His ruling planet is Saturn and he presides over Saturday. His steed is a tiger and people born under the influence of Saturn are known to be hot tempered as one of their traits! Phra Sao holds a trident in one hand and a bow in the other. Unfortunately he is also known as the God of Grief and those born on this day are also said to face a life of hardship, despair and grief. Enjoy the experience of a walking tour in Ancient City which comes highly recommended for the amazing things you can see that is not just the Garden of the Gods.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

It can be said that the belief of astrology and religion go hand in hand in Thailand. Sometimes parents of newborn babies try to have their children born on an auspicious day under a particular diety so that their future will be bright and easy. For the tourist this means a host of great and interesting things and places to see! The Ancient City, where all these sculptures are located was also the site where HRH Queen Elizabeth II was given a great reception by HRH The King of Thailand when she visited Thailand in the 1970s. This is a place that should be included in your itinerary for sightseeing and tours in Bangkok. The experience of walking in the Garden of the Gods can be both fascinating and yet intimidating when one thinks of these Gods presiding over man in the world.