About Kirsty S
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Feb 2015
I have travelled extensively through southeast Asia. I know Thailand and Malaysia particularly well, but also love Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore. I travel to this part of the world whenever I can, sometimes on a short trip while on route to Australia, and sometimes for extended periods of time so that I can really get beneath the skin of a particular area – whether I’ve been to that spot before or not. I’ve blogged about southeast Asia (among other countries) for Flight Centre UK and their sister company, Round the World Experts, where I also worked as a travel agent for 15 months. I’ve been Viator’s main blogger for southeast Asia for the last few years, and more recently have written some short pieces specifically on the attractions in this part of the world, plus many others. More than anything, I love discovering something new while travelling and sharing it with those who have the same passion for travel as I do. I’m a bit of a foodie and never get bored of the beach.
Landmarks & points of interest
Museums, Speciality museums
Islands, Neighbourhoods, Parks
Flea & street markets
Flea & street markets
Architectural buildings, Speciality museums
Flea & street markets
There’s a phallus shrine at the back of the Swissotel Nai Lert Hotel in central Bangkok. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds. From small wooden sculptures to huge stone monuments, this is an unusual attraction even for Bangkok's standards. The shrine pays homage to Chao Mae Tubtim, a female fertility spirit. It sees local women visiting to pay their respects when trying to conceive but is also open to any visitors whose curiosity gets the better of them.
There’s a Buddhist temple in Bangkok that has an effigy of David Beckham within it. Wat Pariwas sits right on the Chao Praya River within Chinatown. It’s important to note that this is not a temple that’s entirely dedicated to the man himself – but he’s certainly in there, carved inconspicuously into the alter. In fact, half the fun is finding him amid the garudas (guardian demons).
Not for the faint of heart, the Siriraj Medical Museum is not only unusual, it’s downright morbid. The museum is located inside the Siriraj Hospital on the west banks of the Chao Phraya River, and displays such artefacts as dissected and deformed body parts and preserved human skeletons. It’s niche to say the least. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Located on Maha Chai Road (past Chinatown and just before Wat Suthat) the Corrections Museum is a highly unusual Bangkok attraction. It’s situated in what’s left of an old maximum security prison that was built in 1890. The museum serves to educate the public of the horrifying way the prisoners were treated there – and it certainly does just that.
Many visitors to Bangkok don’t know it, but there’s an (almost) island of expansive, unspoiled greenery located just across the Chao Phraya River. Pretty much void of commercial development, Bang Krachao is instead filled with mangroves and orchards and is a great place to escape from hectic city life for a while.
You’ll have to duck out of the city for this one, but it’ll be worth it to see one of the most unusual markets in the country – if not the world. Situated in Samut Songkhram, just under 40 miles west of Bangkok, the unsuspecting Maeklong Railway Market sees trains passing directly through it up to eight times a day. Situated literally right on the railway line, the market vendors have to scoop up their wares to allow the trains to pass through, and then everything goes back to exactly how it was! Quite a bizarre occurrence that has to be seen to be believed.
A visit to the Khlong Toey Market is a real local experience – and definitely one for the foodies. It’s a sprawling and chaotic fresh food market tucked away deep within the concrete city blocks near the centre of town. The market sells a lot of raw meat and seafood, along with a variety of freshly cooked dishes, and is a world away from the tourist-centric markets you may have visited in the past.
Already famous for reviving silk weaving in the country, it was American Jim Thompson’s sudden and mysterious disappearance in 1967 while walking in the Cameron Highlands that turned him into a household name in Thailand. His house is made up of six teak buildings that are now home to artifacts from his private silk collection, as well as a museum. Sure, there’s likely to be other tourists on your visit but its off-the-tourist-track location tends to keep numbers down. Plus it makes a change from visiting temples and palaces for the afternoon.
The Train Night Market is no more. Well it is, but it has moved and is now referred to as Rod Fai. Most tourists head to Chatuchak Market when they want to experience one of the capital’s large markets. But for a more authentic feel of an open-air night bazaar selling everything imaginable, savvy visitors to Bangkok head here. It’s unique in that it sells a vast array of vintage collectables and retro memorabilia alongside the usual fare, and you won’t find a great deal of tourists here either.
It may be smaller, but Khlong Lat Mayom is much more of a local affair than the more popular Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa Floating Markets near Bangkok. A relaxed local market in a lush rural setting, here you can eat at a ‘boat restaurant’, hire a vessel to drift down the canal in, or browse the dry market for handicrafts and souvenirs to take home.