The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum in Kanchanaburi has been named as the top museum in Thailand and the fifth top museum in Asia in listings compiled by global travel website TripAdvisor. It’s a testament to the major upgrades that Thailand’s museums have undergone in recent years , clearly recognised by the thousands of travellers who post reviews online.
Announcing the results of its Travellers’ Choice awards for museums around the globe, TripAdvisor said on its website:
“The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum is a MUST for anyone visiting the Kanchanaburi area to pursue their interest in the history of the Burma-Siam Death Railway in World War II.”
While most people visit Thailand for its beautiful beaches, jungles and food, a visit to a museum can be a great way to get an insight into Thai culture. So, for those who may be interested in exploring a different side of Thailand…
Here are Thailand’s Top 10 Museums:
1.Hellfire Pass Museum, Kanchanaburi
The Hellfire Pass Museum was ranked the fifth in Asia along with other museums in Japan, Malaysia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong. It was built by the Office of Australian War Graves in a joint venture between the Australian Government and the Royal Thai Armed Forces Development Command and opened on 24 April, 1998. It is under the management of the Office of Australian War Graves.
It has about 200 square metres of exhibition area, high quality displays and audio tours are available. Overnight tours can be arranged with a pick-up from most Bangkok hotels. The Museum is open from 9.00 am – 4.00 pm every day except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
2. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Bangkok
MOCA is a 5-storey gallery containing an impressive collection of more than 800 pieces of modern painting and sculpture collected by communications magnate Boonchai Bencharongkul. Importantly, the gallery showcases the development of Thai fine art since the introduction of modern western concepts. MOCA is open from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Monday).
3. Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Chiang Mai
If you’re intrigued by the natural world then this unique and quirky museum is definitely for you! At The Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders you’ll find a huge collection of weird and wonderful insects, fossils, plants, rocks and crystals. This collections represents the lifetime’s work of Dr Rampa Rrattanarithikul – an expert entomologist who has classified all 450 species of Thailand’s mosquitoes – who is dedicated to promoting education and nature conservancy. The Museum is open every day from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm.
4. Erawan Museum, Samut Prakan
Housed in a 30-metre high statue of a three-headed elephant, the Erawan Museum is simply unique. The museum is the brainchild of the late business tycoon Lek Viriyapant, a collector of Asian antiquities. But the museum is more than a simple collection of china. ceramics, and antiques. The Erawan Museum is constructed on three levels – each symbolising a part of the Thai cosmos. The Museum is open from 9.00 am – 8.00 pm every day (half price between 5.00pm and 8.00pm).
5. Hall of Opium Museum, Chiang Saen (Chiang Rai)
Located about 10km from Chiang Saen, in Chiang Rai province, close to where millions of poppies once bloomed, The Hall of Opium Museum at Golden Triangle Park offers a glimpse of the history and impact of Thailand’s former opium trade which flourished in this area.
It’s a fascinating history that stretches back 5,000 years. Historians tell the story through interactive displays and multimedia presentations that are accessible to people of all ages. The museum is open every day (except Monday) from 8.30 am – 5.00 pm.
6. Anek Kuson Sala (Viharnra Sien), Pattaya
You’ll find Viharnra Sien – both a temple of worship and a museum – about 15 km south of Pattaya. It houses three floors of exhibits, showcasing religious artifacts from the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist sects, Thai cultural artifacts, and many are treasures from china (many donated by the Chinese government).
The exhibition area, fashioned in the style of an ancient Chinese palace hall, houses artifacts ranging from earthenware pottery, ancient musical instruments, paintings, brassware, to a golden throne and the horse soldier figurine (dated more than 2,000 years old) excavated from Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb in Xian. The museum is open every day from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.
7. Siriraj Medical Museum, Bangkok
Definitely not for the faint-hearted or children, the Siriraj Medical Museum in Bangkok is nonetheless a fascinating (if morbid – some of the displays are quite confronting) collection. It is divided into three main sections: medical, forensic, and parasites. There is also a special display concerning the Tsunami. The museum is open daily (except Tuesdays) from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm.
8. Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Bangkok
With a mission to collect, display and preserve textiles from across South East Asia, the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles was developed at the behest of Her Majesty. The museum is located in the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok and contains a wonderful collection of regional textiles and royal items. Many of her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s designer clothes made from handwoven silk are on display. The beauty of traditional Thai textiles shown at the museum helps to create greater public awareness of Thai identity and culture. The museum is open daily from 9.00 am – 4.30 pm.
9. Black House – Ban Si Dum – Muser Ban Dum, Chiang Rai
Another typically quirky museum is the Black House in the northern city of Chiang Rai. The creation of local artist Thawan Duchanee, it comprises several houses containing unusual pieces of artwork, often incorporating skins, skulls and various other animal parts. It is open daily between 9.00 am and 5.00pm (closed between noon and 1.00pm).
10. Suan Pakkad Palace Museum, Bangkok
To visit The Suan Pakkad Palace Museum is to step back in time. It is a complex of eight traditional Thai houses surrounded by serene ponds and beautiful tropical gardens. The houses are full of fine arts, antiques and oddities belonging to Prince and Princess Chumbhot, who converted their traditional private residence to a museum back in 1952. A more recent addition is the Chumblot – Panthip Centre of Arts, which houses neolithic, bronze and iron age artefacts. The museum is open daily between 9.00 am – 4.00pm.
Have you visited any of the above museums? Or do you have a suggestion to add? Let us know in the comments below.