Exploring Southeast Asia

Thailand

Touring Ancient Thai Temples and Markets

Thailand is a land where Buddhism is the official religion. It boasts a great many temples devoted to Buddha. Over the centuries, many of the jungle temples were abandoned as the land was overrun by foreign invaders. The country of Myanmar invaded and drove the Thai people out of much of their own lands for several years. Thailand itself also boasted several kingdoms that overran their neighboring countries. This rich cultural history is reflected in the forgotten temples of years past. Many of the most interesting temple ruins are located in the jungle region. They are well worth the trip to see and experience in this ancient land.

Getting to many temples requires boat rides up tropical rivers. In some cases, elephants are used. Elephants and boats have long been a major source of transportation in the jungle regions. Rivers are the main highways and byways that can withstand tropical growth. Elephants have long been domesticated in this ancient land and used for transportation of people and goods.

One of the best set of ruins to visit is Ayutthaya Temple. It is the ancient capital of Siam that was once overrun by the Burmese that have now become the modern country of Myanmar. Ayutthaya is reached by riverboat on the Chao Phraya River. This is a day trip that includes viewing the ruins of the old capital as well as ancient Buddhist temples. Because of its popularity, there are many companies that provide guided day tours.

Tourists not yet ready to venture too deeply into the countryside of Thailand may find the floating markets a wonderful way to explore. While many floating markets have been replaced by modern supermarkets, there are still some left. The Damnoen Saduak Floating market is the largest and most famous of all. Located approximately 100 kilometers southwest of Bangkok, it offers tourists a unique shopping experience. Boatloads of vendors pull along the riverbank to sell their fresh produce and other goods to those waiting on the shore.