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Thailand - Leisure and Entertainment
Cinema is another popular pastime of the Thai people and the cinemas show both Thai made films and foreign films. These are often shown with subtitles, so expats will find that there is not much of a language barrier here. All types of films are shown in Thai cinemas.
Bars and clubs are popular among the younger generation in and areas such as Bangkok there are plenty to choose from. Nightlife in smaller towns is severely limited. Eating out in an evening is popular mainly because there is a large variety of restaurants available and it can often prove to be cheaper than staying at home for the evening meal.
Thailand has many cultural attractions and most of these are based in and around Bangkok. The National Museum dates back to the 1920s and is close to the Grand Palace. This is one of the largest museums in south-east Asia and consists of a palace dating back to the 18th century as well as more contemporary structures. Exhibitions include Thai history and art history collections. There are guided tours if you prefer them and these are often held in languages other than Thai.
The National Theatre is close to the National Museum. There are regular performance of ‘khon’ which is a traditional mask dance drama but there are also plays and other shows which are staged regularly. In addition there is the Joe Louise theatre which regularly stages the Thai puppet show known as ‘hun lakhon lek’. Bookings should be made in advance and the theatre is easily reached by public transport.
The National Art Gallery is opposite the National Theatre and it features displays of both modern and classic art, created mainly by Thai artists. There are also displays of oil paintings which have been done by the King of Thailand. The Queen’s Gallery dates back to the early 2000s and was created at the request of the Queen to display Thai paintings and sculpture. The gallery has a shop which sells books, T-shirts and postcards.
Other cultural attractions include the palaces. Suan Pakkad Palace has been created from 5 traditional houses and landscaped gardens. This palace is now a museum for antiques and art. The Thailand Cultural Centre features music and dramatic performance of traditional Thai culture as well as from other cultures.
Thailand has a smoking ban in place for all public areas which has been recently extended to include pubs and restaurants as well as market places. Those who violate the ban can be fined up to 2000 THB although businesses that allow the ban to be violated on their premises can be fined up to 20,000 THB. Some places will have designated smoking areas and this is permitted.
There are a number of public holidays each year in Thailand. New Year’s Day is a public holiday and in February at the full moon there is the festival of Magha Puja. This is a Buddhist day to commemorate the teachings of the Buddha. In April there is Chakri Memorial Day on the 6th which commemorates the founding of the Chakri dynasty and the birth of Bangkok. The Songkran Festival runs from the 13th to the 15th of April each year and is the Thai New Year.
The King’s Coronation is commemorated on 5th May and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony also takes place in May to bless the country’s farmers. On the full moon in May there is the festival of Vesak which celebrates the birth and passing of Buddha. On the full moon in July the festival of Asalha Puja celebrates the first discourse of the Buddha. As the moon begins to wane the festival of Vassa begins and this is the equivalent of Lent. The Queen’s Birthday is a national holiday on 12th August and on 23rd October there is Chulalongkorn Day which is to observe the death of King Chulalongkorn in 1910. The King’s birthday is remembered on 5th December and it is Constitution Day on 10th December. Finally at the end of the year, New Year’s Eve is also observed as a National Holiday.
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