#Indonesia – Borobudur Temple among top cultural destinations in 2017#

If you’ve been itching to travel somewhere new this spring, one of the world’s best cultural landmarks might just be in your backyard.

Booking.com found that out of 34,000 international respondents, 66 percent were on the lookout for new travel experiences. To help with your future travels, they compiled their user recommendation data to create a ranking of lesser-known travel destinations.

Specifically aimed at those who are looking to whet their adventurous appetites, Indonesia’s own Borobudur Temple comes in halfway through the list at fifth place. A Buddhist temple located in Central Java, Borobudur has recently been considered an alternative to Bali, especially for those interested in history and culture, while not wanting to battle the crowds.

(Read also: Borobudur temple hosts new monthly dance performance)

Joining Borobudur Temple on the list are destinations such as the Indian city of Jaisalmer, in second place, a city known for its architecture that is located near the Indian-Pakistani border, and the only other Asian destination on the list. A slightly more well-known locale, Australia’s iconic red rock, Uluru, also makes it onto the list, in sixth place.

Source – TheJakartaPost

FOR THE BEST GLOBAL HOTEL & FLIGHT BOOKINGS

Booking.com’s top cultural destinations for travelers:

1. Recanati, Italy

2. Jaisalmer, India

3. Viljandi, Estonia

4. Borobudur, Indonesia

5. Uluru, Australia

6. Barichara, Colombia

7. Vezelay, France

8. Flores, Guatemala

In the wilds of Mongolia: Horses, sand dunes and stargazing

I’m a city girl. I did not grow up camping, have never pitched a tent and know nothing of the Girl Scouts beyond Thin Mints or Samoa cookies. Certainly no one would use the words “rugged” or “outdoorsy” to describe me.

So I definitely had a few reservations when my husband suggested a vacation in the wilds of central Mongolia.

My trepidation only grew as I binged on travel reviews bemoaning makeshift bathrooms and swarming insects.

But I ended up loving every minute in Mongolia, a country steeped in history, stunning scenery and welcoming locals. I stepped outside my comfort zone and into the trip of a lifetime. And here’s why you should too.

GET OFF THE GRID

Mongolia, a country of 3 million people slightly smaller than Alaska, is one of the most sparsely populated places in the world.

You can go hours, even days, without seeing another human while traveling through Mongolia’s countryside. Instead, you’ll find a vibrant blue horizon and empty, rolling grasslands dotted with horses, cows, sheep, goats and yaks.

You’ll be forced to unplug as cell service and Wi-Fi is mostly non-existent outside of the larger cities.

So say goodbye to Facebook rants and traffic jams and say hello to a seemingly endless untouched landscape. Your only roadblock is the occasional cow.

BOOK A GUIDE

As avid travelers accustomed to DIY adventures, we rarely book tours. But my top tip for this wonderland is to find yourself an expert.

There are few road signs and English is not widely used, so a local guide with knowledge of the routes and language is highly recommended.

You will also need a four-wheel drive vehicle to navigate the mostly unpaved terrain.

Our expert, good-humored guide, Munkh Bileg, whom we hired through Nomadic Discovery , tailored our private tour to our interests and time constraints to maximize our Mongolian experience.

We rode camels across sand dunes and horses at sunset. We met herder families and sampled local cuisine, including fermented mare’s milk and dried curds. Most of our days were spent off-roading over mountains and across rivers, simply soaking in Mongolia’s other-worldly landscape.

READ CONTINUE – By Nicole Evatt

FOR THE BEST GLOBAL HOTEL & FLIGHT BOOKINGS

Exploring Japan’s rising dragon

Cool air greeted us as we were getting out of Chubu Centrair International Airport located south of Nagoya, Aichi prefecture, upon our arrival in central Japan. We, a group of Indonesian journalists and bloggers, were in Japan by invitation from Cathay Pacific and the Japan National Tourism Organization to explore several cities in the Shoryudo area.

The region is nicknamed the “rising dragon” based on the shape of the Chubu and Hokuriku regions at the heart of Japan, with the Noto Peninsula forming its head and Mie Prefecture its tail, and its rising body covering every part of its nine prefectures.

“Tomorrow, get ready to layer up because the place we’re going to is very cold,” warned our tour guide, Akiko “Ako” Konishi. “The weather forecast even said it will be snowing tomorrow.”

This was not my first trip to Japan but I believe there’s always something new waiting to be discovered and snow would certainly not stop me.

Kenrokuen

Kenrokuen is a perfect place to visit if you like to stroll around in a beautiful Japanese garden. Located on a hill in the central part of Kanazawa city, it is regarded as one of Japans three most beautiful gardens alongside Kairaku-en in Mito and Koraku-en in Okayama.

“Out of the three, my favorite garden is Kenrokuen, it’s beautiful at all seasons but the sight in winter is at its most extraordinary,” said Ako.

Originally the outer garden of the Kanazawa Castle, the 11.4-hectare Kenrokuen garden was opened to the public in 1874. It is home to about 160 plant species and 8,200 trees.

There are many beautiful spots inside the garden but it is renowned for its majestic Karasakinomatsu pine trees. In winter time, gardeners set up yukizuri snow support to prevent the pine trees’ branches from breaking under heavy snow, creating a surreal geometrical sight from a distance.

Read continue:

Thailand – King anoints new Supreme Patriarch

20th chief of Buddhism in Ratanakosin era commended as caring for unfortunate.

HIS MAJESTY King Maha Vajiralongkorn yesterday presided over the ceremony to appoint Somdet Phra Ariyawongsakhatayan, the abbot of Ratchabophit Sathitmahasimaram Temple, as the country’s 20th Supreme Patriarch at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

To honour Thailand’s new Buddhism chief, an investiture ceremony started at about 6.30pm with the King presenting saffron robes to senior monks from the Sangha Supreme Council. He then lit candles and incense sticks to worship the Tripitaka, after which senior monks of the Racha Khana rank chanted and granted religious precepts to the King.

The Bureau of Royal Scribes and Royal Decorations then announced the royal command appointing the new Supreme Patriarch. 

The appointment was followed prayers by Racha Khanaranking monks, and then prayers by Sangha Council members. 

The new Supreme Patriarch and Sangha Council members took seats with a group of senior monks from across the country while the King presented a golden plate bearing the name of the Supreme Patriarch and items associated with the senior position.

The newly-appointed Supreme Patriarch is described by laypersons as an austere and very compassionate monk.

Somdet Phra Ariyawongsakha-tayan (Ambhorn Ambharo) has been welcomed by people nationwide, with some suggesting that he is the perfect choice to lead Thai monks and Buddhists.

Yesterday morning, Somdet Phra Maha Muneewong, as the Supreme Patriarch was then known, attended a merit-making ceremony at Ratchabophit Temple to pay respect to previous abbots of the temple. He stopped briefly for a prayer in front of a statue of King Rama V inside the temple. Along the route, young and old Thais paid respect to the newly appointed Supreme Patriarch by kneeling on the ground.

Amporn Kasiwat, 61, a resident of Bangkok’s On Nut district, said she had attended an overnight prayer for Makha Bucha Day and stayed on to witness the ceremony for the new Supreme Patriarch. “I’m very delighted,” she said.

Woraya Jitkarunawong, 50, a resident of Bangkok’s Bang Bon area, said the new Supreme Patriarch was very compassionate and allowed people to follow him closely during the Makha Bucha Day’s Wien Tien ceremony.

Tonwud Wangthamkhum, 68, said he was ordained in 1980 when the new Supreme Patriarch was a monk who always showed compassion to those were unfortunate and had made mistakes.

Itthichai Saewong, a former monk at Ratchabophit Temple, said the new Supreme Patriarch was a fit person to lead the religion, given that he was one of the most austere senior monks in the country and very humble.

“I am tremendously delighted to hear that my preceptor when I was monk at Ratchabophit Temple was nominated to be the new Supreme Patriarch. I wish I could make it to the official appointment ceremony to be a witness in this historic event,” he said.

Itthichai – a monk at Ratchabophit Temple from July to December last year – said he had opportunities to be close to his abbot and serve him as a disciple, and as such directly experienced his kindness and witnessed his commendable practices as a monk.

Somdet Phra Ariyawongsakha-tayan was ordained at Wat Ratchabophit in 1948 and studied at the temple until he graduated from the sixth (intermediate) level of Pali studies before going to Banaras Hindu University in India to study a master’s degree in history. He graduated in 1969. 

He then headed a Buddhism mission in Australia in 1973 and set up temples in many Australian cities such as Canberra, Melbourne and Darwin. He was appointed abbot at Ratchabophit Temple in 2009.

See more photos : http://www.nationmultimedia.com/photo/view/108

Cambodia – Steeper entry at Angkor Wat Temples

Ticket prices for Angkor Wat are scheduled to increase on Wednesday, with industry experts expressing cautious optimism that despite reports showing tourist spending fell last year, the sharp increase in admission fares at the country’s premier tourist attraction would not deter foreigners from visiting Cambodia.

Starting on Wednesday, foreign visitors to the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province will need to fork out almost twice as much for one-day passes, which are set to increase to $37, from $20. Three-day passes will rise to $62, from $40, while week-long passes will cost $72, up from $60.

The higher admission fares, first announced last August, follow similar price hikes at the country’s popular tourist sites. On January 1, the entry fee of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh increased to $10, from $6.25. Entry to the capital’s other top tourist draws, the National Museum and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, rose to $5, from $3.

Carrol Sahaidak-Beaver, secretary-general of the Cambodia Tourism Federation (CTF), said she did not expect these price hikes to have any significant impact on visitor numbers.

“We are not anticipating any negative impact on tourism numbers for either Angkor Wat, the National Museum or Tuol Sleng Museum,” she said yesterday. “The prices have been unchanged for 25 years and were overdue for an increase.”

Sahaidak-Beaver noted that a longer period of adjustment would have helped transition from the old to the new prices. However, the increased expenses should not affect Cambodia’s tourism competitiveness in the region, she added.

“Many tour packages are sold well in advance hence it is difficult to go back and say there has been an increase,” she said. “The new price is competitive to what is offered by our neighbors and internationally, and we fully support the increase.”

Ho Vandy, deputy secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, said while government data showed tourists were spending less money during visits to the Kingdom, it was too early to say how higher admission prices would play out.

“We don’t know yet if it will affect the country in a positive or in a negative way,” he said. “Let’s see at the end of 2017 what the results are.”

In its year-end report released last week, the Ministry of Tourism revealed that overall revenue from tourism in Cambodia declined last year despite more visitors. Total revenue dropped $500 million to $3 billion in 2016 as international tourist arrivals increased 5 percent, crossing the 5 million mark for the first time.

Vandy suggested the lower revenue could be the result of increased airline connectivity. He said with more airlines serving Cambodia the country is increasingly becoming a stopover on wider regional trips, leading to shorter stays.

“There are more direct flights connecting Cambodia with the region and there are many airlines operating in the country,” he said. “Tourists are cutting down the length of their stay because of this and are choosing to go to more places during their trip.”

However, Tui Rutten, managing director of First Travel Cambodia, said a growing shift from high-end to budget travellers was likely behind the decline in overall tourism revenue. There are more Chinese tourists visiting Cambodia on cheap package deals and fewer tourists from Western countries, partly because of poor economic conditions in Europe, she explained.

“There have been a lot of Chinese charters coming to Cambodia and I think there has also been an increase in low-cost tourism,” she said. “I feel like there has been a decrease in the number of high-value tourists from Canada, the US and Europe.”

Whether the admission fee hikes of a handful of tourist sites would impact the decision of budget-conscious tourists to visit Cambodia remains unclear. Rutten preferred not to speculate.

Author:  Matthieu de Gaudemar / PhnonPehnPost

Cambodia – Angkor Wat bridge awaits restoration

SIEM REAP, 25 January 2017: A temporary pontoon bridge leading to Angkor Wat will be completed in May to allow workers to close an ancient stone bridge for restoration.

Phnom Penh Post reported that Apsara Authority will close the stone bridge , this May, to allow for restoration, while tourist traffic will be diverted to the temporary bridge.

The authority, which manages the historic temple complex, said the closure is part of restoration efforts carried out in conjunction with Japan’s Sophia University.

The 197-metre-long, 10-metre-wide pontoon is made of non-slip weather-resistant plastic.

Apsara spokeswoman, Chaosun Keriya, was quoted saying: “The restoration will take at least two to three years…as  the same type of stone must be used instead of cement.”

The construction of the pontoon started last November.

The original bridge, west of the temple, is about 190 metres long. The first phase of repairs was completed in 2007 by the Apsara Authority and Sophia University, which has spent 12 years repairing 90 metres of the structure already.

The number of foreign visitors to the World Heritage site rose 4.63% to 2.19 million last year. The top source markets were China, South Korea and the United States.

Revenue from ticket sales to foreigners visiting the park reached a record USD62.5 million in 2016, representing a solid increase of 4.21% over 2015.

The entrance fee to the Angkor Historical Park costs USD20 a day (foreigners only), USD40 for a three-day visit and USD60 for a week-long visit.

New entrance fees are due to take effect 1 February this year. The new fees are: one-day pass USD37, three-day pass USD62, and seven-day pass USD72.

Source: TTRweekly

Myanmar (Burma) – The land that time forgot

Once the bustling imperial capital of Burmese Kingdoms, the ancient city of Inwa is now in ruins but still a great place to spend a day

Perched on the left bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River in Upper Myanmar, Inwa – or Angwa as it is known in Thai – must surely be the best-known ancient kingdom among Thais. The imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries, it was from Inwa that King Hsinbyushin began a two-year assault on Ayutthaya in 1765 that resulted in the collapse of Siam’s capital. Less than 70 years later Angwa was completely destroyed in turn, the victim of several earthquakes. As Maroon 5 put it, “Nothing lasts forever”. 

Ravaged by war and tremors, Inwa today is scarcely larger than a rural backwater dotted with ruins, monastic buildings and stupas. Daytrippers travel from Mandalay to the old city, enjoying a trip back in time as they try to imagine the city’s previous grandeur from the remains of its watchtowers, city walls, monasteries and temples.

“Visitors jump into horse-drawn carts or make their own way around the old city,” says Khin, my local guide in Inwa. 

I opt for the horse and cart and immediately feel worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of Mandalay. Myanmar’s countryside is charming with rice paddy fields and banana plantations stretching as far as the eye can see. The ruins of stupas and abandoned monasteries roll along like a slide show. The driver slows the horses as we arrive in Inwa proper and pulls over in front of a wooden building with huge posts and a multi-tiered roof.

“This is Bagaya Monastery. The entire building is made of teak,” begins Khin, as we head towards the entrance. “It was a Buddhist school during the Inwa period.”

The grand monastery boasts 267 teak posts, the guide continues, the largest of which is almost three metres in circumference. Each post is 20 metres high. Undoubtedly Bagaya Monastery is the pride of Inwa and I find it easy to imagine hundreds of monks and novices praying here. The monastery today is shaky and worn but it’s still beautiful and worth a visit. 

The Burmese might have been ruthless as they marched from Inwa to Ayutthaya but they also had a strong artistic side, particularly when it came to woodwork. The entire monastery is decorated with figurines, arabesques and reliefs of birds and animals as well as small pillars all beautifully carved in teak.

From Bagaya Monastery, we ask the cart driver where we can stop for lunch and meet some residents. He pulls over at a roadside restaurant, where several locals, their faces covered with Thanaka, are tucking into noodles, sweet tea and bean cake. They welcome us with smiles and friendly nods.

Within walking distance from the restaurant are Yadana Hsimi Pagodas. Here, under the canopy of a huge Banyan tree is a beautiful Buddha image surrounded by what remains of a group of small stupas and what remains of a prayer hall. 

“The temple was reduced to rubble by the 1839 earthquakes,” says the local guide. “Only some beautiful stone lintels and Buddha images survived around the ruins.”

Back in our personal carriage, the driver guides his horse through peanut and banana plantations. Some farmers are busy clearing weeds, while others balance earthen pots and basketful of grass on their heads.

Finally, we arrive at Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery. Unlike Bagaya Monastery, where every single piece is made of wood, this huge Buddhist temple is built of stucco-covered brick. The monastery survived the earthquake in 1839 but time has taken its toll on the huge temple. Yet it is attractive in a strange way and in summer, the guide says, its ultra-thick walls provide a welcome respite from the midday sun. 

In fact, Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery is a very rare survivor of the Inwa era. Just to the East of the main hall is a group of whitewashed pagodas with shimmering gilded umbrellas. Behind them is the lookout for Sagaing – another ancient capital nestled on the Ayeyarwaddy River.

In terms of exotic glamour, Inwa is truly a city lost in the mists of time. 

Some visitors don’t take the horse carriage at all, but prefer to travel on foot. With map in hand and plenty of time, they explore the ancient city on foot. Moving at a slower pace, they enjoy a much more accurate experience of where they are: In essence, the middle of nowhere.

IF YOU GO

Bangkok Airways and AirAsia operate flights between Bangkok and Mandalay. Inwa is about 30 kilometres south of Mandalay.

Sourse: TheNation

We take you to the Pearls of the Orient

CAMBODIA

Siem Reap – Here you will find influences of French colonial and Chinese architecture.

With the Tuk Tuk service to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, to visit Angkor Ta Prohm, one of the famous temples of Cambodia. In the afternoon with a Jeep to the Angkor Wat Temple.

MYANMAR

Mandalay – After arriving in Mandalay you go to Mandalay Hill for magnificent views over the city and Irrawaddy River. In the afternoon you visit Amarapura, ‘the city of immortality. ” During a sunset cruise on Lake Taungthaman overlooking the U Bein Bridge.

Bagan – Departure to Bagan, where you will visit in the afternoon with a horse and carriage the old town. You will enjoy the sunset and an unforgettable view from O Gyan Pe Hill.

Air Balloon Flight Tour by balloon over temples studded plains of Bagan and the Irrawaddy River. In the afternoon, with small local boats a mini cruise on the Irrawaddy River.

VIETNAM

Hanoi – Let you in Vietnam be surprised by culinary delights, local culture and unique means of transport. In Hanoi visit the main attractions of this fascinating city. Visit the Hoa Lo Prison (known as the “Hanoi Hilton”).

Cruise through Halong Bay city tour Hanoi. In the afternoon, you will embark on a 3-day luxury cruise through one of the most beautiful natural bays in the world. Halong Bay is famous for its thousands of small islands and colorful floating villages in an emerald green sea.

Why is Jaipur called the Pink City?

Jaipur has been popularized with the name of Pink City because of the color of the stone exclusively used for the construction of all the structures. Anyone who has witnessed the city can substantiate the fact that all the buildings of Jaipur are pink in color. The pink color has its own history. In 1876, the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India on a tour. Since pink denotes the color of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the whole city pink in color to welcome the guests. The tradition has been sincerely followed by the residents who are now, by law, compelled to maintain the pink color.

Pink in color and pink in vibrancy, the city of Jaipur is one of most beautiful and magnetic cities of India. One always falls short of words while describing the bounteous charm that the city captivates the visitor with. The culture, architecture, traditions, art, jewellery and textiles of Jaipur have always charmed the travelers. It is one city that, even after modernisation, still holds to its roots and values.

Apart from being the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is also the largest city of the state. The foundation of the city dates back to the eighteenth century, with credit to the great warrior and astronomer Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. The glorious past of Jaipur comes alive in the palaces and forts in the city where once lived the royal clans. The majestic forts and havelis, the beautiful temples, the serene landscapes, and the rich cultural heritage, have made Jaipur an ideal destination for tourists.

There is something in the atmosphere of Jaipur that brings joy and delight as soon as you set foot in the city. The pink color of the city brings out a romantic charm that captivates every heart. If you haven’t got a chance to experience the royalties of Jaipur yet, plan your trip right away!

Bangkok – Praying for Prosperity

We visit the best eight Chinese shrines at which to pay respect as the Year of the Rooster dawns

 With just eight days to go until the Monkey hands over to the Rooster, Chinese the world over are preparing for what promises to be a challenging year ahead. The rooster is by nature a fighter, a totem animal that never gives up, and that makes him one of the most popular symbols in the Chinese zodiac. According to belief, the cockerel is the mascot of five virtues – civil responsibility, marital fidelity, courage, kindness, and confidence – so he sounds like a perfect fit for troubled 2017. 

Some, however, prefer to hedge their bets for luck in the year ahead by visiting a shrine or temple and making some offerings to the gods. Hidden among the skyscrapers and bustling marketplaces and malls, Bangkok has plenty of Chinese shrines at which to pray and they range from humble to extraordinary architectural wonders. 

You don’t have to be spiritual or even superstitious to visit these sanctums. Some are worth admiring for their beautiful architecture and cultural significance. Listen to the chants and urban legends. Watch the performing ancient rituals and get giddy on the aromatic wafts of incense. 

 For giving and praying, these are eight best shrines to visit and revisit over the Chinese New Year.
SAN CHAO RONG KUEAK, YAOWARATTucked away in an alley off Chinatown’s Soi Wanit 2, San Chao Rong Kueak was constructed by Hakka-speaking Chinese immigrants more than 100 years ago. San Chao Rong Kueak – literally the Shrine of Shoe Makers – might not well-known but it is one of only a few shrines made by the Hakka. In terms of number, the Hakka-speaking community is small compared to the Teochew and other Chinese. They are rebellious, itinerant, bookish and good at making shoes. You will meet many of them over the Chinese New Year since they always show up for Cai Shen – God of Wealth.

WHERE: Soi Wanit 2 is a short walk from Pier No.4 of the Chao Phraya Express Boat

ZHOU SHI KONG

Talad Noi marketplace has been home to Hakka and Hokkien-speaking people since Bangkok’s early days. While the Hakka are known as masters cobblers thanks to their excellent leather work, the Hokkein are blacksmiths who create all sorts of things out of metal. The leather and metal masters follow different deities and visit different shrines and Zhou Shi Kong is one of the oldest and most respected shrines among the Hokkien. It houses the statue of Zhou Shi Kong – the respected Chinese monk who lived in Fujian, Southeast China. Influenced by Qing dynasty architecture, the shrine is a heritage site in itself boasting woodcarvings, paintings and more. The best time to visit Zhou Shi Kong is before lunch as Talad Noi is the best place to tuck into hearty Chinese food.

WHERE: Soi Wanit 2, within easy walking distance of Pier No.4 of Chao Phraya Express Boat

THABTHIM SHRINE, PAHURAT

Known as Chao Mae Thabthim (Goddess of Water) among the Chinese-speaking community, this is one of the most respected Chinese deities. Thabthim is native to an island in the South China Sea and the seafarers who braved the South China Sea as they sailed their large junks to Thailand very much counted on Chao Mae Thabthim’s power. Shrines to her can be found in Chinese-speaking communities, but the most visited is in Pahurat, Bangkok’s “Little India” right next-door to Chinatown. This Chinese shrine provided a “safe house” for people in the neighbourhood during the 1940s when Bangkok was bombed by the Allies.

WHERE: Corner of Chakphet and Tri Phet Roads, Chinatown

 WAT MANGKON KAMALAWAT, YAOWARAT

Also known as Wat Leng Noei Yi, this temple was established in 1871 for Mahayana Buddhists in Siam. Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is the largest and most important Chinese temple in Bangkok. Incense and the sounds of chanting dominate the prayer hall, especially during the Chinese New Year. Tea and fruit are offered to gods and deities as prayers and devout worshippers brave the clouds of incense to kneel and pray for a good and peaceful year ahead. 

WHERE: Corner of Chareon Krung and Mangkon Roads, Chinatown

KUAN YIN SHRINE (THIAN FA FOUNDATION), YAOWARAT

This Chinese shrine is part of the Thian Fa traditional Chinese medical hospital. Established in 1902 by Chinese immigrants, the shrine houses a statue of the Goddess Kuan Yin that is said to be carved from teak and believed to be more than 800 years old. The shrine always draws people to pray for a healthy life during the Chinese New Year. 

WHERE: Corner of Yaowarat 5 Alley and Yaowarat Road

GUAN YU SHRINE, KHLONG SAN

Guan Yu – the red-faced, bearded Chinese deity – was a well-known warrior and is known to Thais for his leading role in the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” novel. Described as a criminal who fled his home to join the militia, he is loved by both the lawful and the lawless for his courage and honesty. There are several shrines to him but the oldest is nestled along the Chao Phraya River on the Thon Buri side and is 280 years old. Three statues of Guan Yu preside over Chao Phraya River from inside the shrine’s red chamber. The smallest statue is believed to have been brought from Fujian in Southern China, while the two others were contributed by Qing emperors.

WHERE: Take the ferry from Si Phraya to Khlong San then a tuk-tuk for the short ride to the shrine.

KIAN UN KENG SHRINE, THON BURI BANK OF THE CHAO PHRAYA

Kian Un Keng Shrine is one of the oldest of its kind in Bangkok. Looking out over the Chao Phraya River and next door to Wat Kalayanamitr, the shrine was founded and rebuilt more than 200 years ago. Rustic and beautiful, it draws visitors to pay respects to the Goddess Kuan Yin as well as to admire its magnificent woodcarvings. Built by the Hokkien Chinese, who followed King Taksin the Great to the new capital city in Thon Buri, the shrine makes a strong statement about the craftsmanship of that era.

WHERE: A ferry runs between Pak Klong Talad and Wat Kalayanamitr.

 GUAN YU SHRINE, YAOWARAT

Unlike the famous Guan Yu Shrine along the Chao Phraya River, this shrine is smaller though the intensity of the incense cloud tends to be greater. Hidden behind the Old Market of Yaowarat, this shrine was erected to honour both Guan Yu and his horse, Red Hare. A magnificent mount, Red Hare was said to be strong and capable of travelling 200 kilometres a day. Devotees visit the shrine once in a while to pray for strength. 

WHERE: Corner of Soi Yaowarat 11 and Soi Yaowa Phanich

 LAO PUN TAO KONG, YAOWARAT

Easy walking distance from Ratchawong Pier to the corner of Song Wat and Yaowa Phanit roads, the shrine was established by Chinese immigrants who disembarked from their junks during the reign of King Rama III to house and honour traditional Chinese deities. Lao Pun Tao Kong – a kind of “chief of staff” of local deities – is enshrined here. The shrine is said to be especially good for those who want their prayers answered and devout worshippers flock here to pay their respects all year round – and especially during Chinese New Year – to reflect on their sins. 

WHERE: Soi Rong Khom off Song Wat Road

Source: TheNation