Thailand Entertainment and Recreation
Bangkok's parks and gardens offer welcome respite from city heat and noise.
They include :
Lumphini Park at the northern end of Silom Road, and bordered by Wireless and Rajdamri roads. Lumphini Park is popular with joggers, keep-fit enthusiasts, families and sportsmen, particularly during the early morning and late afternoon.
Chatuchak Park near the Paholyothin and Viphavadi Rangsit Highway junction at Lard Prao, on the way to Bangkok's Don Muang Airport, is also the site of a famous weekend market that sells almost everything made and grown in Thailand.
Khao Din Zoological Garden is an artfully landscaped enclave with an artificial lake. The zoo neighbours Ratchadamnoen Avenue's Royal Plaza, and National Assembly Building, and contains a fine collection of African and Asian mammals, reptiles and birds. King Rama IX Park or Suan Luang Gardens is an extensive park with fine botanical gardens deep inside Sukhumvit Soi 103 in Bangkok's eastern suburbs. The botanical gardens were opened with private and public donations in 1987 to celebrate H.M. King Bhumibol's auspicious 60th birthday.
Magic Land at Lat Phrao, just north-east of Bangkok's Central Plaza Hotel, is the capital's major amusement park. The ccmplex offers a wide range of exciting rides and other amusements including haunted houses and sideshows. Similar facilities are found in the eastern suburb of Minburi at the Siam Water Park. The water theme park features an artificial sea replete with authentic waves, waterfalls, water sliders, whirlpools, and numerous water-related activities. The adjacent Safari World features a collection of African and Asian mammals, including lions, tigers, giraffes, zebras and bears, that live in natural surroundings.
Theatrical events in Bangkok include Thai dance and puppet performances, English and Thai- language dramas, concerts by visiting international artists, musical performances, and infrequently imported mimes and plays. Visitors are advised to consult the English-language newspapers, particularly the weekly or daily calendar of events, to ascertain the times and dates of current performances. Major theatrical venues include: Thailand's National Theatre, adjacent to the National Museum at Bangkok's Sanam Luang. The theatre is the venue for concerts and Thai classical dramp a performances. Weekend performances of Thai dance dramas are periodically staged.
The Thailand Cultural Centre on Ratchadapisek Road, the Alliance Francaise Auditorium on South Sathorn Road, the AUA Language Centre Auditorium on Rajdamri Road, the British Council Centre in Siam Square, and the Goethe Institute on Soi Attakarnprasit, off South Sathorn Road, also stage theatrical and musical performances. The Hotel Siam Intercontinental periodically stages British plays, mostly comedies, from London's West End, with accomplished British actors. The KAD Performing Arts Centre in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, includes the lavishly- equipped KAD Theatre with a seating capacity of 1,550 and the KAD Playhouse, with a seating capacity of 500. The KAD Performing Arts Centre is geared towards staging imported full-scale theatrical and musical productions from abroad, performed in the original language, and original Thai dramatic and musical productions.
Golf. soccer, boxing, badminton, tennis, bowling and snooker figure prominently among international sports enjoyed by Thais. Indigenous games and sports include world-famous Thai boxing, takro, kite-fighting and boat racing. International sports the visitor is likely to enjoy include:
Deep-Sea Game Fishing
Bang Sare Fishing Club, just south of Pattaya, is the principal centre for fishermen seeking marlin, king mackerel, tuna, sharks and other denizens of the Thai Gulf. Major fishing centres on the Indian Ocean coast include Ranong and Phuket.
Golf - Thailand Golf Courses
Thailand's clement weather means that golfers can enjoy their sport all year round at a wide variety of challenging courses. Thailand's major publice public golf courses are located in Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Hua Hin, Chonburi, Pattaya,Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Weekend races, each averaging 10 races, can be seen at Bangkok's Royal Turf Club and Royal Bangkok Sports Club.
The 2.4 kilometre Bira International Pattaya Circuit regularly features local and international motor and motorcycle racing.
Hobie Cats, Lasers and Prindles are available in Hua Hin and Phuket.
Scuba Diving / Snorkelling
Thailand offers some of Southeast Asia's finest diving opportunities in Gulf waters around Pattaya, Sattahip, Rayong's Samet island, Trat's Koh Chang Marine National Park, Chumphon and Surat Thani's sparkling archipelago which contains the beautiful Samui island and Angthong Marine National Park: and in the Andaman Sea on Thailand's Indian Ocean coastline around Surin, Similan, Phuket and Phi Phi islands, and Tarutao Marine National Park near the Thai-Malaysian maritime border. Professional dive shops in Pattaya and Phuket teach neophyte divers. Snorkelling opportunities abound throughout Thai waters.
Tennis / Badminton / Squash
Numerous opportunities are found in leading Bangkok and resort hotels. A list of courts where visitors are allowed can be found in the Bangkok Telephone Directory's Yellow Pages.
Pattaya's Chomthian Beach is the rnajor centre of this popular sport. Further opportunities can be found at Cha Am, Hua Hin, Koh Samui and Phuket's Patong Beach. Thai sports the visitor will enjoy include:
This developed as a form of self-defence during the Ayutthaya period (13so-17sv). Boxers are forbidden to wrestle or bite. However, they may kick, shove and push and unreservedly use bare feet, legs, elbows and shoulders, besides fists, to batter each other into submission. Thai boxing is featured throughout the week at Bangkok's Ratchadamnoen Stadium (Monday, Wednesday. Thursday and Sunday) and Lumphini Stadium (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday).
This sport is traditionally played by a loosely formed circle of men who use feet, knees, thighs, chests and shoulders to acrobatically pass a woven rattan ball to each other, endeavouring to keep it airborne, and eventually kick it into a basket suspended above their heads.
During Hot Season months, particularly March and April, opposing teams fly male Chula and female Pakpao kites in a surrogate battle of the sexes. The small, agile Pakpao kite tries to fell the more cumbersome Chula while the male kite tries to ensnare the female kite and drag it back into male territory.
Regattas are featured in many country fairs which celebrate the end of the annual Rains Retreat. The long narrow, low-slung wooden boats are festooned with flags and flowers, manned by oarsmen and raced with great gusto, The most noteworthy boat races are at Nan, Phichit, Nakhon Phanom, Surat Thani, Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani, near Bangkok.
Thais are a fun-loving people. Nationwide, boxing stadiums, race and golf courses, tennis and squash courts, billiards halls, opulent nightclubs, gourrnet restaurants, disco- theques, concert halls, teahouses, cocktail lounges, amusernent parks, bars, museurns, theatres, art galleries, rnassage parlours, zoo logical gardens and cinemas lure pleasure seekers throughout the year. Thailand's English-language newspapers carry daily listings on concerts, exhibitions, displays and cinematic offerings. Complirnentary weekly tourist publications such as This Week, Explore Pattaya. etc., contain additional information with emphasis on dining and nightlife attractions. Beer bars, cocktail lounges and pubs are rnostly concentrated in the Sukhumvit, New Petchaburi and Silom Road areas.