Live out your Disney dreams in Thailand
Presenting Klook Interns starring in Tangled: Dreams Can Come True With Plastic Bags And Glue – coming soon to a screen near you.
No one’s ever too old for Disney. Somehow people always gravitate towards fairytales and feel-good animated motion pictures for some much needed chicken soup for the soul.
When you feel like you need a break from the monotony of life, an escape into the realm of the world’s happiest place (almost!) lies just 2.5 hours away.
1. Venture into Elsa’s frozen palace with the White Temple in Chiang Rai
Like Elsa’s frozen ice palace, Chiang Rai’s White Temple or Wat Rong Khun is white, cold and intimidating. However, unlike what its name suggests, the White Temple is not really a temple but an art exhibit aimed at educating visitors on the benefits of Buddhist teachings.
The White Temple is isolated and even has its own long creepy walkway leading into the main building, and you can just image a creepy sorcerer a la ice queen Elsa residing within just waiting to turn you into ice, or in this case, a bone white statue frozen in time.
To add to the whole evil sorcerer vibe, there’s even a pit of stone arms reaching out to grab you as you cross the walkway. You probably won’t find Olaf here, but if you ever feel like channeling your inner Ice Queen this is best the place to go.
2. Discover a fairytale marketplace at Khao Yai
If you’ve ever dreamt of walking through the colourful marketplace depicted in the Beauty & the Beast epic, thank your fairy godmother your wish has been granted.
Hidden away in the outskirts of Bangkok lies the town of Palio Village in Khao Yai that looks nothing like its provincial neighbours. Instead, the colourful walls and cobblestone streets are more reminiscent of Europe. Coincidentally, a little town in France provided the inspiration for the marketplace in Beauty & The Beast.
Visitors can explore the variety of shopping options in the village, or discover over 50km of hiking and biking trails at Khao Yai National Park nearby. Considering it takes just 3.5 hours to reach Palio Village by car from Bangkok, your childhood dream of becoming Princess Belle is not very far away indeed!
3. Sail the seven seas on Koh Samui’s Red Baron Boat trips
Peter Pan’s sworn enemy didn’t have many things to be envious of except for one thing: his glorious pirate ship that could easily rival that of The Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Caribbean series.
Captain Hook’s prized possession brought him across the Seven Seas in his pursuit of Peter Pan. Apart from being a particularly sea-worthy vessel, the large, expansive deck and roomy interior was almost enough to inspire some of us to consider the swashbuckling marauding lifestyle of a one-handed pirate.
Aspiring pirates among us will be glad to know you’ll get to experience a slice of pirate life in Koh Samui! Coincidentally, this traditional Thai sailing junk goes by the name Red Baron and promises to bring you on a cruise through the crystal waters of Koh Samui and surrounds. With its iconic red sails, this is the largest sailing boat of its kind in the region and a true sight to behold.
The one thing that’s different though, is that this pirate ship comes with a mouth-watering barbeque buffet complete with an onboard bar! Be it lounging on deck or in the comfort of the air conditioned cabin, you’ll have a jolly ol’ time aboard the Red Baron whatever the time of day.
4. Find a shoe that fits at the Platinum Mall
Quite like the popular children’s classic, finding your friend in the maze of shops at Bangkok’s Platinum Mall is almost as difficult as finding Cinderella herself. The network of shops selling anything from children’s sleepwear to weird little trinkets is intimidating for even the most seasoned traveller, and it’s easy to see why.
Expect endless rows of shops selling similar items at competitive prices and ladies lugging actual luggage bags in optimistic anticipation of all the shopping they’re about to do.
Platinum Mall brands itself as a wholesale centre, which means you’ll score big deals if you buy 3 pieces or more, not so much if you’re looking to buy just one.
With so many options, you’ll certainly have trouble picking favourites. Be like Cinderella and find your dream shoe – only if you dare!
5. Find Mowgli in Bangkok’s ancient Ayutthaya district
In the Jungle Book, ruler of the apes King Louie captures the unassuming Mowgli and brings him back to to his lair in the ruins of, presumably, the structures of an ancient civilization.
Most people have visited Bangkok countless times, but probably have never heard of the ancient Thai city of Ayutthaya, which used to be the Thailand’s ancient capital until it was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. Despite its existence some 300 odd years ago, the charred ruins of some of the structures remain and form the perfect playground for jungle boys and girls alike.
Get lost in the temples of stone Buddhas and discover the final resting place of past Ayutthayan kings. A far cry from its bustling metropolis city neighbour, you might be surprised to know Ayutthaya is just 1.5 hours away by car.
6. Live the island life at Raya Island, Phuket
Who didn’t envy Lilo from the epic animated Disney flick Lilo & Stitch swimming in crystal clear waters with a hammerhead shark AND a sea turtle side by side in the opening credits?
Short of travelling halfway round the world to Paradise (read: Hawaii), the waters of Southeast Asia are often overlooked in favour of their more glamorous cousins. Though you probably won’t see a Hammerhead, the seas around Thailand’s Raya Island are teeming with the promise of giant star fish, puffer fish and rainbow trout that make it a strong contender.
The best part about Raya Island is that it’s located just far away enough from Phuket that it’s not overrun with tourists and you can practically pretend (at least for a day) that you’re basking on the pristine white shores of your own private island.
It’s a good idea to bring some bread with you to feed the fish, though maybe without the peanut butter.
7. Explore Tarzan’s playground with Flight Of The Gibbon
Not all of us are privileged enough to grow up with lush forest for a playground. Tarzan clearly had the best childhood ever swinging about the treetops with apes and chameleons as his best friends.
Not to mention #spoilmarket first dates – Jane probably had a swinging good time!
If that sounds like the perfect first date for you, you can try Chonburi’s Flight of the Gibbon will give you the same exhilarating experience sans the fear of falling. Soar past the treetops on over 5km of zipline for an elevated experience in all aspects of the word.
Note: Strong muscular man not included.
8. Paddle through the colours of the wind
Pocahontas was the nature queen of our childhood, almost like a Snow White without all that dainty-ness. She sought advice from a wise old tree and her best friends were little forest critters who didn’t seem too fazed when she paddled her kayak off the edge of a massive waterfall in the movie.
When it comes down to looking absolutely #swag on a flimsy looking wooden kayak in the midst of fast moving rapid, Pocahontas has got it down to a T (just look at that hair flick).
We can’t all be Pocahontas but we can definitely try kayaking through quiet canyons and towering trees in Ao Thalane Bay, one of Krabi’s most beautiful nature bastions. There aren’t any waterfalls you need to worry about, but the area is just teeming with some of Thailand’s rarest wildlife – a true escape to nature, if you will!
9. Find Dory at SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World
Baby Dory won all our hearts when Finding Dory came out in movie theatres worldwide earlier this year!
Her beginnings at the Open Ocean exhibit at California’s fictional Marine Life Institute was massive and filled with countless fish species that will have even a marine biologist overwhelmed. It was here where Dory spent most of her juvenile fish-hood exploring and making friends with all other creatures in the exhibit.
With over 400 marine life species and 30,000 fish on display, Bangkok’s SEA LIFE aquarium could very well inspire the next Finding Nemo or Finding Dory movie. There’s even a ‘Tropical Ocean’ exhibit with manta rays and other fish you find in the movie! Who knows? Maybe Dory has a long lost cousin swimming somewhere in there.
10. See the light at Chiang Mai’s Yi Peng Festival
Who can forget this beautiful scene from Disney’s Tangled with a sea of blinking lanterns lighting up the night sky?
Apparently in Chiang Mai, you can! Every year during the Yi Peng Festival, the sky is lit by the glow of flickering candlelight in a spiritual Buddhist practice of self-reflection and letting go of personal demons.
The magic happens from 13-15 Nov this year, which still gives you ample time to make plans for your year-end holiday!
Fairytales DO come true!
You don’t have to wish upon a star to make your Disney dreams come true! Take the road less travelled and explore Thailand today – you won’t regret it!