One of the first truly interactive museums in Thailand, it also happens to be housed in a charming vintage mansion, which was formerly the home of the Ministry of Finance. The musuem’s main focus is a permanent exhibition which recounts the history of Thailand and the Thai people through 17 rooms of multimedia displays and presentations. It also hosts regularly rotating explorative exhibitions. Until the end of April, these include a celebration of inventions created by Thai children and an exhibition examining the importance of the Ko Lae Boat (a type of vessel used in the South of Thailand). The museum also holds additional cultural activities such as workshops and free movie screenings. Please note that the front of the museum is currently partially obscured by a large construction site for a future train station but the museum is open.B300 for adults, free for children under 15 and elders over 60 years old. Free between 4-6pm daily. Open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm. 4 Sanam Chai Rd., Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, 02-225-2777. www.museumsiam.com
Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall
In 2008, the Crown Property Bureau converted a 1930s-era building on Ratchadamnoen Klang Road into an exhibition space designed to depict life in Thailand during the current Rattanakosin Era. Commonly known among Thais as Nitas Rattanakosin, the space was opened in 2010, and features nine rooms of interactive presentations, exhibitions and a library filled with books about Thailand. The Rattanasokin Sky View Cafe on the top floor (4/F) also has a nice view of parts of the old town.
B100 for adults, free for children under 120cm. Open Tue-Sun 10am-7pm. 100 Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, 02-261-0044, www.nitasrattanakosin.com
Phuket Thai Hua Museum
Though Phuket is best known today as a world-class beach destination, the island has a long history as a trading hub dominated by the local Peranakan Chinese community (similar to those found in Penang, Melaka and Singapore). The best way to explore this rich history is at the Phuket Thai Hua Museum, housed in a 1930s British-colonial-style mansion that was formerly the oldest Chinese-language school in Phuket. (The school was moved to a new location.) Spread over the two stories are 16 galleries detailing the island’s Chinese ancestry and Phuket Town’s growth to prosperity. Afterwards, do grab a Phuket Town Treasure Map from the museum and explore the charming heart of the city on foot. (View our walking tour story at www.wherethailand.com)
B200, free for children shorter than 100cm. Open Tue–Sun 9am-7pm. Krabi Rd., Muang, Phuket, 076-211-224, www.thaihuamuseum.com
Started 35 years ago, Baandum Museum (aka The Black House) belongs to the revered Thai artist Thawan Duchanee who is celebrated for his powerful brush paintings and eerie sculptures made from horns, bones, reptile skins, traditional African sculptures, old boats, Lanna-style woodcrafts and art installations. These are housed across 32 buildings—most of which are Lanna-style pavilions made from black wood. If you’re lucky you might also catch Thawan himself painting quietly in a corner of the museum.
Free. Open daily 8:30am-noon, 1:30-4pm. 414 Moo 13, Nang Lae, Chiang Rai, 053-705-834. www.thawan-duchanee.com
Hall of Inspiration
At Doi Tung Villa, the former residence of the Princess Mother, visitors can learn about the life and works of the Mahidol family members, the family of the current HM King Bhumibol, with a particular focus on their roles in helping to raise the living standards of Thai citizens. The exhibition is designed to inspire many others to do good works.
B50. Open 8am-5pm. Doi Tung Villa, Mar Fah Luang, Chiang Rai, 053-767-015/-7, www.doitung.org
Hall of Opium, The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle used to be infamous as one of the largest producers of opium. Various Thai organizations led by the Royal Project and Doi Tung Development Project, have spent decades battling this trade. As part of this campaign, the Hall of Opium was built to educate people about the dangers of the drug through an entertaining exhibition which traces opium’s history from its first use 5,000 years ago to current issues of drug abuse and addiction.
B300 for adults, B50 for children 12-18, free for under 12s. Open Tue-Sun 8:30am-4pm. Golden Triangle Park, Chiang San, Chiang Rai, 053-784-444/-6, www.maefahluang.org
National Science Museum
This striking cubist glass, steel and fiberglass structure has been a notable architectural landmark since it opened in 2000. Spread over six floors are installations and exhibitions narrating the history of science and examining Thai innovations and inventions. There are also rotating exhibitions, with the current display focused on the end of the world. Adjacent to the main building is the Natural History Museum where you can learn all about planet Earth and its evolution.
B70 for adults. Open Tue-Fri 9:30am-4pm, Sat-Sun 9:30am-5pm. Klong 5, Klong Luang, Pathumthani, 02-577-9999, www.nsm.or.th
Set in the former district court building, right opposite the Three Kings Monument, the Lanna Folklife Museum recounts the rich culture and history of Northern Thailand (Lanna). This neoclassical structure houses waxworks, textiles, religious sculptures, wooden decorative ornaments and tools. Also, do check out the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center located nearby for a comprehensive collection of traditional arts and crafts.
B90 for adults, B40 for children. Open Tue-Sun 8:30am-5pm. Phra Pokklao Rd., Muang, Chiang Mai, 053-217-793. www.cmocity.com
First Royal Factory at Fang, The Museum
HM King initiated the Royal Project in 1969 to introduce alternative crops to Northern hill tribes and encourage them to give up planting opium. Three years later, the first food processing factory was founded in Fang district, Chiang Mai, to repackage the produce from these Royal Projects to resell under the Doi Kham brand. It was then rebuilt in 2006 after being badly damaged by floods. The result is a new workshop and the addition of an eco-friendly museum telling the history of the Royal Projects through presentations, photo exhibitions by renowned local photographers, and the team of knowledgeable tour guides. The souvenir shop also sells t-shirts, bags and accessories.
Free. Open Tue-Sun 8:30am-5pm. Route 1249, Moo 12, Baan Yang, Fang, Chiang Mai, 053-051-021. www.firstroyalfactory.org
Samui Private Museum
ML Arachawa Worawan, a veteran artist who designed one of Thailand’s first boutique hotels, Muang Kulaypan (www.kulaypan.com), turned his villa-cum-restaurant next to Pru Chaweng Lake into a museum housing his collection of prehistoric ceramics and pottery. The artifacts include stone knives, axes, pots and jewelry from 3,000BC to 1,900AD.
Free. Open by appointment only. Contact 088-249-3901 or firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations and direction