Thailand has a long and illustrious history. That’s why it’s not so surprising that there are quite a lot of museums that showcase the colorful culture and heritage of the nation and its people. However, there are also some museums and galleries that focus on other facets of life in Thailand. Quite a few of these are located conveniently in the capital city of Bangkok, making for a truly interesting trip.
From museums that showcase old airplanes and erotic art pieces to those dedicated to diseases and counterfeit T-shirts, here are a few unique spots to visit when you go museum hopping in Bangkok.
Chatuchak: Museum of Contemporary Arts
The Museum of Contemporary Arts or MOCA was built in 2012, with five floors and over 800 pieces of modern art. MOCA was established to showcase how Thai art developed as Western influences and concepts began to pervade the industry. Unlike other galleries or museums in Bangkok or even Thailand, in general, MOCA is a lot less conservative. Many of the artworks here focus on themes like corruption, prostitution, and other societal concerns. Art lovers would definitely love MOCA, especially since all of Thailand’s National Artist title recipients have at least one piece displayed here.
Don Mueang: The Royal Thai Air Force Museum
If you’re flying in to Bangkok from other locations in Thailand, you’re probably landing in Don Mueang. Once you’ve check in one of the many hotels near Don Mueang Airport (it’s ideal to search for Hotels near Don Muang Airport and book ahead before you land), it’s time to visit the Royal Thai Air Force Museum. It’s located near Wing 6 of Terminal 2 and doesn’t have an entrance fee. In this museum, you’ll learn more about Thailand’s role in World War II. More importantly, you’ll see a modest but still impressive collection of old airplanes used by the RTAF over the years. This includes one of the last two Japanese Tachikawa Ki-36 planes, the last Vought O2U Corsair, and the last Curtiss Hawk III. There’s also the Paribatra, the first plane ever designed and built in Thailand.
Khlong Toei: Kamavijitra
Kamavijitra: The Art of Lovemaking is also known as the Siam Erotic Art Musuem. It’s the first of its kind in Thailand, with more than 500 pieces of erotic art collected by the owner Watjanasin Charuwattanakitti. From magazines to recreations of cave wall art, you’ll find some truly interesting pieces here. There are even glass cases of sex toys and a display of palad khik amulets, which are believed to bring more customers for a business. For Charuwattanakitti, though, the most significant part of his collection are the sculptures of King Chai Voraman VII. These look like they’re made from bronze but are actually made from clay and then coated with sugarcane juice before being kiln-fired.
Bangkok Noi: Siriraj Medical Museum
For something more unusual, perhaps bordering on macabre, you can visit the Siriraj Medical Museum or the Bangkok Forensic Museum. It’s composed of seven smaller museums, each of which focus on different subjects. For example, the Ellis Pathological Museum displays the top causes of death of Thai people: cancer, heart disease, and birth defects. Meanwhile, the Songkran Niyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum is where you can find the bodies of victims of murders, accidents, and unnatural deaths. There’s also the Parasitology Museum, which has a collection of actual parasites collected from patients. The specimens come with information like where you can find these parasites and how you can prevent getting infested yourself. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this museum is undeniably interesting and informative.
Dusit: Museum of Floral Culture
Located in Khet Dusit in a 100-year-old house, the Museum of Floral Culture was created by Thai floral artist Sakul Intakul. The museum features photos, carvings, paintings, artifacts, and bouquets, among other pieces, as well as information about the history of flower arrangement. You’ll also learn about specific techniques and traditions used for different occasions like weddings or royal events. There are also exhibits that showcase floral cultures in other Asian nations like China, Indonesia, and Japan. Photography isn’t allowed inside the house/gallery proper, but you may take pictures outside in the bright and colorful garden.
Yan Nawa: Museum of Counterfeit Goods
Counterfeiting is a huge problem in Asia, including Thailand. And it’s not just clothes, DVDs, and fashion accessories that are being forged. Many fake products can be harmful, like medicines, baby milk formula, and snacks like biscuits and cookies that are all untested for safety and quality. This is what the Museum of Counterfeit Goods would like to emphasize: the dangers of counterfeiting and why the low prices aren’t really worth it in the end. The museum also highlights the unsafe and unfair labor practices, as well as ways to determine if a product is genuine or fake.
This list simply shows that museums aren’t just about paintings, sculptures, and ancient artifacts. The next time you’re in Bangkok or visiting the area, find some time to visit these destinations. You’re certainly going to learn a lot more about Thailand.