Daytripper is a regular column that aims to help people get the most out of their PRD experience by proposing fun excursions that can be made in a single day to explore the local culture and nature of the region.
It’s no secret that Thailand has become an insanely hot tourism destination for Chinese travelers. Attractive prices and favorable visa policies drew nearly 10 million Chinese visitors to the Southeast Asian country last year, easily outpacing touristic arrivals from the next five countries combined.
But let’s face it, not everyone has a passport and the money for the four-hour flight to Pataya. That is where Guangzhou Bangkok Park comes in.
The level of authenticity at this outlandish 4A tourism attraction, located a short moto-taxi ride from Metro Line 9’s Huadu Automobile City Station, is up for debate.
Visitors to this paragon of Siamese culture will be treated to such true-to-life approximations of its tropical namesake as signs proudly proclaiming the availability of Changsha stinky tofu "personally inscribed by Chairman Mao,” costumed security dressed up as Qing imperial guards, gilded Polynesian mo’ai statues and stone sculptures depicting T-rexes and other characteristic Thai fauna.
It’s enough to make you feel like you’re strolling through the streets of old Bangkok.
Despite taking an eclectic approach and certain artistic liberties in conveying its Thai theme, the one-of-a-kind park – enclosed by the larger Huadu Jewelry Town, a complex of workshops and factories producing gold and silver adornments – does contain some worthwhile gems.
Across a stone bridge and through an elephant-guarded gate lies a visually impressive cluster of Thai-style structures and Buddhist temple-like buildings sporting eye-catching golden roofs. At their center stands an imposing statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai interpretation of the four-faced Hindu god Brahma. Some structures house convenience stores, others jewelry shops.
There’s only one restaurant to speak of, and while it does offer some token Thai items, it seems more concerned with catering towards Chinese appetites with dishes from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangdong and the great Northwest, all at fair prices.
Perhaps most notably, the park contains a museum dedicated to the history of silver use throughout human civilization, displaying handmade silver artworks, ornaments and daily life items fashioned by Thai craftsmen, among a wide variety of other silvery objects. The winding gallery finally leads to – you guessed it – a large jewelry store.
Back outside, amusement facilities seem more or less ignored by visitors, young and old alike, in favor of a giant statue of a Buddha meditating on the back of a three-faced elephant, which serves as a popular backdrop for photos.
A visit to Guangzhou Bangkok Park is a bewildering experience – somewhere between farce and whimsy, not unlike our previous journey to the replicated Austrian town of Hallstatt in Huizhou. On our way out, with the smell of stinky tofu still hanging heavy on the air, our moto-taxi driver tells us that both the park and jewelry town swarm with visitors on weekends, and until the Guangzhou metro manages to extend directly to Phuket, we imagine this will continue to be the case.
How to get there:
Take Guangzhou Metro Line 9 to Huadu Qiche Cheng Station. Taxis are rare here, so opt for a Didi ride to Huadu Zhubao Xiaozhen (Huadu Jewelry Town).
See listing for Guangzhou Bangkok Town.
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