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A Song boat trip

The Song dynasty was a culturally rich period in China when the visual arts, music, literature and philosophy blossomed. A new height of education was achieved with the introduction of strict and extensive examinations to recruit officials for the ruling bureaucracy. Widespread printing, growing literacy and appreciation for the various forms of art led to the development of Chinese culture.

Wat Intharam in the Talat Phlu area.

River City shopping centre and Khun Mae Cruise will host a trip tomorrow (July 2) to explore the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Song dynasty in Thailand. Led by a knowledgeable tour guide, participants will travel on an ancient vessel along the Chao Phraya River and visit Tek Ka Association in Klong San district where the statues of several Chinese gods from the Song era are enshrined. The next destinations are Thon Buri's ancient Kudee Cheen community _ a melting pot of Chinese, Western and Islamic cultures _ and the nearby Haroon community which is dominated by Muslims.

After the tours and dinner on the boat, they will be led to the River City shopping center to see "The Wealth of Song Dynasty 960-1277 Exhibition" being held there until July 10 from 10am-7pm daily.

Seats for the boat trip are limited. Fee is 1,350 baht per head. For more information and reservations, call 02-639-4532.

Lhinping, a baby panda, at Chiang Mai Zoo.

A cultural walk in Talat Phlu

Culture lover Chulphassorn Panomvan na Ayudhya will lead those interested in the history, art and culture of the Talat Phlu area to several temples and local communities there tomorrow (July2).

Participants will meet in front of Wat Intharam opposite Soi Therdthai 19 at 8am and later visit Wat Intharam, a royal temple established when Thon Buri was the capital. There, they will listen to real stories of King Taksin the Great's war strategies and victories in many battles, pay respect to the late king's relics, a Buddha statue and a pagoda dedicated to the king and see important artefacts, such as his bed.

At 9:30am, the group will walk past the Talat Wat Klang Community by the Bang Luang Canal to look for traces of the glorious trade of betel nut leaves in this area and listen to related literature and folktales. They will then worship a sacred wooden Buddha statue and see murals depicting ancient Chinese ceramics in exotic shapes at Wat Chantharam Voraviharn.

At 11am, the group will visit a local tycoon's ancient house as well as one of many mackerel boiling factories in the area. After having lunch and tasting several kinds of famous desserts near Talat Phlu Railway Station, they will visit Siang Kheng Tueng vegetarian centre _ an ancient spiritual centre of the Talat Phlu area _ to worship several Buddha statues and religious sculptures. At Wat Pho Nimitr, the group will learn how outstanding sema stones around this temple's ubosot are. They will have the opportunity to see Phra Ajarn Daeng's murals dating to the Fifth Reign depicting the bringing of the Sri Maha Bhoti tree's offspring from Lanka to Siam. The tour ends here.

Advance registration and payment is required. Fee is 400 baht per person. For more information and reservations, call 081-343-4261 or email nutchulapassorn@gmail.com.

Chiang Mai Aquarium

Three zoos and one garden in one day

The Tourism Authority of Thailand's Chiang Mai Office, Chiang Mai Zoo, Chang Mai Zoo Aquarium, Chiang Mai Night Safari and Rajapruek Royal Botanical Garden present a tour package of one-night's accommodation, three meals and a one-day trip to "Three Zoos and One Garden". The special price of 999 baht per person is being offered from now until September 30.

Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, participants will be picked up by vans to worship Phrathat Doi Supthep first. Then, they will meet three pandas and many more animals at Chiang Mai Zoo and walk through the world's longest escalator-equipped underwater tunnel at Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium. After that, they will enjoy the beauty of gardens, plants and flowers at Rajapruek Royal Botanical Garden. At night, they will see wildlife at Chiang Mai Night Safari.

For more information, contact the TAT's Chiang Mai office on 053-248-604 or 053-248-607 or the TAT Call Centre on 1672.