Muang Boran, or 'the ancient city' is the biggest outdoor museum in the world. Which is nice, but not as nice as what it could have been, as Muang Boran was initially planned as a….wait for it…golf course.

Yes, indeed, some rich old Thai guy decided he will build a golf course in the form of the kingdom of Siam and plant replicas and miniatures of significant buildings, palaces, temples and monuments  along the way.

Fortunately enough the golf course plan soon evaporated like a puddle left by a passing monsoon and even more fortunately, while doing the research about the buildings and historic locations around the kingdom, the developer found out that most of these heritage points of Thai culture are in very bad condition, while some were completely gone.

In a bold move he decided that not only will he build replicas and models of these ancient and historic visuals of old times and nobler living, but he will do it , as much as possible, on real scale. One to one.

Now, what that gives us is a huge open park with amazing structures of the architectonic and aesthetic progress of this kingdom, most of them built in the same size as the originals, and all a walking distance from each other. Actually, walking is something you rarely see there, as there is a very convenient and cheap bicycle rental service in the front gate. Nothing like pedaling in a nice sunny day between "ruins" and palaces.

I have to admit that the work that was done on the project is extremely impressive, both in the professional archeological historic level as the replicas are built by traditional artists using techniques and craftsmanship that were studied through decades of conservation, and in the entertainment level as it is indeed a splendid experience and a fun day outside.


Some of the locals look at my photos and immediately ask if this is Muang Boran,  as they do seem a bit too "perfect" , a bit too good to be true, but for the majority of the population the illusion is complete and they start betting on chiang-rai, songkla, wait, don’t tell me, I know this old wood market houses… in the end, every photos is an illusion, there is nothing objective in this world and the stories are in our minds.

I always like to hide in temple gardens here in the city as the serenity and the silence is good for the soul, and here, over an area of hundreds of acres, you can find that same feeling, but in a lot of variations and different locations to stop in. I take most of the visitors that come to Bangkok to see that beautiful little marvel of conservation, but the truth is I am much more fond of the times I get there without tourists, when I can just sit and absorb everything, look at the reflection of the clouds passing slowly in the temples crystal clear mote and small artificial lake.

One of the secrets of this place is that  in a very Thai fashion, it is non obtrusive and it is very easy to forget that it is a big museum  full of fake monuments and "ancient" houses built a couple of years ago. it has this budhist zen quality of just…being there. And that is something that is very rare these days, especially in tourist attractions and these plastic days we live in.

If you fall on a good day, when it is not too hot, and not too rainy, when there are not too many people and when you are feeling a bit romantic, a visit to Muang Boran is truly a voyage in time. Not only in time, but through time as you go through periods and eras, through kings and dynasties. It is indeed an experience. Highly recommended. And the best way to get there is with a simple taxi, after that the bicycle will be all you need, trust me.



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