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Looking for some memorable places to visit in Thailand? Here are five of the best that eschew the more popular tourist traps. 

Whether you’re in it for the food, the beaches, the temples or the stupendously cheap prices, Thailand, or ‘the land of a thousand smiles’, has something for everyone. It’s a Technicolor cornucopia of assaults on the senses, from the bustling streets of Bangkok to the tranquil shores of sandy beaches. Small wonder this Asian paradise brings in 35 million tourists a year.

There’s so much to see in Thailand that it can be hard to decide where to go, what to do and how to squeeze the most from your stay. But fear not, we are here to point you in the direction of the weird, the wonderful and the exotic. Read on for five of the most unique places to visit in Thailand.

1. Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew

Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew translates to ‘Wilderness Temple Of The Great Glass’, the ‘Great Glass’ being bottles of beer. Tired of seeing the area being ruined by mounting litter, local monks decided to turn bad habits into something beautiful - encouraging the townsfolk to start bringing in their empty bottles so that they could use them as the building blocks of a new and hoppy house of holiness. Starting in 1984 they’ve since constructed a temple complex made entirely of Chang and Heineken bottles, complete with a crematorium, water towers, sleeping quarters, toilets and even bottle cap mosaics!

2. Talay Bua Deang, Red Lotus Sea

This jaw-dropping lake is visual poetry, with red lotus flowers spread out across the waters like a blanket, broken only by narrow channels made by small boats that carry lovers and sightseers. Small islands lie within the lake complete with numerous temples and shrines, while small fish swim the waters and water birds, such as herons and ducks can be spotted too. The best way to experience the lake is to hire a boat and traverse the waters yourself, taking in the wonderful sights up close.

3. Mae Klong Railway Market, Samut Songkhram

Also known in Thai as the Siang Tai (life-risking) market, here, it’s not just the prices that are unbelievable. At first glance, you may mistake the vendors and stalls selling fruit, vegetables and other wares as just another typical Thai market place - that is until you hear the blast of a train’s horn. Then, the marketplace transforms. Sellers jump to their feet and fold away their canopies and squeeze into the walls of the market. Moments later, a train passes straight through this curious emporium, a mere foot away from the market walls. After the train passes, sellers return their stalls to life and the market resumes normal activity. A spectacular sight - just don’t get too close.

4. Wat Puet Udom

Thailand is chock full of temples. And while most are places of serenity, tranquillity and peace, the bizarre ‘hell temples’ are quite different. Wat Puet Udom, is a graphic look into Buddhist hell; a nightmarish rollercoaster of gory models and depictions of the consequences of a sinful life. Enter through a giant mouth and descend below the temple grounds to find artistic representations of sinners being pecked by birds and plenty more that really isn’t for the faint of heart.

5. Sai Ngam, Phimai

A titan of the natural world, this vast Banyan tree stretches out across 3,251 square metres. Its roots and branches spread across an entire island, appearing more as a forest than a single tree. Legend has it that Buddha found enlightenment while sitting in the shade of a Banyan tree. You might just find the same. Or at least a great spot for a picnic.

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