No matter your age, if you’ve a taste for all things fun and superhero-themed, Thailand will be right up your futuristic street.
Colorful, characterful and often chaotic, Thailand is a place where visitors can let their imaginations run wild and indulge a hankering for some superhero-style adventures. This is a nation famed for its affection for comic books and collectibles, and grown up geeks join kids in spending entire days browsing the toy stores of downtown Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It’s a country that isn’t afraid to embrace the fun, fantastical side of life, and the 2018 opening of a Marvel Theme Park in Bangkok has sealed Thailand’s reputation as a killer destination for fans of superhero thrills and spills. Here are some unmissable highlights:
See Superheroes Guarding Temples…
In a bid to boost visitor numbers, Buddhist monks at a number of Thailand’s ornate temples have commissioned enormous replica superheroes to stand guard at their gates. The statues have no religious significance, according to their creators, but rather are designed to keep kids from complaining while their parents appreciate the more sedate charms of the temple itself. One of the first temples to hit upon the idea was the Wat Tamru temple in the central region of Samut Prakan, where a giant green Hulk and other superheroes sprang up in 2016. Since then, a number of other temples have followed the trend, including Wat Ta Kien, just outside Bangkok, which is watched over by three towering Transformers.
…And Admire a Marvel-ous Mural
At the magnificent, and as yet unfinished, White Temple in Chiang Rai province, Northern Thailand, Neo from the Matrix and King Fu Panda join Batman and a whole host of other Marvel heroes on a giant mural inside the intricately-crafted Ubosot, or main temple. It’s an unexpected sight among all the serene images of the Buddha and the artful carvings, but playing ‘spot the superhero’ is a sure-fire way to keep kids entertained on a visit to this eye-boggling temple.
Tip: Adults might want to keep an eye out for depictions of the fall of the Twin Towers, as well as other major real world events, which have caused controversy among some Western visitors.
Within easy strolling distance of the temple, the Heun Baan Rong Khun Resort has very affordable rooms (from 600 baht) in a cozy, family-run spot with bikes for hire and gardens for kids to play in.
Eat Superhero Ice Cream in Chiang Mai
Ice cream is almost always a winner, and when an ice cream cafe comes with a hella vegan options and a superhero theme, well, that’s pretty much going to please everyone in the family. At Ice Love You in Chiang Mai, there are Minions on the windows, Spiderman on the walls and a whole lot of other comic book capers going on inside. The handmade ice creams (traditional and vegan) are the stuff of ice cream dreams, and come in a kid-and-adult-pleasing array of colors, flavors and dessert combinations.
Tip: When in Chiang Mai, it’s worth paying a visit to the Blockland Lego Cafe, which opened in 2017 and allows visitors to make everything from model Death Stars to Princess Castles before or after a bite to eat.
If you’re in the market for a little luxury in Chiang Mai, the Shangri La Chiang Mai will make families feel totally pampered, with fancy pools and dining, and extra touches such as kids’ foodie treats every day, a kids’ pool and a good indoor play room.
It’s hosted a gigantic Comic Con event each year since 2018, and the opening of The Marvel Experience Theme Park in 2018 has put Thailand well and truly on the map for fans of comic book capers – for around 850 baht, visitors to this massive interactive multi-dome complex can live out their every superhero-themed dream, with 4D motion rides, a 3D cinema and a chance to see superheroes strolling around, like Disneyland with Marvel characters.
It’s far from the only superhero fun to be had in town, though. In a country renowned for its comic book and collectibles stores, Bangkok is home to some of the biggest and best. Among the many Marvel-themed stores, check out Animate Bangkok on the 7th floor of the MBK Building, for an enormous range of Manga models, magazines and every kind of collectible you could imagine.
There’s also Thailand’s biggest toy museum, BatCat Museum,which will thrill kids and big kids for hours with its gigantic displays of action figures, superhero paraphernalia and collectibles of all vintages.
When hunger strikes, families can refuel amid collectors’ item artworks and comics at Tezuka Shoten & Cafe, billed as Bangkok’s ‘first Manga cafe’. The cute decoration will appeal to all ages, and there’s a dedicated space for browsing and shopping as well as the cakes, ice creams, coffee and waffles that will keep energy levels up to superhero level.
There’s no shortage of family-friendly hotels in Bangkok, but a good mid-range option is Navalai River Resort, which has a lovely rooftop pool with views over the river and city, perfect for resting little legs (and adult-sized legs) after a day’s superhero adventuring. Rooms are great value, starting at $66 (just over 2,000 baht).
Tip: If coming to Bangkok during ComicCon, book in advance, as hotel rooms fill up fast, and prices can soar. Check dates and plan as far ahead as you can.