Thailand is full of quirky attractions, from floating markets and museums dedicated to dead bodies, curious natural spots and hell temples.Add another unusual sight to your Thailand bucket list travel and visit Phaya Thaen Public Park in Isan’s province of Yasothon.
In Northeastern Thailand’s Phaya Thaen Public Park is a gigantic toad, warts and all, overlooking the Chi River. This peculiar structure is actually home to a five-story museum. Featuring information on both traditional Thai folklore and animal biology.
Expect to see life-size replicas of the different species of toads while reading about Thai mythology and superstitions. Once you reach the top of the attraction, you’ll find yourself standing on a viewing platform in the toad’s mouth. This is the perfect time to gaze out upon the Chi river and take in the fresh views.
You can also go to a viewing platform right in the toad’s mouth for sweeping views of the surroundings. Don’t worry about climbing—there’s an elevator! See small fishing boats traversing the river and admire the small but pretty park next to the toad.
If you’re wondering why a giant toad is this park’s main attraction, it all goes back a Thai belief. Phraya Khan Khak translates to “the Toad King,” a noble amphibian spirit whose presence is linked to rainfall.
Each May, Phaya Thaen Public Park holds a booming Rocket Festival, known locally as Bun Bang Fai, where locals launch gigantic rockets into the skies, hoping for rain to follow. You’ll notice that some of the smaller statues feature rockets. The riverside park is also especially busy for Songkran, Loy Kratong, and yearly boat races.
The festival coincides with the pre-farming season. Niter-and-charcoal-filled rockets are fired into the air, asking the holy spirit to let the rain pour down from the heavens. Most noteworthy ensure a bountiful harvest. So, next time you see a huge toad hop across your path, it may be forecasting the beginning of rain.
The huge toad is not the only attraction to check out. Be sure to grab a photo among the statues of dancing Isan women and relax in the quaint gardens nearby. Or, you could visit their other museum, which, this time, is inside a huge building shaped like a mythical serpent.