THAILAND IS gearing up for winter with a range of chilly activities guaranteed to have its residents shivering with joy.
Amusement park Dream World is home to a Snow Town that's perfect for a family outing, Pattaya has its Ice Bar for adults who enjoy a drink while the southern province of Songkhla has once again turned part of the Municipality Park in Hat Yai into an Ice Dome.
Now the Harbin Ice Wonderland has arrived in suburban Bangkok and in the couple of weeks since it threw open its doors it has drawn both local youngsters and foreign visitors to admire its magnificent ice sculpture exhibition and have fun in its snowy playground.
Operated by Singapore-based construction company CIW, which made its debut on the entertainment business last year with the "2 Degree Ice Art" exhibition at Marina Bay, the newly-built Bt80-million (S$3.1 million) ice wonderland is spread over 3,360 square metres in the Bearing area.
The company also brought in a massive 600 tons of ice blocks, which have been carved into different shapes and themes by 25 skilled Chinese masters.
"I love Thailand. I'm here at least 10 times every year and I long ago recognised the country's investment potential," says CTW's Miow Seong Yao.
"Our success with the ice sculptures in '2 Degree Ice Art' inspired us to bring a similar show in Bangkok. We knew Thais would enjoy subzero temperatures and learning about ice carving and ice dyeing. We've kept the admission fee reasonable too so everyone can come."
The high-tech Ice Wonderland is designed to look like a miniature town and brings together the best-known landmarks from the ASEAN region and beyond.
Located within easy walking distance of the BTS Bearing station, the exhibition is divided into 10 zones and includes a coat and glove rental service for those who don't have their own cold-weather wear.
Just past the entrance is a photo corner with a blue screen that allows you to put together your own background. Admission to this space is Bt120 and its entirely optional.
The cold hits the moment you step inside and it's wise to wrap up warmly, especially if you are not used to an icy chill.
Chinese and Thai architecture come together at the entrance in the form of a pair Thai giants standing guard outside Wat Phra Chetuphon and a towering arch decorated with lions. A Chinese-style chedi sits inside an ancient park while on the stage, Chinese girls play both Chinese harps and chess.
The next room is home to a traditional Thai temple and is a reminder of the day when His Majesty King Bhumibhol met Queen Sirikit at the Thai pavilion.