Art in Paradise: Real laughs from amazing illusions

Illusion art gallery in Thailand and Vietnam inspires creativity, wonder, and learning

It is one thing to stand in the corner of a room. It is quite another to stand in the corner of a room, and look like you are trying to pull Thor’s hammer out of a rock while a massive volcano erupts behind you. Or wander through what looks like a portal into another universe. Or walk across the floor and find yourself standing on a rickety bridge over a deep, fiery chasm. But that’s one of many things that can happen during a visit to an Art in Paradise in Thailand and Vietnam.

A great way to deepen a child’s interest in art? Interaction! We’ve now visited Art in Paradise in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Da Nang, Vietnam. (Art in Paradise Bangkok has closed, so the original location, Art in Paradise Pattaya, Thailand, is next for us). These innovative murals encourage story, discussion, wonder, and a lot of laughs.

“The large-scale murals are vibrant enough when you see them, but they fully come alive through the camera.”

What is Art in Paradise?

What if you could view art that looked one way to the eye, but became a fun, immersive 3D experience when seen through a camera lens? That’s the idea behind each of the hundreds of paintings across Art in Paradise’s three locations. From European street scenes to rampaging dinosaurs, Egyptian pyramids to a deep-sea dive, anyone in your family can find a scene that engages them to strike a pose.

Our visit to Art in Paradise Chiang Mai, Thailand

Funnily enough, our Chiang Mai Art in Paradise adventure began in Europe. London and Paris melded before us. From a tall lamppost out in the middle of the room, we took turns hanging and swinging against the dazzling scenes behind us.

Throughout each of the gallery’s six massive rooms, exhibits transitioned from one to another. Sometimes shared a theme, such as wildlife or desert adventures. The large-scale murals are vibrant enough when you see them, but they fully come alive through the camera. That’s where the illusion snaps into place. Suddenly you’re, say, in the raised palm of a giant’s hand, or are swimming just above coral with a sea turtle.

However, the furniture and LEGO rooms added a further twist. From the murals, you move to a room where furniture might be on the ceiling or the walls. We shared lots of laughs standing in the space and deciding how to pose, while one of us gave tips based on how the scene looks in camera.

After the furniture room, a white-walled room showcases one exhibit. The LEGO landscape and cityscape took nearly 8 months to build—and over 228,000 pieces. From Hogwarts castle to downtown buildings, we loved looking at the food stall area, especially when the scene switched from day to night. Buildings, streets, and the market lit up. All the while, a train would emerge from one back corner tunnel, go through the LEGOscape, pass by Hogwarts, and disappear into another tunnel.

Our visit to Art in Paradise Da Nang, Vietnam

Girl poses in painting for Hero of the Year for Time Magazine mural.

Given how much we enjoyed Art in Paradise Chiang Mai, the moment we learned that there was another in Da Nang, Vietnam, we knew how we would spend a potentially rainy afternoon.

While every Art in Paradise offers its perspective-bending, large-scale murals, each location has its own unique offerings too. In Da Nang, the first gallery focuses on optical illusion art. You can stare at visual puzzles, discuss perspective-shifting paintings, and gain more understanding of how the Art in Paradise paintings work.

The large galleries in this location also change up use of space more. Some areas were multi-story, leading us from one set of adventures to another via stairs or ramps. Aster bent a punching bag double, while Connor chilled with good luck kitties.

These displays brought us all so many laughs. And that’s what visiting here comes back to, again and again: wonder, and a different way of perceiving the world and your place in it, even if at the same time you’re dodging a dragon or standing on a crocodile’s open mouth.

Also available in Pattaya, Thailand

Art in Paradise used to have a location in Bangkok, but that one has closed. However, the original Art in Paradise remains open in Pattaya, not far from Bangkok. We’ll be curious to see not only how this phenomenon began but also how the Pattaya location makes itself stand apart from the other two.

What to know before you go to Art in Paradise

A visit to Art in Paradise typically takes at least an hour. Depending on how in-depth you get with examining and posing with the art, you could easily spend a couple of hours there.

We found it easiest to use the Grab app to arrange a ride to Art in Paradise. When we were done, we pulled up Grab again to request a return ride.

Each location has slightly different entry procedures. For example, in both locations, you take off your shoes and go barefoot to protect the art. (There are storage areas for shoes near the front desk.) In Chiang Mai, I also had to check my day pack and our water bottles, but in Da Nang, we were allowed to take those with us.

Your path through each exhibit ultimately takes you to a café, and the exit is just off from there.

Happy wow moments await at Art in Paradise

We love seeking unique experiences that work well for both parents and kids. The memories—not to mention the photos and videos!—we got from Art in Paradise are some of our favorite souvenirs, along with all the laughs. Whether crouching in the nest of a giant eagle or trying to open a door that’s mounted sideways on a wall, these galleries truly get you to experience the world in a new way.

Learn more and book your tickets for Art in Paradise

Chiang Mai Art in Paradise, Thailand

Da Nang Art in Paradise, Vietnam

Pattaya Art in Paradise, Thailand

About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.

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