Some will say the greatest thing about Thailand are the stunning beaches. Others will say it’s the food. But travel insiders can all agree on one thing: Thailand makes for an excellent place to holiday whether you’re 20 or 50, and whether you’ve got a tight budget or money to burn. No matter which end of those spectrums you fall on, here are the top 10 things you should make sure to do when you’re visiting Thailand.
- The Palaces
You can’t go to Thailand without visiting the famous palaces you’ll find throughout the country. One of the most popular palaces is an iconic landmark for Bangkok, the Grand Palace. Sure, everyone goes here but you’ve come all this way to Thailand and this gold-tipped palace is over 200 years old. It’s a rite of passage for all travellers to Thailand, showcasing a rich tapestry of history in some of the most resplendent surroundings.
- The Temples and Statues
While palaces like the Grand Palace are indeed dazzling, something else you’ll find fascinating is the presence of Buddha statues. In particular, the Emerald Buddha (not far from the Grand Palace) is the largest in the world of the reclining Buddha figure. Throughout the country, Buddhist temples fill the land. The Temple of Dawn is impeccable, a site that will truly take your breath away from both near and far. The richly detailed mosaic gives you even more to appreciate here.
- The Elephants
In Thailand, the elephant is highly-regarded and stands as the strong and unwavering national symbol of this elegant Asian nation. Animal lovers of all ages will appreciate getting up close and personal with the giant creatures. One of the best ways to enjoy the elephants without having your heart break over the rampant animal cruelty that can be found in some parts of the country is to visit the Elephant Nature Park. It’s here that elephants are rehabilitated and well-taken care of. You can even stay in Elephant Hills, a tented camp setting that gives you the chance to spend more time with the elephants.
- The Islands
Thailand is a coastal country. It has over 5,000 miles of shore to discover. An amazing way to experience this magical land is to ride on a long-tail boat. Boating gives you the chance to take in all the gorgeous coastal sights like the famous limestone rocks on the west coast, plus there’s always Phuket, one of the most prime destinations in all of Thailand. And yes, don’t forget that beaches = plenty of time to stick your toes in the sand and simply luxuriate under the sun with a drink in your hand while repeating to yourself, “This is the life.”
- The Hill Tribes
You might be lured to Thailand for the perfect beaches, but if you don’t delve into Thai culture, you’ll be missing out on a huge part of what makes this country so incredible. What good is travelling to a far and away place when all you do is typical touristy things? In northern Thailand, you’ll find village tribes of Akha, Hmong, Karen, and Lisu. One of the most incredible experiences you can ever have is spending a day or even staying the night with a local village family to learn their unique way of life. You can find legit tours for this but beware of unethical guides before you make your reservations.
- The Festivals
Thailand has always been called “the land of smiles” so it’s no wonder that when you visit during a festival, the people of Thailand are happy for you to join in their celebrations and share the culture. In fact, planning your trip to coincide with one of these festivals is absolutely recommended. Loi Krathong is a beautiful festival of floating lanterns that takes place in November, while Songkran, better known as the Thai New Year, is the famed water festival that takes place every April. That’s a good one too, simply because it’s so hot there that you’ll be relieved when you get sprayed with water. In any event, you’ll be glad you came when you visit Thailand during one of the festivals.
- The Floating Markets
Imagine enjoying a boat ride AND being able to shop at the same time. That’s what floating markets are all about where you can get authentic Thai fruits, vegetables and handicrafts as your guide steers you along. Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi is the most famous one so if you’ve only got a drop of time, be sure to visit it. Got more time to spare? Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market in Bangkok is the place where even the locals go. Tourists aren’t as aware of this gem so hurry in before word gets out.
- The Province of Kanchanaburi
It’s not for everyone, though backpackers and those with a morbid fetish will want to visit where the Death Railway began as well as the bridge at River Kwai. These dark reminders of World War II were created by the prisoners of war. Historic and brooding, it’s a spot you may or may not want to see however countless tourists have flocked to this area to pay homage to those who endured this time period.
- The National Parks and UNESCO Sites
Thailand has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites that you should absolutely make plans to see. Khao Yai National Park is one of them, one of the largest monsoon forests in all of Asia. Other national parks include Doi Inthanon National Park where you can truly get high, on the highest peak in the country that is. Or indulge your spirit with unique wildlife, waterfalls and cave explorations at Sai Yok National Park. Not an adventure for the lazy! But hey, if you can muster up the energy, then your payoff is huge, especially if you head to Erawan Waterfall. It has seven tiers of waterfalls that flow into stunning freshwater pools. Be ready to dive right in for a swim!
- The Shopping
Shopping is a sport too. And even if you’re not a big shopper per se, you’ll love shopping in Thailand. Street stalls, local markets, and even malls give you plenty of chances to buy uniquely Thai items. Wood-carved relics, gorgeous silk, pottery, and even Thai spices that are hard to find back home are all great choices for souvenirs to remember your holiday by, or to bring home as gifts to friends and family.
- The Golden Triangle
In Thailand, they call it Sop Ruak. For foreigners who can’t pronounce it, it’s called the Golden Triangle. It’s the spot where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar all meet. When you stand on the banks of the Thailand river, you can see Myanmar. Hiring a boat to get your closer isn’t a bad idea either. Boat rides make any trip more exciting.
Really, how you choose to spend your time in Thailand is up to you. That’s what everyone loves about it though. It’s versatile, and planning a trip here is totally customisable so that you can fill your days and nights with the things that truly tickle your fancy.