Is Thailand on your bucket list? Perhaps you have already booked your flights and are now thinking of what you want to do whilst there? Thailand was the first time either of us had visited Asia and as an introduction, it’s definitely a good place to start. The culture, food and beauty of the country is incredible. Unless you are planning to do a month or so, it’s difficult to see and do everything in Thailand. To try to help, we have pulled together a list of our top things to do in Thailand, read on to find out more!
1. Khao Sok National Park
Located in Southern Thailand between Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak and Koh Samui, is this truly incredible destination. You start your adventure by taking a long boat out into the waters, enjoying stunning views of dense rain forest and limestone cliffs. Don’t forget to also keep an eye out for the incredible wildlife as Khao Sok is home to a huge array of mammals and birds including elephants, bears, hornbills and wild boar.
There is so much to do within Khao Sok. The best part is that there is limited electricity and no mobile service so you can enjoy the moment and completely switch off. You could go cliff diving, canoeing, hiking to see waterfalls or simply enjoy the floating bungalow which will be your home for the night. Khao Sok is unlike anything you will have ever done before and the memories you create will stay with you for a lifetime!
2. Ang Thong National Park
Located a boat ride from Koh Pah Ngan or Koh Samui is this pristine archipelago comprised of 42 islands. With so much to offer, visiting all 42 islands would take weeks and most day trips take you to one of a few islands: Koh Wua Ta Lap, Koh Mae and Koh Sam Sao. We visited Koh Mae, home to the Emerald Lake. Climbing up a wooden staircase takes you to the top of a mountain which gives incredible views of the green lake glittering down below.
The novel ‘The Beach’ by Alex Garland was inspired by a trip to Ang Thong which has since seen an increase in popularity among tourists. This National Park has so much to offer, you’re bound to find something that takes your breath away.
3. Sleep Aboard
Every day hundreds of tourists jump on a boat to make their way to Maya Bay, the location where ‘The Beach’ was filmed. Don’t get me wrong, Maya Bay is stunning, powder white sand and crystal clear waters. However, the tourists flocking in their droves make it sightly less picturesque. The sleep aboard trip gives you the opportunity to visit Maya Bay in a small group tour at night meaning you are only one of a few people who can enjoy the paradise at a given time. You will enjoy a BBQ right on the beach, sipping on your drink, enjoying some food and splashing about in the sea to your heart’s content. The best part is that the sea has phytoplankton (yes I’m a proud science geek!) which gives the sea a beautiful glow. Once the sun sets you’ll be able to jump in for a once in a lifetime experience, watching the sea light up around you as you go for a swim.
We had not heard about the sleep aboard before heading to Thailand and unfortunately it was fully booked when we wanted to go. I would definitely recommend booking ahead for this one so you don’t miss out on an epic bucket list experience.
4. Thai Cooking Class
The food in Thailand is delicious and attending a Thai cooking class is a bucket list must for any trip to Thailand.
We attended the May Kaidee Express Cooking class in Bangkok where we made three dishes: a soup, a masaman curry and pad Thai. We got to see what went into each dish before having the opportunity to put our culinary skills to the test. The best part was we got to eat the fruits of our labour. Everything we made was vegetarian and tasted so scrumptious. To top it all off we were served with mango and sticky rice for dessert and provided with copies of the recipes we made to take home with us. A great way to spend the morning!
May Kaidee do a whole range of cooking courses. Ours was quite a short one but some of them last a day or even longer. Some also have the option to buy your own ingredients from the local food market!
5. Island Hopping
With over 300 islands, Thailand is full of breathtaking scenery, crystal clear water, powder white sand and dramatic mountain views. Island hopping has to be incorporated into your itinerary to enjoy all of what Thailand has to offer: diving, rock climbing, hiking, snorkelling, temples, beaches and the list could go on.
Thailand itself is a cheap destination which means transfers between locations can be, in many cases, less than £10 for a comfortable ferry crossing. It’s important to know what you would like to get from each destination when putting your travel itinerary together. For example, if you want a back packers paradise Phuket is a must. Perhaps you want to try out some diving in Ko Tao. Or maybe you are looking for some epic beach parties topped off with the famous Full Moon Party in Ko Pah Ngan. Whatever it may be, the cheap transfers between each island paradise can be haggled down to lower prices making your dream itinerary affordable.
Do check ahead when planning your itinerary as some destinations only have boats running at certain times of the year. With so many islands, it really is impossible to see them all and planning your trip might seem daunting. There are many group tours which take this stress out of your hands and plan an incredible itinerary for you.
When travelling it can be great to immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions. There really is no better way than getting involved with a festival. Thailand has a series of different events that take place throughout the year, so if you haven’t yet booked your trip perhaps you could coincide it with one?
Songkran is a Buddhist festival celebrated in April which sees in the Thai New Year. Songkran marks the end of the dry season and the start of the rain hence making it the water festival. You can expect to join the locals on the streets throwing buckets of water on each other. Tourists become a target as the locals aim to get you involved so you’ve no choice but to join in the fun!
Loy Krathong is celebrated in November. Thais gather around lakes, rivers and canals to pay respect to the goddess of water by releasing lotus shaped rafts into the water. The rafts and candles floating off into the distance is a truly magical sight to behold. Another festival which takes place in November is the Yi Peng Lantern festival celebrated in Chiang Mai. This bucket list festival of lights sees Thais and tourists alike releasing lanterns into the sky to create many an Instagram worthy shot of beautiful twinkling lights disappearing into the night sky.
Your visit to Thailand would not be complete without incorporating a few temples. Thailand is home to over 40,000 temples, the vast majority of which are still active places of worship. Within Bangkok alone there are more than 400 temples so there are plenty to choose from. The most popular temples are Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Wat Phra Kaew.
Wat Pho is a must for any first time visitor to Bangkok. It is home to the famous reclining Buddha which is 46 meters long and covered in gold leaf. The feet alone are 5 metres long and adorned with mother-of-pearl. Wat Pho is also one of the largest temples in Bangkok and is a leading Thai massage school so once you are done exploring you can settle down for a traditional Thai massage.
Wat Arun is located along the Chao Phraya River, opposite Wat Pho and is perhaps the most stunning temple in Bangkok. The style of the temple is very unique made of a number of different colourful spires and is unlike any other temple in Bangkok. The central spire is over 70 metres high and is decorated in pieces of coloured glass and porcelain. You can climb to the top of the spire to enjoy spectacular views of the temple below and Bangkok. But do take care, the climb is very steep!
Thailand has so much to offer and will definitely be a trip to remember. We know that we haven’t included everything in this list as there is just so many amazing things that you could do whilst out there. We would love to hear your top recommendations for things to do in Thailand so do leave us a comment below and let us know.
The Rambling Travellers