Check out these top 10 picks for all of the must-have experiences that the beautiful country of Thailand has to offer!
1. Ride a Tuk-tuk
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again…you have to take a thrilling ride through the busy streets of Bangkok on a tuk-tuk! This mode of transport is quintessential to the ultimate Thai experience, leaving you savvy enough to navigate the streets like a local and getting you to your destination with a smile on your face.
2. Try the Street Food
Try local, mouth-watering cuisine while enjoying the warm hospitality of the Thai people. You will discover more amazing food options than you ever thought possible (see the tentacles?), and trust us…Pad Thai from home will never quite live up to your standards after trying it straight from a traditional street vendor. For dessert, don’t forget to try a durian, also known by the locals as the “King of Fruits.” This bizarre looking and very smelly fruit is simply delectable (and try to keep a straight face when you see it!).
3. Learn to Haggle
Learn to haggle like a pro along Khao San Road and in the legendary floating markets of Bangkok. Nothing beats getting an awesome bargain after honing in on your haggling skills in the captivating markets of Pai and Chiang Mai. This is certainly a skill that all travels will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Whether traveling more of Southeast Asia or into the heart of Africa, there is always haggling to be had!
4. Bathe an Elephant
Nothing quite compares to giving an elephant a bath! Not only will you get to bathe them, but you will also learn about feeding them and how to protect the well-being of these gentle giants at an elephant sanctuary and rescue center. If you’re lucky, there will even be some baby elephants out and about! And what is possibly cuter and more amazing than that?
5. Explore Doi Suthep Temple
Visit this magnificent temple and experience a religion not common to Westerners – Buddhism. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep gets its more commonly used name “Doi Suthep” from the mountain where it is located. Once at the base of this sacred site, you can climb the 309 steps to reach the pagodas or take a tram. Remember to dress appropriately for your visit and remove your shoes before entering the temple grounds. Inside of the site you will find stunning pagodas, statues, bells, a museum, and shrines, as well as spectacular views of the city of Chiang Mai!
6. Snorkel and Scuba Dive
Check out incredible coral reefs and the majestic reef sharks that live there as you immerse yourself in a breathtaking underwater world. Once out of the water, you can soak up the rays at the famous Maya beach as well as the picturesque white sandy beaches of nearby Koh Phi Phi.
7. Visit the Grand Palace
This complex of buildings at the heard of Bangkok has been the official residence of the Royal Family since 1782, though the present family resides elsewhere while still using the Grand Palace for official events. What makes the Grand Palace so unique is that instead of being a single structure, it is made up of different buildings, halls, and pavilions set around open gardens and courtyards. The different kings who made additions and rebuilt over the course of 200 years gives the Grand Palace its wonderful asymmetry and eclectic styles. It is also here where you will see the famous Emerald Buddha and Reclining Buddha – our favorites!
8. Help a Hill Tribe Village
When in Thailand, be sure to visit the hill tribe villages nestled in the jungles near Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. These hill dwelling peoples have traditionally been subsistence farmers, or, people who focus primarily on growing enough food for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, due to the isolation in which they live, they do not have access to the fundamentals that we are used to, such as education and proper schools. If you want to contribute to these communities and make a long lasting, positive impact, consider doing service work through school construction and maintenance projects. Your hard work will help make a difference in the lives of children while also giving you a new and unique connection to the community that you are helping.
9. Enjoy a Thai Massage
Once you’re nice and tired from all of that diving, elephant bathing, and community service work, you will be in need of a well-deserved Thai massage. Also known as a Thai yoga massage, this ancient healing system combines acupressure with Indian Ayrvedic principles and assisted yoga postures. Unlike other types of massages, a Thai massage uses no oils or lotions and you get to wear comfy clothes while your masseuse, or “giver,” compresses, pulls, and stretches you through a series of yoga positions. This is a fantastic addition and definite must to any trip to Thailand!
10. Release Paper Lanterns
What better way to complete your amazing Thai journey than by releasing paper lanterns into the starry night sky? This experience will leave you in absolute awe of the spectacular beauty of both the lanterns and this stunning country that you now know so well. Time to wish our lanterns and each other farewell!