Thailand is an incredible destination with beautiful temples, verdant landscapes, mesmerizing beaches, fascinating history and culture. Here’s our pick of top 10 things to do when in Thailand.
1. Relish a regal and religious experience – The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Thailand’s most sacred statue, the Emerald Buddha, resides at the magnificent Wat Phra Kaeo, right next to the former residence of royalty, the Grand Palace. See the gilt-covered pagodas and exquisite murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Watching the locals praying and observing age-old Buddhist rituals is a genuine slice of Thai life.
2. Crossroads to young travellers - Khaosan Road, Bangkok
Khaosan Road is a lively strip with dozens of street vendors, artisans, fancy bars and restaurants. The road’s reputation has zoomed ever since the movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio was released. Soak in the shopping delights offered here along with food that tantalizes your taste buds. A happening place buzzing with activities, the Khaosan Road is a must visit.
3. The Mammoth Bazaar - Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok
The Chatuchak Weekend Market with over 15,000 stalls spread over 35 acres is guaranteed to appease both the thrifty bargain-hunter and the moneyed antique collector. From home decorations and artworks to exquisite Thai handicrafts and exotic pets, you’ll find them all in this behemoth of a bazaar.
4. Biking Tour of World Heritage Sites, Bangkok
Rent a mountain bike to traverse the magnificent ruins in the Sukhothai Historical Park which stands witness to the birth of the first Siamese Kingdom in 1238. Also, cycle leisurely past dozens of remnants from the next Siamese empire, Ayutthaya, once considered the most glorious town and trading port in Asia.
5. Make a big splash in the Gulf of Thailand
Visit some of the famed tropical islands and oceanfront resorts. Dip into Hua Hin for golf, wine and horse-riding on the beach. Try Ko Chang for its abundance of eco-tourism activities. Rock up to Pattaya for its raucous nightlife or savour all of these different delights on Ko Samui.
6. Riding a Jumbo - Elephant Trekking, Lampang
The most scenic elephant treks are in the North of the country where you can climb hills, ford streams and lumber through the jungle, atop an elephant’s back. At the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, in the northern province of Lampang, you can sign up for courses on how to be a mahout. Learn how to ride the elephant, take it to the river to bathe and even sleep with your own elephant out in the jungle.
7. On top of Thailand - Abseiling in Khao Yai
Imagine climbing down a cliff face with a gushing waterfall on both sides of you. That’s the thrill of abseiling in Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to diverse eco-systems and 800 species of fauna. The Park is also renowned for its waterfalls ranging from 15 to 50 meters high. To get to some of the waterfalls requires kayaking across a lake, or trekking through a jungle that is home to wild elephants, gibbons and hornbills.
8. Be adventurous - Andaman Coast
Whether you’re looking for hard or soft adventures, from sea kayaking to jet skiing, from parasailing to banana boat riding, from marine fishing to simply soaking up the sun on a sandy tropical beach, the islands of Krabi and Phuket is the place to be.
9. Meditation for peace of mind
If you are craving some peace of mind, consider doing a meditation retreat in one of the country’s many temples. Learn the secrets of serenity at the forest monastery of Suan Mokkh in Surat Thani or at the Wat Mahathat in Bangkok.
10. Savouring the spices of Thai Life and Cooking
Learn the basics of cooking traditional dishes like Tom Yam Kung (a spicy broth laced with lemon grass and fresh shrimps) and Pat Thai (Thai-style noodles). Choose your own kitchen – a five-star hotel, a humble wooden house or aboard a wooden rice barge. Take a day-long course or longer from a Thai chef and savour the food along with your fellow cooks.