It’s the classic question when people visit, so here are 10 Things to do in Thailand
Since moving to Chiang Mai in April 2012, we have been asked the classic questions that all expats should expect when living in a holiday destination. ‘Where should we go?’ ‘What can I fit into my 2 week holiday?’ Plus countless more similar themed inquiries that are actually quite difficult to answer because there is so much choice and so many things to do in Thailand, it really does depend on the person coming.
Thailand is a spiritual and colourful South-East Asian country. From bustling and brash Bangkok to the peace and tranquillity of its hilltop villages, there’s so much to see and do with something to suit everyone.
So we put together a little list of things that would easily fill your photo album.
1. Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Inside the Grand Palace Grounds
These spectacular grounds are one of Bangkok’s tourist hotspots. Home to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, a monument carved entirely from a single piece of jade, this intricate and beautiful building is over 200 years old. Get there when it opens to try and tone down the exposure to human traffic but ultimately there’s no avoiding the crowds here. Tip – Avoid the Tuk Tuks in Bangkok and instead use the Air conditioned meter taxis, make sure they turn on the meter and the price is ‘always’ cheaper than a Tuk Tuk.
2. The Golden Triangle – Mekong River
Part of the Golden Triangle Area
Take a trip to the gateway of the Mekong, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. Parts of this area can feel a little touristy but the Mekong river itself is a great place to walk along, or take a quick boat trip and let the spray cool you off.
J sitting on the edge of the Mekong River
Hop on a tour bus or hire your own transport with adequate rental car insurance and explore picturesque scenery interspersed with ancient and tranquil temples.
3. Volunteer at an Elephant Conservation Reserve
The elephant is highly revered and as such is Thailand’s national symbol. There are a variety of available excursions to elephant sanctuaries but avoid any kind of trip that involves riding them or watching them perform tricks. We recommend visiting the Elephant Nature Park for the chance to get close to these magnificent creatures.
4. Island Hop
Thailand is renowned for its white sandy beaches and tranquil, turquoise waters. Explore the islands of the Andaman Sea or kayak around the Gulf of Thailand’s coastline. Enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling or simply relax in peace on an isolated island paradise. This is something we have yet to experience ourselves having lived solely in the North for the last 13 months, but we can’t deny Thailands appeal for a beautiful island and beach experience. Personal recommendations to come.
5. Trek to Tribal Villages
At a Lahu Hilltribe in Mae Taeng near Chiang Mai
Northern Thailand is home to tranquil, tribal villages. Take a trek into the hills to meet friendly, local families and spend a few nights experiencing an alternative way of life.
6. Floating Markets
Damnoen Saduak, situated to the south west of Bangkok is the most famous of Thailand’s floating markets. Merchants paddle up and down the congested waterways, peddling their wares. Canoes are laden with colourful consumables and the atmosphere is chatty and vibrant.
An old photo of the waterfalls at Kanchanaburi NP
Experience the unique history of Kanchanaburi with a visit to the Death Railway and the Bridge over the River Quai. Enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty of the area’s national park and unspoiled, scenic environment. We visited this place when we were 21 and it holds some fond memories of swimming under the tiered waterfalls while little fish swum around our feet.
8. Khao Yai National Park
Spread across four provinces, the landscape of this World Heritage Site is verdant and mountainous, with vast waterfalls and an array of exotic wildlife. This one has been on our ‘To Do List’ for a while now. But from what we’ve seen it’s an experience that you’ll never forget.
9. Doi Suthep
A still image from our timelapse of the Doi Suthep Chedi
Enjoy stunning views of Chiang Mai from the summit of this majestic mountain. Not only does this destination enjoy National Park status, it also plays host to a holy temple and Buddhist monastery.
The legendary Buddha head in the Bodhi Tree Roots
The temple and palace ruins of Ayutthaya serve as both a testament to Siam’s glorious past and as a stark reminder of Thailand’s historic power struggle with Burma. If you have the time and you are staying in Bangkok, Ayutthaya is just one hour north and is definitely worth the trip. Hire some bicycles and tour the old ruins & temples for a pleasant day out. The famous Buddha head pictured above can be found at Wat Mahathat. You can read more about our trip to Ayutthaya here.
The places mentioned in the list are such a small taste of what Thailand has to offer. To be honest we could recommend 10 things to do just in the North itself if people have the time. But most of our guests so far haven’t and most like to try and cover the entire country in 14 days or less. So it’s a start.
One thing is for sure, having lived here for 13 months we still have so much to discover.