Heading to Thailand?
This glorious, mysterious, and (at times) ridiculous country is a smorgasbord when it comes to things to do, places to visit, and experiences to be had. Expect a rich depth of culture. Expect a deep history and yes, expect great food!
While the country is relatively small in area, it’s impossible to take advantage of all it has to offer in a short vacation stay. As such, it’s important to narrow down your list!
Regardless of whether you’re visiting Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Samui, or Phuket, the following are some of our favorite experiences to have in Thailand.
Apply these to any Thai destination, regardless of where you head!
5 of Our Favorite Experiences to Have in Thailand
#1 Go on Fishing Trip
Nothing is ever as fun as something you can engage yourself in. When you fish, you also get the immediate results of your actions. Like, how about eating the fish you catch?!
There are many places in Thailand where you can go for a fishing trip, and this is a more unique spin on taking a scenic boat trip to explore the surrounding islands, as most regular tourists do.
The freshwater fishing in Thailand is some of the best in SE Asia; think carp weighing close to 200lb, Mekong Catfish up to 400lb, and a huge range of other species like Redtail Catfish, Chao Phraya Catfish, Tambaqui, Pacu, Alligator Gar and many others.
There are excellent fishing spots all over Thailand including parks and resorts as well as lakes, ponds, dams and other wild caught options. From Bangkok to the Gulf of Thailand, there’s great fishing everywhere.
Thailand has quite a number of islands, and you can plan your fishing trip to visit one after the other. Or, rent a boat yourself, grab some fishing gear and go island hopping. While you do that you can go snorkeling too.
#2 Take in the History
Thailand is a country steeped in history, and the historic landmarks here will transport you to a different time, and to a completely different world.
Places like Sukhothai are all over Thailand; an ancient city which was discovered in the 13th century and is renowned as being the first independent Thai kingdom. When you get lost amongst the maze of mind-blowing monuments and temples, it’s not hard to understand how mighty it once was.
The ancient ruins of Ayutthaya (the capital city of the Kingdom with the same name) is another historic highlight; once known for being the most spectacular city in the world, most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time.
There are UNESCO World Heritage Sites all across the country, and even if you’re visiting one of the bustling cities, there are historic temples, markets, and museums that allow you to dive into the heritage of the country.
Photo credit: Twang_Dunga (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
#3 Get Closer to Nature
Thailand is full of spectacular landscapes, from it’s thundering waterfalls, to its islands where limestone karsts rise out of the sparkling blue water.
While there are opportunities to get close to nature in every part of Thailand, if you’re visiting Koh Samui, make sure you don’t miss Anthong Marine National Park. One of Thailand’s most famous natural attractions, the park is dotted with 42 beautiful tiny islands, and spectacular remote beaches perfect for swimming.
Phang Nga Bay off the east coast of Phuket Island is another beautiful natural destination. This area is defined by sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald-green water. And while you can take leisurely boat rides, canoeing is a far more adventurous way to spend a day.
But it’s not only the landscapes that make a country, Thailand has a wonderful wildlife scene too, and elephants are a big attraction.
It is important though to make sure that your wildlife encounters are ethical; there’s overwhelming evidence that elephant riding is cruel and harmful, so we recommend you visit ethical elephant sanctuaries.
#4 Don’t Miss Out On Temple Hopping
This one can be knocked off the list no matter where you decide to travel in Thailand. Temples (predominantly Buddhist) are EVERYWHERE.
Of course some are more extravagant than others, though no matter how big or small the temple you’re visiting may be, every single one will display amazing, and intricately hand-crafted detail.
Each of Thailand’s main regions will host at least one big temple to visit. Bangkok’s Grand Palace and Chiang Rai’s Wat Rong Khun are two to look into. Hire a tuk-tuk driver to take you around for the day to see the temples.
Bangkok might have the title for most temples in Thailand, but Phuket has some pretty serious temple hopping you shouldn’t miss too, including the Big Buddha, sitting atop the Nakkerd Hills.
Many places around Thailand have their own version of the Big Buddha, like Koh Samui where a 12 meter tall statue of Buddha (called Wat Phra Yai) sits on a little tiny island. It’s usually the first thing you spot if you fly into Koh Samui airport.
Photo credit: Twang_Dunga (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
#5 Take Your Meals on the Street
Thai street food is well-known and an experience that really shouldn’t be missed. It’s a chance to enjoy authentic food at incredible prices, to eat what the locals eat, and soak up an experience that is at the heart of the country.
Don’t hesitate or be put off by the inelegant surrounds, just dive in and breathe the heady aromas of frying meats, steaming soup and noodles and let your taste buds decide the rest.
Street vendors will have all the classics from Som Tam or raw papaya salad, Kaprao Moo Grob or crispy pork belly and holy basil, Isaan sausage (pork with sticky rice), Pla Pao or grilled fish stuffed with pandanus leaves, lemongrass and grilled over charcoal, and of course a variety of pad or noodles, pork and chicken skewers and soups.
For dessert there is the delicious mango with sticky rice flavored in coconut milk, sugar and salt and cold coconut milk to wash it all down.