In Thailand, you can find activities to suit your budget, whether you want to backpack or travel in style.
I did not get to visit the northern part of Thailand, but I will share the activities and locations that I enjoyed. I visited Bangkok, Phuket and Pha Nga. I really enjoyed Bangkok because of the hustle and bustle, as well as the fact that the city never sleeps. Night markets start selling at 5 pm and start to close at 3 am. By 5 am, the morning vendors are setting up shop on the street. The energy in the city is incredible.
Here are the ten things I recommend you do when you visit Thailand.
I was a fan of Thai food before I ever set foot in Thailand. Of course I found so much more variety in Thailand itself. I found my favorite dish on the side of the road in Bangkok at midnight at a street food joint. Bangkok never seems to sleep. My favorite dish is kway teow noodle soup. It was made with fish balls and octopus, and pepper was provided for an extra pep. This is, to date, one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten. It seemed like simple fare but the more I ate, the more complex the flavors became. Eating on a crowded street at midnight made the meal even more unforgettable.
Regular restaurants served delicious food as well though it was more expensive, as would be expected. Mango desserts are another favorite of mine and the dessert shops are often open well into the early morning. Mango ice cream with a side of mango sticky rice and actual cut up pieces of mango.
I got to see a live muay thai tournament in Bangkok at Rajadamnern stadium. I highly recommend this if you like martial arts or MMA. When the main event came on, I got to see a contestant knocked out with an elbow to the top of his head. He had to be carried out. If you are faint of heart, this is not the activity for you.
Betting on the fights is part of the fun. Join in if you are feeling lucky.
Bangkok has many many many malls. Some malls are dedicated to clothes, others to shoes and accessories. I frequented the ones at MBK Centre. They have several floors of shops. I was never able to visit all the shops and believe me I tried.
There are also a lot of informal stalls which start selling after 5pm. Once I discovered how awesome the shopping was, I was distracted from all the other activities. I like shopping for clothes in Bangkok because the styles are different from what I find at home. The clothes are incredibly cheap and fortunately my size. A lot of places will not allow you to try on the clothes before you buy them.
If you like massages, you will love Thailand. I’m not talking about anything kinky, just a normal massage. Thai massages are cheap. Massage shops are plentiful ad can be found seemingly on every street in Bangkok.
Buddhist temples abound in Thailand. In Bangkok, we visited the Grand Palace and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha). You are required to wear long pants at the Temples.
Beware of scam artists who tell you the temple is only open to foreigners after 1pm. Seriously. They will even be in official uniforms, pretending to be temple guards.
If you are so inclined, you can find a tailor and get a suit custom made. You get to pick out the fabric, lining and style. You can even get shirts made to go with the suit. All this for only a couple hundred dollars. The tailors take about 3 days to complete 2 suits. If you are only staying a short time, you can still get an excellent quality suit made specially for you.
Phuket, pronounced Pooket, is a resort island a short flight away from Bangkok. The beaches on Phuket are marvelous. Try out Nai Harn beach. The island is huge and there is plenty to see and do on Phuket alone. If you are brave enough, you can ride around the island on a moped. If not, you can take a taxi to Nai Harn beach or to the Big Buddha.
The movie The Beach was filmed on one of the Phi Phi Islands. These islands are awash in blazing blue waters. You can take a tour to Phi Phi Leh where The Beach was filmed. You will have plenty of company as everyone wants to visit this island. Afterwards, you can go to another of the islands and relax on the beach in peace and quiet. Snorkeling and other water sports are available around the islands.
We rode elephants in Pha Nga province in the Song-Prak forest. The elephants first performed tricks for us, playing musical instruments and giving us massages. Then we rode them to a river where they filled their trunks and playfully soaked us to the skin.
The animals were treated well and were controlled verbally. I got to see how truly intelligent these creatures are. After the ride, we paid for a basket of plantains and fed the elephant we had ridden on.
We went white water rafting in Pha Nga Province. It was fun and thrilling. Rafting takes place on the river through the Song-Prak forest. Training was provided before we go into the water. Helmets and life jackets were provided for safety. Each canoe had an experienced guide to show us the way. Fortunately for us, we didn’t capsize even at the worst rapids, but someone in the next canoe fell overboard. She was quickly rescued and taken back into the canoe. Everyone was thoroughly soaked by the end of it. It was exhilarating.
Those are my recommendations for things to do in Thailand. There are many more things to do but you have to start somewhere. If you have more suggestions, please add them in the comments.
Live young and travel.