Thailand, the ‘Land of Smiles’, has so many fantastic destinations and activities that it could take you years to see and complete them all. From its hundreds of islands with picturesque beaches, amazing Buddhist temples to its unique culture, Thailand caters to all types of travellers and budgets.
Grand Palace – Bangkok
This is a must-see sight in Bangkok, the spectacular Grand Palace, this is undoubtedly Bangkok’s most famous landmark. Built in 1782, it was the home to the Thai king for 150 years, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government. The Grand Palace still continues to wow its visitors with beautiful architecture with intricate detail, it is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people.
Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. When visiting the Grand Palace please dress politely and modestly; entry can be refused to those dressed incorrectly.
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year and water festival, which is celebrated every year from the 13th to 15th April across the entire country. Water is traditionally used throughout the festival as it is believed it will wash away your bad luck and sins for the upcoming year.
These days the festival has changed with huge water fights breaking out across the country which bring entire cities to a standstill. If you are lucky enough to be in Thailand during this time be prepared to buy a water pistol and for a soaking as there is no escaping the party.
Scuba Diving on Koh Tao
Situated in the Gulf of Thailand Sea, Koh Tao is a beautiful island only 21km in coastline length. Here you will find the best opportunity to get a PADI certification in Thailand and some of the most beautiful diving in the world is to be had in the sea surrounding the island.
The Island is encircled with many dive sites with the most famous sites being Sail Rock and Chumphon Pinnacle which are considered to be the best diving sites in the area and give the best chance to see Whalesharks.
Elephant Sanctuary – Chiang Mai
The Elephant is Thailand’s national symbol and a revered animal. Spending a day at an Elephant sanctuary Park is an exciting, unforgettable and ethical eco activity for animal lovers. Many centers take care of rescued elephants and help rehabilitation for abused, elderly, and injured Asian Elephants.
After listening to the stories of the staff and witnessing the Elephant individual personalities, you will come away with a newfound respect for this magnificent species.
Full Moon Party – Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is home to the legendary full moon party which is held monthly and can have up to 30,000 revelers partying on the Haad Rin beach. The party is believed to have begun when a group of tourists realised that the most beautiful view of the full moon was from the Haad Rin beach so they decided to hold a party.
From that day on it became an institution and has become a right of passage for people travelling Thailand. These epic parties are a riot of neon color, music, fire dancing and nonstop drinking that goes on all night.
The Thai massage is famous all over the world, the technique of the massage is unique as it stretches your body out as well as working on pressure points within the body. Taking at least a 1 hour Thai massage on your holiday will leave you feeling invigorated, balanced and without aches and pains.
Every place you visit on your Thailand trip will be sure to have many massage parlours with the prices very cheap when compared to what you would pay back home.
It is an iconic Thailand scene, rickety old wooden boats on the water piled with colouful bargains with local people wearing wicker hats looking for trade. There are several floating markets in Thailand with the biggest and most famous one being the Damnoen market, it is huge!
The market is situated about 100km south of Bangkok on the way towards Hua Hin. A visit to this market will give you a real insight into Thai culture and how things were many years ago. Spending a morning at one of these floating markets will give you the chance to purchase some souvenirs and give you plenty of photograph opportunities.
Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and gives a fascinating insight into Siam’s past. The city of Ayutthaya was the second capital of Siam (Thailand) after Sukothai for over 400 years until its destruction by the Burmese. After invading the Burmese forces burned the city to the ground and destroyed sacred shrines and Buddha statues.
Today much of the remains of the old Ayutthaya city has been unearthed and its ruins form an archaeological park. Most of the remains are temples and palaces that give an insight into how impressive this city must have been.
Thailand is world famous for its street food and is home to a wide variety of delicious cuisines, snacks, drinks and fruits. From Pad Thai to Som Tam to grilled meats or even fried insects it is all available for you to try as you make your way around the country. When looking for a good street food stall to eat at a good indicator is to see where the locals are eating.
Khao Yai National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khao Yai was Thailand’s first national park and the second largest with 2,168 Kilometers of lush grasslands and evergreen forest. The area is blessed with a lush mountainous landscape, fertile valleys, waterfalls and rich biodiversity, Khao Yai is a year-round getaway destination.
The park is home to several plant and animal species with you being able to see Asian elephants, bears, otters, deer, gibbons and macaques.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)