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Top Things to Do in Thailand

Tropical beaches, fascinating lifestyle, tasty food, super friendly people and plenty of activities to get sweaty and excited – it is impossible to get bored in Thailand. Instead, it might be a problem for travelers, especially first-timers, to narrow down the list of best things to do. With our list based on interests and seasons, you will find it pie-baking-easy to decide on things to do for your holiday to Thailand.

Visit one Temple (at least)

As hardcore on Buddhism as Thailand is, it is almost impossible to shrink away from temples, shrines and monasteries, no matter how one may try. Peeling off the religious outlay, you might at least appreciate the structure and be amazed how people are committed to these deities made of wood and rock.

If you are going to visit only one temple or Buddhism-related site, the Grand Palace and its adjoining Temple of the Emerald Buddha should be your choice. The unrivalled landmark of Bangkok documents the country’s important history and core culture.

Who it is good for: Travelers in general

Asia Highlights’ notes:

  • It is crowded all year round, and most travelers follow the visiting path clockwise. To avoid crowds, we suggest you make the visit counterclockwise, starting from Aphonphimok Pavilion, at the right side when you walk in from the entrance.
  • All visitors are required to wear long trousers and no showing skin of upper body. Female visitors are not allowed to enter in short skirt and tank top. There is a long-sleeve rental place by the ticket office, in case you are in short down wears.

Try out local transportation

BTS Skytrain and klong boats in Bangkok, tuk tuk in Chiang Mai, and motorbike in Phuket – local transportation in Thailand serves more than just a means to get around, but also a chance to travel like a local. The view of riding a BTS Syktrain alone is worth the Baht; this massive system connects almost every corner of Bangkok. The ubiquitous ride on a tuk tuk, whizzes through narrow streets and busy driveways, getting you a fast-flitting scenery of the city.

The long-tail boat is also an interesting way to discover local life around Bangkok with its maze-like canals (locally called klongs) and a means to get around islands in beach destinations such as Krabi and Koh Samui.

Who it is good for: Travelers in general, though some senior travelers might try with caution a tour by tuk tuk and klong boat.

Asia Highlights’ notes:

  • During some guided visits, we will arrange local transportation such as tuk tuk and klong boat to enrich your experience, also to help with navigation as private cars can often be caught up in traffic jams (especially in Bangkok during rush hour).
  • In your free exploration, it is better to have a map with the locations written in both English and Thai, so that the driver will understand where you want to go.
  • Always settle on the price first before you get on a local tuk tuk. BTS Skytrain, klong boats and buses, on the other hand, will have their price listed upfront.

Venture with street food (at least once)

Delicious food is one of Thailand’s many unique selling points. From the world-famous Tom Yam Shrimp Soup to freaky-looking fried bugs, Thailand puts forward an infinite supply of street bites that you’ve never seen anywhere else. Rich in flavors, authentic in ingredients and cooking methods to bring out the taste – an adventure of Thai street food is an important piece of any journey to Thailand. Yet the key lies in where to eat without worrying about diarrhoea.

Primary streets for local tastes can be found by the mouth of the locals; namely: Sukhumvit 38, Wang Lang Market, Silom Soi 20 and Rangnam in Bangkok; Chang Pheuak Gate and University Road of Chiang Mai. Local neighborhoods boast not only for inexpensive eats but also for lively atmosphere that makes you feel like you are part of the community, not an outsider.

Who it is good for: Travelers with a heart for adventure

Asia Highlights’ notes:

  • Monday is the street cleaning day for most cities, and chances are slim for you to find vendors.
  • Stay away from tourist areas such as the Grand Palace in Bangkok and the Old City in Chiang Mai, or Patong Beach of Phuket. Only by doing that can you scoop out the best, purely local and interesting eats.
  • Our tour guides in Thailand are familiar with some secret locations for great tastes with a proper hygiene standard. Another reason why you should include a tour guide on your trip to Thailand.
  • For ideas of classic street food, please refer to our other piece: Top Street Eats You Shouldn’t Miss in Thailand.

Take a cooking class

Taking a cooking class in Thailand means you get to interact with the locals and delve into the most essential part of their life: the kitchen. Private session or join-in experiences are your choice. Either it is by the Chao Praya River of Bangkok or inside an orchid garden of Chiang Mai, a cooking class will reward all participants with hands-on experience, and give you culinary skills and memorable moments that you may cherish for a long time.

This is highly recommended for family holidays to Thailand. No matter how old your children are, they will all enjoy picking up fresh vegetables from a garden or learning the names of different types of fish at a local market. Full engagement helps the youngsters stay focused and relate to a different culture; for the older ones, it might be a brilliant way to stay away from phones for a while.

Who it is good for: Travelers in general, especially for families

Asia Highlights’ notes:

  • Culinary landscape varies from south to north. Taking different courses (if time allows) sheds some light on a better understanding of local lifestyles.
  • For a group of less than 3 people, a join-in session offers bonus as you get to meet some like-minded travelers; yet for a bigger group, most of the time we will charter a private session, focusing on their specific preferable dishes.
  • For some join-in sessions, recipes stay the same all year round, and you might need to inform us for any special requests (such as food allergies, Kosher or Muslim dishes only).

Get close to elephants

Elephants hold a sacred position in Thailand’s history, culture and religious life. Unlike its neighboring countries, Thailand has been far ahead in eco-tourism, and elephant-friendly day tours have attracted environmentally concerned travelers to be a part of the nation’s substantial development. ‘No elephant riding’, ‘no animal trick shows’, are attempts to enunciate the importance of animal welfare and to enhance both the local community’s and the foreign travelers’ awareness of environmental protection.

Get involved in a good cause. An elephant-friendly day trip rewards you with both, interesting experiences and valuable insights. Projects can be booked in national parks near Bangkok and nature reserves in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, as well as in Phuket. To learn about elephants’ habits and how to take care of them, is a great lesson and practice for the younger generation and travelers alike.

Who it is good for: Travelers in general and especially families with children

Asia Highlights’ notes:

  • We don’t provide elephant-riding or any kind of trips that are not aiming at the improvement of the elephants’ lives.
  • Most elephant sanctuaries are a bit far away from city centers; we would suggest you spare an entire day and get nothing arranged in the afternoon, as transportation might take a couple of hours for one way alone.

Laze down on a beach

Putting a perfect ending to your journey to Thailand, are some free days on a white-sand beach. Options of beaches vary. The question, however, is which is the right one for you. There are three major beach destinations: Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui. Differences and keys to make the choice are detailed in one of our articles How to Choose a Beach Destination for Your Thailand Trip.

Surfing, diving, kayaking or simply kicking back, or day tours can be booked at your hotel or at street-side agencies. Given the diversity and relatively low prices, it seems unnecessary to pre-book such day excursions, and you may just decide on the spot.

Who it is good for: Travelers in general

Asia Highlights’ notes:

  • Some agencies sell day tours, excluding proper insurance. Please keep your eyes sharp while choosing.
  • Typhoon season, from May to late September, might throw a monkey wrench into your travels if you are going for surfing, boating or kayaking. Be weather-advised before you go.

Visit Thailand with Asia Highlights

We could certainly go on and on listing the best things to do in Thailand. However, instead of boring you, trip planning can be quicker and a lot easier if you provide us with your preferences, interests and budget. We will do the dot-connecting and line-stretching for you, you only need to email us: ‘contact us’ button.

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