Top Things To Do In Thailand
Before I left Canada, my dream was to find a beach side hut on a deserted island in Thailand and maybe even retire there. When I finally got there, I realized that finding a deserted island in Thailand was next to impossible. However, pretty much anything else you’re looking for is bound to be there somewhere. Want to scuba dive? Head to Ko Tau. Feeling an urge to learn Muay Thai? You can train in Pai. Just want to party all night long? Go to the Full Moon Party on Koh Phang An. Or maybe you just want to relax and chill out. Then pick one of the many islands of Thailand. There are so many things to do in Thailand, you’ll never run out of options.
Whatever your pain or pleasure, if you’ve got the time and money, you can find it all in Thailand. Here’s a short list of some of the available things to do in Thailand.
1. Live The Good Life On Koh Samui
If beautiful, fancy resorts on palm tree lined beaches are your thing, then Koh Samui is the place for you. But even if they’re not, you can find local street food stalls, and quiet secluded beaches around the big island as well. Just rent a scooter for a scant $5/day and head on down to the southern tip of the island and you’ll find tourist free towns and beaches that remind you that you’re in a tropical paradise and not an over developed resort island.
2. Visit The Golden Triangle From Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is a small city in northern Thailand that serves as the main hub for exploring the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. Only a few hours by bus from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai has some beautiful temples and museums, including the stunning White Temple. There’s also a great Night Bazaar Food Market for tasty and cheap local eats. A short ride to Chiang Khong brings you to the Laos border where you can hop onto a slow boat down the Mekong river. Or you can take a bus to Mae Sai and cross the border into majestic Myanmar.
3. Chill Out (Or Learn Muay Thai) In Pai
Once a sleepy town in the mountains, Pai is now a popular backpacker’s getaway known for its laid back atmosphere, cheap guesthouses, and wide range of activities from waterfalls, natural hot springs, elephant camps, and yes, Muay Thai training. Many a traveller has come to Pai, planning to stay for only a few days, and ended up staying for weeks or even months.
4. Scuba Diving In The Coral Reefs Around Koh Tao
Koh Tao is known as THE place for diving in Thailand, and deservedly so. With it’s abundant dive sites, stunning coral reefs, and dive schools, Koh Tao is the number 2 spot in the world for dive certifications. Popular dive sites include the Chumphon Pinnacle, Southwest, Pinnacle, Shark Island, Green Rock, and White Rock.
5. Full Moon Party Craziness On Koh Phangan
Ah, the infamous Full Moon Parties of Koh Phangan. You’ve probably heard of them and if not, you will once you arrive in Thailand. Completely hedonistic, slightly out of control, and actually quite a bit of fun, even if you missed the once a month Full Moon Party, you can always catch the Half Moon party or the Quarter Moon Party, or the New Moon Party, or the, well you get the picture. Just make sure you keep your sandals on, even on the beach because when you’ve got 40,000 drunken revellers, there’s gonna be things that you really don’t want to step on.
6. Party All Night Long In Phuket
And if that’s not enough for you, then Phuket is another island known for it’s parties, specifically in Patong. Make no mistake though, there’s much more to Phuket than just the amazing beaches and crazy parties. But who’re we kidding – that’s the main reason why you’d go to there anyway, so who cares? Go ahead and enjoy the beautiful sands and party in Patong until the sun comes up. And if you get tired of the masses, rent a scooter and take a short ride south to Karon for some peace and quiet.
7. Enjoy The Beach In Koh Phi Phi
One of the most naturally beautiful islands in the world, Koh Phi Phi has now become overrun with tourists and development after being popularized in the movie, The Beach. Still beautiful and still a paradise, be prepared for a whole lot more people now than there were before.
8. Relax Away From The Crowds In Koh Chang
Not nearly as developed or commercial as Koh Samui or Phuket, Koh Chang is just as beautiful with it’s white sand beaches and myriad of wildlife. Times are changing though, as is the case with rest of Thailand, and tourist dollars are starting to roll in. In recent years, the government has been trying to change Koh Chang from a backpacker’s haven to a top level resort destination so I would advise heading there as soon as you can before it’s small beach feel is all but lost.
9. Anything And Everything In Bangkok
In Thailand, money can buy anything and in Bangkok, that couldn’t be more true. From the Chatuchak Weekend Market and the super sized urban malls, the local street food and the fine dining restaurants, and the lady boys or the ping pong shows, whatever you want or need, you’ll probably be able to find it in Bangkok. Given it’s central location in SE Asia, even if you wanted to skip it you probably wouldn’t be able to as you’ll be popping in and out of Bangkok between destinations. So you better get used to it and the beautiful chaos that it is.
10. Launch Sky Lanterns In Chiang Mai
Loi Krathong is the annual festival across Thailand to celebrate Buddha, but nowhere else in Thailand is it celebrated like in Chiang Mai. Once a year, thousands upon thousands of sky lanterns are lit and sent skyward in what must be the world’s most beautiful act of mass littering. However, even if you’re not fortunate enough to be there during this fireballs in the sky festival, Chiang Mai has tons more to offer with over 300 temples in the surrounding area, a massive Night Market for shopping and delicious local food, nearby elephant camps, hill tribe villages, and frequent Muay Thai kickboxing matches.
11. Lose Your Soul In Pattaya
This is actually more of a warning than a recommendation, but Pattaya is where you go when you think Bangkok and Patong are too conservative. A beach resort area, popular with expats and tourists interested in the seedier side of Thailand, Pattaya isn’t a place you take your kids for a nice family vacation. Synonymous with sex tourism, you’ll find blocks and blocks filled with Go-Go clubs, massage parlours, girlie bars, and lady boy clubs. You’ve been warned.
So there you have it, whatever may tickle your fancy, chances are you’ll be able to find it among the many things to do in Thailand. Out of all the SE Asian countries I travelled to, Thailand always had more to offer and experience, in terms of sheer variety and quantity.
What are your favourite things to do in Thailand? Which places did I miss that are most memorable to you?