The 101 on Thailand
The definitive list of unmissable Thailand activities
Thailand is pretty much the most popular gap year destination in the world, and for good reason. There's so much to do there, you could easily spend a year getting to know the country's intricacies and quirks.
Top gapper Rebecca Root has compiled this comprehensive list of all the top things to do in Thailand, as recommended by the gap year community past and present, by the gapyear.com team, and by our roving vloggers Saunders and Ollie. Here goes...
Take a tuk tuk
Check out Saunders and Ollie's guide to getting around Bangkok and it’s pretty clear that it’s the tuk tuk all the way. A snug sofa with a small engine and a colourful hood, the tuk tuk is perfect for dodging lorries, swerving sidewalks and jamming taxis. They are the cheapest and by far the most fun travel option in Thailand.
Visit the Grand Palace
As one of Bangkok's main tourist attractions, it can be tempting to dodge the throngs of cheery snappers in the afternoon heat but it is worth the sweat-breaking agro. The collection of intricately painted white and gold temples offer religion and history that give you a quick burst of Thai culture in a 30 minute whip a round. Just don’t forget to ply on the layers as a sign of respect.
Go wild on Khao San Road
Described in ‘The Beach’ as the ‘backpacking centre of the universe’ it’d be criminal not to pay Khao San Road a visit. After all, if Leo DiCaprio’s been there then it’s good enough for us. The kilometre long stretch offers a continuous overlap of bars, hostels, travel agents, clubs, restaurants and massage parlours all crying out for backpackers to take advantage of their low prices.
Fried grasshopper? Spicy locusts? Do like the locals and munch on the crunchy delicacies of Thailand. Ignore the hard shell or weird pincers and try to enjoy the taste of some sweet and savoury bugs. You can find insects for sale on most street stalls in a number of places around the city so don’t be afraid to try.
The Temple of Dawn rests on Bangkok’s riverside and makes for a pretty picture when sunset comes and the entire temple begins to glow. It is said to be a representation of Mount Meru which is otherwise known as the centre of the universe.
Take a long boat through Bangkok
As an alternative to the tuk tuk, the long boat down Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River is another way of soaking up the city’s culture. On the open, and pretty murky waters, you can make a few purchases, watch the locals at work and see the city’s epic monuments in the background. Saunders and Ollie show how it’s done right here.
Try some street food
Nothing beats a bit of pad thai or spicy green curry cooked on the street corner by your favourite two-toothed man. Forget the horror stories and indulge in a strange-looking snack or bizarre-smelling beverage from a vendor. The Eating Thai Food blog lends a few tips on how to decide what to eat while offering up a few cooking tips so you can recreate the Thai magic in your own kitchen.
Take a day trip to Ayutthaya
The capital of the Ayutthaya province is located in the valley of the Chao Phraya River, just a short train ride from Bangkok. The once royal city now overflows with crumbling temples and religious ruins, which is why it is protected as a World Heritage Site. Grab an all-day chauffer, aka tuk tuk driver, and visit just a few of the temples to see some pretty sites and golden buddhas.
Visit the reclining Buddha at Wat Po
Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan, or The Temple of the Reclining Buddha as it’s more commonly known, does what it says - it is the resting place for the reclining Buddha. The golden statue is 43 meter long so pretty impressive. Located just opposite the Grand Palace it’s easy to get to and one to be crossed off the list.
Slingshot to Heaven
At 27 metres tall, Bangkok's Giant Swing stands amidst the city’s other skyscrapers. It previously played an integral role in annual swing ceremonies - yep they exist. Teams of Thai men would compete to launch themselves off the swing to try to catch a sack of coins fastened at the top of the pole. Not surprisingly many men died in this fierce comp and today it sits as a big, giant even, piece of history.
Step back in time at Nightingale-Olympic
This is a Bangkok department store that has somehow become lost in time. It was once the first of its kind selling foreign goods and showcasing Thailand’s post-war wealth. However, somewhere along the way it forgot to redecorate, update its stock and well, clean. Entering from Bangkok’s Chinatown it is hard to tell what is for sale and what is not. Many of the items date as far back as 50 years ago, the deco is yellowing and the aged mannequins are a little creepy. Looks like time travel is finally here.
Visit the King Cobra village
The villagers of Ban Khok Sa-Nga have a thing about snakes. Over the years locals have built up a collection of hundreds of the reptiles and most families keep one inside the house. This bizarre pet snake custom dates back to 1951 when a travelling, medicinal salesman began putting on snake shows to attract customers. Today you can catch a snake show with most local men.
Shake it at a Full Moon party
This monthly event is known throughout the world as one of the biggest and best all-night raves. On the southern island of Koh Phangan backpackers flock in time to celebrate this once native ritual of the full moon. Think neon paint, fire slides, dirty buckets and some big booty shaking as the tranquil island transforms into the party capital of Southeast Asia. Saunders and Ollie find out what it is that draws people to this non-stop night...
Buy 'designer' gear at Patpong
So Patpong may be dubbed as Bangkok’s red light district but there’s a bit more to it than bare tushis and naked dancing. After recently cleaning up its act, it is now a buzzing entertainment area and shopping must for any backpacker. Bargain hard and party harder in Silom’s night-time hotspot.
Buy Harem pants
You know what they say, when in Thailand… Yep, boy or girl, Thai or no Thai, buying a par of these fashionista pants is a must. Comfy, light and in a variety of different patterns harem is the new jean. Buy them at any, literally any, market and venture home with a cool, new style. Hashtag trendsetter.
Float your way to a market
Blogger Alex in Wanderland decides that a morning spent at a floating market in Bangkok is a morning well spent in her travel blog. You can pick up some spices and barter for some souvenirs as you rock back and forth in a wooden boat that guides you through the early morning markets.
Have a fish spa
Believe it or not, getting your feet nibbled by tiny fish is a genuine spa treatment in Thailand - and it feels fantastic. Definitely not one for the ticklish, the little fish remove dead skin and impurities from your feet while you bathe them in a special tank.
Have your Hollywood moment
Everyone wants that glamorous shot of Phi Phi bay and the Mayan beach, if not for the impressive views than because of the celebs that have walked these shores. Both The Beach and James Bond were filmed across these sands.
Thailand, show us your white bits
Wat Rong Khun is the modern, and pretty unique, Buddhist temple in the northern town of Chiang Rai. Looking like a Game of Thrones fortress, its fairy tale façade is hauntingly eerie and the inside only makes it more so with the disturbingly dark cartoons painted on the walls. While the outside is all snow and ice the inside is pure fire. Check out Photocory’s stunning pics and tell us you’re not a bit creeped out.
Fly board in Koh Samui
Fly boarding is the new extreme sport that gives you aqua superpowers. Strapping on a pair of tres chic jet boots and taking hold of the stabilisers you can flip and spin across Koh Samui’s azure waters. It’s a giggle a baht and an alternative way to explore the southern shores.
Volunteer in a women's prison
While this one is probably a little harder to do, make like Sarah Jane and volunteer somewhere with a difference, in her case a prison. Volunteering can be a good way to see some of the local culture - take a look at some of the Thailand volunteering opportunities right here on gapyear.com.
Learn Muay Thai
OK, so there’s no promising you’ll be able to pull off the moves in this video, but an hour or two of Muay Thai and you’ll be feeling a bit feistier. In both the north and south boxing schools are tucked away off beaten paths and by the beach offering cheapo Muay Thai lessons. Take a few sessions to learn how to knock someone off their game the Muay Thai way.
Trek through the jungle
Blogger Kiri Bowers trekked through northern Chiang Mai and saw the best of Thailand’s wildlife, rugged falls and lost trails. She explored the northern jungle and saw Thailand at its best. Small memo though: remember to pack the trainers, flip flops and trekking don’t make for a good journey.
Climb the steps to the Tiger Temple
OK so climbing 1237 steps is probably not going to sound the best way to spend an afternoon but you know what they say, good things come to those who… make it to the gate? If you manage to clamber up to the steep steps, the Tiger Temple waits at the top and it’s a great site. Besides, the monks make the hike every day for a religious retreat so if they can do it…
Relax with a yoga class
Find your zen and take part in an island yoga class. Absorb the natural sounds and beautiful landscapes to relax your inner soul and get lost on a southern island. Most of the islands have meditation and yoga centres and all you need to do is turn up with a clear mind ready to do that downward facing dog.
Hire a moped
While Saunders and Ollie have shown us that there’s a few ways of travelling around the islands, it seems that a moped may be the best mode of transport. Hiring a moped is pretty easy to do and it’s an affordable way to journey to the beach and back. Just strap on the helmet, navigate the tuk tuks and keep yourself as safe as possible.
Visit the Cabbages and Condom restaurant in Bangkok
This one probably tops the list for most bizarre place to visit in Thailand. In Bangkok’s city centre there lies a restaurant with a bit of a twist. Food? Yes. Drinks? Yes. Condom? Yes. Mechai Viravaidy, a politician, opened this bizarre restaurant which displays mannequins, lampshades and even Christmas trees covered in condoms. He opened it up right next to a family planning clinic as part of his attempt to diss the taboo view of contraception.
Visit an inmate at Bang Kwang Prison
In Bangkok’s Bang Kwang Prison you can actually visit an inmate. Without any paperwork or permission, the prison opens its doors to tourists allowing them an insight into Thai prison life and you can make a friend while you’re at it but perhaps be on guard.
It is part of the way of life in Thailand and it cannot be avoided, so as much as you may want to dodge the awkward exchange Thai people expect a bit of bartering and it’s necessary for a bargain deal. Have fun with it and who knows, you may even make a friend or two. Check out gapper Micheal's guide to how to haggle and barter successfully on your gap year.
Take a cooking class
Returning home with a few new skills to impress the friends is pretty necessary. They expect fine things after months of your taunting Facebook statuses, so impress with newfound cooking skills. From the north to the south there’s Thai cuisine classes on offer everywhere so no excuse for not perfecting those fishcakes and practicing the Tom Yam Goong.
Go crazy at Chiang Mai's night bazaar
A shopper’s paradise, Chiang Mai’s Chang Khlan Road transforms from an ordinary daytime road to a bustling night-time bazaar offering everything from country relics to old town fashion. You’ve got to haggle it up with the street vendors, buy some bargain harem pants and sample some local cuisine for the full experience.
Build a community
So it doesn’t all have to be party party in the land of smiles. Turn your trip into a good deed and help a community get back on its feet. North west of Bangkok lies the village of Sangkhlaburi. Here you can work as a team and build a sanctuary for the children who right now have nowhere safe to lay their heads. Take a look.
Get a massage on the beach
Upgrade from the parlour massage and take your massage to the beach. With the lap of the waves whistling in your ears and a cocktail in reaching distance it is not half bad having all your aches and pains slapped away. Just make sure you are sun burn free or this can make for a beachside beat up.
Hire a bicycle and explore Sukhothai
The ancient capital of Thailand is steeped in history and has a name that translates as the dawn of happiness. Surely somewhere with a name like that deserves a visit? Hire a bicycle and discover the ruins of the ancient city and the old monuments that mark this small city as its old capital.
Go Green Mango
This R'n'B funkhouse is a great place to get your groove on. Located right in Koh Samui’s city centre it's easy to get to and promises a great night. Grab your new friends and get shaking your stuff at Green Mango until the wee hours.
Eat lots of pad thai
There is no shortage of this national noodle dish. Served in almost every restaurant in every region of the country the meal has slight variations but the basic ingredients always stay the same and it’s delicious. Super healthy and super tasty, you’ll be nursing your cravings for pad thai back home and nothing, not even a Wagamamas is going to fill that hole.
Explore the Canyons of Pai
While not quite the Grand Canyon, the canyons of Pai are still impressive. Located 8km from Pai along the road to Chiang Mai the canyons lie at the end of the paved stairway. The valleys are deep and wide and trees surround the sandy holes. Definitely worth a look.
Watch the Siam Niramit show in Phuket
This is Thailand’s ‘must-see’ show. With a life size museum of traditional Thai houses to discover and food on offer before the show has even started it’s a big tick already. Then, over 100 performers relay the history of Thailand and its religious beliefs through extraordinary colour and epic sound. It's bonkers.
Eat live shrimp
Goong Ten is a Thai delicacy. Translating as dancing shrimp it involves placing a meaty handful of squirmy shrimp into your mouth, mmm. Mixed in with a fresh salad the critters squirm around before being munched down. Apparently after a little crunch the dance gives way to a salty flavour that locals say is delicous. Just to note, we definitely don't condone this and wouldn't actually try it, bu the locals love it.
Zip line in Chiang Mai
Flight of the Gibbon is a session of zip lining through the tropical rainforest. It’s a unique way of seeing the forests of Chiang Mai without all that long walking. Be a gibbon for a day and whizz through the trees, we can pass it off as site seeing too.
Visit a hill tribe
Off the beaten track and hidden in the jungle are the native tribes of Thailand. With a legit guide take a trek through the foliage and discover the indigenous peoples who live off the land and build their own communities. Think Pocahontas pre John Smith with long necks and a lot of bling.
Climb the Banyan Tree
This five-star hotel and spa resort may well be off the price list for any backpacker but if you can scrape together a few baht the rooftop bar offers some of the most incredible views of Bangkok. It is one of the tallest buildings in the city and the scapes stretch out for miles. While a night visit offers a more charming ambience, at day the rolling hills and city scenes are an incredible sight.
Sample the best of the 7/11
The shelves of the 7/11 are lined with brown bottles offering energy concoctions that look like they’ve been stolen from your mum’s medicine cabinet. However, a quick shot of a Thai Red Bull or an M-150 and those sugar lows will be gone in an instant.
Spend a night on Walking Street, Pattaya
This raucous street is a major tourist pull offering some of the best nightlife around. Bars, go-go joints and cabarets line the street from Beach Road to Bali Hali Pier. All neon signs and blaring music it is well worth a one night stopover.
Take in some history at the Death Railway in Kananchaburi
For the history buffs, The Death Railway Museum holds a harrowing history of the work done by prisoners of war held by the Japanese and forced to build the railway. Located in Kancahnabrui, the tracks go on for miles acting as an eerie reminder of the torment that took place to make this railway.
Visit the penis shrine
Yes another shrine, another fancy monument, but this one is a little different. It's surrounded by penises. Stone ones, wooden ones, big ones, small ones, coloured ones. Said to honour the goddess of fertility many believe that offering up some phallus objects will grant them a baby. This has helped to dub the shrine as the forest of penises.
Go spider monkey climbing in Phi Phi
For adrenaline junkies, spider monkeying ticks the boxes and offers up unique views of the Phi Phi islands. The isolated cliffs are good for beginners to scale and for pros to practice on. The activity is a great work out and gives you incredible views of the rugged sands of Phi Phi below.
Visit the Gibbon Rehab project
In Phuket, the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project offers a sanctuary for the gibbons that are have mistreated or unable to live in the wild just yet. It offers a place to help protect animal welfare and conservation while the staff work to rehabilitate unwanted or confiscated gibbons into the wild. Visiting the centre you can get your pic with a gibbon and observe the amazing work the project does.
Enjoy a bucket
The symbol of the bucket is pretty synonymous when it comes to Thailand. Forget cups or glasses the bucket is the only way to sup on a cocktail. From blue frog to mango breeze the quirky cocktails are cheap, tasty and easy to carry from place to place.
Visit Patong beach
While there are numerous reasons to visit Phuket, Patong Beach is one of the big draws. With bars and shops lining the shore at night time there’s always a little buzz about the bay. There’s also a lot of encouragement to spend the pennies with so many bargain offers on the souvenir stalls.
Take Thai language classes
Get down with the lingo and take some lessons so that you can converse with your new found Thai friends on your travels. Bangkok has a whole host of language schools that offer lessons for beginners for a decent fee. Soon enough you’ll be dropping a swadee here and a Kob Khun Ka there.
Climb inside a dragon
This is a fairly impressive work of architecture and an unusual temple in Wat Samphran. The red, 17-storey tower is encased by the sculpture of green dragon that rears its head at the top. Parts of the dragon are hollow and visitors can walk inside. Cool hey?
Go cave exploring in Krabi
Head to Tham Klang on Krabi and explore the deep caves for a bit of adventure, y'know because Thailand is lacking extreme adventure. There’s a lot of climbing and getting dirty to do so again, ditch the Havianas and bring the trainers for an indoor exploration.
Purchase a custom made outfit
For a cheap price you can have a glam dress or a swanky suit tailored to your shape. Throughout Bangkok tailors line the streets offering up their skills for a fraction of a Brit price. Take advantage and return home looking ever so dapper.
Climb up Doi Suthep
Doi Suthep is a mountain that overlooks the city of Chiang Mai to the north. Atop the mountain lies the city’s most famous temple, Wat Phratet. In the city the temple’s gold chedi, or rooftop, can be seen for miles making it a landmark. You can catch a cable car up to the top or make like the monks and climb the 309 steps.
Pump some iron in Lumpini's Park, Bangkok
Keeping fit may not be on the top of the travel agenda but after all those banana pancakes a few bench presses wouldn’t go amiss. In Lumpini’s Park you can work out for free in this random outdoor gym. Years ago the locals built it up as a place to exercise and while the weights are rusting and the machines are creaking you can still get fit and enjoy the pretty park views.
Cross the bridge on the River Kwai
Kanchanaburi is home to the famous Bridge on the River Kwai. During World War Two prisoners of war along with local workers were forced by Japanese soldiers to construct a railway line from Thailand to Burma. This brutal accomplishment cost over 7000 men their lives and today the bridge acts as a reminder of those who died.
Watch a boxing match
Aside from grabbing the gloves and giving it a bash yourself, catch a live match of Muay Thai boxing and see how the pros do it. In Bangkok you can head to Ratchadamnoen or Lumpini Stadium and shield your eyes as two locals battle it out for boxing champ. Expect some ouch moments as there’s no holding back.
Feed the monkeys at Ao Nang beach in Krabi
As Adam Lunn describes in his guide to Thailand, Ao Nong is a pretty spectacular place and apparently the monkey population thinks so too. A quiet wander down the beach can often mean making some hairy friends and so it is recommended that you bring food and be prepared to feed the cheeky chimps.
Khao Yai National Park’s Bat Caves
In Thailand’s second largest park, Hin Tung, thousands of bats seek sanctuary from the sunlight in the deep caves. In Hin Tung you can visit the caves and watch from the fields as the bats come out to hunt for their twilight meals. The flock that swarms the sky is definitely an unusual sight and one that has helped to mark the park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Experience the Kanchanaburi waterfalls at Erawan National Park
The cascading falls pool into the deep Mae Nam Khwae Yai River and look cool, calm and refreshing. To reach the top pool though for a cheeky dip you have to complete a 2km hike over some slippery terrain. The top tier fall is totally worth it. If you pass the three-headed elephant you’ve gone too far.
Take a Batik course
On the island of Koh Lipe you can take a course in the traditional art of batik painting. This is where a cloth that uses a particular wax-resistant dying technique is painted. With the sun at its peak your artwork will soon by dry and offer a souvenir for your travels. Even if you’re no Van Gogh a batik sesh can give you some pretty special pieces.
Get fat on banana pancakes
Just like milkshakes, banana pancakes also have a strong presence on every menu. Muesli goes out the window and it’s a month of banana pancakes with a nice dollop of chocolate sauce. As an added bonus that’s even one of your five a day crossed off. What a brekkie.
Visit the gem market
On the weekends, the streets in Chanthauri are crammed with vendors examining small stones under magnifying glasses like a scene from Aladdin. The sapphire and rubies mined from nearby today are not as valuable as they once were but still the local tradesmen source out fine jewels and continue to showcase them for tourists.
Watch a sunset at Promthep Cape
Promthep Cape is probably one of Phuket’s most photographed points. On this south western peak, tourists gather to watch the nightly show that is a cape sunset. Friends watch, lovers gather and tourists sigh as the beautiful colours highlight the island’s serenity.
Visit Wat Umong
Against the mountains of Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep lies this ancient 14th century temple. It’s constructed with twisty tunnels which are painted and engraved on the inside. Definitely one for the history buffs.
Sample Phangan’s homemade ice cream from inside a coconut
When you’re on the island of Koh Phangan the Homemade Ice Cream Restaurant quickly becomes an addiction. The friendly staff serve delicious ice cream from inside a coconut so you can scoop it out then slurp it up - ice cream heaven.
Visit an orphanage
There are many orphanages dotted around the country and all welcome the site of an extra pair of hands. Offer up your services and spend a day or two having fun with the local children and getting to know the culture a little bit better.
Learn to give a massage
Make like the little ladies and learn the tricks of the trade. Take a class on how to give those back slapping, thigh cracking, neck crunching manoeuvres. Ask locally to find your nearest class.
See the hidden head in Wat Mahathat
In the ruins of one of Ayutthaya’s ancient temples lies a head of a Buddha buried and intertwined with a tree. Wat Mahathat was raided many years ago and now only the remains of the once glorious temple lie. The almost supernatural site of this happy head resting in the roots of a tree is definitely one to see when on an Ayutthaya tour.
Have a dunk in Krabi's hot springs
In Krabi’s Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve there lies mother nature’s very own hot springs. Nestled in amongst the jungle, the natural jacuzzis overflow with warm water and make for refreshing experience. The waters themselves are said to contain healing minerals to soothe any ailments so get in there and get those bug bites gone.
Shop at MBK in Thailand
Mahboonkrong is a business and shopping hub in central Bangkok. Over eight stories the 2000 shops and restaurants pull in many local residents and tourists with their variety of stock and cheap prices. For good prices and a bit of retail therapy it’s a good place to hit up.
Watch a traditional dance show in Chiang Mai
Head to a local dance performance and watch as the petite dancers arch their hands as part of their elegant routine. If you’re lucky you’ll be asked to join and put to shame when you’re inflexible hands can’t bend to the rhythms.
Meet a mahout
If you’re riding an elephant then it’s pretty much a given that you’ll meet a mahout but go out of your way to discover what they do and how they do it. Usually a mahout follows in the family footsteps and is assigned an elephant as a boy. The two grow together into adulthood.
Swim in the Emerald pool
This small pool of azure waters hidden in the midst of the jungle is certainly something to see. Emerald Pond, or Crystal lagoon, whichever Disney-like destination fits, is replenished by the freshwater that comes in from the streams above. Having a dip is pretty magical.
Experience Bangla Road at night time
Phuket's liveliest road, Bangla is a bit of a party zone. The bars spill out onto the streets so that the tunes are a mish mash of heavy beats and bump n grind tunes for locals and tourists to get jiggy to. Everybody loves a good dance and this is Phuket’s place to do it.
Save the wildlife
While backpacking can be all about wild parties and crazy adventures, it doesn’t have to be. You can give something back and help invest in Thailand’s own flora and fauna. With one of our Thailand animal programmes you can help preserve some of the country’s most endangered wildlife. Cleaning the cages, feeding the animals and looking after the grounds may not be skydiving or sun worshipping but it’s still fun and we guarantee you’ll better than if you’d spent night on the buckets.
Watch the flames
But do not try it yourself. On the islands of Phi Phi and Phangan islanders can be seen hoola hooping fire, jumping fire blazed skipping ropes and sliding down fire slides. While this looks extremely cool giving it a go is not worth the potential arm, leg, face and anything else burns you get. Avoid, avoid, avoid but no one said you couldn’t watch…
Drink from a coconut
Step away from the bucket. Put the bucket down. It’s time to try something a little more exotic. Just chilling in the sun and drinking from a coconut is an alternative to the usual Fanta in a glass beverage. Cool and refreshing, coconut juice is a cheap and tasty treat and, it looks far more impressive than supping from a carton.
Visit the Crocodile Farm in Pattaya
Sitting on 70 acres of land, The Million-Year Stone Park and Crocodile Farm showcases the beautiful gardens and exotic wildlife that Pattayaa has to offer. After a fill of flora and fauna the park’s crocodile farm puts on a show of both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles. It’s a little bit surreal and also kind of terrifying.
Watch sunrise on Koh Phangan
Thailand has many beautiful beaches and it’s guaranteed that a sunset will look pretty spectacular from any of them but a sunrise of Koh Phangan may just top the list. The clear waters and stunning white bays make for the perfect wake up and some great holiday snaps.
Try jungle whisky
Forget Mr JD and Captain Morgan, Tarzan whisky is a bit more heavy duty. Bringing tears to your eyes and fire to your breath a shot of this jungle delicacy is only polite to have but one is more than enough. While the locals seem to be able to chug glass after glass, tourists can be seen panting and puffing after a quick taste. It’s got to be done though.
Visit the Siriraj Medical Museum
It may not sound the cheeriest of escapades but The Museum of Death in Bangkok is great for a bit of blood and gore. It is made up of six museums in one and inside lie sickening stories and ghostly tales not to mention actual body parts and ancient skeletons that depict Thailand’s medical history.
Strawberry, banana, choc... milkshakes and smoothies line every menu in Thailand. But who’s complaining? In the scorching heat, it’s nice to make the most of a fruity refreshment especially when it’s only a few baht a go.
Snorkel in Koh Phi Phi
While it can easily be a water-in-your-mouth and sting-in-the-eye kind of activity, snorkelling can also be a lot of fun. Take a local boat out from Koh Phi Phi to the clear waters and catch some of the coral’s impressive sea life. Watch out for the sharks.
Get a Thai massage
Forget the soothing strokes of a Swedish massage and embrace the pulling, squeezing and general yanking of the local Thai ladies. After days of hauling around that stuffed backpack, a tug here and a stretch there sorts out the aches and pains and the lady on your back adds in the comedy factor. Embrace the body breaker and thank us for it later.
A few weeks in this Asian paradise may not be enough for some people and so teaching English can be a good way of setting up a semi-permanent base in Thailand. Take a TEFL course and sign up for one of our teaching adventures and you could be volunteering with the cutest of kids and living in one of the best countries in the world.
Visit Chiang Mai’s Warorot Indoor Market
Love a bit of bartering at the Warorot Indoor Market in Chiang Mai. Not too far from the night market, Warorot is open pretty early and is where the locals head to pick up fresh produce. If it’s good enough for them…
Take Tai Chi classes on Koh Tao
Embrace the Chinese martial art at one of Koh Tao’s many wellbeing centres. Giving you an extra piece of zen on this tropical island it is an experience that is good for the mind and the body that is if you can master the art of not falling over.
Go scuba diving
Delve into the deep waters Thailand has to offer and pick up a PADI certificate on the way. Many of the islands offer lessons in deep sea diving. They teach you all the basics and take you to the best spots so you earn a diving qualification. See mum I did learn something.
Take a bamboo raft through the jungle
What better way to see a bit of jungle life than hopping on board a bamboo raft and floating down a river. While it may not be the most stable of transportation, it certainly is the most fun. Tackling the rapids and battling to balance it’s a test in teamwork and is sure to provide a few laughs. Hold on tight.
Visit the Catfish farm in Krabi
In Krabi’s Ao Nong a small catfish farm is amongst one of the most popular things to visit. You can watch as the fascinating fish are fed or join in and feed them yourself. Located just on the riverside you can watch the fish swarm and even pay the resident crocodiles a visit too.
Railay beach is a bit of a secret. Well not a secret exactly but it can only be accessed by long boat which means that it is often quiet and clean. Sitting in between Krabi and Ao Nong, Railay is all caves and lagoons before giving way to a final expanse of paradise sands. Definitely worth a visit for that desert island moment.
See the ruins in Lop Buri
The Lop Buri ruins are impressive in themselves, but what makes them more so are the monkeys that have made themselves at home in these ancient temples. The crumbling remains are fascinating but good luck paying them any real attention when baby monkeys eye your bags and follow your feet.
Go for a drink in Nimmanhemmin
This university hub in the artsy part of Chiang Mai is where the city’s true personality lies. The long street is always buzzing but with less of a tourist vibe. While there are chic bars and quirky restaurants lining the walkways, there are also plenty of quiet spots to hang out and listen to the muddle of performers and take in the laid back life of Chiang Mai.
Visit Baan Dam animal remains
Baan Dam in Ban Huat is another one of those weird and wonderful places you need to visit. These fifteen houses are supposed to portray artist Thawan Duchanee’s version of hell so we’re talking elephant skeletons, a snake skin table runner and several pieces of taxidermy. It’s art with a dark difference.
Visit Chachuchak market
This one’s been around since 1982 so it’s a bit of an old hand when it comes to market life. Head to the Bangkok hub early morning and pick up a few bargains before the crowds descend. Stalls upon stands showcase the best of Thai cuisine before giving way to antiques, arts and fashion.
Kayak on Koh Phnagan
Renting a kayak can be one of the best ways to see the neighbouring islands of Koh Phi Phi. Enjoy a leisurely paddle and explore the clear waters with a little splash and row. Renting one only costs a few baht and the locals love to watch and see how long you last without toppling.
Going home with a pair of “designer” sunglasses is almost a must for Thailand. Whether it’s Raybandidos or O’Neilis, picking up a pair of original specs is a rite of passage and will rest at home along with your tubing top and full moon hat. Plus it’s a great time to put your haggle head to good use.
Try out a Trapee
Renting a kayak can be one of the best ways to see the neighbouring islands of Koh Phi Phi. Enjoy a leisurely paddle and explore the clear waters with a little splash and row. Renting one only costs a few baht and the locals love to watch and see how long you last without toppling.
So that's it, 101 things to do in Thailand.
Now Experience Thailand for Yourself
Our ThaIntro package will take you into the mayhem of Bangkok, the serenity of ancient temples, the incredible flavours of Thai food, the blazing sands and mad parties of tropical beaches, and so much more. This is the perfect way to experience the ultimate gap year destination.
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