Thailand holds amazing wonders and gives a nice contrast to those familiar with the usual Asian trips to China or Japan — of course, many travelers have known about the riches (and cost) of Thailand for awhile now. With the beautiful Loy Krathong Festival (lantern release festival) happening soon in Chiang Mai, here’s a few more reasons to love Thailand:
1. Elephant Parks That Avoid Elephant Riding
A great alternative (a far more humane way) to get up close to Asian elephants in Thailand is heading to parks and centres that avoid elephant riding. Most of these parks and centres offer educational programmes about these gentle giants, as well as feeding, bathing and interacting with them throughout the day.
2. Finding Secluded Beaches
Hop onto a long-tail boat and head in and around the islands of Phuket and Koh Samui. You’ll find a few gems as you stop off at a few of the most secluded and beautiful beaches. Make sure to get a driver that knows what he’s doing so the ride is less bumpy. Of course, it’s often hard to know until you get out here.
3. Amazing Temples
You can find some of the most amazing temples or wat in Thailand. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep sits on top of a hill in Chiang Mai along with the stunning White Temple in Chiang Rai. Be sure to check the mummified monk at Wat Khunaram in Koh Samui and old Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok.
4. Buzzing Street Markets
If you love markets, Thailand is the place for you. From street food and souvenir shopping to cheap clothes and electronics, Thai markets have it all. Roads are closed and the crowds come out to enjoy some shopping, eating and having fun. Check out the Sunday Night Walking Market in Thailand, the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market in Bangkok and Patpong Night Market in Bangkok.
5. Delicious Vegetarian Food
With a huge religious vegetarian community, Thailand is a vegetarians’ dream. With yellow and red flags that indicate veggie restaurants and the Vegetarian Festival happening in Phuket, there is plenty for choose from. Try Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant in Chiang Mai, Lamai Veggie in Koh Samui and Ruamjai Vegetarian Restaurant in Phuket.
6. Train Travel
Forgot taking the quick one-hour flight from city to city and rather opt for an overnight train. It’s clean, safe and comfortable and offers tourists a unique way to see the Thailand. Be prepared to see amazing landscapes and little towns as you go through the countryside.
7. Everything Is Cheap
From accommodation and day tours to cuisine and shopping, everything is so cheap! You can stay in a three to four star hotel for a month for around $400 to $600 and that includes breakfast. Meals are around $10 at a nice restaurant and you can get a t-shirt for $5.
8. The Best Street Food
From pad thai and fried quail eggs to pork on a stick and green curry, you can get anything on the streets of Thailand. You can also get smoothies, crepes and cocktails to cool you down after a hot meal.
9. Death Defying Bad Driving
Whether it’s taking a songthew, a taxi cab or a tuk tuk, you’ll be in for one heck of a ride. Stopping at a red light is basically the only rule in Thailand, and the rest don’t matter. It’s super fun (or frightening) when you’re on a scooter dodging other scooters and bad drivers. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes fun.
10. There’s Alway A 7-11 Or Tesco Open
If you’re hungry, thirsty or need a drink, there is always a shop conveniently open! And there are so many to choose from that you’ll definitely find one that will have what you want. Note, the convenience stores here serve a lot of strange food, don’t think it’s like the ones in North America or Europe.
11. Constant Warm Weather
It is always hot in Thailand. The humid weather isn’t that good for your hair, but great for those from colder countries. You’ll love the constant beach weather and be in shorts and flip flops all day.
12. And The Rain Storms That Follow
And after a few days of blazing hot and humid weather, there is nothing more refreshing than a tropical rain storm. And Thailand has rain storms by the dozen. It’s a great opportunity to check out restaurants, pubs and shopping malls during this time, or even take a dip in the ocean.
13. Everyone Loves The Friendly Locals
Thai people are the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They are always willing to help out where ever they can (even in very broken English). You’ll almost immediately fall in love with the people of this amazing country.
No matter where you are or what restaurant you visit, there is always a smoothie vendor close by or a menu with some on it. Must try flavours are mango, banana or dragon fruit.
No, I’m not talking about the ones with the happy endings. Thailand has some of the most amazing massage parlours which offer super affordable massages. You can get a traditional Thai massage for around US$30!