If you are looking for the best experiences in Thailand you might have a problem. There are simply so many. This beautiful country has many magical traditions, lively cities, gorgeous islands and wonderful nature. That means you can choose from many activities and experiences in Thailand which will leave you with best memories for life. People don’t say for nothing that Thai people are one of the friendliest people in the world. You will enjoy to explore the country, its culture and its beauty.
Thailand was the first Asian country we have visited and it always will be a special country to us. If you have never visited any Asian country before, Thailand is a good start and will make it seem easy to travel.
If you would like to tick off as many unique experiences in Thailand as possible then the following ideas will make you want to stay forever or at least make you want to return. We are sure you can choose from many unique experiences in Thailand.
HERE ARE THE 37 BEST AND MOST UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN THAILAND
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GO ISLAND HOPPING ON A TRADITIONAL LONG TAIL BOAT
Thailand has over 1430 islands which means you cannot ever get bored. But don’t just take any boat but take a traditional long tail boat which is very typical and authentically Thai. These boats are made from wood and decorated with colourful straps. We highly recommend to do an island hopping tour while in Krabi with some of the best beaches in Thailand. To us island hopping is one of the best experiences in Thailand we ever had.
Read more on Krabi: THE BEST BEACHES IN KRABI
VISIT AN ELEPHANT SANCTUARY
One of the best experiences in Thailand for us was to see elephants. Probably you saw many pictures of people taking elephants rides. Sadly the number of elephants are decreasing due to hard labor and cruel treatment all for macabre entertainment. PLEASE DO NOT RIDE ELEPHANTS. Elephants in touristic places are tortured, beaten and forced to do horrible things by alcoholic scumbags. Elephants perform like in a circus, they will paint you some pictures and go around, kneel on their legs.. terrible.. so please don’t support this kind of tourism (slavery)!
Instead, look for an elephant sanctuary where you can see them in a protected surrounding. These elephants are either rescued from places where they were tortured or saved from loss of habitat. There are plenty of them and these are the most famous ones. Just make sure you to book your ticket a few weeks or at least a few days beforehand. In places like Baan Chang Elephant Park you can feed elephants with sugar cane, go for a walk with them, pet them a bit, and at the end take a bath with them. One of the most magical experiences we had in Thailand.
LEARN TO SCUBA DIVE
If you are bored of snorkelling and want to see the real underwater life then learn to scuba dive in Thailand. I was scared to dive at the beginning but but after some time, it was one of the most unique experiences in Thailand I had.
I did my open water on Ko Tao and I loved it, although it can get a bit crowded under water with all the schools. There are many good schools to chose from but we can truly recommend Scuba Shack. They have great instructors and new equipment for a fair price. If you like to try another awesome diving location, head to the Similian Islands, they are on our bucket list and we heard a lot of great things about them.
KOH TAO IS A DIVING MECA
Ko Tao is one of the most famous islands in Southeast Asia to get any kind of diving certificate. Along with the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, Ko Tao diving schools are one of the cheapest places to get your Open Water (or other) certificate. Both PADI and SSI are present.
EXPLORE UNKNOWN BEACHES
Another awesome thing and one of the best experiences in Thailand is to live a Robinson Crusoe life. With that being said there are many islands in Thailand which are still not that well known. We loved to explore the Chang islands and two of our favourite islands are Koh Kood and Koh Mak. On Koh Mak we even spent Christmas. We had many beaches for ourselves. Another set of islands that are not that well known among typical Thailand travelers are the Trang Islands in the south. Just rent a scooter and explore them on your own.
This is where we took one of our best drone shots in Southeast Asia.
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EXPERIENCE THE YE PENG FESTIVAL
The Ye Peng festival is one of most magical festivals we have seen. For us it was one of the best experiences in Thailand. I am sure you have already seen the famous pictures with floating lanterns in the night sky. Thousand lanterns are led to the sky with the hope to reach the senders’ loved ones.
Yi Peng is also known as Yee Peng, the local name of the lantern festival in northern Thailand. “Yee” means two and “Peng” stands for full moon day. This indicates the exact night of the festival: the second full moon of the Lanna calendar.
Definitely a “must” and one of the most magical and unique experiences in Thailand. Just make sure to visit on the right dates. Normally, the festival is at the end of November. Please check the exact dates online. In 2018 when we were visiting it started November 21st.
DO A COOKING COURSE
Thai cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. At least this is how we fell about it. With so many spices to choose from, you will be overwhelmed by many different tastes and smells. Delicious curry meals, famous Pad Thai or mango sticky rice are must tries. If you don’t want to stop at only eating delicious food, go and learn to prepare the dishes yourself. All the courses are fun to do and you will learn how to cook like a real Thai.
We joined a cooking class in Chiang Mai and we had a great time. Samy’s cooking class is outside of China Mai. It is located 20 minutes outside of the centre the beautiful countryside surrounded by green rice fields. We made all the traditional meals and we even got our own cooking book. Now we can cook like real Thais even at home. Samy can be found HERE. Send our regards once you decide to go. He will surely not remember us.
TAKE A PICTURE WITH CHICKEN ISLAND
This island is really called chicken island. I mean, look at it. It was one of the many islands we saw during our boat trip around Krabi. When there is a low tide you can cross from Chicken to Tup island which is so awesome.
READ MORE ABOUT CHICKEN ISLAND HERE: BEST BEACHES IN KRABI, THAILAND
EXPLORE THE EMERALD CAVE OF TRANG ISLANDS
Remember the movie “The Beach?” It is said that the emerald cave at the Trang Islands was the true inspiration. Maya Beach is just the place where it was filmed. If you want to experience a true secret beach moment, you need to visit the Trang Islands and the Emerald Cave. You will need to swim through a pitch dark cave in order to get to the secret beach. One of the many incredible experiences in Thailand which we will remember forever. Luckily we had torches and a guide 😀
ENJOY TURQUISE WATERS AT KO PHI PHI
Oh yes, this is how the waters look like. The Phi Phi Islands are one of the most famous islands in Thailand. We took a boat trip to Maya Bay and we had couple of stops on other beaches. The water is so clear and azure. Would go there anytime. It is also a perfect place for snorkelling and we saw many cute fish almost everywhere.
TAKE A PICTURE AT FAMOUSE MAYA BAY
Maya Bay has become the main tourist attraction of Phi Phi and many travelers want to see this beautiful spot. This was the spot where “The Beach” with Leonardo Di Caprio was filmed in 1999. Many tourists take this movie as the inspiration for their trip to Thailand. At this moment Maya Bay is closed to due restoration of the island. The overload of incoming tourists (especially the ones on big motorboats) took a tremendous toll on this piece of paradise. But you can still see the beach from the boat and admire beautiful 100-metre high cliffs on three sides.
EAT SCORPIONS AND CRAZY INSECTS IN BANGKOK
Would you dare? You can’t say that you have been to Thailand if you haven’t tried at least once some of the nasty creatures they sell to eat 😀
Eating crazy bugs is one the of those unique experiences in Thailand you will remember forever. If you are in Bangkok, check out the Khao San Road and you will see plenty crazy stands that offer different sorts of insects and other critters such as: scorpions, snakes, worms and many different types of beetles. Make sure you have some drink with it so the beetle won’t get stuck in your throat 😀 Not everyone can say that they have tried scorpion, so when you dare you have every reason to be proud 😀
Tip: If unsure, ask the seller to try it first!
TAKE A PICTURE AT STUNNING WAT RUNG TEMPLE
Thailand is a buddhist country and has many temples. Thais respect their religion and go to temples very often. The temples are absolutely astonishing and very different to churches, mosques, or synagogues. There is one in particular that is absolutely breathtaking: Wat Rung. Wat Rung quickly became an icon (it is quite young) and a magical experience to see with your own eyes. Just make sure that you dress accordingly which you always should when visiting Buddhist temples.
GET A THAI MASSAGE
You can’t say that you’ve been to Thailand without getting a Thai massage. They are usually very affordable and you can choose many types. There is nothing better than to get a massage after a hard day out exploring. However, be prepared that some of them might hurt so make sure to tell them to take it slow 😀
VISIT KAYAN TRIBE IN NORTHERN THAILAND
Once you are in Chiang Mai you can visit tribe called Kayan which is famous for the long necks of its female members. The Kayan tribe are a people coming to Thailand from Myanmar as refugees, escaping war, violence and discrimination caused by Myanmar’s Military junta. They are world famous for wearing golden rings around their necks. Girls starting to wear their rings at the age of 5 to their 21st birthday.
Please make sure not to take pictures like crazy of every person. Kindly ask if you can take a photo together. Remember that these are humans and you also wouldn’t like if someone would be taking pictures of you without your permission. With increasing awareness their rights are finally improving and they are allowed to go to school and hospitals.
Tours in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is good starting point for many tours. Here are a few tours that are good value if you prefer to have someone else organize it.
GET YOUR THAI PANTS AT THE CHIANG MAI NIGHT MARKET
Chiang Mai is one of the nicest cities in Thailand. It also has one of the best shopping streets where you can get all your souvenirs. The Chang Khlan Road is a bazar with everything from local food to Thai pants. And yes, you need to buy Thai pants when you are in Thailand. Trust me, you have never had such comfy pants. Thank us later when you will wear them on your flight back. Just don’t forget to haggle with the locals to get better prices on products.
VISIT JAMES BOND ISLAND
Bond, James Bond. James Bond Island is one of the famous landmarks in Phang Nga Bay. The island got famous as it was being featured in the James Bond movie “The Man With The Golden Gun” starring Roger Moore and Christopher Lee. You can easily get there from Phuket on a day tour. The real name of the island is actually Koh Tapu which means “snake.”
LEARN A FEW WORDS IN THAI
We think it’s very important when you are visiting a new country to learn a few words in the language. Thai language is hard to learn and pronounce and even harder to read but if you know a few words it will make your experience even more magical. These are some of the most important words which we love to use.
THANK YOU: for female “Kaphun kaaaaa”, THANK YOU for male “Kaphun kap”. HELLO : for female: “Savadi khaaaaaa”, HELLO: for male: “Savadi kap”. TASTY: Aroj
GO FOR A TUK TUK RIDE
If you travel in Thailand, in big cities the best way how to get around is by tuk tuk. Or Grab (the Southeast Asian Uber). Tuk tuks are so much fun and they are basically a little boxes on 3 wheels. Just make sure you don’t get ripped off by some of the tuk tuk drivers especially on your first ride. Normally a ride costs around $2-5, depending where you’re going off course. Driving around with tuk tuk is one of those experiences in Thailand which you will enjoy for sure.
EXPLORE THE UNIQUE FLOATING MARKETS
There are several floating markets in Thailand but Damnoen Saduak is one the biggest and most famous ones. It is situated about 100km outside of Bangkok and you can stop there on your way to Ayutthaya. There are boats everywhere going up and down the canals selling all sorts of foods and fruits. It’s great way to see how locals were commuting a long time ago.
ENJOY STUNNING SUNSETS
No matter where you are, Thai islands have one of the most stunning sunsets and sunrises. How awesome is it to finish your day with this kind of view? Or start your day with a look at a pinky sky. This picture was taken at one of the beach view points in the south of Phuket.
PARTY AT LIMO TUK TUK
A tuk tuk as a limousine? Hell yes! We have never seen anything like this before. This fancy tuk tuks have disco balls inside of them. They are set up like a limo with party lights and loud party music.
VISIT THE ICONIC GRAND PALACE
Going to Bangkok without checking out the splendid Grand Palace, is like you haven’t even been to Bangkok. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. The Grand Palace is made up of several buildings, halls, pavilions set around open, gardens and courtyards. We would recommend to go there early in the morning to skip the crowds.
TAKE A BOAT TRIP AROUND CANALS IN BANGKOK
We really enjoyed the boat trip around the canal in Bangkok. You get to see also a different side of Bangkok. You see how people live next to the water. Mostly in very modest wooden houses, often without electricity and gas. You can even see sellers coming to you via small boats.
The people we saw from the boat were waving at us and smiling at us and this moment changed something in us. It’s a valuable experience to see how people who have barely any material things can be so happy, so stop complaining about stupid things!
TAKE A PICTURE AT RAILAY BEACH
Railay is often considered as one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. The beach is beautiful, surrounded by beautiful rocks which is stunning. There are couple of restaurants and one resort. For us is a little bit too much people, but we cant deny that this place is super iconic. You can take a beautiful photos with many iconic Thai boats.
BIKE AROUND ANCIENT AYUTTHAYA
If you are in Bangkok, you need to come here for a day trip. Make sure you start in the morning because there is a lot to see. Ayutthaya was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767. In the 16th century it was one of the wealthiest cities in the East. The people of Ayutthaya called themselves Tai and this is where the name Thailand comes from. There are many temples around and the best way to see them all is with a bicycle or a scooter. One of the most famous things to see are a pair of large seated buddhas and of course the detached Buddha head encased in fig tree roots.
ENJOY A SUNSET AT AYUTTHAYA
After a whole day of biking around amazing Ayutthaya, it’s time for your last reward. Get to a temple with a view and wait until the sun goes down. It was such a beautiful moment and the colors were just stunning.
VISIT KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK
Khao Yai National Park was the first national park to be established in Thailand covering an area of 2,168 skm. It is the third largest in the country. The park is very large with beautiful rainforest and several waterfalls. The park is home to over 300 species of animals and you can see many birds, even elephants, bears, gibbons and others. Khao park comprises of rain forests as well as grasslands which all adds up to the large number of animals you can see.
TAKE A PHOTO OVER-LOOKING KOH PHI PHI DON
Climb up to the viewing point and take a stunning picture. The sandy isthmus you will see from up there was completely destroyed by the horrendous Tsunami in 2004. The several meter high waves came crashing in from left and right and unfortunately any people locals and tourists alike lost their lives. Until recently you could see the destruction in the village. Now there is a tsunami early-warning alarm system installed to protect the visitors and inhabitants on the island.
GO TO A FULL MOON PARTY
You don’t need to think long about why it’s called a full moon party. According to a legend, people witnessed one of the most beautiful full moons on the beach in Koh Phangan. Of course they want to celebrate it and since then it’s a thing. Now its huge party where people paint their faces and body, party like crazy until the next day (days). If you like to dance under the stars and full moon with over 30.000 people, then this is the place for you.
GO TO DOI SUTHEP
Dui Suthep is located just 12 km outside of Chiang Mai. It’s a mountain and from there you can have an incredible view on Chiang Mai. But this is not all. You need to walk around a beautiful temple Wat Phra which was built around the 13th century. Wat Phra is one of the most beautiful temples we have seen in Thailand. You need to walk many stairs to get to the temple, but its definitely worth it.
EAT STREET FOOD
Forget about fancy restaurants. Eat from a small place or a stand on the street. They are cheap and super yummy. Fresh fruits, fried chicken, spring rolls, banana pancakes, you name it. Go out there and try them all. My favorites are boiled corn and vegetarian spring rolls.
DRINK CHANG BEER AT THE BEACH
Aaaaah imagine a cute bar at the beach. It’s really hot and you are super thirsty. Yes, that means it is a time for one of the best Thai beers: CHANG. Definitely a must-try even even you are not a beer drinker. Its just such a good beer and also really cheap.
GET A BUCKET
I guess one of the strangest ways of drinking, is drinking from a bucket. You can have all kind of drinks and it’s very popular when you are with a group of friends. How does the bucket work? Well, it’s a normal alcoholic drink mixed with any soda you like. We had a very fun night with our friends in Bangkok and we have many embarrassing photos from this night. I could only find one which I had to crop to show you how the bucket looks like 😀
PARTY AT KHAO SAN ROAD
After sharing a bucket(s) with your friends you are definitely ready for a fun night at Khao San Road. It’s a long street and one of the most famous streets in Thailand, filled with bars and literally anything. We had a really good time there, especially with bar hopping. The bars are so small and you don’t even need to go in to dance. The music is so load that you can stay on the street and dance there.
WATCH A THAI BOXING FIGHT
It wasn’t really one of our favorite things to do in Thailand. But it was still fun to see. Especially when you know that Thai boxing at commercial places is for fun. That means that boxers play the game and no one really gets hurt. At some places you can step into the ring yourself.
RENT A SCOOTER
Driving a scooter in Thailand is one of the many unique experiences you need to try. On the small islands, the best way to get around is by scooter. Just make sure you drive on the left side of the road. The traffic can be chaotic and sometimes you might feel that there are no rules, but somehow it’s working. Remember to always wear your helmet. Don’t forger your international driving licence.
EXPLORE SMALL TOWN PAI AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
The hype around Pai has picked up recently. It is beautifully located in a mountain valley. Stay away from the busy main road and you can still find a quiet place. The most interesting sights are located outside the city so I recommend to rent a scooter or motorcycle. One of those sights is Pai Canyon which covers a large area that offers some brilliant views, fun hikes and you will also find waterfalls. If you are into in nature and hiking this place is for you. Another popular thing to is to use Pai as a base for trekking to remote hill tribes such as the Karen. You can reach Pai from Chiang Mai in three to four hours.
I hope you will try as many experiences in Thailand as possible.