Top Thailand experiences
Thailand is one of the most popular overseas destinations for Aussies, and it’s easy to see why. With great deals to be had at the local markets, the hustle and bustle of the cities, and the tranquillity of the beaches and rainforests, there’s something for everyone.
Best places to visit in Thailand
- Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai is encompassed by mountains and rich countryside, and is known by locals as the ‘Rose of the North’.
- Kanchanaburi: If you love nature, Kanchanaburi is for you with its beautiful waterfalls and national parks open to the public.
- Bangkok: Bangkok is a metropolis with no shortage of hidden gems for the keen tourist, including palaces and temples, malls, food, markets, and night life.
- Phuket: Phuket is one of the largest islands in Thailand, and is home of the party spot Patong, as well as many stunning beaches.
- Ko Samui: Known for its natural beauty, in Ko Samui there is plenty of variety to keep you stimulated if you don’t fancy sitting on a beach with a cold drink all day.
Beaches, parks and jungles
Many Aussie travellers flock to Thailand for the beaches alone. The tropical weather is a perfect match for the cool, crystal waters, and with hundreds of beaches to choose from you’ll be able to find your dream beach with research and word of mouth. For party animals, check out Pattaya, Patong, and Koh Phangan. For those who want to relax, try Ko Lanta or Prachuap.
But beaches aren’t the only way to connect with nature in Thailand – central Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park is popular for trekking and wildlife, while Doi Inthanon is Thailand’s tallest mountain and is covered with stunning waterfalls.
Then there are the jungles, featuring elephants, exotic birds, and monkeys, with hill tribes still living traditionally.
Finally, don’t miss out on the abundance of green rice fields. (And, while you’re there, be sure to try the rice – as one of Thailand’s largest exports, the locals believe it’s the best in the world.)
Thai street food
You can’t visit Thailand without enjoying the incredibly tasty (and incredibly cheap) street food on offer).
Feeling adventurous? Then try Larb Mote Daeng, which is prepared with red ants and their eggs. Other choices are Durian, a fruit so well known for its strong smell that many hotels ban it, and fried crickets, grasshoppers, and scorpions on skewers.
Meet the locals
Beyond the Thais themselves, there’s a large variety of wildlife in this tropical oasis. One experience is visiting an elephant sanctuary in the north, where you can meet orphaned and rescued elephants who are getting a second chance. You can also see the Giant Mekong catfish play cat and mouse with the fisherman on the Mekong river, or the monkeys in Lopburi thrive in the November Monkey Festival, which features banquets of food presented to honour them.
Experience the temples
Thailand is home to approximately 400,000 Buddhist temples,, so you can’t help but visit at least one temple during your stay. Known as ‘wats’, the temples are usually a collection of buildings, shrines, and monuments surrounded by a wall.
In Bangkok, the must-see temples are Wat Pha Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace grounds, and Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha hosting a 46m long golden Buddha.
If you love being pampered, a Thai massage in Thailand is a must. A traditional Thai massage involves deep pressure applied by hands, elbows and even feet! Your masseuse will also pull you into a number of stretches, after which you’ll feel relaxed with loose muscles and improved energy.
Festivals in Thailand
Thailand is home to many festivals throughout the year, which can add some extra fun as well as local culture to your holiday. The most popular festivals include:
- Songkran (April): Songkran is the celebration of the Thai New Year, tourists love joining in as you see people armed with water guns and buckets splashing water on everyone.
- Loy Krathong (usually November): When the sun sets on the day of Loy Krathong, people start to float flowers in the waters and lantern balloons float up into the night, taking your breath away.
- Phi Ta Khon: Also known as the Ghost Festival, locals in the Dan Sai district dress up in colourful costumes and masks and dance all night.
Muay Thai boxing
Muay Thai boxing is the most popular spectator sport in the country, and in the cities you’ll often encounter small vans topped with speakers advertising that night’s matches.
Keen to take part? Check if you're covered before participating in any potentially dangerous activity.