On a trip to Thailand you will have the opportunity to do many things that you may have never experienced. In this post we bring you the best experiences in Thailand: some that you can also do in other countries, and others that are unique from the land of smiles.
I have tried almost all 20 experiences that we recommend in this post. A few of them still remain in my to-do list, such as doing a Vipasana retreat at a northern Buddhist temple. Unfortunately, to do a Vipasana retreat, you need to be able to disconnect from the world for at least 10 days, and at this point in my life it is something that I don’t feel like doing. But probably one day I will.
I hope that on this list you’ll find the experiences in Thailand that better suit your taste.
Without further ado, here is the list to inspire you on your next trip to Thailand!
TOP 20 EXPERIENCES IN THAILAND
🏕️ Sleep in a hammock in the jungle of Khao Sok
This experience is only suitable for true adventurers. My cousin Eloi and his partner Nora spent a night in the jungle of Khao Sok, one of the oldest jungles in the world, together with their Thai guide. They slept in a hammock tied to two trees, with a small mosquito net, and for dinner they ate a BBQ made over a bonfire right on the spot. At the time they were not sure of their choice, but if you ask them now what was the best experience of their trip to Thailand (and trust me, they had a lot since they traveled with us!), they will tell you without any doubt: to sleep in the middle of the jungle.
How to live this experience?
In Khao Sok National Park. It is not a cheap experience, as there are only a few guides with the necessary knowledge. If you are interested, you can contact us.
🤿 Get your diver’s certificate in Koh Tao
Koh Tao is a small island in the Gulf of Thailand that, before Covid19, had 90 diving schools. It was the place in the world with the most divers per square meter. After Covid19 there will be a few less, for sure, but it will keep being the main dive center of Southeast Asia. Why? Well, because the area has many pinnacles with beautiful corals not very far from the island, which allows to reach them without spending much fuel and, therefore, agencies can offer cheap prices to the customer.
How to get the diver’s certificate?
There are many shops on the island of Koh Tao, just shop around!
🏍️ Drive the Mae Hong Son Loop
The Mae Hong Son Loop is a circular route in northern Thailand that will delight the most adventurous travelers. This itinerary begins and ends in Chiang Mai, and visits some of the most rural and unknown areas of the country, along with the most famous backpacker town in Thailand: Pai. This route can be done by motorbike or car, or on an agency tour. But no matter how it is done, it is not recommended for people prone to motion sickness, as it follows winding mountain roads with endless curves.
How to organize this route?
In the north of Thailand. In this article about the Mae Hong Son Loop route we tell you all the secrets.
🧘♀️ Detox with Yoga in Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is world famous for the Full Moon Party, and, paradoxically, it is also the place where you will find more yoga and mindfulness centers in all of Thailand. Contrary to what you may suppose, these centers are mainly run by Westerners, not Thai Buddhist temples but schools and yoga centers focused on an international audience. Among these types of centers there are also some that offer all kinds of alternative health treatments.
Where to find these centers?
A quick Google search for ‘yoga in Koh Phangan‘ will come up with many results. One of the most famous is Samma Karuna, which refers to itself as a center of awakening, yoga and tantra.
🪁 Learn Kitesurf in Hua Hin
Thailand has several beaches perfect for kitesurfing. As most of you will know, it is a sport in which you surf the waves pulled by a large kite that you handle with both hands. Kitesurfing high season is from November to April, when the northeast wind blows 75% of the time. One of the best kitesurfing destinations in Thailand is the coastal city of Hua Hin. A 3-day course costs around 11,000 THB (about € 315).
In which center to learn Kitesurfing?
For example, KBA Kiteboarding Kitseurf school in Hua Hin.
🏄 Surf in Phuket or Khao Lak
Although Thailand is not at all famous for surfing, it does have some beaches that offer pretty decent waves during the rainy season, from May to October. The best surf destinations in Thailand are Phuket and Khao Lak. In both places you will find surf schools, and you can easily rent and buy a board. The waves are usually ideal for beginners. Also, in Koh Phayam there is some surf if you are looking for an off the track island.
Where and when to surf?
Phuket’s beaches are usually good for surfing from the beginning of May to the end of October. Above all, the beaches of Nai Harn or Kata Yai.
🏞️ Sleep in a floating cabin on Cheow Lan Lake
The spectacular Cheow Lan reservoir is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand. It can be visited on a day trip by boat, but it is even better to spend the night in one of its floating cabins. Most are fairly simple resorts with shared bathrooms, and you will have limited electricity and internet/phone coverage. Still, they are well worth it. Also, if you want and can pay for it, there are luxurious resorts like the impressive 500 Rai Floating Resort.
Where to live this experience?
At Cheow Lan Lake, in Khao Sok National Park. On booking.com you will find several resorts.
🚴♀️ Cycling in Thailand
In recent years road bikes have become very fashionable in Thailand. Today it is common to see groups of Thais touring touring the country on dazzling bikes and dressed in professional cycling suits. However, don’t forget that Thailand is a very hot country with quite dangerous roads. Actually, the roads and highways are in good condition, but the drivers are quite reckless and tend not to be cautious when approaching a cyclist. If instead of riding on your own you book a bike tour at a local agency, it will be much safer, as they will take you along quiet routes with little traffic and you will have assistance and good insurance.
Where to hire bike routes?
If you decide to go on a cycling route in Thailand, I generally recommend joining an agency circuit. For example, you can look at the SpiceRoads or Siam Bike Tours websites. However, if you are experienced and more adventurous, you can always do it on your own.
🥊 Introduce yourself to the martial art of Muay Thai
Muay Thai is an ancient martial art that began to at the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, in the 16th century. The soldiers of that old kingdom used it as their main hand-to-hand fighting technique. There are writings by a French diplomat, in 1687, describing Muay Thai. Today it is a sport that moves passions among Thais. Especially among older and middle-aged men from provincial towns, although the two best stadiums where you can enjoy Muay Thai fights are in the capital of Thailand.
Where to learn Muay Thai?
There are Muay Thai training camps all over the country. You will find them both in the center, in the north and on the islands of southern Thailand.
🐶 Volunteer at the Soi Dog Foundation
One of Thailand’s many problems is the large number of stray dogs that roam the streets across the country. For cultural reasons deeply rooted in Buddhist tradition, tying animals is frowned upon. Therefore, dogs roam freely in many cities, towns and islands of Thailand. You will see stray dogs especially in temples, since many Thais leave them there for the monks to feed them. One of the NGOs that has made a great effort to rescue these stray animals is Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket.
How to do this volunteering?
Soi Dog Foundation is located in the north of Phuket, and in their website you’ll find all the necessary information in case you consider volunteering. They accept one-day volunteers, although they prefer that people join for a longer time.
🌄 Spend a night in a tribal village in northern Thailand
Northern Thailand, as well as Myanamr, Laos, Vietnam and the Chinese province of Yunnan, are home to numerous ethnic minorities. These are small ethnic groups that have their own language and culture, quite different from the dominant culture of the country in which they reside. In the mountains of northern Thailand, near Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, there are many such ethnic villages of this type, belonging to the Karen, Lahu, Hmong and Lisu, among others. Without a doubt, one of the most interesting experiences you can live in Thailand is to do a 2 or 3 day trek, which in addition to hikeing though the mountain jungle will allow you to visit minority villages, meet their people and sleep in their homes.
Where to hire this experience?
At InThailand Travel we offer 2 and 3 day trekkings in northern Thailand, which are organized by the local ethnic communities themselves.
🪂 Fly a Paramotor
Paramotor is a flying device made up of a small propeller attached to a paraglider. So, in short, it is a motorized paraglider. The paramotor allows you to take off and fly practically anywhere. In Thailand there is a company that offers recreational flights and courses to learn how to operate this type of light aircraft.
What company offers the flight?
You can google the Paramotor Thailand website and book your course or flight. A 20-minute flight with introductory class costs THB 4,500 (€ 130).
👩🍳 Learn Thai cooking with professionals
Thai cuisine is one of the most admired and valued in the world. When you are in Thailand, you will find a lot of Thai cooking courses for tourists, and practically all of them are in English. There are both schools for tourists and schools for professionals. Thai cooking classes for tourists typically last half a day, in which you learn how to cook a few Thai highlights. Make sure you do a decent job, as this will be your lunch!
What are the best Thai cooking schools?
The most acclaimed Thai cooking schools in the country are Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School and Blue Elephant Cooking School.
🙏 Do a Vipasana spiritual retreat
Vipasana is a form of meditation that spiritually inclined travelers with a lot of time can approach while traveling in Thailand. During Vipasana retreats, practitioners rarely speak to anyone. In fact, they are sometimes even discouraged from looking other participants in the eye. They only meet once a day with the abbot of the temple, who will give them some guidelines to continue with spiritual practice. Although some temples are less strict than others. In some, you are allowed to talk to other people. During a Vipasana retreat, daily life consists in getting up very early, meditating, eating, meditating again… and basically repeating this same pattern throughout the day. Vipasana retreats usually last at least 10 days.
Which temples do Vipasana retreats?
In northern Thailand there are numerous temples that accept foreigners to practice Vipasana. One of the most famous is Wat Ram Poeng, in Chiang Mai. Other temples in the north are Wat Suan Dok, Wat Pa Tam Wua or Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong. We have an article in which Elena, a Spaniard buddhist nun, narrates her experience doing Vipassana in Northern Thailand.
💆♂️ Learn the art of Thai massage
Thai massage is closely linked to traditional Thai medicine. A good Thai massage can help you relax your muscles, temporarily relieve some pain and improve your mood. Thai massage feels great, and has a range of options to please all tastes: full body, oil (softer), feet, etc. In Thailand there are many Thai massage schools that will give you a solid knowledge of this ancient technique, as well as certificates that will help you work as a masseuse all over the world.
What are the best Thai massage schools?
The oldest and most famous massage school in the country is Wat Pho temple in Bangkok. Another, very popular, is ITM in Chiang Mai.
🚣♂️ Visit a floating market near Bangkok
Thailand’s floating markets are one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country. And not only among foreigners: Thais themselves are the first to enjoy a morning stroll through the different floating markets on the outskirts of Bangkok. For many, it is an almost mandatory tourist visit. There is only one floating market in Thailand that opens every day, Damnoen Saduak, which is the most touristy. All others open only on weekends and are mainly aimed at locals.
What is the most typical market from Bangkok?
At InThailand Travel we offer excursions to Damnoen Saduak floating market several times a week.
👩❤️👨 Get symbolically married in the Thai style
Can you imagine getting married in the traditional Thai style? This is possible in northern Thailand, in a symbolic ceremony that has no official validity. The day begins by visiting a Thai tailor to rent the traditional clothes. Once properly dressed, the couple proceeds to make an offering at a Thai temple, and receive a blessing from the local monks. At the end of the ceremony, you can take a few photos around the beautiful courtyard of the temple. Throughout the process, a guide explains everything about the ceremony, while a professional photographer documents each step.
Where can I book this wedding?
At InThailand Travel we arrange Thai-style symbolic weddings. If you are interested you can send us an e-mail.
🌆 Take a drink on a skyscraper’s rooftop bar
Bangkok is full of skyscrapers, buildings of more than 60 floors, among the most modern in the world. In fact, in Bangkok they never stop building new ones. In few cities in the world there are so many skyscrapers, and usually they are not as easily accessible. In Bangkok, many of these skyscrapers have very popular rooftop bars and restaurants open to everyone. Enjoying the night views over Bangkok from one of them is a Thailand experience that you just can’t miss!
What are the best panoramic rooftop bars in Bangkok?
In Bangkok there are many good ones, and some of the most popular are Vertigo (at Banyan Tree Hotel), Sirocco (at Lebua At State Tower) and Rooftop Bar (at Baiyoke Tower).
🛤️ Sleep in a night train in Thailand
Thailand has an extensive railway network that runs all across the country. They are generally somewhat old trains and not very fast, but they are a travel experience in itself. Taking a train in Bangkok at 6pm and crossing half the country to Chiang Mai or Nong Khai is an unforgettable experience. This can be done in a reasonably comfortable bed with clean sheets, where most travelers (including me) have no trouble falling asleep. Trains in Thailand are safe, and they have a dining car. In this article about the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai we tell you all the secrets.
Where to book train tickets?
You can book the train tickets at Baolau website.
🏝️ Island hopping for a day
For someone who has lived in Thailand for more than a decade, taking a boat tour to visit a handful of islands and beaches in the same day may not seem so special. That’s so common to most expats in Thailand that we take it for granted, as just another beach activity. But, if you stop to think about it, it is truly an impressive experience that most people haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying. At almost all beach destinations in Thailand, you can easily join a boat or speedboat tour and, in one single day, discover a few islands that will make your jaw drop.
On which islands can it be done?
In my opinion, the best place to go island hopping is Krabi. We have an article that talks about the best beaches in Krabi, both on the mainland and on its islands. But it can be done in many other areas of Thailand, such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Chang, Koh Lipe, etc.