There are few places in the world that offer the diversity of experiences that Thailand does. One day you could be meeting monks in a tranquil hilltop temple, the next immersed in the colours and flavours of a chaotic market and then you’re surrounded by swirls of colourful fish off the coast of a tropical island. Here are our top ten things not to miss in the Land of Smiles.
Try the spicy street food
The gateway to Northern Thailand, slow-paced Chiang Mai is famous for its hill-tribe culture, temples, and bustling night bazaars. The best atmosphere is at the weekend when crowds take to the streets to try delicious northern delicacies and shop for local made handicrafts and shiny silverware. One of our favourites is the Wualai Walking Street market, found every Saturday just outside the Old Town’s walls.
Unwind in a rainforest spa
Often dubbed Asia’s spa capital, Thailand is well-equipped when it comes to wellness retreats and Banyan Tree Samui is a top choice. This stunning sanctuary is home to a collection of sleek pool villas sprinkled across the hillside and a Rainforest Spa, which is on another level, even by Banyan Tree’s standards.
Witness history at the Bridge over the River Kwai
Discover the poignant past of the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai, a powerful reminder of World War II in Asia. On this eye-opening trip, you’ll visit places full of history and emotion, such as Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and JEATH Museum. Complete your journey by taking a ride on the Thailand-Burma Railway (also known as 'Death Railway') to honour those who lost their lives during its construction.
Snorkel in the Similan Islands
Experience phenomenal diving and snorkelling in the Similan Islands, an archipelago of remote reef-ringed islets in a protected national marine park, accessible from Khao Lak and Phuket. Open to visitors between October and May, the sloping reefs and clear visibility offer the chance to see a star cast of marine fauna including manta rays, leopard sharks and turtles.
Meet the gentle giants of the forest
Elephant Hills Jungle & Lake Camp Safari is an award-winning three-day experience that will bring a wild twist to your Phuket, Khao Lak or Krabi holiday. Spend time with free-roaming elephants in their natural environment, explore one of the world's oldest rainforests and sleep in a floating tent on a peaceful lake.
Whip up a feast during a cooking class
Master the art of Thai cuisine during a chef-led cooking class at Garrya Tongsai Bay Samui. Enjoy a walk through the organic garden where you’ll pick fresh produce and learn about the various fruits, herbs, and spices. You’ll then get to create your own curry paste from scratch, prepare a four-course meal, and tuck into the mouthwatering meal you've created.
Soak in a jungle hot spring spa in Krabi
This full-day trip in Krabi starts on a high, as you scale the 1260 steps to the beautiful What Tham Suea (known as Tiger Cave Temple) to meet the monks who live and worship in this mountaintop sacred site. Descend from the temple and head into the rainforest, where you can relax with a swim in the mineral-rich Emerald Pool and a soak in a hot spring spa.
Dine by a candlelit waterfall
A private dinner by a tumbling waterfall in the jungle is just one of the special dining experiences offered at The Sarojin, a boutique Khao Lak haven tucked away on a seven-mile-long beach. Other opportunities for romance include a night of being shipwrecked on a secluded sand isle and a gourmet dinner in a pool island pavilion.
Go on a sensory adventure in Bangkok’s markets
Experience the vibrant heart of Bangkok by exploring its most extraordinary markets. This tour pairs two of the city's best, each with their own character and charm. First, glide through the maze of watery canals at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, stopping to try Thai favourites like Pad Thai and sticky mango rice along the way. Then, you’ll move on to the quirky Rom Hub Railway Market. As trains approach, vendors scramble to clear their wares off the tracks – it’s quite a spectacle to see.
Spend the night in a jungle bubble
Surrounded by bamboo forests in northern Thailand, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is a luxurious retreat with its very own elephant camp. Unique experiences here include the chance to spend a night in a jungle bubble – a transparent dome with views of the roaming herd below – and zipping through the Chiang Rai countryside in a Royal Enfield Classic 500 sidecar.