Discover a deeper understanding of Thailand culture with these 10 can't miss Thailand experiences. From exploring the north to snorkeling from long boat to getting a Thai massage, Thailand offers a rich cultural experience for any sustainable traveler.
Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai
Many Chiang Mai guesthouses and cookery schools offer cooking lessons. One of the best is the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, which covers traditional and common Thai dishes. With many of the cooking lessons you’ll not only get a delicious meal but a recipe book as well. It is helpful to book a day or 2 in advance, as the classes are very popular.
The local markets in Thailand are where you’ll find some of the best, and least expensive, food the country has to offer. Night markets are open air and typically begin around 6pm. Most night markets have around 30 plus pushcart kitchens. You’ll find noodles and fried rice, fruit drink stalls, curries, satay sticks, and much more!
Loy Krathong, or the festival of light, falls on the night of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (between late October and mid November). It is a celebration of the end of the rainy season and is held to honor the spirits of the water. Thais decorate krathong, or miniature basket boats made from banana leaves, with flowers, fill them with incense, candles and coins and float them out on the nearest body of water.
Hill Tribe Treks
From Chiang Mai there are many options for exploring the north and trekking to ethnic minority villages. Visiting local families and experiencing their traditional ways of life allow travelers to gain a deeper understanding for Thai culture and history. Lisu Lodge, located in Chiang Mai, is an ideal place to experience rural Thai life and trek to the surrounding villages. The lodge is named after the Lisu hill tribe village that is settled nearby. Lisu Lodge is also part of a community project that strives to conserve the natural heritage of the hill tribes in northern Thailand.
Visit the Islands
Thailand has stunning coastlines and hundreds of offshore islands, with abundant sea life and incredible scenery. The tranquility and natural beauty of the Thai islands should not be missed. Koh Phi Phi Island is a great addition to any Thailand tour. The snorkeling from Long beach is great, and there are many other snorkeling spots nearby such as Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island.
Thai massage is used against many kinds of illnesses and ailments. It is a great, and relatively inexpensive way, to end your day or ease sore muscles. Massage options range from very cheap to more luxurious. Khao San Road in Bangkok has many cheap massage options.
The Mae Hong Son Loop
Two roads from Chiang Mai lead to the province of Mae Hong Son, Thailand’s most remote province, creating a 373-mile loop. The journey on these roads offers an incredible adventure, with the southern route passing Doi Inthanon National Park, Mae Sariang, the provincial capital of Mae Hong Son, which is perfect for serving as a base to explore the surrounding mountains, rivers, and waterfalls. The northern route passes by beautiful caves and scenery around Mae Lana, Soppong which serves as a great base for trekking in the countryside, and Pai, a small laid back town.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of Bangkok’s most notable shopping experiences, with more than 6,000 open-air stalls and a vast variety of products to chose from. It is easily reached from the Skytrain. At the market you’ll find antiques, sarongs, clothing, crafts, jewelery, ceramics and much more. The market is divided into sections, each with a certain type of product. The market also has an assortment of food stalls.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace in Bangkok opened in 1785, founding the new capital and the rebirth of Thailand after the Burmese invasion. The palace covers 61 acres and in the northeast corner you’ll find Wat Phra Kaeo, the holiest Buddhist site in the country. Wat Phra Kaeo is one of the country’s most beautiful temples. Wat Po is another popular temple in Bangkok. Thailand is home to over 26,000 temples, all offering great insight in the culture and history of the country.
Visit a Floating Market
Visiting a floating market to see an aspect of the traditional life of the locals is a highlight of Thailand. There are many floating markets throughout the country, and a variety to choose from just a few hours from Bangkok. One of the most popular is Damneon Saduak, located about 62 miles outside of Bangkok. This market is best in the early morning before the crowds get too large and the sun too hot.