When it comes to variety, Thailand never fails to deliver. No matter what your taste is, this Southeast Asian jewel can compete with even the best in the world.
Come with us as we explore this utopia gone spicy. This is the top 5 must-visit in your weekends in Thailand.
Like many typical vacations, so much of your time is wasted on running around in a desperate attempt to see as many places as possible during your stay. But if you take time to slow down and just casually stroll along it’s vibrant streets, Bangkok will reward you with its beauty and a deeper understanding of its people and culture. The choices are endless, from visiting the Grand Palace, or enjoying the local street food, have drinks at rooftop bars, weave your way through crowded markets or just take a slow pace as you visit some museums.
Start your Thai thrill by visiting the most popular, and also the most iconic site in all of Bangkok – the Grand Palace. For obvious reasons, just by scale and detail alone, the Grand Palace is simply breathtaking. It is both an architectural marvel and a historical gem. Make sure you have plenty of time as this huge landmark may take quite a while before you get to cover most of its grounds.
While on a trek of bustling Bangkok, don’t miss the chance to savour the delicious street foods that are at every corner of the city. Street food in Bangkok provides convenient, delicious and cheap meals and is one of the guaranteed ways to get in touch with the local culture although it can sometimes be a little intimidating, specially for tourists that are new to the city.
Floating markets are also a common sight in Bangkok. Even though transactions are mainly conducted by tourists rather than locals these days, the floating market (or boats) are well-stocked with fresh tropical fruits and vegetables, refreshing ready-to-drink coconut juice and local foods cooked from floating kitchens located right on board.
There are literally hundreds of things to do in Bangkok. You could easily fill several weeks in this roaring city and still not be able to see it all. But one thing is certain – there will never be a boring day while you’re in the city. So plan well to make the most out of your stay.
Chiang Rai is a quirky and artistic city located in northern Thailand. It offers a surprising number of things to see and do. Close to the borders of neighbouring Laos and Myanmar, it’s an ideal place for visiting hill tribes and for scenic mountain trekking.
The city is also home to an incredible number of historic temples – from jewelled monuments to unusual contemporary artworks. While the more famous and modern temples are on Chiang Rai’s outskirts, the old city itself is also home to a number of very impressive older ones, some of which are famous in their own right and have a far more sacred significance in Thai history than the surrealist contemporary upstarts known by many.
If temple hopping is your thing, you could literally spend hours walking through Chiang Rai’s city centre and never run out of interesting sites to see, all while taking in the magnificence of these incredible architectural marvels. The most famous is The White Temple. The epic White Temple, also know as Wat Rong Khun, is definitely the first on the list of anyone visiting this place. It’s certainly one of the most impressive temples to visit in Chiang Rai, and in this case, its iconic status is well-deserved. The White Temple is a majestic sparkling-white modern temple with a huge number of surreal touches that give it a more quirky feel. It’s a genuinely breathtaking sight to behold, and many tourists are surprised by just how much it glows at daytime. The White Temple was designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.
Apart from the famous temple itself, there are other monuments and interesting things to see as you walk around. There’s even a gallery of unusual paintings by the same artist. So although there are numerous and other interesting things to do and see in Chiang Rai, visiting The White Temple is definitely one of the top thrills to visit when you’re in the city.
Although it’s technically possible to visit Chiang Rai for just a couple of hours within a day coming from neighbouring Chiang Mai, which is the bigger and better-known city in northern Thailand, it’s advisable to give at least a day or two when you visit this temple riddled paradise. It’s a 3 to 4 hour bus ride from Chiang Mai, along the winding mountain roads. But many tourists who visit Chiang Rai either come just for the day, or stay for only one night as they try and pack in as many activities as possible on a 1-day group tour.
Another famous temple in Chiang Rai is the The Monkey Cave Temple. The area is just a short drive away from Chiang Rai’s main city centre and you’ll probably need a vehicle or perhaps a scooter to visit the place. There are also several motorbikes that you can rent from the numerous rental shops near the central clock tower. Price will depend on the type of motorbike you’re renting; typically around 200 Baht (US$6) per day. Although plenty of travellers ride scooters and motorbikes in Thailand, be aware that traffic can be extremely hectic.
The Monkey Cave Temple is located atop a dramatic staircase protected by the 7-headed Nagas, otherwise known as the mythical serpents, and is absolutely overrun with monkeys everywhere within its grounds. Although quite annoying, some tourists have had friendly encounters with these forest locals and are known to jump on unsuspecting tourists and snatch their things, so do visit this place with some caution, and some bananas to go with it.
From rock climbing to spa treatments to kayaking to relaxing in hammocks along picturesque beaches, the list is almost never ending for the tourist who wants a piece of Ao Nang paradise. Often overlooked in favour of nearby and more famous Railay, Ao Nang is definitely worthy of a place on your list of any Thailand itinerary, this, despite not being one of the country’s more famous spots, it’s the perfect place to take day trips around the Krabi area. For such a small town, there’s plenty of activities to do – such as visiting Railay beach, island hopping or hiking for an incredible view of the surrounding area.
Ao Nang town itself has everything a traveller needs – from luxury resorts to budget but warm and friendly accommodations. Packed along a stretch of beaches with a beautiful outlook to limestone headlands and islands, Ao Nang marks the centre of tourism in the Krabi province. From tailor shops all the way to boat tours and bars to all-in-one Indian, Italian and Thai restaurants, all sorts of conveniences are at your fingertips. If Ao Nang’s edgy
side makes you a bit uncomfortable, head to any of the numerous nearby beaches for some tranquillity. Unless your intention is to visit the spectacular shores of nearby Railay, Ko Hong and Ko Poda, staying in Ao Nang makes it easier to soak up these hot spots on boat trips while returning at sunset to your hotel. A lively atmosphere, an enormous selection of food and drinks, you name it, Ao Nang has it. And it also makes for a fine base for hitting Krabi province’s inland attractions as well.
The town’s official name, Ao Phra Nang, pays homage to a local goddess in her cave shrine on the nearby Railay peninsula. Decades later, the word Phra was dropped. Today Ao Nang is more synonymous to beers and bikinis than anything sacred. Pushy touts, noisy bars and souvenir stalls define the main drag. Ao Nang is a place of ironies and oddities to go with the ups and downs. For such a popular beach destination, Ao Nang beach leaves a lot to be desired. The rough tan-coloured sand practically disappears during high tide. All day long, a fleet of long tail boats stirs up brownish-green water that’s no more than a waste-deep within the first 200 metres offshore during low tide.
Also adding some allure to the area is a string of more laid back beaches set within easy reach of Ao Nang itself. Haad Noppharat Thara is beautiful at its northern end, where a river and sandbars fuse with a trio of karst islets. Just north of it stretches Long Beach, a sleepy stripe of pristine white sand that feels like it’s a world away from Ao Nang. Further north, Khlong Muang is another tranquil beach that features bungalows affording views of fishing boats. There’s also Ao Nammao with its sparse development and collection of prehistoric fossils.
Back in Ao Nang proper, those who enjoy people watching will not be disappointed. From the 80’s to early 2000’s the area drew mostly Scandinavians, mainland Europeans and Russians on package holidays. While these groups remain prevalent, they now rub shoulders with sizeable tourist numbers from China, India, Malaysia, the Middle East and North America.
There’s something about Chiang Mai that many travellers seem to fall in love with. If you read through travels blogs about Thailand, you’ll notice that Chiang Mai stories are always mentioned with the same undertone of warmth and amusement. Most travellers venture to northern Thailand expecting to spend a couple of weeks only to wind up renting an entire apartment and staying for months, some even years. For many, it’s practically become a 2nd home.
What is it about Chiang Mai that makes it so alluring to expats and discerning tourists? Is it the mysterious vibe of the mountainous landscape? The creative ambience? The warm and welcoming locals with their delicious bowls of khao soi? Chiang Mai is attractive for a variety reasons to many people. However, looking at it from an objective standpoint, it all comes down to two things – sky lanterns and rescue elephants. Many tourists have been wanting to scratch the Yee Peng Festival and Elephant Nature Park off their bucket list and Chiang Mai offers you the chance to do just that.
Also another place to visit is the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Overlooking the city from its mountain throne, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of northern Thailand’s most sacred temples, and its history is learned practically by every children in Chiang Mai. The wat is a beautiful example of northern Thai architecture, accessible via a 306-step staircase flanked by naga (serpents). The climb itself is intended to help devotees accumulate Buddhist merit.
Another historic temple worth visiting is Wat U Mong. Not to be confused with the much smaller Wat U Mong in the old city, this historic forest wat is famed for its gorgeous setting above a brick platform riddled with passageways that are built around 1380 for the ‘mad’ monk Thera Jan. As you wander the never-ending tunnels, you can still see traces of the original murals and several venerated Buddha images that adorn the walls.
KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK
Considered by many to be one of Thailand’s most beautiful wildlife reserves, the Khao Sok National Park is a beautiful symphony of thick forests, limestone karsts, roaring rivers and lakes in the Surat Thani province located at the southern part of Thailand. The reserve is home to some of the most amazing wildlife in the country such as Asian elephants, Malayan tapirs, bears, barking deer, wild boar, and various breeds of monkeys like gibbons, langurs and pig-tailed macaques. There are also several trails in the park from which hikers can choose to enjoy trekking through the vast jungle and observe the surrounding wildlife or perhaps even photograph beautiful waterfalls and swim in the natural pools or simply admire the stunning view of the vistas from elevated viewpoints.
A guided tour through the jungle is the best way to experience Khao Sok National Park. No trip would be complete without it. Get a taste of exploring the prehistoric limestone cliffs and learn about the history of the area from your local guide as you enter a labyrinth of caves that formed over millions of years ago. Some available tours combine history, activity and fun. If exploring scary underground caves seem too much, rest assured that most tours only come with the most reputable tour operators.
Khao Sok is also perfectly located on the mainland between Khao Lak, Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui, which are the most popular destinations in southern Thailand. It is an excellent place to go on a vacation, specially when you consider the possibility of close and personal encounters with elephants, jungle trekking on foot and canoeing – the experience of a lifetime!
Lastly, check out one of the most interesting areas – the stunningly beautiful Cheow Larn Lake in the heart of the National Park with its iconic floating houses and luxury tents. Khao Sok truly has a lot to offer and can be quite overwhelming at first, so do consult a travel agency to get the most out of your stay.