Those cheap package deals and island life Insta posts have worn you down. You've given in and booked flights to Thailand. We feel ya. We understand why the land of smiles is such a popular destination with it's white sand beaches, grand temples, exotic animals, tasty cuisine and endless adventure. Whether you're the free spirited backpacker, the expat packing in the office life or the jet-setter with frequent flyer miles to burn, Thailand's got something for you.
Unless you're heading straight to the Islands of Koh Samui or Phuket on the all-inclusive package you bought from your local travel agent, there's a good chance you'll be starting your Thai experience in the capital of Bangkok.
The bustling Thai capital is a melting pot of culture and people; bustling and humid, grand but chaotic, it's nothing short of a sensory overload. It won't be long before you've filled your suitcase with tailored suits and Chang beer singlets and filled your face with crispy insects on Khao San Road
and seen enough debauchery at Patpong and Nana to make the avid Redtube subscriber quiver.
As you cruise around by Tuk-Tuk visiting the various markets haggling over that last 50 cents...
...and checking out all the city's temples
...you'll probably consume enough pollution to receive a letter from greenpeace.
Luckily a connecting flight or overnight sleeper train will have you anywhere in the country afford-ably and in no time. The overnight sleeper train up to Chang Mai is super cheap and practical option for anyone heading north and can be an experience in itself, especially if you add a stop at Ayattahya. Just take some food for the trip as there's no chance you will want to eat the food on the train.
Ayutthaya is a small town 86km from Bangkok en route to the North; and one that's definitely worth a day stop if you're taking the overnight sleeper train. Ayuttahaya is rich in history, with the ruins of the old city now forming the Ayutthaya Historical Park, an archaeological site that contains palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries and statues.
The small town can easily be explored by foot, bike or scooter and has a very laidback pace with friendly locals and elephants roaming the street.
3) Chiang Mai
Once you reach the north of Thailand, this is where the adventure starts. Chiang Mai is like a smaller, friendlier more laid-back version of Bangkok. You still have the scooter riddled streets, tuk-tuks, markets and temples, but the city is much more hospitable and slower paced, with the city shutting at 1am. Expect really cheap prices, amazing food, friendly locals, tonnes of adventure activities and incredible temples and monuments.
To get the most out of your trip in Chiang Mai check out one of the local overnight Jungle Treks on offer which will see you hiking through the jungle and rice fields with a local guide, sleeping in a hut, eating traditional thai food, experiencing exotic wildlife, stunning nature and river rafting all with a bunch of newly found international friends.
4) The Golden Triangle
A day trip from Chang Mai to the top of the country you'll find yourself in a very unique spot. A boat trip in the Mekong Delta will have you cruising past a giant golden buddha and into an area known as the Golden Triangle (a spot that borders 3 different countries: Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Thailand.)
Here you'll be able to hop off the boat and cross the border into Laos and check out a local market and if you're game enough try some local specialties.
5) Ethical Elephant sanctuary
Visit an elephant sanctuary where the elephants are treat with respect. You want to ride a happy and healthy elephant so it's worth spending the extra money to find a place that allows you to bond with the elephants and ride them without causing any harm. This can be a life changing experience and one that will definitely come out near the top of your Thailand bucket list.
6) Western Islands: Phuket
Not completely unlike the koh Samui of the West. Phuket boasts some of Thailand’s most popular beaches, mostly situated along the clear waters of the western shore. The island is home to many high-end seaside resorts, spas and restaurants. Patong, the main town, has a more casual vibe and is filled with wild nightclubs, bars and discos that'll have you partying until the sun come up. Make sure to ensure it's not Moonsoon season when you're planning your trip, otherwise you might find yourself in for a little less tropical paradise, and more flooded tourist town.
7) Koh Phi Phi
A day trip from Phuket, you'll find yourself on the set of the Leo classic, "The Beach". This island paradise boasts some of Thailand's clearest waters,white sand beaches and makes for some great Instagram pics with long-tail boats as transport between the islands.
Krabi, the capital of southern Thailand's Krabi Province, is a resort town near the Andaman coast. It lies in an area of limestone karsts and mangrove forest. On a hilltop reached by stairs, the Tiger Cave Temple is a Buddhist site with panoramic views. Khao Kanab Nam, 2 slanting hills rising out of water, form a local landmark. Popular Andaman Sea destinations like Koh Phi Phi are accessible by ferry.
Pattaya is a town on Thailand’s eastern Gulf coast known for a wild nightlife scene that attracts international visitors, weekenders from Bangkok and expats. A quiet fishing village as recently as the 1960s, it’s now lined with resort hotels, high-rise condos, a large seaside mall and home to internet celeb; the hulking, animal loving bro from down under, Tim Sharky Ward . If Jet-skiing and parasailing aren't cutting it, grab an industrial size bag of dog food and get those Karma points up and help out with Pattaya's street dog problem.
One of the Thailand's best kept secrets; Pai is a picturesque little town found in the province of Mae Hon Son of North Thailand. Pai has somewhat boomed with an influx of tourists in the last few years due to an increase in guesthouses and developments in the town center catering to backpackers and tourists alike. Despite this, prices in Pai are dirt cheap and offers an experience unlike anywhere else. Rent or buy a scooter and surfboard, basque in the serene mountainous landscapes and enjoy some of the western treats that have snuck their way in.
This article is reflective of a 20-something year old's take on a month spent in Thailand in 2015. To see what went down in the Eastern Islands from in-famous Fullmoon Party to the world's cheapest PADI diving course and feel free to share with anyone thinking of visiting Thailand.
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