If the island paradise isn’t already on your bucket list, here are a few reasons – other than the hundreds of sun-drenched beaches – to add Thailand on your holiday list.
Culture and History
Thailand is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, which still thrives today, despite the busy tourism industry. There are so many opportunities to discover Thailand’s authentic fascinating history and culture – not only the monuments, Buddhist monasteries, palaces and temples, but the festivals that observe and celebrate so many aspects of life with traditional dance and costumes, and even Muay Thai, a fighting style that combines philosophy and art into a dynamic discipline.
Top cultural experiences in Thailand include a visit to the Wat Na Phramen Temple, which miraculously survived when the area was defeated by Burmese troops. The temple is home to a 6 metre tall crowned golden Buddha, the largest and most beautiful of its kind that still remains.
Although some of the areas of Thailand which receive very high tourism volumes have inflated prices, much of Thailand remains very affordable. Even on the smaller, more exclusive islands, you can get a comfortable air-conditioned room in a guesthouse for under $15 a night.
Transport in Thailand is very affordable too. If you don’t want to be adventurous and travel by tuk-tuk, you can get a day pass for the train for about $6. You can also opt for buying transport ‘packages’ that give you both a train and boat pass at a discount. Food won’t break the bank either – a meal from the street vendors will cost you under $1, and a meal at western-style restaurant will cost about $4.
Speaking of food, Thailand is one place you’ll never go hungry. Once an exotic cuisine, Thai food no-longer needs an introduction. The sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavours are now available in restaurants around the world. Thailand’s famous street food is a draw-card for foodies and non-foodies alike.
You can play it safe and stick to Phad Thai, spring rolls and tom yum soup and you won’t be disappointed, but we recommend you get out of your comfort zone and try as many things as you can. A bonus with Thai food is that it’s some of the healthiest food in the world, so you don’t need to worry about packing on those pesky holiday pounds.
Shopping in Thailand is a unique experience. You may not want to spend your holiday taking advantage of the bargains in Thailand’s mega malls, but you definitely want to experience the many open air markets. There are all sorts of markets including an amazing fruit market where trying a custard apple – which isn’t an apple at all – is a must.
The Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok is the largest in Thailand and possibly the largest in the world. Enjoy shopping face to face and try your hand at some bargaining; none of the prices are set in stone. But if you only visit one market, make sure it’s the floating market in Bangkok. Half market, half community meeting place, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
You might not think it, but Thailand has over 100 national parks, which are home to Thailand’s unique fauna and flora. Some exceptional animals you could see on a visit to these parks include elephants, bears, exotic birds and even wild tigers. Traditional hillside villages still exist in some of the protected areas in Thailand, where people still live largely traditional lives, in harmony with the nature that surrounds them.
Most parks offer a variety of interesting tour options, like photographic tours, trekking, and even camping in some. A must-see is Erawan Falls, a seven-tiered waterfall in Erewan National Park
Have you visited Thailand? What would you recommend to others wanting to visit this amazing destination?