Best Things to Do in Thailand
Thailand or officially the Kingdom of Thailand is located in Southeast Asia, it borders with Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia by land and is surrounded by the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
The Thai language is the national language of Thailand and its currency is the Bath. Thailand has a humid tropical climate, with high temperatures ranging from 15 ° C to 35 ° C. The highest temperatures are during the months of March, April and May. The rainy season runs from June to October, when temperatures are high and heavy rainfall occurs through the monsoon. The driest months and the preferable ones to travel are from November to April.
I will share my recommendations from Thailand in 5 parts according to the route I took this year in the most tourist areas and places in the country.
Bangkok is the capital and the most populated city of Thailand and is also usually the gateway to the country through the Suvarnabhumi International Airport where more than 50 million passengers arrive per year. It is from this airport where you usually connect to other regions of Thailand.
NOTE: It is important to process your VISA before arriving to Thailand. There are nationalities that can obtain a VISA upon arrival in the country, or even as the American nationality that is allowed two weeks without VISA. Check the information with the local Thai embassy in your country.
Once arriving at the airport the best way to access Bangkok center is through taxis that are at the exit of the airport, these only accept cash and you must request use of meter, never go for a fixed rate as they will surely charge 3 to 4 times more than normal. I leave a good explanation of how to take taxis in Bangkok from TripAdvisor. Carry your hotel address on your cell phone not only in English but in Thai as drivers do not always speak English.
Bangkok has fifty districts, the district of Phra Nakhon is the most central and where you will find the main tourist attractions of the city.
In one day you can take the tour of the temples and the Grand Palace of Bangkok in this area. The Great Palace of Bangkok and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Prakaew is where I recommend you to start, it is important that you comply with the dress rules for access, it is usually very hot in Bangkok and it is common to be in shorts or sleeveless shirts but to access these temples, you must wear long trousers and cover the shoulders or wear long sleeves.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Prakaew is the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand and is located within the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The main building is the central ubosoth, which houses the Emerald Buddha, and is the main religious icon of the Thai people.
As for the Grand Palace of Bangkok, this has several buildings all of incredible architecture and beauty. The Royal Pantheon or Prasat Phra Thep Bidon is the most distinctive building and displays seven life-size statues, corresponding to the first seven kings of the current Chakri Dynasty.
To one side is also the Royal Library whose entrance is a delight in sight.
And next to the Pantheon and the Royal library is the Phra Si Rattana Chedi which is the Royal Chapel, a totally golden building that draws attention to the view from any point.
And finally within these facilities you can appreciate the Chakri Mahaprasad Hall, a building that worked for many years as the official residence of the kings.
After touring the Grand Palace in Bangkok you can visit the Wat Pho or Temple of the Reclining Buddha on one side. The Reclining Buddha has a golden cover and is 46 meters long and 15 meters high.
The last temple that I recommend to know is Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn, this is considered by many the most beautiful temple in Bangkok and is located to one side of the river Chao Phraya in the district of Bangkok Yai.
Another major attraction of visiting Bangkok is the nightlife and food, a place where you can enjoy both is Khao San Road, Bangkok's best known street where you can find bars and restaurants and lots of traditional street food. My recommendation is that you should try a Pad Thai, pithaya fruit shakes or passion fruit, or even if you have the courage, try to eat a scorpion, tarantula, a hundred feet, grasshoppers or giant cockroaches.
To enjoy a good drink I recommend to attend one of the Rooftop Bars of the city, my favorite option is to visit the Sky Bar of the Hotel Lebua, this bar and hotel is known for being part of the movie The Hangover 2 and has in my opinion the best view of the city, I recommend you to attend for the sunset.
And secondly, I would not miss Vertigo and Moon Bar at Banyan Tree Hotel, just to admire a sunset.
If you want more adult entertainment you can visit the Red Soi Cowboy district where there are more than 30 clubs and bars with dancers and erotic massages.
Another activity that many tourists do in Bangkok is to visit very peculiar markets such as the Mae Klong Market or the Train Market where trains pass right on the Market itself, and the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is a Traditional Thai market where everything is traded from small boats.
If you don't like taking souvenirs and you are looking for a spiritual connection from Thailand, you can get a Sak Yant tattoo at the Wat Bang Phra temple near Bangkok, these tattoos are made by Buddhist monks in exchange for a small donation, to make the tattoo they use a bamboo cane (they are usually very painful and you have to take care of the hygiene when performing them), you can not choose the tattoo that will be done to you but the monk chooses it, these tattoos are associated with supernatural powers that protect those that they carry it in the different fields of life, and in turn you are assigned certain prohibitions that you must fulfill throughout your life.
My biggest recommendation for visiting Bangkok is to do it during the Songkran or Thai New Year, this is a 3 day holiday in the month of April. The Songkran is rich in symbolic traditions as pouring water on Buddha statues represents purification and self-washing represents being cleansed of one's own sins and one's own bad luck. The other main feature is that the main streets are closed to traffic like Khao San Road and are used as a scene of water battles.
Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai
To the north of Thailand lies the provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai frequented by those who like to experience a natural and rural environment consisting mainly of mountains and jungles.
Chiang Rai is the most northern province of Thailand, many go to this province only to visit Wat Rong Khun or also known as the White Temple, this temple is very different from the rest of the Buddhist temples that we can see in Thailand, the white color means Buddhist purity; Crystal means the wisdom of Buddha as the "light that shines in the world and the universe." They started building it in 1997 and, like the Sagrada Familia, still does not have a clear date of completion but it is speculated that in 2070 will be finished.
The province of Chiang Mai is usually visited because of its natural park and elephant sanctuary where you can live with the elephants in their natural habitat and give them a good bath in addition to feeding them. If you can not visit Chiang Mai, there is also the possibility of enjoy elephants outside of Bangkok, I only recommend taking good care of the organization with whom to do this as there are many companies that exploit the elephants just to give rides mounted on them.
You will also find Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai, a place where you can interact with Thai tigers without chains and where you can have photos with them, the costs increase when there are puppies as they are the ones that attract tourists and is not so common there are avialable all over the year. Tiger Kingdom is currently the only place where you can perform this type of activities in Thailand after the closure of Tiger Temple, these types of places are accused of mistreating tigers from small to receive orders and in some cases claim to be drugged to live together with humans. Unfortunately these are also places where the species is preserved as there are very few in the wild by the Chinese black market that has not been able to control and where they are hunted for their skin, and bones used for traditional Chinese medicine in products that are believed to give strength, sexual power and a long life. In my case I decided to attend this place to see with my own eyes if the tigers were mistreated or drugged or acting strangely filming the whole encounter and thereby share the evidence, but the reality is that I found very active and careful tigers, and I met many international veterinarians who gave their lives for these felines. Unfortunately, until poaching is controlled, returning this species to its habitat alone is still not the best solution.
And it is in Chiang Mai where one of the world's unique festivals takes place, the Yi Peng or festival that illuminates the sky, it is celebrated on the full moon of the second month of the Lanna calendar (mid-November) and is part of Loy Krathong Or festival of lights that is celebrated in all Thailand during those dates.
Koh Samui, Koh Phangan & Koh Tao
South of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand and belonging to the province of Surat Thani you can find the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, all very attractive for tourism.
Koh Samui is the largest island of the three and has rich natural resources, white sand beaches, coral reefs, jungle, waterfalls and coconut palms. The island has several resorts and the only airport on the three islands with local and international flights. Among its main attractions are tours to Ang Thong Marine National Park (also known as Mu Ko Ang Thong), a group of 42 protected virgin islands that form a spectacular landscape and some of the most famous images of Thailand.
The symbol of Koh Samui would be the Great Buddha, which is very close to the airport so you can appreciate when arriving or leaving the island, it is also from the Great Buddha one of the best points to appreciate the sunsets.
Koh Phangan is the second largest island, accessed by ferry from Koh Samui and is famous among backpackers and the favorite destination of young people in Thailand as it is on this island where the famous Full Moon Party is celebrated.
All the activities and life of the island goes around the Full Moon Party which is an all night party on the beach Haad Rin every full moon, if you wish to attend must check the dates on this link: www.fullmoonparty-thailand.com/schedules.html. There is also a Half Full Moon Party that works the same way but has many less attendees and was created to not to rely on tourism just during the full moon.
The party lasts all night until dawn and consists of wearing fluorescent colors and fluorescent paint, drinking buckets that contain the cocktail of your preference at reasonable prices (very careful when buying them since sometimes they put in the drinks certain type of drugs and the party can end much sooner than you want), there are different bars and clubs on the beach with music of all kinds and you can enter at no cost; many games are played with fire such as jumping rope with fire, spitting fire and juggling with fire; There is high consumption of drugs and alcohol so it is recommended not to carry things of value since many end up unconscious (there is an area to leave your friends sleeping) and you can meet people from all over the world as it is a unique international party in the world.
It is also important to consider that many hotels or hostels ask for a minimum of nights to stay on the island. If you want to stay in a hostel, I highly recommend The Dancing Elephant, this hostel requests at least 4 nights of accommodation and performs other activities such as Booze Cruise, Pool Parties, Jungle Party, etc ... is certainly the party hostel # 1 in the world although do not expect luxury or many stars since its concept is the party.
The most beautiful beaches on Koh Phangan are Bottle Beach, Haad Salad, Haad Yao, Thang Nai Pan, Mae Haad, Ban Tai, Haad Rin and Chaloklam. In if the island has many options of beaches where to rest.
Koh Tao is the smallest island but considered by many the most beautiful, is accessed by ferry from Koh Samui or preferably from Koh Phangan, this island is one of the most popular places in the world among divers due to its crystal clear waters and the large number of dive companies operating on the island. Without doubt, although it is a small island, I recommend a lot to visit it to snorkel or dive and appreciate the island from the main viewpoint.
The province of Phuket is itself an island and is located in the Andaman Sea, west of the peninsula of Malaysia.
The main tourist region of the island is Patong Beach also known as the new Phuket, which also concentrates most of the nightlife of Phuket, as well as being the largest shopping center on the island. The nightlife of Patong Beach is mainly concentrated around Bangla Road, there are also plenty of places along Rat-U-Thit Road and on the beach promenade: restaurants, breweries, Go-Go Bars, Massage Parlors, Nightclubs and other places of the night are counted by the hundreds. Prostitution in Thailand is illegal but totally tolerated, prostitution is evident in Bangla Road where there are plenty of girls bars, ping pong shows (they are stripclubs and specialize in tricks with the vagina such as throwing ping pong balls, or other objects or animals), older gentlemen drinking with Thai girls, massage rooms with erotic massages or included sex, prostitutes and ladyboys offering "special moments" to tourists at reasonable prices. That is why Patong Beach is a destination that does not leave anyone indifferent, there are those who adore it and there are those who hate it.
Another of the main tourist attractions of Phuket are the tours to the Phang Nga Bay belonging to the province of the same name and where you will find Ao Phang Nga National Park and the famous James Bond Island. I highly recommend doing this tour and kayaking in this beautiful natural park.
As for the other tourist attractions of Phuket, the island has several beaches to visit and viewpoints. The main beaches are Karon, Kata, Nai Harn and Bang Tao, the beaches of Phuket were the most affected in the 2004 tsunami and although the vast majority has recovered in full, you still can be appreciate land abandoned by floods . As viewpoints Karon, Cape Prompthep, El Molino and Khao Rang are the best on the island.
As temples in Phuket you will find Wat Chalong which undoubtedly was my favorite temple for its beauty, figures and celebrations around it.
Away from the tourist area is Old Phuket, here you can admire the way of life of the locals and a much quieter atmosphere unlike Patong Beach or New Phuket, it is worth visiting the old town just for a reason: the Crab Curry at Raya Restaurant; This is certainly one of my top 5 favorite dishes in the world and they can make it as spicy as you like, consists of a green curry with lots of crab, just a delicacy.
Koh Phi Phi
Phi Phi (also known as Koh Phi Phi) is a small archipelago belonging to the province of Krabi and located in the Andaman Sea, south of Thailand. It is composed of the four main islands: Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Phi Phi Leh, Koh Yung (Mosquito Island) and Koh Pai (Bamboo Island).
Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest of the islands. It has a small village known as Ton Sai, where you will find the main port for the arrival of ferries from Krabi, Rai Ley, Ao Nang or Phuket. The journey usually takes about two and a half hours from Phuket. The tourism is mainly young since the island has several bars, beach clubs and small clubs. The pool parties of Koh Phi Phi are famous and also the Reggae Bar where there are fights of the traditional Thai sport Muay Thai both professional and amateur. The main beach is Loh Dalum Bay and you should definitely go up to the viewpoint of the island, the best time to do it is in the morning.
Koh Phi Phi Leh is an island made up of limestone cliffs that emerge up to hundreds of meters above sea level. It has two beaches, within which, the best known, beautiful and extensive is Maya Bay, whose name is due to a legend about a woman of the same name who found the end of his days in that place unfairly. It is in this place where " The Beach"was filmed with Leonardo DiCaprio. The island also has a beach entrance without beach but with very low water level that makes it look an incredible bright crystal blue. It is also the best snorkeling island for the quantity of colorful fish, certainly the best of Koh Phi Phi is on this island.
Thailand is undoubtedly my favorite destination this 2016 for everything discussed here, its natural resources, beaches, exotic animals, food, sights, sunsets, temples and in some aspect very similar to Mexico with cheerful people. And very important all at very affordable costs, I recommend you live it yourself and I hope you find in this country the magic that will certainly bring me back.
I say goodbye to a video I made of my two weeks in Thailand and my favorite in 4k. Until next time!