Heading to the Kingdom of Thailand for a vacation?Are you dreaming of the exciting nightlife and throw-away shopping deals in the alleys of Bangkok?
You are not wrong, but Thailand is much more than nightclubs and bazaars. Expect the unexpected from the land of amazing contradictions, where glittering temples and exotic beaches co-exist not just in complete harmony, but in the most alluring way. Amidst the cluttered urban spaces and towns, you can find far-stretched tropical forests, rice paddies, squat villages and the blue mountains adorned by the ivory streams. And, when you glance upon the cities and towns, you find charming floating markets, Golden palaces, and majestic temples with porcelain spires.
Welcome to the most exotic country in the South East Asia.
If you still haven’t blocked the dates for your trip, you can plan it between November to February—the best time to visit Thailand. With sixteen million foreign travellers visiting Thailand every year, it’s important to create a blueprint of the trip much in advance to ensure a fun-filled vacation. Here are some tips for you on the exotic places to visit and what to do in Thailand.
The most exotic places to visit in Thailand
Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace: Located in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew is the colloquial name of the majestic compound, which was once home to the Thai monarch now known as the Grand Palace. Built in 1782 Wat Phra Kaew is famously known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. One of Bangkok’s biggest tourist attractions, Wat Phra Kaew including the Grand Palace represents the historic face of the country with 200 years of heritage and architectural brilliance.
Ayuthaya: Once the capital of Siam—Ayuthaya will transport you to the time of glittering palaces and myriad temples. The ruins of the glorious city ‘represent a masterclass of genius’ as mentioned in UNESCO’s world heritage site listing. Ayuthaya is also a growing handicraft market.
Ko Tao: Away from the bustling cities of Thailand is the Turtle Island or Ko Tao. The most popular destination in the world to learn diving, Ko Tao is a small island located near the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand. What to expect? A large and impressive variety of marine species such as turtles, coral, small fishes and barracudas. In you are really lucky, you may also spot a whale shark. Exciting? Isn’t it.
Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha): When in Thailand, you can’t miss the huge Buddha image of 5.5-tonne solid-gold. All that glitters is indeed gold at Wat Traimit.
Surin Islands Marine National Park: Spectacular with the pristine white sand beaches, sparkling green-blue water body, and beautiful granite peninsulas, Surin islands marine national park is a cluster of five gorgeous islands at the Thailand–Myanmar marine border. One of the most exotic locations in Thailand, Surin islands marine national park is not to be missed.
Ko Chang: Arguably the most beautiful island in Thailand, Ko Chang is a must-visit site for its gushing waterfalls, rainforests, thriving coral reefs, a wide range of wildlife, and widespread flaxen sandy beaches.
Phang Nga Bay: Stunning caves, islands of limestone and marine grottoes are the offerings at Phang Nga Bay, located 95 kms away from the island of Phuket. Here’s something that will surely draw you to this much talked about bay. Ko Ping Kan is an island in the bay area which has been featured in the James Bond movie named ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. You can’t miss it, so that the next time you watch this movie, you can scream ‘I’ve been to this place’.
Shop till you drop
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar: If you are planning to splurge in Bangkok’s street markets, save something for Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar too. Or the chances of you repenting later are very high. One of Thailand’s top tourist attractions, Chiang Mai’s famous night bazaar has a wide range of goods from art, handicraft, clothing, and carved soaps to industrial goods.
Chatuchak Weekend Market: Shopper’s paradise—Bangkok has several markets, but you head straight to Chatuchak Weekend Market for a shopping experience to remember for the rest of your life. Amongst the largest markets in the world, this weekend marketplace is divided into different sections for antiques, handicrafts & souvenirs, clothing & accessories, snacks & beverages, housewares & décor, pets, plants & gardening.
Travel Tip: No transaction in Thailand except those in supermarkets takes place without a bargain. However, bargaining is an art. Keep it pleasant, fun, and light to grab some of the best deals.
Accommodation: Travelling on a shoe-string budget? Backpacker? Luxury vacation with family? Thailand is your destination. If you are wondering where to stay in Thailand, here, in this amazing country comfort can be found in any budget. You can pick from plenty of accommodation choices available as per your requirement. Decide on the most suitable type of accommodation from guesthouses, bungalows, hostels, budget hotels, tourist boutique, luxury hotels, homestays, or camping. Yes, you can camp in a national park for a meagre fee of B60 per two-person tent. The charges may vary depending on season though.
Travel Tip: The north of Thailand is much cheaper than Bangkok and the islands, where a guest house can cost you as little as $4 USD per night in the countryside compared to $7 USD in the cities.
Local transport: The local transportation in Thailand is inexpensive but slow. Buses can vary in sizes but are fast and clean. Trains are safer options to commute. But, nothing can be compared to the three-wheeler called Tuk Tuk, which is the most popular mode of transportation in Bangkok and other Thai cities. Don’t underestimate the fame of a Tuk Tuk, it has been known across the globe. Try and fix the fare before hopping onto one. Longtail boats can also be used to commute locally. Cycling and hitching are also popular in Thailand.
Travel Tip: Try and buy a package deal than separate tickets which can be cost you more.
Food & Drink: Although, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are the two major culinary centres in Thailand, the rest of the country is equally passionate about food. You can have some gastronomical delights in most unexpected of places such as night markets. However, if you are travelling with kids and health is a primary concern, stick to eateries with a ‘Clean Food Good Taste’ sign. The sign indicates hygiene monitored by the Ministry of Public Health. If you are a huge fan of Thai food, you may also take a short cooking class in Bangkok and other cities. Try curries and soups along with salads, and noodle and rice dishes.
Travel Tip: Never drink water directly from the tap.
Entertainment: Talk about the nightlife in Thailand, there’s never a dull moment. From regular pubs to strip bars, this country is thriving on the entertainment scene.
The Queen’s Cabaret is a bar in Ko Tao, where you get to watch variety of performances from the standard Abba to smouldering topless performances. And, if you are a lucky guy (male) you may also get ‘dragged’ into the performance. Drinks at the bar can dig a hole into your pocket, but it’s certainly worth the show.
Catch the spectacular Ayuthaya Fighting Show that reminds how the wars were fought with swords and sticks. Head to the cultural theme park of Siam Niramit—a Disney version of ancient Siam with a traditional performance depicting the Buddhist heaven, Lanna Kingdom, and Thai festivals. You can also visit the National Theatre to watch a kŏhn performance, which is a masked dance and drama performance on the stories of Thai Ramayana. Parking Toys in Bangkok offers the best Live Music scene in the city.
Apart from the usual night clubs and pubs, Thailand’s nightlife is most famous of the Go-Go Bars and Patpong—one of the most (in)famous red-light districts in the world. If you are not aware what Go-Go bars are all about, these are Thai version of strip tease clubs. However, these bars are a veil to prostitution—the primary reason of existence of these bars. Although, you may opt to go there for an experience but it’s highly recommended not to indulge into it for obvious reasons of safety.
Travel Tip: Fix the charges before entering a Go-Go bar to avoid astronomical charges later.
Things to remember: Be respectful to the Monarchy- the King & the Queen of Thailand as the local people are deeply sentimental about them. Dress neatly while visiting temples and the King’s palace. Cover the shoulders, knees and midriff and remove your footwear before entering the temple. Thai people fold their hands in greeting and the public display of affection to the opposite sex is frowned upon.