18 Must try activities in Thailand to add to your itinerary

PHOTO: Phi Phi Islands, Thailand by Sebastian Pichler from Unsplash.

Thailand is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia, and it’s easy to see why. Visiting the Land of Smiles is one interesting experience. It has so much to offer travellers, from tropical islands and jungle-covered mountains to floating markets and ancient ruins. The main problem any travellers will face when it comes to visiting Thailand is narrowing down the list of activities to do. So, to help you make the most of your trip to Thailand, here are 18 must try activities that’ll give you experiences you can cherish forever.

18 Must try activities in Thailand

1. Explore the colourful underwater world

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Whale Shark by Alain BERGER from Pixabay.

Thanks to its clear ocean and diverse marine life, Thailand has some of the world’s best diving sites. Almost every island in the country has excellent diving spots. The most popular place for diving is Koh Tao. It’s probably one of the first options you should consider if you’ve never tried diving before. Here, you can find numerous affordable diving schools with high teaching standards. Also, the dive sites are abundant, and the conditions are easy, perfect for any brand new divers.

While Koh Tao is the most popular, Similan Islands are arguably the best. Similan Islands is known for its colourful corals and diverse marine life. You might get an opportunity to observe manta rays if you’re exceptionally lucky. Whale shark encounters are also extremely rare nowadays, although they are possible. There are plenty of other sites around the country, such as Stonehenge off of Koh Lipe and Hin Daeng and Hin Muang off of Koh Lanta.

2. Marvel at the Grand Palace

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: The Grand Palace Bangkok by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay.

The Grand Palace, including the spectacular series of buildings surrounding it, is possibly the most famous attraction in Thailand. For centuries, the Grand Palace has left visitors in awe with its intricate detail and beautiful architecture. It was also home to the King, the Royal court, and the entire government of Thailand for 150 years. With an area of 218,400 square metres, there’s so much to see and do here.

The palace is divided into three main areas: the Outer Court, the Middle Court, and the Inner Court. In the Outer Court, you’ll find the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), which is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in the Kingdom. If you’re planning to visit the Grand Palace, make sure to dress inappropriate clothing.

3. Learn how to cook your favourite Thai food

18 Must try activities in Thailand to add to your itinerary | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Pad Thai by Alyssa Kowalski from Unsplash.

Do you love Thai food? If yes, then learning how to cook Thai food is a great way to bring a slice of Thailand home with you. Thai cuisine is among the most popular in the world thanks to its interesting and unique flavours. Taking a Thai cooking class is a fun way to understand the ingredients that go into Thai cuisine and what makes it so interesting. Alternatively, you can learn it from a Thai friend if you don’t want to join a cooking class. Whether from a friend or a cooking class, learning how to cook Thai food is likely to be useful in the future. The skills you learn will allow you to have your favourite Thai food whenever you want, even when you’re home and far from the Land of Smiles.

4. Hop around stunning islands

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Koh Hong Island, Krabi by tawatchai07 from freepik.

Thailand is home to 1,430 beautiful islands, so it’s no surprise that island hopping is a must-try activity. One of the best places to go island hopping is Krabi since it’s home to beautiful islands like Bamboo Island (Koh Phai), Chicken Island (Koh Gai), Koh Lanta, Koh Jum (or Koh Pu), and Koh Hong. Besides Krabi, island hopping in the Gulf of Thailand is just as fun. Some of the most popular islands in the Gulf are Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.

Note that not all islands can be visited in the monsoon season (typically from May to October) since the weather conditions can be unpredictable.

5. Experience Muay Thai

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Thai boxing by Claudio_Scott from Pixabay.

Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and the pride of the nation. Therefore, if you’re into martial arts, watching a fight or taking part in training is one of the must try activities in Thailand. There are numerous stadiums across Thailand where you can watch live Muay Thai boxing and experience the euphoric atmosphere. Some of the most popular are New Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium, and Siam Boxing Stadium. If you want to really immerse into the Muay Thai culture in the country, you can participate in the training. You can be trained by former champions in some of the best Muay Thai schools in Thailand. Find out more about the Top places to watch Muay Thai.

6. Shop at floating markets

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Floating market by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay.

Where else can you shop for food, fresh fruit and vegetables, and even souvenirs on boats? Shopping at a floating market can be one of the most unique and memorable things to do in Thailand. There are various floating markets around the country, each teeming with boats full of fruit, vegetables, ready-to-drink coconut juice, local Thai dishes, and souvenirs. The biggest and most famous floating market is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Other floating markets worth a visit are Khlong Lat Mayom Market, Taling Chan Market, and Bang Ku Wiang Market.

7. Get wet and wild during Songkran Festival

Songkran is one of the must try activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Songkran by 威武 杨 from Pixabay.

If you get a chance to be in Thailand between 13 and 15 April, be sure to partake in the world’s largest water fight in Songkran Festival. Well, it’s actually unavoidable. Songkran Festival is a celebration for Thailand’s new year. The traditional way to celebrate Songkran is by sprinkling water, which is believed to wash away bad luck and sins. However, the celebration has evolved into huge water fights. Confused? Read our guide about Songkran to learn about it all.

8. Enjoy a night out in Bangkok

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: From Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar

Bangkok is famous for its energetic nightlife, so enjoying a night out in the capital is something you shouldn’t miss. Bangkok after sunset is brimming with fun activities. You can start the night by watching the sunset from a rooftop bar, then continue the night with a lively party in one of the city’s many nightclubs. Places like Khao San Road and RCA are great if you’re looking for some wild parties. If you’re not into parties, the city also has many fantastic live jazz bars, night markets, and cultural shows. For a romantic night out, dinner cruises on the Chao Praya River can be a great option.

9. Go off-the-beaten-track in a National Park

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Erawan Waterfall in Erawan National Park by tawatchai07 from freepik.

Are you a nature enthusiast, or do you love outdoor adventure? If yes, then you should add Thailand’s beautiful national parks to your itinerary. There’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities in Thailand’s national park, such as hiking, mountain biking, trekking, whitewater rafting, wildlife spotting, or even ziplining. One of the biggest and most popular national parks in the country is Khao Yai National Park. Covering an area of 2,168 square kilometres, it comprises lush rainforests, pounding waterfalls, and grasslands. The park is also home to 320 species of birds, deers, elephants, gibbons, macaques, and other wild animals.

Besides Khao Yai National Park, other great national parks in Thailand include Erawan National Park (home to the famous Erawan waterfall), Khao Sok National Park (with a vast lake where you can enjoy canoeing and rafting), Doi Inthanon National Park (where Thailand’s highest mountain is located), and Sai Yok National Park (home to rare animals and various caves).

10. Explore ancient ruins in Ayutthaya

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Wat Mahathat by romrawin7 from Pixabay.

No trip to Thailand is complete without exploring ancient ruins in Thailand’s former capital, Ayutthaya. It was a prosperous city and the centre of Thai politics up until the 18th century, when the Burmese army marched on the city and destroyed nearly every inch of it, forcing its residents to flee. Today, the ruins of the city are preserved in the historical park and have become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can wander around the temple ruins and fully appreciate the grandeur of Ayutthaya.

11. Sample Thai Food

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Street Food in Thailand by by Zeno Bresson from Pixabay.

What’s a trip to Thailand without indulging in its world-famous cuisine? Pad Thai might be the most popular cuisine, but there are so many more Thai dishes you need to try when you’re in the country. From street food to fine dining restaurants, authentic Thai food around the country will surely delight your taste buds. Thai food is very regional specific, so each area has special cuisine that tastes better than anywhere else. For example, the best Som Tam in Thailand can be found in Isaan, Central Thailand has the most delicious Pad Kra Pao, and Southern Thailand offers mouthwatering seafood dishes like Tom Som Pla Krabok.

12. Stroll around a Night Market

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Night market in Bangkok by tawatchai07 from freepik.

You can find night markets in almost all cities in Thailand, but Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is among the most lively night markets in the country. Stretching on for nearly one kilometre, you can find everything from street food treats and sit down meals to jewellery, clothing, and local handicrafts. It opens daily from dusk to midnight, no matter what the weather is like or what day of the year you choose to visit. If you’re planning to visit on Saturday or Sunday, it’s best to come at 6 pm. If you go later in the night, the streets can get very busy and crowded with shoppers from all around the globe. Other great night markets around the country include Chatuchak Friday Night Market in Bangkok, Phuket Sunday Street Market in Phuket, and Yaowarat Road Night Market in Bangkok.

13. Have fun at a Full Moon Party

Activities in Thailand
PHOTO: Full Moon Party by Chris Boyd from Flickr.

If you’re a party lover who wants to get the most out of Thailand’s nightlife scene, you shouldn’t miss out on the infamous Full Moon Party. The beautiful Koh Phangan is the original spot for this party, with the action taking place in Haad Rin beach. It’s filled with music, colour, and nonstop drinking. Besides DJs playing both classic and modern hits, you’ll also encounter fire dancers entertaining the crowds with fire tricks. In addition, there will be fireworks and people covered with neon body paint. Full Moon Party truly has an electrifying atmosphere that any party lover can never get enough of.

14. Relax at Railay

PHOTO: Aerial view of Railay in Krabi by tawatchai07 from freepik.
PHOTO: Aerial view of Railay in Krabi by tawatchai07 from freepik.

Krabi is popular for its spectacular coastline, and Railay is the jewel in the crown. You can’t access Railay through the mainland since it’s cut off from society by massive limestone cliffs. Therefore, you can only access it by boat, but it’s worth the effort. Here, you can find breathtaking white sand beaches with crystal clear waters, viewpoints, soaring limestone cliffs, caves, and spectacular lagoons hidden inside the cliffs – all within walking distance.

You can spend your day exploring the area or simply relax on the beach while admiring the view. There are some beach bars in the area as well, so you can enjoy some refreshing drinks whilst watching the sunset. If you’re adventurous, Railay also boasts some fantastic rock climbing spots. Since there are numerous beginner tours to teach you the ropes, you can have a delightful rock climbing experience even if you’ve never rock climbed before.

15. Interact with elephants in an ethical elephant sanctuary

18 Must try activities in Thailand to add to your itinerary | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Elephants by Olga Ozik from Pixabay.

The elephant is Thailand’s national symbol, and interacting with them is one of the most fun activities in Thailand. While you should avoid riding elephants, there are numerous other ways you can interact with them in an ethically sound manner. You can play with elephants in various ethical elephant sanctuaries across the country, such as the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary near Chiang Mai. Ethical elephant sanctuaries in the country rehabilitate rescue elephants, so visiting them isn’t only fun but will also help their work. This means that you’ll be contributing to a good cause. Just do your research well to avoid elephant “sanctuaries” that make the elephants perform tricks or allow you to ride them.

16. Visit Pai

PHOTO: Yun Lai Viewpoint by aiworldexplore from Pixabay.
PHOTO: Yun Lai Viewpoint by aiworldexplore from Pixabay.

Pai is a scenic town in the northern highlands of Thailand, near Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. This laidback town with a hippy reputation is the perfect destination for those who want to escape their busy lives and connect with nature. You can spend your days in the town’s numerous quirky cafés, explore Pai Canyon, go hiking in the mountains that surround the town, or chase waterfalls. If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, you can also visit Wat Phra That Mae Yen or Temple on the Hill while you’re in Pai. You need to climb 350 steps to reach the temple, but on top, you’ll get to see picturesque views of Pai and the surrounding valley.

17. Go to Doi Suthep

PHOTO: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep by billy12123a from Pixabay.
PHOTO: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep by billy12123a from Pixabay.

Doi Suthep is a beautiful mountain located 12 kilometres outside of Chiang Mai. There are two reasons why you should visit Doi Suthep. The first is to see the spectacular view of Chiang Mai and its surrounding from the summit, and the second is to see the beautiful Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Dating back to the 13th century, the glimmering temple is one of the most sacred temples in northern Thailand. You can drive or take a songthaew to get to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. However, if you’re in the mood for some exercise and adventure, you can opt to hike up to the temple.

18. Have a traditional Thai massage

18 Must try activities in Thailand to add to your itinerary | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Massage by Tara Angkor Hotel via Wikimedia Commons

Chances are, you’re going to be pretty exhausted if you manage to do everything on this list, or even if you only do some of it. What better way to get rid of those aches and wind down after a long day of exploring Thailand than with a traditional massage?

If you’ve never had a proper Thai massage before, you may be in for a shock – in a good way. Using ancient methods, a traditional Thai massage is focused on improving your body’s flow of energy. Unlike typical Western-type massages, oils aren’t used during a Thai massage. Instead, you lie fully clothed while a practitioner uses pulling, rocking, and stretching techniques to promote relaxation, relieve tension and improve circulation and flexibility. Practitioners typically use various parts of their bodies to apply deep pressure, including their hands, elbows, and knees. Some practitioners may even walk on your back. Yes, it does sound terrifying and not at all relaxing, but when it’s all over, you’ll feel so much better.

With everything that Thailand has to offer, getting bored in this country is just not an option. So be sure to keep this list for the next time you’re travelling to the Land of Smiles!

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Cita Catellya

Cita Catellya is an experienced journalist and writer who covers a range of topics from medical and property to leisure and tourism. Her career began as a copywriter 5 years ago, where she worked with several brands in Indonesia to help them increase their online presence. Cita writes in both English and her native Bahasa Indonesia

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