Although summer vacation might be on your mind, now is the perfect time to start thinking about your next fall or winter getaway. Sure, you could always head to the nearest hiking spot, or spend a few nights out camping to get away from it all. But if you’re looking for a vacation that has it all, from tropical beaches and vibrant cities to mountainous jungles and ancient ruins, search no further than magnificent Thailand. Here are the top ten reasons that you should pay a visit to the Kingdom of Thailand right now!
1. The World’s Best Snorkeling Locations
With its pristine white beaches, crystal clear waters, and astonishing array of sea life, it’s no wonder that Thailand consistently ranks in the top spots of snorkeling locations across the globe. Moreover, the typically-fantastic weather throughout the year makes it easy for Thailand travelers to snorkel as much as their heart desires. Thailand has a booming dive and snorkeling industry, so you won’t have any trouble finding friendly instructors and charters throughout the country. Thailand’s many tropical islands provide some of the best snorkeling in the world, with standouts including Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Similan, and Mu Ko Surin National Park. Want to get more off the beaten path? Try snorkeling at Mu Ko Surin National Park . At locations such as these, it’s not uncommon to swim amongst sea turtles, colorful coral reefs teeming with sea life, and even sharks when visiting some of these renowned locations.
2. Rock Climbing in Krabi
For more adventurous types, Thailand provides a plethora of spaces to seize the day and put your body to the test. Consistently recognized as having some of the best rock climbing in Southeast Asia, Thailand is home to a variety of rock climbing locations that are seen as meccas of the rock climbing world. In particular, the coastal town of Krabi draws thousands of climbers each year looking to improve their skills. With spectacular views overlooking the Phang Nga Bay, the cliffs of Krabi offer tons of different routes and expeditions to choose from. Anyone from beginners to elite experts will find their own niche in Krabi. Climbing in Railay Beach is also one of the top spots for rock climbing, just a 15 minute long tail boat ride from Krabitown,
3. Exploring the Ancient Capital of Ayutthaya
Founded in 1350, the ancient city of Ayutthaya served as the second capital of the kingdom of Siam from the 14th to 18th centuries, during which it blossomed into one of the world’s largest and most advanced urban areas of diplomacy and commerce. Unfortunately, Ayutthaya was overtaken and razed in 1767 by the Burmese army, leaving the city largely in ruins. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Ayutthaya boasts soaring ruins of prang towers, colossal Buddhist monasteries, and the remnants of the opulent Royal Palace. Just an hour’s drive from Bangkok, it is always worth a visit. The ancient grounds are easy to explore by bike, and don’t forget to grab a hearty bowl of Ayutthaya’s famed boat noodles for lunch!
4. Interacting With Elephants
A quintessential part of any vacation to Thailand, visiting an elephant park or sanctuary is truly an unforgettable experience. Elephants are massive, gentle, highly intelligent, and, of course, adorable creatures that draw many visitors each year. Perhaps the most rewarding elephant experience available in Thailand is visiting an elephant sanctuary and volunteering for an afternoon. You’ll get the opportunity to feed, bathe, and generally interact with adult and baby elephants who have been rescued from poor living conditions. Be sure to do your research before visiting an elephant sanctuary or camp, and make sure it’s a location that focuses on the ethical treatment, rescue, heath, and/or rehabilitation of these incredible creatures. Chiang Mai is home to many elephant and wildlife sanctuaries, but there are others located all around Thailand.
5. The Floating Markets of Bangkok
A truly remarkable sight, the floating markets of Bangkok are a must-visit to anyone traveling to Thailand. Taking place at dawn or late at night, instant marketplaces appear in the canals of Bangkok, where Thai people sell their wares off of rafts overflowing with goods. The most common items are fresh fruits and other foods, but tourist-y souvenirs are also widely sold. One of the most popular markets in is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, and draws thousands of visitors each morning from all over the world (it also makes for an incredible vacation photo op). Another popular market close by is Amphawa Floating Market.
6. The Wat Rong Khun Temple
Opened in Chiang Rai in 1997, the Wat Rong Khun Temple, often called the White Temple, is perhaps the most unconventional Buddhist temple in all of Thailand. Designed and constructed by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is open to visitors year-round with free admission! The structure itself is breathtaking. It is constructed from pure white stone and sits on the banks of a deep blue lake. The ornate main building seems to shimmer in the sunlight, thanks to the thousands of fragments of mirrored glass embedded within it walls. Out of all the spectacular temples in Thailand, the utopian-like Wat Rong Khun Temple just might be the most magical.
7. Discover the Secrets of Thai Cuisine
As one of the most popular styles of cuisine in the world, Thai cuisine is renowned for its deliciousness. In 2011, a whopping seven of Thailand’s famous dishes made in to CNN’s list of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.” On top of experiencing the cuisine for yourself while in Thailand, why not take a course to learn just what makes the food so delectable? Every major town and city in Thailand has dozens of locations where travelers can take a cooking class in Thai cuisine from a master chef. Bangkok is especially known for its tourist-friendly classes, with companies such as Helping Hands, Silom Thai Cooking School, and Baipai Thai Cooking School offering affordable half-day cooking courses.
8. Exploring the Phraya Nakhon Cave
One of Thailand’s most beautiful (and most photographed) natural locations is the Phraya Nakhon cave in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, about a 45 minute drive south of Hua Hin. Consisting of two massive chambers, the cave is illuminated by an open ceiling that allows sunlight to filter through its depths. Phraya Nakhon is probably best known for the stunning Kuha Karuhas pavilion that sits atop a sand dune in the main chamber. Built at the end of the 19th century for the visit of King Chulalongkorn the Great to the cave, the Kuha Karauhas adds to the mystical vibe that permeates throughout the massive caverns. The best time to see the light rays passing over the beautiful pavilion is in the morning from 8 to 10am.
Getting a Professional Thai Massage
The traditional Thai Massage, also known as the Ancient Massage or Thai Yoga Massage, dates all the back to the 1600s in its present form- with its origins stretching back more than 5,000 years to ancient India and China. Renowned for its stress-relieving properties, Thai massages combine gentle, yoga-like poses with a massage of pressure points and energy lines (or Sen) of the body. What better place to receive such a soothing treatment than the country of its origin? In Thailand, massage parlors are available in abundance throughout the entire country; hotels often have an attached spa offering Thai massages. If you’re looking for the ultimate relaxation experience, a professional Thai massage is the answer.
10. Affordable Luxury
It has never been easier to book a trip to Thailand than now. Routinely named as one of the best value vacation spots in the world by travel organizations, Thailand boasts luxury options that are much cheaper than in most of the world without compromising on overall quality of service. Furthermore, it’s a simple matter to get around the country, as planes, trains, buses, or even boats come at low prices everywhere. Many vacation and tour packages offer free transfer transport to travelers across the country at no cost at all! That’s not to mention the fact that, in Thailand, the overwhelming majority of beaches are completely free!