- Cultural exploration
- Ecotourism / Green travel
- Learning activities
- Medical tourism
- Outdoor & Adventure Activities - Air activities
- Outdoor & Adventure Activities - Land activities
- Outdoor & Adventure Activities - Water activities
- Sailing and Cruises
- Self drive
- Spa and Wellness
- Weddings & Honeymoons
From hot-air ballooning to kite surfing, nearly every imaginable activity can be arranged during your holiday in Thailand. Select from the following activities to learn more about Thailand’s diverse activities or browse the highlighted activities and select those you wish to add to your travel planner by clicking the link with the green circle.
Without question, Bangkok is one of the world’s premier shopping destinations. Shopping in Thailand is world class, featuring 21st century shopping malls, such as Siam Paragon; multi-story electronics malls including Panthip Plaza; expansive local markets, such as the JJ weekend market; and local markets from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani that sell everything from clothes and household goods to food and flowers.
Nearly every city and town has a central market that is a fascinating way to spend a few hours and a great way to pick up toiletries, clothes, or local handicrafts. In the larger, touristier towns like Chiang Mai, weekend markets and night markets feature all variety of handicrafts both modern and traditional, including t-shirts and dresses made by inspirational young artists and puppets and jewelry crafted by hill tribe communities.
Bangkok’s night markets on Patpong and Sukhumvit Roads are ideal places to pick up souvenirs or gifts for those back home, while more impressive gifts can be procured from retailers such as certified antiques dealers, gem and jewelry shops, or Jim Thompson, the famous silk pioneer. In regards to gems and antiques, it should be noted that there are numerous occurrences of scams involving antiques and gems, and restrictions on the export of Buddha images. Otherwise, with the right guidance there are genuine opportunities to make some brilliant shopping discoveries.
Getting clothes tailor made in Bangkok is a top priority for many, though boutique shops in Siam Square feature the latest ready-to-wear designs from the city’s chic young designers. Meanwhile, in Chinatown, almost every conceivable knick-knack and trinket is for sale in the myriad mazes of back alleys, while those shopping for gold can do so along the district’s Yaowarat Road.
Thailand’s diverse terrain includes both developed and pristine areas that allow for a variety of outdoor land activities. Extreme activities such as paintball and bungy jumping exist closer to the centers of tourism, such as Samui and Pattaya, but there are many outdoor land activities that utilize the protected and still unspoiled regions of Thailand. Activities such as horse riding, elephant trekking, cave exploration, and rock climbing allow visitors to have fun while exploring the beautiful Thai countryside. 4x4 off road driving, mountain biking, and jungle trekking can take visitors into the most remote areas of Thailand in order to visit hill tribe villages and spot exotic and endangered wildlife. No matter what your level of activity, there are many opportunities for you to experience the great natural attractions of Thailand.
As a Buddhist nation, Thailand is full of spectacular temples, the purpose of which is for Thais to devout themselves to the principals passed down by the Buddha, nee Siddhartha Gautama. As Thailand is such a welcoming country and Buddhism is a non-restrictive religion, it is easy for visitors to study Buddhism and learn meditation at a number of temples and meditation retreats around the country.
While those simply curious about Buddhism can attend “monk chats” at Wat Chedi Luang or Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai, these and other temples allow visitors to check themselves in for a week or longer of intensive meditation study.
While certainly intriguing, these meditation retreats are not for those unprepared for serious self reflection: the purpose of meditation is to clear the mind and achieve clarity and inner peace; consequently, most meditation programs do not allow students to talk during their stay, with the exception of meditative chanting and discussions with senior monks to help their meditation techniques. Furthermore, by its very nature, meditation can be somewhat mundane, and so visitors are expected to follow the routines and procedures quite thoroughly if they wish to genuinely learn to meditate properly and achieve the most from their experience.
For those unable to commit to a remote meditation retreat from which they cannot easily leave, Wat Mahatat, near Bangkok’s Grand Palace, allows visitors to study meditation no less strictly, but with more flexible time requirements.
Hiring a car and exploring Thailand on your own is an outstanding way to see the real Thailand, as hiring a Thai car is a cheap way of seeing rural areas and meeting everyday Thai people. Whether you hire a car to explore around Phuket or to see the countryside around Chiang Mai, renting a car is generally an easy and fairly inexpensive proposition. One way rentals between destinations (e.g. Bangkok-Chiang Mai) are also a possibility, though you should expect to pay a drop-off fee.
Avis, Hertz and other international car hire agencies are well represented in Thailand, although many rental companies will not rent a Thai car or provide insurance to drivers who do not have an international driving license. While it is technically legal to drive in Thailand with a valid foreign driver’s license, having an international license will make renting and driving a Thai car potentially less problematic.
Furthermore, Thailand has an excellent network of well maintained roads and highways between all the provincial capitals and major towns and cities in between.
Most roads and highways are in good condition, and have two or three lanes on each side, including a majority of the north-south route (from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to the southern beaches). Road signage follows international convention and is in both Thai and English, though some are only in Thai (like 'Stop' and 'Give Way'). Buy a decent road map before you set off, though it’s well to remember that Thai words aren't always romanized consistently (e.g. Petburi road on the map and Phetchaburi road on the street sign are one and the same).
From Bangkok to the beach and even in Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai, where there is water there are boats, and tourists have many opportunities to take a cruise as part of their exotic Thai holiday
In Bangkok a cruise is a great way for tourists to see the city. The Chao Phraya River is a major transportation artery and features numerous options for travelers to sightsee via boat; it’s incredibly convenient as well; most boat services connect to the BTS Silom line at Saphan Taksin station and visit sightseeing attractions up and down the river, including the Chao Phraya’s most celebrated sight, Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn).
In addition to daytime cruises to see the sights, there are a number of dinner cruises where Thai food is served. These dinner cruises are also major attractions in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya, which is just upriver from Bangkok: a journey which serves as a fascinating cruise of its own.
Around Thailand’s beaches and island there are innumerable opportunities for getting aboard a boat for a single or multi-day adventure. From Phuket, boats provide day trip service to Phan Nga bay, Koh Phi Phi, and even the Similan Islands. From Koh Samui, day cruises combine snorkeling and lunch around Koh Nang Yuan, the postcard-perfect three islands connected by narrow strips of sand. Renovated Chinese Junk ships and other posh sailing vessels are also available to sail upon either for a single day’s outing or a longer, more exclusive romantic holiday.
Even the smaller islands allow you to hire long tail boats for the day and make your own day trip, cruising between beaches and nearby islands.