13 September 2018
Thailand is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions to its ornate temples, bustling cities and sandy beaches every year. But if you peer beneath the surface, Thailand has more to offer than you could have ever possibly imagined, with so many unique experiences just waiting to be found…
Your one-of-a-kind holiday begins at your hotel, and there are some amazingly weird and wonderful ones in Thailand. If you stay at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts Resort in Sai Yok, you’ll sleep in authentic floating bamboo lodges moored along the winding Kwai Noi River. Leave your cares behind by staying at the four-star Kamalaya in idyllic Koh Samui, known for its detox retreats as well as its ‘stress and burnout’ programmes with meditation, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda treatments. Enjoy a rustic experience at the Four Season Tented Camp in the ‘Golden Triangle’ region. At this explorer lodge you can stay in luxury tents, discover bamboo jungles and interact with rescued elephants.
Travel to Thailand at the right time and you can appreciate all this intriguing place has to offer. April – June is a good period, as the weather is pleasant but there are less tourists and prices are lower as it’s the off season. Visit in April and you can celebrate Thai New Year (Songkran). During this event the locals perform rituals like pouring fragrant water on their elders’ hands while wearing flowery garments at temples. The high season starts in November, the same month that the Loy Krathong Festival is held. Well worth seeing, in this event locals float baskets made of flowers and candles on the water at full moon, while in regions like Sukhai they often release throngs of lanterns into the sky.
A rich culinary scene awaits you in foodie heaven Thailand. The country hosts unique restaurants including Bangkok’s ‘Insects in the Backyard’ where you can dine on delicacies like silkworms and water beetles; while the capital also plays host to one of Thailand’s best fine dining venues Vertigo, which allows you to dine al fresco 61 floors above the city. A must for your itinerary is Soneva Kiri in Chang Wat Trat where you can dine in ‘pods’ suspended above rainforest treetops with zipline service! For more rustic fare head to the Chang Puek Gate in Chiang Mai; nearby there’s a stall which sells some of the best Khao Kha Moo (pork leg) in the country so its popular with locals!
Everywhere you turn in Thailand you’ll be greeted by spectacular sites. A must see is the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew in Sisaket province, which is a temple made from over one million beer bottles! For unique views head to Samet Nangshe at Phang Nga Bay where you can gaze at brilliant limestone mountains or the Moon Waterfall at Pha Taem National Park whose water is said to resemble cascading lunar light. Come between December and February and you’ll see the whole of Kumpawampi lake in Udon Thani covered in red lotuses. Also there’s one day every year in April where the rising and setting sun passes through all 15 doorways at the main building of the nation’s biggest Khmer Temple, Phanom Rung, which is a marvel to behold.
Nature lovers will find a range of ideal attractions in Thailand. It is home to a range of elusive creatures such as the Bumblebee bat, the world’s smallest mammal, which lives in the Kanchanaburi region. There’s also the Siamese fighting fish which is often found in aquariums and the planet’s largest known fish, the whale shark, which swims near the Similan Islands. Your kids will love Elephant Valley in Chiang Mai, where they can interact with these gentle giants in a sustainable way. Thailand is also ideal for horticulturalists; it’s the ‘nation of orchids’ and hosts dozens of endemic species like the ‘dancing’ orchids of Udon Thani, while Khao Sok is home to the rare Rafflesia, one of the world’s biggest parasitic plants.
When it comes to unique experiences you can enjoy in Thailand, we’re just at the beginning. For a truly spectacular sight head to the Emerald Cave in Koh Kradan, where you can snorkel in vivid green waters. A must for your schedule is Lak Muang, a ‘city pillar’ shrine situated near Bangkok’s Grand Palace which is often overlooked by tourists but is a favourite among locals. Delve into the local culinary scene by sampling ‘Mekhong whisky’ – which is made from rice and melassa and actually tastes more like rum – at chic bars across the land. Cap off your trip by visiting Phrae province where the whole family can learn how traditional Thai silk is made and buy these items as souvenirs!