Thailand will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first backpacking trip I took outside of Europe ten years ago, and since then I have visited two more times.
It’s a popular destination for the first-time budget backpacker, and with its well-trodden routes that have something for almost every kind of traveller, it’s easy to see why.
For me, it opened my eyes to a whole new world and I was in complete awe of the place. The vibrant colours, the smells, the sounds, the food, the dramatic landscapes, the gorgeous beaches, the chaos – it was a complete sensory overload. And wherever you go in Thailand, you can be rest assured you’ll be welcome in the land of smiles.
I have so many awesome memories from each and every trip, but here are just eight of the most memorable experiences that always stick in my mind and give me that warm wanderlusty feeling inside.
A lot of people say, once you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all, but personally I think that Thailand has some of the most beautifully intricate and ornate temples I’ve ever seen that each have their own story. Favourites? The Grand Palace in Bangkok (as touristy as it may be) is a definite must-see. If you’re after a fully guided tour, then definitely check out Encounters Travel.
Sampling the Thai street food
As a noodle aficionado, I really am in my element in Thailand and I quite literally lived off Pad Thai on every visit. In Bangkok, you only have to walk out of your hotel door to be greeted by an array of street food vendors serving up the best and cheapest Thai food you can get your hands on! If you’re feeling brave enough I can definitely recommend the deep-fried grasshopper!
Visiting hill tribes in Chang Mai
Northern Thailand is home to some interesting and colourful ethnic minorities, known as the hill tribes. When I was in Chang Mai, I embarked on a two-day jungle trekking excursion where we got to stay with one tribe in their home on the mountain. Their beautiful clothes, intricate handicrafts, peaceful villages, and ancient way for life, was fascinating to learn about and certainly made an impression on me.
The Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan
Probably one of the most insane parties I have ever been to, the Full Moon Party is on most backpackers’ Thailand bucket list. Every full moon, Haad Rin transforms from an idyllic beach into a psychedelic rave, with thumping bass, fire dancers, and neon craziness for as far as the eye can see.
Taking a cooking class in Kanchanaburi
Thai cuisine is one of my absolute favourites so joining a cooking class to learn how to make the most tasty Thai food all from scratch was just awesome. After a trip to one of the local markets where we got to learn about the ingredients, we later spent an afternoon making a heavenly feast of all the Thai favourites, from green and red curry to spring rolls and Pad Thai!
Visiting the Bridge Over the River Kwai
Located in the historic town of Kanchanaburi, the Bridge Over the River Kwai was originally founded to protect Thailand from the Burmese. Occupied by Japanese troops during WWII, the bridge and subsequent railway line was built by allied prisoners of war. Travelling by train along the bridge you can also visit the Allied War Cemetery and local museum. While overall it is quite a sobering experience, it was interesting to learn about the impact this harrowing time in history had on their lives.
Floating markets in Bangkok
The world famous floating markets at Damnoen Saduk are a must for anyone visiting Bangkok. While my haggling skills are certainly questionable, I did manage to bag some bargain souvenirs, all while cruising down the winding canals and simply admiring the bustling mayhem of the colourful market stalls.
Island hopping on the west coast
With over 5,000 miles of coastline waiting to be explored, Thailand is the perfect place to discover as many beaches and islands as possible. My personal favourites are on the west coast, where you can island hop in the clear blue Andaman Sea off of Phuket and Krabi. Here you’ll discover white-sand beaches and an abundance of fantastic snorkelling opportunities on Ko Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and not forgetting the famous Railey Beach.
Are you planning your first trip to Thailand? Then definitely check out Encounters Travel awesome itineraries for travel inspiration.
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