Top 5 Thai Attractions
Top 5 things no traveller should miss on a trip to this vibrant South-East Asian nation.
1. The Grand Palace
This beautiful gold-tipped series of buildings is over 200 years old, and perhaps Bangkok’s most famous destination. Yes, it can feel like a tourist trap, but the complex’s history and grandeur is palpable: since 1782, it has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand).
While you’re there, don’t miss the Emerald Buddha as well as nearby Wat Pho, which is home to the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. Another must see is Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, which is stunning from a distance and intriguing close up, with its mosaic detailing, as you climb to the top.
At night, the Grand Palace is illuminated; and although you’ll likely still encounter the crowds, it’s a very romantic experience.
Book the Grand Palace Morning Tour from R525 per adult.
2. An elephant experience
The elephant is Thailand’s national symbol and also a revered animal, and there are plenty of ways to encounter or work with the animals all over the country.
Unfortunately, animal cruelty is a real problem in some elephant ‘sanctuaries’ – for instance, avoid any centre that makes the elephants perform tricks.
Fortunately, there are plenty of good ele experiences out there too. The Elephant Nature Park rehabilitates rescue elephants, and your visit helps their work. To combine your elephant experience with luxury accommodation, try the award-winning Elephant Hills; a comfortable tented camp, with opportunities to interact with the animals.
3. Phi Phi Island Day Trip
Discover the primitive beauty of the Phi Phi Islands on this boat tour of one of Thailand’s most unforgettable corners. These two little limestone isles are just to the south east of Phuket. Popping out from turquoise waters, they are blanketed by an exuberantly green flora. The Phi Phi Islands strike the perfect balance between a touristic destination and a natural paradise.
Whizz towards the islands on an entertaining speed boat ride that will take you on a breath-taking tour around both islands. As you pass it, you might recognise Maya Bay, where Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed during the shooting of the movie “The Beach”. You’ll also see through the boats fine wake of spray amazing sites such as Loh Samah Beach, Monkey Beach, Pileh Cove and the stunning Viking Cave, a deep grove inhabited by innumerable swallows – locals collect their nests to make soup!
Disembark at a homely beach restaurant and gorge yourself upon a fine lunch before continuing. Throughout the duration of the tour, the boat will occasionally stop for you to take a dip or scuba-dive among the many colourful fish that skitter under the surface. Divers from all over the world come to the Phi Phi Islands for their shallow waters, the ideal entourage for scuba-diving.
As mid-afternoon falls, you go back to Phuket on a leisurely last ride during which you can contemplate the calm afternoon shades of the sea.
Book the Phi Phi Island By Speed Boat Day Tour from R1299 per adult.
4. Hill tribe villages
Akha, Lisu, Hmong and Karen tribes are across the north of Thailand. Take a break from the tourist trail, and spend a day or a few nights with a local family to learn and experience their way of life.
Book a Full Day Karen Longneck and 5 Different Hill Tribes From Hotel Inside Chiang Mai City Only from R1445 per adult.
5. Floating markets
It’s the iconic photo shot: the floating market, with rickety wooden boats with colourful local produce. Pick a market, and arrive early to avoid crowds and bag the best bargains. Don’t forget your camera – these markets are very colourful.
Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi: The most famous of the floating markets, located 100km south-west of Bangkok en route to Hua Hin/Cha-am.
Amphawa Floating Market, Samut Songkhram: Open in the afternoons and situated next to a temple.
Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market, Bangkok: Only recently discovered by tourists, this market is entirely authentic and frequented by locals. Try a range of Thai fruits including custard apples, yellow longan and the pungent durian.
Book a Bangkok Floating Market Tour from R990 per adult.