Since starting travelling there has been no place that’s felt more like home than Thailand. It’s the country I continually find myself returning to, whether I’m looking to rest, party or write. I’ve spent almost a year on and off in Thailand and it’s one of the countries I’m emailed about the most.
Because I am so frequently asked about my favourite things to do in Thailand I’ve decided to write a resource about the things you absolutely can’t miss.
These are some of my favourite things to do in Thailand.
One of my favourite things to do in Thailand is experience the wonderful festivals! My favourite of these would have to be Yi Peng — the giant lantern release where thousands of people gather together and simultaneously release lanterns into the sky. It is beautiful and magical and almost brought me to tears. Yi Peng takes place every November, so if you’re going to be in Southeast Asia during this time, make sure to head to Chiang Mai to experience it!
Second to Yi Peng would have to be Songkran, the Thai new year. Songkran is essentially an enormous water fight where everyone from toddlers to grandmothers get involved and throw water all over each other! Songkran is a huge amount of fun and I’ve been lucky to have celebrated it twice now. I found that Chiang Mai was the perfect place to celebrate Songkran, as the moat in the Old Town meant that you never ran out of water! In contrast, I also celebrated Songkran on the quiet island of Koh Yao Noi and didn’t see a single water fight!
Thailand has some of my favourite islands in the world, and there really is one for everyone.
Koh Chang is great if you’re looking for a cheap place to base yourself and relax — Bob Marley sings out from every bar and dozens of backpackers doze off in hammocks on Lonely Beach in the south. On Lonely Beach, you’ll soon settle into a routine of sunbathing during the day and partying at night, with a few scooter or dive trips thrown in for some adventure.
Koh Lanta is where you go to relax and recover after too much partying. It’s quiet and laid back, clean and free from loud parties.
Koh Phi Phi is the best island to party and has some incredible scenery — explore the island by day and then dance the night away. Make sure to take a trip to neighbouring Phi Phi Leh, where the film The Beach was filmed — I recommend doing the overnight camping trip, so you can avoid the huge crowds that gather during the day.
Koh Yao Noi is the island where you’ll feel like the only tourist around, making it an excellent destination for getting away from the backpacker circuit.
Koh Lipe has the prettiest, cleanest surroundings but also comes with a price tag — this island is more for flashpackers than those on a budget.
The north of Thailand has some of the best scenery and is great to explore by scooter — you’ll get to see a side to Thailand that not many tourists get to visit and interact with locals on a more genuine level.
On my scooter tour of Northern Thailand, I explored the beautiful lake in Phayao, witnessed the best sunset and sunrise of my life in Phu Lang Ka, saw some crazy temples in Nan, ate fantastic food in Phrae and saw some wonderful teak houses in Lampang. I can count the number of Westerners I saw on this trip on one hand and it stands out as one of the best things I’ve done in Thailand.
Of course, I can’t mention the north of Thailand without talking about Chiang Mai, my home for three months! Whenever I need to hole up and get some work done I head to Chiang Mai, use the super-fast wifi, have fantastic meals and live on $500 a month! It’s a great place to base yourself if you’re a digital nomad.
One of my favourite parts of Thailand is the amazing temples — when I first arrived, I remembered feeling awestruck at just how beautiful they were, and I finally felt like I was so far away from home. Two years later and I still feel that way, transfixed by the glints of gold and silver and statues of Buddha. I always make sure to explore each temple I come across as you never know quite what you might find, as the photo above shows!
I’ve only scratched the surface on things to do in Thailand so I’d love to hear from you too! Where are your favourite places in Thailand and what do you love to do there?