Places to visit in Thailand
BangkokBangkok is the political, financial, cultural and spiritual capital of Thailand. It is a modern and rapidly growing city with an estimated population of about ten to twelve million. It is situated on the banks of Chao Phraya River which divides the city into two parts – Thonburi and Krung Thep. Bangkok is a fast paced metropolitan city famous of its nightlife, fashion, culture and entertainment. It is also a business hub which attracts thousands of businessmen every year. Because of its variety of ethnic residents – from all over the world – Bangkok is a very cosmopolitan and diverse city full of skyscrapers and ultramodern architecture.
The main areas of Bangkok are Silom, Sukhumvit and Pratunam.
Fun Fact: Most Thai people don't know the name Bangkok. They call the city Krung Thep. The real name of Bangkok is 20 words long and is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest place name in the world. Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.
PattayaPattaya is another well-known city in Thailand. It is approximately 150 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, which makes it a one and a half to two hours ride between the two cities. Pattaya is famous for three things – beach adventure, excellent sea food and sex tourism. The central part of the city unapologetically flaunts go-go bars and massage parlours street after street. The Pattaya beaches are blue, happening and crowded where people can engage in lots of water activities like scuba diving, parasailing, underwater walk and banana boat rides.
Fun Fact: Pattaya is famous for its ladyboy cabaret. You will never know the dancers aren't actually women!
PhuketPhuket is an island. It is about the same size as Singapore, making it the largest island in Thailand. The island of Phuket is 48 kilometers long and 21 kilometers across, making it possible for you to never be too far away from the sea at any point of your stay there. Phuket is a great mixture of lush green rainforest, soft sandy beaches, clear waters, historic shrines and temples and some absolutely spectacular hotels and villas. The town center is perhaps the most happening area in Phuket while the beaches – Patong, Karon, Kata, etc. – are tranquil and serene. From scuba diving to colourful Chinatown to elephant trekking to temples and art galleries, Phuket has it all.
Fun Fact: Phuket is actually pronounced 'Poo-ket.'
Krabi and Koh SamuiThese two islands are the quieter and more isolated versions of Phuket. Three of Krabi's islands are famous – Poda Island, Tup Island and Chicken Island. Chicken Island is actually shaped like a chicken's head. Krabi has more than 150 islands and is known for its spectacular beauty, limestone rock formations and sea caves and colourful exotic marine life. A lot of activities like spa massage, rock climbing snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking, etc. is done in Krabi.
Koh Samui is a boutique island in Thailand. With its coconut feel, leisure spa and water sports, it a perfect destination to have all sorts of fun. Krabi and Koh Samui are also wedding and honeymoon destinations. Many people plan their weddings there, in the midst of lush green and white sand.
Fun Fact: There's a water ride known as the 'banana boat' ride, where people sit on an inflatable banana shaped boat which is towed by a speedboat.
Things to do in ThailandThere are a lot of things to do in Thailand. Some of the most well-known attractions and activities are mentioned below for your knowledge.
Safari and ZooThere are many safaris and trekking activities for locals and tourists in Thailand. In Bangkok, there's Safari World with Marine Park which features animals like rhinos, giraffes, zebras, monkeys and hosts dolphins shows and various other shows for entertainment. There's also Siam Elephant Safari in Phuket which has earned rave reviews over the years.
If you are a tiger lover, than the Tiger Temple at Kanchanaburi is the best place for you to visit in Thailand. The tigers there are tamed and drugged so they don't eat the people who are trying to pet them and get them to pose for photographs. It is called Tiger Temple because the word is that the monks in that temple raised these tigers and taught them to not eat humans.
Cabaret and Cultural ShowsThe cabarets – Alcazar Show, Tiffany Show and Colosseum Show – are the most well-known ladyboy cabarets in Thailand. There are others as well but these three are most visited. You will be amazed by the transgender dance and exotica! Perhaps one of the best and biggest cultural shows in Thailand is FantaSea Show, which is in Phuket. It is an hour or so long show with cultural dance and elephants and lots of colour and souvenir shops. But the best thing of about FantaSea Show is the vast variety of excellent food in the buffet.
Beaches and Water ActivitiesObviously! Thailand is full of amazing beaches and as such there are a lot of water sports one can participate in. The main and popularly visited islands and beaches in Thailand are Patong and Karon beaches in Phuket, Chicken Island in Krabi, Phi Phi Islands which are accessible from Krabi as well as Phuket, James Bond Island in Phuket, Pattaya Beach, Had Khuad beach in Koh Phangan and Samui Island.
Activities such as banana boat riding, scuba diving, underwater walk, snorkeling, speedboat adventure, and parasailing among other activities are possible on these islands.
Theme ParksSome of the best theme parks are located in Thailand. The few that come to mind when planning a trip are Cartoon Network Theme Park in Pattaya, Dream World with Snow Park in Bangkok, Siam Ocean World in Bangkok and FantaSea Theme Park in Phuket. There are some spectacular and thrilling dry rides and water slides in these parks, and the Snow Park is a place where you can make a snowman and play snowball fighting with your family!
Trick Eye Museums and Similar
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Trick Eye Museums are beautiful! Why? Not just because of the artwork (which is absolutely breathtaking) but because trick eye museums bring people together. The artwork is so real and completely 3D-looking that people can't help but be in awe. One can never get enough of placing themselves in a variety of artwork and clicking photographs of themselves and their family, making it look like they are there, in the painting!
Art in Paradise Museum in Pattaya and TrickEye Museum in Phuket are two well-known 3D art museums in Thailand.
When talking about museums, one cannot forget the ingenious wax museum of Madame Tussaud's which is prevalent worldwide. There is one in Bangkok that features many well-known celebrities like Shahrukh Khan, Aishwariya Rai, Audrey Hepburn, etc. So if a trip to United Kingdom or Hong Kong just to see this wax museum isn't in your budget, that's fine because you can easily cover it in Thailand trip.
While we are on the topic of museums, why forget Ripley's Believe It or Not in Pattaya which is a wonderful exhibition featuring all sorts of bizarre concepts. Besides all the strangeness, there are other activities in Ripley's – like, 4D theatre, maze and haunted adventure. The fascinating special effects used in these are a sight to see. Ripley's attracts tourists in bulk every year.
Full Moon Rave PartyWhat started as a small birthday party between friends sometime in the '80s has grown into a full blown rave on Thailand's Koh Phangan island every month! Full moon raves are largely hyped and attract 20,000 to 30,000 people especially in high season, not just because of the wild fun and dancing but also because of high-flying alcohol and drugs. These raves are crazy parties on the beach of Koh Phangan, with music blaring loudly in every bar and people dancing and copulating on the beach.
Shopping in ThailandThailand is famous for value shopping. It is one of the best places in Asia to shop. From huge malls and departmental stores to bustling streets vendors to floating markets, Thailand is brimming with beautiful and cheap things to buy – clothes, computers, cell phones, antiques, jewelry, etc. Some of the top things to buy from there include Thai Silk, clothes, computer and jewelry. The most well-known places to shop in Thailand are –
MBK Center: Mah Boon Krong or MBK Center is a huge shopping center in Bangkok where you can find anything from mobile phones to T-shirts and purses. The place is crawling with shoppers especially on weekends. You won't get a good bargain in MBK (as is also the case with malls in India) but it is convenient because you find close to everything there. MBK is open from 10 in the morning to 10 at night.
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Chatuchak weekend market: As the name suggests, Chatuchak comes alive only on Saturday and Sunday from 9 in the morning to 6 in the evening. It is a devastatingly large market divided into 27 sections and containing more than 15000 stalls selling all kinds of goods to tourists and locals alike. Name anything that comes to your mind (could be ceramic dolls, gardening tools, fertilizers, books, poodles!) and chances are you will find that thing in Chatuchak for a good bargaining price. Some of the lovely goods worth mentioning are antique wood carvings and furniture, handmade decorated flowers, amulets and (of course!) clothes and local souvenirs. Not only these, Chatuchak also houses a great collection of pets that you can choose from, featuring dogs, cats and even parakeets and squirrels!
China Town: It is a maze of colourful stalls filled with textiles, household items, weapons, fascinating herbs and medicine, gold ornaments, and other assorted knick knacks. Some of the shopping places in China Town are Pahurat (also known as Little India), Itsaraphap Lane, Khlong Thom and Yaowarat (for gold) among others.
There are more – Pratunam Market (for wholesale clothes), Drawing Room (for arts and crafts), Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Silom and Shukhumvit Market, etc. Some of these markets mark up a hefty price on the goods so be sure to compare prices and negotiate accordingly. There are chances, especially in Patpong Market, where you can cut down to almost half the price the vendor initially demands. One has a variety of options to choose from when one is out shopping in Thailand – gold/silver jewelry, leather goods, handicrafts, ivory carving, lamps, candles and last but not the least, one can buy a day at the spa and get a spa kit or beauty items from the Thai market.
Tip: Since Thailand is generally hot and humid, it is better to carry tissues/wet wipes in your handbag, especially if you're going to spend a reasonable amount of time shopping.
Places to dine in ThailandThailand is a pleasure for the senses. Delicious smelling Thai food beckons tourists and locals alike. Dining facilities in Thailand can be divided into street food markets, store fronts, restaurants and western outlets. Not only do you have a wide variety of Thai dishes to choose from, but if you so want, you can go to Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald's for your daily meal. However, a true traveler will always try authentic Thai food. Rather than binging on pizza and burgers, it is always better to eat healthy and savoury Thai food. Even the food sold in the street markets and store fronts is great, you just have to make sure the equipment is clean and the food fresh and hot.
Below are some of the places where you can dine in Thailand –
My Choice: Despite the western name, it is a Thai joint in Bangkok with a vast menu that will give you lots of variety to choose from. I've heard the roasted duck, roasted eggplant salad and chicken curry of My Choice are really good.
Kan Eang Seafood: This restaurant in Phuket has amazing seafood. It is situated on Chalong Bay and was renovated in 2007.
Raya Thai Cuisine: This place boasts of high-quality Thai food and a pleasant and casual environment to dine in. Raya Thai Cuisine is situated in Phuket Town.
Nahm: It is a new restaurant in Bangkok and serves pretty looking food. Not only does the food look appealing but it is quite tasty as well. The jungle curry with freshwater fish is a specialty along with colourful desserts and relaxing environment.
Moonglass: This restaurant in Bangkok serves all kinds of dishes, plus drinks – cocktails and mocktails alike.
Dosa King: Lovely South Indian restaurant on Bangkok's Sukhumvit road popular for its delicious masala dosa, and thin lentil and rice batter crepes.
Mumbai Magic: This is a popular restaurant among Indians visiting Pattaya. Mumbai Magic boasts of vegetarian, non-vegetarian Indian food and Jain food.
There are a lot of other good restaurants worth mentioning, like Annapurna Restaurant in Pattaya, Garam Masala in Pattaya, Palki restaurant in Bangkok, Pun Pun in Chiang Mai, Indian Hut and Rang Mahal Indian restaurants among others. Plus, there are also Thai restaurant chains like S&P and Kruathai (which means 'Thai Kitchen') etc. Each restaurant boasts of different tastes, sometimes even for the same dish, and you will still find it delicious. Some of the most popular Thai dishes are Thod Man Pla (fried fish cakes), Thai sausages, Khao Soi, Khanom Khrok (Thai sweet dish), Thai national soup and any seafood dishes.
Fun Fact: Noodles with bone broth is available almost everywhere in Thailand!
ConclusionOf course, there are probably a lot of great places in Thailand I missed mentioning that are worth visiting, like Nong Nooch Village, Mini Siam, Ayutthaya, Sriracha Zoo, various museums, lots of lovely beaches like Jomtein, Hua Hin, Koh Chang among others but if I shared detailed information about all that, this article would keep going on and on… and we don't want that to happen. All you have to understand is that Thailand is a place for everyone and if you're wondering from where to start your international travels, don't go further. Start with Thailand.
Fun Fact: Thailand has some of the best hotels in the world, yet a vacation in Thailand is very cheap compared to Europe, USA and even Singapore.
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