Cultural And Quirky: Highlights Of Thailand

6 February 2018

Thailand is one of my favourite countries to visit. I’ve been there 10 times, and each trip this beautiful place still manages to surprise me. Check out these eight ​cultural activities that can't be missed on your next trip to Thailand.​

1. The White Temple, Chiang Rai

White Temple, Thailand Small pieces of glass are used in the plaster, which is why the White Temple appears to dazzle. Image: Hollie White

Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as the White Temple, is a contemporary, unconventional and relatively new temple that’s a 30-minute drive from the city centre.

​Although photos aren't permitted in the main temple, make sure to bring your camera to capture the amazing sights that can be found around the grounds. With pop culture sculptures hanging from trees, the path under the canopy of prayer plates (to which you can contribute by adding your own prayers) and the sea of suffering, which is symbolised by hundreds of ghoulish hands, the White Temple is one of the most daring and original temples in the country.​

2. The Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai

Hilltop of The Golden Triangle, Thailand Doi Pha Tang offers the best spot to watch the scenic Mekong river, overlooking the borders of Thailand and Laos. Image: Getty

Right to the north where Thailand shares a border with Myanmar and Laos, you'll find the Golden Triangle. Once known for being a significant area for the opium trade in Southeast Asia, this area is now dotted with peaceful hill tribe villages, ancient temples and markets.

From the highest viewpoint you can look over the hills and see all three countries in the distance, separated by the mighty Mekong River. Take a longtail boat ride and visit Don Sao in Laos,​ which specialises in scorpion whiskey, cheap cigarettes and great knock-off sunglasses.

Tip: Your boat driver will advise you not to give money to the hordes of children waiting for tourists, which can be a little overwhelming.

3. Temple & Rivers of Kings tour, Bangkok

Longtail boat with fruit on it, from floating market near Bangkok Longtail boats laden with fruit cruise the floating markets near Bangkok. Image: Getty

This half-day Urban Adventures tour is an amazing way to get up close and personal with the Bangkok locals. If you’re keen to get away from the bright lights of the city​  you can book yourself a longtail boat that weaves through the canals. Cruising behind some of the most famous Buddha statues in Bangkok, you’ll get to see how the locals live.

4. Chatuchak Weekend Markets, Bangkok

Chatuchak weekend markets, Bangkok Don’t forget to bring your appetite because Chatuchak Weekend Markets also temp with great food. Image: Getty

As the name suggests, these markets are on every weekend in the centre of Bangkok. Whether you’re after bargain jewellery, wholesale clothes, or want to eat your way through everything Thai cuisine has to offer, with more than 15,000 stalls, these markets have everything you need.

Tip: Be careful of pickpockets and make sure to get there early before it gets too hot!

5. Bangkok by Bike tour

Man riding bicycle in Bangkok, Thailand Opt for a slightly less frenetic Bangkok experience, with a tour on push bike. Image: Getty

Avoid the traffic by joining this half-day Urban Adventures tour, which trades taxis and tuk-tuks for pushbikes. You’ll see a different view of Bangkok by cycling through the city’s backstreets, visiting the temples and reaching laneways a car can’t navigate through.​ And the best thing? The tour guides are local, which means their passion for and knowledge of their home ensures you’ll see the contrast between the modern city and traditional culture.

6. Big Buddha Temple, Koh Samui

Big Buddha, Thailand The Big Buddha’s Mara pose is a symbol of steadfastness, purity and enlightenment. Image: Hollie White

Three kilometres from Koh Samui Airport, the Big Buddha has become one of the island’s most famous attractions. However, the peaceful Buddha is not the only thing to be found here: take a walk around the grounds and visit the collections of bells. Follow that up with lunch, then give your wallet a workout in the many shops in the area. 

Tip: Don’t forget to cover up your shoulders and knees if you want to go inside Thai temples.

7. Longtail boat tour, Phi Phi Island

boat on the Andaman Sea, Thailand The turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea are what holiday dreams are made of. Image: Getty

If this is your first time to the islands, you can't go past a day trip through the many islands off Phuket. Starting from Phi Phi, movie buffs will notice that the pristine beach of Maya Bay was actually the beach setting in Leonardo DiCaprio's famous movie The Beach.=

The next destination spot will be Monkey Beach. You guessed it – this beach is quite literally swarming with monkeys. Be careful of your belongings, as these sneaky guys will pinch anything, just so they can swap them back in return for food. 

And one of my most memorable experiences of Phi Phi – ask your boat driver to stop in the middle of the Andaman Sea for a spot of snorkelling. Home to thousands of fish, it’s the perfect way to get away from the crowds and enjoy some quiet time with Thailand's best ocean life. 

8. And Quirky... Catmosphere Cat Cafe, Chiang Mai

Cat at Catmosphere Cat Cafe It’s win-win at the Cat Cafe. Image: Hollie White

Even if you’re not a cat person, no-one can resist a great cup of coffee while being surrounded by adorable kittens. Free to enter, make sure to get in early to spend some time with these rescue cats, all of which are up for adoption. Make sure you order one of the delicious items off the menu – all proceeds go to giving these kitties a better home.


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Hollie White

Working to travel and travelling for work, Hollie believes the best holidays are those spent drinking gin, meeting locals and being kind to animals. Her ultimate bucket-list experience is to visit Mongolia, live in a yurt, and adopt local goats. Follow her travel experiences on Instagram @acrosstheuniverse.blog