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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
For the hottest deals in travel visit your local Flight Centre store, call 131 600 or book now on the Flight Centre App.