Thailand is a beautiful country drawing millions of visitors a year from around the world, with its promise of low prices, great food and friendly locals. If you have seen the cities before or would like to get a bit more out of your trip to the Land of Smiles, here are five unique Thailand experiences worthy of a visit or tour.
For a relaxing break, nothing beats the glistening white sand of Thailand’s islands. There are a number of different options across the country, but to the southeast are a trio of complementary islands that combine for a great break – Koh Tao is quiet and relaxing, Koh Phangan is predominantly a party place and Koh Samui is about the well-developed beaches. From any of these islands you can book tours to explore the protected Angthong National Marine Park.
Elephant Nature Park
There are plenty of opportunities to see elephants in Thailand, but some come with ethical concerns over the ways the animals are housed and treated.
To counter such concerns, Elephant Nature Park just north of Chiang Mai is a sanctuary set up to help elephants retire from public life and enjoy a more natural lifestyle. Day-long tours are available, but you can also give up to a week of your time to volunteer at the park, working hand in trunk with these precious pachyderms.
There are temples dotted across the country but in Sukhothai and nearby Phitsanulok, you can visit a particularly high concentration of old temples and ruins. It is similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, though not quite on the same scale!
To get there, you can catch the train from Bangkok to Phitsanulok and take a bus for the final leg. Your friendly Flight Centre travel agent can help book your tickets and arrange a tour. During your trip there, you’re likely to pass the town of Lopburi, which has temples with a difference – they’re completely overrun by monkeys!
Mekong River Cruise
Although the majority of the cruise takes place in neighbouring Laos, the two-day journey from Chiang Khong, on the Thai border, to Luang Prabang, in northern Laos, is a great way to hop from one country to another.
For a good chunk of the ride you’ll have a different nation on either bank and for the entire trip the ever-changing scenery will amaze. Guided tours are a particularly good way to garner an insight into the area’s unique history.
If you don’t have the time or desire to stray too far from Bangkok, there are a number of day tours on the outskirts of the city to the picturesque surrounding countryside. The waterfalls in Erawan National Park are beautiful and take around three hours to reach from central Bangkok. Couple them with a trip to Erawan and a stop at the historic bridge over the River Kwai.