Top 10 things to experience in Thailand

Exotic and tropical Thailand has something for everyone. From the postcard-perfect beaches to the bustling streets of Bangkok, Canadians  are drawn to the country’s diverse culture and beauty.

Chiang Mai - The ‘Rose of the North’ is surrounded by mountains and lush countryside.

Kanchanaburi - Home to the Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi is incredibly beautiful with easily accessible waterfalls and national parks.

Bangkok - Thailand’s capital city is full of hidden gems to explore, including temples, palaces, vibrant markets and nightlife.

Phuket - At 48km long, it’s one of Thailand’s largest islands and famous for beautiful beaches and the party destination Patong.

Ko Samui - An island of great natural beauty and variety. A perfect place to hang out on the beach all day with a cold drink.

In Thailand you’ll encounter many exotic animals. Orphaned or rescued elephants roam free in the Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai. Giant Mekong catfish try to avoid fisherman on the Mekong River. And monkeys dine in style in November at the Monkey Festival in Lopburi where residents lay banquets of food to honour them.

Thai markets and busy shopping streets sell an array of street foods. Here’s some treats for the brave:

Larb Mote Daeng - Prepared with red ants and their eggs (it’s said to be delicious!).

Durian - This popular fruit is found everywhere — and it’s known as one of the smelliest fruits in the world.

Deep Fried Insects - Usually crickets, grasshoppers, worms and sometimes small deep fried frogs.

With so many festivals to celebrate it’s little wonder that Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles.

Songkran Festival - Hugely popular with tourists, it involves splashing water between friends and relatives. During April you will see people with water guns and buckets ready to playfully splash a passer-by.

Loy Krathong - A beautiful festival, usually held in November, where people head to the water at night to float flowers and candles or lit lantern balloons.

Phi Ta Khon - Thailand’s most colourful festival, held in the Dan Sai district, is better known as the Ghost Festival. Locals dress up as spirits in bright costumes and masks and dance the night away.

One of the most popular drawcards to Thailand is the beautiful beaches that line the south of the country. The tropical humid weather ensures popularity with tourists ready to cool off in the beautiful waters. With a bit of research online, a spoiled-for-choice traveller can find their ‘perfect beach’. From party beaches with beachside bars and nightclubs (Pattaya, Patong and Koh Phangan) to relaxing beachside bungalows and jungle fringes (Ko Lanta or Prachaup), there really is something for everybody.
In contrast to the beautiful beaches, Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand offers excellent trekking and wildlife observation opportunities, or head to Doi Inthanon National Park in north Thailand for the country’s tallest mountain and beautiful waterfalls. The Thai jungles aren’t as wild as those in Africa, but you will still find elephants, exotic birds and monkeys and perhaps come across a jungle or hill tribe. The scenic countryside also includes many rice fields, where you will see locals working (rice is one of the major exports and local people pride themselves on the quality).

You cannot go to Thailand without visiting one of the estimated 400,000 Buddhist temples that are spread around the countryside. A Thai temple is known as a wat and usually consists of a collection of buildings, shrines and monuments enclosed by a wall.

Wat Phra Kaew | Temple of the Emerald Buddha - Located in Bangkok, this temple is in the grounds of the Grand Palace and holds a Buddha carved from a single jade stone.

Wat Pho | Temple of the Reclining Buddha - Holds a golden Buddha that measures 46m long and 15m high.

Wat Traimit | Temple of the Golden Buddha - Houses the world’s largest gold seated Buddha, measuring five metres high and weighing five and a half tons. The statue was discovered by accident when it was dropped, revealing the solid gold Buddha hidden under a plaster casing.

Wat Samphran - This unique temple is 17 stories high with a giant dragon spiralling to the top. Inside, there are sculptures of other beasts and a bronze Buddha.

What better place to get a Thai massage than in Thailand itself. Thai massages usually involve deep massage and stretching on the floor or a firm mattress. A good Thai massage results in lowered stress levels, relief of tension and stiffness in muscles, and improvements in energy levels and blood circulation. In short, it makes you feel really good, which is perfect for holidays!

Witness the most popular spectator sport in Thailand as professionals take each other on in the martial art of Muay Thai. Muay Thai attracts a mass of visitors and tourists who come not only to view the passion of the fighters but to hear the musical and ceremonial aspects that accompany the fight.

Upon entering the ring and performing prayers, competitors commence the ram muay, which is a personal ritual appearing like a dance. It is usually accompanied by music, providing a rhythm to the boxer’s movements. Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok is considered the home of modern Muay Thai and is the best place to watch a fight.

In Chiang Mai, you can get inked in an ancient manner. The practice of tattooing so-called “Sak Yant”, uses a bamboo stick and needle which is hand-etched onto the skin by an expert monk, utilizing old geometric patterns mixed with Buddhist prayers. Bamboo tattoos have been made for over 2000 years, and it's believed to give the tattooee magic powers associated with healing, luck, vitality, and protection against evil.
DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all information as of the date of publishing, Allianz Global Assistance does not accept liability for any errors or omissions. Allianz Global Assistance strongly recommends seeking the guidance of a professional travel agent/agency for further information on a specific destination. On your next trip, whether to another province or country, ensure you have travel insurance as it may assist you in cases of unforeseen medical emergencies and other types of mishaps that can happen while you travel. Travel insurance does not cover everything, please always refer to the policy document for full terms and conditions, including limitations and exclusions. Allianz Global Assistance is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc. and AZGA Insurance Agency Canada Ltd. Photography Credits: Panom, Shutterstock.com
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