Thailand is a destination you won’t soon forget. With unspoiled beaches, delicious food, kind people and magnificent temples, you will fall in love with this country quickly and, no doubt, want to return again. We did, 3 times in fact! Read on to discover the 13 reasons why you need to visit Thailand. Honestly, we’d go back every year if we had the time.
The unspoiled beaches
Thailand has some of the most incredible, idyllic beaches out there. We are beach connoisseurs, so believe us when we say that. The water is calm, clear and turquoise, just begging you to dip your toes in. Seeing the long-tail boats floating out on the water just adds that certain je-ne-sais-quois.
Our favourite beaches in Thailand include Railay’s perfect, white-sand beaches framed with gigantic limestone cliffs, and the lesser known beaches like Haad Yuan on Koh Pha Ngan or the many beaches on Koh Samet. And don’t forget THE BEACH, first laid eyes upon by Leo DiCaprio in the movie of the same name. While slightly overrun with tourism, that beach is truly something else.
If you’ve have never had a Thai massage, book a flight to Thailand right now and go get one! We are not kidding. They are without a doubt the greatest gift to humankind. We don’t know what it is about Thai massages. Maybe it’s just the fact that they bend you, stretch you, crack you and step on you in ways you never thought possible. Whatever it is, you will feel like a million bucks after getting one. And the greatest part?! They are like $15CDN for the hour and you can get one on the beach. Yes, please!
The foot massages on the streets in Chaing Mai and Bangkok are worth noting as well. Just $5 and they take away years of wear and tear on your feet. (For those curious about the well-known “Happy Ending” massages, we’re the wrong ones to ask.)
The ease of getting around
There are a variety of unique and affordable ways to get around Thailand. Tuk tuks are your friend in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai, as are cabs. Just make sure to settle on a price beforehand when using a tuk tuk. When taking a cab from the airport, ask to go by the meter to get the best price. The travel agency booths located in every major tourist area in Thailand are handy places to organize travel between destinations. You can buy bus tickets and ferry tickets from there, no problem. Overnight buses are popular to travel between hot spots. Not only do you save on a night’s stay, but you don’t waste any of your precious travel days this way. Always remember, however, that Thailand operates on what they like to call, “Thai time.” Meaning, not necessarily on time. Don’t say we didn’t warn you 😛
If you’re looking to party, Thailand is world renown for a ridiculously great time! First off, drinks in Thailand are cheap! (See next point). Thailand bars love to blast current pop songs, reggae and trance mixes, and of course there’s Koh Phi Phi’s Rock Bar that plays all the old classics, which is a blast. If you can find a club on a beach, do that. There’s something about grooving to the tunes with the stars shimmering above you and the ocean at your reach.
Obviously there are some places that are hotter for nightlife than others. Our best picks for a fun night out in Thailand: Bangkok, Chaing Mai, Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi and Haad Rin on Koh Pha Ngan (which holds the infamous Full Moon Party–that’s a whole other story). If you’re up for a unique nightlife experience , don’t miss out on one of Thailand’s famous ladyboy shows. This is not to be missed actually. There is some solid talent out there, and one or two laughs.
The cheap drinks
As mentioned above, drinks in Thailand are cheap, so drink up! Also, if you haven’t heard yet, Thailand has these drinks called BUCKETS. They are trouble. Delicious trouble. Basically, you mix hard liquor, Red Bull, Sprite or Coke into a kid’s plastic sand pail, tote that around the streets and beaches, and then, BAM! You’re having yourself a good night. Or you’re on the floor. To be honest, drink those with caution 😛 If you’re more conservative and love a good beer, choose between the popular Chang or Singha. There are international beers and coolers available too, but why pay more than a couple bucks a drink when you don’t need to? All this paired with awesome nightlife equals a hell of a good time!
Seriously, Thailand outdoes itself when it comes to places to stay. As a couple, on average we paid no more than $15-30/night for some pretty legit rooms. Accommodations included large, comfortable beds, bathrooms with Americanized toilets, pool access, and more. It’s not luxury, but it definitely provides all the comforts of home. In Railay, you can get a beach hut for that a price complete with its own porch hammock. Not too shabby, my friends. I’m telling you, if you want to live like a King or Queen, Thailand is your place.
The gorgeous limestone cliffs in Railay
Yep. The limestone cliffs of Railay made their own category. They are just that gorgeous. And really, no other beach we’ve seen compares to such grandiose views. Walking to the beaches there, you’ll see monkeys flipping in the trees along the cliffs too. Pretty cute, just remember to watch your stuff 😛 You can also rent kayaks for about $20 for the day to get a closer look at the limestone cliffs and snorkel in and around the caves. And of course, rock climbing is another adventure to take advantage of around these parts.
The calm waters
We love beaches. Read some of our other blog posts and it’s pretty obvious. What makes Thailand’s beaches so unique? The water is so incredibly calm. We are talking, “float there all day with not a care in the world” calm. It’s definitely a different vibe than Australia or Hawaii’s happenin’ surf. Not that waves are bad. We love waves. But sometimes it’s just nice to float the day away without any worries of waves taking you out or water going up your nose 😛 (Spoken from experience, of course!)
We absolutely adore elephants! This love was heightened by the fact that we got to spend an entire day with them at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Elephants there have been rescued from a life of unfair work like logging or tourism purposes. At ENP, they happily roam about on the land, swim in the river, play in the mud and scratch their backs on the tree posts. As a visitor, you get the chance to help bathe them in the river, feed them delicious pineapple, and even get a kiss or two from them. It’s an experience you will never forget. Whatever you do, don’t miss the chance to see these majestic beasts up close and personal.
*Side note: Elephant riding may seem pretty rad, but it is a tourist attraction that is harmful to the animals. Please do your research and do not ride them. Same goes for tiger temples.*
We still talk about the delicious food offerings in Thailand after all these years and we’re not even foodies! Thai food is just that yummy! One of our favourites of course is the easiest and cheapest to get. Pad Thai, which is made up of rice noodles, egg, peanuts, veggies, and meat of your choice (if that’s your beef), can be found right on the streets of Bangkok. The friendly Thai people make it in front of you in their giant wok and within minutes you are eating three helpings worth of Pad Thai cooked to perfection for under $2. You just can’t find that anywhere else.
We also have to mention their irresistible banana pancakes. The pancake delivered to you is, no joke, the size of a frying pan and within it they use an entire banana (or 3). It’s fried to perfection and oh-so-sweet. Other delicious items worth mentioning of course include various curry bowls, stir fry dishes and even banana milkshakes. (In contrast, don’t order fresh sandwiches or salads–trust us!)
Scuba diving on the cheap
Maybe you don’t know this yet, but Thailand is an excellent destination to become a certified SCUBA diver. Koh Tao is THE diving hub actually. You will be bombarded with tons of companies to choose from there; we went with Assava Dive Resort. Packages range from just $350 for a 3 day course for the PADI Open Water certification. The package we used also included hotel stays. Normally this same course can cost upwards of $500 and if you’re from Canada, you’d be learning in pools and freezing lakes. In Thailand, you get the joy of learning in a warm environment while lounging in hammocks before you get to do your dives IN THE INDIAN OCEAN. How awesome is that?! Another unforgettable experience in the books right there.
If world religion and culture are of interest to you, Thailand will impress. Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand and the country is filled with temples to amaze you. The detail, beauty and peace within these are mind-blowing. With some dating back centuries, the temples are used by locals for health, good fortune or prayer, and it’s simply an honour to visit them. You will instantly feel tranquility wash over you as you walk in and around them.
Our favourites: the Grand Palace and Wat Arun in Bangkok, the many temples in and around Chiang Mai, and many, many more.
The friendly locals
It is no wonder that Thailand is called, “The Land of Smiles.” We consider the Thai people some of the friendliest out there. They are quick to find you what you need and go above and beyond to help whether its food, travel or accommodation. When you barter, you might even share a laugh or two with them. The cool thing about Thailand is that we have Canadian flags on our packs and there we always hear the friendly, “Vancouver!” call from the locals. We then have to explain we are from the snowy mountains in Calgary. They always respond with joy and amazement!
Have you visited Thailand? What appeals to you most about this country? Tell us in the comments below! 🙂