5 Things You Must Do In Thailand
Vacation to Southeast Asia are rapidly growing in popularity, and for good reason. This part of the world is beautiful, brimming with rich culture, and extremely affordable. If you're planning a trip to Thailand, you're probably finding the task of prioritizing your excursions to be a difficult one due to the multitude of seemingly awesome things to do. Never to worry, we've compiled this quick list of 5 things you must do in Thailand to get an authentic experience without wasting time on the rip-offs!
Probably one of the biggest attractions in Thailand, elephant sanctuaries really can make your trip magical. The best sanctuaries will make a full day out of your excursion. You should receive a nice informational introduction from the staff, followed by a quick "no-touch" photo op with the Elephants. Next up you might be taken to a field to harvest food for the elephants; this helps the elephants get their nutrients for the day and also gives the hard-working staff some relief. After harvesting food, you should have the opportunity to feed that very food to the elephants. This time is great for taking pictures and asking questions. There may be another feeding opportunity, and you may even be able to jump in a mud pit with the beautiful giants! The best part, if offered, is helping to bathe the elephants after all is said and done. A number of sanctuaries even include a meal as part of the deal.
Make sure you look for elephant sanctuaries where tourists are not allowed to ride the elephants. This activity is actually bad for the elephants and should be avoided. Spending some quality time without riding the elephants will be rewarding enough and will likely be the highlight of the entire trip.
Tuk Tuk Ride
This is a quick and cheap way to have some serious fun! The Tuk Tuk is basically just an open-air motorized carriage, typically used to get down the street a few blocks in a hurry. Even if you don't have anywhere to go, you can hail a Tuk Tuk (although, often times they will hail YOU) and just ask the driver to take you around the block, or to drive you up the street for a hot minute. As always, make sure you negotiate a rate with you driver before getting in -- a short ride should only cost around 60 to 100 Baht ($2 to $3.50). Expect to feel like you are on a roller coaster, and definitely bring something to tie up longer hair with. It's these simple pleasures that will give you an authentic and unforgettable Thai experience.
Floating Market Tours
Everyone has seen pictures of the floating markets outside of Bangkok. These markets live up to their photographs in that they are heavily trafficked, chaotic, and absolutely awesome. There are different companies offering tours, and they will each take you to different parts of the floating markets. We saw a part of the market that was grid-locked with boat traffic and it looked a bit frustrating, but the risk is worth the reward. Yes, it's touristy and you might run into some boat traffic, but the markets are dense with delicious food and interesting people.
If you are staying in Bangkok, expect to take at least an hour drive to get to the boats. You will likely take a 10 to 20 minute ride through some calm and narrow canals before you reach the market. This part of the ride is great for photos and lets you see how the locals live. When you get to the market, make sure you get some fried bananas or sticky rice with mango!
The rumors are true, one of the most memorable and exhilarating parts of Thailand is the street food. There are vendors just about everywhere, and their offerings cover just about every kind of food imaginable. We saw, and tasted, everything from grilled chicken hearts, to authentic pad thai, to field rats and cobra. There is a lot of local food, but there is also a great deal of influence from nearby countries as well as the middle and far east. Delicious, spicy curries are everywhere and it's best to try as many as you can. Live a little, try something weird -- you'll be pleasantly surprised and you will feel bold and adventurous. And don't forget to try the sweets when it comes to the street food vendors. Friend bananas, deserts made from sweet beans and sticky rice, and even some pretty neat pancake type things filled with various syrups are all in the offerings...and they are all incredible.
Everyone forgets about the thai massage. It's a real thing and it should certainly not be overlooked. The thai massage is a two-hour massage that is often catered to each individual's needs. Every therapist will have a different touch, but thai massages are generally accepted as slightly painful, and deeply relaxing. No pain no gain, guys! You can specify intensity with your massage therapist beforehand, and letting them know during the massage if anything hurts too much is also normal. In our experience, the massage therapists were so good they didn't even need to ask us about our problem areas, they simply felt our feet and derived where our problem areas would be...and they were right. As a result, we each received an entirely different massage and both agreed it was exactly what we needed.
Pro tip: If you are staying at a hotel, make friends with a concierge. They will often have a local contact that will come to the hotel rather than making you go find a massage parlor. If you can get the hook up, you will pay less and you will get a truly authentic and therapeutic massage.