From hot-air ballooning to kite surfing, nearly every imaginable activity can be arranged during your holiday in Thailand. Select from the following activities to learn more about Thailand’s diverse activities or browse the highlighted activities and select those you wish to add to your travel planner by clicking the link with the green circle.
Thailand’s geography and terrain are quite diverse: from the lush, jungle covered peaks of the northern mountains to the turquoise hues of the Gulf of Thailand. Exploring Thailand by air, whether skydiving or riding aboard a hot air balloon, glider, helicopter, or small aircraft allows visitors to have an exhilarating experience while getting a unique perspective on Thailand’s spectacular countryside.
Hiring a car and exploring Thailand on your own is an outstanding way to see the real Thailand, as hiring a Thai car is a cheap way of seeing rural areas and meeting everyday Thai people. Whether you hire a car to explore around Phuket or to see the countryside around Chiang Mai, renting a car is generally an easy and fairly inexpensive proposition. One way rentals between destinations (e.g. Bangkok-Chiang Mai) are also a possibility, though you should expect to pay a drop-off fee.
Avis, Hertz and other international car hire agencies are well represented in Thailand, although many rental companies will not rent a Thai car or provide insurance to drivers who do not have an international driving license. While it is technically legal to drive in Thailand with a valid foreign driver’s license, having an international license will make renting and driving a Thai car potentially less problematic.
Furthermore, Thailand has an excellent network of well maintained roads and highways between all the provincial capitals and major towns and cities in between.
Most roads and highways are in good condition, and have two or three lanes on each side, including a majority of the north-south route (from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to the southern beaches). Road signage follows international convention and is in both Thai and English, though some are only in Thai (like 'Stop' and 'Give Way'). Buy a decent road map before you set off, though it’s well to remember that Thai words aren't always romanized consistently (e.g. Petburi road on the map and Phetchaburi road on the street sign are one and the same).
As a Buddhist nation, Thailand is full of spectacular temples, the purpose of which is for Thais to devout themselves to the principals passed down by the Buddha, nee Siddhartha Gautama. As Thailand is such a welcoming country and Buddhism is a non-restrictive religion, it is easy for visitors to study Buddhism and learn meditation at a number of temples and meditation retreats around the country.
While those simply curious about Buddhism can attend “monk chats” at Wat Chedi Luang or Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai, these and other temples allow visitors to check themselves in for a week or longer of intensive meditation study.
While certainly intriguing, these meditation retreats are not for those unprepared for serious self reflection: the purpose of meditation is to clear the mind and achieve clarity and inner peace; consequently, most meditation programs do not allow students to talk during their stay, with the exception of meditative chanting and discussions with senior monks to help their meditation techniques. Furthermore, by its very nature, meditation can be somewhat mundane, and so visitors are expected to follow the routines and procedures quite thoroughly if they wish to genuinely learn to meditate properly and achieve the most from their experience.
For those unable to commit to a remote meditation retreat from which they cannot easily leave, Wat Mahatat, near Bangkok’s Grand Palace, allows visitors to study meditation no less strictly, but with more flexible time requirements.
With the increasing costs of medical care in the developed world, more travelers are realizing the affordable cost of high quality medical services in Thailand. Including airfare and recovery time –which may even be spent relaxing on the beach- nearly all medical procedures are far less expensive in Thailand than in the west.
Western trained doctors and state of the art technology are found in many of Bangkok’s internationally certified hospitals and waiting times for procedures are much shorter than in many western hospitals.
Popular products and services for medical tourism include:
Prescription Pharmaceuticals: While many pharmacies in Thailand do not require prescriptions for drugs sold over the counter, even those requiring a doctor’s prescription are generally much cheaper in Thailand than in fully developed countries.
Dental Care: Many Thai dentists have either studied or practiced abroad and are able to perform dental surgery for a fraction of the cost in the west. Routine dental procedures, including fillings, cleanings and teeth whitening, are far less expensive and are easy to arrange around any holiday to Thailand.
Cosmetic Surgery: Thailand is one of the leaders in the world for many cosmetic surgical procedures, including LASIK eye surgery, botox and collagen injections, face lifts, hair removal, and sexual re-orientation surgery.
Medical Procedures: Numerous hospitals with ISO 9001 accreditation provide outstanding medical treatment and reasonable prices for the most invasive of surgeries. Multi-lingual staff, doctors trained in the United States and European countries, and state-of-art facilities and technology are a few of the reasons to come to Thailand for back, knee, or even heart surgery. The fact that many of Bangkok’s hospitals exude Thai hospitality and are designed like five star hotels should make your recovery from a successful surgery a pleasant one.
Thai culture, which has long had historically influence from Indian culture, has longstanding tradition of massage and wellness techniques. In fact, Thai massage is a centuries old practice that is based on stimulating the flow of life force through the body via sib sen, or energy lines. Consequently there are a number of opportunities in Thailand to visit a day spa in order to experience Thai massage or check yourself into a world-famous spa and wellness retreat that can design a treatment package, including meals or fasting and holistic or ayurvedic treatments, especially for you.
In fact the range of options is uncountable. Foot massage and Thai massage parlors, offering their services for as little as 100 baht per hour are found on the streets of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, as well as along the beaches of Phuket, Samui, and Pattaya.
Each of these destinations also features more inclusive spas, which fuse Thai massage with western techniques to provide oil massages with natural herbs, such as lemongrass, in an environment filled with ornate décor and impeccable service.
Luxury spas and wellness retreats in Phuket, Hua Hin, and Koh Phangan were established for both health and pampering, and range from prohibitively expensive and exclusive retreats designed for global celebrities to beachside resorts that give yoga instruction overlooking the sea and communal beachside dinners.