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.
From Bangkok to the beach and even in Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai, where there is water there are boats, and tourists have many opportunities to take a cruise as part of their exotic Thai holiday
In Bangkok a cruise is a great way for tourists to see the city. The Chao Phraya River is a major transportation artery and features numerous options for travelers to sightsee via boat; it’s incredibly convenient as well; most boat services connect to the BTS Silom line at Saphan Taksin station and visit sightseeing attractions up and down the river, including the Chao Phraya’s most celebrated sight, Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn).
In addition to daytime cruises to see the sights, there are a number of dinner cruises where Thai food is served. These dinner cruises are also major attractions in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya, which is just upriver from Bangkok: a journey which serves as a fascinating cruise of its own.
Around Thailand’s beaches and island there are innumerable opportunities for getting aboard a boat for a single or multi-day adventure. From Phuket, boats provide day trip service to Phan Nga bay, Koh Phi Phi, and even the Similan Islands. From Koh Samui, day cruises combine snorkeling and lunch around Koh Nang Yuan, the postcard-perfect three islands connected by narrow strips of sand. Renovated Chinese Junk ships and other posh sailing vessels are also available to sail upon either for a single day’s outing or a longer, more exclusive romantic holiday.
Even the smaller islands allow you to hire long tail boats for the day and make your own day trip, cruising between beaches and nearby islands.
Thai culture features a number of performing arts including Thai dance, drama, and sport, all of which have a number of intriguing variations. Variety shows that feature a number of different theatrical arts are common in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya. There are also venues that feature Thai culture shows that specialize in particular arts.
Perhaps the most popular among visitors is classical Thai dance, which is typically accompanied by live classical Thai music. Thai dance performances in Chiang Mai, which are typically arranged in conjunction with a dinner of traditional Thai food, also feature dances from various hill tribes living in Thailand. Thai theatre includes performances by masked dancers as well as puppet shows, either performed by similarly masked dancers, or from behind a curtain using the shadows of the puppets to recount tales from Hindu and Buddhist lore.
Other Thai culture performances include wedding ceremonies, theatrical performances of ancient Muay Thai boxing matches, and of course exhibitions of Elephants, either showing off their working skills or even playing musical instruments.
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.
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).
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.