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.
Without question, Bangkok is one of the world’s premier shopping destinations. Shopping in Thailand is world class, featuring 21st century shopping malls, such as Siam Paragon; multi-story electronics malls including Panthip Plaza; expansive local markets, such as the JJ weekend market; and local markets from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani that sell everything from clothes and household goods to food and flowers.
Nearly every city and town has a central market that is a fascinating way to spend a few hours and a great way to pick up toiletries, clothes, or local handicrafts. In the larger, touristier towns like Chiang Mai, weekend markets and night markets feature all variety of handicrafts both modern and traditional, including t-shirts and dresses made by inspirational young artists and puppets and jewelry crafted by hill tribe communities.
Bangkok’s night markets on Patpong and Sukhumvit Roads are ideal places to pick up souvenirs or gifts for those back home, while more impressive gifts can be procured from retailers such as certified antiques dealers, gem and jewelry shops, or Jim Thompson, the famous silk pioneer. In regards to gems and antiques, it should be noted that there are numerous occurrences of scams involving antiques and gems, and restrictions on the export of Buddha images. Otherwise, with the right guidance there are genuine opportunities to make some brilliant shopping discoveries.
Getting clothes tailor made in Bangkok is a top priority for many, though boutique shops in Siam Square feature the latest ready-to-wear designs from the city’s chic young designers. Meanwhile, in Chinatown, almost every conceivable knick-knack and trinket is for sale in the myriad mazes of back alleys, while those shopping for gold can do so along the district’s Yaowarat Road.
With ample green space and a reputation for first class service, Thailand was a natural choice for developers and designers to build some premier golf clubs and courses. Novices benefit from reasonable prices, while experienced golfers enjoy the spectacular weather and challenging courses, including the hilly Santiburi course on Koh Samui.
A mere thirty minutes from Bangkok, Chonburi is home to more than 30 courses, and Kanchanaburi and Hua Hin feature world class courses just a few hours further from the capital. Thailand contains courses designed by Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player and featuring settings including the mountain surrounded greens of Chiang Mai and the beach views of Phuket.
Nowadays even the most exclusive golf clubs in Thailand, such as the Blue Canyon Country Club, are freeing up tee times for non-members to play. Golf packages are more common than ever and Thailand is increasingly becoming a top destination for travelers looking for great courses, great prices, and great service.
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, 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.
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).