Last August my family packed up all of their belongings and moved to the heart of Bangkok. My parents have lived Internationally before, but none of them have been quite the adventure that Thailand has proved to be. In December, I was able to go and visit them and spent two weeks venturing around the whole country. After 10 flights, 3 cities, 1 bamboo ride, and an elephant trek, these are my top 3 places to visit in Thailand:
This northern city is adventure packed and has some of the best weather Thailand has to offer. Everywhere you drive you will see billboards for animal shows, including tigers, butterflies, crocodiles, and monkeys. We choose to check out the crocodile show, and trust me, it didn’t disappoint. We found ourselves at one point sitting on top of a live crocodile and then minutes later watching a man stick his head inside of a crocodile’s mouth! It was entertaining, to say the least.
Chiang Mai is also famous for it’s elephants. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take a bath with an elephant or ride on top of one as you trek through rivers and forests. It’s unforgettable.
This area of Thailand is beautiful and covered in jungles and trees. Take the time to rent bikes or 4-wheelers to discover the countryside and breathtaking views. You can also zip-line through the jungle if you’re up for adventure.
Tip! Don’t forget a jacket because the mornings and nights actually get pretty chilly here. I found myself regretting not having a warm enough jacket at night while eating dinner. This weather is a nice change from the normal hot humidity throughout the rest of Thailand.
You can’t go to Thailand without visiting the capitol and culture rich Bangkok. This city has it all. If you are looking for nightlife and parties, this is definitely your city. If you simply want great shopping and good food, they have that too. Oh, and if you want to see some amazing historic buildings and ruins, they definitely don’t disappoint in that area either.
For shopping, don’t miss Chatuchak market. It is only open on the weekends, so make sure to plan accordingly. This market is one of the largest in the world and seems almost endless upon entering it. Stalls create a maze throughout the market, and each host their own crafts and souvenirs. Make sure to get a good price and do some research beforehand to know how low to bargain for certain items. Silverware is a specialty found here so if you need a new set, there’s no better place for quality and price!
The Grand Palace is one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. The palace has been the official resident of the Kings since 1782. Decorated with mosaic and gold leaf, you can’t look anywhere without being amazed. Tip! Be aware that men must wear pants and women must have sleeves. If you forget, you can rent from the office, this just takes up some of your time as you have to wait in line.
While in Bangkok, take the time to drive to Ayutthaya, the amazing ancient ruins. There are several locations all within a few miles of each other. These ruins are home to giant Buddha statues and amazing history. They are beautiful, mystic, and breathtaking.
Ah Phuket, one of the most romantic and beautiful places in the world. If you are looking for a great beach retreat, this is it. Nothing compares to the blue water and white sand beaches.
If you want to see remote and incredibly beautiful islands, take a day trip to the Similan Islands. They were recently ranked by National Geographic as one of the top 10 islands in the world. The 1.5 hour boat ride is completely worth it. You snorkel, lounge on the breathtaking beaches, and get an authentic Thai lunch.
You also can’t visit Phuket without visiting Phang Nga Bay. This bay in the Andaman Sea allows you to take boat rides that zig zag in between giant mountains that stretch out of the water. You can also hop on a kayak and explore the grottoes and caves during low tide.
Thailand is amazing and you could spend years exploring all of its parts. However, if you have limited time, these three places will give you different experiences and perspectives on this amazing country and you’ll never experience something as beautiful ever again.