You’ve hit the beaches, you’ve visited the temples and you’ve hopped around the islands. Seeking new things to see on your next Thailand getaway? From unbelievable natural wonders to unique dining spots and fun-filled festivals, these fantastic experiences will make you say ‘only in Thailand’…
Related article: Thailand insider guide: Phuket’s top beaches
Stay in a floating tented camp, Kaho Sok National Park
We’ll always have a love of Thailand’s romantic resorts and inner-city hotels, but this unique hideaway is perfect for feeling totally out-there. One of the world’s only luxury floating tented camps, Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp floats on the tranquil emerald waters of Cheow Larn Lake, in the heart of Kaho Sok National Park (three hours north of Phuket). Its twenty safari tents are decked out with all the mod-cons (like en-suite bathrooms, comfortable double beds and electricity) and are surrounded by dense jungle and soaring limestone cliffs, making this remote escape feel as if it’s in a world of its own.
Explore Phraya Nakhon Cave, Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
Pretend you’re in an Indiana Jones film when you lace up your hiking boots and explore the Phraya Nakhon Cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (45 minutes south of Hua Hin). Getting here alone is an adventure-packed experience. First, you’ll have to rent a boat from the small beachside village of Bang Pu and travel to Laem Sala beach. Once there, pay a National Park fee of 200 baht for a guide to take you on a 430-metre trek uphill to the cave. Inside, sunlight streams through a natural opening to illuminate a gilded 19th-century pavilion fringed with vegetation. You’ll be – quite literally – stopped in your tracks.
Motorcycle along the Myanmar border, northern Thailand
For a thrilling experience that’s slightly less challenging, head for Thailand’s north and join a motorcycle tour (there are plenty of local operators) to cycle along the Myanmar border. You’ll take in breathtaking views of rolling hills and lush landscapes while driving through winding mountain roads. One word – amazing.
Dine in the treetops at Treepod, Trat
At the five-star Soneva Kiri resort in the Trat Province, you’ll find a foodie’s paradise with incredible bamboo dining pods that make your childhood treehouse look like a cardboard box. Treat yourselves to a meal here for a real once-in-a-lifetime experience. After being seated in a pod, you’ll be hosted up into the tropical foliage of Koh Kood’s ancient rainforest where you can spot a boulder-dotted azure shoreline while enjoying a gourmet feast. Cheers to you two!
Songkran festival, nationwide
Thailand’s calendar is jam-packed with spectacular festivals year-round (the Yi Peng Lantern Festival and colourful Ghost Festival are stand-out events), but its Songkran Festival is one youreally won’t want to miss. Perfect for channelling your inner child, the three-day event (April 13-15) is like a giant, crazy waterfight… throughout all of Thailand. Wear something you don’t mind getting drenched in, hit the streets and choose your weapon – water guns and buckets are classic options.
Sail along the Crimson Sea, Udon Thani
Visiting Thailand between October and late January? Don’t miss a romantic cruise along Udon Thani’s Lake Nong Harn when it transforms into, well, a sea of crimson lotus blooms. Hitch a ride on one of the many local motorboats running lake cruises for a real The Notebookexperience.
See Thailand’s national animal at Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai
A truly beloved Thailand attraction, Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is a real must-visit. An elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre, the park allows you to get up close to the majestic giants in the most respectful way and see them thrive in a beautiful habitat. In a single day visit, watch them play at bath- and feed-time, or walk alongside the elephants on a scenic trail for a special ‘Saddle Off!’ experience – a much more animal-friendly experience than tourist-y elephant rides.
Learn to cook Thai fare on the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok
Thai cooking classes are nothing new (there’s a vast array of schools across the nation), but getting skilled-up while travelling along the famous Chao Phraya river is seriously special. Operated by luxury resort chain Anantara, Manohra Cruises offers fabulous classes aboard an enchanting antique rice barge, with stops at local markets along the way for picking up super-fresh ingredients.
Visit the Frosty Temple – Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai
Even the most serious of adults will feel like Elsa from Frozen when they visit Wat Rong Khun (the Frosty Temple) in Chiang Rai. Looking straight out of a fantasy film, the pure-white temple is said to represent the purity of Buddha and is covered in immaculate sculptures, plus tiny specks of glass that shimmer in the sun. Perfect for those who have ticked off Thailand’s other popular temples, Wat Rong Khun is actually only 22 years old (it’s still technically under construction) and is like no other spiritual site in the world.
Marvel at Pha Singh Liao, Chiang Mai
If you haven’t yet had your fill of sensational natural wonders, add Chiang Mai’s Pha Singh Liao site to your itinerary. Formed as the result of erosion, wind and rain over thousands of years, this fascinating site is known for its striking pillars that seem to rise out of a deep sandstone canyon. Make your way to the viewing platform for a brilliant photo-op or stand at the pillars’ base and look up to feel utterly tiny in comparison.
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Image credits: www.bangkok.com/, www.ainforestcamp.com/, www.motoasia.bike/, www.facebook.com/SonevaKiri/, www.learnthaiwithmod.com/, www.manohracruises.com/, www.thailand-guide.com/, www.thailand.tripcanvas.co/ and courtesy of Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai