Thailand is a must-visit for any travellers bucket list. You will no doubt hear stories of travellers enjoying the crazy nightlife, the amazing street food, the memorable sunrises on the gorgeous beaches and so much more! Thailand has so much to offer from diving to rock climbing to shopping and eating. So what are the must-do things in Thailand? To find out, I asked several bloggers and travellers for their suggestions on things they did in Thailand that would suck to miss out on. I have added them to this ever-growing bucket list for Thailand.
I would love to hear your suggestions, so please feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email.
Here are some of the things you should add to your Thailand Bucket List.
Paula from trulyexpat.com suggests visiting the Jim Thompson Museum - Jim Thompson(James Harrison Wilson Thompson) was an American Entrepreneur who is renown for being the first person to bring Thai silk to the forefront of the design industry. Known as the "Thai Silk King," Jim Thompson disappeared mysteriously in the Cameron Highlands on March 26, 1967, at the age of 61.
Today you will find numerous stores in his name spotted all over Thailand, with many different Thai silk products. Even today, this silk company is in high demand and still produces products of a high standard.
The Jim Thompson House museum can be found by the river, exactly as it was the day he packed his bags to head to the Cameron Highlands. Although he disappeared over 50 years ago, the house is kept in pristine condition. For those who love history (as I do), this house shows more than the life of a man who disappeared. It also takes you back in time to a place where Thailand was yet to be touched by the modern world of western culture.
Opening hours are between 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day. No reservation is required; however, to enter; you must join a guided tour which can be arranged in several different languages (check languages before you arrive). You can find Jim Thompson House Museum at 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road. Bangkok 10330. The museum is relatively easy to get to via tuk-tuk, taxi or sky train.
You can also find The Jim Thompson Art Center which is in the same area as Jim Thompson House Museum. Check details on the website for the latest exhibitions. Still, want more? Then head over to The Jim Thompson restaurant where you will find a mix of traditional Thai selection along with western foods.
Beach Clean-up with Trash Hero
Roxy from thecoastalcampaign.com says the best thing she did in Thailand was the Beach Clean Up with Trash Hero - When people picture their trip to Thailand, participating in a beach clean-up probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. But I’ve got to say that the morning I spent cleaning a beach near Koh Lipe was one of the highlights of my trip to Thailand. I hadn’t originally planned this as part of my trip, but after seeing the clean-up advertised around the island I knew it was something I wanted to get involved in.
One of the reasons I love to travel is the opportunity to hang out at beautiful beaches all around the world, however, one thing I can’t get away from is the pollution we have caused in our oceans. Attending a beach clean-up gave me the chance to give a little something back. While it may only be a drop in the ocean (sorry for the pun) it’s still a great way to do something positive.
The guys at Trash Hero meet every Monday at 10 am on Pattaya Beach in Koh Lipe. The morning that I attended we headed off on a one-hour boat journey to one of the outlying islands. It was just a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the ocean, with one small stretch of beach that was absolutely spectacular.
Unfortunately, once we clambered off the boat we were able to see that the beach was covered in rubbish. We spent a few hours gathering all the trash we could find and leaving the beach as it should be, clean from manmade garbage. After a quick snack of fresh watermelon, we piled the bags of trash on the boat and headed back to Koh Lipe where a truck picked up all the bags and actually sorted through it all to recycle as much of it as possible.
The great thing about Trash Hero is that they have beach clean-ups all over Thailand, meaning no matter where you go there is a good chance there is a clean-up happening near you. Not only will you get to do your part for the ocean, but it will also give you the chance to meet some other like-minded people along the way. It’s awesome to see people spend some of their holidays helping the local community out and doing their bit for the planet.
While you’re travelling around Thailand keep an eye out for Trash Hero, or other similar beach clean-ups, and don’t be afraid to get involved and spend a few hours making the world a slightly better place.
Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
Emma from foreverlostintravel.com enjoyed the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai - When people visit Thailand, they often want to spend time with elephants. Seeing them was a definite bucket list item for me. But with so many horror stories about mistreated elephants, used to lure in tourists, it’s difficult to know whether you’re doing the right thing. Are you going to a place that secretly mistreats their animals with the illusion of being ethical? I can tell you, I was so concerned about this that I spend weeks poring over all the places I could see elephants in Thailand. I read all the articles and reviews I could find. Finally, I found a place just outside of Chiang Mai that looked to be the real deal. Elephant Nature Park state clearly that they do not allow elephant riding. That to me was the first checkmark, and a step towards understanding how they care about the welfare of their elephants.
We booked a full day tour to spend the day learning about and caring for the elephants. With an early morning pick up from our hotel, and a 90-minute journey to the sanctuary, it was a long day. Our host for the day welcomed us to Elephant Nature Park with a brief history of ENP and what they do. We were met the four elephants we would spend the day with, eagerly waiting for their breakfast. Task one: cutting up hundreds of pounds of watermelon and squash to feed them with. We also made little balls of food with bananas and rice. Feeding elephants is pretty amazing. I held the food in my hand as their trunks swept it up and into their mouths. After all this eating though it was time for exercise.
A big part of our day was walking through the jungle with our four elephants. Accompanied by our guide and the mahouts who care for the elephants, we wandered along the trails. Our guide told us all about elephants, and how ENP help them as well as how these elephants got here. It was the most incredible experience to walk side by side with the elephants. Armed with a bag of bananas each we fed them as we walked. At a clearing, we stopped for an hour for a delicious vegetarian lunch while the elephants played in the river. Knowing how some of those elephants got to the sanctuary, there are no words to describe how beautiful it is watching them play without a care in the world.
After lunch, we started the walk back to camp. We had to say goodbye to our new friends, but I was grateful for this experience that is possibly one of the best days of my life. Our day ended with a trip to the main sanctuary to see some of the other residents, the ones who perhaps are not as used to humans enough to walk with, but still in need of so much care. The work ENP do is fantastic and if you’re ever in Chiang Mai I would 100% recommend visiting this place.
Stefanie from thehiddencoconut.co Lists her top six Thailand Bucket List
Stefanie is teaching English in Bangkok, Thailand for the last 2 years. She has the opportunity to travel around the country and get a feel for what local life is really like. Being able to work directly with locals and kids, gives a kind of experience that not everyone gets when visiting a country.
Stefanie gives her “local only” spots that regular tourists don’t know about. Mostly because it’s in Thai and you’d probably never be able to find it unless you can speak and read the language.
The Red Lotus Floating Market – This little market is tucked away in the province of Bang Len, which is a short drive outside of the city of Bangkok. It is a pretty big lake covered in lilies and lotus flowers. The scenery creates stunning pictures and the staff even have a collection of rental props to make your photos pop. You can read more on her blog about day trips from Bang Len
Hiking Khao Lom Muak – Khao Lom Muak sits on an Air Force base just south of the beach town, Hua Hin. It is only open 9 times out of the year during 3 day weekends. The climb to the top isn’t anything rigorous, but you should be in good physical condition.
Mangrove Forest – Did you know that Bangkok has been losing shoreline yearly in the past decade? Here you can learn about conservation efforts, plants trees, and bike the shoreline.
Floating Hotels in Kanchanaburi – Have you ever wanted to sleep on a river in a floating hut? Well, now you can in the province of Kanchanaburi. This province is known for the Death Railway and Erawan National Park. Floating huts can be found along River Kwai and range from luxury to budget-friendly.
Koh Kham – This tropical island is a green island and is working towards ocean conservation. Access to this island is from the military base south of Pattaya. It is only open on the weekend and limited to the first 500 people per day.
Horseback Riding in Khao Yai National Park – Love horses? Well, you can actually go horseback riding in Thailand. OK Corral is located in Khao Yai and is home to a number of American-bred horses.
Local Community Cooking Classes in Bangkok
Emma of Journeyofanordicfamily.com says support locals with cooking classes - When we travel we try to support local communities as best as we can. One way we’ve discovered we can do this is through cooking classes and our three kids just love to take part in the class but moreover scoff all the delicious food during and after the class! If you’re looking for something to do but you also want to give back to the community you’re staying in, book a cooking class.
After trawling pages of vegan cooking classes in Bangkok, we chose Sompong Cooking School. Why? I found their website quirky and easy to navigate, the classes were thoroughly detailed and they were very specific about payment and expectations. I really wanted to visit a market and learn how to make traditional sticky rice and mango too.
The venue was really easy to find, tucked into a residential backstreet of Bangkok’s central district. Taking our shoes off at the door, we were welcomed in and made ourselves comfortable at a beautifully decorated table. The herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables were delicately show-cased in a sweet basket and they smelled heavenly.
Our teachers for the afternoon were Preaw & Yui, who were remarkably patient with our two youngest kids and allowed them to cut, chop, fry and cook everything we did. The best part of the day was receiving our own cooking books. It really doesn’t sound like much but it is thoughtfully packed full of Thai recipes and has come everywhere with us since.
The most complex part of the class was attempting to cut a tomato into a rose bud with petals. Mine looked more like something from Little Shop Of Horrors but it was fun trying.
We also learned how to make lemongrass salad, potato curry and the infamous sugary, sticky rice. I’m so grateful to Sompong who inspired my kids to want to cook and for the following three days (until we left Bangkok), they planned, shopped and cooked together. How awesome is that! Sompong was definitely the catalyst for inspiring them and they’ve cherished their cookbooks since.
Get off the beaten path at Khao Sok National Park
lucy from absolutelylucy.com suggests getting off the beaten track at Khao Sok National Park -
One of my favourite places in Thailand, this 80 million year old rainforest in the centre of the country is reminiscent of Jurassic Park. A place where time seems to have stood still. You can easily access the area from Phuket, Surat Thani or Bangkok by bus and choose from a selection of guest houses and even tree houses to stay in. Plan to stay for a few days – this will give you time to spend a few days hiking to waterfalls and exploring the rainforest. It’s stunning and there’s so much to see plus there’s lots to keep you active with kayaking and cycling trips.
But the best experience by far has to be the trip to the centre of the jungle where you can stay overnight on tiny floating huts in the middle of a huge reservoir. Overnight you will hear elephants crashing through the undergrowth, insects chirping and see bats swooping across the skies. Costing around 1,250 baht per person, the trip includes all your meals, overnight accommodation on the lake and a great tour guide.
You also get to spend two days hiking to viewpoints, exploring the jungle, swimming and kayaking on the lake and climbing through dark caves full of water. If you’re an adventurous soul, Khao Sok is definitely the place to fuel your wanderlust. And even better, it’s remained hugely undiscovered over the years and is a great place to get away from the tourists.
If you want a chance to do the overnight stay on the lake plus spend time hiking the waterfall trails, I would recommend going for 4-5 days. That would give you plenty of time, plus allowing for a rest day or bad weather. If you’re travelling during the rainy season, be sure to do your research and check before you travel as the area may not be accessible if there is flooding.
What is your ultimate MUST DO in Thailand? What should be on the Thailand bucket list of things to do?