Five Things you Can’t-Miss in Thailand!
Traveling to foreign, exotic countries sounds exciting, but a bit scary too. Trust me; I’ve been there.
Now, back home, writing about my experience, I’m convinced that traveling is not only a great way to learn about distinct cultures, but it’s also the best way to get to know yourself.
If you’re on the fence about going to Thailand, perhaps my experience might help.
Two years ago, after thinking about it way too much, I pulled my seven-year-old from school to homeschool her for two years and travel the world. I figured learning about other cultures and encountering unfamiliar worlds would broaden her perspective, and mine too.
The second country in our itinerary was Thailand, and I can’t even describe the culture shock we experienced and all the things we learned. Perhaps a good start might be telling you all about what you definitely can’t miss in the beautiful country, so these are my top five things you can’t miss in Thailand.
1. Be adventurous!
Thailand is more extensive than you’d imagine, and there’s much to do for all ages and preferences. (Comment below if all you can envision are scenes from “The Hangover 2.”
One thing we’ll remember for the rest of our lives is going zip-lining in Chiang Mai over an evergreen tropical forest. Feeling the warm air all around us while the adrenaline rushed through our bodies made us both fill euphoric and filled with untamable energy.
Thailand has lots of parks and outdoor activities; an adventure is always around the corner. You might want to hop on a bamboo raft to cruise a river, hike the dense rain forest, or see it from above like we did.
Even if you’re a cautious-kind-of-person, be adventurous! Thailand is the place to get over your fears.
2. Meet the animals!
Elephants, tigers, and monkeys are just a few of the many exotic animals that call Thailand home, and there are lots of opportunities to meet them up close.
I must say, though, that there’s abuse too, and many animals are still mistreated just for tourists to take a few selfies.
Do your research. We visited a natural reserve and had the opportunity to feed the tigers and younger cats. I was lucky to have captured this rare moment on film, but we weren’t there for the photo opportunities, we were there to volunteer and contribute our time. We chopped up veggies, rinsed down the enclosures, even scooped up Tiger poo. However, knowing this rescue was humane and that these animals were to be released into a natural habitat was certainly a reason to smile that day and soak up some kitten cuddles! We avoided shows and zoos and looked for conscious ways to experience the country’s wildlife without being part of the problem.
There are several elephant sanctuaries and natural reserves that can benefit from your business, so stay clear from dubious tourist traps.
3. Enjoy the ride!
Although many tour companies will take you anywhere on comfortable, air-conditioned vans; there’s nothing like losing yourself in the city and knowing life as a local.
We’ll never forget a ride on a tuk-tuk, the motorcycle-powered taxis that speed through the streets (recklessly) for a pretty cheap fare. It’s scary but fun, and you should try it at least once. My daughter and I arranged for a Tuk-Tuk tour of Bangkok through a local company. We were greeted by an extremely friendly tour guide who took us to see some of Bangkok’s most famous sites such as the and the Flower Market. If you want to truly experience the culture of Thailand, visit the Flower Market. It’s open 24 hours per day, with their busiest times often being midnight due to the fresh flower deliveries. Flowers hold a lot of weight in Thailand and are used for daily offerings. Not only is it a fascinating experience to learn more about their beliefs but it is beautiful to look at.
4. It’s all about the food.
Food in Thailand is nothing like you imagine it. It’s colorful, ever fresh and intensely flavorful; western Thai restaurants aren’t even close to the real deal.
Enjoy curries of all colors, noodles, and fresh seafood, always nicely plated yet beautifully simple.
The secret behind Thai food is balance. Sweet, spicy, sour, and tangy flavors are present in almost all traditional dishes, making them elaborate meals that wow you in every bite.
Try the classic Pad Thai, but also the soups, the stir-fries, and the rice. Mango sticky rice was my favorite sweet treat; I mean, you won’t find mango like this ever again.
Yes, we did have one bad food experience at a questionable roadside vendor near our hotel one evening. We had ordered chicken noodle soup which my daughter will swear to you was, instead, made from rat. Of course, I cannot comment on what animal was present in this dish, but I do agree with her that it was not chicken.
Other than that one peculiar meal, the food was absolutely incredible.
5. Talk to the people.
You don’t know a country until you meet and talk to the people. Everyone in Thailand is warm and friendly and people are always willing to help despite language barriers.
Of course, like in any tourist city, from Paris to New York, you have to keep an eye on your stuff. Use common sense when traveling, especially with children or solo. Don’t wander unfamiliar streets late at night. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t carry large sums of money. Overall, Thailand is as safe as any city in the States, despite its reputation.
There’s much more!
This is just a drop in the bucket; there’s simply too much to see and do in Thailand. At the end of the day, you’ll have to see it to believe it, so, go on, book a flight (once travel restrictions are lifted of course and it safe to resume,) and live the dream, you’ll come back a different person.