If you are one of the millions of people who are coming to Thailand for a holiday this year, we can assure you of a holiday experience like no other. This unique nation has a culture that was never diluted by western colonialism and this is reflected in the diverse way of life that Thai people enjoy.
Here are a few must-do activities when you are in Thailand.
- Kayaking in Phuket – Book a 4-star hotel on Patong Beach and you can go canoeing daily and explore the caves and bays, while snorkelling and scuba diving are both popular. You can swim with giant manta rays and whale sharks, while schools of bottle-nose dolphins are seen in this part of the Andaman Sea.
- Muay Thai – There are two main Thai boxing arenas in Bangkok; Lumphini and Rajadamneun Stadium and they have fight cards on most days of the week. This brutal contact sport is not for the faint of heart and the atmosphere in the stadium has to be experienced to be fully understood. The rules are complex, but even someone who knows nothing about the sport would enjoy an evening watching top Muay Thai fighters exchange blows in the ring. Prior to each bout commencing, the two fighters do the ‘Wai Kroo’ dance, which is amazing to see! This is to pay respect to their teacher (kroo), while it also provides a whole body warm up for the fighter. Here are a few places to visit when holidaying in Thailand.
- Sak Yant – You may not know anything about Sak Yant, as it is unique to Thailand; this is an ancient ritual of tattooing disciples with certain symbols and emblems, believed to have spiritual powers. Google can help you find a reputable tattoo parlour where they have a resident Reusi, the holy man who is permitted to tattoo a Yant (image) on the person’s body. He does not use a tattoo gun, rather a long stainless-steel rod with a removeable tip and hand-pokes the tattoo onto the skin, which is quite painful. If you are into inking your body, why not receive the Hah Teow (5 lines) on your right shoulder, as this Yant offers good fortune and protection against evil spirits. When the tattooing is complete, the Reusi carries out a ritual that involves placing a mask on the disciple’s head and chanting mantras, which is very emotional.
- Explore the Bangkok canal system – Only a century ago, the canals in Bangkok were the main method of moving around and this is how most of the local population still gets from A to B. There are some great resources online to help you plan your canal expedition and for the brave traveller, take a chance and get on the first boat that comes along and see where that takes you! Each canal has a name, with many stops along the way, which are typically at Buddhist temples and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is now pushing for the diesel engines to be replaced with electric motors.
- Visit an elephant sanctuary – Fortunately, there are reputable elephant sanctuaries dotted around Thailand; whether you are in Phuket, Hua Hin or Chiang Mai, you are never far from an elephant sanctuary. It is important to choose a venue where the animals are not exploited; check their website for official endorsement, which is one way to find out if the organisation has the elephants’ welfare at heart. You can feed the elephants and take them down to the river for a shower, which is the highlight for every visitor.
If you have never been to Thailand, this will be a memorable holiday and it is likely to lead to a lifetime addiction, as most visitors do return. Make sure you book everything online, as this offers the lowest rates and with a little online research, you can choose your schedule and destinations. It is a good idea to so some online research into Thailand, its history and culture will enrich the holiday experience and leave you wanting to return next year, and the year after that!