Travelling around Thailand has almost become a rite of passage for travellers looking to have an adventure. You won’t be a travel pioneer of you visit, but my gap year trip to Thailand was hands down one of my favourite trips I’ve ever done. It’s a country that’s exciting, exotic but easy, it has beautiful beaches, temples, jungles and it’s still so cheap. So what if everyone else has done it? Here’s my list of the top ten things to do in Thailand that are cliché and that you should do regardless.
Visit Khao San Road
There’s something comforting about how having embarked on a journey, thousands of miles from all the familiarity of home to crazy and chaotic Bangkok, you come to Khao San Road and for just this short stretch of street, everybody else is like you. Stalls of street food, bars, restaurants and hostels, Khao san road is a little sanctuary for backpackers. It may sound like you’re idea of hell but especially if you’re travelling solo and feeling alone, then this road, and it’s opportunities to meet fellow travellers, may be exactly what you need.
Embrace your spiritual side at Wat Pho
If you’ve seen photos of Thailand you probably would have seen one of the giant reclining buddha at the temple Wat Pho in Bangkok. This impressive statue is a wonder in itself and there’s nothing quite like wandering around the temple gardens to let it sink in that you’re not in England anymore.
Full Moon Party
I was so sceptical about the full moon party in Koh Phangan. It’s really everything that I hate. It’s trashy, its loud, it’s full of people who are completely wasted, and yet it was such so much fun. Drinking from buckets, watching fire jugglers, meeting people and dancing until 9am the next morning. It’s not a culturally enriching experience but it’s definitely one for the bucket list.
Zip lining in Chiang Mai
I’d never really done anything like this before I went to Thailand so I didn’t really know what to expect. Along with seeing elephants and visiting the tiger sanctuary, both of which i didn’t fancy because i wasn’t sure about the conditions they were kept in, Zip-lining over the jungle in Chiang man, Northern Thailand, is one of the most popular activities. We went with Flight of the Gibbon which had a whole course of ziplines, ending with a 900m line through the jungle. It was so terrifying but honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had.
An overnight train
Not only is it really fun, but getting an overnight train is actually a really efficient way of getting from a to b. We took the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai which left around 9 in the evening and got us to Chiang Mai for breakfast. Tickets are cheap and include a little bunk bed and bedding and there are o course toilets on the train, just don’t expect anything luxurious.
Hike to the viewpoint in Koh Phi Phi
I have a photo of my dad at the Koh phi phi viewpoint from when he went travelling when he was younger, I have my own photo, my friends who went after have their photos, yet if you’re in Koh Phi phi then making the hike up to watch the sunset is a must do.
Visit ‘the beach’ in Maya Bay
If you’re going to Thailand, you probably would have heard about The beach’. This popular book and film starring Leonardo DiCaprio brings thousands to Maya bay, a small island, a short boat away from Krabi on the mainland. The irony that The Beach, about the search for a paradise, hidden from other backpackers has become one of the most popular tourist attractions, isn’t lost on anyone but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit.
Kayaking in Railway beach
Also accessible from Krabi, Railway beach is one of the most postcard perfect beaches in Thailand. With its impressive rocks and clear waters, it’s a great place to rent a kayak and spend a few hours rowing around.
Be a hippy in Pai
Organic food, yoga retreats, juice bars: Everything about Pai is backpacking heaven. Explore the waterfalls near by, go Instagram pictures of your breakfast, go and mediate then have hummus. Pai is a haven for hippies and wanderlusts, you just have to bear in mind that it’s not a genuine cultural experience.
Eat street food
Some people will tell you not to touch the street food sold off vendors in Thailand but this is one time, it’s best to ignore all advice, (except mine). For less than a pound you can buy steaming hot piles of pad thai noodles, made right in front of you. It’s quick, fresh and filling, and as long as you go to a place that looks like it has a high turnaround, you’ll be fine living off thai street food.
Interested in learning a little bit more about Thailand before you go? Read on for some more inspo:
10 dishes you have to try in Thailand
10 things I learnt from a Thai monk
Ayutthaya: Temple ruins and sunsets