I love backpacking around Thailand and over the last few years of my adventures I’ve spent heaps of time bouncing around this amazing country.
And for good reason too – there’s so much to see and do, there’s very rarely a dull moment when you’re travelling around Thailand!
But one of the questions I get asked most about is what I’d recommend doing in Thailand – sure I’ve put together my Thailand Mini Guide about where to visit but I’ve not really posted about what to do. Sure I mentioned a few thing in my post on Budgeting For A Month In Thailand but I didn’t really go into too much detail.
So I grabbed a bottle of Chang and racked my brain, the result is my Ultimate Thailand Bucket List…
Party on Khao San Road
No visit to Thailand would be complete without a night of chaos on the infamous Khao San Road. It’s a hub for backpackers and a night out here is always glorious chaos! If this is where you’re basing yourself during your stay in Bangkok I can highly recommend Nap Park Hostel and Rikka Inn.
In the north of Thailand, a few hours trip by mini bus from Chang Mai through the winding mountain roads is Pai, an awesome little laid back hippy town. Nestled amongst rice paddies and incredible waterfalls this place is full of creative types and is a welcome change of pace from many of the big cities and towns.
Learn To Dive On Koh Tao
Getting PADI certified is something many backpackers head to Thailand to do – and Koh Tao is one of the cheapest places on the planet to get your open water dive qualification, you can nab the full course, including accommodation for under £200GBP!
Personally I use Big Blue whenever I’m diving in Thailand and you can also book it direct through my other site – EpicGapYear.com
Enjoy A Temple Sunset In Chang Mai
Just outside Change Mai is Wat Phra That Doi Kham temple – probably my favourite in Thailand actually! If you head here for sunset the Golden Temple reflects all the light and it makes for some epic photos!
The Full Moon Party
The famous Full Moon Parties on Koh Phangan are almost a right of passage for backpackers in Thailand now, with thousands of people heading to Haad Rin Beach to dance and drink until the sun comes up! It’s not going to be for everyone, but if you fancy covering yourself in UV paint, playing with fire and being part of an incredible beach party it’s worth checking out!
There are some awesome backpacker tours including Full Moon too incase you’re nervous about heading their solo!
Visit “The Beach”
Ok so I actually thought Maya Beach was a pretty crap beach in all fairness, but many people will still want to head there, just keep your expectations low!
What you can do however is jump on a full day island hopping tour from Phi Phi Island and include Maya Beach in that. The ones with Mosquito and Bamboo Island will take you to some of the most beautiful locations I’ve been in a while!
Eat Some Bugs!
Asia certainly has some unique cuisine so its time to get amongst it and sample some critters!
Deep fried scorpion?
How about just getting a pick and mix bag of them…?! Let me know which was your favourite!haha!
Scuba Dive the Similan Islands
If diving is something you’re keen on then I can’t recommend scuba diving in the Similan Islands enough. I’ve been back a few times now and it’s easily up there amongst my favourite dive locations on the planet. Whether you want big things or macro life the Similan Islands offer something for every dive taste.
Experience and Overnight Bus/Train/Ferry!
You’ll be hard pushed to avoid this one but the overnight buses, ferries and trains are an experience within themselves! Quick tip – if you’re opting for the train pay the extra for an a/c lower bunk, you’ll be glad you did!
Sip A Cocktail At The Hangover Bar (or any rooftop bar actually!)
Bangkok has heaps of rooftop bars which provide some stunning views across the city, so chuck on your best shirt and trousers and go sip a mojito!
Loi Krathong Lantern Festival
This has sat on my bucket list for waaaaaay too long now! Lori Krathong, or the lantern festival, takes place in the north each year and involves releasing thousands of floating lanterns. I really need to get there soon but my buddy Stephen from A Backpackers Tale has got some stunning images from his experience there.
Get Wet During Songkran
Another massive bucket list item I still haven’t managed to be in Thailand for! Songkran is basically the worlds biggest water fight to celebrate the Thai new year, so pack your super soaker and be prepared the get drenched!
Drink A Bucket!
It’s as chaotic as it sounds! Take one bottle of Thai Redbull, one bottle of spirits (yes a whole bottle!), your mixture of choice and a sandcastle bucket….add straws and consume! Enough said!
Visit The Floating Markets
For a unique shopping experience the floating markets outside of Bangkok are pretty epic! Hundreds of locals sell trinkets and food from their boats along the river – jump on one yourself and be guided around or stick on dry land, the choice is yours! Make sure you pack your camera as it’s greta for photos.
Kick Back & Relax On The Thai Islands
There are heaps of spots on the Thai Islands where you can kick back in a hammock, top up your tan and just enjoy life. Inn fact Island Hopping In Thailand is one of my favourite reasons for heading back there so much!
Remember – time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time!
Get Templed Out
Asia is packed full of temples and it wont be long before you’re all templed out. I probably wont set foot inside another temple for a long while – still getting to that point is pretty fun and soaking up the culture of Thailand is something you should take the time to appreciate.
Haggle For Your Trinkets
The markets in Thailand provide literally everything and anything! If you want a new tailored suit, some knock off Ray Banns, thai fisherman pants or even a taser you’ll find it! Get your haggle on and grab some bargains!
Get Stuck Into Some Muay Thai Training
If you get the chance to see a local Muay Thai fight it’s a fun night out, but if you want to go a step further there are heaps of Muay Thai training camps throughout Thailand that allow you to get involved and get in shape, probably something I should get around to doing at some point!
Enjoy a Thai Massage
I freaking love back massages and paying less than £4 for one is something I like even more! Indulge in a coconut oil massage by the beach or get twisted and contorted during a traditional Thai Massage – perfect after any long haul flight or overland bus.
Eat On The Street
Thai food is pretty freaking awesome, in fact it’s some of my favourite local cuisine. But it’s not the restaurants that are the best place to sample it, nope the street food stalls are where you’ll find the best meals! Pad Thai, curry, fresh seafood…each location has it’s own unique delicacies and range of stalls so be prepared for some food roulette!
Cook Like A Local
…really love the Thai food? Then why not learn to cook it yourself? There’s some great cooking day courses throughout the country – spend the morning hunting around local markets for the best ingredients then learn how to bosh out your favourite dish!
Eat A Massaman Curry
And talking about favourite dishes mine is Massaman Curry – a peanut based, creamy curry which I could eat for every meal no worries! It’s more traditional towards the south of the country so head there for the best sample of it!
Midnight Muchies At 711!
Ok so I’m on a roll with the food stuff here! Anyone who has been to Thailand will tell you how amazing a ham and cheese toastie from 711 is at 3am!
Whether its the famous view point on Phi Phi (which is part of the logo of my blog!), the twin islands of Koh Tao, a rooftop bar or a temple Thailand is full of incredible views. Some are a short stroll, some a hike, some a taxi – but all will be totally worth the effort.
Snorkel…Pretty Much Anywhere!
With clear blue waters and heaps of marine life you’ll be wanting to pack a snorkel for your Thailand adventure! It’s one of my top packing tips and I very rarely dont have one in my day sack when I’m by the ocean.
Ride In A Longtail
These traditional Thai boats are the best way to travel around the islands and anywhere near water actually. A shot of one of these with colourful ribbons dangling off the front is one of the postcard perfect Thailand shots you’ll be searching for.
If you’re not a fan of beaches there’s some amazing jungle treks throughout Thailand, with Chang Mai being the hub for some of the most well known ones, which also include a homestay with the local villagers. Pack good shoes, good socks and make sure there’s plenty of charge in your camera batteries!
Learn To Freedive
Thailand is also the spot that I first got involved of the sport of freediving – basically extreme snorkelling! It’s an incredible thing to experience and I’m now totally hooked!
Get A Bamboo Tattoo
Ok so this isn’t for everyone but if you’re looking at getting some travel ink a traditional Thai bamboo tattoo is an amazing experience. It’s much less painful than a ‘normal’ tattoo and heal super quick too!
If you’re looking to tick this off your bucket list and want a safe, authentic experience check out this Sak Yant Tour
Tear Around On A Tuk Tuk
I can’t believe I actually forgot to add this to my list on the first draft – luckily one of my readers flagged it up! Bombing around Bangkok and various cities throughout Thailand by Tuk Tuk is one of the most amusing ways to get around – they’re basically mopeds on steroids with extra seats on the back! Bonus points if yours comes kitted out with a beasty sound system and neon lights!
Of course there are heaps of other amazing things to see and do in Thailand – I have no doubt I’ll be adding to this list over the next few months, but hopefully that list will help you get started with your own Thailand bucket list! And if you’re looking for more inspiration of what to see and do check out the range of Thailand tours and trips on RTW Backpackers!
Have you visited the land of a thousands smiles?
Anything you guys would add in?