Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for holidaying Australians.
People underestimate the size and diversity of the landscape. Thailand is famous for Bangkok’s nightlife and shopping plus its picturesque beaches. However, Thailand boasts amazing national parks, tropical islands, the golden triangle and floating markets!
The Grand Palace
A series of buildings that are over 200 years old that are tipped in gold. This is Bangkok’s most visited tourist attraction. Hence, it can be extremely busy when visiting but is still worth the visit. The crowds can be smaller at morning opening time as at night, the Grand Palace is illuminated and very popular.
For a few days of elephant conservation and jungle adventure take the train to Chang Mai (from Bangkok) and find yourself amongst the mountains of Thailand. Find a ‘best practice conservation’ elephant sanctuary and you can wash, water, feed and even ride an elephant. This is an amazing experience. The elephant is Thailand’s national symbol and there are plenty of ways to encounter or work with the animals all over the country.
Explore Beautiful Islands
Just beyond Bangkok, the Kra Isthmus, provides an expansive coastline with hundreds of tropical islands and stunning beaches. On the west coast, are the famous islands of Phuket and Phi Phi, while on the other side of the country, in the Gulf of Thailand – you can visit Samui, Koh Phangan, Pattaya. Visit Rough Guides for a great summary of the top 20 islands to visit.
Koh Li Pe
Koh Li Pe has some of the most pristine beaches in Thailand. Pattaya Beach is the most visited, where you’ll find everything from five-star resorts to three star budget beach bungalows. These beaches remind many of the pictures that adorn tropical island postcards. There are many beaches to visit, so it is worth your while researching the region before you visit.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and is ‘the’ tourist hot spot. There is plenty of three to five star accommodation to choose from, so most budgets are catered for. You can relax on the beach or partake in any water activity, except surfing – the water is calm and family friendly when compared to Bali. Stay a while and you’ll find many activities that extend beyond resorts and day spas.
Hill tribe villages
You can actually spend one to several days with local families and experience village life. This is a growing tourism experience, with many families equally enjoying this opportunity from a life experience and educational perspective. The Akha, Lisu, Hmong and Karen tribes are found in the north of Thailand. We recommend you conduct your own independent research if interested in learning more.
Festivals are extremely common and diverse in celebration across Thailand. Tourists are welcome to partake/join the festivities. The festivals provide great cultural learnings – especially for kids. Must see festivals are the Loi Krathong floating lanterns (November), Songkran/Thai New Year water festival (April), and the Naga Fireballs (October) which is a naturally occurring event.
The Golden Triangle
Sop Ruak, or the Golden Triangle is where the Mekong Delta meets the Ruak River. It is also the geographical intersection of Burma/Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. This is an interesting place to visit but don’t expect to be visually awed by stunning landscape. But the locals have tried to compensate by erecting Buddah’s, elephant statues and markets that sell all sorts of memorabilia. It is an interesting place to visit. The Golden Triangle used to be the opium growing capital of Asia. The Hall of Opium, in Golden Triangle Park, explains the history, the industry, and all about opium.
You will have seen photo’s in the Lonely Planet and other travel guides. Wooden boats strung together, loaded with seafood, flowers, vegetables and other local produce. The markets are colourful and pungent. It is best to arrive early before the crowds build. They make for great insatgram photos! The most noteworthy markets are:
- Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi: Located 100km south-west of Bangkok on the way to Hua Hin/Cha-am.
- Amphawa Floating Market, Samut Songkhram: Opens in the afternoons.
- Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market, Bangkok: Not as many tourist frequent this market but the locals love it. A great authentic local experience.
Backpackers and those interested in Australian military history frequent this location. This is where you find the beginning of the Death Railway, and the bridge over the River Kwai. Both sites are synonymous for Australian WWII prisoners of war, where thousands perished under extremely harsh conditions as they constructed the railway. It is a very sobering place to visit but essential if you want to honour our veterans.
Thailand’s landscape is diverse and includes, jungles, beaches, mountains and beautiful national parks. The site www.thainationalparks.com is a wealth of information about the best national parks. Links are provided below.
Covering an area of 2914 square kilometers, it is the largest national park in Thailand. It is the best location for birders and other wildlife enthusiast, one of few places in Thailand where tigers can be seen in wild. What makes Kaeng Krachan the best is that it still has relatively low visits from tourists.
The third largest national park of Thailand, listed as world heritage site in 2005. Khao Yai has over 50km trails for hiking and easily accessible roads for wehicles and bicycles.
Situated in South Thailand, home for one of oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. Khao Sok has few moderate trails with many waterfalls and a lake with spectacular views over limestone hills.
Covering an area of 482 sq km, it is home to highest mountain in Thailand. Doi Inthanon has many waterfalls along the road to the top and is one of best places in Thailand for birdwatchers.
Like most of Asia – Thailand has a variety of shops, markets and boutiques. In every town there are street markets with a variety of stalls that sell jewellery (real & fake), silverware, wood carvings, silk, pottery, clothing of every imaginable fashion brand (mostly copies) and much much more.
Obviously Bangkok has incredible variety and we recommend the following markets:
- Chatuchak (JJ Mall);
- Weekend Market; and
- Asiatique Night Market (riverside), open from 4pm – midnight, seven days a week.
Why Travel Insurance is a must for Thailand
Thailand’s infrastructure and medical facilities vary from region to region and unfortunately not all trips go to plan. When experiencing the new and unfamiliar, the odd mishap will occur. Although you can’t plan for the unexpected – you can prepare for it – with travel insurance.
Common claims include:
- Moped accidents. Unsuspecting riders usually hit by local traffic. Please note you must have an Australian licence, wear a helmet and not be under the influence of alcohol or insurers may decline your claim.
- Travel delay and additional accommodation expenses due to cancelled flights, delayed coaches or mechanical issues with trains.
- Broken arms or ankles due adventure activities or slippery tiles.
Travel Insurance Plus offers quality travel insurance for less than you might expect. Australian owned and operated, you can be sure we will understand you, whether you are up the creek without a paddle or not within cooee of help.
If you would like to compare Thailand to Bali, you can read our Bali blog.