Six Essential Things to Do in Thailand
There are so many things to do in Thailand, any traveler could be overwhelmed by the possibilities. This vastly diverse country is packed with colorful markets, glitzy nightlife, charming rural towns, world-class golf courses, scenic hiking trails, and elaborate palaces. When it comes time to plan your itinerary, let AOL Travel help narrow down the top things to do in Thailand.
Top Things to do in Thailand: Stroll Through The Grand Palace
Used by the Kings of Thailand since the 18th century, the shimmering Grand Palace in Bangkok is a cluster of buildings covering an area of 234 acres. Done up in a blend of Italian Renaissance and traditional Thai architecture, the Chakri Mahaprasat (Grand Palace Hall) has three wings, each topped with a layered, ornamental spire. The main temple of the Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Merald Buddha) is a stunning example of Rattanakosin architecture, elegantly embellished in gold. Of all the great Thailand attractions, this is one you really have to see to believe.
Travel Tip: Since the Grand Palace is a royal property, visitors are required to wear shirts with sleeves along with long pants or long skirts.
Top Things to do in Thailand: Ride An Elephant
A Thailand vacation would be incomplete without taking in the scenery from the back of these giants. Elephant rides through the jungle are extremely common, and the animals tend to be well-trained and patient with visitors. Many are even trained to perform tricks for tourists. Depending on your comfort, plans and budget, rides can be as short as a half hour jaunt at a tourist park or as long as weekend through the dense jungle.
Travel Tip: Depending on your site of departure, elephant rides can also be combined with biking or rafting tours for longer -- and quite possibly more comfortable -- treks.
Top Things to do in Thailand: Hit The Links
Believe it or not, golf is one of the most popular sports in Thailand. Mostly a game for the wealthy and elite, there are over 200 gold courses across the country, many of them championship standard. In fact, top designers such as Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones Jr. have laid out courses here, meaning Thailand is one of the best places to go golfing in all of Asia. Courses are not only challenging, but also exotically different from ones you are used to back home. Even better, the greens fees are reasonable and there are many courses that rent clubs.
Travel Tip: On most courses in Thailand, employing caddies is required. These caddies know the courses well, and are good at reading putts -- so don't be afraid to ask for help!
Top Things to do in Thailand: Visit The Medicine Man
Need some old-world healing? Ancient treatments may be able to relieve many of your ailments, or at the very least help you to better relax on your much-needed vacation. The art of traditional Thai massages has been perfected over at least 2,500 years, from times when families would sooth each others overworked muscles with herbal baths and massage. With tons of private spa centers as well as services available in places such as beaches and hotels, Thailand is Asia's top spa destination. To leave without at least a one-hour treatment would be a shame. Set some time aside in your Thailand vacation itinerary to pamper yourself.
Travel Tip: Thailand is also a growing destination for medical tourism. If it has been awhile since your last checkup, consider seeing a doctor in Thailand for a fraction of the cost of medical service back home.
Top Things to do in Thailand: Spend Time With A Hill Tribe
Of all the things to do in Thailand, visiting a hill tribe is one of the most unique experiences. Many tribes still live in remote areas and have not been influenced by modern life. In these communities, people wear traditional clothing and make their living by selling handicrafts. The best place to learn about the lifestyles and traditions of Thailand's hill people is in the north, where ten different tribes reside.
Travel Tip: The most remote of all the hill tribes are the Akha, a nomadic tribe can only be found on trekking tours. Tours around Chiang Mai, however, are so common tribes make their livings from welcoming travelers into their homes for overnight stays.
Top Things to do in Thailand: Admire The Floating Markets
The floating markets of Thailand are truly a sight to behold. Vendors paddling boats filled with fruits, vegetables and flowers traverse the waterways and barter with buyers walking alongside the canals. The unusual tradition and striking colors make for one of the most picturesque sights in the country. Unfortunately, thanks to modern supermarkets and department stores, only a few floating markets survive. Act fast, as this is one of the things to do in Thailand that might not be around forever.
Travel Tip: One of the most popular -- and consequently, best -- floating markets is at Ratchaburi, just a one day trip from Bangkok.
Photo by timparkinson on flickr.