Thailand Beyond Elephants and Cooking Lessons

Thailand despite its political upheavals and natural calamities in the past is a popular destination for tourists. Beyond floods and airport stoppages, the land of smiles, as it is commonly known, offers a fun-filled vacation with a variety of experiences ranging from shopping for personal and home items to enjoying beautiful beaches, from bathing with the elephants to getting a taste of Asian culture. Here is a quick tour of the best things to do in Thailand.

Bustling Bangkok

You would find Bangkok very modern and concrete, yet full of life and color. The hot and humid weather during the days will not stop you from exploring the street markets that are peppered everywhere throughout the city. A good way to steer through the heavy traffic is to use their metro or sky train service or if travelling alone brave the motorcycle taxis.

Shopping in Bangkok

For days you want to focus on shopping, the city has huge shopping malls everywhere. Most of the high-end malls sport expensive brands with excellent end of the month sales. For relatively inexpensive shopping in an air-conditioned mall, head to MBK where you can get everything from branded stuff to first copies of the popular brands. The food court offers cuisines of different origins and a comfortable space to take a break. MBK is definitely the choice for most savvy tourists as it offers a blend of high-end and the more affordable under one roof. Just across MBK is the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, with an interesting array of exhibits and installations by local and foreign artists. The weekend requires a trip to the Chatuchak market, Bangkok’s most famous weekend market for cheap shopping. Here you would get everything from clothes to toys, from home accessories to pets. Yes, Chatuchak is the place to go for getting souvenirs for annoying relatives and friends back home. Needless to say, anywhere you go in Bangkok, shopping opportunities would be there to tempt you.

Bangkok’s Bars and Nightlife

Bangkok is known for its nightlife. When the sun goes down, the mood of the city changes. The bars with pretty waitresses in short skirts come alive with noise and banter. For dinner in downtown, visit the Nana area to enjoy a variety of Lebanese and Arabic food. Smoking Shisha is one of the key attractions for many farangs on holiday in this exotic country after a heavy meal of Middle Eastern delights. A street bar in the Nana area offers a delightful opportunity to meet other foreigners over good but inexpensive drinks.

If you are not a backpacker, it would be a unique experience to visit Bangkok’s Khao San area near China Town. An area bustling with bars playing live music, street markets and restaurants seems like a small world within itself. Here you would see tourists like yourself from all nationalities walking through the lanes laughing and enjoying the gypsy spirit of the place.

Learn to Cook the Tastiest Foods of Thailand

As a tourist visiting a new country for a holiday, we wish to absorb as many new experiences as possible in our short stay. A half-day Thai cooking class in Bangkok will definitely add to your culture exploration. One of such places where a half-day cooking class takes place every day between 9am-1pm is ‘May Kaidee Restaurant and Cooking School’.  Located on a 30 minutes drive from downtown, it is a humble place with amazing energy.

The cooking class starts with a walk to the market, where the instructor gives the participants a lesson in buying vegetables. Once back, the cooking session begins by 10:15 am and several dishes are prepared in groups of 2.  A recipe booklet in English is distributed to help the participants to refer to the recipe discussed. The class ends with the instructor teaching the participants a song in Thai followed by traditional dancing led by May herself.

The Floating Market of Damnoen Saduak

An early morning trip to the famous floating market at Damnoen Saduak offers good photography opportunities in the early morning light. Old ladies with hats can be seen steering through the chaotic canals selling their merchandise, trying their best to attract tourists on vacation.

End your stay in Bangkok with a visit to the Chao Phraya River. Many temples frequent this area where religious rituals can be observed. After a day walking through the holy sites, a dinner by the riverside seems like a perfect end to the evening.

Chiang Mai

To get a taste of culture surrounded by mountains, head off to Chiang Mai. The place offers excellent handicraft shopping and lies close to many national treasures. After Bangkok, Chiang Mai would seem serene and green although the city is becoming modern with time. Yet the blend of culture with modernity offers a breath of fresh air to the visitors. The food and other items are relatively cheap in Chiang Mai compared to Bangkok. The city holds in its heart many temples and museums along with expansive parks. For the adventurous tourist, many companies offer rafting tours coupled with mountain biking and elephant riding.

Elephant Nature Park
One of the most interesting experiences to have when in Chiang Mai is to visit the Elephant Nature Park. Before heading there, a visit to the local fruit market to collect food and supplies for the elephants would be a good idea. Spending the day with the elephants in their natural environment while feeding and bathing them is an experience no vacationer ever forgets. Holiday-makers can also choose to donate to the organization for the good work they are doing for elephants that have suffered in the past.

Koh Samui and its Beautiful Beaches
The trip to Thailand will not be complete without a visit to the beach. Koh Samui, commonly known as Samui, is an Island in the Gulf of Thailand that has beautiful beaches to offer. A flight from Chiang Mai or a bus and ferry ride from Bangkok takes tourists to this tropical heaven that offers a relaxed and scenic end to their stay in the country. Enjoy food and drinks by the beach or snorkel in the glittering waters at the number of beaches the island hosts, Koh Samui will offer the perfect relaxing time one must experience on a holiday.

A two-night stay at the idyllic Hillcrest Pool Villa at Banyan Tree is a treat you deserve to give yourself. Located high on the hill, these villas offers awe-inspiring views of the waters and forests. With a rain shower and a private pool, the romantic getaway reaches its pinnacle when you witness, from your villa’s private deck, the sun setting over the island. The resort offers many activities and amenities in addition to some quite beach time in their private space. You can get water sports equipment from the resort to enjoy snorkeling, canoeing or sailing. End your stay with some relaxing yoga classes. Related: Exploring Koh Samui

Leaving Thailand, all tanned and de-stressed, most visitors are seen already planning their next vacation here to see and do what they couldn’t do. Maybe you will be one of them!

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