The country of Thailand is known for its exotic beaches, delicious food, and thriving culture. Located in the center of the Southeast Asian peninsula, Thailand boasts a booming economy and attracts over 20 million tourists a year. In 2013, Thailand was among the top ten most visited countries, and one of only two Asian countries to have made that list. Tourism to Thailand makes up approximately 6% of the country’s economy. Clearly, Thailand is a popular travel destination, and the success of the country’s tourism industry has only made it easier for tourists to visit Thailand. But there is more to the country than beaches and food. Taking a moment to explore Thailand off the beaten path can open up a whole new side to what the Thai affectionately call “the land of a thousand smiles.”
LeafCanoer cmlenny recently posted a leaf about Thailand called “Thailand in 10 Days.” Within the leaf are plenty of suggestions for seeing Thailand off the beaten path. Below are highlights from that leaf. A guide, so to speak, to experiencing a new side of Thailand.
Try the local street food
The best way to learn about a country is to try the local food. Thailand is known to have some of the best street food in the world. From cool fresh fruit to a hot steaming bowl of soup, Thailand’s street food is sure to surprise your senses and taste buds. A word of caution about street food, however. Always make sure your food is clean, and if ordering cooked food, make sure it is served piping hot.
Go shopping at night
The seasoned traveler will tell you, one of the best ways to experience the local side of a country is to visit its markets. The Night Bazaar in the city of Chiang Mai is one such market worth visiting. Located near the Ping River, the Night Bazaar is known for selling handicrafts, jewelry, toys and artwork. If shopping at night is not your thing, you can easily check out the daytime markets, especially the floating markets just outside of Bangkok. The most popular floating markets are Khlong Lat Mayom, Damnoen, and Amphawa, all located around the city of Bangkok.
Engage in local beauty customs
One of the popular trends in Thai beauty as of late are fish pedicures. For a small fee, you can dunk your feet in a pool or tub filled with tiny fish. These fish feed off the dead skin on your feet, and after a long soak, you are left with smooth feet, and a feeling of refreshment and relaxation.
Seek out the hot springs
Thailand has a number of national parks worth exploring and visiting. Within many of these parks are hot springs, which have become quite popular among the tourist set. After a long day of exploring, a dip in the hot springs is a well deserved reward for the weary traveler.
Meet an elephant
Getting to know the locals can extend beyond just getting to know the people. Animals are also worth getting to know. For a personal meet and greet with elephants, you can head out to the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand. Here, visitors can see an elephant up close and personal, touching it and feeding it, while at the same time learning all about what goes into taking care of an elephant.
With so many activities to choose from, it’s hard to pick one that really exemplifies Thailand off the beaten path. In actuality, the best way to explore a new country like Thailand is simply to get out into the country and try new things. In the end, these experiences are what will make your trip memorable and worthwhile.
For more ideas of travel and to read what other LeafCanoers have to say, download the LeafCanoe app.