7 UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN THAILAND
Thailand is one of my favorite countries on Earth. The main reason being the experiences that it has to offer. With its vast number of islands and land diversity, it can get overwhelming to plan a trip there. This list, along with 6 Unforgettable Things to Do In Thailand, has been crafted to help you choose your experiences first and then your destination accordingly.
To help with your Thailand exploration:
1-GET YOUR DIVING LICENSE in KOH TAO
Koh Tao is a tropical paradise and one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand, well known for its diving opportunities. The island is full of diving centers, which makes the price of getting a license pretty low. Most places there usually charge an average of 260$ for an open water course (basic diving license). Just for comparison, the average price of a diving license in the world is usually anywhere between 350 and 450$. If you're interested in getting your open water certification, hop on over to Koh Tao to get certified. Diving there is magical, as the marine animals and coral are plenty, and there's even a wreck dive (HTMS Sattakut) and an underwater park (Buoyancy World). Having dived a little everywhere over the world, I can guarantee you that this is one of nature's most beautiful sites, albeit a bit touristic.
Who I recommend getting your license from: roctopusdive.
2-CAMPING AND HIKIN AT MU KO ANG THONG NATIONAL PARK
Many people know that you can take a boat tour to Mu Ko Ang Thong national park from the nearby islands (Koh Tao, Koh Phan Gan, Koh Samui, ... ) and spend the day there snorkeling, caving, and hiking. What some people might not know is that you can also spend the night there camping. The park can provide you with any camping-related types of equipment, including tents, sleeping bags, and mosquito nets. If you're not exactly the camping type but still want to spend the night there, they also have six simple bungalows for 600 baht per day (2 bedrooms). Still, you need to reserve them, and you can only do that via this website or ask your hotel staff/Airbnb host/friend to make that reservation for you. This is one activity that I always recommend in Thailand because it's one of my favorites. The parks cut all electricity at 11:00 pm. I distinctively remember waking up in the middle of the night because I needed to go to the bathroom: I walked between the palm trees with the sound of the sea and saw fireflies everywhere. It was crazy to look up at the starry sky with big dark palm tree leaves shielding some of it. I recommend doing the viewpoint hike (the longer one) the second day and kayaking around the island. Oh, and you also get greeted by monkeys if you're an early bird, so if you weren't convinced this is one of Thailand's best adventures, there's that extra argument.
3-DISCONNECT in koh yao noi
Koh Yao Noi is a laid-back, unspoiled paradise and one of Thailand's best-kept secrets. The island is relatively small, quiet, and underdeveloped, and there's nothing much to do there except for relaxing. I went there with my family, we got a vila in front of the beach, and I would wake up each day at sunrise, have a 5k run along the coast, have breakfast with my family, and take my motorbike (200 bahts a day) to go and explore the island either alone or with my brother. The roads are extremely well taken care of, and traveling by motorbike will give you the opportunity to see beaches, rice fields, water buffalos, and every animal in between. The island itself is located near Phang Nga Bay, and you can arrange tours from wherever you're staying to it. There are five stars accommodations as well as economic hostels available. Check out this post for more unspoiled islands: 10 lesser-known islands in Thailand.
4-SLEEP ON A BOAT and camp at may bay
Hundreds of tourists flock to Maya Bay Phi Phi island every day to swim and snorkel in its beautiful water and snap a picture by its stunning rock formations. The trip to the bay is a great experience itself but can be ruined because of the number of people you find there (Thailand tourism is hardcore) when you finally reach the beach. A great alternative is the following: Maya Bay tours. They're the only company that has the right to go to Maya bay after closing hours (around 5:30 pm), plus their trip has a maximum number of 20 people per night, so it makes it that much more of a unique activity in Thailand that is usually so overpopulated with tourists. The trip includes snorkeling, a BBQ (In the bay! you'll be the only people there), and sleeping either in one of the ship's cabins or by the starry skies on the top deck (my personal favorite as there is no light pollution). The next day, you also can relax by the beach before any tourists hit the spot.
5-VOLUNTEER AT A SAFARI PARK IN KANCHANABURI
This is probably one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I volunteered at this safari park zoo with 2 of my friends for three weeks, and these weeks contain some of the most amazing memories I have formed. We slept in a room with a private toilet, would wake up at 6:00 am every day, had breakfast together with the other zoo volunteers, and each went our separate ways to our assigned tasks of the day. There are several volunteering tracks to choose from: Cubs, where you will take care of baby lions/tigers/leopards (minimum of 1 week required), Big cats, where you will learn to take care and train the 'teenage' lions/tigers/leopards ( minimum of 4 weeks required), General team, where you'll have a combination of taking care of the cubs, the rescue animals, elephants, and other safari animals (minimum of 3 days). I recommend staying as long as you can; you won't develop a relationship with the animals in just a few days. Personally, after about a week, the cubs were running to me each time I entered their area, and they would snuggle up to me and even sleep on my chest. Now, as a disclaimer, this isn't the best zoo in the world. Every business has its pros and cons, but I can guarantee that the volunteer program is hugely beneficial to the animals. In the park itself, we would sometimes spend up to 15 hours a day to keep everything running and improve current situations. Volunteers even sometimes donated some of their own money to construct new and better enclosures. Although the park still has a long way to go, it's on its way to somewhere positive.
6-modern day Jurassic park
Khao sok national park
If you're looking for luscious green pristine jungles, emerald green waters, and the adventure of a lifetime, look no further: Khao Sok National park is here to fulfill your wildest Thailand dreams. You have a variety of different choices here, so I'll state a few:
Hiking in the jungle
Canoeing in Klong Sok river
Exploring cave systems
Getting close to some elephants
Simply relaxing in your river or jungle hut
There are many ways to explore the park, and a lot of different agencies offer their services. You even have the choice to go there alone and book the excursions/activities you want at the park's separate entrances. I recommend booking a hut on the river ( yes on not by), there are different options varying from 1 to 5 stars, there's no wifi/electricity during the night in a lot of these accommodations so you will genuinely feel disconnected. Most of them also offer free canoe/kayak rentals, which allow you to explore nearby uninhabited lands. Alternatively, there are also some cool hotels in the middle of the jungle surrounded by tall mountains. This is the best experience I had in Thailand, hands down.
7-NIGHT TRAIN RIDE
BANGKOK TO CHUMPHON
Some people might not consider taking the train as a 'unique experience.' Neither did I before I took a couple of long train rides in Thailand. The thing is, if you're traveling to Thailand, you're probably going to be hopping around from place to place quite a bit. The country is huge, so you've probably also considered booking an airplane ticket or two. Please don't. Unless you're really, really really tight with time, book a train ride. You can do that even if you're traveling from the mainland to an island by combining the train ride with a boat service. I recommend this because the experience itself when I did it was great. My friends and I still talk about that epic train ride we had from Bangkok to Chumphon to this date because it was fun, the views were epic, and till this date, we haven't experienced anything quite like it - although train rides in Vietnam come to a close match. Now a couple of things to point out: you should book beds if you're taking a long train and the area that has ACs (the fans are fine too), buying your snacks beforehand would also be smart because the snacks they sell aboard are more expensive. Traveling overnight by train is a great experience, and it also saves you a hotel night's stay. The best part is the scenery changes from green to urban jungle, or waking up with the sun shining through your curtains, depending on where you're going.
To help with the rest of your Thailand exploration: