From hot-air ballooning to kite surfing, nearly every imaginable activity can be arranged during your holiday in Thailand. Select from the following activities to learn more about Thailand’s diverse activities or browse the highlighted activities and select those you wish to add to your travel planner by clicking the link with the green circle.
Thai culture features a number of performing arts including Thai dance, drama, and sport, all of which have a number of intriguing variations. Variety shows that feature a number of different theatrical arts are common in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya. There are also venues that feature Thai culture shows that specialize in particular arts.
Perhaps the most popular among visitors is classical Thai dance, which is typically accompanied by live classical Thai music. Thai dance performances in Chiang Mai, which are typically arranged in conjunction with a dinner of traditional Thai food, also feature dances from various hill tribes living in Thailand. Thai theatre includes performances by masked dancers as well as puppet shows, either performed by similarly masked dancers, or from behind a curtain using the shadows of the puppets to recount tales from Hindu and Buddhist lore.
Other Thai culture performances include wedding ceremonies, theatrical performances of ancient Muay Thai boxing matches, and of course exhibitions of Elephants, either showing off their working skills or even playing musical instruments.
As a Buddhist nation, Thailand is full of spectacular temples, the purpose of which is for Thais to devout themselves to the principals passed down by the Buddha, nee Siddhartha Gautama. As Thailand is such a welcoming country and Buddhism is a non-restrictive religion, it is easy for visitors to study Buddhism and learn meditation at a number of temples and meditation retreats around the country.
While those simply curious about Buddhism can attend “monk chats” at Wat Chedi Luang or Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai, these and other temples allow visitors to check themselves in for a week or longer of intensive meditation study.
While certainly intriguing, these meditation retreats are not for those unprepared for serious self reflection: the purpose of meditation is to clear the mind and achieve clarity and inner peace; consequently, most meditation programs do not allow students to talk during their stay, with the exception of meditative chanting and discussions with senior monks to help their meditation techniques. Furthermore, by its very nature, meditation can be somewhat mundane, and so visitors are expected to follow the routines and procedures quite thoroughly if they wish to genuinely learn to meditate properly and achieve the most from their experience.
For those unable to commit to a remote meditation retreat from which they cannot easily leave, Wat Mahatat, near Bangkok’s Grand Palace, allows visitors to study meditation no less strictly, but with more flexible time requirements.
With the increasing costs of medical care in the developed world, more travelers are realizing the affordable cost of high quality medical services in Thailand. Including airfare and recovery time –which may even be spent relaxing on the beach- nearly all medical procedures are far less expensive in Thailand than in the west.
Western trained doctors and state of the art technology are found in many of Bangkok’s internationally certified hospitals and waiting times for procedures are much shorter than in many western hospitals.
Popular products and services for medical tourism include:
Prescription Pharmaceuticals: While many pharmacies in Thailand do not require prescriptions for drugs sold over the counter, even those requiring a doctor’s prescription are generally much cheaper in Thailand than in fully developed countries.
Dental Care: Many Thai dentists have either studied or practiced abroad and are able to perform dental surgery for a fraction of the cost in the west. Routine dental procedures, including fillings, cleanings and teeth whitening, are far less expensive and are easy to arrange around any holiday to Thailand.
Cosmetic Surgery: Thailand is one of the leaders in the world for many cosmetic surgical procedures, including LASIK eye surgery, botox and collagen injections, face lifts, hair removal, and sexual re-orientation surgery.
Medical Procedures: Numerous hospitals with ISO 9001 accreditation provide outstanding medical treatment and reasonable prices for the most invasive of surgeries. Multi-lingual staff, doctors trained in the United States and European countries, and state-of-art facilities and technology are a few of the reasons to come to Thailand for back, knee, or even heart surgery. The fact that many of Bangkok’s hospitals exude Thai hospitality and are designed like five star hotels should make your recovery from a successful surgery a pleasant one.
Without question, Bangkok is one of the world’s premier shopping destinations. Shopping in Thailand is world class, featuring 21st century shopping malls, such as Siam Paragon; multi-story electronics malls including Panthip Plaza; expansive local markets, such as the JJ weekend market; and local markets from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani that sell everything from clothes and household goods to food and flowers.
Nearly every city and town has a central market that is a fascinating way to spend a few hours and a great way to pick up toiletries, clothes, or local handicrafts. In the larger, touristier towns like Chiang Mai, weekend markets and night markets feature all variety of handicrafts both modern and traditional, including t-shirts and dresses made by inspirational young artists and puppets and jewelry crafted by hill tribe communities.
Bangkok’s night markets on Patpong and Sukhumvit Roads are ideal places to pick up souvenirs or gifts for those back home, while more impressive gifts can be procured from retailers such as certified antiques dealers, gem and jewelry shops, or Jim Thompson, the famous silk pioneer. In regards to gems and antiques, it should be noted that there are numerous occurrences of scams involving antiques and gems, and restrictions on the export of Buddha images. Otherwise, with the right guidance there are genuine opportunities to make some brilliant shopping discoveries.
Getting clothes tailor made in Bangkok is a top priority for many, though boutique shops in Siam Square feature the latest ready-to-wear designs from the city’s chic young designers. Meanwhile, in Chinatown, almost every conceivable knick-knack and trinket is for sale in the myriad mazes of back alleys, while those shopping for gold can do so along the district’s Yaowarat Road.
Thailand’s beaches and islands are top tourist destinations and nearly every imaginable water activity is available for visitors to participate in. Windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving are simply a few of the innumerable activities available in and around Thailand’s beaches and islands. Many inland destinations, including Chiang Mai, are located on or near major rivers and offer a variety of other water sports, the most popular of which are whitewater rafting and kayaking.