9 Reasons Why You Should Explore Thailand Beyond Just Shopping In Bangkok
1. Visit the umbrella factory
Bor Sang Village in Chiang Mai is THE place you want to go if you enjoy arts and crafts, although it is well-known for its umbrella factory. You’ll find a lively village filled with vibrant colours of hand-painted umbrellas or parasols. Take a tour through their umbrella factory where you’ll be able to see how they start crafting from scratch, drawing stations, sundry stations, to the fully assembled product ready to be displayed.
I’ve never been here but I’m already in love with this dynamic place!
2. Party away in Koh Chang
Koh Chang is Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket. You’ve probably heard of White Sand Beach in Koh Chang, but I prefer Lonely Beach. Don’t be misled by its name – though it is named “Lonely Beach”, it is ironically most famous for its nightlife. You’ll find mostly backpackers, cheap accommodation, and bars littered all over the beach. With parties happening every night, just be sure not to get a tattoo from one of the many tattoo parlours on a whim when you’re drunk!
3. Join in the water festival celebration
You’ve probably heard of this, and it is a festival you have to visit once in your life. In Chiang Mai, Songkran is celebrated for as long as a week in mid April! You will get very, very wet, because it’s a water festival about cleaning, purification and starting anew. The fun lies in splashing strangers with water – keep an open attitude! I mean, Thailand’s temperature is hottest in April. Water could do you some good.
4. Go diving at Surin Islands
The most extensive reefs in all of Thailand exist in Surin Islands. Even though it is home to Richelieu Rock, one of the most popular diving destinations in the world, the beauty of Surin Islands is that you don’t have to share the area with too many tourists.
If you’re in the mood for some snorkelling, diving, or admiring reef life and sea creatures, the best way to dive Surin Islands would be at Koh Torinla.
5. Go bamboo rafting down River Kwai
The best way to appreciate the beauty of River Kwai (in Kanchanaburi) is to go bamboo rafting. Slow and relaxing, you only need to sit back and let the water bring you downstream. Well, you can go canoeing and boating too, but bamboo rafting would be the perfect choice if you want to experience something more “local”.
6. Go on hill tribe cultural tours
The best way to immerse yourself in Thailand’s cultures is to get up close with the cultural hill tribes in the Chiang Rai province. For example, there are the Akha villages where its people are rice farmers, and women wear caps covered with silver coins:
This is the Yao tribe, who speak a language that’s derived from Chinese, live in houses among low hills in forests:
With the hill tribes diminishing in numbers, it’s time for you to work those leg muscles and trek through Thailand’s hill tribe areas – dense jungles and green plantations – to immerse yourself in their unique cultures!
7. Go whale shark sighting
As mentioned in the previous point, Richelieu Rock dive site is a renowned diving destination and perfect for whale shark (the largest fish in the world) sighting! Richelieu Rock is shaped like a horseshoe. Teeming with small critters, the best sighting would undoubtedly be the whale shark, commonly sighted at the north eastern outer wall of the horseshoe. Expect to see lots of tourists there too!
8. Gallivant around the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
The famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is open every night, regardless rain or shine! Kudos to the vendors! You’ll be able to find anything and everything here: CDs/VCDs, clothes, shoes, wallets, games, furnitures, household items, touristy souvenirs, jewellery… You name it, they probably have it. To fully experience the bazaar, start at Tha Phae Road and head south to towards Loi Khro, then cross the road and walk back again. Your trip to Chiang Mai won’t be complete without seeing the bright lights, blaring music mixed with haggling, and the aroma of street food vendors!
9. Take a dip at Thi Lo Su waterfall
Located in the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a UNESCO heritage site, this waterfall is the largest waterfall in Thailand and sixth largest in the world! It cascades down 160 metres and is surrounded by natural, lush forests. The cave behind the waterfall can be explored and you can swim around the area!
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