Destinations

Top places to visit in Thailand

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It couldn’t be easier to board a plane bound for this Southeast Asian pleasure zone, and whether you’re after a flop-by-the-pool resort holiday or an action-packed adventure, Thailand has it covered.

One night in Bangkok

Bangkok is a bustling metropolis well worth exploring but do not, I repeat DO NOT be tempted to hire a car and drive yourself around – unless your idea of a good time is being stuck in traffic. Instead, opt for a hotel close to the Old City sights, and get around by tuk-tuk or Skytrain.

If your visit coincides with a weekend, set aside a few hours to wander around the indoor-outdoor Chatuchak Weekend Market. Like many attractions in Thailand, this 35-acre shopping magnet has more than one name; it’s also known as JJ Market. There are 10,000-plus stalls in 27 sections selling everything from handicrafts to homewares.

Temples abound in the Old City, but Wat Phra Chetuphon (also known as Wat Pho) should top your list. It’s home to the world-famous, 45m-long Reclining Buddha.

Feeling peckish after a day of sightseeing? Sign up for an after-dark food tour by tuk-tuk to try the foods of northern and southern Thailand. You’ll meet the owners of family-run eateries and learn to order like a local.

If you plan to visit Khao San Road or one of Thailand’s other red light districts, keep an eye out for pickpockets, ask the price before entering a club or taxi, and don’t leave your drink unattended – drink spiking is more common than you may think.

Kick back in Chiang Mai

Big and sprawling it may be, but the city of Chiang Mai’s historic centre is surprisingly chilled out. Spend a day or two exploring the lavish temples and feasting on streetfood before heading out to the forests, mountains and rural villages that surround the city. An experience you won’t forget is a visit to an ethical elephant sanctuary, where you can help bathe and feed the elephants and generally lavish them with love (because who doesn’t love elephants?).

Live it up in Phuket

Running short on t-shirts? You’ve come to the right place. It may be touristy but Phuket’s natural beauty and opportunities for fun in the sun mean its popularity never wanes. White sandy beaches, emerald waters, resorts that spoil you rotten with poolside massages and delicious dining day and night … it’s a yes from us. The best time to visit is between November and February, when rainfall and temperatures are lower. As for beaches, head for Patong if you’re in the mood to party or pristine Mau Khao to recharge.

Unwind in Koh Samui

Watersports, bars and restaurants are just as easy to find in Koh Samui as in Phuket, but this island tends to attract more couples and families than singletons out for a good time. Visit between January and April to avoid the wet season, and plan your trip according to your interests, whether that be cooking classes, watersports, spa treatments or cocktails by the pool.

Escape to Krabi

Ah, Krabi, we’re glad you’re here. This relaxing stretch of stunning coastline overlooks more than 150 islands jutting up from the sea and is just the salve an overworked Aussie needs. There are countless accommodation options, but to really feel like you’re getting away, stay at Railay Beach (accessible only by boat). Explore this quiet hideaway by kayak or scale the limestone cliffs with a climbing guide if you like … but there’s absolutely no shame in spending your days lazing on the beach with a good book.

Travel Insurance for Thailand

Travel Insurance Direct can cover you for various things you may encounter on your trip to Thailand. But what does that mean? Have a look at exactly what we cover and what we don’t to check if the policy offers protection for the things you feel are important, but some specific things we offer cover for are:

This is a brief summary of cover only and does not include the full terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions. Read the PDS before purchasing.


Author

I grew up in the US, Germany and Australia, so it feels more foreign for me to stay in one place than to move around. Since then, I’ve called Boston, London, Seattle, Brisbane, Madison and Sydney home for study and work as a journalist, travel writer and photographer. I specialize in adventure travel, social issues and interiors/architecture. Home is now an 1890s cottage in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. I traveled to my seventh continent last year – an action-packed expedition to Antarctica – and have memories galore of my travels. Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, galloping with gauchos in Chilean Patagonia, trekking through Japan, and camel riding in Jordan are among the most memorable. My least favourite travel hiccup was being stranded in Cameroon when I should have been winging my way to Paris for a little me-time. You win some, you lose some.

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