Here are my 11 TIPS FOR FUN (and safe) EXPERIENCES IN THAILAND that include sight seeings in Bangkok and local life, food experiences and beach adventures on the islands.
#1 Go see the Grand palace in Bangkok. Even if you are visiting Bangkok just as a stopover, this palace is enough to awe you. Its Budha statues, murals, columns and hallways are spectacular. (Advice for the LADIES - please do not wear bare shoulders and short skirts or they wont' let you in and you will have to borrow palace clothes at the entrance. They can stop you even if your bra/ tee straps are visible on your shoulders. I wore pants, T-shirt and a scarf and it was OK.)
#2 See Bangkok from the river on Chao Phraya. This massive river is pulsing a life into the city. The boat rides to the Khlongs (canals) will show you Bangkok from a new perspective.
(Be prepared that the water current is quite strong and the water is not the cleanest unfortunately.)
#3 Take a Tuk Tuk to Khao San Road Sun Road while in Bangkok. Tuk Tuks are open aired car (carts?). They are cheaper then cabs and not as fast. You can always negotiate the price. Khao San road is a place famous for its bars, food stores, market stalls, clubs and massage places.
(Busy day and night, It's like this street never sleeps. It's here that I had my first bucket of Mai Tai.)
#4 Definitely do some island hopping. I took a day ferry from the mainland (3 hours) to Kho Phangan island and from there a boat to Koh Samui island. Travelling on water made this trip even more exciting. You get to see the surrounding islands along the way and you can pretend to be a sailor for a little while. My favorite holidays are the ones where I can chill on the beach. I have never stayed on a coconut island before and I loved it.
#5 Stay on the island. Tropical coconut island with private white sandy beaches? Sign me in. I have always wondered what it would be like to live like Mr. Robinson for a day or two. The past time on this island for us was to eat, sleep, swim, snorkel, kayak, play volleyball, read, eat, relax and repeat. (Warning! You might never want to leave :-)
#6 Try some local food and drinks. Red panang curry with coconut milk, spicy noodles, grilled fresh sea food, fresh water melon juice. Need I say more? Prices are very wallet friendly and I never got sick (I worry about getting sick when travelling) which is a BIG plus.
#7 Explore the island on foot, by boat or on a scooter. Popular means of transportation for locals and tourists in Thailand or any Asian country for that matter are scooters. Staying on a small island gives you an advantage to see it all and it is less expensive than hiring a car.
(Advice: Driving a scooter can be fun but it can become life threatening in a split second. Before even thinking about riding a bike, please make sure your travel insurance covers this activity and please make sure that you know how to ride the bike and where to ride the bike (correct side of the road included).
#8 Give it a go at water sports. You might get bored of just laying on the beach. There are many water sports that you can try that will cost you less money here then at home. You really won't be able to think of an excuse why not to try snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, jet ski or paddle boarding. (Again, be travel smart and check before hand if your travel insurance covers these sports!)
#9 Enjoy the night life and see Ladyboys performance. There are lot's of places where you can enjoy great food, drinks and go dancing if you desire to. Lots of venues are on the beach as well and have their own dj's and perform shows and night entertainment.
#10 Ride an elephant. This is quite famous Thai activity. If you care about the animals, you can always do your research and pick a tour provider that is not neglecting these awesome animals.
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