11 Things to Do in Thailand with Friends

Most travelers heading to Thailand visualize it as a country of countless beaches, scenic islands, and never-ending parties. Hidden behind its glamorous nightlife and famed beaches is a culturally rich country, begging to be explored. Thailand is within 1,000 miles of the equator, so you’ll get sunny warm weather year round. And you’ll find some of the most exotic shoreline in the world that looks like nothing else you’ll ever see.

Read some authentic experiences and things to do in Thailand that you should definitely try during your travel in Thailand with kids.

floating markets Thailand

So if you are a traveler who likes to get under the skin of a place and look beyond the touristy exterior, here are some tips when travelling to Thailand.

1. Visit The White Temple of Mueang Chiang Rai


Most visitors to the north go to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. These cities are very old (even Chiang Mai, "New Chiang") and loaded with culture. While you can go see temples anywhere in Thailand, this is a great place to do it. Go to the Golden Triangle where Thailand meets Burma meets Lao. That province is Chiang Rai. Gotta visit Wat Rong Khun AKA White Temple. That place is wild.

In the center of Chiang Rai every day they open a small night market. Next to the market there is one of the cheapest places to eat in Thailand while you listen to live Thai music. Visit the White Temple and the Black House, the two most famous places in the city.

One of the new ones, is the Blue Temple or Wat Rong Suea Ten, but you also have the ancient Wat Phra Kaew or the Wat Phra Singh. Another new, in the outskirts, and also white is the beautiful Wat Huai Pla Kung. Try the Khao Soi, a Thai dish with Burmese influence. It is a spicy noodles soup that is delicious. Visit the Mount Doi Tung and Wat Phra That or the Doi Tung Royal Villa.

Next to it are the pretty Mae Fah Luang Garden. Mae Salong or Santikhiri is a town only an hour from Chiang Rai. They say that the town looks like the beautiful Shangri-la of the province of Yunnan in China. If you want to enter Laos you are in the perfect place. Only 2 hours by bus from Chiang Rai you will arrive at the village of Chiang Khong.

There you can take a boat and cross the Mekong River to enter Laos. Phu Chi Fa is a hill near Chiang Rai very famous among locals. Look up Akha Hill House if you go to Chiang Rai. You can stay with them at their mountain hill tribe and experience tribe life. Theyll take you trekking through the forest and feed you in the mornings. It's really a fun experience.

2. Stay with the Hill Tribes of Chiang Mai


Vacationers who want to explore a different side of the country can visit Chiang Mai. Home to the most active Buddhist temples like Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh, and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, it is among the best Thailand places for those who are ardent Buddha followers.

Most travelers who visit northern Thailand, near Myanmar and Laos start with the city of Chiang Mai. An hour north of Bangkok by airplane, Chiang Mai’s slower pace and centuries-old sights will feature prominently in your memories. Enjoy a Thai massage by locally-trained masseuses, or go biking along the Old Town’s square moat that still exists today.

Dozens of Buddhist temples are here too, the perfect sightseeing opportunity. And when you’re exhausted from all that sightseeing, visit one of the bars along Nimmanhaemin, northwest of the Old Town.

Chiang Mai is a full-fledged tourist city and is just a few hours by plane from Bangkok so it's quite easy to get there. It's a cultural city so you can do all sorts of cultural sightseeing, such as Buddhist temples and museums. You can do simple walking around the city. Chiang Mai is pretty fun.

Lots to do there from bouncing around temples (can get old but are still so pretty) including Doi Suthep where there’s a temple in the mountains, zip lining, elephant camps, bamboo rafting, and more. Absolutely no experience gets as immersive as staying with the hill tribes of Thailand. It is the perfect opportunity to live and eat like the locals.

It is a 3-4 day trip where you trek through the jungles to find yourself in a village in the mountains- a village made of simple huts and hardworking tribals. Throughout your days here, you will sleep on the floor of a village hut, shower using buckets, pluck coffee beans (if you feel like it), eat home cooked meals and of course, click tonnes of photos with adorable children.

From Chiang Mai you can also head off on a handful of jungle treks or other tours. You can also go zip-lining though the trees. It's a fairly large city with most amenities you could desire from hostels to super luxury hotels. You will certainly have a better appreciation of Thai culture once you return.

Note: Beware of tourist scams which combine everything into a day tour from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. They probably don’t even take you to a real village. Keep in mind that February through April is a poor time to visit this region. The farmers burn off the rice paddies to prepare them for the next growing season.This creates a massive smog and haze problem that can range from unpleasant to unsafe.

3. Have a heart to heart conversation with a Monk in Chiang Mai


There are many temples in Thailand which have Monk Chat programs. These programs let you have informal discussions with prep school age Monks, accompanied by their teacher of course. So you are not only participating in a fun exchange culture here but also helping them get better at English. And what do you talk about with them? You can talk about anything right from their ambitions to sharing your own stories.

The Ku Chang stupa sits north of the ancient walled city of Hariphunchai, dating hundreds of years before the Thais arrived and established the Lanna Kingdom in Chiang Mai. The stupa is unique in Thailand, bearing more similarity to the ancient Pyu stupas of Myanmar than the later, Sri Lanka-inspired bell-shaped stupas that the Thais would employ.

Legend says that this stupa's reliquary chamber houses the tusks of Queen Camadevi's war elephant, who could kill just by looking in one's direction. Because of this, the elephant's tusks were entombed aimed skyward. The climate of Chiang Mai is quite different compared to the popular nearby Bangkok. It is a resting place amidst the cold climate and cool breeze. The lower part of the city is beautiful and can be easily walked on foot, and a short scooter ride allows you to roam the countryside.

4. Celebrate Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai


Do you want to see the lantern festival in Chiang Mai? Yee Peng or sometimes even written as Yi Peng is a unique festival in northern Thailand, celebrating the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar usually in November. Yee Peng has been celebrated as an independent event to celebrate the end of the monsoon season and the start of the cold season, but nowadays it is celebrated in tandem with Loy Krathong.

Although other cities and cities in northern Thailand celebrate Yee Peng, Chiang Mai is the best place to experience this truly magical festival. All around Chiang Mai you will see thousands of lanterns (khom loy) floating in the sky, candles that cover the small sois (lanes), special parades and krathong (floating flower offerings) floating on the Ping River.

Usually, a big new years eve lanterns event takes place at the University of Maejo about a week before Yee Peng. During the actual Yee Peng festival, the Three Kings Monument, the Thapae Gate, the Old Town moat area and the Ping River are the main places where the celebrations take place.

If you prefer not to be part of the hustle and bustle of Thapae Gate or the Ping River, escape to the crowd and head to a rooftop bar or take a leisurely stroll down the candlelit lanes. The temples and local houses decorate their entrances with flowers and coconut leaves and the act of making or donating khom loy and krathong is significant in Buddhist culture.

5. Celebrate Chinese New Year in Chiang Mai


Do you want to see the Chinese New Year in Chiang Mai and wondering what to do in Chiang Mai for new years eve? The Chinese New Year is an equally important event. The Chinese New Year is celebrated from the end of January to the beginning of February, in the small Chinatown of Chiang Mai. The gastronomic stands show off the best culinary specialties of Chinese cuisine accompanied by live concerts and allegorical parades.

6. Take a Thai cooking Class in Chiang Mai


Thailand is blessed with an amazing cuisine and if you want to dig into it a little more than ordering a Pad Thai, then enroll yourself for a Thai cooking class. It starts with your teacher taking you to a local market to buy the ingredients. That in itself is an overwhelming experience. The markets are hectic, but it’s a great place to see the locals in action.

Once you have all the ingredients in place, it's time to grind them up into a curry paste and whip out some lip-smacking Thai cuisine. And the best part about the class is, you get to eat what you make!

7. Caring for elephants in Chiang Mai


The north is also where a lot of elephant sanctuaries and camps can be found. Depending on your view of the treatment of animals, you have a couple of options. You can go to a sanctuary loaded with rescue animals when you can learn about how elephants live, wash them, feed them, and do all sorts of other "work tourism."

If you just want to go to them anyway you can go to an elephant camp or trek where you can ride an elephant see an elephant show with hula hoops, dancing, tightrope walking, and painting. You can also ride an elephant and watch other people wash them. In Thailand, it is typical to take an elephant excursion in one of the many elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai that offer nature walks on the backs of these giants.

The Elephant Nature Park is located about 55 km from Chiang Mai. Patara Elephant Farm is another one of several elephant farms in Chiang Mai. In Thailand there is a centuries-old tradition called Phajaan. This technique of training consists, literally, in splitting the spirit to the elephants.

So you have booked yourself a place in the famous Elephant Nature Park to have unrestricted access to these imposing creatures in their natural habitat. It is very important that you come prepared for this part of the adventure. To keep you on your feet always, you should pack your jungle ready clothes, t-shirt or tank top, shorts, long-sleeved shirt, scarf, or light jacket to protect against the weather and elements. It is important you go for light and comfortable shoes that give you a firm grip on the ground.

You should carry sandals adapted for long hikes and flip flops, if you are certain to spend the night outside your lodgings. You should also not forget your sunglasses, a hat, a small backpack, photocopy of your passport, water bottle, bug/mosquito repellent, camera (without a flash), books to read, toiletries, if you are spending the night outside your lodgings and spare batteries.

You noticed we mentioned having a photocopy of your passport handy. For travelers, this is surely not a new thing, but for the new folks around, this is important so that you don't lose important documents in a country you know little to nothing about.

In addition to the above mentioned, you should also be in high spirits and get as curious and adventurous as you can be. It's allowed.

8. Full Moon Party in Ko Pha Ngan


Located in the abyss of Thailand, between the islands of Ko Tao and Ko Samui, Ko Phangan is famous for its nightlife and composed parties. It is mostly visited by backpacking community, who want to merge themselves with natural beauty. This island is full of thick rainforests and white sand beaches. There are also beautiful Buddhist temples that we recommend you to visit.

Each year, a Full Moon Party is organized on this island. If you are flexible with the dates, we suggest you visit it in those days. The Fullmoon Party is the most famous beach party in the world. It is organized every month every full moon on the beach of Haad Rin. 10,000 and 30,000 people gather each month wanting to have fun.

There are several stages with DJs, and each bar opens its beach bar facing the beach. Each stage and each bar plays a different music. There is music for all tastes from techno, trance, house, drum & bass, R & B, reggae, commercial music, etc. There are Thai food stalls all night, people who paint body and face with fluorescent travel tattoos, and animation is guaranteed by jugglers and shows with fire, in addition to fireworks.

Alcohol is served in abundance, especially in the buckets (beach cubes with straws with distilled drinks like whisky, rum, vodka, refreshing drinks, and a very powerful Thai energy drink. As in any mass party, drugs are also present. Keep in mind that the issue of drugs is very haunted in Thailand with very hard penalties and that during the party there are many police incognito.

If your goal is to stay near where the party is being held, the best place is Haad Rin. Alternatively there are also many people who stay at Baan Tai, a long beach near Haad Rin and which is very well connected to it.

9. Beachineering in Trang


This island is a part of 51 islands that have its place in the Tarutao National Marine Park archipelago in southwest Thailand. This island offers unspoiled and silent atmosphere to all the visitors, and they can easily relax in this environment without worrying about anything. There are multiple huts and bungalows that can be leased for your stay.

You can also enjoy mountains and jungles. This island is a home to large turtles. So try to observe without disturbing them with your presence.

Dive Into The Ocean's Secrets At Koh Lipe. The stereotypical thought of paradise for most is white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and epic sunsets. Koh Lipe fits that brief to the tee.

What to do in Koh Lipe? Witness nature's magical bio-luminescence during night dives just off the coast. Bright and colourful coral reefs you can snorkel to right off the beach. Explore the entire island barefoot and watch epic sunsets while sitting in a hammock in front of your unhotel on a quiet private beach! Visit Koh Lipe before the rest of the world discovers it on Instagram!

A settlement of sea wanderers, Koh Lipe is an island in the Adang-Rawi Archipelago in the Southwest of Thailand. A small island outside Tarutao National Park, you can practically walk around this whole place in an hour or two. Development of any building is prohibited by law, and tourists are warned not to take part in any activity that hurts the ecology of this beautiful place.

The beaches have plenty of accommodation in the form of huts and bungalows. If you want a beach experience with your beloved, with a little extra privacy, this is the place to come for a mother daughter trip.

10. See the ruins in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya


Ayutthaya is the old capital of Thailand and is a collection of old ruins and temples. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, but UNESCO is threatening to take away that title due to poor upkeep and an inability to control the people trying to sell crap to tourists.

It is a great place to spend a day or two. An hour and a half or so north of Bangkok, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a tour guide to pick you up from the city in the early morning, drive you to all the sites, and drop you back off at your hotel in the evening.

Load up on some history by spending the day exploring the ruins of the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. Located approximately 85 kilometers away, the previous capital of Thailand is every history buff’s dream. Marvel at the ancient architecture, listen to stories about Burmese invaders, Buddhist temples, and ancient Thai kings.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to bring your cameras too, because you’ll definitely want to capture some photos to keep in your memory bank!

11. Street Food in Hat Yai


Thailand has lots of tasty and delicious street food. People who travel to Thailand don’t want to miss Thai street foods.

Located in the extreme south of Thailand, near the border with Malaysia, is the city of Hat Yai. Although it is not nearly as big as Bangkok, Hat Yai has a large urban area that makes it the largest metropolitan area in the south and the third largest in Thailand. Since Hat Yai is a big city, you may wonder why go there from Bangkok.

The truth is that Hat Yai is a city known for its shopping areas, both shops and markets, so it offers something for everyone. Also, like any Thai city, it has some fantastic temples. Thai Railways operates the trains from Bangkok to Hat Yai. They depart from Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok and arrive at Hat Yai Train Station, which is located in the city center.

Almost all trains leave Bangkok in the early afternoon and arrive in Hat Yai the next morning. The journey time can be between 16 and 18 hours, but there is a faster train that leaves Bangkok at 22.50 and arrives in Hat Yai at noon. This train fills up more easily than others, so you will have to make your reservation in advance if you don't want to risk running out of a ticket.
Kalyan Panja