10 Authentic Experiences to try in Thailand

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 - The 'real' Thailand that guidebooks and brochures barely talk about.

So if you are a traveler who likes to get under the skin of a place and look beyond the touristy exterior, here are 10 authentic experiences that you should definitely try in Thailand.

1. Stay with the Hill Tribes of Thailand

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. 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. They probably don’t even take you to a real village.

Where: Chiang Mai

2. Have a heart to heart conversation with a Monk

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.

Where: Chiang Mai

3. Take a Thai cooking Class

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!!

Where: Chiang Mai

4. Pamper yourself with a traditional Thai massage

It is almost impossible to leave Thailand without giving your sore muscles a taste of an authentic Thai massage. They are everywhere, so it’s easy to get one, you just need to decide the place.

There is Wat Pho, a popular temple in Bangkok, considered to be the birthplace of authentic Thai massages. Or you could get it on a beach, with the gentle waves and ocean breeze acting as a lullaby.

You can also get one right in the middle of the street, sitting in one of the recliner chairs. They are as good and easy on the wallet too. So remember, when in Thailand, say goodbye to sore muscles.

Where: Anywhere in Thailand

5. Go for a grueling Muay Thai session

If you love pushing the extremes of your physical boundaries, then a Muay Thai session is a great way to test yourself.

An intense sport, Muay Thai sees fighters launch a flurry of brutal punches, kicks, and elbow strikes to beat their opponents. Of course, you don’t really have to go that extent.

A training session involved strength conditioning, cardio and sparring are enough to give you a flavor. If you enjoy it, you can go for a month-long course. And if you have the heart for it, why not put your new-found skills to the test?

Where: Bangkok

6. Shop at the bustling night markets

Night markets are one of the best places to watch locals go about their daily business and mingle with them. They are also good for buying funky accessories, cheap clothing, and wacky souvenirs.

Their brightly lit stalls, energetic atmosphere and the aroma of delicious Thai cuisine are what draw travelers to them. So even if shopping doesn’t catch your fancy, night markets surely make for a gastronomic delight.

Where: Phuket

7. Cruise along the floating markets

You can find images of floating markets in most travel brochures about Thailand. Like the night markets, they are a beehive of activity, with locals going about their daily business.

floating markets Thailand

The merchants sell everything from vegetables and fruits to souvenirs and delicious Thai cuisine.The best way to absorb all this flurry of activity is by hiring a boat and cruising along the market.

Being extremely popular among tourists, they can get pretty crowded, often leading to traffic jams in these waterways. So make sure you reach early to beat the crowds.

Where: Bangkok

8. Ride a bicycle through the city to discover a different side of Thailand

A unique way of experiencing a city like Bangkok is to go on a bicycle tour. It takes you through small alleyways and traditional settlements. Along the way, you get to see Bangkok’s impressive temples and bustling night markets.

Once you cross the river on a ferry, you discover communities living along the riverbank and interact with them. Led by a fun local, the bicycle tour lets you discover a side of Bangkok you never knew existed.

Where: Bangkok

9. Enjoy a traditional Thai lunch in a floating village

Koh Panyee is a floating village near Phuket. The entire village is supported on stilts, making for an interesting day trip.

What is surprising is that Koh Panyee is a full-fledged village with schools, a police station and shops selling everything from t-shirts to souvenirs. You can just stroll along its walkways and get lost in its simple beauty.

Although Phang Nga bay cruises include Koh Panyee in their itinerary, we would recommend hiring a longtail boat and going there by yourself. If you reach early, you might be the only visitor.

Where: Phuket

10. Stroll through a town steeped in history

Phuket old town is a world apart from its ultra-urban vibe. It’s a town steeped in history. The architecture is European influenced and its quaint streets are lined with Sino-Portuguese shop-houses and colonial mansions.

There are many cafes, bakeries and eating joints along the way. You can just grab a cup of coffee, wander the area and absorb its old-world charm.

Where: Phuket

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