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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 is the real Thailand that guidebooks and brochures barely talk about like the Erawan National Park.

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 authentic experiences that you should definitely try during your travel in Thailand with kids.

1. Stay with the Hill Tribes of Chiang Mai


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.

2. 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.

3. Celebrate a Festival in Chiang Mai


Do you want to see the Chinese New Year in Chiang Mai or the lantern festival and wondering what to do in Chiang Mai for new years eve? 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 like Oasis 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.

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.

4. 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!!

5. 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.

6. Go for a grueling Muay Thai session in Bangkok


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?

7. Shop at the bustling night markets in Phuket


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. The 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.

floating markets Thailand

8. Cruise along the floating markets in Bangkok


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. 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.

9. Ride a bicycle through Bangkok


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.

10. Enjoy a traditional Thai lunch in a floating village in Phuket


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.

11. Stroll through Phuket, 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.

12. Daydream in the Beaches of Koh Samui


Do you wish to visit the tropical islands, the enthralling temples, the local markets and the stunning beaches of Koh Samui, but need some travel suggestions about the beautiful places and activities around there? Koh Samui is one of the most attractive destinations in Thailand with palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, dense mountainous rainforests, plus luxury resorts and posh spas. Well, we have listed some interesting places of Koh Samui that you will love to explore.

12. Pai, a hippie town in Thailand


In Thailand, Pai is one of the destinations where the tourist is more homogeneous. Virtually all are young western backpackers. Pai is a small town that earned the reputation of being the main destination of the hippies, artists and bohemians of Thailand. Then they began to arrive foreigners and in the town they appeared budget hostels, t-shirts and souvenir stores, as well as shops of local and foreign hippies selling bracelets, paintings to what not. There is also plenty of vegetarian food and small wooden cafes with a very careful decoration.

Why do almost only backpackers go to Pai? Probably the main reason is the 750 curves of the road that arrives in Pai from Chiang Mai. In addition, the city, culturally speaking, does not have much to offer more than a couple of small temples.

The people who usually go to Pai, normally have many days of travel and go with the calm, to relax and to make excursions in motorcycle from the town from time to time. Without a motorbike you can not do much. They say that Pai should get the rhythm, a pacific island-style rhythm, where minutes and hours lose importance.

Once you have a vehicle to move, you can visit the Pam Bok Waterfall because it is easy to bathe in and has rocks that look like slides that you can slide through. Another quite popular is the Mor Paeng Waterfall. The Pai Grand Canyon is a good place to go to do some excursions, especially in the afternoon.

The two most important temples are Wat Klang and Chedi Phra That Mae Yen. The first contains a fairly old Buddha image and a Mon-style pagoda. It is located in the center of town, where the night market is held. The second temple is on a small peak with nice views of the area. You will see it from many places in the town if you look at the mountain. The huge white Buddha is easy to find. There are 352 steps to climb.
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Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author