During last year’s StudentUniverse holiday party, I was the lucky winner of a pair of Delta tickets to any destination in Asia. Did I cry tears of joy? You bet. Was I overwhelmed by the number of options I had? Definitely. As I discussed my options with family, friends, and colleagues it became clear that Thailand was the obvious choice.
If you are currently trying to pick your next big destination, I’m telling you, Thailand is the place to be. They do not call it the “Land of Smiles” for nothing. I was smiling just daydreaming of Thailand before I left, I was smiling on the way there because I was so excited, the locals welcomed me with wide smiles, I’m smiling the entire time I’m there, and now that I’m gone, I smile every time I think about Thailand. Smiles for days! It is the happiest place on earth. Below I highlight some of the things you should do when you visit Thailand in 2016.
Wander through the Grand Palace
This is a must-do while you are in the city of Bangkok! To say that it was breathtaking is an understatement. Marvel at the variety of colors and unique architecture, and explore the palace grounds. Appreciate all of the fine details and décor surrounding the palaces and temples; the structures in the complex are beautifully designed. Walk through the halls and catch glimpses of history painted as murals. Basically, if MTV Cribs was to film a royalty edition, this would be the place to do it. Pay your respects to the Emerald Buddha who dawns a new outfit depending on each season.
Wat Po – Your One-Stop Shop to See Over a Thousand Buddha Images
If you couldn’t get enough of the Grand Palace, then I suggest making your way over to the Wat Po complex right after. Wat Po is about a 10 minute tuk tuk ride away from the Grand Palace and happens to be one of Bangkok’s largest and oldest Buddhist Temples. A fan favorite is the giant Reclining Buddha located in a chapel– he lays peacefully, as the image represents his entry into Nirvana. This Buddha is the epitome of chill. While in the chapel, you’ll notice a row of 108 bronze bowls, you can purchase coins to drop into the bowls for good fortune.
Unique Shopping Experience – Floating Markets
Do you enjoy shopping? Do you enjoy great food? This is a great way to spend an afternoon during your stay in Thailand. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located a couple of hours outside of Bangkok and open daily. The floating markets are where the good deals come to you! You can sit back and relax as you float through the aisles of vendors on the long boat. Nothing catching your eye? Then keep calm and float on, more vendors are around the corner! Even if you’re not a shopper, it’s fun to watch the hustle and bustle of those haggling for souvenirs, and vendors eager to sell you fresh pad thai or delicious mango with sticky rice.
Max’s Magical Thai Food
When you go to Thailand expect to eat A LOT. Don’t be afraid to try it all because the food is phenomenal. If you are walking around on an empty stomach in Bangkok, I highly recommend stopping by Max’s Magical Thai food. This restaurant is situated near the popular Khao San Road road in Bangkok. Max serves you the most delicious food and this isn’t the only trick up his sleeve. While you’re dining, Max, the chef himself, will blow your mind with his magic tricks.
Stay Overnight in a Floating Bungalow – Khao Sok National Park
If you can, it is worth it to get away from the city for some peace and quiet. In Khao Sok National Park you’ll find stunning lakes, limestone mountains, an evergreen rainforest, caves, and spot fun wildlife like the Macaque monkeys. You’ll find unique accommodations floating over the lakes and the only way to get there is by a scenic ride on a longboat. There are plenty of outdoor activities to take part in as well. Opt to go jungle trekking, bamboo rafting, cave exploring, and of course, take a dip in the lake.
Seriously, need I say more? There are many elephant sanctuaries where the mahouts ensure that these gentle giants are well taken care of. At some places you even get to play mahout for the day and take part in the cleaning, feeding, and playing with the elephants! This experience was the highlight of my trip, it had always been a dream of mine to get up close to these wonderful creatures and now I can say it is crossed off my bucket list.
Party on the Beaches of Koh Phangan
Ain’t no party like a full moon party! The nightlife in Bangkok is some of the best in the world, and the full moon parties down on the beaches are next level. Thousands of people attend the wild parties each month and show up decorated in neon paints. If you can stand the heat, dare to impress your friends by fire jump roping. If you’d rather keep your eyebrows intact, you’ll still have fun watching all of the fire twirlers and jugglers from afar. Aside from the fire shows, be ready to dance the night away to great music.
These are just a few of the MANY spectacular things to experience in this beautiful country. Whatever you choose, you will leave with fond memories and Thailand will forever hold a special place in your heart.