Now that I’ve been home for a while and have had some time to reflect on my incredible adventure, I find myself missing The Land of Smiles. Thailand is nicknamed The Land of Smiles because of how people generally feel when they’re there taking in all of the natural beauty there and because of the Thai people’s warm personalities. Thai people really do tend to smile (yim) quite a lot and I loved soaking up all of that positive energy while there.
Thailand is the perfect place for a solo adventurer because there is an endless supply of things to do and see. I never had time to feel lonely or bored because I was too busy trying to fit in as much as I could before I ventured off to Bali. Even though I was in Thailand for 10 days, I only scratched the surface of all of the cool experiences one can have there. With that being said, I’m sharing with you a list of my top activities that I enjoyed while in Thailand that you can add to your future itinerary.
Where I stayed: The Line, luxury high rise condos in the Upper Sukhumvit District
Why I loved it: The location was phenomenal and the accommodations were top notch! I was on the 26th floor with picturesque windows with city views. The building had a rooftop common area with an infinity pool, library and nicely equipped gym! The condo is also very close to the BTS Sky Train Phra Khanong stop so that you can get around the city with ease. There were also lots of food options right at my doorstep.
- Patpong District: Patpong is essentially Bangkok’s Red Light District and has a huge night market situated on bar-lined streets. Patpong is where the “ladyboys” play… While I opted against venturing into any of the clubs, I was routinely approached by older men with laminated sex show price lists asking if I wanted to see a Ping Pong show… don’t ask. LOL! Sex shows aside, the area is very lively and the night market shopping was great! I bought some nice jewelry pieces and souvenirs while here. It’s definitely something you must experience when you’re in the city!
- Wat Pho (The Temple of the Golden Reclining Buddha): Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples and it was definitely worth the visit. Wat Pho has a modest entry fee of only 100BHT ($3), which includes a bottle of water. There is a shrine inside the temple grounds where you can pray, meditate, light candles or incense and provide an offering to the Buddha. They have all the materials you will need there for only 20BHT (60c). I took the opportunity to pray and meditate with others from around the world and leave an offering for the Buddha. It was a calming, introspective and beautiful experience. There were also plenty of local artisans, food & souvenir vendors on the grounds whose sales help fund the temple’s operations.
- Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn): Wat Arun was a sight to behold. Even local monks were snapping photos in awe of the temple’s architectural beauty. Wat Arun captivates you with its exquisite layout, towering spires with stunning colors and intricate details. A word of caution: those steps up are STEEP! I had no trouble getting up, but when it was time to walk down, I definitely had to give myself a pep talk as did some other Americans I ran into who were temple gazing as well. I definitely did NOT want to go out like that! LMAO😆
- Thai Massage: Massage parlors line nearly every street in Bangkok, so I had to take the opportunity to experience the unique and highly therapeutic Thai yoga massage technique. I opted for a 1-hour massage at Sarolux spa in Phra Khanong for 250BHT ($7.62). Where in the U.S. can you get a massage for that cheap?!? While the Thai massage technique is very different than any massage I’ve ever experienced, I left feeling like I was floating on air. I highly recommend this style for anyone who deals with stiffness, chronic pain or just needs a really good stretching! I’ll be doing a comparison of my Thai and Balinese massage experiences later on the blog. Here’s a quick video for those of you interested in what it’s like!
- Ratchada Rot Fai Night market was amazing! Ratchada is situated in a huge outdoor area adjacent to a local mall and the one word I can think of to describe this place is VIBRANT! Ratchada was buzzing on a Monday night with tourists and locals and the energy was palpable. Music was pumping through the air, there was a plethora of food vendors to choose from, plenty of bars and shopping. I got my taste buds blissfully blown to smithereens at the Holy Shrimp Louisiana Seafood restaurant where I enjoyed listening to music and people watching from their elevated outdoor seating. I highly recommend visiting this place. This was definitely my favorite outdoor market.
- Thai Cooking Class: As someone who loves to cook, this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I found the Pink Chili Thai Cooking Class via Airbnb Experiences and it lived up to the reviews! First, we ventured to the local market to pick up the ingredients we’d need for our dishes. Pimmy, our instructor, explained the significance of each ingredient, provided us with substitutes we could use for items that aren’t readily available in our home countries and explained how the ingredients work together to create balance in each dish. After we gathered our ingredients, she gave us time to explore the market and take in all of the varieties of produce, spices, and meats available. From there we walked to the cooking school and got to work! We created 5 traditional Thai dishes and then got to eat the fruits of our labor, which was definitely the best part! Everything we cooked turned out really well! I highly recommend taking a local cooking class when you’re abroad. It’s a great way to learn more about the culture and arm yourself with new recipes for your arsenal.
Where I stayed: Charm Resort
Why I loved it: The Charm Resort is about a 2-minute walk from Patong Beach and the rooms are extremely spacious and well kept. There’s a nice restaurant on the premises and it’s walkable to most anything you’d want to do.
- Patong Beach: I spent a lot of my time in Phuket just taking in all of the beauty around me. I read, meditated, watched surfers catch the waves, and walked aimlessly up and down the sandy shores. The sunsets here were like something out of a travel magazine and often felt surreal. I focused on connecting with nature after leaving the busy streets of Bangkok. Patong Beach gave me everything I needed and more.
- Tiger Kingdom: Hands down one of the best days of my life! I was always one of those kids who loved animals and wanted a pet tiger. So this day was a childhood dream come true! I literally could not stop smiling as I got to pet and play with these beautiful and graceful creatures! I didn’t even dawn on me that I had anything to fear until someone asked me, “but, weren’t you scared?” after I posted my pics online. NOPE! Too busy having fun playing with tigers.😆
- Entry fee: 900 BHT ($27) and you can choose which size tigers you want to interact with. I opted for the small tigers which were around 9 months old and as you can see, they were already quite large.
- Bangla Road: Bangla Road is the heart of Phuket nightlife. It’s a high energy bustling street lined with bars, clubs, go-go shows. Live music pumps all down the street and people are everywhere. Even if you’re past the party stage of life, it’s a must see even if you just walk down the street to take in the scene. While checking out a bar on Bangla Road, a group of Americans walked past me. The last guy in the group stared at me and I stared at him, and then we jumped when realized we went to college together and used to hang out through mutual friends! What are the odds of that?
- Phi Phi Islands Excursion: This was such a magical experience and one that I highly recommend. My day trip to the Phi Phi Islands and beyond was simply out of this world. Words cannot convey nor can pictures truly capture just how beautiful are the Thai islands. I saw mountain ranges in the middle of the ocean, swam in beautiful turquoise waters, witnessed monkeys who steal (#monkeymafia 🤣) and enjoyed a buffet lunch on the beach. There are tons of local companies that provide tours, so always negotiate for the best price. I paid 1800BHT for my tour which works out to be ~$55, roughly half of the advertised price. Definitely worth the money!
Where I stayed: Seaside Studio Near Big Buddha
Homemade Breakfast at the Studio overlooking the bay
Why I loved it: The views! This was one of my favorite places to stay. You look out and are greeted with the sun glistening over the bay. The hospitality was top notch! When I arrived they had a fresh coconut waiting on me, flower petals throughout the suite, updated amenities and a stocked fridge and fruit basket. This is hands down the most thoughtful Airbnb experience I’ve ever had! The owner arranged a driver from the airport, took me on a walking tour of the local area and personally took me to the airport when it was time to leave. If you go to Koh Samui, stay here and do not think twice!
- Wat Phra Yai (Big Golden Buddha): Since Koh Samui is a much slower pace than Bangkok or Phuket, you get to experience the temples in a different way. There are typically fewer tourists around and there are also no entry fees, though donations are welcomed. I was able to really take it all in without distraction or feeling like I was in someone’s way. I took the time to meditate here and just observe all of the beauty around the temple as well.
- Wat Plai Laem: Hands down was my favorite temple to visit. It felt like I was walking around in a fantasy world. The temple grounds were vibrant and full of color. In addition to a big statue of the Buddha, Wat Plai Laem also had statues of other spiritual figures such as Guanyin, the Goddess of compassion and mercy with smaller shrines dedicated to Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, and Sakka.
- Fisherman’s Village: A great area to hang out for the day. There are plenty of cute shops, restaurants, massage parlors, and beachfront venues to keep you occupied. You have to try one of the Thai rolled (fried) ice cream vendors while there. It’s fun to watch them create your dessert and even more satisfying to taste! The night bazaar on Mondays and Fridays is a must! They have live local cover bands and a pretty awesome fire show. I had a blast here.
Have any questions about my experience? Feel free to drop me a line in the comments!