What is Thailand Known For? 10 Things That Make Thailand the Country it is
Thailand has long been a tourism hotspot with thousands of visitors flocking to the country every year to make the most of what it has to offer
What is Thailand Known For?
Thailand is known for its stunning beaches, the friendly people, elephants, and for having the yoga-like Thai massage. Other things Thailand is famous for are; delicious food like pad thai, som tum and mango sticky rice, as well as temples, tuk-tuks, floating markets and full moon parties.
But, if you’ve been living under a rock and aren’t sure what Thailand is known for or why it should be added to your bucket list, read on to find out all about what makes Thailand unique…
1. Stunning Beaches - Famous Around the World
The spectacular beaches of Southern Thailand are one of the major draws of this gorgeous South-East Asian country. Thailand offers a whole host of mainland and island beaches that are just longing to be explored, and whether you fancy a pristine all-inclusive beachfront with sunbeds and parasols or would prefer a more secluded spot under a remote palm tree, fear not, as Thailand has you covered!
Ever since the release of Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘The Beach’, tourists have been coming in droves to discover the stunning beaches of the Thai islands. From popular spots like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Samui to more low-key islands such as Koh Kradan and Koh Yao Noi, Thailand has a beach for everyone.
If you want to unwind on a picture-perfect sandy beach, with warm waters and palm-fringed shores, Thailand is the place for you!
2. Temples - Experience Thai Culture
Another of Thailand’s highlights is the wealth of temples located around the country. Ranging from simple pagodas on the side of the street to glistening gold beauties in the heart of the city (and everything in between!), Thai temples are not to be missed.
Almost 95% of Thai people are thought to be Buddhist, so it’s no surprise that the country is dotted with shrines and temples celebrating the faith. Each of Thailand’s temples is unique, with different sites being known for different aspects. Some of the best temples to visit include Wat Pho in Bangkok known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha; Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn; Wat Mahathat in the ancient city of Ayutthaya which features the head of a Buddha statue enclosed in the roots of a sacred fig tree; and Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai’s White Temple.
3. Epic Parties
If you enjoy wild nightlife, then certain areas of Thailand will be well up your alley! From the Full Moon Parties on Koh Phangan to the walking streets of Pattaya, Krabi and Phuket with bars and clubs galore, Thailand can be a real haven for those who want to party.
While parts of Thailand’s nightlife scene have given the country a bit of a bad reputation (think: GoGo Bars and red-light-district massage parlours), this image only scratches the surface of what is on offer in Thailand after dark. On the whole Thai nightlife offers cheap drinks, loud music, excellent snack food and big dancefloors so that you can continue your night well into the early morning.
It is certainly possible to completely avoid the somewhat sleazy side of Thai nightlife and enjoy a perfectly innocent night out. Koh Phangan, in particular, is a relatively safe hotspot for backpackers who come here for the endless parties and bucket cocktails which keep things cheap and cheerful.
4. Thai Street Food
Coming to Thailand without trying the street food would be like visiting New York and not seeing the Statue of Liberty or exploring Agra without going to the Taj Mahal! It’s an absolute must.
Thai street food comes in all shapes and sizes and can be found all over the country, whether in dedicated hawker markets or simple stands on the side of the road. Despite the government trying to crack down on street vendors selling their dishes in Bangkok, you can still find sumptuous street food if you know where to look! Khao San Road is a favourite among travellers, while the dishes at Jai Fai in Rattanakosin (cooked up by the Queen of Street Food Supinya “Jay Fai” Junsuta) are a must for foodies!
Picking up Pad Thai to go, munching on satay skewers, trying sweet, sour and salty Som Tam soup and devouring mango sticky rice should all be high on your agenda for a trip to Thailand.
Colourful tuk-tuks (motorised rickshaws) are one of the best ways to get around in Thailand as not only can they weave in and out of traffic much quicker than a taxi but they look great too. Each tuk-tuk has its own style and no doubt the driver will have their own unique personality!
You can even use tuk-tuks when you arrive on an island to get to your hotel as you’d be surprised at how much luggage can be squeezed into one of these little vehicles!
Don’t forget to haggle a price with the driver before you get in and make sure it is a fixed price that you are happy with. If you’re unsure how much things should cost, chat to staff in your hotel and they should be able to give you a rough price depending on the distance you’re wishing to travel.
6. The Friendly Locals of Thailand
One thing that people fall in love with time and time again in Thailand is its people. The warmth and hospitality of Thai people can be seen wherever you go in Thailand, and you’ll never be far away from a friendly face or helping hand. Whether you’re lost in the city or want local recommendations of where to eat, you’re sure to find someone willing to offer their support or services.
If you want to take this to the next level, you can choose to experience the joy of a homestay where you will live with a local family, dining on authentic dishes and getting to know more about their way of life.
Bartering at markets is another fun way to interact with locals, and on the whole, market vendors love the back-and-forth of making a deal. Even if you’re nervous about haggling, do it with a smile on your face, and it’s sure to be a good experience all round!
7. Floating Markets
Floating Markets are fascinating makeshift marketplaces that are set up in the waterways of Thailand, particularly in the city of Bangkok. These markets are created with boats and floating platforms and sell everything from fruit and flowers to street food and souvenirs.
Even if you don’t wish to buy anything, the floating markets themselves are a sight to behold and visiting at least one should be on your bucket list!
The colours, smells, sounds and sights of a bustling floating market will stay with you for a lifetime and exploring one of these markets is a wonderful way to get an insight into local life.
8. Thai Massages
Thailand is known for having an excellent selection of massage parlours and spas, offering everything from $5 back, neck and shoulder massages in local shops to high-end spa days in luxury resorts.
While most spas and parlours offer standard aromatherapy oil massages and hot stone treatments (that we have come to know and love in the West), they also offer traditional Thai massages which are a whole other ball game. Thai massages are quite intense, almost yogic treatments that involve the client wearing loose pyjama-styling garments while being manoeuvred into specific positions that will stretch you out and balance the body’s energy. While they’re not always the most relaxing treatments (at least not your first time) it is well worth experiencing at least once in your lifetime!
Elephants are the national animal of Thailand, and as such, they are somewhat of an icon within the country. Even Thailand’s main brand of beer, Chang, is named after the Thai word for elephant!
The Indian elephants that reside in Thailand have had a difficult history with many being used as logging labour and domestic pets, often with severe maltreatment. This species is now endangered in Thailand with just 1000 thought to exist here in the wild.
For a while, elephant tourism was big business, with many companies offering elephant rides and experiences. However, as we have learnt more about animal welfare and the impact these experiences were having on the elephants, this has significantly reduced and is highly discouraged. Instead, you can witness elephants in sustainable, safe settings such as dedicated animal sanctuaries, where you may be able to help wash and care for these gentle giants.
10. The Grand Palace of Bangkok
Last but by no means least is The Grand Palace in Bangkok, arguably one of the most famous sights in the country. The Grand Palace, also known by the much longer Thai name Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang, is a colourful complex of temple buildings located in the heart of Bangkok, with towering gold spires and impressive decor throughout. This palatial site offers tourists an insight into the country’s culture, history and religion and is a must for all travellers to the city.
The palace is over 200 years old, yet the constant upkeep of this site ensures that it looks more dazzling than ever! While the site can seem somewhat overwhelming, it’s important you make time to visit Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which features the small but renowned and revered Emerald Buddha statue.
So, there you have it, my list of nine things that make Thailand unique. What do you love about Thailand, or what are you longing to experience? Let us know in the comments below!
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