Thailand is the unbeatable winner when it comes to popular destinations during winter. Many are attracted by the exotic environment, the nice people and of course the beaches. But here’s also both an intriguing culture as well as history which is best experienced if you don’t spend your days on the beach.
Here are 11 things you should do (in addition to sunbathing on the beach)!
About five hours north of Bangkok you find Sukhothai which was the first ancient capital of the kingdom Siam, between the years 1283 and 1438. The buildings that still remain are classified as an world heritage by UNESCO and provides an exciting place to explore. There are plenty of impressive things to see, such as Wat Mahatat which is the biggest tempel in the park.
Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple)
Prepare yourself for an incredible view when you visit Wat Rong Khun, also known as The White Temple. The decorations and details on the building are extremely impressive and distinguish it from other Buddhist temples in the country. The purpose of using the white color, instead of the typical gold one, is to symbolize Buddha’s pure character. Wat Rong Khun is located approximately 20 minutes south of the city Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand.
Elephant Nature Park
Spending a day in Elephant Nature Park is an unforgettable experience for every animal lover. It’s a special park in Chiang Mai which saves and rehabilitates Asian elephants that have been neglected, hurt or just grown old. All the animals are free to roam the park, bath, eat and interact with the visitors when they want to. You get an opportunity to se the elephants’ natural behavior, feed them and help with bating them in the river.
The magnificent Grand Palace in Bangkok was built as a new capital for the old Siam. The entire complex, which is constructed along the river Chao Praya, encompasses an impressive 218 000 square meters, including royal halls, Buddhist temples and priceless artwork. Keep in mind that you need at least two or three hours to explore the area properly.
Between the years 1351 and 1767 Ayutthaya was a Thai kingdom. Nowadays, it’s an exciting historical park which has been classified as a world heritage by UNESCO. Since it is only one hour north of Bangkok it’s easy to just come here over the day. As a visitor you wander the area quite freely and get a close look at old temples and monasteries. Remember not to miss out on the overgrown head of Buddha behind the temple Mahatat since it has become a huge tourist attraction and an icon for Ayutthaya.
If you haven’t seen the view from the mountain of Doi Suthep, you haven’t really been to Chiang Mai. From here you have an incredibly beautiful view over the city. 35 years ago Doi Suthep, along with two other mountains and 161 square kilometers of forest, became the 24th national park of Thailand. A year later an additional hundred square kilometers was added.
The national park Khao Yai
Khao Yai is the third biggest national park in Thailand and one of the most visited. It is spread over the four provinces of Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Ratchasima and Prachinbury. You can travel here all year around and it’s about a three hour drive from Bangkok. In the western side of the park you’ll find several theme parks as well as vineyards that produces some of the country’s most award-winning brands such as Pirom Khao Yai Reserve and Sawasdee Chenin Blanc. In the southern and eastern parts you can expect a gorgeous nature with jungle, waterfalls and valleys.
The temple complex of Phanom Rung is located on an extinct volcano in eastern Thailand and is appreciated for the impressive architecture. It was built between the 10th and 13th century as a tribute to the Hindu god Shiva. Four times a year the sun shines through all of the temple’s 15 doorways and during this time the opening hours are extended to celebrate the Phanom Rung Festival.
The national park Khao Sok
Khao Sok is by many considered to be one of Thailand’s most beautiful nature preserves thanks to its jungle, limestone, rivers and lakes. It’s located in the province of Surat Thani in the southern parts of the country, approximately 150 kilometers north of Phuket. Here’s an incredible wildlife with Asian elephants, boars, bears, tapirs and several species of monkey. You’ll find plenty of hiking trails in the park which let you see all that it has to offer.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
There is hardly a shortage of floating markets in Thailand, but Damnoen Saduak is the biggest and most famous one. There are boats everywhere which goes up and down the canals to sell all kinds of imaginable fruit and food. The market is about 100 kilometers west of Bangkok and is definitely worth the drive. Even if you’re not planning on doing any special kinds of purchases, it’s a cool experience.
Loi Krathong festival
Every year the Loi Krathong festival is celebrated all over the country as the full moon rises in the twelfth month of the Thai moon calendar. It usually occurs some time during the first half of November. The festival is celebrated to thank the water godess for all the water she has given over the past year. Thousands of krathongs, small baskets in the shape of a lotus flower with a candle in them, is sent out in the rivers and canals. The entire festivals vibrates of colors and the atmosphere is always something extra.