Category Archives: Thailand Tips!

Activities To Avoid in Thailand

Thailand is a place of beauty, adventure and there are so many amazing activities to try here, that after three years of living here, I am still finding new activities and places to visit. Unfortunately there are also a number of activities that have given rise to exploitation, both in regard to wildlife and people. I believe that people do have the power to bring about positive change and, particularly in a country like Thailand, where many locals are keen to reap the benefits of tourism, I feel it is important for tourists to do their research into putting their money into ethical enterprises.

Activities to avoid in Thailand include:

·         Riding an elephant. Read here for more information on why riding is a form of abuse and how you can enjoy an ethical elephant experience instead

elephants Thailand
Feeding the ellies some sugarcane at Hug Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand

·         Visit a tiger temple or take pictures with tigers. The infamous tourist temple was closed down last year. When it was investigated, they found dead tiger cubs in a freezer and allegations of missing adult tigers thought to have been sold on the black market to China for tiger bones. This scandal is on top of the commonly held assumption that these tigers are drugged in order for tourists to take photos with them. I personally feel that the claim that people can get close to them because they are domesticated tigers brought up around people does not have any ground.  Getting into a cage with a grown adult tiger is dangerous, no matter how the animal was raised. Read more about the truth on the BBC website here

 

 

  • Go to a pingpong show, sex show or participate in any activities relating to the sex industry. Aside from my personal feelings about female exploitation, Thailand is a hub for human trafficking and there is no knowing how the women and men in these industries are treated. 425,500 people are thought to be enslaved in modern day slavery in Thailand. (Source https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/thailand/ )and some of these unpoliced, illegal industries have been found to ‘employ’ underage prostitutes, indicating child abuse and exploitation. Is this really where you want your money going?  This article is an interesting and eye-opening read from the BBC website.

 

  • Sunbathing in the nude, women going topless on a beach and males riding around on scooters without shirts. Spain this is not. Most of Thailand is fairly conservative, whether the locals are Buddhist or Muslim and getting your baps out on the beach is not acceptable here.

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe
  • Standing on coral reefs. Coral is extremely fragile and if you touch it, not only could you end up injured, but you are killing this vital eco-system that the ocean relies upon. Please be extremely careful of where you are stepping in the sea.

 

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Make sure you don’t touch control…but definitely take some snaps
  • Touching wild animals- There are regular news stories in local papers here in Thailand about people touching turtles and I am frequently frustrated by the number of Instagram photos of people holding up a starfish. That is a wild animal and you are disturbing it. Remember to always be respectful of wildlife.

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Whale Watching in Thailand from a respectful distance
  • Taking photos in the markets or streets with ‘pet’ monkeys or gibbons. These are animals that belong in the wild and should not be used in the tourist industry in this way. Often teeth are painfully removed to ensure the animal does not bite people and they are often wearing nappies and chained up.

 

activities to avoid in Thailand
Spotting wild gibbons in Khao Yai National Park – they can be heard all around Thailand, especially at dawn and dusk

·         Fishing and squid fishing. This is more of a personal thing as I am super into scuba diving and would prefer to see the fish underwater rather than kill them. However, I think it is important to be aware that Thailand has a massive problem with over-fishing and unfortunately very little is done to stop this. As a result of corruption many fishing boats can still be seen in marine parks which are supposed to be protected and I often sea fishing nets while scuba diving in supposedly protected areas. Don’t add to this problem.

activities to avoid in Thailand
Every time I go snorkelling or diving I usually find Nemo, help protect him and his habitat

And for things NOT to miss in Thailand check out this blog post

For more information regarding Thai culture and how to be respectful read this post

 

The Best National Parks in Thailand

 

If you love adventure, the outdoors, hiking and wildlife then consider heading to some of Thailand’s National Parks. This is, by no means, a full list of National Parks in Thailand but the most impressive ones I have been to so far and am still marvelling at the photos!

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Found about 3-4 hours South of Bangkok in Prachuap Kiri Khan province, this stunning national park is home to 300 birds and the amazing Khao Sam Roi Yot mountains, meaning 300 peaks. I strongly recommend renting a scooter here and exploring all the different caves and viewpoints. It’s an excellent place to practise on a scooter if (like me…you’re kinda nervous/shit scared). About 10 cars will pass you throughout the whole day and the area is flat which is really great for confidence building! Entrance fee is 200 baht for foreigners. I stayed at the small, cute and fairly cheap Namaste Resort*, the owner June was very helpful with renting motorbikes and booking onward travel!

Visit Thailand National Parks Nature
Unseen Thailand: The Hike to Praya Nakhon Cave

Praya Nakhon cave is one of the most famous and has a small but striking blue temple inside an enormous cavern. The hole in the roof of the cave allows the light to filter down where trees and plants are now growing. To get here you can hike about 30 minutes to the beach, and then another 30 minutes after that or take a boat around to the beach if you want to limit your hiking time! The views from the hike are magnificent though!

 

Thailand National Parks Nature Caves
Discover Thailand’s Praya Nakhon Cave

Sam Phraya beach is found just inside the national park. While not a beach for swimming, it’s worth a photo stop of the colourful fishing boats and to marvel at just how far the tide goes out – it seemed like it was on the horizon!

Thailand National Park Nature Beaches
Phraya Nakhon Beach inside Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Khao Daeng Viewpoint has been one of my favourite high up views in Thailand so far! It’s about a 30 minute hike up a fairly steep slope with rocks around, so I don’t recommend doing it in flipflops. The trail is only officially open from 8-3.30pm but some visitors risk it for a sunrise/sunset view but bring a flashlight! I went during the afternoon and had these impressive views of both the mountains and the ocean.

thailand national park nature
Khao Daeng Viewpoint of the 300 Peak Mountains ‘Khao Sam Roi Yot’

Khao Yai National Park

This is one of my favourite areas of jungle to visit. ! Visit the various waterfalls, do the visitor trail near the visitor office, keep your eyes peeled and ears open to see macaque monkeys, gibbons and there is a high chance of elephants, particularly in rainy season (June-Oct). Remember wild elephants are extremely territorial and dangerous so do not get too close! They are best to see from the road side or from the look-out point near the lake. It’s a great place to stop and chill for lunch too!

You can take a minivan about two hours from Bangkok to Pak Chong. If you are confident on scooters then rent a motorcycle in Pak Chong and head into Khao Yai itself. You must pay 400 baht entrance fee to enter to the park, I recommend taking a map from the visitor office while shows the waterfalls and camping grounds.

National Park Thailand
Khao Yai National Park – Amazing place for jungle trekking and wildlife

For the super adventurous, ask the visitor office about camping. For around 250 baht you can rent a tent at one of a couple of camp sites and stay the night. Bring your own food and drink as there are no shops available in the park! Entrance fee is 400 baht so I recommend staying inside the park to make the most of your money!

Alternatively take a guided tour with Greenleaf tours, they will collect you from Pak Chong and take you into the park in songtaew trucks. Tour includes trekking, guide, lunch and transport and lasts the whole day!

National Parks Thailand
I was lucky enough to spot three wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park. This was an alone adult male.

Khao Sok National Park

Another area of astounding beauty, this park is about two hours north of Krabi. From your  accommodation you can arrange trekking, wildlife spotting with a guide and an overnight stay on the beautiful floating bungalows on the lake, which is definitely worth it. You can rent kayaks and pootle around trying to spot monkeys, gibbons and even the odd elephant! (or so I’m told!). We saw fish eagles, dusky langur monkeys and gibbons on one of our boat trips around. If you want to visit I recommend arranging transport from Krabi and try booking into a treehouse! I usually use Agoda * for hotel bookings in Thailand.

Thailand beautiful destinations nature
Kayaking in Khao Sok National Park after staying in floating bungalows on the lake

Doi Ithanon National Park

These mountains contain the highest peak in Thailand and they are the start of the foothills of the Himalayas. You can join a day trip in a minivan from Chiang Mai to here which also includes waterfalls and a lunch stop. On a clear day you can see fairly far into the mountain ranges and the unusual temple pagodas are worth a look, like something out of Star Wars! The gardens are also stunning with so many different kinds of flowers!

Thailand National Parks Nature
Gardens at the top of Doi Ithanon National Park, Thailand

Khao Lak National Park

I only visited an extremely small area of this but it’s worth it if you find yourself in Khao Lak for a couple of days as I am not a big fan of the town itself. If you take a short hike into the national park then you can stumble across golden sand hidden beaches with hardly anyone on them which is definitely worth it, in my opinion! There was a small entrance fee (I think around 40 baht).

Thailand National Park
Hiking around Khao Lak National Park, Thailand and waiting for the sunset

Erawan National Park

I’ve written about this place before but it is definitely worth a visit to see the impressive Erawan waterfalls – one of the best waterfalls in Thailand. You can spend the day hiking in the jungle and swimming in gorgeous blue pools of fresh cool water. The colours of the water appear bluer the higher you climb so be prepared to head up to the top most step, the 9th one. Bring your own food and water as there is little on offer here You will also find it quieter the higher up you go as the lower and closest steps are often full of local children playing! It’s about 45 minutes drive from Kanchanaburi town and entrance fee is 200 baht.

Thailand beautiful waterfall destination
Swimming in magical blue pools in the Erawan National Park

Don’t Forget to Take:

    • Insect Spray – National Parks in Thailand can be full of mosquitoes so make sure you take insect repellent with you. I recommend 50% DEET if you are prone to being bitten. Try this Repel DEET Pump Spray from Amazon
    • A practical bag – I’ve spent many a time faffing about with the wrong bag, it’s size or style and I’ve finally found that dry bags are the best way forward for any destinations in Thailand that will involve water or sand! Buy yours in all sorts of great colours from Amazon here: Water Proof Dry Bag
    • GoPro – I’m a total gopro convert and love making videos of all my trips! The colours come out really vibrant and as they are waterproof you don’t need to worry if it rains or goes in the sea. Compare prices here for Gopros on Amazon here GoPro HERO4 Silver I’m currently using the Gopro Hero 4 after my Entry Level Hero gave up the ghost in India (advice: they are not smash proof when dropped on a stone floor while ziplining!)

 

For backpacking essentials that I actually use and are very practical check out my blog post here

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

12 Reasons To Never Visit Thailand

Here are 12 reasons why you should never visit this awful country! The first time I visited Thailand was 4 years ago and after all these terrible activities I’m still unsure why I moved back to Thailand 3 years ago. Please avoid visiting Thailand because you may just get addicted…

  1. You will mostly likely get sunburnt while snorkelling the clear waters off of paradise islands

For more on Thailand’s best islands check out this post

reasons visit thailand
Snorkelling around coral reefs

2. You will be peer pressured drunkenly into eating scorpions on Khao San road (cue blurry photo)

For less gross things to do in Bangkok, check out these lists

Top Things to Do in Bangkok

50 Things to Do in Bangkok

reasons visit thailand
Yep, don’t remember this…but I have the photos to prove I did indeed eat a scorpion.

3. You’ll spend 7 days worth of Thai street food dinners on one cocktail at a swanky Bangkok skybar

reasons visit thailand
Cheers to Bangkok, my big bad adopted city

 

4. You will most likely vomit after drinking too many fuck-it buckets. If you don’t then I am extremely impressed with you. But your liver is doomed.

5. You’ll get a hangover from drinking cheap Chang every evening and decide maybe a Leo beer is worth the extra 10 baht. We nickname it a ‘changover’.

For budget Thailand ideas, read this

reasons visit thailand
Beaches and sunset beers. Avoid at all costs.

6. You’ll get so used to cockroaches in Thailand you won’t feel bothered by them any more… (just me?!). The big ones that run at your feet and the small ones hanging out by your toothbrush in the (slightly) dirty hostel, you are officially a real backpacker now.

7. In rainy season you’ll stroll through puddles the height of your knees trying not to think about what might be floating around in there

8.You’ll get stuck in Bangkok traffic and wonder how 8 million people can live like that!

reasons visit thailand
View from my window. It’s awful

9. You’ll risk rabies for a cuddle with a stray puppy.

10. You will think you can ride a motorbike and then get a rude awakening along with a trip to the doctors clinic…and a bill!

Read this for the best ways to travel around Thailand

11. You will get seasick on a boat and possibly think you are about to die,  probably on the way to Maya Bay ” The Beach” beach where there never seem to be enough life jackets for everyone… #youcanswimthoughright

reasons visit Thailand
Cruising along the Gulf of Thailand on boats on my way to spot some whales!

12. You will fall in love with this country and move back here one day!

Especially these stunning holiday destinations around Thailand

Travelling Thailand Essentials

For when you do decide to travel Thailand, consider these items to help deal with the above issues:

I’m a recent convert to the humble backpack as you can always fit in a bottle of water comfortably (that just never happens with my handbags!) I love this turquoise Everest Backpack from Amazon
2. Alternatively, if you might be here in rainy season (May-October) then I recommend a dry bag as you will definitely get caught in a thunderstorm at some point! I love these dry bags Dry Bag (5L) from Amazon

3.  Mosquito spray is definitely one thing I recommend buying at home before you arrive in Thailand as I have never been able to buy stronger than 15% DEET here. Try this Repel 40% DEET Pump SprayRepel Insect Repellent 40-Percent DEET from Amazon

For more Backpacking Essentials read this post full of useful and practical items for your next trip to South East Asia

Reasons Visit Thailand 

Thailand: Most Beautiful Destinations

These are my top 6 most beautiful destinations in Thailand…that I’ve been  to so far! Even after three years here I am still discovering so much…

Koh Similan

This group of white sand islands are found off the West Coast of Thailand, about 2 hours by speedboat. You can only visit during dry season (end of Oct-end of April) and try camping through the National Park to avoid the day tripper crowds!

Thailand Beautiful destinations beaches islands
Viewpoint on Similan 4, steep hike to the top but it was worth it!

Khao Sok National Park

Stay the night on floating bungalows on a blue lake surrounded by jungle. Kayak around spotting monkeys and wake up to the sound of gibbons. About 2 hours North of Krabi, try staying at a Tree House before heading for an overnight on the lake! You are given a guide as part of the tour who will help you to spot gibbons, eagles, dusky langur monkeys and even the rare elephant!

Thailand beautiful destinations nature
Kayaking with my Dad around the lake after sleeping in floating bungalows

 

Koh Lipe

One of the beaches with the whitest sand and the clearest water I’ve seen! The snorkelling was beautiful with lovely corals too. The main beach is stunning but be warned, they do have a litter problem because of the tides so walk around to the sunset beach and unfortunately you will find rubbish lying around. The sunsets are some of the best in the country!

Thailand beautiful destinations islands sunset
Sunsets in Koh Lipe, Thailand

Erawan Waterfalls, near Kanchanaburi

A 9 step waterfall found inside Erawan National Park, it’s worth the hike up to the uppermost step! Spend the day swimming in pools of stunning turquoise water. Ignore the ‘no food/drink’ sign and head to to one of the higher steps to avoid too many people. I suggest a week day visit for this place as it is very popular with Thai tourists.

Thailand waterfall destination
Swimming at the top step of the Erawan Waterfalls, Thailand

Phu Chi Fah

A little known place up in the mountains between the border of Laos and Thailand, you can take a motorbike to the top and watch the sunrise while hanging out on the border of two countries! I think having your own transport would be necessary for here and be prepared to find very few foreigners around.

thailand beautiful destinations mountains north
Phu Chi Fah, sunrise viewpoint in between Laos and Thailand

Do you agree? Any other places you think should be on my list? Here is my list for islands only! 

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

A new favourite of mine to visit! About 3-4 hours by minivan from Bangkok is Prachuap Kiri Khan Province. Inside the province are majestic limestone mountains known as Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, translated as Mountain of 300 peaks. Rent a scooter and ride around to beautiful beaches, explore caves and viewpoints and check out empty beaches!

thailand most beautiful destinations
Khao Daeng Viewpoint, Thailand National Park Destinations

 

 

 

Backpack Thailand: Travel Cheap

So you wanna backpack Thailand on a budget? Here are some tricks to keeping things wallet friendly! As I live in Bangkok, I’m a frequent backpacker and like to keep things cheap so I can travel as much as possible!

  1. Eat local street food! Avoid touristy restaurants that are on the beach front.
  2. 7-11 is your new best friend. Snacks, alcohol, toiletries…there’s nothing you can’t do here. (I even pay my bills here!)
  3. Don’t book in advance, backpackers often just turn up in a place and by negotiating with different accommodations you can find cheap beds. If you stay for a few nights they might offer you a discount. If like me, you are a planner then I find Agoda gives the best room rates around South East Asia and they tend to be better quality than other sites I’ve used.
  4. Drink local. Thai beers are great – Leo and Singha (I avoid cheap Chang at all costs…here we call it a Changover!). Thai rum Sangsom is also delicious with coke and costs next to nothing! Don’t drink imported beers or wines. Tax is exceptionally high on most imported goods.
  5. Fill up water bottles from the blue and white machines in the street. One litre is 1 baht. Really hope this catches on more so we all use less plastic bottles!
  6. Shop around different tour operators when booking snorkelling/island hopping/day excursion trips. I often find your guesthouse charges you more! Make sure to enquire if National Park fees are included. These are fixed by the government.
  7. Shop in markets. I’m not sure how I can ever return to the world of H and M now that I have discovered 100 baht dresses and bikinis at Thai markets!
  8. Use night buses. Not as comfortable as trains or planes but they are definitely the cheapest way of travelling around Thailand and connect with most places. From Bangkok you can leave from Mochit 2 Terminal (to go North), Ekkamai or Sai Tai Mai/Southern Bus Terminal (to go South). Some tourist companies also leave from Khao San road.
  9. Take the ferry not the speed boat! Much slower but much cheaper too!
  10. Avoid western food such as pizzas and anything with cheese! They are unlikely to be nice anyway… (Sorry Thai chefs but Italians would drop dead if they saw what constitutes a ‘pizza’ in Thailand!)

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. If you click on the link and reserve a room I will receive a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you.