Category Archives: Travel Thailand

Khao Sok National Park – Stay on Floating Bungalows in Cheow Lan Lake

Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park is one of the best national parks in Thailand. It is located in Surat thani province, about 2 hours from Surat thani or 2.5 hours from Krabi. In the middle of Khao Sok is a huge manmade lake where you can take a Cheow Lan lake tour.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase or booking I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Why visit Khao Sok National Park?

The main reason to visit Khao Sok is because it is an area of natural beauty. The mountains and karsts and the turquoise lake make it a wonderful place to spend some time during your Thailand trip.

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

Where to stay in Khao Sok

There are two types of amazing accommodation in Khao Sok. One of them is to stay at floating bungalows on Cheow Lan lake and the other is to sleep in a treehouse just outside Khao Sok National park. Even better is to combine the two and spend a Khao Sok 2 day tour here. 

Khao Sok Floating Bungalows or Raft Houses

Khao Sok is home to floating bungalows on Cheow Lan lake where you can spend a night or two. The bungalows are floating on the lake, most of them are basic bungalows with a fan, a small bathroom and no electricity in the evening after 6pm. It is definitely worth spending a couple of days on and around the lake. On a clear night you can see the whole of the milky way because Khao Sok National Park is far from any big cities and light pollution. Most visitors stay at the Cheow Lan Lake floating bungalows as part of a Khao Sok overnight tour

photo of floating bungalows inside Khao Sok National Park
Our floating bungalows in Cheow Lan Lake

Khao Sok Treehouse Thailand

Khao Sok is also a great opportunity to stay in a treehouse. There are several options available around the edge of Khao Sok National Park. The most luxurious is Our Jungle treehouse (Agoda) or (Booking.com) which has big beautiful wooden decks and is a great place to spot monkeys from. For a slightly cheaper treehouse version that also offers a pool, then stay at Rock and Treehouse Resort (Agoda) or (Booking.com) which is also fun, a good place to spot monkeys and you can also organise your Khao Sok overnight tour from there. 

treehouse in Thailand near Khao Sok National Park
Staying in a treehouse in Thailand near Khao Sok

Compare prices on Agoda for treehouse in Thailand in Khao Sok by clicking the image below:

Things to Do in Khao Sok

There are many great Khao Sok activities and all of them include spending time in nature. 

Khao Sok Activities : Night Safari

For the more adventurous, take a night safari into Khao Sok National Park and spot sleeping monkeys, snakes, scorpions, deer and other nocturnal wildlife. 

Things to Do in Khao Sok National Park: Waterfalls

Another one of the fantastic Khao Sok activities you can do is Khao Sok trekking up a waterfall. The rocks are naturally ‘sticky’ so that you can walk directly up the waterfall, feeling the fresh, cool water and enjoying the views of the lake. 

waterfall photo in Khao Sok National Park
Top things to do in Khao Sok

Things to do in Khao Sok

Another really fun activity for the adventurous is to explore inside caves in Khao Sok National Park. You can do this as part of your Khao Sok overnight tour. You will have a guide and be given a head torch and taken inside a huge cave, climbing up through it spotting bats, spiders and snakes as you climb. The stalagmites and stalactites are very impressive inside the caves as well. 

photo of cave inside khao sok national park
View from the edge of the cave in Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok Activities : Wildlife Spotting

The Khao Sok overnight tour often offers activities such as an early morning boat ride to spot gibbons and listen to them calling to each other as well as a chance of diving fish eagles preying on freshwater fish inside the lake.  

Cheow Lan Lake – Swimming & Kayaking

From the floating bungalows or raft houses, you can jump in and swim in the warm, turquoise waters of Cheow Lan lake. A great Khao Sok activity is also to take a kayak and kayak around the edge of the lake, spotting monkeys, gibbons and hornbills as you go. 

Photo of Cheow Lan Lake
Views of Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park Thailand

Khao Sok Itinerary

Spend 2-3 days in Khao Sok spending time in a treehouse and an overnight on the floating bungalows. You can get to Khao Sok from Krabi or Surat thani. Khao Sok should definitely be on your Thailand destinations to visit and read here for more Thailand bucketlist ideas.

Getting to Khao Sok : Khao Sok to Surat thani

You can travel to Khao Sok from Surat thani so you can either fly into Surat thani or take a night train to the train station. Your treehouse accommodation can help arrange a transfer. Please note public transport is limited to Khao Sok and the edges of the park. Alternatively leave and head from Khao Sok to Surat thani airport or train station. It is best to organise transport through your accommodation. The journey is approximately two hours.

Leaving Khao Sok : Khao Sok to Krabi

From your Thailand treehouse accommodation or hotel in Khao Sok you can organise a shared minivan for approximately 300-350 baht to take you from Khao Sok to Krabi (Ao Nang) for beach time and to get to the Andaman islands. Alternatively you can arrange a private transfer through your Khao Sok treehouse or hotel. Alternatively take a transfer from Krabi into Khao Sok from Krabi airport. It is best to organise transport through your accommodation. The journey is approximately 2.5 hours.  For my Ao Nang Guide to Krabi read here.

Khao Yai National Park

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

One of the best places to visit from Bangkok and experience nature and the jungle in Thailand is Khao Yai National Park. Situated about 2 hours North-East of Bangkok it is a great place to go for a weekend getaway from Bangkok. Khao Yai National Park is the oldest national park in Thailand, and one of the greatest. Home to a healthy population of wild elephants as well as hornbills, snakes, eagles, gibbons, macaques and deer, it is a fantastic place to visit for wildlife lovers. 

Spotting greater hornbills in Khao Yai National Park

How to Visit Khao Yai National Park

Visitors have two options when visiting Khao Yai National Park. Entering the park using your own transport or joining a wildlife tour which includes a hotel pick up. Using your own transport such as a car or motorbikes is great for people who enjoy freedom and travelling separately. However, if you want to see a lot of wildlife and be shown interesting species of flora and fauna then I recommend taking a wildlife tour. 

Khao Yai Things to Do

Bear in mind that Khao Yai is a whole area so there are other activities, outside of the national park to enjoy such as wine tours in a Khao Yai winery, strawberry picking, organic farms and many restaurants. 

Wildlife Tours of Khao Yai National Park

I thoroughly recommend Greenleaf Tours of Khao Yai National Park. They have fantastic, really knowledgeable guides who share their wisdom about nature with you. The Greenleaf tour includes a hotel pick up and drop off, transport during the day, lunch in the park and a hike inside jungle areas for a couple of hours. They can also do private tours which I have also done before when my parents visited Thailand and we didn’t want to do so much jungle trekking in Khao Yai. You can contact them via the Greenleaf Tours website here.

Photo of me inside Khao Yai National Park at a waterfall
On a Greenleaf tour to visit one of the many waterfalls inside Khao Yai National Park

Greenleaf Wildlife Tours

Be sure to ask Greenleaf Khao Yai tours about the bat cave Khao Yai viewing experience. You can go in the evening before your day trip into the park and it is definitely worth it! You can experience millions of bats flying out of their cave at sunset on nearby mountains which is a really magical experience. 

Khao Yai National Park Animals

Along with wild elephants you can regularly see gibbons, hornbills, eagles, snakes, spiders, monkeys and deer while trekking in Khao Yai National Park.  

For a close up experience of animals, consider visiting this amazing rescue centre for an ethical way to feed elephants and other animals. 

Wild elephants at Khao Yai National Park

The best place to see wild elephants in Thailand is in this park. If you would like the best ethical elephant experience then nothing beats seeing elephants in Thailand in the wild where they truly belong. Seeing wild elephants in Thailand is incredible and you have a really good chance of seeing elephants in Khao Yai National Park.   Wild elephants in Khao Yai is one of the best bucketlist Thailand experiences you can have. Read here for more Thailand bucketlist experiences. 

Wild Elephant in Khao Yai National Park

Camping in Khao Yai

The only places to go camping inside Khao Yai National Park are through the national park. At a very cheap rate you can hire tents, sleeping bags, mats and pillows and camp at designated campsites inside the park. Please note it is best to have your own transport when doing this. There is no need to book in advance, you can just ask at the visitor centre. 

Where to Stay in Khao Yai

For Khao Yai National Park accommodation, the only way to stay inside the actual park is to enjoy Khao Yai camping. All other accommodation is strung out along the road into the park which has a range of different tiers of accommodation from budget to luxury hotels in Khao Yai. 

Khao Yai Accommodation : Budget Hotels

There are some hostels and guesthouses nearby to the park. If doing a tour with Greenleaf they also offer some basic accommodation. I recommend Wynnhouse Khao Yai (Book it on Agoda here) for a cheap, clean double room about 20 minutes from the park entrance. 

 

Khao Yai Accommodation : Mid-range Accommodation

For Khao Yai mid-range accommodation I would recommend Botanica (Check out prices for Botanica Khao Yai on Agoda) or alternatively on Booking.com). They have a luscious pool area, great views of the mountains and lovely big rooms with balconies. 

 

Khao Yai Accommodation : Luxury Accommodation near Khao Yai

Khao Yai has a lot of luxury accommodation, some of it further from the park itself so be sure to look into travel times. Compare prices on Agoda for luxury hotels such as the Movenpick here.  

When to visit Khao Yai

The best time of year to visit Khao Yai National Park is during dry season. There are no leeches around so no need to wear leech socks and you have a better chance of spotting wildlife such as wild elephants in Thailand as they come out of the deeper jungle to use the watering holes and lakes. Dry season in this area is from November-April with April being the hottest month. 

Getting to Khao Yai

To get from Bangkok to Khao Yai, you can take a minivan from Ekkamai to Pak Chong. Some hotels will then offer a transfer from Pak Chong to their accommodation. If you are camping in Khao Yai National Park then rent your own transport in Pak Chong such as motorbikes and head into the park. 

Botanica balcony views

Khao Yai National Park Entrance Fees

Like all national parks in Thailand, there is a national park fee. At the time of writing it is 400 baht for foreign visitors, including work permit holders. In the past work permit holders in Thailand could pay Thai price for national park fees but that is no longer possible. Please note park fees are subject to change at any time. 

Bangkok to Khao Yai

To get to Khao Yai from Bangkok, it takes approximately two hours. You can hire your own transport to take you there or take a minivan from Ekkamai bus station. This makes Khao Yai the perfect weekend getaway from Bangkok. 

Deer in Khao Yai National Park

 

The Ultimate Thailand Bucketlist

This is the ultimate Thailand bucket list. Having lived and travelled in Thailand for more than 6 years now I have created an adventure Thailand bucket list of all the must see and must do activities in the Land of Smiles.

Thailand Bucketlist: See wild elephants

One of the best things about Thailand if you are a nature lover is the chance to see wild elephants here. One of the best places to see wild elephants is Khao Yai National Park, just two hours’ drive from Bangkok. The best time to see wild elephants is usually dry season which is from October-April, however, it is also possible during rainy season. For more information about Khao Yai read my article here. Book a jungle trek and tour with the fantastic local tour guides with Greenleaf. 

wild animals thailand
Wild elephants should definitely be on your Thailand bucketlist

Bucketlist Thailand: Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary

Following on with elephant activities, getting up close with these amazing animals is also very easy to do in Thailand. However, there are many ‘sanctuaries’ and elephant camps that are rife with elephant abuse so choose a place carefully, one that doesn’t allow riding or use bullhooks. The best elephant sanctuary is the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand rescue centre. Read my article all about the rescue elephants and other amazing rescue animals there.

elephant in a rescue sanctuary
Thailand Bucket List – Spend time with elephants

Thailand Bucketlist: Learn to scuba dive

Thailand is famous as being one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. If you have four days then take an Open Water course to get qualified as a certified scuba diver. Koh Tao is known as the cheapest island to learn to scuba dive in Thailand. Many people take courses through Padi or SSI who are internationally recognised organisations that accredit divers. However, all tourist islands have dive shops that offer scuba diving courses, including for beginners. Koh Lipe is the best scuba diving in Thailand in terms of healthy, colourful coral reefs and the marine life you can see there. Read my Koh Lipe Thailand Guide about scuba diving and more in Koh Lipe here.

Bucket List Thailand : Dive with whale sharks

While we are talking about bucket list Thailand experiences, snorkelling or scuba diving with whale sharks is top of most ocean lovers’ lists. Bear in mind that whale sharks are elusive and as a free, wild animal they can never be guaranteed. Top places to dive with whale sharks are Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Chumpon, the Similan Islands and Koh Lipe 8 Mile. Whale sharks are gentle giants and unable to harm you. They are the biggest fish in the ocean and some of the most amazing creatures you will ever see. Find out more about whale sharks here.

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Diving with a whale shark at Richelieu Rock, Thailand

Thailand Bucketlist : Snorkel beautiful coral reefs

Thailand is home to an array of marine life and coral reefs. While some areas of coral have been damaged due to overfishing, tourism and a rise in ocean temperatures and acidification, there are still many beautiful coral reefs around Thailand. Stay in Krabi and do island hopping trips which include snorkelling arund Phangna Bay. Koh Phi Phi is surrounded by a marine national park which is home to some decent coral reefs. Koh Similan has some lovely soft corals and Koh Lipe is home to the best coral reefs, making it the best snorkeling in Thailand.

Bucket List Thailand : Attend a Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan

The Full Moon Party is famous through the world as being an amazing beach party on Koh Phangan island. Pre-pandemic, it reached up to 30,000 people on one beach, dancing the night away. The Full Moon Party is starting to get busier again at the time of writing. When visiting Thailand, check the Full Moon Party schedule to see if there is a full moon party in Thailand during your trip to plan around it. As the name suggests it takes place monthly during full moon. Read my Full Moon Party Thailand article here with everything you need to know about the party and staying on Koh Phangan. 

What you can see at Full Moon
Playing with Fire in Haad Rin for the Full Moon Party

Visit as many Thailand islands as possible

Thailand is home to approximately 400 islands which makes it an island hopping Thailand paradise. You can island hop to uninhabited desert islands in Thailand through day trips or kayaking. For information about visiting Thai islands and comparing which ones you should visit read my Thailand island guide to help you choose with Thai island to pick. 

Thailand Bucket List : Island hop around Phangna Bay

Phangna Bay is an area of Thailand below Krabi that is absolutely beautiful. It has stunning limestone karsts emerging from the Andaman sea, hidden beaches and beautiful viewpoints. Take a day trip from Ao Nang to Koh Hong for an incredible viewpoint.

The best views from the viewpoint on Koh Hong island should definitely be on your Thailand bucket list

Bucketlist Thailand : Hear gibbons in the jungle

If you’ve never heard gibbons before then you are in for a treat. These noisy animals can make sounds that reach kilometres away and they are such a fascinating species. Head to Khao Yai National Park, the best national park in Thailand to hear gibbons in the wild or visit rescue gibbons (and elephants) at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. 

Thailand Bucket List : See white sand & clear turquoise water

For many visitors to Thailand, see white sand and clear, turquoise water is high on their Thailand bucketlists. The best islands to see white sand beaches in Thailand are Koh Hong, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, Bottle beach in Koh Phangan and Koh Similan.

showing you the prettiness of Koh Lipe beaches
White sand and clear water on Koh Lipe

Bangkok Bucket list : Explore temples in Bangkok

If it is your first time in Thailand, then seeing beautiful Buddhist temples is probably on your Bangkok bucket list. Wat Pho has a huge reclining Buddha, the Grand Palace is very popular with tourists and the Golden Mount has views of the city. All over Bangkok and Thailand you can find many beautiful temples to explore. Remember to be respectful and everyone should cover shoulders and knees when visiting a temple. Many temples will supply sarongs or scarves for visitors.

Bangkok things to do in Thailand
Visit Wat Arun as part of your Bangkok bucket list

Thailand Bucketlist : Visit ancient ruins and ancient cities in Thailand

Thailand is full of ancient history and many remains are still standing today. If you’re interested in history and would like to see beautiful ancient temples then visit Ayyuthaya which is just one hour from Bangkok. Lopburi, an hour or so from Bangkok also has ancient ruins to visit as well as Sukhothai in the middle of Thailand.

lopburi bangkok day trip
Ancient Temples in Thailand – Bucket List

Bucketlist Thailand : Go hiking in the jungle

If you are an adventurous person, take a hike in Thailand. There are many national parks to visit all around Thailand, including Khao Yai National Park, mountains all around Chiang Mai, Kaeng Krachan National Park and Khao Sok National Park.

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Thailand Bucket List – Jungle Exploring

Thailand Bucketlist : See cheeky monkeys

Some tourists love them, some tourists hate them. Many people feel a child-like thrill at seeing monkeys, especially of your home country does not have them. Most monkeys that we see in Thailand are macaques. In tourist areas some are cheeky and very used to humans so may be prone to grabbing you or your belongings. This is usually because humans have been feeding them. Please note it is recommended never to feed wildlife  as we can change their diet, how the animal sees humans and how they feed naturally. In most areas of Thailand, monkeys are shy and you would feel lucky to see them. Dusky Langurs are a favourite to see as they are black with white rings around their eyes as if they are wearing glasses. Check out monkey trail in Ao Nang and also Railay beach as a place to spot both macaques and dusky langurs.

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Macaques in Khao Yai National Park

Bangkok Bucket List : Drink at a skybar in Bangkok

Bangkok is home to so many fantastic rooftop bars with sunset views, river views and general views of this amazing city. Some of my personal favourites include Above Eleven, Tichuca and Octave. Bear in mind the dress code is smart for these places so they usually won’t let you in with flipflops or if you look too beachy.

photo of me alone in Bangkok
Add a skybar to your Bangkok bucket list

 

Thailand bucketlist : Swim the Grand Canyon

Located about half an hour outside of Chiang Mai the ‘Grand Canyon’ is definitely a place worth visiting. It was a huge disused quarry that now is filled with blue water and full of rafts, floating logs and a general great place to chill out. Cliff jumping is optional and at your own risk.

Backpack Thailand Cheap
Grand Canyon, Chiang Mai

Bucketlist Thailand : Erawan Waterfall

Visit the fairytale waterfalls of blue water in Kanchanaburi. Around 2-3 hours from Bangkok lies the province of Kanchanaburi and the Erawan waterfalls. Best experienced towards the end of rainy season when the water is at its highest (September-October) the minerals in this area turn the higher steps of the Erawan waterfall a gorgeous turquoise blue colour and you can swim at certain steps of the hike.

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

Thailand bucketlist : Lotus lake of Udonthani

Visit the lotus lake of Udonthani which becomes covered in red flowers during dry season (November-March). You can take a boat out to experience the beauty of the flowers on the water.

Bucketlist Thailand : Get off the beaten path Thailand

When travelling Thailand, even post pandemic, there will often be other tourists around you at the most popular destinations. Try experiencing a hidden side of Thailand by going to the mountains of Pu Chi Fah or Nan area to see mountains, viewpoints and a truly rural area of Thailand.

Bucket List Thailand : Go on a longtail boat

These noisy boats are famous all around Thailand. With their Buddhist colours tied around the front of them and recycled noisy car engines on the back, experiencing a ride on a longtail boat should definitely be on your Thailand bucketlist. You can find them everywhere, from Bangkok, to the islands to lakes in national parks.

Thailand Bucketlist – Long tail Boats

Thailand Bucketlist : See a giant Buddha statue

Throughout Thailand there are many impressive giant Buddha statues. In Bangkok, Wat Pho has a giant golden reclining Buddha. Phuket has a huge white Buddha sitting on the hillside. You can find many more all around this amazing country.

Thailand Bucketlist: The White Temple

Visit the White Temple in Chiang Rai for a beautiful and more unusual take on a Buddhist temple. Designed by an artist the outside of this temple, Wat Rong Khun, is truly spectacular, although the inside is very surprising. You can visit as a day trip from Chiang Mai or stay in the quieter town of Chiang Rai.

what to pack in your backpack south east asia
Visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai – Thailand Bucketlist Must

Bucketlist Thailand : Kayaking

Kayak around limestone karsts in Phangna Bay, as part of a day trip or go indendent kayaking around Railay or many other beaches and islands. A personal favourite are clear kayaks when the water is clear and you can see the reef and fish below you. Koh Lipe has some fantastic kayaking seeing as the water is so clear. Please note you can only kayak when the tide is high to avoid damaging the reef.

Thailand Bucket List : Sleep on a desert island

Sleep on a desert island like on the Similan islands off of Khao Lak. They are about a two hour speedboat and the stars are truly magical as you are very far from any light pollution. This is only possible during dry season and you must arrange with a local tour operator to drop you there as part of your day trip and stay the night in a tent that you rent from the national park. One small restaurant was available when I visited. This is also possible at Angthong Marine Park nearby to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.

quiet beaches thailand
Camping overnight on the Similan islands is a must do in Thailand

Thailand Bucketlist: Stay on a floating bungalow

In Khao Sok National Park it is possible to stay on a floating bungalow on Chaew Lan lake inside the national park. During dry season, it is possible to see the milky way. You can kayak, swim, do jungle treks and wildlife viewing as well as climb a waterfall. Read my full Khao Sok guide here.

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

Bucketlist Thailand : Go Tubing

In Chiang Mai, when the rivers are lower towards the end of dry season you can go tubing, This means floating down the river in an inflatable rubber ring attached to some friends and usually with a coolbox of beers in between you. Pure relaxation.

Go tubing in the rivers in Chiang Mai

Thailand Bucketlist : Find Quiet Beaches

Despite the huge number of visitors to Thailand (even post covid) it is very easy to find beaches with barely anybody on them and sometimes even deserted. Tourists tend to all end up in the same spots so head to any of these quiet beaches in Thailand to avoid the crowds. 

Ao Nang: Head to Koh Hong on a Thailand island hopping trip!

Bangkok Bucketlist : Cycling Tour

Ko Van Kessel are a cycling tour agency in Bangkok that offer a range of great cycling trips, from beginners, family friendly rides and longer day trips outside of Bangkok.

Thailand Bucketlist : Eat amazing street food

A lot of Thailand’s fame comes from its incredible street food. On every corner of the country you can find cheap, local food from typical Thai dishes and desserts to fresh fruit and young coconuts. Some of it is also vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Bangkok bucket list : Market Shopping

Bangkok is home to the world’s biggest outdoor weekend market – Chatachak Market. Spend half a day or a full day here exploring the stalls, buying souvenirs, clothes, shoes, customised items, plants, furniture, artwork and paintings, Thai silk, handmade items and many many more.

Thailand Bucketlist: Swim in lagoons

Swim in emerald lagoons inside one of the national parks in Krabi. You can organise a half day trip here from streetside tour operators in Ao Nang. 

Bucket list Thailand : Snorkel with Turtles

There are many places in Thailand where you can snorkel with turtles. However, as wild animals, it is of course never guaranteed. Places where you are likely to see a turtle include Koh Phi Phi, the Similan islands and Koh Tao.

Thailand bucketlist : Viewpoints

One of the best viewpoints of Phangna Bay is from the top of Koh Hong island. You can visit via a longtail boat or speedboat from Ao Nang or neighbouring areas like Railay. Try to avoid peak season and weekends.

Go Thailand Island Hopping to Koh Hong from Ao Nang

Bucketlist Thailand : Maya Bay

From Phi Phi island you can see the famous Maya Bay where many of ‘The Beach’ scenes were filmed starring Leonardo Dicaprio. It is a beautiful areas with white sand and clear turquoise waters surrounded by limestone karsts. However, because of the huge number of tourists that visit the national park will often close this area to help regeneration. For a similar vibe, head to Koh Hong instead.

Thailand bucketlist : Fireshows

Having spent over five years in Thailand, the best fireshow perfomances are definitely on the island of Koh Phi Phi. The fireshow dancers are the most acrobatic and most impressive there, even post covid.

Bucket list Thailand : Rock Climbing

Phangna Bay is home to so many stunning limestone karsts, huge mountains that appear out of the water that it is no surprise rock climbing is so popular here. There is something suitable for beginners and advanced rock climbers around Railay and Tonsai. Ask your instructor to go through the bat cave on Railay – you won’t be disappointed.

Rock climbing in Railay 0 Thailand bucket list

Bucketlist Thailand : Huge Caves

Explore huge caves in Khao Sam Roi Yot national park and get away from the usual tourist crowd. Inside one of the caves there is a shrine making this place feel very special. The hike to it is really beautiful as well, along a coastal path with stunning sea views.

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

Thailand bucket list : Scuba dive shipwrecks

Various Thai islands offer shipwreck diving. Impressive shipwrecks can be found off of Koh Phi Phi, Koh Tao and Chumpon as well as a lot of other islands. My favourite so far is the shipwreck near Koh Phi Phi.

Scuba Diving in Thailand

Thailand bucketlist : Learn about Thai culture

Visit museums all around Thailand and learn about Thai history and culture. Jim Thompon’s House in Bangkok is a personal favourite for your Bangkok bucket list.

Thailand bucket list : Travel by tuktuk

Thailand has many great tuktuks and while some tuktuk drivers will try to overcharge you, they are also a great experience to try riding around the streets of Bangkok as a passenger. I recommend the tuktuks around Wat Pho to take you to other nearby areas as there is very little public transport in this area of ‘old’ Bangkok.

Thailand Bucketlist: Snorkel with sharks

There are no dangerous sharks in Thailand and it is possible to see blakc tip reef sharks who are totally harmless while snorkelling or scuba diving. Around Koh Phi Phi marine park is one of the best places to see them. Scuba diving from Ao Nang is also a great place to see bamboo sharks hiding under rocks.

Bucketlist Thailand : Muay Thai

If you are into martial arts or boxing then watching a muay Thai show is probably already on your Thailand bucketlist. To book a Muay Thai show in Bangkok, you can find tickets on this website. Having a go at muay Thai yourself is also totally feasible, even as a beginner and is a really fun, quite therapeutic work out during your Thailand vacation.

Bangkok Bucket List : Buckets on Khao San Road

The famous hangout of backpackers in Bangkok, Khao San road is known for its partying and selling of ‘buckets’, an alcoholic mix that you share with friends. Khao San remains a firm favourite as a place to party in Bangkok and meet new friends, particularly if you are a solo traveller.

Thailand bucketlist : Take a night train

Sleeper trains in Thailand are basic, cheap and a bit of an adventure. Don’t expect a luxury compartment but do expect to see some beautiful scenery and you probably won’t arrive on time.

Thailand Bucketlist : Get a Massage

Thailand is famous for amazing, sometimes brutal, Thai massages. These are not relaxing massages but are based on ancient understanding of the body and you will find yourself twisted into all sorts of shapes by your masseur or masseuse. Thai massages are incredibly cheap in all areas of Thailand. If you are unsure about a Thai massage, try a foot massage or an oil massage instead.

Bucketlist Thailand : Attend a Thai Festival

Whether you are interested in joining Songkran, a huge water fight across Thailand that celebrates Thai New Year in April or an intriguing and very weird celebration in Phuket, Thailand has the festival for you. Popular Thai festivals that tourists enjoy also include Loy Kratong in November with lantern candles.

Lanterns in the night sky of Chiang Mai during Yi Peng

Bangkok Bucket List : See Whales

Unknown to many, Thailand is home to a particular group of Bryde whales who inhabit the Gulf of Thailand and can be seen on a day trip from Bangkok year round. Read more here for how to go whale watching near Bangkok.

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Whale Watching in Thailand from a respectful distance

Thailand Bucketlist : Pink Dolphins

The waters near Nakhon Si Thammarat are home to world famous pink dolphins. Head there on a week day to be the only longtail boat on the water and appreciate the beauty of these pink dolphins in Thailand. Read my article here about how to go there and what to expect. 

pink dolphins thailand
Pink(ish) dolphins in Nakhon Si Thammart province

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Ethical Elephants Thailand

Hopefully you found this Thailand blog post because you know that riding elephants is cruel and instead, you are looking for a way of helping elephants in Thailand. Please note this post is written in 2022, post covid pandemic and I visited the animal sanctuary three times recently.

To help elephants in Thailand, you have two options:

  • Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary Thailand
  • Head to a National Park to see wild elephants

Both are amazing experiences and I fully recommend seeing these incredible creatures. For a more intimate and up close experience then consider a Thailand elephant sanctuary or for a real jungle trip and to see elephants where they truly belong then visit Khao Yai National Park, the best place in Thailand to see wild elephants.

For information about how to experience wild elephants in Thailand, click here.

This post will focus on one of the best elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and where you can actually experience a lot of Thailand’s wildlife. Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand has established an elephant sanctuary near Bangkok called I Love Phants Lodge Agoda Reviews or Booking reviews).

I have visited this amazing rescue sanctuary multiple times and friends and I always recommend this Thailand animal sanctuary to visitors and fellow expats.

The elephant enclosure at I Love Phants, a humane elephant sanctuary near Bangkok

Where to stay to see elephants in Thailand?

Stay at the I Love Phants Lodge and wake up to the sounds of the elephants trumpeting and the gibbons calling. I feel this is the best jungle experience with a luxury twist (and that’s how I sold it to my Mum!). It has a swimming pool, various bungalow options and villas to choose from and offers frequent wildlife tours to see the rescue animals in Thailand. The accommodation on offer is fairly limited so be sure to book this humane elephant sanctuary in advance so you don’t miss out.

swim and watch the rescue elephants in Thailand
Sitting on the edge of the swimming pool and elephant spotting

Rescue Wildlife Thailand: Where do the rescued wildlife come from?

All the animals at the I Love Phants Lodge are rescue animals. The elephants you see here have been rescued from the entertainment industry and from poorly-run zoos. Many of the other rescue animals were rescued from Thailand’s dark pet trade, including gibbons, apes and primates. Many of their stories are incredibly sad but by supporting ethical animal experiences in Thailand we can all help to counteract the awful lives these animals have led before. This is therefore, the best  animal sanctuary in Thailand and, if you love animals, you’ll love your stay at the I Love Phants Lodge.

other rescue animals like gibbons at the rescue sanctuary
Gibbons (my favourite) at the animal rescue centre in Thailand

Ethical animal tourism Thailand

Unfortunately, during my years of living and travelling around Thailand, there is not much ethical animal tourism here. It was only 10-15 years ago where tourists could see elephants in Bangkok, a place where no jungle wildlife should be, let alone an animal that can feel vibrations through its feet. Elephant abuse is rife in Thailand. Luckily, along with ethical elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai, more and more tourists are calling for no riding elephant sanctuaries and I have seen first hand the impact this has had. When I first visited Thailand 10 years ago, there was ONE elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai that refused to give tourists rides. Now, almost every Thailand elephant sanctuary offers no-riding experiences which is definitely a win for these amazing creatures.

Elephant Reserve Thailand

The I Love Phants lodge feels more like an elephant reserve in Thailand. It has a huge, spacious central enclosure where elephants can roam freely, with the exception of the more aggressive bull elephants who have their own enclosures. You can view the elephants from the outdoor restaurant, from the swimming pool and from your hotel room window! There are many enclosures and the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand are constantly expanding as they rescue more and more animals from a life in the pet trade or entertainment industry.

Elephant Viewing Platform aka swimming pool

Elephants near Bangkok

This is the best Bangkok elephant sanctuary as it is found about 2-3 hours drive from central Bangkok. On my last trip, I combined it with a visit to the beach in Hua Hin, which was just a 1 hour drive from the elephant sanctuary.

Food at I love Phants: The humane elephant sanctuary

There is one restaurant and it is very reasonably priced, as well as a bar so you can enjoy your beer and watch the elephants. The buffet breakfast was included but I was disappointed not to see more vegetarian options for a rescue sanctuary! I hope this will improve over time.

Thailand Wildlife Tour

Several times a week, the foundation run a wildlife tour. You go in a small vehicle (like a long golf cart) and are shown all the enclosures in the sanctuary and told the stories about the different animals and how they were rescued and came to be at the Wildlife Friends Foundation.

This is the best place to see wildlife in Thailand because, in the jungle, you never know what you might see (or what you might not) and this is the best wildlife sanctuary to visit that means you experience the animals and support a much needed rescue centre in Thailand.

To book your stay, follow this link to see room options. Alternatively you can book with Booking.com here. On the I Love Phants website you can also book but I found they charged additional fees on my debit card (despite having a Thai bank account) so I recommend going through Agoda to avoid this, click on the elephants below to compare room prices on Agoda!

 

 

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Whale Watching Thailand

One of the best ethical animal experiences you can have with marine life in Thailand is to go whale watching. Wild Encounter Thailand run amazing boat trips to experience whales just an hour from Bangkok. This makes it one of the top day trips to do from Bangkok and a must do for anyone who loves the ocean and seeing marine life in Thailand.

Information about whale watching Asia – Thailand

Where to see whales in Thailand?

You can see Bryde whales in the Upper Gulf of Thailand. The boat leaves from Samut Sakorn province, approximately one hour from Bangkok, making this one of the best day trips from Bangkok to experience.

When to see whales in Thailand?

The best time of year to go whale watching is between the months of August-October when the whales are feeding regularly in the Gulf of Thailand. They come here for the anchovies and mackerel.

What kind of whales can I see in Thailand?

Bryde whales are some of the biggest marine mammals in Thailand and can be seen here every year. Bryde (pronounced Bru-da) whales can reach up to 16metres long and live up to 60-70 years old. They are generally solitary animals but may come together for mass feeding events. Mothers and calves are seen together fairly often. For more information about Bryde Whales read these articles here.

Why are they called Bryde whales?

They are named after a Norwegian man who used to hunt them. No comment on why he gets a whole species named after him.

What are the whales doing so near Bangkok?

The Bryde whales are often feeding, which is an awesome sight to see. You can also see these Thai whales swimming and on both my trips I was lucky enough to experience mothers and calves.

Where is the pick up spot for whale watching Bangkok?

Pre-covid Wild Encounter Thailand would run minivans  from Bangkok to Samut Sakorn but during covid times we took a taxi there independently.

Who runs the trip?

Khun Jirayu with Wild Encounter Thailand. He is extremely knowledgeable about the whales and many other animals and birds too. I am looking forward to my next trip after December to see Irawaddy dolphins!

Practical Questions about Whale Watching in Thailand

What is the boat like?

At the time of writing, Wild Encounter Thailand use a medium size boat. It has an air conditioned cabin in the middle with seats and coffee and water facilities. Two toilets at the back of the boat and viewing areas from the front and on the upper deck in front of the captain’s cabin.

What are the timings of the whale watching Thailand trip?

Our day trip to see the Bryde whales started from 8am in the morning and we arrived back at the pier at 3.30pm approximately. This did not include getting from Bangkok to the pier in Samut Sakorn.

The whale watching day trip includes lunch on the boat, we were offered various choices a few days before our trip, including vegetarian and vegan options.

Is the whale watching in Thailand child friendly?

Yes, there were families on our boat.

Whale Watching safety: Are life jackets provided during the boat trip?

Yes we were informed during the boat briefing where life jackets were stored, including for children.

Can I swim with whales in Thailand?

Short answer, no. The whales are some distance from the boat and the visibility in the water is extremely poor so there would be no point  in swimming with the whales as you would not see them!

Might I get seasick on the boat?

While I personally did not feel seasick, one of my friends did when it was a little choppy. The water generally is calm but if you are prone to seasickness then this could affect you. The boat often stops to observe the whales so can rock during this time. Seasick pills were provided on board.

How much does whale watching cost?

At the time of writing we paid 2500 baht per person with a discount for being vaccinated. We also took an antigen covid test before boarding which was 200 baht. It was a DIY kit and we had the option to do before arriving if we wished to source our own test.

What to wear to go whale watching?

The boat is comfortable and does have AC if needed. I would wear appropriate clothes for hot, tropical weather and take a light jumper as it can get windy. It can also be very sunny and hot so I recommend a cap and suncream.

Marine Life Thailand: Irawaddy Dolphins

The third time that I did this whale watching trip from Bangkok I was lucky enough to see the very rare and endangered Irawaddy dolphin. We saw two pods of these adorable marine mammals on the same day as the whales.

I think whale watching is the best activity to do in Thailand and encourage others to experience the whales too. It is quite an off the beaten path Thailand activity to do as many people, locals and tourists are unaware that the whales are there all year round.

You can find more information about Bryde whales here.

To reserve your spot on the trip then please contact Khun Jirayu via Facebook on Wild Encounter Thailand.