Thailand is probably the most popular destination in Asia and the easiest for backpackers. Exceptional landscapes, cheap flights, heavenly beaches and mild weather all year attract more and more people each year. In 2017, I decided to go exploring the south of Thailand and its islands without any particular expectations. After a three-week backpacking trip between Phuket, Phi Phi, Koh Tao and many others, I managed to get an opinion. This country is beautiful, the locals are more than welcoming and it is easy to take a trip off the beaten path. Here are my six reasons to visit Thailand, as well as negative points.
The top 6 reasons to visit Thailand
Dream Islands and Beaches
Southern Thailand is known for its beaches and paradise islands. Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Koh Samui, Phangang and Tao, to name a few, the islands of Thailand are a must for beach lovers. In the Gulf of Siam and the Andaman Sea, there are plenty of islands for all tastes. If you want to party, dive, relax, enjoy nature, go shopping, do some yoga … there must be an island for you.
For more information on my trip, I wrote an article about the best itinerary to visit Southern Thailand.
My top 6 most beautiful islands of Thailand
- Koh Phi Phi : The archipelago of Koh Phi Phi is a must during a trip to Thailand. In addition to the famous beach of Maya Bay, you will discover a set of rock formations crossed by emerald green water. The best is to book a longtail tour to spend a day exploring the islands and snorkel around.
- Koh Tao : In the Gulf of Thailand and not far from Koh Samui, the island of Koh Tao is a small paradise of 7.5km long. The island is very popular for its many diving and snorkeling spots. Sairee beach is the most popular of the island and it is a perfect place to sip a cocktail facing the sunset.
- Similan Island : White sand beaches, incredible coral reefs and crystal clear water, welcome to Similan Island. Located in the Andaman Sea, this archipelago of 9 virgin islands is a still unspoiled paradise of Thailand that I advise you to visit.
- Koh Phangan : This island located between Koh Tao and Koh Samui was my big favorite in Thailand. I wrote you a whole article about it. Beautiful beaches, waterfall, jungle and nightlife, the perfect holiday cocktail.
- Koh Nang Yuan : you will find this island a few hundred meters from Koh Tao. You have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy this natural paradise. It is actually three islands linked by a white sand beach.
- Koh Lipe : this last island is located on the border with Malaysia. Still uncrowded, Koh Lipe is a small paradise of white sand where you relax and enjoy the turquoise water. The best is to watch the sunset on the beach at Sunset beach.
Thai food can be a reason to go to Thailand itself. It is often considered as one of the best food culture in the world. Pad Thai, Green Curry, Tom Yam or Mango Sticky Rice are some of the specialties that you will have the chance to discover. The food is delicious, healthy, varied, spicy and above all not expensive. On all islands or in all cities, you will find a multitude of restaurants serving local specialties. The best is still the street food in Thailand. Whether in Bangkok, Phuket or across the country, locals take their meals on the street, at any time of the day.
Top 5 foods to try in Thailand
- Pad Thaï : This is the international dish of Thailand. These are fried noodles that can be mixed with chicken, beef or seafood.
- Green Curry : green curry is one of the different curry of Thailand. In a sauce made from curry and coconut milk, rice and usually chicken are mixed together. Green curry is often very spicy 😉
- Tom Yam : this typical soup of Thailand is very spicy. A mix of lemongrass, chili, chicken, pork, shrimp or fish.
- Yam Som-O : this dish is a very fresh salad made from pomelo, chili, shallot or peanuts.
- Khao Phad : The Khao Phad is the version of Pad Thai with rice instead of noodles. Chicken, shrimp or vegetables is also added for the vegetarian version.
The land of smiles
If Thailand is called the Land of Smiles, it is thanks to its incredible inhabitants. In general, the locals are always welcoming and smiling in the countries of Southeast Asia. In Thailand it is even more the case. I don’t think it’s really rare to see an angry Thai. The inhabitants are always smiling and open to the conversation, even if they do not have a good English. Whether it’s the taxi driver, the restaurant waiter or your guide for the day, do no hesitate to talk with the locals to learn more about their country.
Year round sunshines
Let’s be honest, we go to Thailand to enjoy the heat and the sun! It is over 28°C throughout the year in Thailand, regardless of the season. Speaking of seasons, there are three in Thailand. From March to mid-May is the warm season, the rainy season is from mid-May to October and the dry season from November to February. However, temperatures remain summery throughout the year, especially for us Europeans. I went to Thailand in October and the weather was just perfect!
Thailand’s Buddhist Heritage
One of my favorite aspects of a trip is to discover and immerse myself in a new culture to discover other ways of life. Thailand is the perfect country for a change of scenery, because Thai culture is fascinating. As I went to Thailand in October, I was able to follow the funeral of the King of Thailand, which made me aware of the people’s attachment to his king. In general, Thais are very patriotic and really proud of their country.
Most Thais are Buddhist and you will find incredible temples all over the country. Thailand is one of the only countries in the world to have adopted Buddhism as a state religion. Also note that the Buddha image should not be used anyhow.
Top 5 most beautiful temples of Thailand:
- Wat Arun in Bangkok : Wat Arun is located opposite to the famous Wat Pho. It is a place of worship that is part of royal temples, which housed the Emerald Buddha from 1778 to 1784.
- Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai : The white temple is located about fifteen kilometers from Chiang Mai, in the north of the country. The details of the architecture are incredible and you will be amazed by this temple which is one of the most exceptional in the world.
- Wat Pho in Bangkok : probably the most famous temple of Thailand. Wat Pho is located in Bangkok and houses the famous Reclining Buddha, which is 46 meters long.
- Wat Khao Rang in Phuket : this is the most impressive and important temple in the Phuket area. You can admire the giant Buddha, as well as a magnificent view of the sea.
- Wat Boram in Pattaya : If Pattaya is not the dream place in Thailand, you can at least comfort yourself with Wat Boram. This magnificent 100 meter high temple is entirely built of wood.
Shopping & Massages :
Like Bali, Thailand is a country where the cost of living is really low. You can sleep easily in a hostel for less than 10€, eat in a restaurant for less than 5€ or go shopping. You can basically have fun without exceeding your budget. Personally, I’m not a Shopaholic because I keep all my money for my upcoming trips. In Thailand, I could spoil myself a bit.
And massages, can we talk about it? In Thailand, you pay less than 10€ for a full-body massage of one hour while in Europe, you pay 25€ for 20 minutes! Just take care of the happy ending of Phuket or Pattaya.
What I did not like in Thailand
- Cruelty to animals: If you tend to fight against cruelty and the use of animals for tourism purposes, Thailand is a pretty difficult country. Elephant rides, monkey shows, marine parks or felines drugged for the selfies of tourists … Thailand wins the jackpot of cruelty! Avoid all these activities, please!
- Sex trade : the first thing that shocked me when I arrived in Phuket, even though I had been warned in advance. If officially, the country fights against sex tourism, it is present everywhere. Old Europeans and Americans with young Thai women who do not even look like adults made me sick.
- Mass Tourism : Thailand is a victim of its success. Even if the country is 10 000km away from Europe, you will not have the feeling of a total change of scenery. In fact, the many seaside resorts in the country are more and more like Western resorts.
Have you visit Thailand before ? What did you think ? Tell me in the comments below what if your favorite place and why !