For many of us, our only experience with Thailand is the Anglicised version of their food. It’s delicious, but what’s truly special is travelling to the country itself and visiting Thai people, learning Thai culture, and in general enjoying what this amazing Asian country has to offer. It can provide you with the experience of a lifetime and it’s well worth the lengthy flight it takes to get over there. To provide you with just a short explanation of a few of the wonderful experiences you’ll have, here are three of our favourites:
1. Take a boat ride down Thailand’s beautiful rivers. This is an excellent excuse to get out of the city and visit the countryside, which is what Thailand is truly about. Sailing past the farmlands, orchards, and trudging farmers will give you a better idea of how Thai people really live. Along the way, you can stop off at a number of interesting destinations, like agricultural cooperatives managed by groups of farmers, orchid houses, or Mon settlements, known for their exquisite Mon pottery, like the one at Koh Kret. Travelling outside the cities is well worth the extra effort.
2. Take a class in traditional Thai massage. This is perfect for couples; instead of spending on a couples’ massage, why not take a class which will teach you new techniques to learn throughout your life together? Thai massage is different from Western massage in that it uses many different parts of the body, such as elbows and knees, as well as a variety of different positions to restore alignment and soothe worn muscles.
3. Arrange a visit with a local village. Rather than wandering through on your way to somewhere else, why not arrange to stay for an afternoon and get a taste of Thai village life? Lisu Lodge in northern Thailand is a community run project which offers lodgings, treks, and adventures to help dilute the effects of poverty amongst the ancient tribes of southern China, who migrated to Thailand to preserve their culture under oppression. Visit local families and share tea with them in the morning, then watch a traditional Lisu dance show after dinner. The resort offers trekking packages for hikers and cyclists and less strenuous “soft adventure” for those who want to experience but aren’t prepared to exert themselves too much on a holiday.
Thailand is an unforgettable destination with an amazing culture, cuisine, and people. Don’t miss out on the wonderfully different trip you could be having by staying in the city; spend some time in the countryside and truly experience Thailand as its locals do, or at least as close as you can manage on a luxury holiday.
James Bell is a Director of Turquoise Holidays.