I recently traveled to Thailand and from the tasty and aromatic Thai food to the relaxing therapeutic massage and stunning sights, the trip was an exploration for all five senses. Here are a few highlights and hidden gems that may help you plan your next trip to Southeast Asia.
While some may find organized tours cheesy and solely for an older crowd, when I’m in a foreign country, I love hopping on a bus and learning about the land. In my experience, the best way to find a good tour or activity is to research a few choices in advance. I’ve had a lot of luck with Viator – a company that hand picks tours and activities around the world.
Before leaving for Thailand last month, I went to viator.com and read about all the different experiences and activities available in Bangkok and Koh Samui (our two destinations on our 7-day trip to Southeast Asia).
Here are a few highlights from each:
Buddha head at the base of a tree, Ayutthaya Temples and River Cruise
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mahathat Temple, Ayutthaya
Reclining Buddha, Wat Lokayasutharam
River Boat trip on the Chao Phraya River
After a couple days in Bangkok, we took a 1-hour flight down south to Koh Samui, an island in the Gulf of Thailand:
Koh Samui 4WD Jeep Jungle Tour (it was pouring rain… ponchos provided by our tour guide)
Open-air 4WD Jeep… it was very windy and wet 🙂
One of two hidden waterfalls we saw during the tour
The bf was adventurous and walked out to the edge
I tried to stay dry and positive amidst heavy rain
The food in Thailand is delicious—spicy, but delicious. It’s all about coconut milk, curry, and fresh seafood (and meat) cooked to perfection. From streetside vendors to fine dining and a private cooking class, I was more than satisfied at every meal. At all venues, the food exceeded my expectations. That said, here’s a word of caution: if you like your food spicy and you live in the States, ask your server to make your dish mild. If you like it mild in the States…ask for it extra mild. Believe me, your taste buds will thank me.
Street Food (fresh fish and veggie stir-fry were delicious!)
It was Teppanyaki night at Amber, Intercontinental:
Breakfast buffet and a private cooking class at Le Meridien:
Private Cooking Class, Le Meridien
When visiting Bangkok, I saw a massage parlor on every corner and in many cases, I saw multiple shops on the same block. While some shops looked a little seedy and run-down, I’m happy to say I tried a very basic-looking shop that offered a 1-hr long foot massage for $6… and much to my delight, it was great! I also tried a massage at a Bangkok chain called Body Tune. While the massage was nice, the A/C was blasting cold air the entire time so I couldn’t fully enjoy the massage.
While in Koh Samui, I was treated to a couple of full body massages at upscale hotel spas. Both Le Meridien and the Intercontinental offer great treatments and the spa experience felt more personal and more like spas stateside, but that also meant the prices were similarly higher.
In a nutshell, while there were no frills at the $6/hr spots, the massages were good and my knots were kneaded out. Do I still prefer the high-end hotel spas? Yes, but it’s good to know you can pop into a place without an appointment and enjoy a perfectly good, relaxing rub.
The spa at the Intercontinental:
When you get a massage in Thailand, it always starts with a foot soak Post massage snack and tea
The spa at Le Meridien
Again, when you’re in Thailand, your massage always starts with a foot soak and a short reflexology session