Why Thailand Remains A Coveted Must-Visit Destination

Thailand, the heart of Southeast Asia, has more things to offer aside from its temples, cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes.

Thailand has just recently wrapped up its Songkran Festival, an occasion that both locals and tourists look forward to every year. Aside from this UNESCO-recognized Intangible Cultural Heritage, the country pulsates with natural beauty, vibrant and friendly Thais, and the country’s unparalleled charm. It being the heart of Southeast Asia promises tourists a memorable visit that will linger in their hearts.

If you’re a first-time visitor to Thailand, you might want to include these locations in your itinerary. However, if you’ve frequented the country a couple of times, these places just might be worth returning to.

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Pay a visit to Thailand’s temples

The country is home to some of the world’s most beautiful, ancient temples. They have  more than 33,000, according to Business Insider. Tourists make the trip to Thailand’s notable temples due to their architecture and it is also a way to immerse in Thai culture. Here are some of the country’s most popular temples:

Wat Arun is a temple in Bangkok that used to enshrine the Emerald Buddha brought from Vientiane. It is on the Thon Buri side of the Chao Phraya River, directly opposite Wat Pho. It is named after Aruna, the Hindu god of dawn. Its distinctive spires or pyramidal structures make it one of the country’s most identifiable landmarks.

The Wat Arun’s spires is one of Thailand’s iconic landmarks
The Wat Arun’s spires is one of Thailand’s iconic landmarks/Photo by the author

Wat Pho is also a popular tourist attraction in Thailand as it serves as a home to the giant Reclining Buddha. It was constructed in the 16th century in the Rattanakosin Island district. It is the country’s oldest center for public education, a school for Thai medicine, and the birthplace of Thai massage.

Wat Pho’s gold plated, largest Reclining Buddha measures 15 meters high and 46 meters long
Wat Pho’s gold plated, largest Reclining Buddha measures 15 meters high and 46 meters long/Photo by the author

Wat Mahathat is one of the most important and oldest temples in Ayutthaya, Thailand. It is famous for the tree that grew around a sculpture of Buddha’s head. It is also one of the few archaeological sites within the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country. 

Wat Mahathat has origins that dates back to the 18th century
Wat Mahathat has origins that dates back to the 18th century/Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Check this list for other must-visit temples in Thailand.

Explore the cuisine of Thailand

Thai food mixes different flavors in unique, distinctive ways that makes it so unforgettable. Most of their dishes seamlessly blend sour, sweet, spicy, and salty, perfectly complementing each other in the best way possible. Here are some food recommendations you should definitely try during your trip.

The country is famous for its pad thai, which is a fried rice noodle dish with your choice of either shrimp or chicken mixed with egg, tofu, and vegetables. Its secret ingredient is a sauce based on tamarind and palm sugar. 

You can never go wrong with the curries in Thailand. Other countries have their version of this dish, but what makes the Thai versions different is due to the fact that they utilize numerous fresh herbs and spices to the dish. Ingredients like galangal, lemongrass, and shrimp paste can be found in Thai curries, which aren’t usually present in other cuisines. They have three kinds of curries: red, yellow, and green, which differ based on the chillies used to make them.

Lifestyle Asia had the privilege to speak with Peach Pachara, a Thai actor and businessman, who said one of his favorite Thai foods is the som tam. It is a papaya salad that originated from Isan, one of Thailand’s least visited regions. Its main ingredients consist of chili, garlic, tomato, and peanuts, with fish sauce as its seasoning.

“If you want to really go local, som tam is the way to go,” Pachara said. “[It goes well] with sticky rice.” 

Thai actor Peach Pachara recommends “som tam” as an underrated yet flavorful local dish in Thailand
Thai actor Peach Pachara recommends “som tam” as an underrated yet flavorful local dish in Thailand/Photo by the author

Check this list for more must-try Thai food in the country.

The beautiful islands in Thailand

Thailand is not just known for its temples, religion, architecture, and food. The country also has spectacular islands that suit any occasion, may it be a family affair, a trip for couples or friends, or a wellness retreat.

Koh Yao Noi in particular is best for those who go on vacation for wellness. It is an island in Phang Nga Bay, halfway between Phuket and Krabi. It has a lush jungle, sandy beaches, and rock formations. The island offers tourist activities grounded on eco-friendly practices like observing local life, natural fabric dyeing, and other water activities. It advocates for sustainability and uses solar power in the location and they also protect the endangered hornbills’ habitat. 

Koh Lipe is near the borders of Malaysia and is the only inhabited island in the Adang archipelago. It is one of the busiest beaches in the country as it is full of tourist facilities, like streets, resorts, restaurants, ports for passenger boats, and more. The island has  “family-friendly gentle seas,” soft sands, and great food, making it an ideal destination for a family trip.

Pachara revealed in an exclusive interview that one of the islands he wants to visit is Koh Surin, located in the Andaman sea. The island highlights its ancient rainforest that serves as a home to species like monitor lizards, flying foxes, reticulated pythons, and pig-tailed macaques, to name a few. It is one of the very few untouched places in Thailand as there are no other buildings on the island aside from a small village and national park premises.

Isaan, an underrated region

Pachara added that there are locations in northeastern Thailand, collectively known as Isaan, that he has yet to visit. “I want to go to Ubon Ratchathani in particular,” he expressed. Ubon Ratchathani is the northeast’s largest city and one of the places to witness the Buddhists’ annual candle festival. 

The destination features plateaus and mountain ranges. The Mun River runs between the scenic views. Aside from the natural attractions, tourists can visit the Pha Taem national park, which is famous for its prehistoric rock paintings. Vacationers may include Sam Pan Boak or the Grand Canyon of Thailand, Huai Sai Yai waterfall, and other parks and temples present in the area. 

In a report by CNN, Isaan is a region often overlooked by international tourists despite its abundance of bucket list-worthy locations. The highly-accessible region has 20 provinces, upscale hotels, domestic airports, and other historic sites.

Northeastern Thailand’s abundance of tourist attractions will be an adventure for the books.

Banner photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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