I'm back from three glorious weeks in Thailand! My daily agenda looked something like this... eat, shop, eat, tan, get massaged, eat some more, explore and repeat. Last week I shared my list of things to do if you've only got 72 hours in Bangkok but if you have more time, here's the real deal, the less touristy, off-the-beaten path checklist to take down.
Get a massage. Every day!
For $8 CAD you can get a 60 mins foot massage, $17 gets you a one hour soothing full body massage with aloe vera and if you throw in an extra $7 you can enjoy a 30 mins scalp massage with aromatherapy hot oils. Recommendations: Koh Samui (hour and half by plane from Bangkok) is known for their top spas and THE place to go if you want to truly relax and recharge. I spent many hours at Hi Class Massage and D's Spa at Chaweng Beach (forgive the cheesy names but they were clean and the nicest places I found on the island).
Would you try a Fish Spa?
This is banned in North America for sanitary reasons but if you dare to try something totally different and can bear with the tickle factor, soak your feet in a tub of nibble fishies. They promise to chew away at rough heels and clean off the dead skin. Interesting, but I passed on this one.
Watch a Cabaret Show:
Not sure what's more entertaining, the song and dance itself or the fact that the performers are slim, beautiful men who call themselves "Lady Boys"! Just walk through any touristy area at night and someone will hand you a flyer advertising these Cabaret Shows. Some offer free admission with a drink purchase while others charge $15/person. Some shows also have themes like Calypso, Mambo, etc. but all will keep you guessing and more!
|Photo credit: Marphotographics|
Take a Hike with the Hilltribes:
Head North to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and go on a trek. Visit the local tour companies and you can book a day trip but I recommend a 2-3 day trek to get the full experience which typically includes a village homestay, cooking with local tribes, learning about plant medicines, elephant riding and bamboo rafting. (Packages start around $15/day).
Sample real street meat:
Forgot the dainty sausage and hot dog carts in TO, this is the real thing when it comes to street meat. Stalls are setup on main streets and for a pocketful of change, you can pretty much fill your tummy with tasty desserts, curry squid tentacles, salty fish and other more daring edibles. Check out this guy's chicks!
Eat and drink out of a plastic bag:
It's common when you order takeout like rice and soup to get your food to go in one of these clear baggies. They even put drinks like iced tea, coffee and Coca-Cola in them and serve it with ice and a straw!
Booze like a local:
If you need a boost of liquid courage at the karaoke bar or want to dance the night away, order some Sangsom (rum distilled from sugarcane) with Red Bull. It is served in a bucket for $4. Remember The Hangover 2? Yup, just don't plan anything the next day except beach time.
Party like a rock star:
There are some fancy schmany clubs in Bangkok but the real shenanigans goes down at the local dive bars in northern Chiang Mai and islands known for partying such as Koh Samui and Koh Phangan <-- home of the world famous Full Moon Party. Even if you have to let astrology dictate your travel schedule, it's worth it just to experience this one night of debauchery!
Explore Khao San Road:
Even if you are not 23 and Aussie, drop by Khao San Road in Bangkok. It has become more commercialized over the years but the friendly backpackers' vibe is still there. Shops, bars and restaurants are opened till the wee hours and you can make friends with foreigners at every turn. Street vendors sell everything including fake university diplomas and ID's for press passes and employment badges for Microsoft and Lufthansa!
Your office is the last thing on your mind when you are thousands of miles away but don't miss the opportunity to get a quality made-to-measure suit (for $100) and a few blouses ($35) or ties for your hip + urban guy ($10). If you are visiting for 5 days or more, check out the custom tailor shops around Pratunam Market in Bangkok or Chaweng in Koh Samui.
Caught red-handed in Patpong:
This is Bangkok's infamous red light district. With that said, there is more to offer than go-go bars and ummmm ping pong shows as you can find some great street cafes and an outdoor shopping market here. If you do check out the adult entertainment, there is no cover charge but you are expected to buy a drink. Unlike strip clubs in North America, it's not awkward going in there at all - even if you are female. The girls (on stage and bartenders) speak English and are super friendly.
Get grossed out at the Museum of Death:
If you are into the wacky and weird, visit Bangkok's Siriraj Medical Museum where you will see dissected human innards, oddities, forensic specimens and things to turn your tummy upside down. Admission is free and I assure you it will be a very educational afternoon but just go after you have lunch.
Get hissed at by snakes:
This is not your local petting zoo. Odd but highly entertaining, go check out the Snake Farm in Bangkok (located in the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute) for $2. You can gawk at these slithering creatures, see them do tricks and learn about anti-venom treatments.
Go to prison:
I took a few criminology courses at university and have always been fascinated with prisons especially ones in developing countries. Unfortunately time ran out (no pun intended) so I didn't get to drop by the Bang Kwang Central Prison. The inmates are mostly drug offenders and it's possible to visit them but you will need permission from the prisoner's embassy first.
Been to Thailand recently? What other wonderfully weird things did you see or do?
Note: prices are in Canadian dollars.
All a little too weird for you? Then head to Koh Tao for a more relaxing and "normal" get-away.