Thinking about what to do in Thailand on a gap year? Maybe you’re considering heading out yourself, or maybe you’re already out there on a gap year in Thailand and are keen to make sure that you don’t miss a thing.
Perhaps you’re still deciding which trip would be best for you – a gap year in Australia or a gap year in Canada sounds amazing, no doubt, so why choose Thailand instead? What is there to do in Thailand that you can’t do anywhere else?
Well, it goes without saying that there’s an endless list of tourist attractions, must-see items and things to do in Thailand. The culture and the environment of the country are completely unique, and there’s so much room for spontaneity in amongst the sun and sand.
Planning a gap year in Thailand can be difficult, but follow the list below and you’ll have a trip you’ll never forget – a gap year adventure in the country that ticks all of these boxes is one that you certainly won’t be forgetting any time soon.
1) The Grand Palace
It may be a tourist trap, but you simply can’t write a list of what to do in Thailand without including the world famous Grand Palace.
Illuminated by night and breath-taking by day, this has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam, and subsequently Thailand, since way back in 1728. The beautiful golden tips will leave you stunned and your Instagram exploding. When you’re making your list of what to do in Thailand, make sure to include this.
2) Go Island Hopping
Island hopping in Thailand is an absolute essential to any working holiday or gap year experience. It’s one of the reasons many people end up in the country in the first place – the dream of living amongst such exotic surroundings, reminiscent of those which inspire such wanderlust on the big screen.
There’s more than 5,000 miles of coastline in the country, so whether you do it by longboat, kayak, or whether you have to form a raft out of your own hair and nails to get the job done, find a way to go island hopping in Thailand and do it.
3) The Floating Market, Damnoen Saduak
If you happen to find yourself in the Ratchaburi Province of Thailand, in Damnoen Saduak, about 100km southwest of Bangkok, you’ll find the famous floating markets.
Think colour, fresh fruit, vegetables, canals, and all round traditionalism with a slight dose of mayhem, particularly if you leave it till the afternoon to go, when the place is packed.
Fear not if you’re not in the Damnoen Saduak area though – it may be the most famous floating market in Thailand, but there are plenty throughout the country. Google your location and you’ll be able to find one near you!
4) Yi Peng Festival
You may not have heard of the Yi Peng Festival or recognise it by name, but we’re guessing you sure as hell recognise the picture above. It’s a Thai trademark, and something that though only once a year, simply has to appear on any list of what to do in Thailand.
If you are lucky enough to be in the country in November, you’ll have the chance to see legions of Lanna-style sky lanterns released and floating through the sky. It’s a gap year experience that you won’t forget for the rest of your life.
5) Sukhothai Historical Park
There are abundance of awesome historical reserves and parks in Thailand, but Sukhothai is probably the most highly rated.
There, you’ll find the ruins of Sukhothai – which literally translates as “Dawn of Happiness", so you know it’s going to be good. The ruins were once the capital of the Sukhothai kingdom, back in the 13th century, and can be found in the North of the country.
If you’re looking to really embrace the history of Thailand on a gap year, make sure you get along here, look around, learn, and you’ll bring a whole new side to your visit.
6) Elephant Nature Park
The elephant tourist trade is booming right now in Thailand, but the problem is that with many of the tourists offerings, the morals involved can be rather sketchy.
So, how do you get the experience of visiting and interacting with amazing elephants without risking giving your hard-earned money to someone who’s been abusing the animals? You go to a nature park!
Khun Lek runs the Elephant Nature Park in the Mae Taeng valley, 60km away from Chiang Mai. The nature park is a semi-wild habitat for injured or recovering elephants. Visitors can watch from afar or get as involved as actually washing the elephants. You can also volunteer here if you want to get really involved!
7) Try Kite Boarding
We’re not sure if you’re new to Mpora or not, but a quick browse around out content will tell you that we’re kind of into our action sports. We live for that stuff!
So, what better time to try out an awesome new sport – or to be more specific, water sport – than when you’re out on a gap year in Thailand, soaking in the sun and taking in new sights and experiences everyday.
The kite boarding in Koh Phangan comes highly recommended, so why not head to the area, take a course over a couple of days, strap on a GoPro and send us the footage! You might just find your new favourite hobby.
8) Party on Khao San Road
The cost-effective haven that is Khao San Road is more than a little bit mental. The bars, hotels, clubs and restaurants stretch around the legions of backpackers trying to fit into the setting.
According to Leonardo Di Caprio in ‘Alex Garland’s The Beach’, the place is literally the ‘backpacking centre of the universe’, and while we know this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s certainly one for those who love the buzz and thrill that comes with meeting like-minded new people in a packed, upbeat atmosphere.
9) Railay Beach
Railay Beach is the secret-turned-internationally-famous beach that you just can’t take off your list of things to do in Thailand. It’s pretty much paradise.
Accessible only by boat, the efforts you put in to get there will be more than worth it when you arrive. It might not be empty like back in the olden days, but it’s about as dreamy as it gets. When you think of tropical islands, paradisiacal adventures or just living large in Thailand, there’s a good chance that this is what you’re imagining.
Ayuttaya was once the trade and political mecca of Thailand, but a few hundred years, and plenty of burning, battling and bombardments later it was completely abandoned.
Now, the ruins stand strong as a constant reminder of the depths of history in the country, of the battles of the ages and the beauty of the architecture as far back as four centuries ago. The perfect way to complete your list of what to do in Thailand.