No country is more attractive to wellness seekers than Thailand. Beachside resorts, detox treatments, meditation programs with Buddhist monks, plenty of opportunities to stay active on land and by sea—Thailand has got it all. Want us to get more specific? Can do. Based on the personal experience and expertise of our many destination specialists, we’ve put together the 10 best wellness activities to do in Thailand.
1. Get a Thai massage
There’s no more quintessential Thai wellness activity than getting a Thai massage, also known as Nuad Thai. A Thai massage isn’t quite like the kind you’ll get when you visit a massage therapist in a western city. There’s no deep-tissue massaging and oil rubbed on skin. Instead, you put on some loose-fitting pyjama-like clothes and get crunched, cracked, and generally stretched all over by the masseuse. Basically, you get treated like a ragdoll, but in the best ways possible. It feels like a chiropractic session, traditional massage, and yoga session all blended into one. The actual stretching and cracking may take some getting used to for newbies, but you’ll feel fit as a fiddle once it’s over.
2. Go sea kayaking
Get active and enjoy the sea air on a sea kayaking adventure. There’s a lot of coastline in Thailand and a lot of sparkling islands to visit. That means there are many places where you can rent a kayak and head out onto the open water to ride around karst islands and discover caves and hidden beaches. Phang Nga Bay in Phuket is arguably the best spot of all to go sea kayaking. It’s a lovely bay with all the islands, caves, and beaches you could ever hope for. With John Gray’s Sea Canoe Hong by Starlight Tour, you get a sea kayak tour of the bay, cave explorations, time for swimming on sandy beaches, lunch, dinner, and an unforgettable cap to the day where you release a Loi Kratong flower onto the water to watch it float overtop the bioluminescent plankton lighting up the water.
Phuket: John Gray's Sea Canoe & Hong by Starlight Full Day Tour
Explore the limestone karsts, caves and hidden lagoons (Hongs) of Phang Nga Bay by canoe in both daylight and starlight.More Details
3. Go hiking
You’ll find a lot of good places to go hiking in Thailand, although the best spots are in the north near Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. There you can hike into mountain jungles and come across the hill tribes near the borders with Laos and Myanmar, including the Karen, Hmong, Akha, Lisua, Lawa, Lahu, and Mien tribes. The opportunity for cultural encounters is a definite bonus to exploring the beautiful landscape.
4. Go biking in Bangkok
You can bike most anywhere in Thailand, but Bangkok is the place to rent a bike and go for a ride. Although the main roads are almost always busy in Bangkok, you can avoid those and head onto the sois (side streets) to escape the crowds and experience an underseen slice of Thailand’s largest city. Not only do you avoid the traffic, but you’ll find hole-in-the-wall restaurants, markets that are off the tourist trails, and have the kind of experiences that make travel so enriching. You’ll also get a good workout to boot, which keeps you fit while you travel.
Discover Wellness in Bangkok
DELUXE | PRIVATE-GUIDED: This week-long Bangkok vacation bases you at the health-focused Como Metropolitan Bangkok. Relax and be pampered in between enjoying the best Bangkok has to offer in sightseeing, food, and culture.More Details
5. Go diving
Thailand is a great country for diving, whether you have a diving license or want to get one. The waters in the south are usually warm, averaging around 30ºC, and there’s a lot of marine life to get close to beneath the waves. From March to April you can see manta rays in Khao Lake, while sharks are present between February and May. If you’re a rookie diver, Koh Tao in the Gulf of Siam is a great spot due to its calm waters. If you’re more seasoned, the Similan and Surin Islands in the Andaman Sea are considered the best in the country, even if the waters are choppier.
6. Try local fruit
In general, Thai food is remarkable, but the fruit is especially appealing. It’s so fresh and sweet! You should make sure to try some of the local fruits while you visit, including rambutan, dragon fruit, papaya, mangosteen, and even the famous durian fruit. Just remember that durian has a pretty unique (some say stinky) smell and that it’s not allowed in most public places or in hotels, so be sure to choose where you try it. That being said, eating some durian is something of a rite of passage for travellers in Thailand, so don’t miss out.
7. Meditate with a monk
Thailand is one of the world’s largest Buddhist nations, which means it’s a good place to visit Buddhist monasteries and learn from the monks that dedicate their lives to meditation and good works. Many monasteries have English-speaking meditation lessons, so you won’t be left out in the dark if you don’t speak Thai. You can choose from one-day sessions or multi-day retreats. As well, many wellness centres emphasize Buddhist practices, so you may get a bit of a spiritual renewal in the midst of all the yoga and detox.
8. Take a Muay Thai class
Muay Thai, also known as Thai kickboxing, is the national sport. Taking a Muay Thai class is a surefire way to keep fit while exploring the country’s one-of-a-kind culture. Many resorts in Phuket and the southern islands offer Muay Thai lessons, but you’ll also find places catering to foreign students in the cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Taking in a few lessons will keep you in shape during your travels and may give you a nifty skill to draw upon back home.
Bangkok: Evening Thai Boxing
Learn the Thai national sport on this evening introduction to Muay Thai. As you spend the evening learning the basics of this marital art, begin to master your body and use your elbows, knees, feet, and fists to defend yourself and transform your body into a weapon.More Details
9. Go rock climbing in Krabi
With its limestone cliffs overlooking the waters of the Andaman Sea, Krabi is the place to be for rock climbing in Thailand. You can rent a harness or bring your own and spend some days climbing the faces of these cliffs to enjoy unbeatable views. Time your climb for sunset and you may just see some magnificent colours to remember for the rest of your life.
With world class beaches, stunning limestone cliffs and coral reefs, Krabi is one of the most attractive resorts in Thailand. An ideal getaway not too far from Phuket.More Details
10. Practise Tai Chi in Lumpini Park
Tai Chi may not be a uniquely Thai practice, but it’s ubiquitous in the cities and is one of the best ways to keep limber and calm while travelling. Each morning in Bangkok, you can head to Lumpini Park, the biggest park in the city (basically their version of Central Park), to take part in Tai Chi classes outdoors. It’s a great way to start the day amidst the greenery and Kingfishers singing in the trees.
This article is sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
7 Feb 2020, 4:14 p.m.