When heading to a foreign country for the first time, we bet you’ve wished for a local connection to give you the inside scoop. Holly can be that connection for you. She was just named to Travel + Leisure’s A-List for the second consecutive year as the Thailand travel expert.
Holly tops the list because she lived in Bangkok, has traveled throughout Southeast Asia extensively, and returns frequently to explore the newest hotels and hot spots.
It is well established that Thailand’s highlights include Bangkok’s stunning Grand Palace, the bazaars and exquisite temples of Chiang Mai, and the striking limestone cliffs emerging from the sea in Phang Nga Bay near Phuket. These are unmissable. But what Holly is most excited about is sharing niche finds that speak to travelers’ unique interests.
We put Holly’s knowledge to the test and challenged her to come up with trips for unique interests—from experiences for vegan foodies (Holly is one herself!) to the best stops for contemporary art aficionados.
Contemporary Art Aficionados
Experience Thailand’s thriving contemporary arts scene in Bangkok and beyond.
• Mingle with clued-in locals at an opening reception of WTF Café and Gallery in Bangkok.
• Peruse the latest show at Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Bangkok—currently showing David LaChapelle’s surrealist pop-art creations.
• Wander through the gallery spaces, artsy boutiques, and cafes of Bangkok Art & Culture Center (BACC).
• Spend an afternoon gallery-hopping to Whitespace, Art Gorillas, and Kathmandu Photo Gallery.
• Visit the just-opened Maiiam Museum of Contemporary Art in Chiang Mai which has instantaneously made waves with the first-ever retrospective on the works of Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
• Wat Rong Khun, the incomparable White Temple, in Chiang Rai is an unconventional interpretation of a Buddhist Temple as art piece.
Spooky Thrill Seekers
The dark and mysterious can be a fun way to explore corners of Bangkok most visitors cruise past.
• Go shopping in a haunted mall! Mansion 7 in Bangkok features a haunted house attraction and creepy snacks such as black noodle pad thai.
• Look out for locals carrying Luk Thep “child angel” dolls. These eerily-realistic “supernatural” dolls are a growing trend among adults in Thailand, thought to bring good fortune.
• Take a bike ride through the quiet Nonthaburi suburb of Bangkok to see Wat Sak Noi, a small abandoned temple engulfed by vegetation, now used as a set for Thai horror films.
• Shop for costumes at Chatuchak Weekend Market. You can buy wigs, masks, vintage clothes and even cowboy gear.
• Wear your costume to a Halloween party, hosted by many hotels and nightclubs. Check out So Haunted at Sofitel So for the costumes and city views.
Thailand delivers when it comes to cuisine. Whether or not you’re a full-time vegan, these are different, exciting ways to experience Thai flavors.
• The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is held every October, marked by ritualistic body piercing, fire-walking, and street processions. Food stalls and markets sell mostly vegan Thai dishes with mock meats during the festival.
• Take a vegan Thai cooking class or fruit-carving class at one of May Kaidee’s cooking schools in Chiang Mai or Bangkok.
• The Bonita Café and Social Club in Bangkok looks like an English tea parlor and serves vegan and raw food.
• Spend a day hiking in Doi Mae Salong in northern Thailand, former opium fields which now grow oolong tea. You can watch the tea being picked and sample varieties in a tea shop.
• Organize a private vegan dinner party at Nang Gin Kui, a guerrilla dining experience in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
• Indulge in vegan desserts at one of Veganerie Bakery’s two locations in Bangkok.
Family Travel for Animal Lovers
Interacting with animals is a crowd pleaser, especially for families. These are animal experiences travelers can feel good about.
• Go glamping at Elephant Hills Luxury Tented Camp, in Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand, where you can feed, bathe and interact with the resident elephants.
• Pet snakes indigenous to Thailand during a snake-handling demonstration at the Bangkok Red Cross Snake Farm, which is also a premier anti-venom research facility.
• Southern Thailand is great for snorkeling—look out for hawksbill turtles, eels, stingrays, blacktip reef sharks, and more. Koh Lanta, Khao Lak, and Phuket make for great bases for snorkeling daytrips.
• Look out for wildlife as you glide through the jungle canopy of the Flight of the Gibbon zip line in Chiang Mai.
• Spend an exciting and informative day at the Elephant Nature Park sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai. Rescued dogs find refuge here as well.
• Make new feline friends at the Caturday Cat Café in Bangkok.
Design & Shopping Connoisseurs
From local designs to vintage finds and artisan crafts, Thailand is a treasure trove for keepsakes to fill your bags with.
• Stroll through Bangkok’s Rot Fai Night Market to look for vintage vinyl and other gems.
• The Terminal 21 shopping mall in Bangkok is primarily international brands, but the “Tokyo” floor sells women’s clothing by local up-and-coming designers.
• Chiang Mai’s Nimmanhaemin district is a wonderland of cafés and hip boutiques selling locally-designed home goods and clothing.
• Bangkok’s new W District is an art and urban lifestyle center near the On Nut night market. Shop for fashions and accessories amid modern art installations.
• Unique, handcrafted products made by artisans from village communities all over Thailand are for sale at the monthly ThaiCraft Fair held monthly in Bangkok.
Nature & Adventure Fans
Thailand’s varied landscape really is as idyllic as it seems in pictures.
• Explore the gorgeous countryside around Chiang Mai by bike, passing local shrines and rice paddies, and stopping for street-side snacks along the way.
• Near Amphawa, visit a mangrove conservation area where you can participate in mangrove planting, feeding monkeys and “mud skiing.”
• Learn rock climbing in paradise at Railay Beach in Krabi.
• Book a few nights on a live-aboard diving cruise in the Andaman Sea, for the best of Thailand’s SCUBA diving.
• Slip into secret sea cave entrances by kayak in Phang Nga Bay, to discover hidden lagoons among the stunning cliffs.
Ready to go?
Get in touch and let’s start planning your trip.
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