Thailand has been one of the most popular destinations for travellers and backpackers for decades, and to this day more and more people flock to this diverse country every year. Everybody knows about the gorgeous beaches with clear turquoise waters and white sand, the huge parties and the bustling capital of Bangkok, but there’s a great deal more to Thailand once you get under its skin. Once you’re in Thailand and are open to its people and places, a whole heap of experiences await you that you can’t plan for or read about in any travel guide.

So that’s why we contacted 23 of our favourite travel bloggers and asked them:

“What was your favourite experience when travelling in Thailand?”

Whether it’s the warm and friendly people, untouched scenery, cultural festivals, traditional rural villages or the brilliant food, check out their answers below for a truly authentic take on what this magnificent country has to offer you. And let us know what your favourite Thailand experience is!

Brenna Holeman | This Battered Suticase | @SuitcaseBrenna

“My favourite experience when travelling in Thailand was walking down to Relax Bay on Koh Lanta just as the sun was setting. My favourite island in Thailand, Koh Lanta has some incredible sunsets and nearly every night gives you skies that look straight out of a painting, splashed with pink and gold. My best memories come from that beach, drinking cold beer in the warm evening air and watching the sky explode in colour.”

Brenna

Robert Schrader | Leave Your Daily Hell | @leavyrdailyhell

“My favorite experience of traveling in Thailand is the dichotomy: I’ve now been to the Kingdom 14 times, yet every single time I visit, I manage to discover something, or some place, that makes me feel like I’m on my first trip. Most recently, this was the cave temples in Ratchaburi province, which were as delightfully kitschy as they were deserted—in most cases, I was the only tourist there.”

Robert

Noeke Dens | Thailand For Farang | @Noeke Dens

“My favourite experience of living in Thailand as an expat is the daily hospitality and kindness of the locals of Uthai Thani. Uthai Thani is not amongst the most developed provinces in Thailand. It’s rather authentic and rural. They have untouched nature and beautiful sites. The food here is delicious real Thai food and not adapted to tourists, as there are practically none. But their mentality is what I admire the most! It feels like everybody is relaxed all day everyday. Nobody is in a rush to do anything. Everywhere you go you pass people with big brown eyes and wide friendly smiles. No matter if it’s early or late the people of Uthai Thani are always smiling! That is why I am living a stress free happy life in this wonderful place in Thailand that I can proudly call home.”

Noeke

Caz & Craig | yTravelBlog | @yTravelBlog

“Our favourite experience travelling in Thailand was living in Bangkok teaching English at the high school. We lived on campus in a converted office in Wat Saket High which is connected to the famous temple of the same name in Bangkok. You might know it as The Golden Mount not far from Khao San Road. We made many amazing Thai friends who showed us a local side of Bangkok. We were fortunate enough to be invited to a major religious ceremony at the temple, when one of Thailand’s biggest music superstars was ordained as a monk. We turned into semi-celebrities too being the only farang allowed. It was an incredible experience.”

Caz & Craig

Elizabeth Noelle | One Day I’ll Fly Away | @flyawayoneday

“I have had a lot of amazing experiences in four years and made some amazing friends along the way. That was the best part I think, the awesome individuals who were just like you, searching for adventure and wanting to have a lot of fun along the way. There is a special kind of person who decides they are gonna live in Thailand and though many times that person can be certifiably crazy, sometimes they are your soulmate. I met some unforgettable people and found my favorite place in Thailand in a very unexpected way when we were flooded out from our house in Bangkok. We went down to the island of Koh Samet and fate intervened there when we met friends that ended up changing the game and were the hardest to say goodbye to when the time came years later. The small town of Laem Mae Phim on the mainland across from Samet is such a secret magical place I almost don’t want to share it but that is just selfish really. With beautiful, quiet beaches, yummy food, awesome beach side bar and a fantastic chill vibe, it really is the amazing local friends that make this place stand out for me. My favorite place in the whole world to grab a cold beer with lime, play with some cute beach puppies and laugh all day with the best crew around.”

Elizabeth

Dan & Audrey | Uncornered Market | @umarket

“Our favorite experience when travelling in Thailand captured the local flavor, both of the people we met and the food we ate. Several years ago, near Haad Yao West on the island of Koh Pha Ngan, we ate at a local stall where a woman made lovely (and lovingly prepared) tasty food based on the fish and seafood her husband would catch. After we asked, she invited us into her kitchen. We told the story about it all, including her two recipes (http://uncorneredmarket.com/thai-food-video-recipes/). For us, this was Thailand at its best.”

Dan Audrey

Alex Berger | Virtual Wayfarer | @AlexBerger

“I spent Christmas eve as a solo traveler on Koh Lanta at a small, cozy, hostel. The vibe at the hostel was fantastic and did everything a hostel can do right. The common space encouraged people to mix and mingle, and the congenial vibe made venturing out and spending time together a fantastic experience. As the evening settled in, a small group of us decided we’d invite anyone interested in joining along for a group dinner. That night more than 25 of us headed down to the beach and enjoyed a fantastic meal of fresh seafood and great Thai food. After dinner we headed to a nearby beach bar/club where we danced late into the evening before a group of us split off and decided it was still warm enough to go for a 3AM swim in the sea beneath a brilliant full (or near full) moon. It was one of the best Christmas experiences I’ve had and a truly magical evening.”

Alex

Nora Dunn | Credit Walk | @HoboNora

“Thailand’s greatest gift to me – and a gift that keeps on giving – is the food….specifically my ability to cook it. Now, Thailand is littered with Thai cooking classes, but the experience I chose was at You Sabai: it was 3 days and included accommodation (and meals – duh!) in a beautiful country-side location outside of Chiang Mai. It was relaxed, fun, and of course, delicious!”

Nora

Akila & Patrick | The Road Forks | @theroadforks

“One of my favorite experiences in Thailand was visiting Lampang, a much less touristed-city, but equally as charming as Chiang Mai. We loved walking through the night market and eating loads of delicious fare including fried cauliflower with peanut sauce, mushrooms on skewers, and one-bite meatballs, and hobnobbing with locals rather than being catered to as tourists.”

Akila & Patrick

Johnny | Johnny Jet | @JohnnyJet

“Getting new custom-made suits for cheap at Jackie’s in Bangkok.”

Johnny

Victoria Brewood | Pommie Travels | @pommietravels

“My favourite experience was having dinner with my mum at the Vertigo Bar on the top of the Banyan Tree in Bangkok. Not only was the view incredible at night, but I also looked across to realise we were sitting right alongside Dawson from Dawson’s Creek!”

Victoria

Emanuele Siracusa | The Siracusas | @Thesiracusas

“The best experience was watching the celebration of Loi Krathong in a temple in Chiang Mai (you can see my post on it here). The atmosphere was simply magical and at the end of the celebrations myself, my wife and son got to release a couple of lanterns, helped by the monks.”

Emanuele

Barbara Weibel | Hole In The Donut | @holeinthedonut

“I often spend the winter months in Chiang Mai, Thailand. While this popular city in northern Thailand is certainly no secret, there are a couple of local places to eat that most farangs (foreigners) do not know about. First, at Airport Central Plaza, a large shopping mall near the airport, there is a local food market in the lower level of the center. Each of the kiosks that line the wall specialize in a different kind of main dish, snack, or dessert, and the prices are so low that you can sample many different things. Another wonderful place where I’ve never seen another farang is Ming Kwan Vegetarian Restaurant, just east of Wat Phra Sing (look for the bright yellow sign). It’s just a tiny place, but it’s clean and the food is delicious. Best of all, you get a heaped serving of either white or unpolished (purple) rice, with two main dishes on the side, all for only 30 baht (less than $1).”

Barbara

Neng Neng | Oh My Devoy | @OhMyDevoy

“That day we saw a new side of Thailand, something we haven’t experience before. We learned a lot about Asanha Bucha day and Buddhism. If you think of Thailand, you think about full moon parties, beaches and Khao San road, but if you have the chance to experience something like this with locals, just go for it! You won’t regret the amazing experience you get from them, and it’s something you don’t get to see often.”

Neng Neng

Annabel Candy | Get In The Hotspot | @AnnabelCandy

“I love Thailand – the food, people, and beaches are all fabulous but one of my favourite experiences was staying with village chief Apae Akah in his hill tribe village. We got to live with the locals and join him on a jungle trek where he hunted for squirrel with a bow and arrow and cooked it in bamboo on an open fire for his guests. That night we slept in the jungle under a banana leaf shelter before continuing the hike through farmlands and jungle the next day. It was crazy fun and although this was decades ago visitors can still stay in the village. I recommend it!

Annabel

Ian | I Am Koh Chang | @iamkohchang

“I live on the island of Koh Chang, Trat which is a lovely spot but in the low season I often travel to other areas of the country. One of my favourite spots for a holiday to get away from it all and enjoy total peace and quiet is in Khao Sok. Khao Sok National Park is a nature reserve in southern Thailand which contains awesome scenery and the beautiful Cheow Lan Lake. Ideally, you want to stay on the lake in one of the handful of floating resorts. It is a bit pricey – but well worth it. Access to the resorts is only by longtail boat. The views are unbelievable. A mirror flat lake, with jungle clad karsts rising out of it surround you. And when you’re at your resort, just open your door and then dive off into the cool, freshwater. If you want activities then it’s a great place to kayak and boat trips to see caves and wildlife – wild elephants and Hornbills for example, can easily be arranged. If you’re a nature lover then this is one place in Thailand you shouldn’t miss.”

Ian

Amanda Williams | Dangerous Business | @dangerousbiz

“My favorite experience in Thailand, hands down, was volunteering for a week at Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand. The park rescues injured and abused elephants in Asia and gives them a sanctuary in which to live out the rest of their lives. Spending a week caring for and observing these beautiful gentle giants is something I will never forget.”

Amanda

Kristen Sarah | Hopscotch The Globe | @htglobe

“I loved spending a month in a little beach hut where I could swing in a hammock while indulging in mangosteens and rambutans. It’s the simple things in Thailand that make it special. Even walking by my favourite food stand in the streets of Ban tai and hearing “Sawadee Kah” from a local with a big smile on their face. I also can’t forget the food. The street food in Thailand is incredible! My favourite go to meal is coconut sticky rice with slices of mango on top. Delicious!”

Kristen

Dave & Deb | The Planet D | @theplanetd

“Our favourite experience in Thailand is rock climbing in Railay. We went to this beautiful southern beach location of Krabi for the first time in 2000 and tried our hand at rock climbing and each time we go back to Thailand, we make sure to stop in Railay. There are hundreds of sport climbing routes for all levels and there is now deep water soloing off the amazing Kharst formations of the area. If you want an adventure, make your way to Railay and take a three day lead climbing course to learn the ropes and start your rock climbing adventure.”

Dave & Deb

Gary Arndt | Everything Everywhere | @EverywhereTrip

“I think it would be visiting the temples of Sukhothai. It was a world heritage site which few visitors to Thailand ever bother to see. Located between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, it is overlooked. However, it is one of the best attractions in the entire country.”

Gary

Abi King | Inside The Travel Lab | @insidetravellab

“Well, it’s a long time since I was there but I remember the pristine beaches, so special, so quiet. And surrounded by such friendly, daily activity. I loved the seclusion of Koh Tao, but that was a while ago now!”

Abi

Monica Stott | The Travel Hack | @thetravelhack

“My favourite experience in Thailand was visiting Koh Sok National Park. This gorgeous park in central Thailand feels unlike anywhere else in the country. I stayed for three nights and spent one night in a floating river hut, one night in a tree house and one in a luxury lodge at the foot of the dramatic limestone peaks. Each night we were surrounded by animals like monkeys and so many birds and the forest was so dense it was like being in the middle of nowhere. I’d definitely recommend a visit for a unique experience in Thailand.”

Monica

Jonathan Howe | Two Monkeys Travel Group | @2MonkeysTravel

“For me, the best thing I did in Thailand was a yoga retreat in Koh Pah Ngan! Yes, there’s a yogi community there on the other side of the island!”

Jonathan