1) Stock up at the night markets
If your trip to Thailand makes a stop at Bangkok (which I assure you, it should), make sure you venture out after sundown with a pal to hit up the famous night markets. Located throughout the city, the markets are filled with vendors selling everything from clothing to souvenirs to some pretty decent knockoffs. You'll want to practice your bartering skills here, and can end up with a $3 dress and braided bracelets that can run for $1 a pop. Food vendors also line the streets, so you can stop to grab some noodles and a cool drink along the way.
2) Indulge at the spa
The weather in Thailand can only be described as 'bloody hot' and your body is going to be sweaty, sticky and puffy. Swollen ankles and sore feet from walking around will happen on the first few days before you acclimatize, so why not hit up a spa for a massage? Thailand has tons of great massage parlours (might be best to ask the hotel or a friend for a recommendation, though), but there are also a bunch of massage chairs lining the streets by Khao San Road in Bangkok. Grab a fruit smoothie and settle down in a comfy hammock-like chair for an hour-long foot and leg massage that will run you about $8 CAN.
3) Hit the beach
Remember the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, 'The Beach'? Looks like paradise, right? Well, that shizz is real, so pack your bags and hit up Contiki's Thai Island Hopper West to visit the breathtaking island of Ko Phi Phi. Stretch out on the beach to relax and get a golden glow then sit back and watch the fire twirlers at night. Contiki also offers awesome optionals on their Thai tours, like a full day boat cruise to Bamboo Island to enjoy lunch on the beach and dive into the crystal clear waters for snorkeling.
4) Chill out at the temples
As a Buddhist nation, Thailand has an endless amount of beautiful temples, many of which are open to the public to visit (check the dress code beforehand though, as many require certain parts of you to be covered). If you're curious about Buddhism, you can actually attend chats with monks to learn more about it, and if you're a meditation devotee, consider a week-long retreat at the end of your Contiki trip.
5) Dance the night away at a Full Moon Party
If you're on Contiki's Thai Island Hopper East, you'll be making a stop in Koh Pha Gnan, home of the famous Full Moon Parties. Originating in the '80s, the massive beach parties that are held on the eve of the full moon now draw 20,000-30,000 people. Get slathered in neon body paint, grab your pals and a bucket of Red Bull and vodka and head to the beach to dance all night to house, hip hop and reggae. Check out Contiki's brochure or online trip listings for departures that stop in Koh Pha Gnan for the Full Moon (or equally fun Half Moon) Parties.
Written by Lauren McPhillips