From Thailand with Love: 9 Epic Romantic Experiences
Sure, there’s the first date and first kiss, but it’s probably no surprise that at Travelzoo we think a relationship's most important milestone is the first trip.
A vacation is like one long, legendary date: You try new things together, and at the same time learn more about yourself, your partner and you as a twosome.
This year has been a rough one. A lot of couples had to put honeymoons, anniversary trips and other holidays on hold. But when you’re ready to celebrate, Thailand has a whole host of romantic adventures that, for a lifetime, will have you smiling over a tender “Remember when … ?”
Here are our picks for the nine most epic romantic experiences you can only have in Thailand.
1. See thousands of pink water lilies rise at dawn
Every morning from December to February, on an expansive lake near Udon Thani, countless tropical water lilies yawn open for the rising sun. Hire a small boat and cruise out to the middle of this "Red Lotus Sea," as it's affectionately known by locals, to be completely surrounded by this bright pink phenomenon.
Travelzoo Tip: Can’t make it from December to February? Visit Thale Noi lake in the southern province of Phattalung to witness tropical water lilies bloom from March to April. This is one of the most biodiverse areas in Thailand, home to water buffalo and over 280 species of aquatic birds.
No trip to Thailand is complete without a spa visit. Thai massage dates back over 2,000 years, when massage therapists were almost like village doctors who caressed out the kinks of field workers’ sore muscles. Now, the country’s name is practically synonymous with massage, and UNESCO even added the practice to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2019.
Travelzoo Tip: For a complete wellness trip, we love Thann Wellness Destination, which opened last October in Ayutthaya, about an hour's drive north of Bangkok. This resort offers spa treatments, organic food sourced from its own garden and sumptuous accommodations, all amid rice paddy fields and the Noi River.
Thailand’s 5-star hotels and resorts offer the same experience as luxury properties elsewhere for a much more affordable price. (This year in particular we’ve seen truly showstopping deals.) It’s hard not to feel romantic at a 5-star beachfront resort or at an ultramodern Bangkok hotel that overlooks the shimmering skyline.
Travelzoo Tip: For our 5-star pick in the capital, check out Siam Kempinski (pictured), a luxurious oasis within the city. On-site restaurant Sra Bua boasts a Michelin star, and the guide calls it “one of the original purveyors of modern and innovative Thai cuisine.” Get the six-course menu called “The Journey” to really see what the chef can do.
4. Whip up pad thai during a private cooking class
You can savour Thai food’s distinct blend of spicy chilies, fragrant lemongrass and fresh papaya in fine-dining restaurants and street food stalls across the country. But only through a cooking class can you bring them home.
A private lesson with an expert chef typically starts with a guided visit to a local market so you know how to shop for your day’s dishes, then you’ll dive into three or four courses, like prawn curry or coconut sticky rice. Enjoy your creations on site and take the recipes home so you can recreate them together.
Travelzoo Tip: For an authentic experience, we love Blue Elephant Cooking School, which has locations in Bangkok and Phuket. Students at the Phuket outlet cook in a colonial-era mansion that doubles as a Michelin-recognized restaurant.
5. Hop between tropical islands on a traditional longtail boat
From beneath the sunshade of a chauffeured longtail, follow your boat’s rainbow of ribbons across the Andaman Sea to sugar-white islets off Thailand’s west coast.
You'll snorkel in bathtub-warm waters alongside sea turtles and playful schools of fish, or simply snack on fresh pineapple on the beach, listening to the aquamarine waves smooth the sand. Catch the sunset over the water before you head back to your hotel for the night.
Travelzoo Tip: Add tiny Koh Kradan to your island-hopping itinerary. The pristine beach is so beautiful that every year scuba-diving couples get married there in a special underwater Thai ceremony.
Bangkok’s rooftop bars are legendary, thanks to reams of Instagram photos and cameos in blockbusters like “The Hangover Part II.” The one on our radar now is Mahanakhon Bangkok Skybar. When it opened in July 2019, it became the tallest restaurant and bar in Thailand, hovering at over 1,000 feet above the glittering capital.
After a day exploring the city, head up to the 76th-floor spot to sip cocktails of raw coconut, pineapple and clove amid 360-degree views.
Travelzoo Tip: Make it drinks and dinner. You won’t want to miss out on the spicy banana blossom salad or pan-fried foie gras from this restaurant; it’s helmed by chef Joshua Cameron, who previously honed his craft at NYC's Eleven Madison Park, crowned World’s Best Restaurant in 2017.
7. Glide into Phang Nga Bay by day, then watch a bioluminescent glow surround your boat at night
Thailand is one of the only places on Earth where you can see the natural phenomenon of bioluminescent dinoflagellates — tiny plankton that, because of a chemical reaction, emit a neon glow that can illuminate an entire lagoon.
Experience it for yourself on a boat ride in Phang Nga Bay. We recommend John Gray’s “Hong by Starlight” guided excursion; it’s one of the highest-rated and best known for sustainable practices. You'll paddle to limestone caves in the afternoon, dine on a buffet dinner of fresh seafood and watch the sunset radiate over the water.
Nightfall brings the main attraction. First, you'll float your own krathong of leaves and flowers on the current, making a wish. Then hold hands as you glide quietly back to shore, with starlight guiding you from above and blue iridescence glowing from below.
Travelzoo Tip: Take a video instead of a photo to capture what's known as the "sea sparkle." Video is more forgiving with individual frame quality so you'll catch more of the bioluminescence to bring back home.
8. Embrace spirituality (and love) in Bangkok temples
Thailand emanates spirituality. About 95% of the population practices Buddhism, and over 40,000 temples blanket the country. Some of the most resplendent lie in Bangkok, including Wat Pho (home of the famous 140-foot-long reclining Buddha statue, Thailand’s first public university and a school of traditional medicine). Tour a few before ending at Trimurti Shrine to say thank you to the God of Love for bringing you two together.
Travelzoo Tip: Dress in clothes that cover your shoulders and knees for a day of temple-hopping. But if you forget, you can rent the needed items at a low cost on site.
9. Wake up in an overwater bungalow within the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest
Outdoorsy couples can’t miss a visit to Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand, home to a 160 million-year-old evergreen rainforest rustling with swinging gibbons and hidden waterfalls. Stay overnight in a rustic overwater bungalow on the park’s sprawling Cheow Lan Lake for early morning swims amid titanic karst mountains and tropical birdsong.
Travelzoo Tip: Both day and night jungle treks are a must here. We recommend booking a guided trek to make the most of your experience. Your guide can tell you whether that piercing tone was a gaur or a tapir and show you where rafflesia blooms. These red giants are the largest flowers in the world, and in Thailand can only be found in Khao Sok.