If you’ve been wanting to explore Thailand but aren’t sure where to start, you’re not alone.
Thailand is a backpacker’s mecca.
There are loads of cheap activities to do all across the country.
It can be a little overwhelming.
That’s why Skill Focused Travel (SFT) trips are great.
You pick one activity as your primary focus for your trip and you plan around that activity.
Don’t worry you’ll still have plenty of time to explore and try new restaurants.
Skill Focused Travel just gives you some focus for your trip.
Here are 14 Skill Focused Travel ideas perfect for Thailand.
Thailand has some of the most incredible back country in the world.
From exotic coasts to cloud blanketed mountains, there is a lot of diverse terrain to keep your attention.
While there are plenty of easy day treks, there are a lot of advanced treks as well.
Thailand would be a perfect place to turn yourself into a talented trekker.
As Thailand is no stranger to dangerous wildlife, I do recommend hiring a guide, but of course you can go solo if your crazy enough.
If you want to put your motorcycle skills to the test, The Mae Hong Son loop is one of the best multi day drives in the world.
The roads are typically in great condition but offer plenty of hairpin turns to put your skills to the test.
There are plenty of tour groups willing to guide you on this route, but with plenty of friendly locals and repair shops around, I recommend you rent a bike and explore it on your own.
Almost all locals are able to speak English.
English school is very important to Thailand's tourism industry.
But there are a lot of schools out there teaching the Thai language to foreigners.
While in Chiang Mai I meat a few Australian guys taking Thai classes.
They really enjoyed the challenge.
Thai is a tonal language.
The rules and structure of the language are very different form English.
Are you up for the challenge?
Krabi is home to world class rock climbing. There are a couple spots beginner climbers can learn the basics, but this is a SFT trip for someone who already has some experience.
The complex routes combined with the tight climber culture in the area makes this the perfect place to take your climbing skills to the next level.
Every day you'll see climbers catching ferries from Railay beach to Tonsai.
Many climbers don't even show up with a partner as they no they can find other climbers willing to share routes when they arrive.
The Malay Peninsula is the long stretch of land that starts from mainland Thailand and works it's way all the way down to Singapore.
The Thailand section of the peninsula has a number of kite surfing schools.
If you're interested in the sport, this is a great affordable place to learn.
If you are an experienced kite surfer you're going to love exploring Thailand's intricate coastline.
Thailand is pretty hitchhiker friendly so plan a few long down winders and catch a ride back to town when you're done.
Sure when you arrive to Thailand you'll be swimming in brochures for one day Thai cooking schools, but if you want to really master the Thai cooking style you'll need practice.
Start with a one day class and talk to the teacher about setting you up with a family that will let you cook with them throughout your trip.
The Thai people are very hospitable and would be delighted to cook with you, especially if you're willing to help their kids a little with their English studies.
Find a guesthouse or apartment with a good size kitchen so you can get plenty of practice on your own too.
Remember how I said Thailand has tons of back country?
That diverse terrain is perfect for cross country dirt bikers too.
There are a few enduro groups around.
They're mostly out of Phuket.
I've seen huge 12 day ventures going on, but a few companies can even set up customized trips if you want to go even further.
Thailand is big for backpacking.
They have one of the largest concentrations of hostels on the planet.
If you're interested in hospitality, this is a great place to cut your teeth.
You'll find lots of foreigners helping out at hostels.
Often times asking around for a place to help out at can get you a gig the same day.
Just remember a tourist visa is not a working visa.
There are volunteer opportunities for tourists, but if you receive compensation you need to talk to the hostel about helping you get a permit.
Muay Thai is the official boxing sport of Thailand.
If it looks challenging that's because it is.
Muay Thai fighters are usually ripped because of the level of exertion it demands.
Every city has at least one Muay Thai gym (more like a dozen).
Many are open to foreigners and some will let you even compete in exhibition matches once you've proven yourself.
If that seems a little intimidating there are plenty of low key classes as well.
Thailand has its fair share of out of shape people.
The fast food industry has gotten a foot hold here.
But I will always think of Thailand as fitness focused country.
There are free fitness classes running all day every day in city parks.
There are top tier VIP gyms that are open to foreigners, or you can join the gym rats in the homemade gyms in the parks.
If you can stay in control of your eating habits (Thai street food is legit.) this is a great place to focus on your fitness.
There are plenty of great scuba shops outside of Koh Tao, but this island has built a reputation for being the place to go.
It is one of if not the cheapest places in the world to get certified.
After taking a dive with one of the crews I can attest to the quality of the programs.
The shops here follow all the safety rules and I promise you'll get way more than your money's worth.
You can spend many like the world's about to end in Thailand, but you can also live on very little.
I've met a few expats who claim to life on as little as $150 US per month in Thailand.
You'll have to completely change your standard of living to do that, but it's valuable experience.
It can teach a lot about what's important in life.
Living simply doesn't mean you can't live well.
Buddhism can be a little intimidating.
I was always careful to not offend the monks.
Students of Buddhism walk around the city and commend an extreme level of respect.
What I learned over time though was how friendly they were.
I've heard of a few people joining a school.
I know of at least one who joined for only 24 hours.
If you want to learn the way of the Buddha, becoming a monk is possible.
Don't expect special treatment or for it to be easy.
Monks take their practice very seriously and you'll be expected to keep up with traditions.
Asian Elephants are an intricate species.
There is a lot of debate about what is ethical and what isn't.
The only real way to understand what these animals need is to go be with them.
There are a few elephant sanctuaries that love to host volunteers.
Tourism is a serious threat to these creatures and they need people like you in their corner fighting for their natural way of life.
Chiang Mai is the heart of the ethical debate.
This area has one of the fastest growing populations of elephant sanctuaries, but it is also the location of much of the elephant tourism people are trying to put an end to.