Wellness tourism: Four Thai activities for health-conscious travelers

Posted on 25 October 2023 By Tsoku Maela

With the ever-increasing pace of contemporary living showing no signs of slowing down, people are looking for ways to escape the urban hustle and welcome a ‘soft era’ of less stress and more self-enrichment. The world of tourism offers a solution to this desire – wellness travel, a trend that has experienced a boom in recent years as travellers look to appease their wanderlust while working towards their health goals.

Picture: Getty Images

Commenting on this is Sadudee Sangnil, the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for UK, Ireland and South Africa who says that Thailand is by far, one of the most frequently visited destinations for its wellness offering. “Wellness travel is not just about ticking off destinations on a map or items on an itinerary list; it’s about having a transformative experience that centres around the health and harmony of mind, body, and spirit.

This evolving niche within the travel industry signifies a paradigm shift, with individuals seeking more profound connections and experiences during their getaways. Travellers are making more mindful choices – from yoga retreats in the serene setting of a tropical jungle to meditation workshops on pristine beaches, every aspect is curated to foster well-being. This is something we recommend and encourage as the perfect way to practice much-needed self-care while exploring the sights and sounds of a foreign country.”

A thriving industry based on better living

According to the most recent estimates published by Statista, the global wellness tourism industry is predicted to be worth more than $1 trillion – a significant increase from its $476 billion market size just one year ago. A travel trends report conducted by Hilton, found that post-pandemic, many individuals are looking to redefine what ‘wellness’ means in their lives – looking closely at aspects such as sleep, recovery, nutrition and mindfulness.

Furthermore, 50% of survey respondents claimed that their travel choices for the year needed to address both mental and physical wellness. Top of mind for these kinds of travellers are activities that involve physical exercise, as well as full-service amenities that cater to their need to make healthy food choices and provide for the optimal level of mental recuperation and rest. 

In light of the growth in demand for wellness travel, Sangnil recommends these four wellness-oriented activities when travelling to Thailand:

Sea kayaking

Embarking on a sea kayaking adventure off the coast of Thailand will give you a chance to immerse yourself in one of the island’s most renowned natural resources: its scenic oceanscape. The waters off the coast are crystalline and very slow-moving – the perfect conditions for taking a kayak out and soaking up the tranquil surroundings. Many travellers think of sea kayaking as a moving meditation as well as a chance to get in some good cardio.

The coastline is also dotted with hidden coves and secluded beaches that are thrilling to explore. Some of the most common spots for a sea kayaking adventure include the Phang Nga Bay Sea Cove, the blue lagoons off the island of Krabi and the caves along the coastline of the Koh Phi Phi islands.

Reconnect with your body

When most people think of wellness tourism in Thailand, they instinctively think of a traditional Thai massage. The rhythmic motions of traditional Thai massage, coupled with the aromatic scents of essential oil are known to dissolve tension and promote a profound sense of tranquility. Beyond the quintessential Thai massage, wellness seekers can also opt for less common luxury treatments.

The Oasis Spa and Divana Spa, for example, offer guests a back cleansing experience called a back facial, usually preceded by a scrub using botanical oils and ingredients such as lemongrass, Siamese jasmine and tropical wood. Many spas also offer mud wraps, an ancient practice renowned for detoxification and nourishment.

Biking in Bangkok

Some wellness-orientated travellers prefer to spend most of their time in Thailand’s diverse natural landscapes, while others may appreciate a few hours immersed in the urban sprawl of the busy city of Bangkok. To get the adrenaline pumping and get your daily dose of exercise while exploring the city, tourists can embark on a bike ride through Bangkok. 

On your trip, you can look forward to experiencing the aroma of local street food, while catching a glimpse of some of the city’s skyscrapers and historical temples. Bangkok’s extensive network of bike-friendly paths allows for an exploration of hidden gems and cultural landmarks, fostering a deep connection with the heartbeat of the city.

Have a holistic experience

There are resorts and luxury destinations throughout Thailand that specialise in offering guests a full wellness experience. These resorts give travellers the benefit of not needing to travel long distances but still being able to take in the beauty of the natural world and enjoy wellness-related activities. KamalayaRakxa Wellness, and Absolute Sanctuary, for example, offer customised wellness retreat programmes, activities and wholesome nutrition, all facilitated by holistic health practitioners.

Every retreat comprises a diverse array of treatments and activities, forming a comprehensive approach to enhance various aspects of health. This approach effectively caters to the objectives of each guest, aiming to enhance their lifestyle, foster healing, and elevate them to a state of wellness that signifies a significant improvement in their overall well-being.


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