Everyone has arrived safely home from our third-ever Exotic Thailand pickleball trip! We spent 11 days in country, each one jam-packed with pickleball, cultural activities, sightseeing, and new adventures. Thailand is one of our all-time favorite destinations and being able to play the sport we love in such a captivating country makes an incredible experience even more memorable. Here are just a few of the highlights from our trip, which we hope will inspire you to join us the next time we visit! (which happens to be December 3rd ~ 13th, 2023)
Highlight #1 – Connecting with Local Players
Our favorite part of almost any trip is meeting as well as playing with the locals, getting to hear their stories, and seeing the instant connection that occurs between them and our group. Pickleball Trips was born our of a desire to build bridges between players from around the world and it’s incredibly rewarding to see that come to fruition through our tours. We were welcomed in by local groups in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. Pickleball continues to grow steadily throughout Thailand and connecting with more players who have joined the movement each time we visit is incredibly fun. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Thai pickleball!
Highlight #2 – Chai Lai Orchid
Out of all the exciting adventures we experience on our Exotic Thailand tour, one of our favorites is always the visit to Chai Lai Orchid where we wash and feed rescued elephants. The mountainous landscape outside of Chiang Mai is stunning and Chai Lai is the perfect place to soak it all in. After arriving at our destination, we walk through a traditional Karen-tribe village for an explanation from our local guides of what life is like for them. Then, it’s onto the elephants! They are hungry and eagerly waiting to be fed their sugar cane and bananas. Not a lot of experiences allow for getting up close and personal with such a majestic creature. Their size may be intimidating, but you soon discover that they are gentle giants. We then walk them down to the river, and those who are interested use sand as well as rocks to rub them down and wash them off. Finally, the guides prepare a sustainable, traditional Karen lunch by the river, cooking rice in bamboo tubes and chicken on an open campfire. Everyone returns to Chiang Mai worn out at the end of the day, but it’s an unforgettable adventure and unique cultural experience only to be had in Thailand.
Highlight #3 – Thai Farm Cooking Class
Undoubtedly one of the most delicious meals on our Exotic Thailand tour (and there are A LOT!) is the one we prepare ourselves at the Thai Farm Cooking School. The journey from Chiang Mai into the Thai countryside takes around 45 minutes, not including our visit to a local food market en route. First, our instructor for the day tours us around the farm, pointing out various herbs, spices, and vegetables that are common ingredients in almost all Thai cuisine. Next, it’s onto the fun part: cooking. We choose between various dishes and our instructors expertly guide us through the process. Although the skill levels of our members range from beginners up to professionals (2.0’s ~ 5.0+ for all you pickeball players), everyone somehow manages to create fabulous dishes in their own way and we enjoy a hard-earned meal together. And it doesn’t stop there as you receive a copy of your very own recipe book to take home with you and see if you can replicate your scrumptious success.
Highlight #4 – Brand New Pickleball Courts in Phuket
The best venue on the trip has to be the Pickleball Phuket Club in Kathu. They have four beautiful, brand new, courts that we use exclusively for our instruction sessions. After the clinics, we also invite local friends out for some rec play. There is even a shaded bar area offering cold beverages like beer, smoothies, Gatorade, and whole coconuts to keep you cool in spite of the Thai humidity. Following the pickleball, lunch is prepared by the kitchen next door and served by their excellent staff who cater to all our needs. In our opinion, these are the best courts in Asia so having the opportunity to play on them during our tour is another the cherry on top of a fun few days in Phuket!
Highlight #5 – A Taste of Thai Culture in Chiang Mai
If we were asked to name our favorite city in all of Thaiand it might just be Chiang Mai. The bustling night markets, the ancient Buddhist temples in the old city, the plethora of affordable cafes and restaurants, and the countless options for Thai massage make for a spectacularly authentic Thai atmosphere. You could seemingly explore the streets of Chiang Mai for an eternity without losing interest. Pickleball is played at a local park where visitors are welcomed with open arms. One of the other highlights in Chiang Mai is the beautiful garden restaurant where we love to take the group.
Once again, our visit to Thailand was a smashing success! We can’t wait to return in December for the next edition of our Exotic Thailand Pickleball Trip. Additional details will be coming soon on our website Pickleball Trips .com and we would be privileged to have you join us.
Until next time!
The Pickleball Trips Team