Most people spend a few days in the Thai capital, but many find the pollution, traffic congestion and chaotic street life extremely wearing. There’s plenty to take you off the street, however, including the glittering Grand Palace compound and its beautiful gigantic Reclining Buddha; the comprehensively stocked National Museum; the massive Chatuchak weekend market; with over eight thousand different nightlife that suns the full range from cutting-edge clubs to depressing strip joints.
Thailand’s beaches are among the world’s best. You’ll find the most developed and expensive resorts, and some of the finest sands, on the islands of Ko Samui and Phuket, while backpakers tend to head for the more budget oriented Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao, Ko Lanta and Ko Mook. Krabi’s Railay beaches are nothing short of stunning, Ko Samet makes and easy and economical break from Bangkok and Ko Chang is handy for travelers heading in and out of Cambodia.
Unlike the organized treks in the Himalayas, Thailand’s “hill-tribe treks” focus on the ethnic-minority villages that you walk to, rather than on the walking itself or the scenery. The hill tribes live way out in the sticks, but their villages are connected by tracks, so the hiking is not difficult. Most treks last two to four days and feature nights in the villages, as well as an elephant ride and river rafting. The main trekking centres are the northern cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, but routes out of both are hugely over subscribed, so it’s better to start from Mae Hing Sin, Pai, Kanchanaburi or Umphang instead, where trails are quieter and more rewarding.
The ruined former capitals of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya
Dating from the thirteen century, Sukhothai is a beautiful example og thoughtful city planning enlivened by lakes and elegant statues of the Buddha. The 300-year-old temples and palaces of Ayutthaya display a refined mix of Hindu and Buddhist sculpture and are fun to explore by bicycle. Both sets of ruins are now conserved as historical parks. There are plenty of sobering World War II sights in the town, as well as reasonable range of trekking, rafting and cycle options that make the most or the fine river scenery, plus some appealing rafthouse accommodation too.
Thailand is a well-known destination for those wanting to get away from the cold winter weather in their own countries. If you’re seeking sunshine and the friendly smiles of the Thai people then book a flight to the capital, Bangkok, for an exciting adventure before heading down to the golden shores of Samui or Phuket, and you won’t be disappointed. Its location in the south-east of Asia provides it with an exotic natural beauty and warm climate that attracts people from all over the globe.
There are lots of sights and attractions to visit whilst in the country, Bangkok is the capital and great for shopping and nightlife, however if you want something a bit more relaxing and quiet then head to the beaches in the south of the country.
Phuket and Samui are just two of the most visited islands in the south and have first-class international hotels, including well-known brands, as well as more economical bungalows on the beach to suit all budgets.
These tropical islands are blessed with pure white-sand beaches bordered by swaying palm trees and a sparkling blue ocean – what more reasons are there for travelling to Thailand? Relax on the beach every day, swim or snorkel, learn to dive and experience the nightlife on the islands, then go home chilled out and happy.
Phuket is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the south due to its modern outlook and traditional way of life. Catering to a diverse range of holidaymakers this paradise island has plenty of activities, entertainment, restaurants and beaches to please everyone. Phuket Town is an interesting place with sino-portuguese architecture and art galleries to explore, whilst on the other side of the mountain is the busiest tourist resort of Patong, further towards the southern tip of the island are Karon and Kata suitable for those looking for a quiet area. If you do visit Phuket then the months of November to March are the best time of year to visit as it’s not too hot and the rainy season is over.
Ko Samui is less crowded than Phuket but if you do like to people watch or busy bars then stay in Chaweng which is the most developed resort. There are still plenty of idyllic spots next to the ocean especially if you go to Lamai or Bo Phut. Not far from here is Koh Phangan, an island most people have heard of these days as it’s the scene of the famous full-moon parties, and go that little bit further and you’ll find the tiny island of Koh Tao, the best place for experienced or new divers.