The Kingdom of Thailand has long been a favourite Southeast Asian magnet for wanderlusting souls seeking a colourful vacation. Be it idyllic islands surrounded by cerulean waters, cascading waterfalls tucked in verdant forests, or golden chedis at ancient Buddhist temples glimmering in the tropical sun, Thailand caters to tranquility and adventure seekers alike.
Trips to Thailand are by no means cookie-cutter holidays, with an array of activities ranging from cheap thrills to some of the most exclusive luxuries in the world, offering travellers a chance to carve out their own piece of paradise.
Interesting Facts about Thailand
- The current HM King of Thailand is the longest serving monarch in the world, having reigned the country since 1946.
- March 17th is celebrated in Thailand as 'National Boxing Day', dedicated to Nai Khanomtom who was granted freedom by his Burmese captives in 1774 when he impressed their king with his muay boran skills.
- Bangkok holds the Guinness record for the longest name of a place (in Thai): Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit
- The dive mecca of Similan Islands off Phang Nga province gets its name from the Pattani Malay word meaning 'nine'.
- A predominantly Buddhist country, Thailand has 33,902 temples nationwide which house practising monks.
The Capital Bangkok
Recently voted 'the best city in the world' by T+L magazine's global edition, Bangkok may boast modernities seen the world over, but a big part of its charm is that the capital, and the country as a whole, is still inherently Thai.
The prevalence of Buddhism is tangibly represented in the temples scattered around the city, as well as the saffron robed monks collecting alms in the mornings.
State of the art sky train and subway routes provide convenient networks downtown, at times passing by the Chao Praya River, where boat taxis still shuttle passengers to quayside destinations as they have for centuries.
From the world's largest open air flea market to clusters of glitzy malls, rustic backpacker hostels to swanky skyscraper hotels, Bangkok is a ladder of extremes with no missing rungs in between.
Thailand Beaches & Islands
Images of Thai beaches and islands have widely been used as representations of serenity, gracing everything from e-wallpapers to Hollywood movies.
The Gulf of Thailand is embraced by the kingdom's eastern coastline, dotted with resort towns such as Pattaya and Hua Hin, both a short drive from Bangkok. Situated close to the capital, what the beach getaways lack in water clarity, they make up with the convenience and comprehensive facilities on offer.
Speckling the Gulf further south lay a trio of island gems - Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. A nearby marine park archipelago is where the movie 'The Beach' was filmed, providing an indication to the scenery on display here.
On the other side of the southern Peninsula at the edge of the Andaman Sea are international jet set destination Phuket, and the limestone - sprinkled coastal landscape of Krabi.
Chiang Mai & Isaan Provinces
For melanin-shunning travellers that crave more shade than the tanning sun, and desire more green than blue, the mountainous northern and northeastern regions in Thailand are home to a vast majority of the country's national parks.
The northern province of Chiang Mai, and the provincial capital with the same name, is spread along the foothills of the legendary Himalayas, and home to the tallest peak in the Thailand.
As an ancient capital of the former Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is considered the heartland for the country's culture and arts. Taking up the northeastern quadrant of the country is Isaan, a collective name for the twenty provinces that occupy this region.
The mighty Mekong River separates the Thai banks from its Lao and Cambodian counterparts, with the proximity reflected in the culture and cuisine. As the least developed region in Thailand, Isaan is home to a cornucopia of natural beauty, from thick forests to enigmatic mountainscapes.
The Thai Charm
Burnt skin will peel off, and nightlife misdeeds can easily be obliterated by excessive drinking, but what stays with most travellers is the from-the-heart hospitality extended by the warm people in Thailand.
The local way of life can be characterised by the well known "Three S's" - Sanuk, Sabai, and Saduak (the Thai words meaning fun, comfortable, and convenient respectively).
However sweeping of a generalisation that may be, the vibrant and easy going pace of life in Thailand is experienced by most visitors to this 'Land of Smiles', enticing plenty of return visits in decades past and no doubt for several more to come.
Villa Holidays in Thailand
With attractions as delightfully eclectic as the colours in the kaleidoscopic marine life off the islands, Thailand is a carnival of activities and a case of 'come one, come all'. Private residences spread throughout the country ensure a memorable luxury villa holiday whether it's sea, city, or the sticks that top the traveller wish list.
Travel & Transport
Most international arrivals to Thailand land in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, with some popular cities also serving limited direct routes from other countries. A handful of domestic airlines blanket the country with a convenient travel network, with ferries and cars shuttling guests straight to the doorsteps of more remote destinations.
Thailand Top 5 Travel Tips [Bucket List]
1. Have a Beachin' Time
Thailand boasts several beach destinations for big blue enthusiasts to enjoy the country's sea, sand, and sun à la sanuk, sabai, and saduak. Try snorkelling off Koh Tao, SCUBA diving off Krabi, and sailing around Phuket.
2. Herbs, Spice, and Everything Nice
Thai food is world renowned for its use of aromatic spices and fresh ingredients. For delectable tastes as authentic as it gets, tickle your taste buds in Chiang Mai, feast on succulent seafood in Hua Hin and Pattaya, and brave Isaan's distinct and spicy cuisine.
3. Enchanted Forests
More than 50 national parks call the northern and northeastern regions in Thailand home. Phu Kradueng in Loei, Isaan is home to wicked waterfalls, and Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai province offers fascinating bird watching and hiking trails.
4. Hangover Hang-Ups
The madness of Bangkok depicted in 'The Hangover Part 2' is the worst case - and extremely unlikely - scenario of nighttime adventures, but definitely hints at the vibrancy of the Bangkok night that awakens when the sun sets. For a star's-eye view of the city, head to to the splashy Sky Bar as seen in the movie.
5. Salute to the Sun
Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are wellness meccas, where seaside yoga and meditation centres abound to help you find your inner balance. If five-star property Kamalaya in Samui is good enough for Sarah Duchess of York to hide out her non-invitation to the Royal Wedding, then it's good enough for anyone.
- Koh Samui Midnight Run
The first of its kind, The Koh Samui Reggae Pub Charity Midnight Run.
- Songkran Sensation
If you're travelling to Thailand in April, be prepared for the Songkran water festival.
- I do...to underwater love
A wedding service like no other, Trang celebrates its 17th underwater wedding ceremony.
- Samui International Bike Week
Biking fever grips Samui with over a 1000 bikers heading to take part in this annual event.
- Stepping it up
Koh Samui offers the ultimate natural challenge for athletes willing to push themselves to the limits
- Girl Power on Phuket
The statues at the island's largest roundabout guide many lost drivers, but who are they?
- Low price to live large
AirAsia's CEO, Tassapon Bijleveld, has steered the airline from its first flight in 2002 to over 100 million passengers and counting.
- An island redefined
There is no need for parents to miss out on a real holiday when travelling with children.
- A Fun Full Moon
The stampede to get aboard belies the motivation they lacked to see the night through.
- Shopping hot spots
The markets are rich with the vibrant colors, sounds and crafts of Thai culture.
- Sailing in Phuket
A major sailing ground in South East Asia, Phuket offers some pretty special sailing and boating all year around.
- Asian villa weddings
Will take your special day from merely entertaining to absolutely extravagant!
- Sex in the City?
Anyone who's ever played word-association games knows that sometimes they can go terribly wrong.
- The gift glut
Even the crappy souvenir stores are somehow imbued with an ethereal, mystical quality that exist nowhere else.