Thailand Destination Guide
Thailand is one of the most visited countries in Asia – and with good reason. Known as the 'the Land of Smiles,' this ancient Southeast Asian nation boasts fascinating culture, glorious weather and spectacular coastlines fringed by unspoiled beaches. Thailand holidays offer something for everyone, from the frenetic pace of Bangkok to party capital Pattaya, the historic temples of Ayutthaya and beyond. If the sights and sounds don't grab your attention then the cuisine surely will. Thai food is world renowned, so take your tastebuds on a trip to the tasty source of one of Asia's most delicious cuisines.
There's a seemingly endless list of things to do in Thailand, although most visitors begin their trip in Bangkok. Don't be put off by the chaotic pace of the capital, there are still plenty of chances to slow down. One of the best places to do so is at the sprawling Grand Palace in the heart of historic Rattanakosin. Next to the palace is the impressive Wat Pho – or the 'Temple of the Reclining Buddha'. Further afield the northern city of Chiang Mai is home to more than 300 Buddhist temples, some of which are among the most important in Thai culture. Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is a temple founded as far back as 1383 and is revered as one of the most sacred sites in the region.
Eat and Drink
Many visitors travel to Thailand for the food alone! Thailand food options typically revolve around spicy curries with strong notes of lemon, lime and fresh coriander. One of the best ways to experience Thai food is from many of the food stalls and stands which line streets of Bangkok. Don't worry – the food is always safe to eat but sensitive types might want to ask vendors to tone down the spice! Thailand's famous nightlife is another obvious attraction. Some of the best places to tip back a tipple include the Silom district around the raucous Soi Patpong, party town Pattaya to the south of Bangkok, and the famous tropical island of Phuket.
Where to Stay
Thailand accommodation ranges from charming guesthouses to 5-star luxury resorts and everything in between. Hostels are uncommon outside of Bangkok, although most Thailand hotels are relatively inexpensive as it is. Tourist havens like Krabi, Koh Samui and Phi Phi Island offer an extensive range of accommodation but to get away from the crowds, consider heading off the beaten track. The beachside town of Hua Hin offers some unique hotel options, while the northern province of Chiang Rai is a gateway to neighbouring Laos and Myanmar.
Thailand offers a staggering array of shopping options, from colourful night markets to upscale shopping centres. You can buy everything imaginable in one of Bangkok's numerous modern shopping centres but for a different kind of experience head to the eclectic Chatuchak Weekend Market. Here you'll find over 8,000 stalls selling just about every product conceivable. The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is similarly famous in a country teeming with popular night markets. Brush up on your haggling skills but don't forget that many of the designer 'brands' on sale are actually cheap counterfeits.
Thailand Like a Local
Thais are renowned for their friendliness and easy-going dispositions. Not surprisingly for a predominantly Buddhist nation, temple trips feature high on the agenda, so spend a morning of reflection at a local 'wat' before tracking down an outdoor street vendor for some tasty Thai cuisine. In the afternoon take in a bout of the popular combat sport Muay Thai, before heading out for some late-night shopping at one of Thailand's popular night markets. Finish your evening with a drink at one of Thailand's many heaving pubs and bars or perhaps take in a spot of karaoke.