Thailand Travel Guide

Thailand Overview

Thailand, the Land of Smiles, is South East Asias most popular tourist destination. Boasting such pleasures as pristine tropical islands, jungles and rainforest rich in wildlife, historic culture, ancient religious sites, warm hospitality and fine cuisine there is little wonder why it attracts hoards of travelers from across globe. Whether looking for lazy days on the beach, long nights of partying, cultural enrichment or religious enlightenment Thailand has something for everyone plus countless unforeseen treasures.

 
Talented enough and fortunate to avoid the clutches of colonization, Thailand has been able to grow without being inundated with the western influences prominent in other Asian and African countries. Bright lights and commercialism do stand out, yet the countrys true core lies in the prevailing village communities, whose livelihood comes from rice farming and assists in the creation of the delectable cuisine. 
 
For most, the journey starts in the bustling capital, Bangkok, a thriving metropolis proudly clinging to its heritage. From the capital, travelers either head north to the rural, lesser traveled regions of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and historical Sukhothai or south to the island paradises. Islands are in abundance, from Koh Kut and Koh Chang in the southeast to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi in the deep southwest. Whatever the choice, all are home to sandy coves, warm blue waters, water sports and hedonistic partying. Before jumping across to the islands take some time to explore the likes of Krabi and Phuket.
 
With a range of environments, Thailand is a destination that can be visited at any time of the year. Peak season is generally from November to March, when the rains stay away and temperatures are almost perfect and ideal for lazy days on the beach. Those planning to explore the northern regions might benefit from traveling between March and July, when they can avoid the extreme temperatures of the south. The rain tends to arrive in July and continue until October, however dont be put off by this, as temperatures drop, landscapes are greener and there are far fewer tourists.
 
Traveling around Thailand, like any Asian country, can be both exciting and frustrating, although all part of the adventure. When moving between cities and provinces, unless they can afford internal flights, most opt for the train or bus. Stretching from Chiang Mai to Surat Thani, the train network is extensive and, although prone to delays, offers a wonderful way to view the rising and falling landscapes on the way. Buses of all descriptions, from local to luxury sleeper coaches, are available for cross country travel at all times of the day. Ticket prices vary so make sure you know what you are getting before handing over the money. Taxis, songthaews and tuk-tuks are always on hand to whisk tourist around the sights, yet often two feet are the best way to see the true side of a town or city.
 
Visitors flock to this Thailand for a multitude of reasons yet, one thing they always have in common is that they leave with a lifetime of memories having been enthralled, baffled, astounded and delighted by the diversity, resilience and friendliness of the country and its people.

Things to do in Thailand

Visit Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai - Visit the laid back cultural capital of Northern Thailand, which will seem a world away from the lively beach towns of the south. Cruise the local food markets, take a cooking class or trek through the jungle of the hillside villages.
 
Kanchanaburi - Unwind at this peaceful riverside town, whilst soaking up the history surrounding the Bridge over the River Kwai.
 
Thai Islands - Kick back on the idyllic golden sands of Thailands numerous tropical islands, a huge draw of the county.
Koh Phangan – located in the Gulf of Thailand and know for it’s wild party atmosphere. This is where they infamous Full Moon Party takes place every month.
Koh Kut – A relaxed island just off the Cambodian border. Enjoy the unspoilt beaches and scuba dive in the crystal clear waters.
Koh Samet – Hang with the Bangkok elite on this trendy party destination.
Koh Phi Phi – A cluster of six islands located in the Adaman Sea known for its non-stop parties and near perfect scuba diving.
Koh Lanta – Located in the Adaman Sea close to Koh Phi Phi, this island is pristine and very laidback; a great place to take a vacation from your vacation.
Koh Jam – Unspolit island paradise with very little tourism. Located in a remote part of the Adaman Sea.
Koh Samui – Koh Samui might look like one giant golf course, but it actually has an edge to it if you poke around a little. Located in the Gulf of Thailand, it’s a good jumping off point to Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao.
Koh Tao – A small tropical paradise world renowned for its scuba diving.   
Koh Chang – Thailand’s second largest island and rapidly becoming popular with travelers and party goers.
Koh Krandan – I remote island paridise with endless white sand beaches. Not much to do here but chill hard.
Koh Mak – Idyllic unsoplit island located in the Gulf of Siam
Phuket – The most popular beach destination in Southeast Asia. Expect beautiful beaches, excellent food, fun party scent, resorts, and general commercialization.
 
Scuba Diving Thailand
Koh Tao –  Decent diving off this small island in the Gulf of Thailand, but better for cheap PADI classes.
Koh Phangan – Excellent reef diving; look for the best dive operations on the NOrt side of the island.
Koh Phi Phi – Excellent open water and reef diving.
Similan Islands - Explore the kaleidoscope of colors at one of the worlds top 10 diving sites and Thailands least developed islands, whilst staying aboard a yacht or boat.
 
Sukhothai Historical Park - Jump on a bicycle and explore the ruins and temples of the Old City of Sukhothai and former capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom.
 
Thai Cooking Classes - Learn about Thai herbs and spices on a visit to a local food market, then put the knowledge to practice and prepare your favorite dish. Classes are popular in Chiang Mai and on Koh Mak.
 
Thai Elephant Safari - Sit atop a majestic elephant and explore the countryside, jungle and village communities of the country. Safaris of 1-day to 1-week are popular in Chiang Mai and Phuket.
 
Thai Festivals - Running throughout the year and the length and breadth of the country, being part of a Thai Festival is a truly enchanting experience.
 
Full Moon Party Thailand - Made famous at Haad Rin on Koh Phangan, full moon nights are a partygoers paradise, with free flowing buckets of cheap booze, bright lights, fluorescent body paint and 24-hour hedonism.
 
Hua Hin - Thailands luxury beach resort cum fishing village made fashionable in the 1920s by the Royal Family.
 
Khao San Road - The starting point for most backpackers is Bangkok’s infamous budget traveler ghetto, home to cheap accommodation, abundant nightlife and transport connections all across the country. Get in, take a look and get out!
 
Khao Sok National Park - Craggy outcrops, deep valleys and limestone mountains sprawling with dense rainforest await the eager traveler in Thailands south. Rafting, treks and jeep safaris make Khao Sok, close to Phuket and Krabi, a place not to be missed.

Hotels in Thailand

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Thailand Travel Resources

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This page was last modified on 18 Mar 2011 by Matt