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Thailand is one of the most popular destinations of Southeast Asia and has everything to offer. From the stunning temples built all over the country to luxurious islands in the South, from national parks full of vibrant wildlife to amazing world-renowned food.
The country is a mix of modernity and tradition. You will find high-quality accommodation and restaurants in every major city, yet be able to experience the peculiar traditions, like its many Buddhist temples and the ruins of ancient cities, that make Thailand an exceptionally popular tourist spot.
If you love nature, culture, good food, friendly people, and Buddhism – Thailand is the place for you. Keep reading to find out why Thailand should be your next travelling destination.
Thai culture has been shaped during the long reigns of Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Lan Na, and the current Chakri dynasty. During its long history, the country has been influenced by Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia (elements of Khmer architecture are visible in many of the earliest temples), India, and China.
Northern Thailand’s culture shares common ground with the Burmese one, and presents the influence of Lan Na Kingdom (especially in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai).A large majority of Lao-speaking population and an agricultural society characterize the Northeastern area, also known as Isan.
Chiang Mai used to be the capital of the Lan Na Kingdom and nowadays is renowned for its many temples. The most visited and most revered one is Doi Suthep, situated on the top of a high mountain. The perfect spot for amazing pictures.
In the heart of Old City, you will find Wat Chedi Luang, an 80 meter-tall structure that dates to 1385; and Wat Prah Sigh, a picturesque temple representing an extraordinary example of Lan Na architecture.
With the greatest concentration of Thais and the presence of Bangkok, the capital city, this area can be considered the economic, cultural, and political center of the country.
Bangkok, largely influenced by the current Chakri dynasty, is home to two of the most sacred Buddhist temples in the world: Wat Phra Kaew hosts the Emerald Buddha, the symbol of Thailand; and Wat Arun, with its stunning reflection on the river.
Two historical sites you cannot miss are the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya historical parks, that will give you a glance of the past splendor of the kingdoms that ruled Thailand; and Kanchanaburi, characterized by more recent historical spots like the famous Bridge on the River Kwai and the Thai-Burmese Railroad.
The south of Thailand, close to Malaysia, presents a tropical climate and many fishing communities. The south is full of beaches and stunning islands, perfect for nature lovers.
It borders with Malaysia and is home to most of Thailand’s Muslims. The Islamic influence is strong, and it characterizes the region, distinguishing it from the rest of the country. Near the sea, there are also small communities of chao ley (sea gypsies).
The cities of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai still host the ruins of the past kingdoms who ruled over Thailand for many centuries. What remains of those old big cities is inside the two historical parks, both UNESCO sites, that represent a unique opportunity to take a walk inside Thailand’s glorious past.
Ayutthaya Historical Park includes many temples and buildings dating back to the 13th century. Its main attractions are Wat Ratchanaburana, built in 1421 and representing one of the finest temples of the city; and Wat Chaiwatthanaram, a royal temple, structured according to the Buddhist view of the world.
Location: Ayutthaya is located 76km north of Bangkok. You can take a train for 400 Baht and it will take almost two hours. The highest-quality bus from Bangkok costs around 56 Baht.
Travel Information: The park opens at 7:30am, and the tickets cost around 50 Baht.
Sukhothai Historical Park is amazing as well, with its 193 ruins on a surface of 70 square kilometers. Without doubt, the most impressive temple is Wat Mahathat, founded in 1292. You will also admire the ruins of the royal palace, Noen Prasat, built on a square of 40000sqm and used probably for cremation ceremonies.
Location: It is easy to reach Sukhothai by plane from Bangkok (1h15 mins for about 2,500 Baht), and then by train (1hr), or bus (3hrs for 130 Baht).
Travel Information: The ticket for each zone of the park costs 100 Baht. Opening hours: 6am to 8pm.
Thai islands are rightfully famous all over the world. They have everything you might desire from a paradise on earth: white beaches, crystal water, uncontaminated wildlife.
In Koh Samui you will find the Angthong National Park, an archipelago of 42 islands with jungles, mountains, white-sand beaches, and many wild animals living freely, especially turtles. Scuba divers will be amazed by the coral reef.
Location: Located in the Chumphon Archipelago, Koh Samui is 700km south of Bangkok and 80km from the eastern coast of the country.
Travel Information: From Bangkok, there is a combined bus/high speed catamaran ferry service that takes about 11hrs. From Surat Thani, the same service costs around 250 Baht and it takes around 2hrs.
Koh Phi Phi is the most popular island of the Phi Phi group. It is full of different sceneries, like mountains covered in lush green forest and limestone karst formations jutting out of the sea.
Location: The islands are south of Phuket and Krabi.
Travel Information: There are ferries from Phuket and Krabi, and usually take around 2 hours. One-way tickets come for 250 Baht.
Khao Lak is characterized by untouched coastline and isolated beaches. It is near the stunning Phang Nga Bay, with limestone islands and sea caves you can visit with a canoe.
Its beaches are quiet and truly beautiful, with luxurious beach-side accommodation available.
Location: Khao Lak is located one hour north of Phuket.
Travel Information: It lies half-way between Takua Pa and Thai Muang, making it a good base to explore the beach area.
Nature lovers will be amazed by Thailand and the diversity of its wildlife. The many national parks, from north to south, are the home to dozens of different wild animals. The animals live freely inside the park, and it’s your chance to get a close look.
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, founded in 2014, is an ethical eco-tourism project near Chiang Mai, started by Chiang Mai locals who are concerned about the well-being of elephants.
The sanctuary is home to over 30 rescued elephants. The mission of the sanctuary is to host as many elephants as possible, giving them a good place to live and high quality of life, and to raise awareness about the topic.
You’ll get the chance to feed the elephants, walk, play, and bathe with them.
Location: The main place is in Chiang Mai, but you will also find sanctuaries in Phuket and Pattaya.
Travel Information: People from the sanctuary will pick you up from your accommodation for a 1.5 hour drive through the Thai countryside.
The national parks represent a unique opportunity to get in touch with a wild and uncontaminated part of the country, and they are perfect for trekking and wildlife watching.
The first national park of the country, created in 1962, is Khao Yai National Park. Nowadays it is a popular destination for hikers and mountain lovers, and it offers a wide variety of landscapes, from mountains and grasslands to tropical forests. Leopards, monkeys, and elephants live freely in this amazing park.
Location: A minivan ride from Bangkok will take around 4 hours and costs 150 Baht.
Travel Information: Opening hours are from Monday to Friday, until 6pm. Tickets cost 400 Baht for adults and 200 Baht for children under 14.
Head to Khao Sok National Park to trek in the oldest evergreen rainforest of the world. This breath-taking park is characterized by limestone mountains, deep valleys, crystal lakes, and hundreds of animals freely roaming around.
Location: Surat Thani, in southern Thailand
Travel Information: You can reach the national park from Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi, and many other places. The most reliable service is provided by minibuses.
The park Doi Inthanon sees one of the highest peaks of the country. Inside the park, you can visit waterfalls, hill tribe villages, and pagodas. It is recommended to rent a car or a motorbike to visit it, since it would be impossible to visit all on foot.
Location: The park is just a few kilometers away from Chiang Mai, and it is easily reachable by the highway.
Travel Information: Opening times are 5:30am to 6:30pm. Entrance fee is 300 Baht for adults, 150 Baht for children.
The combination of flavors, temperatures, textures, and cooking methods makes Thai food one of the most appreciated in the world.
You can choose to have a complete meal in a restaurant, maybe near the fascinating setting of the river running through Bangkok; or you can just grab a quick snack from street vendors while you walk through the night markets.
It will be easy to find a good place to eat. The central areas of the major cities offer plenty of welcoming restaurants, ideal to enjoy a good meal with your loved ones.
You will find restaurants specialized in rustic Thai cuisine, using traditional cooking methods, but also more modern places that try to mix tradition and innovation, offering you a new version of world famous dishes.
Some specialties you cannot miss are:
Food markets in Thailand have permanent stalls spread over large areas. Food is always delicious and inexpensive, and almost every Thai dish is sold in the streets. Popular choices are: stir-fried rice with basil and minced pork, stir-fried gailan, catfish fried with red curry paste, etc.
Noodles like Pad Thai are a must try for every traveler. If you like snacks, you should try tako (coconut cream jelly) and khanon bueang, a dessert similar to a crispy pancake.
When visiting the major cities, it will be really easy to find street food at every corner. There are day and night markets, with plenty of vendors and amazing dishes.
Traveling around Thailand can be really inexpensive. You can have a complete meal for US$15 per person, and a room in a 4-star hotel comes for about US$90. Transportation is affordable as well. For example, a popular route like Chiang Mai to Phuket costs about US$100 one-way.
From hostels to luxurious hotels, the quality of accommodation varies greatly. Every major city offers dozens of high-quality hotels and resorts, with friendly staff, rooms with plenty of amenities, and a professional service that you will love.
If you are in the South, relaxing on one of the stunning islands, you will be extremely comfortable in one of the many beach resorts. The best ones have their own private beach, full-service spa, and large swimming pools, besides, of course, luxurious rooms.
With such an amazing variety of places to visit and things to do, planning a trip to Thailand can be overwhelming. Book with Asia Highlights and let us do all the work! Our knowledgeable staff will craft for you the ideal itinerary, taking care of every aspect of the planning so as to guarantee you a hassle-free vacation!
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