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Every year, more and more tourists visit the Land of Smiles – Thailand. From white sandy beaches and terrific hotels to historic temples and mouthwatering food, there's simply too much on offer in this tropical paradise for visitors.
If you're still not sold on the idea of visiting the country, and if you find yourself wondering what it is that truly distinguishes Thailand from other tropical getaways around the globe, here are ten reasons why the Kingdom is such a popular spot among travelers.
Thailand's most impressive natural feature has got to be its beaches. With over 1,500 miles of coastline to choose from, guests are never too far from white sandy beaches made of coral shells.
While there are some beaches, like Bang Saen in Chonburi and Jomtien Beach in Pattaya, that have been overrun with crowds of tourists in recent years, there remain numerous incredible stretches of sand that are tranquil and secluded. Some of these quieter beaches include Freedom Beach in Phuket and Lamai in Koh Samui.
The history of Thailand is long and complex. The earliest Thai kingdoms date back to the Paleolithic period, some 20,000 years ago. The country, however, experienced great splendor during successive kingdoms between the 10th and 14th centuries, after the Sukhothai kingdom was established. The Chakri dynasty is the current ruling royal house of the Kingdom of Thailand, and has been largely credited with reviving the economy of the kingdom from the time it took over.
About 95 percent of the population in Thailand is Buddhist. The city of Chiang Mai, in the northern part of the country, holds a deep root of Buddhism in many denominations. If you wish to experience a day in the life of a Buddhist, do make sure you visit Chiang Mai and spend a couple of days in the city. There, one can see young Thai men being ordained as monks and offering leaves made of gold to Buddha images.
There are over 40,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand. So no matter which part of the country you find yourself in, there have got to be temples, shrines, and pagodas for you to visit so you can better understand Buddhist culture.
A temple's architecture is representative of the construction style of the era it was built in, and since most date back to the different dynasties, their architectural features are of significant importance.
Each province has its fair share of ancient temples, though the most unique and abundant ones are found in Bangkok. One of the most spectacular temple attractions is Bangkok’s iconic Grand Palace. In Chiang Mai, one ought to visit the Temple of Emerald Buddha and Wat Chedi Luang Varaihara.
Thai people love festivals. Festivals take place all over the country and are frequently held in temple grounds. Many festivals are planned according to the lunar calendar, so the exact dates vary each year.
One of the most important Thai festivals is the Light Festival (Loy Krathong) held on the full moon night in November every year. It is celebrated nationwide by releasing lotus shaped baskets, decorated with candles and flowers, into the rivers. Chiang Mai and Bangkok are the best places to celebrate this festival when visiting the country.
Held in April, another culturally significant Thai festival is Songkran, during which a three-day, nationwide water fight takes place. It is the Thai New Year and serves as a symbol of renewal in Buddhism. Wild scenes of exuberance can be seen throughout the Kingdom, with people singing and dancing while being drenched from head to toe.
Thai food is delicious and diverse, differing greatly based on the location. Hot and sour dishes can be whipped up in seconds by street vendors, adding fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, and galangal. You can recognize these unique flavors that dominate Thai dishes immediately.
Must-try dishes include Tom Yum Goong, a bright red, spicy shrimp soup prepared using lemongrass; Pad Thai, which consists of rice noodles, stir-fried with eggs, tofu, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, and seafood; and Som Tam, a salad originating in Laos, made by combining unripe papaya, palm sugar, hot chili sauce, savory fish sauce, and sour lime.
The price is quite affordable. One can have a complete meal from street vendors for about US$ 5, or for around US$ 15, if one chooses a nicer, more comfortable restaurant.
There is luxury accommodation in Thailand that costs a fraction of the price spent on any standard commercial hotel in Europe or the US. Only in Thailand does high-quality accommodation range from US$ 60 for a 3-star hotel to about US$ 300 for a posh, 5-star hotel. Even better: Stays at many luxury hotels usually feature traditional performances during dinner, world-class cuisine, pampering at the spa, and Thai cooking classes.
So if you think that a trip to Thailand is out of your reach, think again. Some of the best hotels and restaurants are really quite inexpensive, and so is a lot of the entertainment.
Thailand is a year-round destination. The country is busiest during the dry season, when temperatures do not normally exceed 32°C (90°F). The beaches are the most popular during the hot season, while the capital city of Bangkok, and the northern cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, are most popular during the monsoon season.
Regardless of the season one visits Thailand, it's never cold and there's plenty of sunshine.
Thailand is home to more than 10% of the world’s animals, as natural forests cover approximately 25% of Thailand’s total land area. There are more than 285 mammal species, including elephants, tigers, leopards, Malaysian sun bears, deer, and otters, as well as a variety of primate species including gibbons, monkeys, and macaques. The country currently has 147 national parks.
Khao Sok National Park is perfect for birdwatchers, and for spotting some rare apes like the white-handed gibbon. A trip to Khao Yai will mix sightseeing and wildlife watching.
Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand, located just 200 kilometers from Bangkok, is home to tigers, wild boars, elephants, porcupines, and gibbons. A 1-day tour of the park includes hiking and safari drives, mixing wildlife watching and natural exploration.
Always remember to be a responsible traveler and not to feed the wildlife, as well as steering clear of any tourist attractions you think are abusing animals for profit.
The markets in Thailand are like no others in the world. Each has its own distinct character, from the crowds they attract to the items that are for sale. The floating market is one of the most iconic. If you want to be closer to the lifestyle of the people of Thailand, the night market is one of the must-go places.
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market used to be a market for locals, but has now become a tourist attraction. It is very crowded, but this makes it all the more fun. You’ll be amazed at how people are able to maneuver boats through the jammed canals.
It takes about 2 hours to get there from downtown Bangkok, but if you can get there early in the morning, you will not only avoid the water traffic, but also enjoy the most authentic market atmosphere. The floating market is a great way of immersing yourself in local culture.
With over eight million people residing in the city, Bangkok is usually the first stop for many travelers embarking on their journey of Southeast Asia.
It’s important to tour Bangkok from a different angle. Avoid getting stuck in traffic, by opting to take the Skytrain to visit the Grand Palace and the Temple of Emerald Buddha. A walk to the Amulet Market is also recommended if you’re looking to buy souvenirs.
Thailand is a beautiful tropical getaway all year round, and you’re bound to have a good time whenever you visit. Asia Highlights takes everything, including the weather, into consideration when designing the best possible itinerary for guests.
Tours typically start and end in Bangkok, and last approximately 13 days; visiting Bangkok, Khao Yai National Park, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
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