Holiday in Thailand
Thailand is the most popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia, and for a reason. You can find almost anything here: thick jungle as green as can be, crystal blue beaches that feel more like a warm bath than a swim in the ocean and food that can curl your nose hairs while tap dancing across your taste buds. Exotic, yet safe; cheap, yet equipped with every modern amenity you need, there is something for every interest and every price bracket, from beach front backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world. And despite the heavy flow of tourism, Thailand retains its quintessential Thainess, with a culture and history all its own and a carefree people famed for their smiles and their fun-seeking sanuk lifestyle. Many travelers come to Thailand and extend their stay well beyond their original plans and others never find a reason to leave. Whatever your cup of tea is, they know how to make it in Thailand.
Sunset on Baan Tai, Phangan island.
With great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture and great beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travellers the world over.
Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia with coasts on the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. It borders Myanmar (Burma) to the north-west, Laos to the north-east, Cambodia to the south-east and Malaysia to the south.
Thailand is largely tropical, so it's hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F), a degree of relief provided only in the mountains in the far north of Thailand. The careful observer will, however, note three seasons:
Cool: From November to the end of February, it doesn't rain much and temperatures are at their lowest, although you will barely notice the difference in the south and will only need to pack a sweater if hiking in the northern mountains, where temperatures can fall as low as 5°C. This is the most popular time to visit and, especially around Christmas and New Year's or at Chinese New Year a few weeks later, finding flights and accommodation can be expensive and difficult.
Hot: From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F). Pleasant enough when sitting on the beach with a drink in hand, but not the best time of year to go temple-tramping in Bangkok.
Rainy: From July to October, although it only really gets underway in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country. This doesn't mean it rains non-stop, but when it does it pours and flooding is not uncommon.
There are local deviations to these general patterns. In particular, the south-east coast of Thailand (including Ko Samui) has the rains reversed, with the peak season being May-October and the rainy off season in November-February.
Thailand can be conveniently divided into five geographic and cultural regions:
Chiang Mai, hill tribes, and the Golden Triangle.
The great undeveloped north-east - get off the beaten track and discover backcountry Thailand and some magnificent Khmer ruins.
Bangkok, lowlands and historic Thailand.
Beaches and islands within easy reach of Bangkok, like Pattaya, Ko Samet and Ko Chang.
Hundreds of kilometers of coastline and countless islands on both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, plus Phuket, Krabi, Ko Samui, Ko Tao and many more of Thailand's famous beach spots.
Bangkok - Thailand's bustling, frenetic capital.
Ayutthaya - a historical city, UNESCO World Heritage Site and old capital of Thailand.
Chiang Mai - the capital of the North and the heart of Lanna culture.
Chiang Rai - gateway to the Golden Triangle.
Kanchanaburi - home of the Bridge over the River Kwai.
Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat) - main city in the Isaan region.
Pattaya - one of the main tourist destinations.
Sukhothai - Thailand's first capital.
Surat Thani - home of the Srivijaya Empire, gateway to Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao.
Ko Chang - once quiet island undergoing major tourism development
Ko Lipe - Small island in the middle of Tarutao National Park, amazingly unspoilt with great reefs and beaches.
Ko Pha Ngan - site of the famous Full Moon Party with miles of quiet coastline.
Ko Samet - the nearest island beach escape from Bangkok.
Ko Samui - comfortable, nature, and entertainment hippie mecca gone upmarket.
Khao Sok National Park - one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Thailand.
Khao Yai National Park - take a night time jeep safari spotting deer or visit the spectacular waterfalls.
Krabi Province - Southern beach and watersports mecca, includes Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta.
Phuket - the original Thai paradise island now very developed but still with some beautiful beaches remaining.
One of the Thais' many names for themselves is jao naam, the Water Lords, and from the river expresses of Bangkok to the fishing trawlers of Phuket, boats remain an indispensable way of getting around many parts of the country.
Perhaps the most identifiably Thai boat is the long-tail boat (reua hang yao), a long, thin wooden boat with the propeller at the end of a long 'tail' stretching from the boat. This makes them supremely manouverable even in shallow waters, but they're a little underpowered for longer trips and you'll get wet if it's even a little choppy. Long-tails usually act as taxis that can be chartered, although prices vary widely - figure on 300-400 baht for a few hours' rental, or up to 1500 for a full day. In some locations like Krabi, long-tails run along set routes and charge fixed prices per passenger.
Modern, air-conditioned speedboat services, sometimes ferries (departure every 30 mins) also run from the Surat Thani to popular islands like Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. Truly long-distance services (eg. Bangkok to any other major city) have, however, effectively ceased to exist as buses, planes and even trains are faster. Safety measures are rudimentary and ferries and speedboats do sink occasionally, so avoid overloaded ships in poor weather, and scope out the nearest life jackets when on board.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is one of the must-sees.
Most visitors come to Thailand for its stunning beaches and islands.
The food alone is really reason enough for a trip to Thailand. Curries, fruit shakes, stir fries, fresh fish made a zillion ways - and that's just the beginning. Food in Thailand can be as cheap and easy as 25 baht pad thai (Thai fried noodles) cooked at a street stall or as expensive and complicated as a $100 ten-course meal by a royal chef served in one of Bangkok's 5 star hotels.
Thailand has a plethora of accommodation in every price bracket. Always take a look at the room (or better still several rooms, sometimes owners offer not the best/cheaper rooms first) before agreeing a price. In smaller establishments also do ask for the agreed price in writing to avoid problems during check out.
The best prices (30%-50% off rack rates) for accommodation can be found during Thailand's low season, which is during May - August, which not surprisingly also coincides with the region's monsoon season. The peak season is during December - February.
Most "front desk" people in the travel industry speak at least enough English to communicate, and many are relatively fluent; some also speak one or more other languages popular with their clientele, such as Chinese, Japanese, German, etc.
Vacation Rentals Thailand