Thailand has found fame in recent years due to its discovery by gap year travellers and their penchant for a Full Moon party on the beaches of Koh Phangan. But away from the tiki torches and buckets of booze, Thailand is a country of stunning natural beauty, fascinating culture, welcoming people and fabulous weather to boot!
Thailand’s popularity can be rooted in the variety on offer to travellers and holidaymakers. If you want to experience frenetic city life, Bangkok obliges in spades. For some of the best diving in the world, Ko Tao’s crystalline waters and abundance of life under the waves is unmissable. Chaing Mai is a favourite for culture-vultures, drawn to its temples and medieval artefacts inside its ancient city walls. And, of course, the beaches! Palm-fringed, white sandy beaches bank into waters as clear as glass and as warm as bath-water. For utmost desert-island paradise, the trifecta of Ko Samui, Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Tao on the Samui archipelago is the definitive introduction to Thai island life.
Thailand’s year-round high temperatures help make it South East Asia’s most visited country, with the mercury hovering around the 28° mark, even in the coolest month of December.
The hub of Northern Thailand, Chaing Mai is a culturally and historically interesting city. A green city surrounded by mountains and lush countryside, Chaing Mai is partly contained within city walls and is abound with Buddhist temples of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai influence, decorated with intricate wood carvings, gilded umbrellas and beautiful pagodas.
Ko Samui is Thailand’s top holiday spot, and a haven of spas and luxury hotels. If you can pull yourself away from serenity of the white sand beach or the hotel’s infinity pool, head to Chaweng where you’ll find the tempo goes up considerably in a haze of markets, pavement-side eateries and lively bars which will keep you entertained past sunset. The beaches in the north are notably quieter than those elsewhere and have preserved their traditional Thai charm, alongside quaint fishing villages that seem a world away from the tourist traps you are likely to encounter elsewhere on the island.
A popular name on the tourist trail, Phuket treats visitors to spectacular palm-fringed beaches- over 40 km of them!- as well as an abundance of options off the beach, including a lively nightlife and plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for desert-island seclusion or a beach with amenities just a stones-throw away, Phuket serves up all you could wish for.
Krabi is famed for its abundance of National Parks, and sits at the mouth of the Krabi river which flows down into Phang Nga Bay, famed for its distinctive needles of limestone rock poking up out of the ocean. Krabi’s landscape is lush and green, stretching out to the ocean and sugar-white beaches. Quieter and on a smaller scale to the popular Phuket and Koh Samui, Krabi offers an idyllic beach retreat.
Your head will be spinning within just minutes of arriving in Bangkok. In the midst of the country, Thailand’s capital is a frenzied burst of energy and a dizzying mix of skyscrapers and luxury hotels, beautiful religious landmarks, vast bustling street markets, traffic congestion like nowhere else in the world and a nightlife that has to be seen to be believed!
Thai food has become increasingly popular here in the UK and you’ll recognise many of its more common dishes. Thai cuisine can be noted for its emphasis on flavours- sweet, sour, bitter or salty. Dishes are delicately prepared and distinctly aromatic; fresh ingredients of vegetables, meat, herbs and spices served up with noodles or rice. Coconut-milk is a common component of the famous Thai red and green curries but don’t let that fool you into thinking they don’t come with quite the kick!
Since Thailand covers such a large area of land, its cuisine is distinctly varied across its different regions. The best way to sample the local offerings is at a street market, where sellers cook their food fresh in front of you. Ask their recommendations, and be sure to let them know how much spice you can handle!