With famous street foods, amazing beaches, lush jungles, cheap prices, Thailand is the most famous attraction of Southeast Asia. If you’re considering Thailand as your next destination, now it’s time to learn this country from A to Z.
Thai Airways offers convenient flights from LA to Bangkok, with a one-hour stop in Seoul. Plenty of other airlines run to Bangkok from East and West Coast cities with one stop en route. Air Canada has the most convenient service to Bangkok from the largest number of Canadian cities of Vancouver and Toronto.
1. High Season (November – March)
A cool and dry season follows the monsoons, meaning the landscape is lush and temperatures are comfortable. This is best time for scuba diving-a popular activity in Thailand and for taking part in the lantern festival.
2. Shoulder Season (April – June, September & October)
In Bangkok from April to June, it is generally very hot and dry, with an average temperature of 30°C. However. sea breezes in coastal areas provide relief from the heat.
September and October, the wettest months, are at the end of the monsoon season and it can be hard to predict the weather. It’s ideal to spend October in the Central, North and Northeast regions like Chiang Mai, Pai, Mekong River town, Koh Phangan island and Koh Samui island.
3. Low Season (July – October)
Storms during monsoon season range from afternoon showers to major flooding. Rain is usually in short, intense bursts. Some islands shut down; boat service is limited during stormy weather. Be flexible with travel plans.
The capital of Bangkok is the gateway to explore Thailand, where you will feel the power of this ever-changing country as soon as you arrive. It is truly an assault on all the senses of every description: a riot of colors, smells, sights, sounds, tastes and touches. A teeming metropolis of some 10 million people, Bangkok is an exhilarating and exciting experience. Known affectionately the 'City of Angels ', it offers the wonder inside of its cosmopolitan center. Here you encounter a surprising mixture of modernity and traditions amidst the glistening temples and palaces, towering skyscrapers and mass shopping centers. Visitors have the chance to indulge themselves in the hustle and bustle of this amazing city. Visitors are dazzled when they take a journey on a long tail boat along the magic water of the fascinating Chao Phaya River and its network of canals under Thailand’s sparkling sky. Once here, travelers will be attracted by the glamour of Bangkok by night with amazing illuminated monuments and get wonderful moments of this dynamic city in the day time by visiting renowned Wat Pho. Full of great things to see, Bangkok offers grandeur and magnificent golden shrines include the Royal Grand Palace and Wat Pho, where visitors watch the monks chanting and walking silently; the teeming and vibrant floating market Damoen Saduak or contemplating the picturesque countryside by sailing out of Bangkok.
The charming former capital of Ayutthaya, located in the valley of the Chao Phraya River, is a must see destination after visiting Bangkok. Taking a journey on a long tail along the leisure river, visitors will feel the timeless atmosphere of glamour ancient ruins of pagodas and temples. Here they explore the unique Thai architecture, religion and culture in general, and open the gateway back to the glorious past of Southeast Asia. Its remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and big monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time. Though only a few remains might give a glimpse of the impressive city they must have seen, this ancient city is mysterious and glamour enough to attract any visitor.
Another Northwestern Province well worth visiting is Sukhothai, whose name means dawn “of happiness”. This province was founded in the 13th century and became the kingdom's first capital, overseeing a period known as the golden age of Thai history, thus it’s promising to be mysterious and amazing for visitors to explore. It offers two ancient historical parks of Sukhothai and Sri Satchanalai that date back to the 13th Century and one of Thailand’s golden ages under the renowned King Ramkhamhaeng, who created the Thai alphabet and laid the foundation for modern day Thai politics, the monarchy and religion. Here, travelers can spend relaxing time having a sumptuous local organic lunch served in traditional Thai style while taking a panoramic over immense rice fields or visiting the seasonal orchid greenhouse, learning how to make ceramic and textile. Then dress up in the distinctive indigo colored cotton Thai clothes and experience rice planting, harvesting, or milling rice.
Known as the most charming city of Thailand, the Northern city of Chiang Mai is where ancient wonders coexist with modern Thai style. Chiang Mai is a really unique place, very much on the tourist trail with all the convenience that affords yet always offers the warm, welcoming atmosphere of those rare unspoiled secret spots we all search for when we travel. It is a place still quite in touch with its past, a wonderfully rich living culture, sincerely warm and friendly people, beautiful weather without extremes year round, ancient traditions and festivals that punctuate the year with color and wonder, a lush fertile region that provides for a delicious and very varied cuisine, what can we say, it’s more of a lifestyle than simply a destination. Chiang Mai offers a wide variety of options from world class golf – there are some excellent courses within 45 minutes from the city – through soft adventure to the more sedate and traditional such as shopping from Chiang Mai’s many artisans, temple tours, cooking classes and massage or spa.
Further to the North East lies the province of Chiang Rai. Founded in 13rd century, Thailand’s most northern city, Chiang Rai is worth the journey to such a destination with special architecture and history in a mix of Thai and Burmese styles. Here is where you see a variety of impressive attractions include the notorious Golden Triangle where the 3 countries of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet at the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers; the Northernmost point of Thailand in Mae Sai, where you can cross into Burma for a tour of the town of Tachilek, and shop for some excellent bargains in the market there; add on an afternoon boat ride on the Mekong River and you can also visit Laos – visit all three countries in one day! ; The Opium Hall, a stunning and sobering interactive museum experience at the Golden Triangle, developed by the late Princess Mother, portraying the history of Opium + the drug trade in the region . You will visit Doi Tung, the home of the late Princess Mother, with her Swiss style chalet and beautiful floral gardens and just South of Chiang Rai city, visit the most spectacular of Thai Temples, WatRongKhun, or the White Temple, an ongoing work in progress, which simply has to be seen to be believed.
In recent years the small town has started to resemble something of a Thai island getaway – without the beaches. It is a dream destination for many travelers but its popularity has yet to negatively impact its beauty. There’s heaps of quiet accommodation outside the main drag, a host of natural, lazy activities to keep visitors entertained, and a vibrant art and music scene. The town’s Shan roots can still be seen in its temples, quiet backstreets and fun afternoon market.
Unique among Thailand's islands in maintaining a broad appeal for everyone, Koh Samui is worth for a tropical beach holiday, covered in coconut palm trees, and local building regulations forbid building anything taller than they are. Around the island lies a selection of beaches from the lively East coast Chaweng or Lamai to other quieter tropical hideaways. This island is famous for an amazing a trip to the neighboring Ang Thong national marine park, home to 42 islands featuring lime stone massifs, tropical rainforests and deserted beaches. The Ang Thong islands rise from the sea and form dramatic formations, creating an incredible natural marvel. Visiting Koh Samui fishing villages is an attractive travel activity for international visitors as they have chance to learn about the local lifestyle at the seaside and experience it by themselves. This pretty island offers a selection of deluxe and luxury hotels and resorts, bars and restaurants and nightlife for a memorable tropical beach holiday.
Khao Sok national park is located in a perfect place between Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak and Koh Samui. The park is the largest area of virgin forest in southern Thailand and many people believe that it’s over 160 million years old, one of the world's oldest rainforests. The most interesting area is in the heart of the National Park, the floating raft house inside the stunning Cheow Larn Lake. This is a paradise for all people who love nature, a must-see destination in Thailand for adventure with many outdoor activities: trekking on foot and canoeing, discover the variety of flora and fauna as well as the facts and history of the area.
The ‘Pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket is home to some of the finest beaches in Asia, offering a variety of beach resort destinations, mostly along its West coast, offering a wide variety of accommodation choices to suit every taste and pocket. Although Phuket is a popular destination for international visitors, it still keeps its incredible attraction, with its taste of paradise. Phuket Island of course offers visitors fabulous time relaxing at an authentic tropical paradise you have been dreaming of, but it also provides fine in land tour to discover its long-standing history and beach culture. Now you will forget the date, spending all day swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, sunbathing, and relaxing on the fine sunny sandy beach. There's no schedule, no hustle-and-bustle, no reason to be in a hurry. Several of the offshore islands are worth exploring, as indeed is Phuket town with its old Sino Portuguese style architecture that dates back to the island’s tin mining era.
Krabi province lies further to the South, and offers a selection of beaches to the east of the town on the mainland. Ao Nang is the most famous and established of its beach resort areas, but the hotels and beaches on the Railay promontory offer even more seclusion. Krabi offers fine beaches and lovely offshore islands. The local Government here strictly controls matters to preserve the natural beauty of the area, banning jet skis and motorized water sports, and even beach umbrellas. The islands of Phi Phi and up and coming Koh Lanta also fall within Krabi’s borders, although these both take some effort in getting to. From Krabi Airport, the transfer to Lanta can take 3 to 4 hours by road and ferry, but the lovely beaches and resorts on offer make the journey worthwhile.
The Koh Yao Noi or “Small Long Island” has an exciting landscape with unspoiled beaches in the East; exotic mangrove swamp in the West; lush green hills in the North and small fields for farming and grazing in the South. This island is a home of more than 4,500 Muslim fishermen and farmers. Even though Koh Yao Noi is about half the size of neighboring Ko Yao Yai, it is more developed with tourism infrastructures and facilities. This is an ideal place for honeymoon and wedding events. You can find yoga retreat and Muay Thai boxing training camp on this island. There are many luxury resorts that have been opened in both of these islands during the last few years. You can easily choose a perfect accommodation during your trip to Thailand.
Phang Nga Bay itself, lying to the east of Phuket, is one of the country’s most spectacular sights, where rocky limestone islets and karsts jut out of the sea in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Phang Nga Bay is a perfect destination for both adventure tours and beach stay with exciting kayaking excursions, amazing camps and relaxing front beach resort. Taking a magical nighttime kayaking journey under the sparkling jet sky at night or clear high sky in day time; camping on the priate quiet beach of Koh Panak is anticipated to offer a really unique trip of your lifetime! Once here, visitors have chance to spend the whole day on the amazing water of the beautiful bay, to enjoy the enchanting atmosphere, discover the two famous islands named James Bond Island and Koh Panyee or remoter islands and enjoy a great picnic lunch en-route.
Just south-west of Krabi coastline lies the stunning Phi Phi Islands, part of a marine national park that’s one of the world’s most unforgettable destinations. Featuring classic tropical beaches, stunning rock formations and vivid turquoise waters teeming with colorful marine life, it is paradise perfected. That Phi Phi Islands are among the country's most popular beach destinations did not come as a surprise to anyone. Home to Maya Bay - made famous by the release of 2000 film "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio - they're ridiculously stunning, a place where towering limestone cliffs frame frosty white beaches. Phi Phi Island Tour has always been in the bucket list of various beach travelers, which, unfortunately, led to unmanageable arrival levels. However, it is still possible to visit the area AND avoid the crowds. In a remote corner of Phi Phi Don lies one of the few higher-end resorts in the area, Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort. For anyone who’s in search of calm and intimacy, this four-star property is definitely your ideal destination.
Suggested Phi Phi Island Hopping Tour:
Tuk-tuks or 'samlor' (three-wheeled) is an experience to get around Bangkok. You can take a city tour on a tuk-tuk to get around the bustling Chinatown, go shopping at Chatuchak market and don’t forget to stop for the amazing Thai street food. Normally a very short trip costs 30 baht.
If there is one must-see sight in Bangkok, it undoubtedly is The Grand Palace - the city's most famous landmark. Built in 1782 by King Rama I and home to the Thai King, the Royal court and the government for 150 years, The Grand Place continues to lure visitors with its amazing architecture and complicated detail - a proof of Thai people’s creativity. Wat Prakeaw is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand and Wat Pho is famous for its golden reclining Buddha statue and a massage school within the palace complex..
Songkran is an annual festival which takes place 3 over days between April 13 to 15th to celebrate the Thai New Year. Local people and travelers rush down the streets and start a water fight by all means they have: water guns, water pipes, buckets or anything which can hold water to splash other people. You can see wild scenes with music, dance and thousands of people who are drenched from head to toe. Remember to keep your electronics in the hotel or seal them in a plastic bag before engaging in a battle. You will get wet everywhere you go during this period.
Thailand is a true paradise of street food. You will find plenty of food stalls on every street where you can grab a snack to go. From Bangkok in the south to Chiang Mai in the north, this country has some of the most mouth-watering food in the world. It might take you a lifetime to taste all the food here.
There’s no better way to experience a country’s culture than its markets. Night markets in Thailand offer an unforgettable experience, as well as a fantastic opportunity for some really good shopping. You can find there an amazing selection of local food to taste, hand-crafted products to bring home and friendly vendors to talk.
Bangkok’s floating markets are famous worldwide through ubiquitous colorful photos in tourist guides, travel websites and travel books. You’ll have a great chance to experience the everyday life of the local: how they live, cook and sell products on their boats. The markets also give you a big chance to sample fantastic food and fruit which you don’t normally have at home. Some of the best floating markets are Taling Chan, Bang Ku Wiang, Tha Kha and Damnoen Saduak market.
Yi Peng and Loy Krathong are lantern festivals that take place every November in Chiang Mai. They provide truly remarkable sights. Thousands of lanterns are released into the sky by the banks of Peng river. This is the most photogenic part of the festival, but there are also parades, religious ceremonies, fireworks and the floating lanterns on the water.
If you love wild animals and wanted to get up close with elephants, Thailand is the place for you. Many elephants in Thailand have suffered abuse, overworked, and poorly fed. Luckily, some are rescued and sent to elephant parks to live a happier life. Visit one of these ethical parks and work as a volunteer to give more love and care to these gentle creatures. Visit one of these ethical elephant parks and work as a volunteer to give more love and care to these gentle creatures.
A trip to Thailand is incomplete without making an island hopping. There are hundreds of islands stretch along miles of coastline but here are some of the most famous names: Koh Phi Phi, Koh Chang, Phuket, Koh Lipe, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. Find out which island is perfect for you here.
A day trip cruising through dramatic limestone emerging from the crystal clear water as James Bond and Koh Panyi, occasionally stop at quiet beach for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling is far more rewarding than you could expect.
Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located about 2.5 hours north of Bangkok and is one of the most visited national parks in Thailand. It spreads over 4 provinces including Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Ratchasima and Prachinburi. Thanks to its lush landscape, rich valleys, beautiful waterfalls, and biodiversity with more than 320 species of birds, 67 species of mammals and thousands of different types of plants, Khao Yai is an excellent place for hikers.
Thailand offers some of the finest yoga retreats in the world. Book a few days at one of the luxurious retreats where you can practice yoga with top experts, delight in delicious health-conscious cuisine, and meditate in a serene atmosphere surrounded by lush jungles. And when you come back, you will feel wholly rejuvenated.
For many people, coming to Pai simply means slowing down completely. Some can choose to relax at a lovely cafe gallery enjoying the quietness of nature. Who looks for more adventure can try bamboo and white rafting, mountain trekking, and exploring the Tham Lot cave.
Don’t miss your chance to take part in the Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan. At first, it was like a small party on the beach of some hippies and backpackers playing music and having a beer. Now, it is a giant festival-like party attracting thousands of participants looking for fun. Each bar plays its own music, the beach is full of people selling food and drink, and fire dancers puts on their shows. If you miss it, don’t worry. There is half-moon party, quarter-moon party and black-moon party waiting for you to join.
The official currency of Thailand is the Baht and both coins and bills are used. In general, the exchange rates available for THB will be better in Thailand than at home. Exchange services in Thailand tend to claim ‘zero commission’ - but make sure you can see the exchange rate being offered. Usually, when services advertise a service without commission or fees, their profit is wrapped up in the poor exchange rate they offer. ATMs are plentiful in Thailand. Cash is the preferred method of payment for most Thai people, so using an ATM to make withdrawals can be a convenient option for travelers. Ask your local bank before you leave if they have any arrangements with Thai banks to allow you to get access to services more cheaply. If they don’t, you can expect that an ATM in Thailand will add a fee of 150-180 Baht for each withdrawal (around 5 US dollars)
- Book all the services in advance to save money.
- Travel during the low season between April and September to avoid crowds. You can enjoy more and access popular places easier.
- Rent a motorbike to have much more fun. Motorbiking saves you more money than taking taxis all the time. Make sure to be safe and wear a helmet!
- Don’t bring too much luggage. You can always buy a quality case for your souvenirs at a great price. Don’t bring too many clothes either. Thai clothes are colorful and much cheaper.
- Take advantage of the tour to visit more attractions, get more amazing moments, and more interesting experiences for a cheaper price.
- Follow Thailand’s laws to avoid trouble, like fines or jail time.
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