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Thailand is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular holiday destinations. From the bustling metropolis Bangkok to the stunning beaches of Railay, ancient cities like Sukhothai to magnificent Buddhist temples like Wat Arun, Thailand is a traveller’s delight. Adding to this rich heritage and natural beauty, the country also boasts of a scrumptious cuisine, endless options for shopping and a colourful lively culture.
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand is a bustling modern city with a vibrant local culture. The Grand Palace with the Wat Phra Kaew temple and other Buddhist temples like Wat Pho and Wat Arun are where you can marvel at the city’s impressive architecture. The massive Buddha statues that you come across are bound to leave you stunned! Bangkok is renowned for its street culture; from mouth-watering dishes like the famous Pad Thai to Chinese delicacies in Chinatown and phenomenal nightlife in Khao San Road, the streets are the soul of the city. Bangkok is also a shopper’s paradise and you have a wide range of options from the chaotic Chatuchak Weekend Market to the luxurious Siam Paragon Mall.
Ayutthaya was one of the former capitals of the Kingdom of Siam, after Sukhothai, until it was completely destroyed by the Burmese the 18th-century. Today, you can visit what remains of the once glorious city in the UNESCO listed Ayutthaya Historical Park. The structures here date as early as the 14th-century and you will see the ruins of dozens of temples, Buddha statues and a few palaces. Other notable highlights of the city include Wat Phra Mahathat which has a large stone Buddha face set in a tree trunk and Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, the former Summer Palace of the Thai royals.
The city of Chiang Rai in northern Thailand is best known for its stunning white temple, Wat Rong Khun. Other grand temples like the royal temple of Wat Phra Kaew and blue temple of Wat Rong Suea Ten, will stun you with their impressive architecture. There is a vibrant local culture as well, and you can savour street food and visit the Chiang Rai weekend market and night bazaar for shopping.
The ancient city of Chiang Mai, located in northern Thailand was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. Its Old City, dating back to the 13th-century, features ancient temples, walls, moats and shophouses. The city also boasts of numerous grand Buddhist temples like Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. Near the city you will find the Doi Inthanon National Park, which contains the country’s highest peak – Doi Inthanon.
Sukhothai, located on the banks of the Yom river was the first capital of the Kingdom of Siam. This ancient city dates back to the 13th-century and you can visit its historical sites like the UNESCO listed Sukhothai Historical Park which comprises ruins of over 200 structures. You can admire the ancient architectural styles reflected in the numerous temples like Wat Mahathat, Wat Sa Si and Wat Trapang Ngoen.
The UNESCO listed Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s first national park and easily accessible from Bangkok. The park covers dense forests and lush grasslands which are home to wild elephants, bears, gibbons, sambar deer and hundreds of exotic bird species. The numerous hiking and biking trails of the park pass through spectacular waterfalls like Haew Narok and Haew Suwat, rivers and viewpoints.
The Phetchaburi province is home to numerous natural sites, historic temples and scenic beaches. The Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park with its white coloured Khmer-style temples, Tham Khao Luang Cave housing numerous Buddhas, Wat Yai Suwannaram with its elaborate murals and Cha-Am Beach with 5 km of soft sands are the highlights of the province. You can also visit Thailand’s largest national park, Kaeng Krachan National Park which has dense rainforests, numerous hiking trails and abundant wildlife including elephants and leopards.
Ko Samui, the second largest island in the country is defined by palm-fringed scenic beaches, crystal clear waters and dense rainforests. The island is a top tourist destination and is packed with high-end resorts and spas, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. And yes, the island presents an amazing nightlife experience and excellent food too! The Wat Phra Yai, popularly known as the Big Buddha temple, with its 12 metre tall sitting Buddha statue is an iconic landmark on the island.
The Similan Islands National Park covers the 11 islands in the Similan archipelago, located in the Andaman Sea. The bright blue waters of the sea, blinding white sand shores, lush rainforests and rich coral reef systems of the park create a magical landscape and a paradise for nature lovers. The diversity of marine life found in these waters is unparalleled by any region in Thailand and it is world renowned for diving and snorkelling.
The small peninsula of Railay is located between Krabi and Ao Nang and is one of Thailand’s most popular beach destinations. Here you will find dramatic sandstone cliffs which are a delight for rock climbers and stunning white sand beaches which spell paradise for beach lovers. The western part is lined with luxurious resorts whereas the eastern part is lined with numerous restaurants, bars and mid-range accommodations.
Phuket is the largest and arguably the most popular island in Thailand. With stunning beaches like Kata Noi, Patong and Nai Harn, a colourful Old Town, an imposing 45 metre tall Big Buddha statue, unforgettable nights at Bangla Road, huge markets and shopping streets, fabulous food, the popular Simon Cabaret show and excellent diving and snorkelling tours, it’s not hard to understand why this island is always packed with tourists. You can also take a boat trip to the lovely Phang Nga Bay, hang out with tigers at Tiger Kingdom and visit the interactive Phuket Trickeye Museum with its 3D art gallery.
The Phi Phi islands are a popular tourist hotspot with powdery white sand beaches, azure waters, rich coral reefs and dozens of resorts, hotels, restaurants and bars. This is the ultimate destination for a noisy and energetic beach holiday with amazing all-night parties. You can also hop on a longtail boat and explore the other islands in the archipelago like Mosquito and Bamboo islands or visit the Viking Cave with their rock paintings.
The amazing range of experiences that Thailand has to offer its visitors, is the reason why it is such a popular tourist destination in the region. Moreover, it is budget friendly and suitable for backpackers as well. With its elaborate temples, ancient cities, stunning beaches, rich underwater world, crazy nightlife and infinite shopping options, Thailand has something for every traveller.
Thailand is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular holiday destinations.