In a country as vast as Thailand, you’ll find a multitude of experiences, landscapes and diversity, making it a multi faceted and highly alluring holiday destination.
It’s a country where many people visit for the vast array of incredible beaches, showcased best in Phuket and Pattaya, but also for serenity and relaxation on the various offshore islands such as Koh Samui and Koh Yao Noi. If it’s a busy, cosmopolitan city you are seeking, then Bangkok is an experience you simply will never forget. This is contrasted by Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city, which very much has the feel of a village community. The south of the country features some amazing districts where tropical vegetation and gorgeous blue seas really do set the scenery. The areas of Krabi and Phang Nga Bay feature resorts such as Khao Lak, with its pristine beachfront and array of luxury hotels, and Koh Lanta, a quiet offshore island where life is simple, and the scenery astounding.
If you are based in Bangkok even for a short time, then a trip to the Grand Palace is simply a must. This is an amazing city within a city experience displaying a fairytale range of jewel encrusted monuments and spires. A strict dress code is in place here, prohibiting sleeveless t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops from the premises. For a total change of scenery the night market at Chiang Mai sells some fabulous Thai handicrafts and silk, and wandering through the varied stalls is a real experience. Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui is the place to come for swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, dining on the beach or just simply to watch the world go by. If you are based closer to Phuket, why not try a trip to Phang Nga Bay and Pung Chang Cave. Paddle around the bay before exploring the main cave, where the stalagmites resemble a certain indigenous animal of Thailand.
Phuket Sightseeing Tour and Elephant Trek
This four hour half day trip takes in the ancient buildings of Phuket town, before offering a vantage point for a great photograph over the bay. A 15 minute elephant trek will then lead to a visit of Wat Chalong, Phuket’s ancient monastery. From there you make your way over to the local cashew nut factory and pearl shop. Tour includes a traditional Thai buffet lunch at an excellent local restaurant.
Tours by boat or speed boat
There are many beautiful, uninhabited bays and islands to visit in Thailand, many of them accessible from Phuket. Below are the most popular Thailand excursions:
Phi Phi Island
A visual paradise of empty coves and amazing beaches. Consisting of two islands of immense natural beauty, and Monkey Island where you can see, play and feed the monkeys on a guided tour. This beautiful island was used for the filming of the Hollywood movie The Beach.
Ko Khai Nok
A beautiful uninhabited island with beautiful white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters. This is the perfect spot for a romantic day’s relaxation.
One for the James Bond film fans. These amazing collection of islands were used for the filming of The Man with the Golden Gun, and you’ll be able to re-create the famous scenes with a trip to these stunning surrounds. Also available as a canoe trip.
Big Game Fishing
An extremely popular venture due to the amazing range of tropical fish in the Andaman Sea. Cast your rod and bait and hope to catch marlin, sailfish, tuna, giant trevally and rainbow runner.
From air conditioned shops, markets, bazaars and large malls, Bangkok has everything you might need or want from a shopping experience. You’ll find the larger malls dotted along Sukhumvit Road where you will find leading branded shops and boutiques. Don’t miss Chinatown either for its inherent Thai ambience, or the Thieves Market for its range of intriguing goods – taking care not to pay over the odds for items that may not be genuine labels. Shopping doesn’t begin and end in Bangkok though, far from it. Chiang Mai is renowned for its handicrafts and markets and you can pick up anything from kites to pottery and silk garments to xylophones here! Old Phuket town is similarly rustic, and you can pick up some great antiques, textiles and souvenirs from here to adorn your front room on your return home. Remember that it is illegal to take carvings or depictions of Buddha out of Thailand unless prior permission has been granted.
Thailand offers an amazing culinary experience that is often categorized as one cuisine, but is actually better described as comprising of four regional cuisines that correspond to the layout of the country. National dishes include Pad Thai, a stir fried noodle dish compromising of either chicken or prawns with spices and crushed nuts, Tom Yang Gai, a tomato based soup with vegetables and prawns, and Green Thai Curry, cooked with coconut and onions and infused with lemongrass. You’ll find many traditional Thai restaurants will serve one or all of these dishes along with other staple Thai favorites.
Celadon on South Sathorn Road in Bangkok serves superb Royal Thai cuisine overlooking a tranquil lotus pond. The Plus Pla Restaurant in Phuket sits on a hill and offers panoramic views with tables set underneath spreading trees. Here you’ll find a range of specialities including whole fried sea bass with a hot and sour sauce.
It’s also extremely good value to eat in the Thailand hotels featured by Destinology, and on average the prices are well below what you would pay in the UK for an equivalent meal.
Thailand Bars & Nightlife
If you are of the opinion that busiest is best, then you’ll appreciate the nightlife in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya more so than some of the quieter, more serene islands.
Be prepared to see an eclectic mix of clientele in these parts of Thailand. The people in Bangkok overall are extremely friendly and welcoming towards tourists, but like in all large cosmopolitan cities, care should be taken to avoid the less than reputable looking establishments. Bangkok is unique in this respect, and for a more conventional experience with bars and nightlife you’ll find the other Thailand districts, regions and islands offer a real cultural shift.
Thailand Family Attractions
The best family activities in Thailand are focused around the indigenous animals of Thailand along with water parks and sports. As such, we’d like to recommend the following activities and attractions:
Elephant Training Farm – Chiang Mai
Here, you can learn about the lives of elephants and see them in their natural habitat before taking a ride on one of them! The nearby buffalo training camp is also great for families; you can watch them ploughing a rice field before seeing them race in the water.
Mall Ngamwongwan Water Park and Playland – Bangkok
If you are in the capital and in search of somewhere to take the children, then look no further. This is a delightful two section amusement center where children can both play, enjoy rides and the slides, pool and wave machine.
Dusit Zoo – Bangkok
The lush green surrounds of this park and zoo make it a great day out for a family. Featuring a boating lake with foot paddle boats, playgrounds, and of course the inhabitants of the zoo, namely tigers, hippos, elephants, brown bears, alligators and chimpanzees.
Other Thailand Travel Information
Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
Language: Thai. English is also widely spoken.
Flight time: Manchester – Bangkok – 13 hrs
Time difference: Phuket +8 hrs from UK time zones
Voltage: 220/240v. Plugs are not standardized in Thailand, so adapter plugs are recommended.
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I am an experienced travel writer with a broad background principally covering luxury long haul destinations. I hope my posts on here will be of interest to you. http://www.destinology.co.uk; www.been.co.uk; www.sensesouthafrica.com