Rightly famous for the stunning palm-fringed beaches of the south, there is much more to this beautiful country. This is a land of mountains, jungles, ancient ruins and glittering temples where it’s still possible to explore beyond the tourist scene.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN THAILAND
- Thailand is famous for its food. Take a cooking class and recreate your favourite dishes at home.
- Visit beautiful Buddhist temples and learn about the country’s main religion
- Explore the busy city of Bangkok – visit the Grand Palace and Moon Bar.
- Laze on the beautiful beaches of Koh Kradan.
- Support the welfare of the Asian elephant at Conserve Natural Forest.
EXPLORE BY AREA
Tucked up between Laos and Myanmar this region is a patchwork of mountains, national parks, rice fields, small villages and sprawling cities. Chiang Mai is the capital of the region with historic Lanna style buildings and temples in the walled Old City. From Chiang Mai it’s easy to explore the green countryside and take part in cooking classes, elephant conservation and a whole host of outdoor activities.
Spend time in the Old City framed by an ancient wall and moat, where you can explore Lanna style temples and enjoy some of Northern Thailand’s famous cuisine.
In the northern hills, famous caves, waterfalls and Pai canyon.
A small town set swampland between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai – it’s far more beautiful than it sounds.
A great base to travel north into the golden triangle.
Home to Thailand’s vibrant capital city, Bangkok, famous for delicious street food, wild night life and stunning temples. Leave the city to explore the rich history of Ayuttaya, now a UNESCO World Heritage.
Most likely the first place you’ll visit in Thailand. Get lost in the maze of streets, the tiny market stalls next to huge shopping complexes, hot pots of unfamiliar smells and the constant hum of motorbikes, cars and tuk tuks.
A city of fabulous wealth, until much of it was destroyed in 1767. Today you can explore Ayutthaya’s Historical Park which comprises of multiple temples, some of which have been partially restored.
Idyllic beaches, hidden island gems and stunning national parks, southern Thailand is popular for a reason, but it’s not all overrun by tourism. Step outside the hot spots for tranquil landscapes and the real-deal spicy food southern Thailand is known for.
GULF ISLANDS & EASTERN BEACHES
Perfect weather in the summer months.
NORTHERN ANDAMAN COAST & ISLANDS
Dramatic limestone formations rise up from the sea making the west coast practically beautiful. Best weather November to March when visibility is best for diving.
SOUTHERN ANDAMAN COAST & ISLANDS
More challenging to get to but worth the reward, these southern islands are quiet with sandy beaches and an untouched feel.
What to Wear
Thailand has been more exposed to western tourism than its neighbours so locals are more indifferent to what you wear. Dressing modestly is strictly observed in temples and you will not be allowed to enter if your shoulders, knees and chest are not covered. Buddhist Temple Etiquette. When in cities and the countryside it’s recommended that you dress modestly all the time, not just for visiting temples to respect local customs. Keeping covered will protect you from sunburn in the day and insect bites at night. Beaches and islands are very laid back. Swimwear is fine for the beach but you should dress again before walking round towns and going into shops. Nude and topless sunbathing are not okay.
Head & Feet
The head is considered the most sacred part of the body in Buddhism and the feet the most impure. It’s therefore considered to be extremely improper to touch someones head. Likewise, pointing at things with your feet, putting your feet on furniture or pointing towards people with feet are rude gestures. If you drop any coins do not stop them from rolling with your feet as they feature the image of the king. You shouldn’t be surprised or offended if shop owners ask you to remove your shoes before entering and this is required when visiting a temple.
As with many Southeast Asian nations, if there isn’t a marked price it’s appropriate to barter. At first you might feel uncomfortable but soon you’ll enjoy it. You should always look to pay in the local currency and have a maximum price you’re willing to pay in mind – it can be very easy to get carried away! You’re more likely to get a good price if you’re friendly and keep smiling. Rudeness and aggression are not good tactics for negotiation and are generally seen as embarrassing.
FOOD & DRINK
Thai food is very regional. You’ll be able to find Pad Thai anywhere but it’s good to try some of the regional specialties.
Northern Thailand is more seasonal with influences from Myanmar and Laos, using more rustic cooking techniques, particularly in the Northeast. Pork is heavily used. Sticky rice is a staple of dishes here.
Much of the food found on the standard menus in the west are from the central plains and adjusted to suit the western pallet. Bangkok’s proximity to the coast means you’ll find a fair amount of seafood.
Spicy with lots of seafood.