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The ancient Kingdom of Thailand is a proud and independent place that burns fiercely with the white heat of modernity while revering the links to its historic past. In recent years the country has witnessed dramatic social and political upheaval, yet the royalist traces of ancient Siam, authentic street food and gorgeous silks still remain, coexisting with massive industry, high-energy nightlife and seminal hi-tech.
Get used to the idea that Thailand is rapidly becoming a highly advanced 21st-century society and you can then enjoy its countless attractions to the full. Why not start with the weird and wonderful? Grab a mouthful of cooked bugs off a street stall or watch kickboxing before visiting an ancient temple to learn Thai massage.
Top of the list for many people visiting Thailand are the beaches. Whether you are looking for a luxury hotel in a resort, or a quiet out-of-the-way place with just a handful of A-frame huts metres from the sea, it is here to be found. In the southwest, travellers will find many pleasures along the Andaman Coast, from world-famous diving sites, iconic islands and fabulous beaches to sea caves and towering limestone outcrops.
On the Gulf Coast, Koh Samui offers pampering palaces, fine dining, action-packed beaches and quiet bays, while its sister island, Koh Phangan, draws 10,000 people to the world’s largest outdoor party on the sands at Hat Rin. Further east, towards Cambodia, Koh Chang, with its thickly forested interior and rich wildlife, is the least known of Thailand’s large islands.
The hilltribes of the north represent another Thailand. With their distinctive cultures and traditional lifestyles, they provide a vivid counterpoint to the lowland Thais. Taking the time to trek through the forests of the north, rafting down its rivers and staying with ethnic minorities is a highlight for many visitors. The unofficial capital of the north is Chiang Mai whose laid-back charms are well known for seducing travellers. What’s more, Isaan food from this region is also distinctive, similar to Lao cuisine and very popular. Even in Bangkok, you won’t have to go far to find a street stall selling sticky rice, kai yang (grilled chicken) and som tam (papaya salad).
Most visitors begin and end their stay in Bangkok. The capital has impressive historical sights, atmospheric canals, great food, throbbing nightlife and world-class shopping, but, most importantly, it provides a thrilling introduction to this captivating nation.
Places of interest in Thailand
Bangkok is a heaving scrum of humanity that blends ancient beauty, booming youth culture and the rituals of a bygone...
The north of Thailand wasn’t incorporated into the Thai nation until the beginning of the 20th century. For...
As you set sail from the mainland across the glittering sea, Koh Chang (Elephant Island), covered in thick forest and...
Krabi is an amiable port on the Andaman Coast that provides easy access to host of fascinating tourist sites like the...