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Learn more about tantalising THAILAND!

Thailand is loosely divided into four regions. The South is best known for beaches, while mountain ranges cover the North. The northeast of the country is where you’ll find the best food and culture, and the Central Plains are home to Thailand’s biggest nature reserves and its capital, Bangkok.

Thailand is one of those rare holiday destinations with so many highlights that every visit offers a new adventure. The islands and coastlines are a postcard paradise of sugar-white beaches and jewel-blue seas. The following is only a snippet of some of the many wonderful attractions in Thailand.

Bangkok is a city like no other. Whether you prefer the modern side of the capital, such as shopping malls and sky bars, of which there are plenty, or visiting ancient temples like Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, you are in one of the most dynamic cities in the world. With friendly people, chaotic, bustling streets, ornate temples, and colourful, lively markets, there is something for everyone in Bangkok, and it is a required stop on any visit to Thailand. The sheer number of day trips available from Bangkok is considerable, so being based there allows you to sample numerous fascinating places.

Within easy reach are the ancient cities of Ayutthayan to the North of Bangkok, Pattaya to the South, and the famous floating market of Damnoen Saduak, only a short distance by car to join the popular boat tours. Ayutthayan has some of the most impressive ruins in the world, with beautiful monasteries, dilapidated temples, and towering statues dotted around the countryside. You can get there from Bangkok by car or by cruising along the Chao Phraya River.

Well known, Pattaya is in a world of its own regarding diversity, with an almost impossible array of attractions. This large city is only a few hours south of Bangkok, and it’s hard to believe that this was once a sleepy fishing village used for rest and recreation by US troops during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Almost exclusively thanks to tourism and its reputation for risqué entertainment, it has grown to become a thriving cosmopolitan city, complete with world-class shopping malls, a feast of culinary offerings and a range of accommodations to suit every budget. Its nightlife scene is still thriving, but modern-day Pattaya is mostly a family-friendly resort boasting world-class water theme parks and the Four Regions Floating Market among its many diversions.

For an authentic taste of real Thailand, head further down the coastline to Koh Samet, one of the closest islands to Bangkok, which doesn’t require a journey by air. The road is long, but the 45-minute speedboat ride at the end of it is worth the journey. Koh Samet is a National Park, so it has its fair share of wildlife, such as sea turtles and geckos, and it has its five-star resort among a variety of accommodations. This is a beautiful, picturesque area with stunning beaches and great food plentiful.

Some 2hrs drive west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is a region covering a large area offering nature enthusiasts dense jungle, astonishing waterfalls, limestone caves and lakes. At the same time, outstanding luxury resorts and restaurants sit on riverside locations. The seven-tiered Erawan Falls is the most unique series of waterfalls in Thailand. It is surrounded by emerald-green ponds and deep forestation, which makes it a popular place to visit. Combining a tour with the equally spectacular Huay Mae Khamin Falls and the settings for Bridge on the River Kwai, the Hellfire Pass Museum and the Prasat Muang Singh Historical Park ensures that your time is well spent in this remarkable part of Thailand. Dining options are plentiful not only in the wide variety of hotels but also at riverside restaurants.

Ko Samui is Thailand’s second largest island in the Gulf of Thailand and the perfect holiday destination for first-time visitors. A short two-hour ferry from the mainland introduces you to the powder-soft sand beaches, candle-lit meals and relaxed atmosphere of one of the country’s most popular destinations. Even with a thriving expat community, it still retains the feel of Thailand, so while smaller islands are less commercial, there are numerous interesting attractions to make this a particular destination. This area is not too dissimilar to Phuket, where the beaches are lined with resorts with bars and restaurants, but Koh Samui provides a more authentic Thai experience for the visitor.

Koh Phangan sits north of Koh Samui and is well-known for its full moon party scene, but again, there are other options, including beautiful deep waters for diving, spectacular waterfalls, night markets with enticing food offerings, and five-star luxury hotels. Koh Phangan is a destination that satisfies the needs of many different types of travellers.

Further north again is the more remote Koh Tao, Thailand’s diving mecca. It offers remarkably clear waters and a thriving nightlife when daytime activities have finished. The island’s beauty can’t be ignored, so some exploration is required to enjoy it fully. 

Across the mainland and on the other coastline, Phuket lies in the Andaman Sea. The town is big on entertainment, and while it may be brash and busy, it’s not always what it seems. Although the island has a reputation for partying and thrilling nightlife, many tranquil spots with stunning views and magical temples are waiting to be found. A visit to Old Phuket town to explore the quaint streets is a must, as is the famous Kata Beach. Some nearby islands, such as the Similan group, are worth escaping to with Koh Yao Noi or Kho Phi Phi Islands not far away. Some of Phuket’s great hotels are on almost deserted beaches, so you can have the best of both worlds and relax during the day with nightlife in the evening, only a short tuk-tuk ride away. 

If you want to experience old Thailand before the big hotels move in, then unspoilt Koh Yao Noi is a good choice. Only a relatively short speedboat ride from Krabi or Phuket takes you to islands that haven’t yet succumbed to mass tourism, with isolated bays and rustic restaurants but still have plenty of things to do, like fishing in the clear waters, sipping cocktails in a small bar or discovering the secluded coastline.

Krabi is opposite Phuket on the Andaman Sea. It has towering limestone cliffs, extraordinary beaches backed by thick jungle, and a myriad of caves. Krabi is the place for the adventurer in all of us, with an eclectic mixture of affluent travellers, backpackers, and beach enthusiasts sharing the stunning scenery.

Quiet stays are also offered in Koh Lanta, one of the less populated areas of Thailand. A bridge connects the two islands of Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi, so you can watch spectacular red and orange sunsets wherever you are. No motorised water sports are allowed here so that you can guarantee peaceful beaches, and many of its residents maintain the usual lifestyle and don’t make a living from tourism. It’s an island with its own culture and character, which still belongs to the locals, who are happy to share it with seasonal visitors.

Koh Phi Phi is one of the best-known islands and the home of great beach parties with a spirited atmosphere. Against a backdrop of sapphire shores and sugar white sand, Koh Phi Phi has an energetic side, but like many of the islands, you can find small coves where peace and tranquillity rule. Here, you’ll find numerous craft shops, trendy bars and a good range of accommodation options.

Chiang Mai lies in the far North of Thailand. To get a sense of how large the country is, the rail journey from Bangkok can take up to 11 hours. Understandably, most visitors arrive by plane on the hour-long flight from the capital, but the overnight sleeper should not be dismissed. The journey keeps you grounded in more ways than one, getting you to know inner Thailand and its countryside more intimately while also saving on overnight accommodation costs.

Chiang Mai is renowned for the laid-back attitude of its locals, where very little disturbs the peace. It is very different from the iconic beaches and nightlife in the country. However, what must be considered is the abundance of excellent food options, among the main reasons to visit the city. The Westernised influence in Chiang Mai is easily seen, but it retains a subtle Asian and European blend of living. A highlight is visiting some of the city’s beautiful temples and unique sites where the Old City is the main attraction with unique museums and magnificent temples and much more to be found outside the city’s ancient walls.

Finally, to experience something unique and unique Thai, visit the northeastern town of Udon Thani. Between January and February, the lotus flowers are in bloom across the region. An incredible natural phenomenon occurs at sunrise as you sail along the eight km-long Red Lotus Lake. Thousands of blooms cloak the surface, and the lake is suddenly ablaze with vivid hues of red and pink flowers.

This is just an example of the many natural wonders found in the spectacular destination of Thailand.