Thailand is a mind-blowing mix of serenity, chaos, glittering temples, openness, stunning natural beauty, soft sand beaches, too much sex tourism and exploitation of women, palm trees, fabulous spicy cuisine and warm hospitality. The former Kingdom of Siam is one of the top places to visit in Southeast Asia for all types of budgets – and for good reason. From simple beach huts to luxury hotels with pools, butlers and 5-star cuisine, there is something here for everyone.
While there are as many sides to Thailand as coconuts in a palm grove, travel to Thailand can be divided into three basic sections: Bangkok, northern Thailand and southern Thailand.
Bangkok can be overwhelming for the first time visitor. Motorcycles and tuk tuks veer around trucks and cars, incense-shrouded shrines jostle for space with sidewalk vendors, and high-end shopping malls compete for space with palaces, museums and temples. That said, Bangkok is also a city many come to love and the more time you spend here the more you come to understand its appeal. A few of the top attractions in Bangkok include:
Lush and mountainous, northern Thailand appeals to cultural travellers and to those interested in outdoor activities such as trekking. Centring around the city of Chiang Mai, northern Thailand runs up to the border of Laos and Burma, and has a murky past as an opium-growing region. Today you’ll find luxury resorts, yoga retreats, hill tribes, wild orchids, teak temples and a lingering hint of its shadowy past. Some top things to do in northern Thailand include:
Southern Thailand is my Thailand, my go-to place to relax, renew and get healthy. There are a number of beaches and islands to visit on both the east and the west coast. My preference is the east side, but there are attractions on both sides. Here are some of the top things to do in southern Thailand, and a few of the most popular places to visit.
The bottom line is, wherever you go in Thailand, you’re bound to find something unique to explore.