Feel the pulse of Southeast Asia's beating heart.
So much more than just a beach destination, Thailand is a treasure trove of gleaming temples, beautiful scenery and exemplary hospitality. There’s real variety on offer here - peek through the dense jungle vegetation to glimpse wild elephants roaming, explore the tradition-bound but supremely welcoming countryside, or trek the northern mountains where hill tribe villages await. Discover the exciting city of Bangkok, developing fast but still a magnificent showcase for the region’s intriguing culture, and undoubtedly the best destination in Thailand for shopping and fine dining.
Beyond the bright lights of Bangkok, take your pick from a plethora of pleasures: the warm sand enveloping your toes on jungle-fringed beaches, the hot kick of Chang Mai street food or the cool shadow of a gargantuan gold Buddha. Thailand is a country to be experienced with all the senses.
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The top three things to do in Thailand
Thailand is overflowing with wonderful experiences that take you far away from the backpacker traps. For further inspiration take a look at the trip ideas put together by our trusted local partners, but in the meantime here are our top three things to do.
Wander around Wat Pho Temple
Prepare to be awestruck when you come across the 46 metre long reclining Buddha adorned in gold leaf from head to toe at Wat Pho. This huge Buddha stands 15 metres high and it's the major attraction at Bangkok’s best known temple, which is also the home of four chapels packed with 396 more golden Buddhas, though these are a whole lot smaller. Look out for the elaborate murals as you explore the temple site, and indulge in a classic Thai massage at the massage school which has an excellent reputation as one of the best in the land.
Immerse yourself in culture in Chiang Mai
Head to the harmonious surroundings of Chiang Mai - a calm and picturesque contrast to the busy capital. Sitting at the foot of jungle clad hills in Thailand’s north, this is a city of temples populated by monks in traditional cloaks padding barefoot through the leafy streets. Foodies should be in their element here as the local food is known as some of the best in Thailand and there are countless cookery schools which take you on a trip to the market and a lesson in the secrets of the fragrant cuisine. Work off all that lovely Thai cuisine with a trek among the surrounding hill villages to encounter various tribal traditions in situ.
Find your idyll on Thailand's coastline
Thailand is justly famous for its gorgeous beaches and islands. But you can leave the busy resorts packed with people behind... Our local agents are able to find the perfect area of Thailand to suit your needs and can track down the most secluded and romantic beaches - those picture perfect hidden coves lapped by crystalline waters - or the best family friendly stretches of shoreline.
The lesser known highlights of Thailand
We all know about the blissful beaches and the crystalline waters, but what about the lesser known highlights?
Take a walk on the wild side in Khao Sok National Park
If you feel like you need a blast of untouched nature, Khao Sok National Park fits the bill. Located in southern Thailand, this is a beautiful area of ancient rainforest dotted with karst formations, lakes and waterfalls, home to an impressive array of wildlife. Getting to this beautiful slice of wilderness takes a little effort, but because of that you will be rewarded with an off the beaten track experience without the crowds. Hiking trails weave through the park, and it is possible to kayak, raft or tube your way along some of the rivers. Don’t miss the beautiful scenery of Cheow Lan Lake, the photogenic heart of the park.
Cultures collide in Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son is a province with a real sense of distinct character, partly due to the influence of nearby Myanmar and the minority Shan people who make up a significant proportion of the population. Enjoy the cool climate and the emerald green of the surrounding tea plantations as you soak up the laid back charms of the area. Hiking in the hills is a popular pastime, with a standout trail leading up a fairly steep hillside to the awesome temple of Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu which is perched on a bluff enjoying spectacular views.
Doi Inthanon National Park: A birder’s mecca
Nearly 400 species of birds have been recorded in Doi Inthanon National Park, about 90 minutes drive from central Chiang Mai and the most interesting destination for birdwatching in Thailand. It also contains the highest point in the country - Doi Inthanon which stands at 2,565 metres and has an awesome view. Take your pick from hiking trails, waterfalls, royal pagodas, viewpoints and some easy nature trails with info boards to help you make sense of what you can see, not least pointing out some of the 1,500 plus species of butterflies present in the park.
The best time to go to Thailand
The climate varies across the country throughout the year. This means you can visit Thailand all year round and makes it a fantastic and popular holiday destination.
Arguably the very best time to go is during the cooler dry season of November to April. One thing to be aware of is that Thai New Year, Songkran, occurs in April (13th - 15th) which features exuberant celebrations that you can choose to either participate in or avoid depending on what kind of holiday you are after.
From March to May, Thailand’s climate matches its cuisine... it's hot! But not too hot - it is still a lovely time to visit. Temperatures climb towards the mid-30°Cs and this is potentially one of the best times of year to enjoy some beach lounging.
The rainy season then runs from May to October, reaching its peak in September and October.
May and June aren't too wet at all, and you can take advantage of shoulder season pricing - but to ensure sunshine head to the east coast.
Temperatures start to drop and winds and rainshowers become more prevalent through July and August - the sun is still shining in the east but the islands can get busy over the school holiday season so earlier in July is best if you want to travel at this time of year.
If you want the bargain benefits of the low season and don't mind not having much beach time, then September is the month for you. It might be the wettest, but the crowds have dispersed and you can still enjoy exploring Thailand's many amazing sights. In October the rains start to dry up and the humidity drops, leaving a verdant landscape and comfortable temperatures to explore the country in.
Things you might not know about Thailand
Want to know some interesting tidbits about Thailand?
Bangkok’s official ceremonial name is ‘Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.’ Dare you try and say it?
There are around 1,500 different species of orchid growing wild in Thailand. Their delicate beauty has also been harnessed by flower farmers who cultivate huge numbers of the plants for export.
Thailand is home to more than 30,000 temples and has more than 1,400 islands scattered around its coastline.
Buddhism is the most important religion and is practised by 94.6% of the population.
Thailand is known as the "Land of Smiles" so prepared to be charmed by gracious hosts.
The Monarchy is revered with the utmost respect in Thailand. As a mark of that respect, no normal person must ever pass above royalty, so if your Bangkok monorail train suddenly stops between stations, it may mean that a member of the royal family is passing beneath the tracks.
What to read before your Thailand holiday
"The Beach" by Alex Garland
Made into a famous film starring a youthful Leonardo DiCaprio, this book brought Thailand into the spotlight... It's about Richard, a young man breaking away from a life of privilege in Britain, and arriving in Bangkok in search of adventure. He finds it when he is given a mysterious map by a man who then commits suicide, and decides that he must track down the lost island it describes.
"Four Reigns" by Kukrit Pramoj
This epic tale encompasses the reigns of four monarchs as seen through the eyes of Phloi, whose story begins aged 10 when she enters the royal court with her mother. Pramoj’s novel is a nostalgic glance back to the time which saw Siam under threat from occupation, revolution and war - and how modern Thailand emerged from the turmoil.
"Bangkok 8" by John Burdett
This is a book for people who love a far-fetched thriller. Fast-paced and nail biting, this thriller is the first of six books in the Royal Thai Detective series. Brace yourself for a rip roaring tale of murder, corruption and the criminal underbelly of Bangkok’s drug and sex trades.
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Thailand's street food: In search of disappointment
A frequent traveller to Southeast Asia, Philip Moss is a true enthusiast when it comes to Asian cuisine. Here he explores the food scene of Bangkok, wondering whether it's even possible to find a poor meal in this vibrant city.
Do you already have an idea of what your dream holiday in Thailand entails? Whether you're ready to book or would like your ideas to be fined-tuned into something more, send an enquiry and our trusted local experts will design your perfect tailor-made holiday.