Why Travel To Thailand

The Thais have been welcoming guests to their friendly kingdom for centuries, and although this ancient civilisation has blossomed into a vibrant modern nation, hospitality remains firmly intact. Around half the people coming for a Thailand holiday are return visitors: people just can’t get enough of the land of smiles.

From the glistening temples of Bangkok to the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya, the array of awe-inspiring religious architecture in Thailand is unsurpassed. Meanwhile, the northern mountains around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai make up a lyrical landscape of rolling hills dotted with tea plantations, beautiful cloud gardens, fascinating ethnic minority villages, and majestic elephants.

Perhaps most appealing of all, Thai beaches are famous the world over for their clear blue azure waters and bright white sand lighter than snow. There is a beach for everyone in Thailand, with different areas – Krabi, Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Chang to name just a few – for different personalities and personal interests.

Warm hospitality

The warm hospitality extended by the Thais is unsurpassed.

Year-round sunshine

Year-round sunshine for island hopping and beach breaks.

Excellent cuisine

Mouth-watering national cuisine from diverse regional kitchens.

Inspiring Trip Ideas

Recommended Places & Senses

Map

Thailand Travel Guide

AT A GLANCE
Capital: Bangkok
Population: 68.1 million
Languages: Thai
Currency: Baht (THB)
Time zone: GMT +7
Electricity: 220V
Dialing Code: +66
Although Thailand is Asia’s premier tourist destination, it has somehow managed to keep its culture largely intact, even in the face of massive outside influences. It is a country that adroitly avoided colonization has been able to absorb Western pressures while maintaining its own rich heritage. Though the high rises and neon lights occupy the foreground of the tourist picture, the typical Thai community is still a farming village, and you need not venture far to encounter a more traditional scene of fishing communities, rubber plantations and Buddhist temples. Around forty percent of Thais earn their living from the land, based around the staple rice, which forms the foundation of the country’s unique and famously sophisticated cuisine.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
  •  January and February: The weather is good throughout the country at this time of year. There is little chance of rain, while cooler temperatures in the north make conditions more comfortable and all the west coast beaches are likely to be be bathed in sunshine.
  • March to June: Fine weather should be expected throughout Thailand in March, with temperatures rising into the mid 30°C and the colder weather in the north disappearing. More excellent weather during April and the visitor numbers continue to rise. June is a good time to visit as Thailand is bathed in sunshine, and there are wonderful opportunities to grab a shoulder season bargain.
  • July to August: Temperatures start to drop a little as wind and rain becomes more common towards the end of the month. The sun is still out on the east coast beaches, but islands such as Koh Samui tend to get busy over the school holidays. The beginning of the month is best.
  • September is usually the wettest month of the year, so it is not ideal for beach goers. However, those seeking a low season bargain and no crowds can still enjoy a worthwhile exploration at this time of year. Rains continue throughout the beginning of October and temperatures begin to drop.
  • November and December: The sun returns to Thailand's west coast and beach goers begin to flock to Khao Lak, Phuket and Krabi once again. If you visit at the start of the month you can beat the crowds. Early mornings and late evenings in northern Thailand begin to cool as winter approaches.
PEOPLE, HISTORY AND CULTURE
Thailand lies between Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos, with the Gulf of Thailand to its south. Its culture mixes strong Indian influences, Chinese traditions, and elements that are uniquely Thai. Thailand is separated into four distinct regions. Despite the overarching strength and unity of Thai culture, each region has its own unique cultural and geographic features. Northern Thailand shares its border with Myanmar and Laos. This region is mountainous and filled with thick forests and river valleys. Its culture is heavily influenced by Burmese culture and it carries strong influences from the historical Lanna kingdom.
It is the region of Central Thailand that is predominant, though. This region is the seat of Thailand’s modern day capital city, Bangkok. With its fertile plains, it has long been the economic center of the country, producing the majority of Thailand’s rice. Central Thailand is also the area that has the greatest population density, and the greatest concentration of the ethnic Thai majority. It is the political, economic, and cultural center of the nation.
GEOGRAPHY
Administratively, the country is divided into 7 regions: The North, Northeast, Central Plains, East, West, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Region. Each of which has its own distinctive geographical character. The central region, also encompassing the Bangkok metropolitan region and the central plains, is affectionately known as "Thailand's Rice Bowl". One of the world's most fertile rice and fruit growing areas, this is the economic and cultural heartland of the Thai nation.
The mountainous north is Thailand's largest region. Here, elephants work the forest and winter temperatures are sufficiently cool to permit cultivation of temperate fruits such as strawberries and peaches. The second largest and poorest region is the sprawling northeast. Better known as "Isan" or the "Khorat Plateau", it is largely bordered by the Mekong River, where the world's oldest Bronze Age civilization flourished some 5,000 years ago.
Last but not least, the peninsular south. Here, arresting scenic beauty complements the economically vital activities of tin mining, rubber cultivation, and fishing.
TRANSPORTATIONS
  1. Shongthew. Public transport is provided by sŏrng·tăa·ou ('two rows', a small pick up truck outfitted with two facing benches for passengers). They sometimes operate on fixed routes, just like buses, but they may also run a share taxi service where they pick up passengers going in the same general direction.
  2. Săhm·lór or Túk-túk. Săhm·lór are three-wheeled pedicabs that are typically found in small towns where traffic is light and old-fashioned ways persist. The modern era’s version of the human powered săhm·lór is the motorised túk-túk. They’re small utility vehicles, powered by screaming engines (usually LPG-powered) with a lot of flash and sparkle. With either form of transport the fare must be established by bargaining before departure. In tourist centres, túk-túk drivers often grossly overcharge foreigners, so have a sense of how much the fare should be before soliciting a ride. Hotel staff are helpful in providing reasonable fare suggestions.
  3. Domestic Flights. Bangkok is an excellent Southeast Asian hub, served by upwards of 70 different airlines, including a number of budget operators (see links below). Chances are you will land at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK), but the country is home to several other international airports, with Phuket (HKT), Chiang Mai (CNX), Hat Yai (HDY) and Koh Samui (USM) also being popular for arrivals from outside Thailand. There are numerous domestic airports that serve commercial passengers, but to reach many of them you will need to travel through one of the major airports above. Airlines offering domestic services include:
    • Air Asia
    • Bangkok Air
    • Nok Air
    • Thai Airways
ACCOMMODATIONS
  1. Tourist Hotels. Thailand boasts an increasing number of stylish luxury hotels, many of them designed as intimate, small scale boutique hotels, with chic, minimalist decor, exceptional service and excellent facilities that often include private plunge pools and a spa.
  2. Homestays. As guesthouses have become increasingly hotel-like and commercial in their facilities and approach, many tourists looking for old style local hospitality are choosing homestay accommodation instead.
EATING AND DRINKING
  1. Pad Thai (Phat Thai). A well-known dish and for good reason. This delicious plate of stir fried rice noodles garnished with peanuts is full of flavour and can be served with fresh prawns, chicken, tofu or vegetables.
  2. Tom Yum (Tom Yam). Usually prepared with stock, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and chilli, this soup is widely available in Thailand and has been popularised around the world.
  3. Massaman Curry (Kaeng Matsaman). A dish with Muslim origins, this filling curry traditionally features coconut milk, potatoes, beef, bay leaves and peanuts
  4. Seafood. If staying on the coast or on one of the islands, be sure to make the most of the abundance of fresh seafood on offer. Seafood based stir fries and fragrant curries, crab cakes, grilled fish and prawns are all great choices.
  5. Spirits and Beer. Local spirits Mekhong (whisky) and Sang Som (rum) are popular, and an icy bottle of the local Singha beer is refreshing on a hot, humid day. Please note the legal drinking age in Thailand is 20.
  6. Coconut Milk. For a super fresh thirst quencher, try coconut milk straight from the husk.
  7. Tropical Fruit. Fruit shakes and fresh fruit juices are widely available from markets and restaurants, so make the most of all the tropical fruits of Thailand.
SENSES'S PICKED DESTINATION
The clash of tradition and modernity is most intense in Bangkok, the first stop on almost any itinerary. Within its historic core you’ll find resplendent temples, canal-side markets and the opulent indulgence of the eighteenth century Grand Palace, while downtown’s forest of skyscrapers shelters cutting edge fashion and decor boutiques and some achingly hip bars and clubs. After touchdown in Bangkok, much of the package holiday traffic flows east to Pattaya, the country’s seediest resort town, but for prettier beaches you’re better off venturing just a little further, to the islands of Ko Samet and the Ko Chang Archipelago, with their squeaky white sand and shore-front bungalows.
At the heart of the northern uplands, Chiang Mai is both an attractive historic city and a vibrant cultural centre, with a strong tradition of arts, crafts and festivals. It does a burgeoning line in self-improvement courses, from ascetic meditation to the more earthly pleasures of Thai cookery classes, while the overriding enticement of the surrounding region is the prospect of trekking through villages inhabited by a richly mixed population of tribal peoples. Plenty of outdoor activities and courses, as well as hot springs and massages, can be enjoyed at Pai, a surprisingly cosmopolitan hill station for travellers, four hours northwest of Chiang Mai.
Further down the Thai peninsula, in the provinces of the deep south, the teeming sea life and unfrequented sands of the Trang Islands and Ko Tarutao National Marine Park are the main draws. There is now the intriguing possibility of island hopping your way through them, all the way from Phuket to Penang in Malaysia, without setting foot on the mainland.
HEALTH and SAFETY
  1. Safety
As long as you keep your wits about you, you should not encounter much trouble in Thailand. Pick-pocketing and bag snatching are two of the main problems, but the most common cause for concern is the number of con-artists who dupe gullible tourists into parting with their cash. There are various Thai laws that tourists need to be aware of, particularly regarding passports, the age of consent and smoking in public.
  1. Health
Although Thailand’s climate, wildlife and cuisine present Western travellers with fewer health worries than in many Asian destinations, it is best to know in advance what the risks  might be, and what preventive or curative measures you should take. For a start, there is no need to bring huge supplies of non prescription medicines with you, as Thai pharmacies are well stocked with local and international branded medicaments, and of course they are generally much less expensive than at home. Nearly all pharmacies are run by trained English speaking pharmacists, who are usually the best people to talk to if your symptoms are not acute enough to warrant seeing a doctor.
FESTIVAL CALENDAR
 
  1. February: Chinese New Year and Dragon and Lion Parade -A festival held every year by local residents of Chinese descent to honor the Golden deity for his benevolence. A colorful costumed procession makes its way through the streets of the provincial capital with marching bands, lion and dragon dances from five nations, and figures of venerated deities.
  1. March: Magha Puja - An important Buddhist holy day that commemorates the occasion of 1250 Buddha disciples spontaneously congregating to hear him preach. Merit making ceremonies take place during the day at temples throughout the country, while at night, triple candlelit circumambulations are staged around temple chapels.
  2. April: Songkran Festival - A traditional Thai New Year that is an occasion for merrymaking in Bangkok as well as in other parts of the country. Thais mark the occasion with religious ceremonies as well as public festivities. Anyone who ventures out on the streets is likely to get a thorough soaking but all in a spirit of fun and goodwill at the peak of the hot season.
  3. June: Phi Ta Khon Festival - With origins from a well-known Buddhist tale, the colourful and vibrant Phi Ta Khon procession features young men who dress up as spirits to accompany a scared Buddha image and taunt villagers. This event will be held at Amphoe Dan Sai, Loei. There will be competitions of masked dances and processions.
  4. August: Her Majesty Queen's Birthday Celebrations - A nationwide holiday that sees public buildings being decorated to honor Her Majesty Queen Sirikit's birthday. The most splendid buildings are in Bangkok, particularly along Ratchadamnoen Avenue and in the area around the Grand Palace, where both government offices and streets are garlanded with colored lights. The queen's birthday also coincides with Mother's Day celebrations in Thailand.
  5. September: Um Phra Dam Nam Festival (September 26-30) - The people of Phetchabun conduct this festival as part of the Sart Thai Festival. The Governor of the province officiates at a holy ritual whereby he dives into the river with the Buddha image in his arms, which people believe will result in happiness and fertility. After that, the Phra Buddha Maha Thammaracha is taken to the provincial hall to be bathed in lustral water by the public. The highlight of this event is a procession bearing the sacred Phra Buddha Maha Thammaracha image around the city.
  6. October: Wax Castle and Boat Racing (October 11-14) - This event is held to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent (Ok Phansa). People in the northeast shape beeswax into miniature Buddhist temples and shrines in order to gain merit, which will determine their future rebirth. Sakon Nakhon is the best place to witness these crafted models. There is an annual festival with a grand wax castle procession, competitive boat racing as well as traditional northeastern cultural performances.
  7. December: H.M. The King's Birthday Celebrations (December 5) - H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is beloved and deeply respected by all Thais. The celebrations of his royal birthday provides his loyal subjects the opportunity to express their reverence for him. Buildings and homes all over the country are elaborately decorated and the area around the Grand Palace is spectacularly illuminated.
 
DOS & DON'TS
DOs
  1. Do respect all Buddha images. Buddha images are held sacred and sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors.
  2. Do dress modestly when visiting a temple.
  3. Do remove your shoes before entering a temple, somebody’s house and even some shops.
  4. Do treat monks with the highest respect.
  5. Do lower your body slightly when passing between or in front of people.
  6. Do ensure that you have a visa if you need one.
DON’Ts
  1. Don’t show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family.
  2. Don’t cross your legs when you are in the presence of a monk. This applies whether you are sitting on the floor or in a chair.
  3. Don’t touch a Thai woman without consent. Despite the image portrayed in some bars and clubs, the majority of Thai women are conservative.
  4. Don’t be overly affectionate in public.
  5. Don’t sunbathe nude.This is offensive to most Thai people although nobody is likely to say anything to you if you do so.
  6. Don’t touch a Thai person’s head or ruffle their hair.
  7. Don’t place your feet on the table while sitting, don’t point to anything with your feet and don’t touch anybody with your feet.
  8. Don’t be offended by questions about age, marital status or what you do for a living.
  9. Don’t take Buddha images out of the country.
  10. Don’t overstay your visa.
Thailand Journey Planner

Graduated in hospitality and business administration, I have been working with destination management companies for the past 3 years as Thailand market specialist. I was born in India in a state known as “Land of God”, a famous tourist attraction due to its natural beauty. As a kid, I used to interact a lot with

[…]
Thailand Journey Planner

One of the many project I followed at university consisted on a study on tourists’ behavior in Thailand. I ended up living in Pattaya for a year and discovered that people only know Thailand for the beaches. I felt like the lack of advertisement in my country overshadow the possibilities it can offer. I’ve been

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Journey Planner

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” – St. Augustine. People read the book in different ways, some only glance at the cover; some skim through the pages; and some read between the lines to find hidden meanings… My personal thought, “read the book” then use senses

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Our Journey Planers and Local Specialist know the destination inside out, they’ve either lived in or regularly visited the places they sell. Our excellent local relationships, built over 20 years of experience, enable us to enrich your experiences and negotiate many extras for your holiday, from free night discounts to free upgrades

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