Official language:Thai, with English being a widely spoken language
Currency: Thai Baht
The movie ‘The Beach’ set one of the most iconic dream visions of Thailand ever, and if you think that the beauty was just digitally enhanced, you’re in for a great surprise.
When one imagines Thailand, there are two very distinct, very different images that could come to mind…. The one is a typical island paradise with the golden beaches, the awe inspiring coral reefs, the dense rainforests with its amazing wildlife, and in the backdrop, the mystery of the ancient ruined cities, the monasteries and the monks. On the other hand Thailand is also home to the world famous city of Bangkok, renowned for its buzzing nightlife and the promise of a shopping experience second to none. Thailand is known for its amazing array of food, its ancient temples and white sandy beaches. Every year thousands of tourists, from broke to billionaire, travel to Thailand to try and experience the real thrill of this dream country, tuk-tuk and a massage all part of the itinerary. There’s so much more to Thailand than just cheap beer and idyllic beaches. Read on to see what we’re talking about!
The “Land of Smiles” is best known for its friendly people, tantalizing cuisine and fascinating landscapes. The tropical beaches in Phuket and Krabi have seen many film makers head to their shores to use the raw natural beauty as magnificent backdrops in hit movies. Not to mention the fact that the label “Thailand” instantly relates to a one of a kind shopping experience, even though most vendors sell “original copies”.
Must see places in Thailand
If you’re looking for a reason why you should stop by the capital of Thailand, the Grand Palace and abundant Buddhist temples pretty much sums it up. But there’s also a more charming side to the old Siam, one that can be seen from the comfort of a longboat as you cruise down the canals. Restaurants and top notch bars are never hard to find, and serve as the perfect after dark entertainment venues.
Call it the Thai hippie town if you like, but Pai is definitely a must see destination when you’re visiting Thailand. On offer here are world class spa treatments, waterfalls and hot springs to rejuvenate and revive tired traveler bodies.
Sitting on top of an extinct volcano in the north-east of Thailand, this Hindu shrine complex was originally built to represent Mount Kailash, Shiva’s sacred home. It’s over 1000 years old and a stunning example of Thailand’s Khmer architecture.
Turtle Beach or Koh Tao remains one of the world’s best locations for scuba diving. For a relatively cheap price you can qualify as a scuba diver and head out to explore the magical aquatic animals in all their glory, and after dark the island has many bars that you can choose from where you can enjoy a sundowner after a long hot day.
Many travelers immediately envision the tropical island of Phuket whenever they hear the word Thailand, which by default means that this is one stop you cannot afford to miss out on. Phuket has some of the most flashy resorts and expensive spa’s around, but if you do some exploring you might just find that there’s a lot more to the largest island in Thailand such as the crazy but intriguing street food, the kick boxing matches at night and the infamous Tiger bar to keep you entertained.
The fascinating park listed as a UNESCO world heritage site is just one hour’s drive from Bangkok. The city was one the second capital of Siam. Structures that managed to survive the Burmese attacks were buried under ground for hundreds of years and makes for one fantastic sightseeing destination in Thailand.
A stop here is unmissable if you really want to get a feel for authentic Thai floating markets. The floating market at Damnoen is located about half and hour’s drive away from Bangkok and here you’ll be able to purchase anything from souvenirs to fresh produce and clothing. Don’t forget to head out early to avoid the tourist rush, and pack a camera to capture the bustling brilliance!
If you’re planning on visiting the iconic island of Phi Phi where ‘The Beach’ was filmed, Krabi will probably your best point of departure. Krabi is also the gateway to around 80 offshore islands and many nature reserves in the vicinity. It’s the perfect place to get to experience the tranquility of the Andaman sea at sunset!
This is where you’ll want to head to enjoy some of the most pristine and unspoiled beaches Thailand has to offer. The most famous beach is Pattaya, complete with five star resorts and cozy beach bungalows.
Also known as the Rose of the North, Chiang Mai has a much laid back atmosphere, stunning Buddhist temples and the most spirited night life around. The nightly bazaars are something you have to attend and stretch down one kilometer in Ratchadamnoen Road.
White Temple, Wat Rong Khun
Things to do in Thailand
Go See the Reclining Buddha
Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha near the Grand Palace is the resting place for the reclining Buddha. At 43 meters long, the golden statue is somewhat awe-inspiring.
Party on Khao San Road
Leonardo DiCaprio was seen partying here, which is a great excuse for tourists to party up a storm on this kilometer long stretch of road lined with bars, clubs, restaurants and massage parlors.
Take a trip to King Cobra Village
In Ban Khok Sa-Nga the people just love snakes, so much so that most locals have one as a pet in their home. Most of the locals here offer a great snake show that’s seriously entertaining.
Attend a Full Moon Party
Known as some of the best raves, these monthly nighttime events are not to be missed. You’ll need to head out to the island of Koh Phangan to celebrate this “ritual” of the full moon. Complete with neon paint, fire slides and a lot of booty shaking, this island might well be the monthly party capital of Southeast Asia.
Take a tour on a Tuk-Tuk
Tuk-Tuks are pretty much the only way to get to where you want to be in a jiffy. These little red cars are like the taxis of New York, except they’re a lot faster and are cheap to catch a ride with.
See the Grand Palace
It’s one of Bangkok’s main attractions and one of the best ways to get a peek into the history and spirituality of the Thai people.
Feast on the Street Food
There’s something very comforting about a great meal cooked on the side of the road by a Thai local. You don’t necessarily have to indulge in crispy spiders or other creepy crawlies that are sometimes served up by the two-toothed men, but hey, since you’re only there once, there’s always a first for everything!
Climb the stairway at Tiger Temple
Only attempt this one if you’re seriously in the mood for climbing stairs though, because 1237 steps is not for the faint of heart! Once you reach the top the temple has some amazing sightseeing opportunities that will prove to be well worth your efforts!
Pick the time right
Tourists visit Thailand between November and February
Thailand has its hottest months during March and May. After the hot months they have what is called the “monsoon season” or the wet season, running from June to October. Thailand isn’t a destination that really ever gets “cold”, sporting year round warm temperatures. The best time to travel to Thailand would be between the months of November and February, when it’s not too hot and not too wet, and the temperatures are “cooler” and much more enjoyable.
Here’s a tip: if you’re heading to the Southern Island, the best time to visit would be between June and September.
Did you know?
Because they Thai people are very friendly and open towards Western people, they’ll generally greet tourists with a handshake. Thai people greet each other with closed hands and a head bow
- Tom Yam - this is a traditional milky coconut soup that gets prepared with makroot leaves, ginger, lemon grass and prawns or chicken.
- Gang Pet - this is not the “pet” you’re thinking about, but rather a hot red curry that has ingredients such as coconut milk, herbs, garlic, shrimp paste, coriander and seasoning in to bring you a Thai delicacy.
- Pad Thai - in the Western World we know this as fried rice noodles, and in Thailand it is traditionally served with chicken and garnished with peanuts.
- Salim - this is a traditional Thai desert that is made with sweet noodles and coconut milk
- Coconut Milk - during the harvest season coconut milk that is served straight from the sell is very refreshing and helps one cope with the heat and humidity.
Bangkok International Film Festival
This thrilling exhibition showcases all things related to the film industry. Indulge in the great Jazz concerts that add and artistic flair to the celebrations.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
This is the time to witness beautiful floats decorated with flowers that go hand-in-hand with the Flower Queen Beauty Pageant. This is a very special and colorful seasonal celebration in the North of Thailand.
Thai New Year
April marks the Thai New Year, also known as Songkran. The Thai people love to celebrate this festivity with lots of water splashing, so make sure you’re prepared to get really wet if you’re planning to take part in the celebrations.
In Songkhla they have the Had Yai Midnight festival and in Nong Khai they have the I San Maha festival, typically showcasing lots of water splashing and beauty pageants. If you’re more focused on the traditional festivities, you can join in on the Songkran procession during the Ayutthaya Songkran Festival that’s crammed full of culture shows and beauty contests.
May - June
Fruit Day in Chantaburi
Complete with displays of fruit decorated floats and best fruit product showcases as well as a modified fruit product contest, this sweet festival is something you won’t want to miss if you’re traveling to Thailand during the months of May to June.
Hua Hin Jazz Festival
With the likes of local and international Jazz superstars, this festival brings you the best of contemporary and modern Jazz music.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Vegetarians will love this festival held annually in Phuket to celebrate the love of all things fruits and vegetables.
December 31st - January 1st
New Year CelebrationsThe Thai people also like to celebrate the Western New Year, and it comes with no shortage of colorful events all across the country. Some of the more famous islands such as Phuket and Pattay have beach parties that last for 2 days and if you want to be part of the big countdown, head north to Chiang Mai or Bangkok which showcases some off the biggest New Year’s parties around.
When traveling to Thailand, there are a few things that you need to keep in consideration to keep yourself out of trouble and also respect the locals and their traditions. In Thailand the following things are considered taboo:
- Public anger outbursts
- Public display of affection
- Touching anyone on the head
- Pointing your feet at someone
- Entering a home or a temple with your shoes on
If you’re traveling to Thailand during the monsoon season, you should take extra care when you’re out swimming because they have occasional rip tides that have seen a lot of people drown.
Make sure you never travel with too much cash on you, because tourists are often the innocent victims of pickpockets.
The tap water is not considered safe for consumption, so for your own safety, always buy and drink bottled water whenever possible