Thailand is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. This exotic destination offers bustling cities and spectacular festivals; ancient temples and a rich cultural heritage. Tropical forests embrace pristine beaches and the crystal clear waters make for excellent diving. It’s no wonder that Thailand is the most popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia.
When to Go and Weather: The best time of year to visit Thailand is in the cool season that stretches from November to February. By cool we mean the mercury doesn’t rise much higher than 30°C compared to the 40°C days of March and May. There’s never been a better excuse to travel light! In the Northern Province the early rains of June and July also make for a pleasant visit. Peak season is from November to March, with a second peak in July and August.
Transport: For long distance travel, flights are most convenient, especially if you want to make the most of your time in the country. Busses are frequent and inexpensive and trains are slow, but safe. Inter-town songthaews or mini-busses are handy for shorter distances and for a more scenic route, take a bicycle or Segway tour and experience the greener side of Bangkok. Regular ferries connect the major islands with the main land and if you’re willing to negotiate with the captain, you can charter a longtail boat to take you sight-seeing or island-hopping.
Food: They say you haven’t had Pad Thai until you’ve had it in Thailand, the flavours are intense and out of this world. For a quick snack, order spring rolls with spicy sweet chilli sauce from a street vendor, or try a serving of Som Tam – spicy papaya dish that will hook you with its sweet and fiery flavours. Finish off your meal with mango sticky rice – a dish that combines sweet mangos with coconut milk and…well, sticky rice. Remember that the food may be a good deal spicier than you’re used to, so perhaps add "Mai khin phet," to your order. That means “I do not take it spicy”. You won’t see locals eating on the run, so take a seat and savour your meal as you soak up the street food atmosphere. Good food, enjoyed with friends, is one of the true joys of Thailand.
Fun Facts about Bangkok In Thailand it is illegal to criticise the King or any member of the royal family. One of the country’s most unusual festivals is the annual monkey buffet where more than 600 primates are invited to feast on two tonnes of grilled sausage, fresh fruit and ice cream. Thailand is home to the world’s largest fish (the whale shark) and the smallest mammal (the bumble bat).
Highlights: Take time to see some of Bangkok’s most sacred sites: the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Keaw), the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), home to the 46 metre reclining Buddha, and the Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit). From Bangkok, head to the spectacular mountainous region of Chiang Mai and trek through the jungle on an elephant. These gentle giants are the most revered animals in Thailand. The country boasts many impressive dive spots and the reefs around Koh Tao are the best in the Gulf of Thailand. The area has great visibility so you have a good chance of spotting whale sharks, manta rays and trumpet fish. If you’ve come to Thailand for some shopping and are ready to bargain battle to the death – don’t miss the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Chiang Mai is known for its fine hand-crafted wares and there’s no better place to find good souvenirs than the night bazaar which sprawls on for several city blocks, winding through streets and spilling into buildings and onto temple grounds. The Thai New Year is celebrated in April with the largest free for all water fight in the world. Absolutely everyone takes part and you may even see elephants squirting trunks-full of water at passers-by. Every month thousands of party-goers flock to Koh Phangan for the full moon party. DJs take their turn on the decks to get the party going at dusk while jugglers, fire eaters and impromptu fireworks displays stir up the colourful spectacle on the crescent-shaped beach until the early hours of the morning. Take a trip to the southern beaches and isles of Thailand where the rugged beauty of the cliffs and the lush green vegetation and turquoise ocean form a captivating backdrop for your island adventure. Snorkel, kayak or mingle with other travellers as you soak up the sun. For a greater adrenalin rush, head out to Krabi for a rock climbing experience like no other. Away from the bustling tourist spots, the huge cliffs wait to be conquered by the courageous climber. End your visit with a canal cruise on a longtail boat for a different view of Bangkok or, for something a little less passive, take in a kickboxing bout and see why Muay Thai is such a popular spectator sport.