As one of the biggest countries in Asia, staying put in one area in Thailand is unheard of – there’s truly too much to see. Whether you travel by air, plane or bus, exploring the many regions of this multi-faceted gem is the only way to get a true feel of Thailand. The cities and islands undoubtedly give you a taste of both worlds, and there’s something for everyone whether you want to lounge on the beach or pavement pound in the big city.
Turquoise waters and powder-white sands are in abundance throughout Thailand, most notably on the smaller islands. Towering palm trees frame the shore while partaking in watersports is a popular pastime, and the many dive centres throughout the country make Thailand an ideal location for visitors to become certified divers.
From street food stalls to rooftop restaurants, Thai cuisine is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Cheap, cheerful and always delicious, dishes such as Thai green curry, pad Thai and tom yum soup are among the staples you’ll find everywhere throughout the country. Those who can handle their heat will be in their element during a Thailand holiday, as the locals certainly don’t hold back on the use of chillies as well as delivering intense aromatic flavours.
Despite Thailand having a reputation for its nightlife and chaotic Full Moon Parties, the country has a slower-paced, cultural side that all holidaymakers are sure to adore. Majestic and elaborately decorated temples are found everywhere you look, and the likes of the Grand Palace in Bangkok and the Big Buddha in Phuket are amongst must-sees.
As the national dish of Thailand, pad Thai follows the traditional cooking preparation of most Thai dishes whereby it is lightly prepared with flavourful aromatic elements and finished off with spicy components. This delectable noodle dish comprises rice noodles, chilli, garlic, fish sauce, plenty of crunchy beansprouts and the protein of your choice – chicken is the most popular, but tofu is the perfect vegetarian alternative. Garnish your pad Thai with peanuts for texture, a squeeze of lime for zest and chilli flakes for some added heat.
In the mood to be pampered? Look no further than the abundance of Thai massage parlours found throughout the country (roughly 10,000), ranging from the truly invigorating to the highly relaxing. The massage itself is a traditional healing ritual combining Indian Ayuverdic principles, acupressure and assisted yoga poses, with no oils or lotions used and the recipient remains fully clothed throughout. Lasting anywhere between 15 minutes and two hours, the rhythmic procedure of Thai massages sees the masseuse positioning the body in a number of yoga-like positions, pulling on fingers and toes, and even walking on the recipient’s back. Never fear – the massages are designed to relax and relieve muscle tension, so it’s not as painful as it may sound.
Measuring a staggering size of 24.4 hectares, the Grand Palace is a complex of majestic buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. Since 1782, the palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam and comprises numerous elaborately decorated buildings and pavilions set around manicured gardens and open courtyards. It houses Wat Phra Kaew, which is commonly known in English as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and is considered to be the most sacred temple in all of Thailand.
Arguably the most vibrant and popular area in Phuket, Patong is a beach resort town that’s known for its sandy crescent beach, and famous for the raucous Bangla Road. The beach itself is lined with cafés and bars, and is suitable for soaking up the sunshine or cooling off with a refreshing dip in the Andaman Sea. The beach is directly at the end of Bangla Walking Road, which is the life and soul of Phuket’s nightlife thanks to its bars, nightclubs, massage parlours and late-night restaurants.
A Thailand holiday truly isn’t complete without a visit to the famous Phi Phi Islands. A popular day trip from a number of Thai mainland areas including Krabi and Phuket, you’ll embark on a speedboat ride to the likes of Phi Phi Don, Maya Bay and Monkey Island. These unspoilt areas boast aquamarine waters as clear as glass and golden sands that are so soft you’ll feel as if you’re walking on clouds. Maya Beach was the on-site filming location of Danny Boyle’s The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and although visitors can get close to the bay, the beach itself has been closed to help preserved the damaged coral reefs.
Thailand has a typical tropical climate whereby the weather is at its warmest and driest between November and early April. Temperatures are often between the mid-30s and visitors can expect up to nine hours of sunshine each day. Monsoon season takes place usually from May to early October, and is when Thailand will see most of its rainfall. Late January is often a popular time for a Thailand holiday, to escape the cold weather in other parts of the world.
British passport holders arriving by land or air can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa. A longer stay for an additional 30 days is possible. You must apply for the extension before your visa exemption period ends. For more information, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/thailand.
The currency in Thailand is Thai Baht (THB).
In Thailand, the main language spoken is Thai.