FROM ISLAND PARADISE TO ANCIENT CULTURE, THAILAND HAS EVERYTHING
Best known for beautiful beaches, the culture is the real jewel of a Thailand holiday. Both ancient and ever-present, it lives on in daily life, from glittering temples in bustling Bangkok to the well-preserved traditions of remote hill tribes.
The incredible natural landscapes, from beaches and rivers to mountains and jungle, are jaw-dropping in their beauty and the flavoursome cuisine is one of the most loved in all of Asia.
Whatever your passion, Thailand is sure to please. There are cooking classes for foodies, world-class shopping for some retail therapy, war remnants and ancient ruins for history buffs, pristine landscapes for nature-lovers and boundless beaches for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
Chiang Rai is the gateway to full-service trekking in the mist-shrouded mountains and the infamous Golden Triangle region. It is also the starting point of a slow boat journey along the Mekong crossing into Laos, the most delightful way to travel between the two countries.
Thailand's vibrant and historical northern city and former capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom offers something for every traveller, but on a far more intimate scale than her big sister to the south. Wandering through the fascinating town reveals the blend of old and new, home to over 300 temples. Streets are lined with traditional shophouses, now filled with trendy bars, shops and restaurants. Chiang Mai also provides a gateway to Thailand's beautiful north-west hills with their picturesque landscapes, traditional villages and colourful ethnic minorities.
The country's first capital is considered to be the birthplace of Thai culture. It flourished through the "Golden Age" of Thailand's most classic art and architecture. Wander through the Sukhothai Historical Park, and discover some of the most impressive sites, including Wat Mahathat, Wat Sra Sri and Wat Trapang Ngoen.
At its peak, Ayuthaya was not only the centre of Thai civilisation but a centre of arts and culture from across Asia, the Middle East and even Europe. Said to be one of the world's most beautiful cities, it was razed to the ground by Burmese forces in 1767. The ruins now sit amongst the modern city and across large parklands, offering a glimpse into the grandeur of the past. The Lampang Elephant Hospital nearby is worth a visit.
Bangkok is one of the world's most exciting cities. Don't let the dizzying pace of the capital deceive you - some of Thailand's most ethereal beauty and intriguing historical and religious sites lie just down the backstreets of this modern metropolis. Witness the opulent Grand Palace, temples alive with the chanting of local monks, and some of the best shopping and dining options in Asia.
Home to the famous Bridge over the River Kwai and Death Railway, Kanchanaburi holds some of Thailand's most compelling sites. Under Japanese control during World War II, the town now features memorials to the prisoners of war held in the town who helped construct the railway. Aside from the region's tumultuous history, the region is best known for its stunning natural beauty. Many hotels are built on or along the river with dramatic jungle-covered mountains as a backdrop.
If you haven't heard of Khanom it may because it isn't much more than a small country town on the Gulf of Thailand. The locals are mainly farmers or fishermen, and coconut, banana and pineapple plantations abound. Come for the tranquillity, away from the madding crowds that fill much of southern Thailand, and explore unspoilt beaches, waterfalls and caves. You may even spot one of the rare pink dolphins that breed in the waters off Khanom.
A laidback retreat off the east coast of Thailand, Koh Samui is a tropical island paradise. No resorts on Samui are built higher than the tallest palm tree which has kept development more low key than in Phuket. Take a relaxing cruise to magical Angthong National Marine Park, play Robinson Crusoe on a deserted Coral Island, or find great dining and shopping in Chaweng.
This small island is a short ferry ride from Krabi and a world away from the tourist hotspots in the South. This island enclave has preserved Southern Thai Muslim culture and gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of the locals. Accessible only by boat, there are no cars on the island, so motorbikes and long-tail boats are the main modes of transport here. The centre is blanketed in fields of rice while mangroves and tan beaches ring the small island. A visit to Koh Klang is a unique experience for those looking for a more cultural exploration of southern Thailand.
Dubbed the 'Pearl of the South', Phuket is Thailand's largest island. Famed for its long sandy beaches, it also boasts limestone cliffs, forested hills and tropical vegetation. Phuket is a bustling tourist destination, with countless activities, delicious restaurants and exciting nightlife, as well as some great shopping. If you're after some adventure, Phuket offers diving, snorkelling, yachting, sea canoeing or cycling.
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Enjoy local hospitality at a homestay in Ayutthaya
Experience real life in Thailand by staying in the home of welcoming locals and enjoying authentic Thai home cooking at its finest.
Discover local crafts near Sukhothai
Admire the array of colours on show at a community-run textiles project, and unleash your creative side by trying your hand at ceramic painting and cotton weaving at a class near Sukhothai.
Discover the best of Thai street food on a foodie walking tour, and get to know the mouthwatering flavours of Thailand’s regional cuisine by learning the secrets of Thai cooking at a class in Chiang Mai, Sukhothai or Bangkok.
Stay in a tented camp on the banks of the River Kwai
Plunge yourself into rural Thailand in a comfortable camp in the jungle, right next to the river made famous by the Second World War bridge.
Get amongst the action in buzzing Bangkok
Discover the different sides to bustling Bangkok with a walking tour that introduces you to the many treasures between the skyscrapers, from the majesty of the Grand Palace to its smaller temples and shrines.
Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park
Witness elephant conservation at work and spend a unique night in a luxury floating tent at the rainforest camp of Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park.
Pink dolphins in Khanom
A local long-tail boat takes you gliding across the waters of Khanom, where you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the endangered pink dolphin, a rare and striking albino breed.
Get hands-on on Koh Klang Island
Throw yourself into local life on picturesque Koh Klang Island, where friendly locals show you how to take part in community arts and crafts such as batik painting.
Visit Mae Klang Luang Ecotourism Community
At this community-based project, get a taste of traditional rural life in Thailand by experiencing what it’s like to work in the famous terraced rice fields.
A luxe stay on a pristine beach
No Thailand holiday would be complete without indulging in a stay at a luxury beach resort, such as the peaceful Aava Resort and Spa on Nadan Beach.
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