The cradle of the famed Siamese empire, Thailand, with its rich cultural history, dual coastlines and balmy weather has long been a favourite destination for holiday makers.
Check out our list of top ten things to see and do in Thailand.
1. Go to Chiang Mai
If Bangkok is the exciting, international bustling head of Thailand, then Chiang Mai is its heart. Slightly outside of the general Thai tourist trail, Chiang Mai is where visitors can soak in some more traditional Thai culture.
2. See the famed floating markets
You can test your bargaining skills by haggling with the locals for fresh fruits and vegetables from the colourful floating markets in Bangkok. Or just take in the atmosphere by booking a guided boat tour instead. There are lots of boat tour options for the Damnoen Saduak floating market for those looking for photo opportunities instead of foodie ones.
3. Meet an elephant
It is a popular pastime to ride on elephants in Thailand, but aside from being quite uncomfortable, it can be hard to discern if the company you choose to go with treat the animals fairly. At the Elephant Conservation Centre the animals are not only well cared for, but the centre works towards the continued conservation of this species in the area. What’s more is that you can see and feed the elephants, including the babies.
4. Go for a hike
The interior of Thailand is lush and green, with plenty of hikes for every ability; for the fit and adventurous you can attempt trails that will take a couple of days and for beginners and intermediate hikers, you can do everything from a relaxing couple of hours around the Ayutthaya complex, or take a day trip to Erawan waterfalls and take a dip in the water to cool off.
5. Discover the underwater world
Divers all over the world come to Thailand to experience the underwater landscapes of the Andaman and the Gulf of Thailand. If the idea of diving makes you feel a little claustrophobic, snorkelling will offer almost the same thrill. For the best diving and snorkelling spots on the western side, Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi and the Phuket Islands offer you the best closest to the mainland. On the eastern coast Ko Tao is your ticket.
6. Bangkok Street Markets
Thai cuisine is inventive and delicious. From their sweet iced coffees, to spectacular seafood and elaborate curries, the Thai have perfected blending sweet and savoury flavours. Bangkok is famed for its street food, which can be found almost anywhere in the city and it is a great way to start a culinary adventure.
7. Embrace Ayutthaya
An ancient city, Ayutthaya reached its zenith in the 16th Century and held sway in the Siamese for over 400 years. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and showcases the ingenuity and brilliance of the Ayutthaya civilisation. You can see the ruins of this once spectacular city quite easily by car, train or boat and there are options for staying overnight or confining the adventure to a day trip.
8. Sail around the islands
A lot of what Thailand has to offer in terms of beauty comes from seeing it from the sea. The shallower waters around the mainland are dotted with islands, some inhabited, some not. Heading out on a boat trip will afford you glimpses of deserted island paradise, and the colourful and varied wildlife.
9. Andaman Coastline and the Gulf of Thailand
For sun seekers, the beaches are a priority and there are tons to choose from in Thailand. Be selective; some islands are much livelier than others, if you are looking for something a little more relaxing, avoiding the big party islands will work in your favour. We recommend Ko Lanta, with its beautiful beaches and friendly local atmosphere it is not nearly as touristy as its neighbours and is easily traversed thanks to its well-paved roads.
10. The White Temple in Chiang Rai
If you’re wanting to go off-the-beaten-track , there a smaller city called Chiang Rai in the north where the Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) sits majestically in amongst landscaped gardens. It is a contemporary all-white temple come art exhibit that is totally unique in all of Thailand. For all that, it is an astonishing and beautiful piece of architecture, and worth the journey up. For the adventurous, Chiang Rai is also a great starting point if you want to see the more remote parts of the province.
What are your favourite sights in Thailand? Let us know in the comments below!