Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand formerly known as Siam, is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. Thai culture has been shaped by many influences, including Indian, Lao, Burmese, Cambodian, and Chinese and this kingdom is blessed by nature in the form of several beautiful beach regions, as people flock to Thailand to sunbathe at the beaches, swim, water-ski, snorkel, wind-surf, or sail along. Skydiving and bungee jumping sends the adrenaline pumping in the dare-devils.
For those who want to keep their feet firmly on terra firma, there is plenty of excitement in the form of an active nightlife, delicious Thai seafood, eateries dishing out varied authentic cuisine, quaint ancient temples, grand monuments, and cruises down the canals in its capital city of Bangkok , ‘City of Angels’ to a floating market.
As the political, economic, cultural, culinary, and spiritual capital of Thailand, the city of Bangkok features both old-world charm and modern convenience, at times served up in an apparently chaotic manner, but always with a gracious smile. Many tourists who travel to this city are immediately overwhelmed by its sheer size and the vast number of interests it has to offer as an opportunity to experience the gentle culture amidst the bustle of a great and dynamic metropolis. Amazingly, this great city has had astounding success in combining the ancient and modern worlds.
While the immensity of the city and the chaos of its bustling streets can be intimidating at first, those who spend some time in Bangkok are quickly enamoured by the variety of attractions it contains, from exotic temples, which epitomize Thailand’s strong Buddhist history, to modern shopping malls, which have made shopping an integral part of any holiday. Every itinerary includes a visit to Thailand’s Grand Palace, arguably the premier iconic sightseeing location. Other historical and cultural `must sees’ include the National Museum, Vimanmek Mansion and Suan Pakkad Palace, all of which either house fine art or are national treasures in their own right. The city is dotted with 400 glittering Buddhist temples of great beauty, magnificent palaces, classical dance performances, numerous shopping centres, and a still functioning traditional way of life, especially along the canals and the Chao Phraya River, the `River of Kings’, which winds through the city. Bangkok truly is the `Venice of the East’.
The thickly-forested Lumphini Park, a captivating Butterfly Farm, Dusit Zoo, the Thai Aquarium, the Thai Water Amusement Park, numerous enchanting gardens, two huge parks – Rama IX and Chatuchak – that contain lakes, botanical gardens, besides traditional English, French, and Japanese gardens, are added attractions.
There are several charming Buddhist temples in Bangkok, including the Reclining Buddha temple with a huge statue of a reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, the oldest of the city temples opposite the stately Grand Palace; and, the Golden Buddha or Wat Traimit temple, which has a solid statue of the Buddha weighing 5.5 tonne in gold!
A pretty silvery beach in Hua Hin has horse riding, a hilltop temple, some of the best spas, and an active night market. A premier beach resort towns on the Gulf of Thailand, this is a popular weekend getaway destination for the city residents, young couples, families, tourists and Thais. It is also the location of the King of Thailand’s Summer Palace, Klai Kang Won, `Far from Worries’. The visitors would find here some restaurants, a lively night market, numerous beach activities and great inland activities including golf. This beach is also the site of Thailand’s most popular music festival, the Hua Hin Jazz Festival. Just down the coast at Takiab Bay, visitors can take seaside horseback rides and visit a hilltop Buddhist temple with a spectacular view.
Pattaya is known for its’ cleanest and prettiest beaches. Most visitors go for river rafting, jet-skiing, or para-sailing. It has a vibrant nightlife besides many other delights including Ripley’s World of Entertainment, Mini Siam with a spectacular collection of miniature replicas of some of the world’s historic sites, Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Gardens, and an underwater aquarium. There are trips in glass-bottomed boats to see its rich marine life off the Coral Island.
Phuket has sea, sand, sun, forests, pineapple clusters, rubber plantations, fishing villages, and nightclubs. Promthep Cape is inundated by tourists for dramatic sunsets. Many opt for water sports that include snorkeling, diving, yachting, kite-surfing, and parasailing. Not far is the stunningly beautiful island of Ko Phi Phi while Ko Tapu has spectacular limestone cliffs jutting straight out of the water. It is also called the James Bond Island as ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ was partly filmed here.