Ancient Cities and Tropical Islands – Dazzling Thailand

What exactly is it about Thailand that attracts almost 30 million visitors per year? Undoubtedly the tropical islands play a big part in this country’s popularity and of course there’s the metropolis of Bangkok – the number one tourist destination in the world.

Bangkok at Night by DigitalPimp via flickr
Bangkok at Night photo by DigitalPimp, CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re lucky enough to be one of the many taking Thailand flights this year then here a few destinations that should rank highly on your itinerary.

World’s Most Popular Destination

Touch down in bustling Bangkok and try your best to avoid culture shock as you become part of this sprawling city, home to 8.5 million people. Thailand’s capital is a mecca for sightseers with not to be missed attractions including the astounding Grand Palace complex, which is home to the 14th century Emerald Buddha.

Streets in Thailand
Streets in Thailand

The 142 acre Lumphini Park, created in the 1920s, is the place to hire a boat and spend a lazy afternoon on one of Thailand’s large lakes while thrill-seekers can head to the rollercoaster rides of the gargantuan Siam Park City. Bangkok is of a course a nightlife capital and although you’ll find the notorious adult-themed venues at Patpong and Soi Cowboy, as well as the party bars of the Khao San Road, you’ll also find plenty of stylish rooftop nightclubs and cutting-edge cocktail bars in the city.

To The Islands

If you’ve spent even a few nights in riotous Bangkok then you’ll no doubt start to see the appeal of relaxing on white sandy beaches and swimming in the warmest aquamarine sea waters. It is to islands such as Khao Lak and Koh Phangan that visitors come to relax and find their bliss on the beautiful beaches of Pakweeb, Khuk Khak, Haad Yo and Thong Nai Pan.

Khuk Khak beach by Curtis Foreman
Khuk Khak beach by Curtis Foreman, CC BY-SA 3.0

Serene white and gold sands are pretty much ubiquitous on Thai islands with the only difference being how lively or secluded you want your beach to be. Most of the islands will feature a lively nightlife scene, especially at the resort areas, and you’ll find plenty of bars and beach parties whether you’re spending time on Koh Chang’s Kai Bae beach or Koh Phangan’s legendary nightlife spot of Haad Rin.

Ancient Thailand

You’ll no doubt want to experience some traditional culture on your trip and this can be undertaken when visiting the north. Head to what’s known as the ‘Thai cultural capital’ of Chang Mai to explore this ancient city filled with literally hundreds of temples including the mountain-top Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Budhhist temple. You can also spend a full day at the Elephant Nature Park where you can feed and bathe the elephants; many visitors claim this excursion to be the highlight of their Thai trip.

In Chang Mai you can spend an evening hunting for bargains at the Night Bazaar, take in some traditional Muay Thai boxing at the stadium or spend a day boating on the serene Mae Ngat Dam, just 30 minutes from the city.

An extended Thailand vacation will reward you with a range of experiences in different locations, and it makes sense to see as much of this country as you can while there. For most travellers however, one trip to Thailand will never be enough.

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