As the second largest province in Thailand, Chiang Mai in the north of the county, is known as the Lanna Kingdom and dates back to the mid-13th Century. Not only was it the cultural capital of Lanna, it was the centre of Buddhism with King Meng Rai building countless temples. Away from the madness and modernity of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is the real Thailand, plus it’s extremely laid back and down to earth with an attractive Buddhist religion and culture.
Phuket is a place for relaxation, luxury and partying. However, there are areas tucked away that still represent the traditional Thailand. Huge resorts adorn the west coast of the island overlooking the beaches. There are many options available for tourists from beachside luxury and boutique hotels with their own pool, to hotels offering basic and moderate amenities. There are a few guesthouses and beach bungalows on the Island for a down-to-earth, chilled-out stay.
Originally, Phuket was on the major trading route between India and China and today, Phuket still benefits from this. Items to shop for include batik, Thai silk, cultured pearls, nielloware (objects with etched designs) pewterware and dried seafood. The busy beaches are overcome with people selling items from sarongs to bracelets, while the streets are lined with touts wanting you sell you tailor made suits and ball gowns. All kinds of shopping is on offer, from open air night markets to food stalls and western shopping malls.
The island of Phuket is full of cosmopolitan food as a result of the booming tourist trade. Many visitors never returned home after setting foot on the island and have since set up restaurants and cafes catering to the taste-buds of their fellow travelers. Seafood is an obvious favorite on the island. There are many beachside restaurants and bars on the island that serve Thai food and are discovered through word of mouth. They're well worth a try; just ask a local for a good one!
The island is mainly famous for its beautifully serene beaches, huge luxurious yet cheap resorts and, of course, it’s partying. There is however, a lot more to it than that. Buddhist temples are everywhere on the island, as well as secret quiet beaches to explore and relax on. The interior area of Phuket is home to several national parks, one of which has some of the last virginal flora and fauna on the island.
As the largest island in the whole of Thailand and known as the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket is a popular holiday destination. Situated in southern Thailand, the island is just 48 km long and 21 km wide and its beaches are home to balmy waters and idyllic white sand. Road bridges connect the large island to Phang Nga Province on the mainland of Thailand where you can reach Khao Lak, Krabi and the many islands of Phang Nga Bay.
Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand after Bangkok. Once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom (northern Thailand), it is now the cultural capital of the country. Its northern location means that it’s influenced by Burma who once ruled the area. The diversity of Chiang Mai from the busy Night Bazaar area to the tranquil and lush area of Mountainside and its retreats attract an array of tourists to this laid back cultural area of Thailand.
As the second largest city in Thailand, second only to Bangkok, Chiang Mai also has a lot to offer for keen shoppers or just the casual souvenir buyer. From the night market which is built up of lots of other markets catering to specific needs to well-known international stores, Chiang Mai offers a wealth of shopping experiences. There are plenty of shopping malls with even more currently being built.
The food scene in Chiang Mai more varied than you’d expect. Japanese sushi bars are popular along with Burmese curries. Its northern location means the cuisine is influenced by other countries, but still upholds the home cuisine of Thai such as Pad Thai, which is as popular as ever. Diverse flavors of ginger and exotic vegetables are partnered with noodles and subtle spices in the different colored curries. Chiang Mai has a lot to offer from eating on river-sides to mountain retreats.
Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand is the second largest province in the country. The mainly Buddhist city is home to more than 300 temples. After the 300 year reign of King Meng Rai, it then became part of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and was heavily influenced by neighboring county Burma. Today, much of the Burmese architectural influence can still be seen. Chiang Mai’s wet tropical climate makes it an idea place for jungle treks along with its mountain ranges, valleys, flora and fauna.
Bangkok’s places of interest and leisure are so widespread that many of the areas in the city represent a good location to stay. With so many choices, it can be difficult to be sure if you’re picking the right one for you – this guide looks to give you a better idea so that you can best enjoy this wonderful city.
As a pastime whose popularity is eclipsed only by Bangkok’s nightlife, the Thai capital is loaded up with shopping malls, department stores, street markets, and their unique floating markets. Bangkok is rich in items from both ends of the shopping spectrum; from antiques and monastic ornaments to jewelry and high-end designer clothing. Shopping and trade has been a fundamental part of Thai life for many years, so a shopping trip here is not just a form of retail therapy but also an insight into Thai tradition.
Bangkok is a melting pot of culinary delights, with restaurants, cafés, snack bars, and even food carts available at virtually every corner. Given that Bangkok is such a cosmopolitan city, it is no surprise that it comes with a diverse menu of cuisine, including Italian, French, Indian, Chinese, seafood, vegetarian, American, and more exotic Thai bites.
Bangkok is a fast-paced city with high-rise buildings, lively markets, and elegant temples. As one of the most bustling cities in Asia, you can expect endless energy and vibrant nightlife with an oriental flavor, which makes Bangkok so attractive.
A shining example of oriental culture in the Far East, Bangkok is full of historical sights and modern festivities that tell the ever-developing story of the Thai capital. From sporting spectacles to edgy architecture, Bangkok showcases one of the planet’s most unmistakable cultures.
Hot on the heels of Phuket and Samui, this one-time peaceful fishing village has seen much development over recent years, with bars and restaurants replacing the fishing fleets on the piers and hotels and resorts popping up throughout the town.
When compared to some coastal resorts, Hua Hin is very tame. There is not the abundance of bars, clubs and entertainment venues as in other Thai resorts; however, there are a great many activities to keep you busy during the day and a reasonable choice of excellent restaurants and bars for the evening.
If you are after traditional Thai food, Pattaya may not be the best place to try it as most restaurants here cater to Western tastes. There are a large number of international restaurants offering food from around the world and Thai restaurants serving up standard Thai dishes such as noodles, green and red curries, and fried rice.
Despite not being widely regarded as an excellent location for shopping, Hua Hin does in fact have some excellent opportunities for anyone looking to shop. The town has become something of a hub for contemporary art, with a number of small galleries to browse in while for those into fashion, there are numerous tailors offering unique designs made to measure.
Despite largely catering to Thai tourists, Hua Hin is still very Western-tourist friendly. Most of the staff in restaurants and larger shops speak English and there are plenty of ATMs to ensure that you don't run out of money. What Hua Hin lacks in lively entertainment, it makes up for in charm and it is fast becoming one of Thailand's most desired holiday spots.
Krabi is home to a superb mixture of attractions and activities that focus on both the natural side of the province and its manmade offerings. The majority of Krabi's coastal towns are home to top-quality tailors and supermarkets while the surrounding countryside plays host to ancient temples.
While you are unlikely to find beautifully decorated temples and deeply historic buildings in Pattaya, you will not be short of activities and sites to keep you busy. It might not have the culture and history that is afforded to cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but ultimately that is not why people come here.
Thailand is also known as ‘the Land of Smiles' and this nickname stems from the country's welcoming locals, and the people of Krabi know exactly how to cater to tourists. Transportation throughout the province is mainly based on local boats used to get from island to island and songthaew (shared taxis) to get around the road systems.
Like most of Thailand, Hua Hin has plentiful dining options. However, the best food can be found by the main markets and also along the main road, close to the main fishing pier.
Entertainment in Krabi is similar to that on much of Thailand's coast with beach bars and restaurants dominating the bar party scene. From golfing, rock climbing, diving and exploring the national parks and their beauty, Krabi boasts many activities suitable for people from all walks of life.
Without a doubt, Pattaya is most famous for its nightlife. With its go-go bars, sex shows and abundant bar girls it attracts plenty of single men looking for fun but there is also another side to this city that appeals to couples and even families.
Krabi is a huge draw for tourists looking to visit the south of Thailand with its world-class climbing opportunities due to the striking limestone karst rock formations that the area is so famous for. Krabi is home to some of Thailand's most stunning scenery, from its mountainous interior to its palm-fringed, white sand beaches that epitomize an idyllic postcard-perfect setting.
While Hua Hin's attractions are not as prevalent as those in other towns and cities in Thailand, there is nonetheless a good selection. After all, it is primarily a beach resort. It has been the holiday destination for the king of Thailand for many years and is now actually home to the king, a major attraction in itself. However, it also boasts historic temples, beautiful scenery and a number of palaces.
Shopping opportunities in Pattaya can be found in abundance. There are a number of large shopping malls and an even larger number of independent shops and boutiques to be found.
Shopping may not be the largest magnetism to the region but there are a few decent places to quell a shopping fix. Markets are found throughout many towns and villages and sell charming souvenirs and handmade textiles such as scarves and batiks.
Pattaya is without doubt tourist friendly. You will find ATMs in abundance, fast food outlets on every corner, Western shops and convenience stores and a range of international restaurants. However, due to its popularity, it is also vital to keep your wits about you when it comes to your safety. Never flash money around and always make sure valuables are kept in a hotel safe.
The culinary offerings in Krabi are some of the most desired in Thailand, and with a fertile coast much of the cuisines on offer are based on fresh seafood dishes. Fantastic scenery acts as the perfect accompaniment for Krabi's best restaurants, with an assortment of beach vistas and rich forest-draped landscapes to dine beside.
Pattaya is one of the most popular cities for tourists to visit in Thailand. Located on the east coast of the Gulf, it is actually a young city when compared with the history of the country, being developed just 40 years ago and becoming popular with US soldiers enjoying RR during the Vietnam War.
Phuket's biggest draws are its beaches and entertainment scene, but there are still a range of attractions that are well worth exploring when you're on the island. These include temples, museums and natural attractions.
Koh Samui has a reputation for expensive shopping, especially when it comes to handicrafts which are almost always shipped in from the mainland. There are still deals to be had, and perusing the markets is certainly part of the island experience.
Development officially began on Koh Samui in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the early 70s that it emerged onto the radar of international tourism. In the three decades since, Koh Samui has become Thailand's preeminent resort destination, poised to overtake Phuket in volume and luxury if not in size.
Koh Samui is the leading resort island in the Gulf of Thailand, and it offers plenty of highly-developed infrastructure. Visitors yearning for something a little more rustic don't have to travel far. The remote interior and outlying islands are beautifully serene.
Koh Samui is a well-oiled resort machine, with more ways to stay active and party than you'd care to count. Chaweng Beach is the epicenter of the entertainment scene, but great activities are found across the island.
Phuket's west coast overflows with dining options, and between the resorts and back-alley café s visitors are spoiled for choice. The local culinary scene was affected by Portuguese traders in the 16th century, and their influence still resonates today.
Phuket has been a heavyweight contender in Thailand's tourism industry for decades, and it continues to draw tourists with its blend of resort lifestyle, exotic Thai culture and hedonistic nightlife. Add this to its fascinating roots as a Portuguese port and you have a world-class tourist destination.
Koh Samui's dining scene is one of its strongest suits. Delicious seafood is served up around the island, but there are plenty of other options to get excited about. From upscale offerings at the resorts to modest, open-air eateries on the beach, Koh Samui has plenty to offer diners.
Koh Samui is a newly-risen star in the Thai resort scene, and tourists will find that locals are enthusiastic and hospitable. Rules of etiquette are very Thai, but foreign visitors are given plenty of leeway. Facilities are in place across the island to ensure speedy transportation and convenient banking to keep business in motion.
Phuket's shopping district is bigger than ever, with an even mix of touristy markets, department stores and upscale boutiques. Prices are high, but bargains persist in unexpected places.
Entertainment is Phuket's strong suit, and visitors will find plenty to do at all hours. Between the rambunctious nightlife, kitsch amusement parks, high-octane beach activities and classier lounges, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Phuket is a great starting point for a tour of Thailand. Foreigners are commonplace, so visitors can get a taste of the culture without stepping far out of their own comfort zone. From here it's easy to connect to other parts of the country where tourism is secondary to mainstream living.
Chiang Mai is a great city for those who like to shop as tourists can get good value for money here on a wide variety of weird and wonderful things. It is one of the country's cheapest places to buy Asian handicrafts, such as traditionally made clothing, silverware, silk, ceramics, art and antiques.
The metropolis of Chiang Mai, in the northern part of Thailand, is the region's most important city and a thriving tourist hub. Apart from the historic town itself, visitors have the added benefit of being surrounded by lush countryside and stunning mountains.
With 700 years of history under its belt, Chiang Mai is home to an eclectic mixture of old and new attractions. The cultural sites here are plentiful, from the ancient temples to fascinating museums. There are also many contemporary activities to take part in, however, with the plethora of shopping centers, cinemas, bars and sporting facilities.
Chiang Mai offers some of the widest variety and the cheapest options for dining in Thailand. There are restaurants of all kinds here, from traditional Thai cuisine, to Burmese, Mexican, steakhouses and British pub food.
Bangkok is quite a safe city although touts and pickpockets are rife and it pays to remain alert at all times. Avoiding the midday heat and keeping hydrated with bottled water is a must, while doing drugs in Thailand is not advised as penalties are extremely harsh.
Bangkok food goes from cheap and tasty noodle and rice dishes from street vendors up to high class dining in five-star hotels, and everything in between. Obviously Thai food is the big eat, although it is not hard to find virtually any type of cuisine here. In addition, most malls come with a generous supply of food courts, coffee shops, and burger joints.
Chiang Mai is home to a large expat community and locals are more than used to sharing their city with foreigners, or farang, as they are referred to. Due to this, the city is well accustomed to Western habits, but do take care to respect local traditions when you come across them.
Chiang Mai is one of the very few places in Thailand that offers fantastic entertainment while managing to keep its authentic charm. There is a multitude of bars and clubs here and live music can be found across the city every night of the week. There are also a number of sporting venues, including golf clubs, shooting ranges and tennis and squash courts.
Bangkok has a fine array of attractions and places to visit that will appeal to any tourist. Bangkok tourism’s main claim to fame is its collection of beautiful temples, of which there are more than 400 in the city, with the Grand Palace complex being particularly special. It sits on Rattanakosin Island (old Bangkok), where many other high profile temples and palaces are, along with the buzzing street of Khao San Road.
The Thai capital is a fairly new entity as far as the long history of Thailand goes, established as it was in the 1780s by the current Chakri Dynasty's first monarch. It is a city of deep contrasts and one of Asia's most cosmopolitan, with a bustling Chinatown and visitors from every corner of the globe.
As a pastime, shopping in Bangkok is second only to its nightlife. The city is loaded up with malls, arcades, swanky department stores and floating markets, so that you can virtually shop from dawn to dusk.
Island-hopping through aquamarine waters, Buddhist monks praying in ornate temples and tasty Thai curries -- holidays in Thailand satisfy all the senses. Book a Thailand hotel to experience the magic of the land of smiles.
Holidays in Phuket have all of Thailand’s trademark attractions on one easy-going island. Book a Phuket hotel for elephant treks through rainforests and rubber plantations, unspoilt beaches and underwater reef gardens.
A Bangkok city break is a sensory overload. From colourful temples and bustling night bazaars to the aromas of street food and hum of tuk-tuk taxis, there’s never a dull moment on a stay in a Bangkok hotel.
There are so many things to do in Bangkok, by day and by night. It is loaded to the hilt with attractions and landmarks, nightlife and shopping, shops and restaurants, and simply buzzes all times of the year. While Bangkok’s nightlife is the obvious allure to many travelers to Bangkok, it's not all about that and there are alternatives.