Regularly voted one of the world’s best holiday destinations, Thailand offers stunning beaches, fascinating culture and glorious landscapes. Plus, the Thai people are among the friendliest and most welcoming you’ll meet anywhere. No wonder they call it the ‘Land of Smiles’! Here’s our list of top 10 reasons to go to Thailand. Book your holiday to Thailand now and see how many more you can come up with!
You must have seen those postcard images of blissful beaches of white sand, a hammock strung between the palm trees. Or the cobalt blue coves with brightly coloured fishing boats pulled up on the shore. Well, those pictures were probably taken in Thailand. The coastline and islands are dotted with some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll find anywhere in the world – and while some of them can get crowded, there are still plenty of secret coves where you can soak up the sun in peace.
2. Street food
Thai food is a spicy and delicious, and nowhere does it taste better than from a street vendor in Thailand. Try the noodle soup, guay teow, which is spiced with chilli and lime, barbecued chicken skewers with a sticky sauce, or pad see ew a stir-fried noodle dish with chicken and chilli. For breakfast, tuck into kai jeow, an omelette that is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
3. Thai National Parks
Thailand has almost 150 national parks and more than 50 wildlife sanctuaries. These are home to a stunning variety of exotic creatures, including elephants, tigers, leopards, and bears, and have made Thailand one of the best birding destinations in Asia. The oldest and most popular national park is Khao Yai, which has some fantastic walking trails and where elephant and deer sightings are common. The Khao Sok park in the south of the country is one of the largest virgin rainforests on earth, and home to lions and tigers. Gaze at the charming houses on stilts in the Chew Lan Lake and listen out for the calls of the gibbons.
A fantastic way to gain an insight into Thailand’s rich culture is to visit during one of the country’s fantastic festivals. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival, held in February, is a stunning display of gorgeous blooms. The Vegetarian Festival, celebrated in October across the country, is at its most intense in Phuket, where devotees became impervious to pain and mutilate themselves. The Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights), held throughout the 12th lunar month (currently November), is a magical festival in which lanterns inset with candles are floated along rivers.
5. Rail trips
There are some incredibly scenic – and surprisingly affordable – rail journeys in Thailand. Trains are slow and boast few, if any amenities, but you can tuck into some great street food from the vendors at the stations and watch the scenery unfold. You can travel by train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north of the country: take the sleeper to wake up to a beautiful sunrise over Chiang Mai. You could also take the train to Kanchanaburi, to pay homage to the POWs who built the precarious train line and the bridge over the River Kwai during the Second World War. Another scenic route from Bangkok will bring you to the delightful seaside town of Hua Hin.
6. Temples and Buddhas
There are more than 40,000 temples in Thailand, which is a devoutly Buddhist country. Many of the temples are lavishly decorated, and adorned with spectacular statues of the Buddha. There are several temples in Bangkok that shouldn’t be missed, including Wat Suthat, one of the oldest in the city, which boasts a giant red swing and a vast golden Buddha. The most celebrated statue is that of the Reclining Buddha which is 46 metres long and entirely covered by gold leaf, and is found in the Wat Pho temple. Other unmissable temples include the ethereal Wat Rong Khun (‘White Temple’) in Chiang Mai and the Panturat Temple in Khao Sok National Park, which is full of monkeys.
7. Underwater adventures
Thailand is a magnificent destination for diving and snorkelling, boasting wonderful coral reefs and excellent underwater visibility. It’s also considered a very safe destination, making it ideal for beginners. You can dive in the Gulf of Thailand to the east of the country, or the Andaman Sea to the west, and the country boasts numerous marine reserves which ensure that the waters are pristine. Sharks, manta rays and turtles are among the exotic creatures you may encounter.
8. The people
Thailand thoroughly deserves its moniker ‘Land of Smiles’ and its people are among the friendliest you will meet anywhere. Any efforts to speak the language – even a simple hello (‘sawatdee’) or thank you (‘khub kham’) – will be greeted rapturously.
Bangkok is a colourful and vibrant city which offers a heady mix of old-fashioned charm, urban grit, tropical exoticism and shiny new mega malls. You can explore the lavish temples and magnificent royal palace, slurp street food as motorbike taxis whizz by, watch the long-tail boats glide along the river, buy armfuls of fruit and flowers at the floating markets, and gaze out over the city from a glitzy cocktail bar in one of the glossy new skyscrapers.
10. The Sea of Red Lotuses
Every year in December, Lake Nong Harn in northeastern Thailand is covered with vivid pink blooms, giving it its nickname ‘the Sea of Red Lotuses’. Take a boat tour run by local fishermen through the gorgeous flowers, for one of the most romantic and unforgettable experiences of your life.