This Buddhist kingdom – the only country in South-East Asia never to have been colonised - may have become the most ‘mainstream’ destination in Asia long ago, but Thailand’s ability to consistently delight and surprise visitors appears to know no bounds.
In fact, it does such a good job at enchanting travellers that it’s rare to find someone happy to settle for just one visit. Holidays in Thailand score highly on many levels, with top-notch service, fabulous accommodation and charming, friendly people (there’s a good reason this is known as ‘The Land of Smiles’) all superbly matched by activities and experiences that range from the simple delights of beachcombing through to truly off-the-beaten-track exploration of rugged terrain and hill tribe communities.
There’s no better – nor more obvious - place to start than the Thai capital. Bangkok doesn’t just throw off travel clichés with effortless ease; it reinvents them. The city’s hotels are among the best in the world, and span from those oozing luxury to truly original, interesting offerings. Its historical monuments and religious sites are often breathtaking in scale, colour and grandeur. The food here is famous as one of the world’s great cuisines, and the retail opportunities will seduce even the most reluctant shopper. After dark, the city’s collection of bars, restaurants and spectacular roof-top watering holes are among the best and most stylish you can find anywhere.
It’s Thailand’s islands and beaches, of course, that prove an irresistible draw, and the choice is so impressive that there seems to be a corner of the Andaman Sea or Gulf of Thailand tailored to just about every traveller, whether your desire is spa pampering, romantic retreats, blissful escapism, diving, or exploring spectacular national marine parks.
And then there’s Thailand’s north – an unspoilt region where scenic mountains and tropical rainforests provide the backdrop to a culturally diverse area in which you’ll meet minority ethnic tribes, venture into stunning National Parks and ancient temples, visit small towns unaccustomed to the sight of westerners and where, ultimately, you’ll be enchanted by its stunning natural beauty.
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