The Kingdom of Thailand draws more visitors than any other country in Southeast Asia with its virtually irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, renowned hospitality, robust cuisine and ruins of fabulous ancient kingdoms.
From the stupa-studded mountains of Mae Hong Son to the verdant limestone islands of the Andaman Sea, from the pulse-pounding dance clubs of Bangkok to tranquil villages moored along the Mekong River, the country offers something for every type of traveller.
Of course Thailand, like other Asian countries, has been influenced by contact with foreign cultures. But the never-changing character of Thai culture has remained dominant, even in modern city life. Often depicted as fun-loving, happy-go-lucky folk (which indeed they often are), the Thais are also proud and strong, and have struggled for centuries to preserve their independence of spirit.
Money & Costs
If you're travelling on a budget, you should be able to fairly easily get by on around 650b (May 2005 70b=1 GB pound) a day anywhere in Thailand. Visitors staying in comfortable hotels and eating at restaurants should budget on around 750-1250 a day outside Bangkok and around double this amount when in the capital. If money is no object, then you can spend to your heart's content while in Bangkok, since the capital has several of the world's most sumptuous hotels. Your spending levels will be curtailed by the scarcity of luxury accommodation and quality restaurants if you get off the beaten track.
Most visitors choose to go after the rainy season ends in late October and before the hot season starts in April. But even during the peak of the monsoon season in September it usually only rains for an hour or so in the afternoon, and the rest of the time you can indulge in the water sport of your choice, or just lay in a hammock and chill out. For stays of less than 30 days UK resisdents do not require a visa. A 60 day tourist visa via the Thai Embassy 020 7589 0173.
Blue-You Travel Guide to Thailand itinery - One Week - Bangkok, River Kwai or Koh Samet
Bangkok - Sometimes frenetic and fast-paced, often-times lazy and laid-back, Bangkok, capital of Thailand, holds the essence of the Thai spirit, and is very much the heart of the country, geographically, culturally and economically. Take a 2 day tour of bangkok temples, markets and nightlife, followed by a one day excursion to either the the acient capital of Ayuthaya or visit the floating markets south west of the city. Then head off to either Samet or Kwai. River Kwai (Kanchanaburi) - is most famous for the Bridge on the Kwai and the World War II Death Railway. Certainly, much evidence of the War still remains in Kan. Row upon row of war graves, the remains of the railway whose construction cost untold lives and suffering, and of course, the infamous bridge itself, immortalized in several novels and movies. But despite its dark past, Kanchanaburi is without doubt one of the most exotically beautiful places on earth. Fast-flowing rivers carve their way through tooth-shaped mountains and dense jungles, where tigers still roam. See the movie The Deerhunter? The forests along the River Kwai are where many of the scenes were filmed. Take a raft upstream for the full ‘jungle’ experience. Koh Samet - (Koh Samed) An island with sensational beaches, Ko Samet has experienced rapid development despite being part of a national park. The island has developed a loyal group of visitors who return to it year after year to enjoy the superb beaches and relaxed atmosphere. Less than seven kms off the coast of Rayong Province in the eastern Gulf of Thailand, it combines the allure of a tropical paradise with reasonable proximity to Bangkok. Click here for Koh Samet picture gallery
Blue-You Travel Guide to Thailand itinery - Two Weeks or Longer - Bangkok and Kwai are "must sees" and personally I love the atmosphere on Samet, but you can now also go further afield.
Chiang Mai - Experience the beautiful hill country and dense jungles of Northern Thailand. Rich in culture, the region is home to the charming Chiang Mai with its beatiful temples. Visit the infamous "Godlen Triangle" where the Thailand, Laos, and Burma borders meet. Koh Samui - With its beatiful beaches and clear water Koh Samui is chaning from a backpackers paradise to an increasingly popular with holidaymakers. Since its a small island it is easy to explore and offers some fantastic beaches such as Laimai, Chaweng and Choeng Mon. Chaweng is the main resort area and has a broad white sand beach and busy nightlife. Laimai is less developed but has a nicer beach. Click here for Koh Samui picture gallery