Dive headfirst into Bangkok’s hectic streets, enter golden temples and modern malls, and taste fresh lemongrass, fiery chilli and sizzling seafood. Travel north to the hill tribes and spiritual streets of Chaing Mai or south to picture-perfect islands, where whale sharks glide through crystal waters, boats putter beneath limestone cliffs and beachgoers party beneath the moon.
Hectic markets and teeming streets, Buddhist monks and long-limbed ladyboys, Thailand’s crowded capital is strangely addictive. It’s a place where ancient temples stand next to modern malls and golden palaces shimmer beneath tower blocks. Stay in a riverside hotel or a backpacker hangout, weave through the traffic in a tuk-tuk or glide down the Chao Praya River in a long-tail boat.
When it’s time for a breather take a trip to the ruined temples of ancient Ayuthaya and travel west through forested foothills to the bridge over the River Kwai. Learn about the harrowing history of Japan’s Death Railway before arriving back in Bangkok for a bowl of Pad Thai from a night market or a slap-up supper in a rooftop restaurant.
Ancient hill tribes and untamed jungle, mountain temples and meditation retreats, the northern heartland of Lamma is a spiritual region of traditional culture and breathtaking beauty. Hike to traditional mountain villages, cycle past glimmering green rice paddies and orchid-filled foothills, or straddle and elephant and ride into the jungle.
Capital of the north, chilled-out Chiang Mai is surrounded by an ancient wall and overlooked by emerald mountains. Home to 300 temples and more than 700 years of history, it’s a good place to grab a Burmese curry and explore atmospheric alleyways, hunt for handicrafts in traditional Thai shops and soak up the vibes in the night bazaar.
Palm-fringed islands, pristine marine parks and sheltered lagoons, this is the Thailand you dreamed of. With two coastlines to explore, there’s plenty of adventure to be had, whether that means staying on the beaten track and kicking back in a beach resort or venturing to lesser-known islands where you can snorkel over kaleidoscope corals and discover deserted bays.
Golden sands and hedonistic resorts stretch along the east-facing shores – come here to party your flip flops off in Pattaya and Koh Pha Ngan or escape to Koh Samui and the scuba heaven of Ko Tao. With a touch more luxury, the west coast is washed by the Andaman Sea and blessed with Krabi’s limestone cliffs and sugar-white sands. Here, Phuket’s trendy beach resorts are the place to party.