Asian countries are all the rage with the tourists these days. More so the nations of the Far East and among them; like a polished emerald amidst stones, Thailand beckons like a bright beacon on rough seas! The exotic and tropical locale, the sun drenched, glittering temples steeped in the history of their culture, the pristine beaches, the modern cities that still retain their traditional ways and most importantly, the tongue tingling melding of flavours in the food combined with the warm smile of the fun-loving and friendly natives makes it the perfect holiday destination for even the most discerning of tourists. Thailand feels like a world far removed from the one we inhabit, it feels like the gap between the celestial and mortal is almost absent which is why it draws one’s wanderlust. Be it a honeymooning couple completely wrapped up in themselves while flaunting their newly wedded bliss to all and sundry or the lonely biker in need of some adventure and spirit cleansing or a backpacker intent on seeing everything on a shoestring budget, Thailand has something to offer for each and every one.
Having said all that, everything needs to be planned and put in place before we fly off on vacation. One of the most important things being the itinerary or as we’re calling it “Thaitinerary” shouldn’t be overlooked. With that in mind we’ve taken up the task of lightening your load and have made pains to list below the 10 most beautiful things that your eyes and other senses shouldn’t be deprived of when you go to Thailand.
Mostly this ultramodern and cosmopolitan city is where you’ll be landing and starting off your vacation from here is only right and befitting. The city pulses with its vibrant nightlife and plenty of monuments and hotspots to keep you occupied during the day. Not to be missed among the sights are the Grand Palace and museum and Wat Prakeaw, a temple complex built in 1782 by order of the king. The Damnoen Saduak, or Floating Market is another interesting attraction. Satisfy the curious visitor in you and go shopping on a chauffeured boat as hundreds of boats scurry through narrow canals, selling fruits, vegetables and flowers just as they did a century ago.
Chiang Mai is a city in Northern Thailand that is surrounded by jungles and mountains. If you’re the loner types who wants some peace and quiet, here is a place tailor made by God for you. The city is also home to many temples or Wats as they’re called in Thai, including the famous Wat Chedi Luang, built in 1402. Jungle treks, which can last from a few hours to several days, are a big attraction in Chiang Mai. The area around the city is home to a local indigenous group the Long Neck Karen hill tribe which is famous for their tradition of elongating their necks using metal rings. For those of you looking to explore your inner selves, meditation retreats in Chiang Mai are another attraction that cannot be missed.
About 50 kilometres away from Thailand’s bustling capital, Bangkok, lies Ayutthaya, once considered the world’s most impressive city but now called a UNESCO World Heritage Site with ancient temples and ruins, that whisper stories of their glory days into the winds. Once a prosperous kingdom and capital of the Thai empire, the city was home to more than 400 temples and other architectural masterpieces. Now, it tells tales of its former glory and grandeur before its destruction at the hands of Burmese invaders. Ayutthaya draws quite the crowd every year who come to witness the restoration of the monuments a civilization from the ruins that are the only thing left.
Almost everyone has heard of Pattaya invariably from one source or another. And, why not? Almost everyone has been there. The areas with the bars are seedy and to be avoided unless that’s where you were headed. The bottle art museum, the Pattaya Floating Market -- the largest floating market in the world and Mini Siam, an on-scale recreation of some of Thailand's most important landmarks are notable attractions that you can visit.
There are two things that the island Koh Samui is famous for: scuba diving and parties, especially the Full Moon Party. This is a once-a-month extravaganza that attracts up to 30,000 people every time. The parties are held on the beach and the revelry lasts all night.
No trip to Thailand is complete without a stop in Kanchanaburi and a visit to the site where "The Bridge over the River Kwai" was filmed. The "Death Railway" here, was built by prisoners of war under the direction of the Japanese during World War II. Today, visitors can cross the bridge, visit abandoned trains and half-built railway tracks, stop by the Memorial Walking Trail and step into the small museum that tells you the history of the infamous Thai-Burma Railway.
Krabi is a beach town which boasts some of the most impressive seaside cliffs in Thailand. The Phi Phi islands and the many surrounding beaches attract snorkelers, scuba divers, boaters and kayakers. Krabi has large coral reefs and great water visibility, making it a great destination for all kinds of water sports.
Phanom Rung is one of the most impressive and significant among the Khmer temples that are in Thailand. It was restored to its original splendour over the course of 17 years. Made from sandstone and laterite, it was constructed in the Angkor style from the 10th to the 13th century as a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It’s built on top of a spent volcano during the reign of King Suriyavarman II, and stands as a dazzling symbol of the peak of Angkor architecture. Due to its precise solar alignment, the sun bathes all 15 sanctuary doorways around four times a year. During the solar alignment in April, the complex sets the scene for the impressive Phanom Rung Festival, which includes traditional Brahmin ceremonies and scenic light shows.
Phetchaburi, considered to be one of the oldest settlements in the country can easily be accessed from Bangkok. Dating as far back as the eighth century, the city is one of the highlights of any trip to Thailand if you’re a culture geek, and it’s better too as it rarely sees large crowds passing by. The city is dotted with numerous historic buildings from the 12th century, from the magnificent temples to Khao Wang, the Royal Palace. The sleepy city also doesn’t get too many tourists, and it provides an authentic insight into Thai culture and lifestyle undisturbed b touristy influences. For nature enthusiasts, the province has lush, tropical jungle areas and magical cave shrines. Unlike other areas, Phetchaburi survived the downfall of the great Asian empire remaining largely untouched. This is why it is often referred to as the ‘Living Ayutthaya’, visitors can marvel at the sight of century-old relics that are lovingly preserved.
Chiang Rai is widely considered one of the most fascinating northern cities in Thailand and is home to a variety of cultural monuments and natural sights. The city was founded in the ancient times of the seventh century and served as the first capital of the Lanna Kingdom. It is located very close to the Golden Triangle, a border area on the Mekong River where Thailand, Laos, and Burma meet and the area once was an important site for the opium trade. Tourists can explore the ruins and shrines that are around or embark on a hike through the mountains in search of the remote hill tribe villages. One of the most widely known attractions is Wat Rong Khun, or the White Temple which is constructed in unconventional and modern designs by the architect Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is one of the most spectacular in the country. If you’re looking to learn more about the heritage of the Lanna Kingdom and the lifestyle of northern Thailand, a trip to Chiang Rai is well worth the time.
Here ends our Thaitinerary; if you have more to add about any of the places listed or if we’ve missed something or you have been to any other more interesting places in Thailand which you feel people should check out, don’t hesitate to let us know. We’ll help the world see it through your eyes.
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