Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and it’s no wonder. Thailand has a rich history, an amazing culture and is a tropical paradise that will fit any vacationer – from backpacking through the jungles to luxury resort living on beautiful sandy beaches and everything in between.
First, a little background.
Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonized by a European power. Originally knows as Siam, Thailand was united in the 14th century and, after a bloodless revolution in 1932, established a constitutional monarchy that has been in place ever since.
Thailand is actually a long, skinny country, covering over 1,400 miles, with thousands of islands and islets dotting its shores. As you can imagine, this means that their climate is diverse, with forests and jungles to explore as well as its beaches. It’s home to many animals, including the world’s smallest mammal – the bumblebee bat – and to the the world’s largest fish – the whale shark.
Predominantly Buddhist, Thailand boasts over 35,000 temples. It also incorporates elements of Hindu and local folklore into its religious practices. You can visit many of these temples on your journey – just make sure that you dress appropriately and follow the traditions observed as you explore these holy sites. In fact, most will provide appropriate apparel if you aren’t quite prepared (for a price of course!).
With such a big and diverse country, how do you plan a trip to Thailand? Here are our top five suggestions of places to visit:
Bangkok. Bangkok is Thailand’s capital and is a bustling city that you don’t want to miss. There is so much to do in Bangkok that you might want to spend a few days there. Key points of interest in Bangkok include the Rattanakosin, or Old City, where you can see the Grand Royal Palace and take a tour of several temples in the area. Don’t forget to check out some of the ay markets in the city, where you can find almost anything you could desire – and spend some time tasting the amazing street food Thailand is famous for!
Chiang Mai and the Elephant Nature Park. Chiang Mai is referred to as Thailand’s northern capital. While there is a lot to do in this city and surrounding region, the highlight you won’t want to miss is the Elephant Nature Park. This is the one place in Thailand that is dedicated as a rescue center for all the elephants that have been abused by tourism over the years. Here, you can visit them in their own environment, or even volunteer to help out around the sanctuary.
Phuket. If it is beaches you are looking for, head to Thailand’s largest island, Phuket. Originally a tin mining town, Phuket has blossomed through tourism. Take advantage of some of the other attractions in Phuket as well, including a visit to Phuket Old Town and the Weekend Night Market, where locals will sell their wares out of the trunk of their cars. And don’t forget to visit the Big Buddha – a gigantic (45 meters high) statue of Buddha located on the island’s functioning Buddhist monastery.
Ayutthaya. For history buffs, Ayutthaya is a must-see destination on your Thailand trip. A UNESCO site, Ayutthaya was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. It is an archaeological ruin, with tall towers and huge Buddhist monasteries. One of the most visited is Wat Chaiwatthanaram, which clearly shows the influence of Buddhism on the Thai people. Or head over to Ban Pa-In Palace, which dates back to the 17th century that was renovated in the 19th century with a European flair.
Nakhon Ratchasima. If you are looking to spend a little time in nature on your visit to Thailand, then a stop in Nakhon Ratchasima is in order. Here, you’ll want to head to Khao Yai National Park, another UNESCO site, with beautiful waterfalls, hiking trails for all levels of difficulty, enchanting views and, of course, the abundant wildlife. While you are in the area, visit Wang Nam Khiao, known as “The Switzerland of Thailand”, to see their wineries, orchards, vineyards and organic farms – and to experience the good quality mountain air.
There is so much more to experience in Thailand, why not start planning your trip today? Simply call Luxury Destinations Concierge at 805-236-4437 to get started.
Looking for a place to relax and get away from the fast-paced world? Kerala, India may be the place for you. A tropical paradise similar to Bali or Tahiti, Kerala is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. From cruising by houseboat to yoga and ayurvedic treatments or simply a tea tasting, Kerala has a lot to offer. Here are the highlights:
Explore Kerala’s Backwaters by Houseboat. No trip to Kerala is complete without exploring its backwaters, and the best way to do that is by houseboat. These houseboats are large barges that offer the same comforts of hotels, and provide breathtaking views of untouched and mostly inaccessible parts of rural Kerala. You can hire a boat for a day trip, or set sale for a week, depending on your schedule and what you want to see.
Ayurvedic Treatments. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian healing tradition that combines yoga and healthy eating. Kerala has a lot of Ayurvedic spas and resorts, due to its warm climate and supply of medicinal plants. Plan to stay at one of these centers for about a week to detox, or just book a simple treatment for an afternoon.
Tea and Toddy. Tea is one of the major crops of Kerala, so take some time to visit one of the tea plantations for a tea tasting. Or, if you need a stronger drink, consider checking out a beachside establishment for a toddy – made from fermented coconut palm nectar.
Bathe an Elephant. One of Kerala’s major attractions is there Kodanad Elephant Sanctuary. Here, you can feed the elephans, go on safari or even give an elephant a bath!
Take a Spice Tour. Kerala is also home to a number of spice plantations where you can sample real black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and even vanilla. Consider taking a cooking class to learn new ways to use these spices too!
As you can see, if you are looking for an out-of-the-ordinary vacation, Kerala, India is the place to be. Let Luxury Destinations Concierge help you plan your trip. Give them a call at 805-236-4437.
There are many places to visit in India. One of the most popular destinations is what is known as the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle is the route between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in northern India. Its name comes from the equilateral triangle made by these three cities, and the extraordinary religious and historical sights found there.
If you are planning your first trip to India, this is the place to start. Below are highlights for a trip to each city:
Delhi. Delhi is the capital of India, and where many start their trip. There are two parts to the city – Old Delhi and New Delhi – which sit side-by-side in stark contrast to each other. Explore Old Delhi to get a sense of the history, including the Red Fort, which dates back to the 17th century, Jama Masjid, which is one of the largest mosques in India, and Chaadni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets in India. Or visit the Swaminarayan Sanstha spiritual center built in 2005, which is dedicated to showcasing Indian culture.
Agra. Next stop is Agra, home to the Taj Mahal (visit before noon if possible to avoid the massive crowds). Other sites to see include Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb, which is the first mausoleum in India made entirely of marble, or Fatehpur Sikri, which is a city built in the 16th century as a celebration of Emperor Akbar being blessed with a son. It was abandoned almost immediately, has been a ghost town ever since, and recently has been established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jaipur. Jaipur’s most recognizable attraction is the Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace), overlooking main street. If you are up for an adventure, visit the Monkey Temple, which is an old Hindi temple where one of the sacred pools of water has been taken over by thousands of monkeys (who are friendly and love to be fed). Take advantage of Jaipur’s markets and shops, where you will find a variety of locally made items.
Ranthambore National Park. No trip to the Golden Triangle is complete without a side trip to the Ranthambore National Park and their Tiger Reserve. Here you can see tigers and other native animals up close and personal.
Ready to plan your trip to the Golden Triangle of India? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at 805-236-4437.
When you think of planning a cruise – whether it’s a big ocean cruise or a river cruise – I’m pretty sure your first thoughts are somewhere exotic or at least out of the country. But have you considered seeing the United States from a river boat? Probably one of the best-kept secrets in the travel industry, river cruising through our own waterways is a great way to see the beauty and majesty – and history – of America.
Think about it…our history is steeped in travelling up the Mississippi, crossing New England on the Hudson River, and exploring the Pacific Northwest by way of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. On a river boat, you can make those same journeys while also experiencing the modern culture that has built up around these ports of call.
Most US river boats resemble the historic paddle wheel boats that we associate with the Mississippi River. All have been updated with modern amenities, and usually hold under 200 passengers. While there are several cruise lines dedicated to exploring America’s rivers, our favorite is American Cruise Lines. Here are some of our favorite trips for you to consider:
Highlights of the Mississippi is a wonderful cruise if you only have a few days. This 5-day journey takes you to New Orleans, where you will enjoy the melting pot of French, African, and American cultures. You’ll journey to the nearby Houmas House to explore this old sugar plantation and its spectacular gardens, and on to see the sites at the state capital of Baton Rouge. You’ll sail onto Oak Alley Plantation to explore this “Grande Dame of The Great River Road” before finally returning to New Orleans.
The Great Rivers of Florida is one of American Cruise Lines’ most memorable trips. This 8-day cruise takes you along the route that travelers followed in the 19th century in search of a tropical paradise. You’ll sail the St. Johns River, and stop at places such as Palatka, FL, where the rich came in search of a warmer climate, Lake George in the Ocala National Forest, Green Cove Springs, FL, where people flocked to take advantage of its mineral springs, and St. Augustine and Amelia Island to enjoy the historic ambience of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Hudson River Cruises is the one to take if you want to see New England in all its fall splendor. From New York City to the Catskills, Hyde Park and Sleepy Hollow, you’ll see the beauty of New England and have an opportunity to tour such historic sites as West Point Military Academy, the Vanderbuilt Mansion, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home and more.
These are just a sampling of what the world of river cruising in America has to offer. Luxury Destinations Concierge is happy to help you plan your river boat cruise. Give us a call at 805-236-4437 to get started.
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