Thailand: The Land of Smiles
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.
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