Thailand is the country in Southeast Asia that is the most visited by tourists, and for good reason. You can find almost anything here: thick tropical jungle as green as can be, crystal blue waters that feel more like a warm bath than a swim in the ocean, and food that can curl your nose hairs while dancing across your taste buds.
Exotic, yet safe; cheap, yet equipped with every modern amenity you need, there is something for every interest and every price bracket, from beachfront backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world. And despite the heavy flow of tourism, Thailand retains its quintessential Thai-ness, with a culture and history all its own and a carefree people famed for their smiles and their fun-seeking sanuk lifestyle.
Many travelers come to Thailand and extend their stay well beyond their original plans and others never find a reason to leave. Whatever your cup of tea, they know how to make it in Thailand.
Thailand is a country of breathtaking natural beauty, with incredible tropical weather, delightfully friendly people, astonishingly great food, fascinating culture, majestic mountains, and great beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travelers around the world, and quite rightly so.
The earliest identifiably Thai kingdom was founded in Sukhothai in 1238, under King Ramkhamhaeng. In the 14th century, the kingdom of Ayutthaya ruled the region. Until1767 King Rama I, the founding father of the Chakri dynasty took over and rules constitutionally to this day.
Thailand was known as Siam until 1939. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country ever to have been colonized by a foreign power and is fiercely proud of that fact.
The former capitals of Siam, Ayutthaya , and Sukhothai, make excellent stops for those interested in Thai history. The latter could be combined with a visit to Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Thailand’s people are largely indigenous, although there are significant minorities of ethnic Chinese and assimilated Thai-Chinese throughout the country, Muslims in the south near the Malaysian border, and hill tribes in the north such as the Karen, Lahu, Ahaka, Mien, Lisu, and the Hmong each with a distinct language and culture. The northern region has some interesting cultural sights of its own, such as Wat Doi Suthep.
Thailand’s beaches and islands attract millions of visitors each year from all over the globe. The Chumphon Archipelago has a great selection of islands that can e reached by high-speed catamarans.
Thailand does have its fair share of tropical forests with wild tigers and elephants and you can’t miss the macaques, gibbons, deer, and species of birds. You can spend the night in the middle of the jungle. Chang Mai in the north makes a good base for arranging treks.
Bangkok is at the start of many visitors’ itineraries, and while a modern city, it has a rich cultural heritage. Most visitors at least take in the Grand Palace, a collection of highly decorated buildings and monuments. It is home to Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand that houses the Emerald Buddha. Other cultural attractions include Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Jim Thompson’s House, but these are just a fraction of the possible sights you could visit.
The food alone is really reason enough for a trip to Thailand. There are different kinds of curries, fruit shakes, stir fries, and fresh fish made a zillion ways. Thai cuisine is characterized by balance and strong flavors, usually lime juice, lemon grass, and fresh coriander, the combination of which gives Thai food its distinctive taste. In addition, Thai food has a deserved reputation for being spicy, with hot little torpedo-shaped chilies called phrik khii nuu making their way into many a dish.
Aside from food, fresh fruits are abundant. You eat them fresh or make fruit shakes. Also, herbal juice is characteristic of Thai drinks. It makes from herbs in nature and it is folkways drinks of Thailand people as well. Surprisingly, Thailand is the original home of the Red Bull brand energy drink.