Thailand is, probably, the primary travel destination in Asia, and this is no wonder considering the diversity of the Thai culture and the unique spirit of its people. There are so many things that attract in this land – ruined cities, ancient monasteries, Buddhist monks, colourful hill tribes, floating markets, dense rainforests, high mountains, tropical islands, remote beaches, pristine coral reefs, one of the world’s best cuisine, and, not at last, a warm feeling emanated from Thai smiles.
The typical Thai community is still the farming village, and not far from the cities, farmers are still using the water buffalo to plow their rice fields. Most Thais earn their living through the rice, which forms the foundation of the country’s unique and sophisticated cuisine. Rubber plantations and Buddhist temples complete the scene of the tranquil rural life of Thailand. And, talking about Buddhism, most of Thais are practicing Theravada Buddhism, and its faith’s values colors all aspects of daily life.
Then there’s Bangkok, the most energetic and exuberant city in Southeast Asia, which, definitely can deserve a trip to Thailand all by itself. Through the ‘forest’ of skyscrapers, hotels, shopping malls and crazy drivers, there are tiny canals, colorful markets, tuk-tuk taxis, temples and monks collecting alms, from early in the morning. Bangkok it’s a city of contrasts, that combines the feel of a modern Asian city with reminders of the past.
The more traditional Chiang Mai is both an attractive historic city and a vibrant cultural centre, with a strong tradition of arts, crafts, cuisine and festivals. Here, the street food, street massage or lively colorful markets, will make you fall in love with the city of Chiang Mai. The nearby Doi Inthanon and Doi Pui welcome hikers and campers to wild areas of natural beauty. A motorcycle ride outside the town will take you to butterfly farms, temples and tropical forests, all the way to tribe hills lost in time.
A scenic serpentine road through Mae Hong Son Valley leads to Pai, a perfect place for chilling around, having a cooking class or doing some meditation. Than is Chiang Rai, with its splendid White Temple and a much more remote area, near the border with Laos.
Ayuttaya and Sukhothai embodies a cultural artistic heritage and resembles a graveyard for temples. Khanchanaburi, with its magnificent location on the river Kwai, tells another episode of the country’s more recent history.
Thailand has simply some of the most beautiful beaches on earth, where white sandy stretches of paradise and bays are surrounded by towering limestone formations. The beaches and islands of the south call out to scuba divers in islands like Kho Tao, Kho Phi Phi, Kho Lipe, or Similan Island – some of them extremely busy, some more chill out.
Nearby the cozy Krabi -a former fisherman village, Ao Nang and Railey beach have a laidback ambiance, as well as Tonsai beach, which is a rock-climber’s heaven with its cliffs right on the shore.
Nakhon Si Thammarat, Kho Chang and Kho Samet also have gorgeous beaches, and a good option if you had enough of farangs (foreigners) and want to stay more with locals.
Above all else, Thailand is a place to feel at ease – stroll along the beach, go on a jungle trek, do some meditation lessons in a temple, snorkel over a coral reef, smile back at locals and let modern life slowly slip away.