Thailand has to be one of the top 10 must visit countries in the world and should top anyone’s wish list when it comes to where to go to find stunning white sandy beaches, friendly locals and a year round tropical climate (did I mention the marvellous food too?).
Thailand is a country filled to the brim with culture; the magnificent architecture and decoration of its temples, and many a tropical beach with clear turquoise water and beautiful beaches, mean that there’s something for everyone, whether you just want to relax in the sun and soak in the culture or get out and see everything it has to offer.
Due to the almost unbearable humidity of the rainy season (May – October), it’s a good idea to visit between November and February. If you do find yourself visiting the country at any other time of year, you should try to get out early in the morning or late evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.
There are plenty of must see places to visit in Thailand such as; Ko Samui (Thailand’s 3rd largest island) with its beautiful beaches, just perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving (don’t forget to check your travel insurance policy exclusions), Ko Phangnan, the home of the original and most popular full moon party, and Chiang Mai, a beautiful city packed to bursting with temples and history in the old part and thoroughly metropolitan in the newer areas with it’s boutique hotels, fine dining and designer clothes shops.
My favourite place of all though has to be Bangkok, the countries capital city, home to the floating markets for which Thailand is so famous, a bustling China Town and much, much more.
My top 5 must see Bangkok attractions are:
There are several floating markets to choose from in Bangkok, which one you visit really depends on when you’ll be visiting and how touristy you want the experience to be.
Tailing Chan opens only at weekends (between 9am-5pm), Bang Khu Wiang is open every day of the week (between 4am-7pm) but is the busiest and most tourist packed of the floating markets (but an excellent chance to practice your haggling skills). If you want something extra special, why not visit Tha Kha floating market which only opens 6 days a month in accordance with dates on the lunar calendar (usually between 6am – 12pm on weekends).
Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew (Temple)
The Grand Palace makes for a spectacular view; originally built in 1782 and for a long time, the seat of the Thai king (for over 150 years), the stunning architecture and intricate craftsmanship which graces both the exterior and interior of the building will leave you in awe.
The current monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej does not live in the palace due to ill health so it is now open to the public.
The Wat Phra Kaew Temple which is part of the complex contains a stunning Emerald Buddha statue carved from Jade (usually dressed according to the seasons) which is well worth a look at too (be warned, this is also the spiritual center of the country so you need to cover up any bare flesh).
Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn)
The locals know this as Wat Chaeng and it can be found on the banks of the Chao Phraya River (it’s certainly not easy to miss with its 70-100 meter high tower – debate rages as to its actual size).
Decorated with pieces of glass and porcelain, it makes for a dazzling sight at dawn when the sun reflects off its walls with an iridescent sheen. Perhaps not as pretty up close, but still well worth a visit and it is regarded by many to be one of the most outstanding temples Thailand has to offer.
Yaowarat (China Town)
No visit to Bangkok could be concluded without a visit to the cities China Town; whether you simply want to try Chinese food at its best, browse through the many gold shops or find a herbal remedy for the hangover from the full moon party you attended, it’s definitely worth a visit.
A bustling and tourist filled area with many interesting food stalls in the streets selling everything from Dim Sum to Birds Nest and Shark Fin soup.
A beautiful temple and one of Bangkok’s most famous due to the 46 meter long gold reclining Buddha housed within (and its largest at over 20 acres in size). With its Mother of Pearl inlaid feet and gold plating it looks simply spectacular.
Originally built around 200 years before Bangkok became the capital and later rebuilt, making it even more spectacular to behold. The grounds contain over 1000 Buddha images, many bronze statues and marble slabs depicting ancient stories.