A land of celadon seas and enchantingly pristine beaches, a culture which is as sweet and vibrant as the Thai cuisine is divine, Thailand will enrapture you with its beauty, serenity, and spirituality. The most idyllic beaches in the world, Thailand and its many islands will bewitch you and leave you craving more. Affordably spectacular, this exotic destination has a myriad of cultural attractions, a tropical coastline that will impress any world traveler, and a metropolis that is as exhilarating as any in the world. In conclusion, Thailand is it! Traveling there twice in the past 6 years, experiencing beauty and experiencing tragedy (the tsunami that devastated South-East Asia years ago), I would go back in a heart beat because its one of the most special places on earth.
The best time to visit Thailand is in the winter months, preferably November to February. The temperature is perfectly tropical and warm and the sun is always shining. Any other month Thailand is still just as beautiful, but either the monsoons or scalding heat will overpower your holiday. After a long journey to this South-East Asian country you will arrive in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. A very steamy city whose bi-polar attributes radiate on every street corner, Bangkok is a wonderfully quirky metropolis. With modern skyscrapers towering over rustic markets and local dives, this city is a melting pot of oriental delight. Bangkok is known as ‘the city where anything goes but the traffic’, due to its street congestion and smoggy environment. However, beyond this beautiful madness, Bangkok’s “Thai-ness” is revealed in daily Buddhist rituals at serene temples and little havens that make Bangkok so special. When visiting Bangkok you must visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Although both of these attractions are on the touristy side, they deserve every bit of attention due to their grand significance and superb artistry. Wat Phra Kaew, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is the holiest temple in the country and connects to the large ornamental palace. After you visit the palace you can take a boatride down the murky Mae Nam Chao Phraya River. From the boat you will see a different perspective of Bangkok, and witness charming local life, temple complexes, and lush greenery that fringes the river. If you enjoyed the first temple experience, you must visit Wat Pho. Known as one of the largest temples, Wat Pho is home to the most stunning and gigantic reclining buddha laying at 148 feet. Once you’ve finished gawking at this enormous beauty, escape to the eastern edge of the complex where the famous traditional massage center is based. Here, at the national nerve center, you can get traditional and ultra cheap Thai massages and foot massages that will knock your socks off, literally!
If your interested in architecture, textiles, and art visit the Jim Thompson House, where you will find the extraordinary legacy and mystery of an American man and his own Thai silk industry. With fabulous collections of South-East Asian art, a serene traditional Thai home, and silk textiles and clothing that will make your inner fashionista emerge, visit this charming oasis. For a more upbeat and vibrant experience, Chatuchak Weekend Market, is byfar one of the most fantastic markets in the world. With over 7,000 stalls selling goods from all across the board; fighting cocks, opium pipes, Thai artifacts, food, you name it, it’s there. Overwhelmingly delightful this is the best shopping experience Bangkok will offer, with organized sections; antiques, wildlife, flowers, clothing, crafts, and so on, Chatuchak is hypnotizing and will occupy a weekends worth of meandering. The food in Bangkok and all of Thailand is mouthwateringly scrumptious. Every little nook and cranny of this bustling city is filled with local restaurants and eateries thats food is just as good as the next. For a charming dinner eat at Le Cafe Siam. Here you will find delicious Thai and French cuisine served in an old wooden house. Quaint and chic this little nook is a wonderful choice for an evening on the town. For a quirky and unique dining experience, visit the popular Cabbages and Condoms restaurant. A restaurant adorned with condoms, in an act to conceptualized and promote better understanding of family planning and protection, this restaurant is entertainingly special.
[Above: Jim Thompson House]
There are plenty of lovely places to stay in Bangkok for any budget. The Metropolitan Hotel is a modern and posh boutique hotel with a very reasonable price point. For 99 dollars a night you can stay in this contemporary hotel right in the heart of the city. If your looking for a more luxurious experience The Conrad, is perfection. Decorated in teaks and Thai accents this hotel has sleek lines, and an ethereal atmosphere that will add alittle decadence to your vacation. Regardless of where you stay, majority of your time will be spent on the lively streets and exploring this spectacular city.
Usually after people experience the flurry of Bangkok, Thailand’s beaches and islands are next on the list. If you want to experience beaches on the mainland before you go island hopping, the best place to start is West Ralei Beach. Only an hour flight from Bangkok, located off the tiny port town of Aonang in Krabi, this beach spot is absolutely idyllic. Once you arrive in Krabi and drive to Aonang you will start to see Thailand from a whole different perspective. The beauty of the little villages and lifestyle is so relaxed and sympathetic in comparison to the hectic capital. The little port town of Aonang is miniscule and charming, with little restaurants, hotels, shops, and bars. From this port town you will take a 10 minute long-tail boat ride to the peninsula of West Ralei Beach. On this half-mile beach stretch, you have 4 different lodging options, a couple restaurants, and absolute tranquility to start off your holiday. West Ralei Beach is heavenly, the sand is sparkling and white, the 85 degree ocean is crystal clear, and the karst cliffs and jungle act as the most amazing backdrop to this whole divine atmosphere. At West Ralei Beach you must rent one of the houses at the West Railei Beach Club. With 20 houses to choose from, varying in size and amenities offered, these homes are perfect for traveling couples, a group of friends, or families. West Railei is the perfect beach for lounging, and also a great cove for hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. The massages are irresistably cheap, and the masseuses even come to your house to give you tantalizing massage on your tree-house patio. At night, you can choose from the local restaurants or hire a chef for a small fee to cook you a homemade Thai meal which is beyond delicious! If your looking for a true vacation, West Railei Beach is a slice of heaven.
[Above: Long Tail Boat off Aonang Port]
From West Railei Beach you can take various day excursions and explore nearby islands. Within 20 minutes from the mainland you can visit Koh Poda and Chicken Island. Both of these stunning little islands are desolate with no accommodation and only one restaurant to lunch at. Chicken Island has the most lovely beach which spans into the ocean and becomes completely covered at high tide. Renting a boat for the day is a great option. You can wander these islands, snorkel, and jump on and off your boat into the 85 degree water, leisurely cruising around all day long.
The most popular islands in Thailand are Phi Phi, Phuket, and Koh Samui. All just as beautiful as the next, these islands will offer you your quintessential white beaches, magical ocean, and total holiday in the sun. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and is the central hub for island hopping. You can take a boat from Krabi to Phuket, or fly from Bangkok to Phuket for a cheap fare and short trip. Slightly more touristy than many of Thailand’s other islands Phuket is still a treasure trove for beauty and activities. Phi Phi Island is known as the most gorgeous of all the islands. Also with excellent snorkeling and affordable beachside bungalows, Phi Phi is glorious. Only in the past five years has Koh Samui become as popular as it is now. Despite its recent developments Koh Samui still holds its charm, and has a great local lifestyle which travelers meld right in with. Also on Koh Samui you can visit the most fascinating and enormous Buddha statue that stands 15 meters tall. Whichever islands you choose to visit, they are all equally enchanting and surreal.
When traveling, the best thing to do is rent a house or villa. Usually the same price or cheaper than a hotel, having your own place is ideal. Thailand has the best options for renting bungalows or villas that are extremely cheap and ultra-luxurious. Its nice to be able to have a kitchen, your own pool, courtyard, and space right on the beach. The best place to rent a villa is on Villa Getaways. They have the nicest selection of absolutely fabulous beachfront villas. [For instance: a beachfront villa that sleeps 8 for only $500 a night] From there on you can relax in the lap of luxury, with daily massages, delicious homemade cuisine, and enjoy all that the islands have to offer.
Once you’ve had enough sun and relaxing for a lifetime and want to explore more of Thailand, Chiang Mai is the place to visit. Located in the north, this walled city is a haven for Buddhism and was named the second most important city in Thailand. A place of grand temples and exquisite beauty Chiang Mai is often referred to as ‘the rose of the North’, due to its captivating beauty and mesmeric attributes. The elephant safaris are a must, and allow you to meander through the lush jungle and explore marvelous wildlife. With wonderful bazaars and night markets, ancient walls that bind the city, and important Wats, or architecturally stunning temples, Chiang Mai is whimsical and a wonderful niche of Thailand that deserves to be visited.
Highlights of Thailand:
* Grand Palace and Wae Phra Kaew
* Boat ride down the Mae Nam Chao Phraya River
* Wat Pho & Massages at the Nerve Center
* Jim Thompson House | www.jimthompsonhouse.org |
* Chatuchak Weekend Market
* Le Cafe’ Siam | www.lecafesiam.com |
* Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant | www.cabbagesandcondoms.co.th |
* Metropolitan Hotel | www.metropolitan.com.bz |
* Conrad Hotel | www. conrad.hilton.com/bangkok |
-West Railei Beach
* West Railei Beach Club Villas | www.raileibeachclub.com |
-Koh Poda and Chicken Island
-Phuket…Phi Phi Island…Koh Samui
* Villa Getaways | www.thaivillagetaways.com |
- Chiang Mai
* Elephant Safaris
* Wat and Temple Exploration