Once known as the Kingdom of Siam, Thailand has become one of south-east Asia’s most enticing and intriguing countries attracting millions of visitors from around the globe to sample some of the mystic east!! Soaring bell-shaped towers, gilded facades and quiet monks go hand in hand with mad-cap driving and frantic streets, high speed long-tailed boats and busy markets, and yet - the visitor hasn’t even had to leave Bangkok. In the countryside rice fields and water-buffalo go about their business, as the quiet hill-tribe people move slowly upwards to small scattered villages amongst the soaring limestone mountains, elephants plod dutifully carrying visitors through the jungle, while the scorching sun beats down onto fine white sandy beaches which are washed by the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Siam. Thailand offers visitors an amazing diversity of culture, scenery and natural features and provides a comprehensive selection of attractions and activities to ensure any visit becomes an unforgettable experience.
Bangkok is the point of entry for most international visitors to Thailand who generally travel by air and arrive at the new Suvarnabhumi (pron. su-wan-na-poom) Airport which lies 30 kilometres east of the city. Bangkok is by far the largest city in Thailand and offers visitors a small glimpse of this fascinating country, although in many respects it is a reflection of so many big cities worldwide in that it is a busy and bustling place, full of people and packed with cars, tuk-tuks and motorbikes. However visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture through the busy streets and numerous markets which pervade the life of every small Thai town, and appreciate the heritage of Siam through a visit to the Rattanakosin Island, where the most spectacular and revered historical attractions of Bangkok can be found. Step outside the city and things begin to change, just a few kilometres away floating markets show visitors how so much trade was achieved over the network of waterways which once permeated the surrounding alluvial plains of Bangkok and spawned its nickname of the ‘Venice of the East’ – further afield and the memories of World War II can be relived through a visit to the Bridge on the River Kwai – wander through the ruins of the earlier Kingdom of Ayutthaya – or enjoy the exotic and highly commercialised tourist destination of Pattaya. Island paradises and beautiful beaches are also on offer in Thailand, with great attractions and magical escapes drawing visitors to Ko Samui, Krabi, Khao Lak and Phuket, all of which can boast some of the best beaches in the world and unsurpassed diving opportunities. For the more adventurous the north of Thailand is the place to head for, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and the remote town of Pai providing unequalled hiking opportunities, spectacular scenery and the chance to experience the unique cultures of the various hill-tribe people who live in scattered villages throughout the highland areas.
Thailand is a remarkable country, a place of many cultures, a place of friendly faces and hospitable people. Make any visit an experience not to forget, enjoy that elephant ride, watch them being trained in school, trek into thick jungle, take that first dive, climb that limestone cliff, explore that deep cave, take a long-tailed boat trip down the winding River Mekong, or buy that handmade silk umbrella. Thailand is a wonderful country which welcomes visitors through its friendly, courteous and respectful people, and provides a window into a diverse and thriving culture that is reflected in the day to day life in every small town and village in the country.