From the north of Thailand in Chiang Mai, to the verdant southern province of Krabi, Thailand is a portrait of raw beauty – a wondrous kingdom with stunning islands, exotic wildlife, sparkling beaches and ancient Buddhist temples. Its fascinating history and unique culture will capture the imagination of even the most seasoned traveler.
Treasures in Bangkok
The dazzling Grand Palace is the city’s most famous landmark. Constructed in 1782, this ornate palace was home to the Thai king, the royal court, and the administrative seat of the government of the Thai kingdom. Within the palace complex, you’ll find impressive buildings such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, that dates back to the 14th century. Many important Buddhist rituals and ceremonies take place here.
Only two of the throne halls are open to the public, but you can marvel the extraordinary facades from the outside. As the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha are two of Thailand’s most sacred sites, visitors are expected to follow a strict dress code for entry. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves, and women must have their shoulders covered.
Bangkok is also home to many floating markets, including the Damnoen Saduak, Tha Kha, Taling Chan and Bang Ku Wiang. The market boats are piled with local fare and ready-to-drink coconut juice from the floating kitchens. If you’re keen to take in a true Thai experience, a relaxing boat tour along the floating markets is highly recommended.
Phang Nga Bay
A boat trip to Phang Nga Bay is a must-do while in Thailand. The stunning limestone karsts that jut out vertically from the emerald-green waters create an awesome landscape, with James Bond Island and Koh Panyee Island being two of the famous landmarks in the bay.
James Bond Island is famous for the James Bond movie filming of “The Man with the Golden Gun.” The entire island is surrounded with its signature rocky pinnacles that emerge from the waters. Koh Panyee Island is a sleepy fishing village with huge limestone cliffs. Many of the huts, restaurants and shacks are built on stilts surrounding the shallow bay. Although remote, the village has a handful of restaurants for a fresh seafood lunch, and bungalows for overnight accommodations.
Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands are some of the most beautiful in Southeast Asia. Just a quick jaunt from Phuket, the picture perfect Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh islands are the ultimate tropical getaway. Dotted with crystal turquoise waters full of colorful marine life, these classic beaches and spectacular rock formations present some great photo opportunities. Phi Phi Don is well-known for its hedonistic lifestyle, with a village packed with clubs, bars and pubs. If you’re the kind of person who likes to party all night, this is the place for you!
With an extensive reef system, diving and snorkelling are popular activities here, particularly Hin Pae and Hin Dot. Snorkelers can head out on foot or via a long tail boat in Monkey Bay, to spy the colorful marine life. It’s not uncommon to spot nurse sharks, angelfish, surgeonfish, snappers and groupers during your dives.
Old Town Phuket
Sauntering through Old Town Phuket is a wonderful outing, with a chance to see some Sino-Portuguese splendours. You’ll pass funky shops, Chinese architecture and excellent restaurants, and the roads are lined with tailors, sweet shops and art galleries.
The famed Shrine of the Serene Light is a peaceful place to rest your legs after a long day of sightseeing. This temple was constructed in 1889, and features an impressive garden, typical of the flora of the region. At the Thai Hua Museum, visitors can learn all about Phuket’s history and its connection with China, and enjoy the charming inner courtyard and an exquisite garden.
If you’re looking for cheap flights to Thailand, discovering the hidden gems in Thailand is a breeze – even on a budget.