Thailand

Thailand’s intoxicating golden-sand shores are often the main draw but its attractions are many; glorious ancient temples, colourful hill tribes, pristine jungles, floating markets and the ever-invigorating capital Bangkok.

In the heart of South-East Asia is the Kingdom of Thailand, or the Land of Smiles. Unspoilt beaches and turquoise seas, tantalising tastes, tempting markets and the rich and fascinating culture will lure you back year after year. Bustling Bangkok is on every itinerary and the gateway to all other destinations. Consider staying at the legendary Mandarin Oriental or the stunning Peninsula. Both are situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and are the perfect respite from the frenzied bustle of the city.

From the Mandarin’s own private jetty you can cruise up the river to the famous Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew. Be spellbound by the Palace houses and the Emerald Buddha made from translucent green jade, or visit Wat Pro and see the world’s largest reclining Buddha. Head to the famous Floating Market to get a sense of life on the river.

In sharp contrast to the glitzy lights of Bangkok is Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, it is cooler and greener than Bangkok. The perfect starting point for trips into the northern territories, here you can go on elephant treks, visit an elephant farm or try your hand at Thai cooking. Visit Sukhothai, the most romantic of all former Thai capital cities, where temples and monuments of this great city have been lovingly restored.

For most travellers to Thailand, it is the lure of white sand beaches and crystal clear water that is the real attraction. The Krabi province borders the Andaman Sea and is home to over 130 islands, including the well-known Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. Diving, snorkel or simply just relax in a hammock in this area is of spectacular natural beauty, with its towering limestone cliffs and turquoise bays teeming with exotic marine life.

Perhaps the best known of Thailand’s island locations is Koh Samui. It is the third largest island and offers a wealth of activities, an extraordinary selection of five star hotels, dining and nightlife that make it a delight by both day and night. On the other side of the Thai Peninsula is Phuket, the ‘pearl of the Andaman’. Lateral diversions are easily had from Phuket with the finest dive sites in Thailand to be found on the Similan and Surin Islands.

Enticed by the sparkling beaches of the islands in the south, the enigmatic temples and hill-tribes of the north, and the neon lights of Bangkok in between, exotic Thailand has something for every traveller.

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