June 29, 2017

Thailand Travel Guide

A country located in the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand has a complex physical geography. Most of the country’s population lives in the central plains and the capital, Bangkok. The Northwest and the border with Burma is mountainous, while the Northeast is flat and arid. Thailand’s Southern Peninsula consists of multiple islands and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

 

It was November 2002 when I first visited Thailand. My journey took me to Bangkok and then down south to the islands of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi. It was a wonderful experience! Being from the United States’ east coast, it was about as far away from home as possible. The time change is exactly 12 hours.

 

The capital, Bangkok, is straddled by the Chao Phraya River and was founded in 1782. It’s one of the world’s most exciting cities with its crazy nightlife and beautiful Wats (temples) and Palaces, it offers something everyone will enjoy. The Old City which is located in the center of Bangkok along the river contains some of the most beautiful architecture in the city.

 

Grand Palace is a remarkable site which provides a resting place for the sacred Emerald Buddha. With its beautiful colors and unique buildings it’s a stunning place and gives one the sense of walking into a fairy tale.

 

Wat Pho is another must see as it’s the city’s oldest and largest temple. It includes a 150 foot long Reclining Buddha as well as the Institute of Massage.

 

Wat Arun is one of Bangkok’s most popular landmarks. It lies on the bank of the Chao Phraya and appears on the ten-baht coin. Ceramic and porcelain make up most of the structure which is very detailed in a Khmer architectural style not common in Thailand.

 

Chinatown is a great area to check out – just be careful when crossing the streets as it’s very crowded and the drivers aren’t exactly the most cautious. It can be very noisy but does offer some great deals on the typical sunglasses and watches that are found in most other Chinatowns.

 

Two great ways to get around the city are Tuk-Tuks and Express Riverboats. Tuk-Tuks are little two-stroke engine, three-wheelers that are fairly cheap. They will take you to your destination but not before stopping at a few Thai clothing and jewelry stores on the way. It’s just a way for the driver to make a little extra and you’re not required to buy anything so just smile as you breeze through and you’ll be on your way. However, if you’re looking for a new suit, you’ll find some great places to buy one.

 

Once night falls, two great forms of entertainment are catching a Muay Thai Kickboxing match or walking through the World’s most notorious red-light district of Patpong. It’s a very interesting place and I won’t go into details, but if you’re looking for an exciting night out, this is the place.

 

If you haven’t already booked a tour in the States, you can do so at Bangkok’s Don Muang International Airport upon arrival. They offer everything from trekking up north in Chang Mai to diving down south in Ko Samui.

 

Phuket is the country’s largest island and the one with the most  tourists. Most people flock to the beaches on the West coast, but Phuket Town on the East is the island’s largest. I recommend staying around Hat Patong beach and renting a moped or motorcycle. A day’s rental is very cheap and it’s a great way to explore the island. Be sure to make your way down to Cape Promthep for a spectacular sunset.

 

Ko Phi Phi is made up of two separate islands: Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley. Both are known for their beautiful landscapes. Phi Phi Don is the larger of the two and also where you’ll find a hotel or resort. Its bungalows overlooking the water are great places to spend an afternoon with a cocktail in hand. Phi Phi Ley remains uninhabited and in my opinion is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

 

Speed boats from Phi Phi Don will take visitors there on day trips. But for a more relaxing time, hire a small boat. They’ll take you wherever you’d like to go for a period of about four hours. The island’s top attractions are Viking Cave, Maya Bay, and Pi-Leh Cove. The latter two being the most impressive and simply amazing. For a preview of these sites, check out Leonardo Dicaprio’s film, “The Beach”.

 

Thailand is a beautiful country with many generous and friendly people. Having spent time there prior to the devastation, it was very difficult to see the destruction made by the 2004 Tsunami. But I have no doubt that the people of Thailand will build back their country to remain one of the world’s most popular and beautiful tourist destinations.

 

——————–Thailand Travel Tips——————–

 

When to Go

The months of November to February provide the best weather but are also the peak tourist season. October and March can also be nice but try to avoid the monsoons which can occur during September and October.

 

What to See

-Bangkok
-Chiang Mai
-Phuket
-Ko Phi-Phi
-Ko Pha-ngan
-Ko Tao
-Ko Samui
-Krabi
-Chiang Rai
-Sukhothai

 

What to Eat

Thai food is known for having a balanced combination of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty flavors. Noodles, curries, and soups are all very popular.

 

What to Drink

Singha is the most popular beer in Thailand. Fruit shakes are refreshing on a hot day. Beer Chiang is a strong, cheap malt-liquor. Sweet iced coffee and tea are popular street stall drinks.

 

What to Buy

You can find great deals on jewelry, antiques, and silk clothing. Fake designer goods are very popular. No matter what you are buying, remember to bargain. Unless there is a sign stating the price, then the price is always negotiable.

 

Language

Thai

 

Currency
Baht

 

Tipping

Tipping is not expected in Thailand but many foreigners leave a small amount for good service.

 

 

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