Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a monarchy in Southeast Asia with coasts on the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
Thailand is the heart of the Southeast Asian mainland, bordering Myanmar in the west, Laos in the north, Cambodia in the east, and Malaysia in the south. As Thailand has comparably good infrastructure with Bangkok being an intercontinental flight hub, the country is the gateway to the region for most foreign visitors.
With great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture and superb beaches, Thailand is the most visited country in Southeast Asia. It is called the “Land of Smiles”.
- Bangkok — Thailand’s bustling, frenetic capital, known among the Thai as Krung Thep
- Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya — a historical city, UNESCO World Heritage Site and old capital of Siam (full name is Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya)
- Chiang Mai — de facto capital of Northern Thailand and the heart of Lanna culture
- Chiang Rai — gateway to the Golden Triangle, ethnic minorities and mountain treks
- Kanchanaburi — home of the Bridge over the River Kwai and numerous World War II museums
- Nakhon Ratchasima — largest city of the Isaan region, also known as Khorat.
- Pattaya — one of the main tourist destinations, known for its wild nightlife
- Sukhothai — Thailand’s first capital, still with amazing ruins
- Surat Thani — home of the Srivijaya Empire, gateway to the Samui archipelago
- Khao Sok National Park — one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Thailand
- Khao Yai National Park — take a night time Jeep safari spotting deer or visit the spectacular waterfalls
- Ko Chang — once a quiet island, now undergoing major tourism development
- Ko Lipe — small island in the middle of Tarutao National Park, with great reefs and beaches
- Ko Pha Ngan — site of the famous Full Moon Party with miles of quiet coastline
- Ko Samet — the nearest island beach escape from Bangkok
- Ko Samui — comfortable, nature, and entertainment hippie mecca gone upmarket
- Krabi — beach and water sports mecca in the south, includes Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi, and Ko Lanta
- Phuket — the original Thai paradise island, now very developed but with some still beautiful beaches
Thailand is the country in Southeast Asia most visited by tourists, and for good reason. You can find almost anything here: thick jungle as green as can be, crystal blue waters that feel more like a warm bath than a swim in the ocean, and food that can curl your nose hairs while tap dancing across your taste buds. Exotic, yet safe; cheap, yet equipped with every modern amenity you need, there is something for every interest and every price bracket, from beach front backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world. And despite the heavy flow of tourism, Thailand retains its quintessential identity, with a culture and history all its own and a carefree people famed for their smiles and their fun-seeking sanuk lifestyle. Many travellers come to Thailand and extend their stay well beyond their original plans and others never find a reason to leave. Whatever your cup of tea is, they know how to make it in Thailand.
This is not to say that Thailand doesn’t have its downsides, including the considerable growing pains of an economy where an agricultural labourer is lucky to earn 100 baht per day while the nouveaux riches cruise past in their BMWs. Bangkok, the capital, is notorious for its traffic jams and rampant development has wrecked much of once-beautiful Pattaya and Phuket. In heavily touristed areas, some lowlifes, both Thai and farang, have made scamming tourists into an art form.
Finally, despite being relatively economically developed, Thailand still suffers from problems that afflict most Southeast Asian countries, such as new towns and neighbourhoods built haphazardly and with no concern for architectural beauty, the lack of accessibility and pedestrian-friendliness in large cities, and often, presence of trash and litter in both cities and rural areas.