The stuff of castaway fantasies and a rite of passage for gourmands and honeymooners, a Thailand holiday is a medley of mythical white-sand beaches, turquoise-blue waters, rustic-chic beach shacks, and stylish island escapes offering laid-back luxury. Capturing everything that is great and good about Southeast Asia, holidays to Thailand continually create a buzz with ornate Buddhist temples, opulent palaces, culinary diversity, and ever-welcoming Thai smiles.
A fusion of sublime islands, upscale resorts and spirituality, Thailand is the jewel of Southeast Asia. Blessed with tongue-tingling cuisine, feverish festivals, ancient ruins, and an ever-apparent devotion to Buddha, it caters for every type of traveller; from newlyweds seeking glamourous respite to nature-lovers craving a fix of forests, hills and wildlife.
This is a land where eating is as much a part of the culture as anything else, especially in buzzing Bangkok. This chaotic capital with its ultramodern cityscape is the place to sample street food, gallery hop, shop for knick-knacks at the Chatuchak weekend market, marvel at the gigantic gold-plated Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho, and gape at the dazzling Grand Palace.
For hammock-snoozing and underwater adventures, venture to Thailand’s islands. Most stunning is Bo Phut Beach, an unspoilt sandy treasure on Koh Samui with an ‘east meets west’ vibe and swathes of white sand, and the oval-shaped paradise island of Phuket, where the Nai Harn Beach remains gorgeously undeveloped. Further beach island delights entice on the spotless talcum-powder beaches bathed by clear aquamarine waters at island idylls Krabi, Ko Samet, Koh Kood, and Khao Lak.
Away from the sands, explore the ancient sites at Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Prasat Phanom Rung, spot macaque monkeys at Khao Yai National Park, and lose yourself in the dense rainforests of Khao Sok National Park.
For a unique Thai adventure, journey north to Chiang Mai for a temple-studded old town, rugged mountains in the Golden Triangle, and the chance to trek through tribal areas and chat with saffron-robed monks. Families with children will adore the award-winning elephant sanctuary located 50-kilometres north of Chiang Mai. Set in a valley surrounded by forested mountains, it currently houses 33 elephants who roam freely in an area that replicates a wild elephant habitat.
Famed for its white sand beaches and amazing food, Thailand is normally the first stop for people who want to experience Asia. The trouble we have is that people increasingly associate it with busy beaches and backpacker bars. Thailand however still has some amazing hidden gems, here are a few of our favourite beaches that are away from the tourist-trodden path…