|Land of smiles, oceans of wonderThe Kingdom of Thailand is stunning. With impressive jungle covered mountains, gorgeous beaches and tropical islands, national parks, wildlife and ancient cities, this country offers a huge diversity, not just in the landscape but also in the people, food, traditions and festivals.
Bangkok - For most travelers the adventure starts here! Tours include visiting the salt drying flats, the unique floating markets by long-tail boat, seeing Thai craftsman building and inlaying teak carvings and furniture. Historical highlights include a visit to the governmental buildings including the Grand Palace, where the precious “Emerald Buddha” (actually jade) resides amongst a collection of historical antiques, art and religious artifacts. Visit the huge Sitting, Standing and Reclining Buddhas around the area. Take day trips to see sites such as the infamous “Bridge over the River Kwai”. Want to buy custom-tailored clothes, gems or jewelry at a bargain? Bangkok is the place.
Northern Thailand – The remote North offers a truly unique expedition with trekking, bamboo rafting down mountain rivers, temples and the ethnic diversity of hillside tribes.
Chiang Mai - Start here with a trip to one of many “Wats” – or Buddhist temples. Go up into the mountains to see Wat Doisutuep, a golden temple built in the 14th century by the King after a white elephant found the site which had been depicted in a dream. Visit the various indigenous hilltribe villages, take treks on elephants or go bamboo river rafting. Don’t miss the night bazaar in downtown. Great for shoppers looking for handmade baskets, beautiful embroidery and more.
Chiang Rai - Situated in the center of the infamous “Golden Triangle” , Chiang Rai is where Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos meet. Once the center of the Opium trade, now another center for native hilltribes to sell their intricate wares to tourists at the night bazaar. Visit the oldest Wats in Thailand dating back to 800 AD. Go for a long-tail boat ride in the Mekong River or cross over to Myanmar to do some bargaining for rubies and other gems (buyer beware!).
Gulf of Thailand
Koh Samui – “The island of the coconut tree” is Thailand’s third largest island. With its long beaches of dazzling white sand, aquamarine waters and sleepy lagoons fringed with palm trees, this tropical retreat has justifiably become one of Southeast Asia’s premier beach resorts. Samui is best visited from January until monsoon season begins in September.
Ang Thong National Marine Park – Around 42 islands make up the National Marine Park, located just northwest of Samui. Geographically different, this fascinating group of islands have spectacular limestone formations, caves, lagoons and beautiful beaches. Many islands are uninhabited with bays and colorful coral formations. Other islands rise from the sea as dramatic walls of rock hundreds of metres high. Besides the many small coves and secluded beaches, erosion has shaped some interesting formations which give some of the islands their names, such as ‘Sleeping Cow Island’ and ‘Three Pillar Island’. Accessible on day trips by boat.
Ko Tao – “Discovered” by travellers in the 1980′s Ko Tao has been gradually gaining popularity. More remote than Samui, faster and safer boats now allow easier access to the island and new resorts with 24 hour air-conditioning are adding to the old basic bungalows. Since the main attraction is diving – the beaches remain tranquil and uncrowded. Check out the underwater scenery – it’s what Ko Tao is famous for! Sharks, stingrays, pufferfish, various groupers and triggerfish are just some of the locals. The east side of the island has some of the best snorkelling sites – spectacular coral reefs, sea fans, black tip sharks and colorful fish.
Southern Thailand – From fishing villages, to coconut plantations, and coastlines washed by the South China and Andaman Seas. This is where you will find happiness admiring or maybe even climbing towering limestone cliffs, diving to see coral reefs and of course feasting on fresh seafood.
Phuket – The west coast of the island has some of the best beaches to be found anywhere. During the sunny and dry November-May season, the water is calm, clear and warm.
Patong Beach – The island’s oldest and most developed tourist area. A popular spot for those seeking fun in the sun, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and other water activities. Hotels range from simple guesthouses to luxury international chain hotels. Nightlife in Patong is colourful and varied. You’ll find pubs, go-go bars, discos, markets and many exotic sights all within easy walking distance.
Karon Beach – Just south of Patong Beach, is a long stretch of unspoilt white sand. The second largest of Phuket’s principal beaches, Karon is quiet and relaxed. There are lots of good local restaurants and a range of accommodation from small guesthouses to family resorts offering extensive watersports and recreational facilities.
Kata Beach - Definitely more laid back than action packed, this broad and curving beach is actually divided into two bays, Kata Yai and Kata Noi. Bordered by rocky headlands Kata Yai offers two kilometres of white sand beach fringed with trees and a few beach restaurants, while Kata Noi, the smaller beach, offers seclusion and tranquility.
Koh Phi Phi - With a combination of white sand beaches, brillant blue waters, soaring limestone cliffs, and colorful corals, Phi Phi is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Lounge in the sun, take a boat tour to Phi Phi Le, the famous Maya Bay Lagoon where they filmed the movie “The Beach,” or enjoy one of many magiacal divesite.
Koh Lanta – Located in the Andaman Sea between Krabi and Phuket, Lanta island offers mangroves, spectacular coral rimmed beaches and coves surrounded by rugged mountains. Apart from peace and quiet, Koh Lanta offers snorkelling, scuba diving, jungle walks, elephant trekking, horse back riding and kayaking. Thailand Dive Sites
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