It’s no surprise that Thailand continues to be extremely popular amongst tourists, given that it offers both stunning sights and some truly unique cultural experiences. The fact that it manages to combine both without a trip there breaking the bank only makes a visit more enticing. For anyone who’s planning to travel to this unique country, we’ve put together this list of the ten things that everyone should see:
There are few historical sites in the world quite like the Atuthaya. Constructed in 1350 AD to be the second capital of Siam, its location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago made it ideal for functioning as the trading capital of Asia. By 1700 or so, it had over 1 million inhabitants, and was reputed as being one of the largest cities in the world. In 1767 it was overrun and destroyed by the Burmese army. The ruins of it now form the Authaya Historical Park, a perfect sight-seeing destination.
The Ko Tarutao
For those visitors who love to view the local wildlife when abroad, the Ko Tarutao is a must-visit. One of the 51 islands that belong to the National Marine Park in Southern Thailand, it is teeming with exotic animals. Sea turtles, macaques, whales and monitor lizards can all be found on the beaches and in the waters that flow around the island. The Ko Tarutao also offers a great deal of potential for hikers, with various trails snaking around the local area.
No holiday would be complete without a day or two relaxing by the beach. Ko Chang, the second largest island in Thailand, is the ideal place to visit for those looking to kick back. There are several stunning waterfalls throughout the island, rainforests to explore and coral reefs to go snorkeling near. More and more tourists are visiting Ko Chang each year, so it’s wise to go and see it as soon as possible.
The Grand Palace
A stunning collection of Eastern architecture, the Grand Palace and its gardens are some of the most arresting sites in the region. Originally constructed in 1782 to allow for the capital of Siam being changed from Thonburi to Bangkok, the palace became the ongoing residence of the Thai Kings. Only the mysterious passing of King Ananda Mahidol in 1946 halted its use, with the new King Bhumibol Adulyade instead choosing to take residence at the Chitralada Palace. Fortunately, that means the Grand Palace is now open to tourists, giving visitors the chance to take in some of the unique artefacts that call it home, such as the Emerald Buddha, one of the most renowned statues of its kind in the world.
The Similan Islands
Those looking to explore the stunning blue waters that surround Thailand would be wise to visit the Similan Islands, which are regarded as the finest diving locations in the country. The sea around the nine small islands contain some truly beautiful underwater scenery, with sloping coral reefs taking their place alongside the natural wildlife. Recently voted one of the top ten destinations in the world by National Geographic Channel, the islands are a must-see.
The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Sprawling across several blocks of the popular Thai city Chiang Mai, the Bazaar is a tourist attraction quite unlike any other. As well as the more modern shopping centres, there are many smaller stalls available selling everything from artwork to the latest imported products. Spending an evening shopping at the Bazaar is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Railay Beach
Those seeking a more active holiday should take the time to check out this unique beach, which has earned its popularity due to its suitability for rock climbing. It’s actually only accessible by boat due to the high cliffs cutting off access from the mainland, but those people who take the time to see the visit will be rewarded with a pleasant atmosphere waiting for them on the beach itself, and a definite challenge in the form of the stunning limestone that makes up the cliff-faces.
Phang Nga Bay
Without doubt one of the most scenic areas in the whole of the eastern world, the Phang Nga Bay remains an extremely popular destination. From the series of beautiful caves, grottoes and limestone islands to the beaches and the unique sea stack known to many people as the ‘James Bond Island’ (it was featured in The Man with the Golden Gun), there is no part of the bay that’s not stunning. It’s as fun to explore the area as it is to lie back and simple let your eyes feast on the stunning visuals before you.
Another ideal location for those looking to see the local marine wildlife, Koh Tao is a small island located near the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand. It is one of the most popular diving destinations in the world (around 7000 people per year are certified by the local tutors), and the range of wildlife available to see is substantial. Corals, turtles, barracudas and even whale sharks have all been spotted in the area. Visibility in the Koh Tao is good too, at around 15-20 metres.
Ko Phi Phi
As probably the most ‘touristy’ attraction in Thailand, Ko Phi Phi resort won’t necessarily be for everyone. However, there’s no arguing that it remains a beautiful area. Part of the popularity increase was down to it being used in the 2000 movie The Beach, (the fact that it was used in a film of that name should give you an indication as to just how truly stunning the location is). The increase in tourism, though, has also meant that Ko Phi Phi now boasts some of the nicest hotels in Thailand as well as various bars and restaurants, all of which are perfect for helping you and your family enjoy a relaxing day (or indeed, a relaxing few days) with your feet up.