ABOUT THAILAND

The Kingdom of Thailand attracts more visitors than any other South East Asian country with its relaxed way of life, friendly people, white sand beaches, bustling cities, hilltribes, jaw dropping scenery, ancient ruins, temples, amazing flora and fauna and of course their delicious cuisine and great shopping bargains.

Some of Thailand’s land and seascapes are among the most easily recognised in the world. There’s the postcard shot of Phuket’s white sand beach with turquoise waters. Hollywood movies have also had famous scenes shot here ‘James Bond’ The Man with the Golden Gun movie and ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Along the Mekong river you’ll find picturesque farming villages and to the north, colorful hilltribes and ancient walled cities.

Thailand is just less than double the size of New Zealand and has a population of over 65 million. It shares its borders with Malaysia to the south, Myanmar (Burma) to the east, landlocked Laos to the north west and Cambodia to the south west.

THAILAND Destinations

PHUKET

  • March 13, 2018
  • alins_zir
Phuket is a jungle covered mountainous island in the Andaman Sea with beautiful white sand beaches and irresistible turquoise bays set amongst the jagged coastline. Thailand's most famous island has an international and domestic airport and is connected by a short bridge to the mainland. Phuket is ideal for day trips to some beautiful and famous islands, such as Phi Phi Leh where 'The Beach' was filmed and Phang Nga Bay where the famous limestone pinnacle is featured in the James Bond 'The Man with the Golden Gun' movie. Perfect for swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling. Yes, there's plenty of shopping that can be done in Phuket too but Bangkok is better value and has a greater choice.
  You'll find lots of activities in Phuket. There are good dive spots both near and far, yachting, game fishing, kayaking, golf courses, elephant tours and 4WD tours. A visit to the Phuket Zoo can be an entertaining way for the whole family to spend the day with elephant, monkey and crocodile shows and a great range of animals.
Kata and Karon Beaches   Patong Beach Patong Beach is by far the most popular beach with plenty of accommodation, shops, restaurants and nightlife. The soft white sand beach is about 3 kilometres long with a road running the length of it. Most hotels and shops are located within the block back from the beach so it's easy enough to walk around else jump in a tuk-tuk for a few baht. Restaurants fuse together the world's flavours in a vast array of dishes but Thai and fresh seafood continue to be the big favourites. The beach is chokka with multi-coloured umbrellas and chairs which in a way is sad cause you don't really get to see the grandeur of the beach. On the brighter side though, there's plenty of chairs for everyone. Within the bay in designated areas for swimming and watersports such as jet-skiing and parasailing. Patong really comes alive at night, the beachside town turns on a festive atmosphere with live bands pumping out their sounds in bars glowing under neon lights. Street sellers and stalls pop up out of nowhere to enchant you with their trinklets. Kamala Beach Kamala Beach lies just north of Patong and is a quieter stretch of sand with a more relaxed feel. This well-enclosed bay and fishing village surrounded by forested hills is one of the most beautiful places in Phuket.  For couples the Kamala Beach Resort is beachfront and strictly adults only (16+) Next door is the Sunwing Resort which caters perfectly for families with several wonderfully designed room layouts. The Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach has striking views over the bar.     Other Beach Destinations

KRABI

  • March 13, 2018
  • alins_zir
Krabi Province is famous for its amazing limestone cliffs and unspoilt islands. Amongst the most popular islands are Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. The interior of the province is mostly unexplored tropical forests, home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Ao Nang Beach is Krabi's main resort beach area on the mainland, accessible by road from Krabi Town and airport. Limestone cliffs rise from the clear waters along the beach. Most hotels, shops and restaurants run along the beach road and on side streets up from the beach. From here you can easily take day trips to other beaches and islands. For the adventurous traveller there is rock climbing, trekking and caving tours. A few kilometres away and only accessible by long tail boat is Railay Beach. The picturesque boat trip between limestone cliffs and islands will take you into pristine white sand bays along with stunning cliffs and forest backdrops.
Krabi is a beach lovers paradise. If you love the idea of spending the day in the white sand and turquoise-blue water then Krabi is for you. Rock Climbing the limestone cliffs is on offer for learners to advanced It's easy to get from Krabi to Phi Phi Island and also to Phuket by quick-cat launch. Scheduled daily ferry's are available.  
Some Railay Beach hotels are directly on the beach ranging from budget to the spectaular Rayavadee. Ao Nang hotels are either across the road from the beach or further up the hill. This needs to be taken into account when choosing where to stay and also how remote you're happy to be. There are several luxury resorts along the coast further north of Ao Nang known for tranquility and serenity.

KOH SAMUI

  • March 13, 2018
  • alins_zir
Koh Samui is a postcard perfect island of rugged mountains, coconut palms, white sand beaches and turquoise waters. This is really the 'boutique' island of Thailand. Architecture is kept subtle amongst the coconut palms and nothing really sticks out like a sore thumb. Even the airport is like a traditional little village in itself with thatch roof and wood, rather than the usual drab concrete. The island atmosphere is more laid back than Phuket yet with enough to do throughout the day and night. The island is the third largest in Thailand after Phuket and Koh Chang. A boat ride to the north will take you to the increasingly popular islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. To the west is Angthong National Marine Park ' a lovely place for a day trip to some amazing tropical islands. There are several beautiful beaches to choose from for your vacation ranging from quiet, laid back beaches with not too many people to busy, modern towns. Chaweng Beach is by far the most popular with the longest beach, plenty of hotels, restaurants and things to do. Lamai Beach is next with a busy village atmosphere along with more economical hotels and restaurants. For those that want to get away to somewhere a little quieter, consider Bophut or Maenam beaches on the north coast.
Swimming and Sunbathing. Right up there with the best spots in the world. Restaurants and Bars. Chawang Beach has the largest choice. Day Trip to  Ang Thong National Park, a marine reserve of 42 islands, for snorkelling and kayaking. Take a Day Tour to Koh Tao Island, about a 2 hour ferry ride from Koh Samui. Or spend a night or two on a small island paradise. With incredible marine life it's a postcard perfect diving destination. The full moon parties at the neighbouring island of Koh Phangan is also a major drawcard to the area. Either stay in Koh Samui and have over there for the day (and night) then take the ferry back the next day. Or else stay a few nights in one of the beachfront resorts there.
We have a range of mostly 3 - 5 star hotels and resorts, many of which are true beachfront. The beauty of staying in a beachfront resort is that the beach becomes an extension of the hotel itself rather than a place to go and visit. Chaweng Beach offers plenty of choice of hotels and resorts ranging from 2 - 5 star.For good value in the heart of Chaweng consider Baan Samui or Banana Fan Sea. For luxury you're spoilt for choice with unique, boutique resorts and international brands including the Four Seasons and Banyan Tree. Luxury private villas are generally found outside of the main tourist areas.  

KOH PHI PHI

  • March 13, 2018
  • alins_zir
Phi Phi Island is the jewel in the Andaman Sea with beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters. It's around 40-45km to both Phuket and Krabi with easy ferry access. There are actually two Phi Phi Islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. Phi Phi Leh is part of a nature reserve and 'Maya Bay' made famous by the Leonardo Di Caprio movie 'The Beach'. Day tours to Phi Phi Leh can be made from Phi Phi Don, Phuket or Krabi. There are about 2500 people that live on Phi Phi Don. The main mode of transport here is by foot or bike. The island is made up of 2 mountains with a sandy bay area in-between them, making two incredibly picturesque bays. There's a maze of shops to walk through and a pleasant choice of restaurants, bars and dive shops.    
Water adventures with deep sea fishing trips, kayaking, diving and snorkelling. Diving is world class and highlights include diving with sharks and the sunken ferry 'King Cruiser'. Best months for diving are December to April when water visibility is at its clearest. Most people just enjoy the beauty of the beaches so a day can easily spent sunbathing and wallowing.  Rock climbing on some of the limestone cliffs.
Due to the layout of the island, if you'd like to make the most of the beautiful bay and closeness of restaurants etc, then ideally stay within easy walking distance. Bear in mind that the standard of accommodation isn't usually as high as other islands Worth considering is the PP Palm Tree and the PP Banyan Villa. Further from the bay several more luxurious options exist including Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort and the Holiday Inn Resort.

KHAO LAK

  • March 13, 2018
  • alins_zir
Located an hour's drive from Phuket Airport, Khao Lak is a series of white sand beaches running along the coast of the Andaman Sea. The area is ideal if you like relaxing in luxury beachside resorts or exploring islands and national parks.
Island Day Tours to Phang Nga Bay, the Surin and Similian Islands Khao Sok National Park. A rainforest with hiking and kayaking options Swim and sunbathe.  
Take your pick of luxury beachfront resorts.

HUA HIN

  • March 13, 2018
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Back in the 1920's King Rama VII founded Hua Hin as the royal getaway. From there it developed into the aristocracy's beach resort before more recently becoming a modern holiday destination with yesteryear's charm. The mile long beach is picturesque with smooth granite boulders jutting out into the bay. Charming wooden piers house rustic seafood restaurants with romantic atmospheres. Hua Hin is small enough to wander around without the need of a taxi or any other form of transportation. A plethora of souvenir shops, tailors, restaurants and markets create a unique beach town atmosphere. It's easy to get to Hua Hin from Bangkok with daily flights or under 3 hours by road. Hua Hin is a great place for a convenient break from Bangkok. For longer beach holidays we recommend main resort islands such as Phuket and Koh Samui.  
Visit the Cicada Weekend Night Market for street food and entertainment. Swim, sunbathe and relax. Enjoy a good book!  
Home to international branded resorts including Anantara, Sofitel, Marriott, InterContinenatal and the Hyatt, Hilton and Movenpick as well as luxury Thai brands - Dusit and Amari. You'll be spoilt for choice. There are also great offerings in the 3 - 4 star range.

CHIANG RAI

  • March 13, 2018
  • alins_zir
Chiang Rai is both the name of Thailand's northernmost province and also the name of the capital of the province plus it's considered the eco-tourism capital of Thailand. The province shares the mighty Mekong River as a common border with Laos to the east and Myanmar (Burma) to the west, creating the once notorious Golden Triangle where the drug trade flourished into the 1990's. Through strict control and law enforcement the opium trade has been pushed back into Laos and Myanmar. These days the only evidence of this drug era you'll see is in the museums. This mountainous Northern Province is home to 13 different hill tribes, mostly of Tibet and Chinese decent. The countryside is relatively unspoiled with hills, valleys with winding rivers and dense jungle. The tree lined Mae Nam Kok river flows through Chiang Rai City which is a smaller version of its bigger sister Chiang Mai. With just 40,000 people you'll find it to be cleaner, quieter and mellow. The main part of town is just a few blocks of shops, restaurants and quiet bars, travel agencies, a subdued night market selling plenty of hilltribe clothing and crafts. Chiang Rai isn't the place to come for nightlife but is the place to go as a base for treks to hilltribe villages, day trips to the Golden Triangle, Chiang Saen and across the border into Laos.  
Buddhist Temples (wat) are up there on the list of things to explore. Nature, Wildlife and Tribal Villages. Walking, trekking, waterfalls and unforgettable cultural experiences. Stopover Point before Laos. Take a day or two to relax here before hitting Laos.
As Chiang Rai is more a base for exploring the greater area we suggest choosing your hotel based on your budget and what facilities you want. As it's a little off the beaten track hotels are generally good value. We suggest La Patta for a central hotel or Le Meriedien Chiang Rai located by the Kok River for a little more luxury.

CHIANG MAI

  • March 13, 2018
  • alins_zir
Chiang Mai is the gateway to northern Thailand and is renowned for its breathtaking natural attractions and deep-rooted cultural traditions. Chiang Mai is a wonderful contrast to Bangkok, and while it is the second largest city in Thailand it's only a quarter the size of the capital and has a population of only 150,000. The modern and bustling Chiang Mai is built around the ancient crumbling city walls and moat. If you take a walk along the old cobbled lanes within the walls you'll come across old temples and crumbling stupas, shops and houses but all in a different atmosphere to outside the old kingdom's walls. There's a lot to do in Chiang Mai whether you're a nature lover, culture buff or a dedicated shopaholic. Chiang Mai (along with Chiang Rai) is the starting point for treks deep through deep tropical forest to hill tribes dotted amongst the surrounding mountains. There's a choice of easy van tours to Hmong villages and the famous Long Neck hill tribe. One of two night treks take you deep into the forested valleys and over mountains into the remote north where you'll sleep in local village houses. Temperatures are cooler than down the south of Thailand so trekking is much more manageable and enjoyable but still hard going! It's also the place for soft adventure with fun day tours with elephant rides through the jungle and river rafting on bamboo rafts. The Night Bazaar stretches for several blocks and selling Thai souvenirs, tribal ware and delicious food. Take your time here and make an evening of it. The market is a colourful and an enjoyable experience. There are also other day and night markets and shopping malls.  
Ancient Buddhist Temples (wat) abound. Within the city's old crumbling walls are scores of temples and crumbling stupas and in Chiang Mai province there are over 300 temples. Highlights would include Wat Chiang Man, the oldest wat in the city, dating back to 1296, and Wat Phra Singh which was completed in the late 14th century. Close Encounter with Hilltribes. See entirely different cultures in the villages around the province including the Long Neck Hill Tribe. Elephant Camps. Interact with these magnificent beasts in ethical and sustainable eco-tourism parks. Outdoor Adventures include ziplining, bamboo river rafting, Hiking from a few hours to overnight treks. Learn Something New. Cooking courses and Thai Massage courses abound. Explore the North. Chiang Mai is a great place to base yourself for trips to the Golden Triangle and a stopping point for tours onward into Laos or Myanmar.    
We recommend staying around the walled old city in the centre of town if you want to be close to the culture, although outside of the centre there are lovely boutique resorts worth considering. One of our favourite places near the old city include The Anantara Chiang Mai Resort while the boutique Tamarind Village is located within the old city and for good value and a few blocks away, we suggest The Imperial Mae Ping.

BANGKOK

  • March 13, 2018
  • alins_zir
Bangkok is a fascinating city, a blend of traditional East and modern West, scrambling with millions of people, towering skyscrapers and exotic temples. Within this vast capital city of more than 6 million people the traditional Thai way of life is never far away and amongst the rush of busy downtown streets you'll see saffron robed monks quietly collecting alms. Bangkok is a shopping delight and it's possible to pick up things far cheaper here than in the beach resorts. Sprawling markets and a labyrinth of alleys sell everything from traditional Thai silk to Western and local clothing to gold and delicious spicy Thai food. If you love markets then make sure you're in Bangkok for Saturday when the massive Chatuchak Weekend Market comes alive. You'll find Bangkok a great place to explore the intricacies of the fascinating Thai culture. Bangkok is home to the revered King and his family who reside at the Grand Palace and also home to some of Thailand's most important Buddhist Temples and the famous Emerald Buddha. These days Bangkok is an easy city to get around with the Skytrain and the Metro, the city's subway system, which loop around the central city. Both systems link to each other as well as shopping malls and some hotels. It's a modern and easy to use system. Bangkok is the hub of Thailand. From its pivotal position it's easy to go north towards Chiang Mai, east to Cambodia and south to the famous beach resorts of Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi. There's always something to do in Bangkok, the day can be spent exploring and shopping and the evenings can be spent dining in anything from a local eatery selling hot spicy curries to grilled scallops and champagne at the luxurious open-air restaurant Vertigo at the Banyan Tree on the 61st floor. Or else take a walk through the vibrant Patpong Night Market, watch a round or two of Thai Boxing (Muay Thai), or enjoy the music of local bands playing in beer gardens near some of the inner city shopping malls, or find one of Bangkok's many clubs with state of the art lighting, sound systems and professional DJs.
  Shopping. There are many malls and markets here to explore. The Chatuchak Weekend Market has 15,000 stalls. Foodies Heaven. Dive into the exotic flavours yourself or even better, join a local foodie for an unforgettable experience. Day Tours to the Water Markets and the River Kwai / Death Railway City Sightseeing including the Grand Palace, Buddhist temples and Dinner River Cruises. Night Life. In abundance.
With the city so easy to get around by Skytrain and Metro the key is choosing a hotel within easy walking distance to a station. It's a hot city so the less walking outside getting from A to B the better! There are many good choices in Bangkok but we do recommend being around the Pathumwan / shopping mall areas for convenience and access to the Skytrain. For shopaholics we have hotels joined to shopping malls such as the Pathumwan Princess. For those that prefer to be a bit further away from the hustle and bustle consider the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel.