Reasons to Visit
For some Thailand is synonymous with beaches and there is no debating that many of the islands and beaches in the south of the county are truly stunning with a dramatic backdrop of limestone casts which literally erupt out of the water. Many of the islands are still relatively undeveloped and the crystal clear water and abundance of marine life make for some stunning diving and snorkelling.
An absolute paradise for food lovers, from the spicy soups of the north to the sublime creamy green curries in the south, Thai food is adored by visitors and locals alike. For those who wish to broaden their palate Bangkok is one of the cuisine capitals of the world with food from virtually corner of the planet represented in the various stalls and restaurants.
"Mai pen rai" is a common expression used by the Thais which means "it's all right". This sums up their approach to life and is reflected in their warm smiles and genuine love for giving warm and friendly service to the farangs (friends) who visit their country. Many people say their main reason for repeat visits is down to the warmth of the people. This warmth permeates through all levels of Thai society from city dwellers to the many ethnic hill tribe people living in the north of the country.
Nowhere does the natural beauty of Thailand shine through more than in the national parks dotted around the country. Thailand has one of the highest percentages of protected land of any nation in the world. Whilst today the larger species such as the Asiatic bear and Asian tiger are rather elusive, there are still great viewing opportunities available including hornbills in Doi Inthanon, wild elephants in Khao Yai and giant manta rays in the Similan Islands.
The majority of Thais are devout Buddhists and this devotion manifests itself in the ornate and wonderfully sculptured temples, or wats, which can be found in every part of the country. The two most famous examples are Wat Pho in the capital, Bangkok and the magnificent Doi Suthep in the northern town of Chiang Mai which is perched on a hill overlooking the city. However a typical journey through Thailand will throw up an array of more subtle but no less interesting wats where the locals can be seen paying their respects to Buddha.
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Our Thailand specialists are experienced and passionate about the country - between them they have spent many weeks a year researching new experiences and ensuring everything is of the highest standard. They know the Thailand inside out.
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Thailand features in the brochures of most mainstream tour operators, and it is Southeast Asia’s most visited country.
Most sell a simple 'off the shelf' package combining a few nights in Bangkok with one of the more developed beaches. However, we apply the same theory to Thailand that we do to all our destinations, starting from scratch and looking at what the country has to offer each individual traveller.
With national parks rich in flora and fauna, mountain ranges with their resident hill tribes, and pristine beaches where local fishermen bring the catch in each day, many parts of Thailand can still be enjoyed in unspoilt tranquility.
Whether you are looking for adventure, beach or culture we can tailor-make an itinerary, taking you off the beaten track areas to seek the very best hidden resorts and hotels.
Thai is the official language. English is widely spoken throughout the country.
Bursting with mouth-watering flavours of exotic herbs such as lemongrass and kaffir lime, Thai cuisine is certainly one of the highlights of travelling in Thailand. The best cuisine is often found in the local non-descript restaurants, and at the open-air street stalls, where sitting on pint sized plastic stools is the norm.
Local whisky, either Mekhong or Sangthip is worth sampling. The local beer comes in varying strengths. Fruit juices are also worth trying. Coconut milk straight from the shell is available during the harvest season.
Tipping for good service is an accepted fact worldwide. It is spreading in Thailand and will always be appreciated but is not part of everyday Thai culture therefore you should not feel it is an obligation. 10% is the going rate in restaurants. At many other hotel restaurants and upmarket eateries this 10% service charge will be added to your bill.
The Thai currency is the baht. Notes are in denominations of 1000, 500, 100, 50 and 20 baht. Coins are in denominations of Baht 10, 5, 2 and 1 baht and 50 and 25 satangs. However, you will rarely use satangs.
Automatic cash dispensers are widespread, especially in the major cities. Most machines take all credit cards, as well as Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Solo cards. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, as are bank debit cards. Please do remember that many banks charge a fee to use any bank whilst abroad.
Allow about £15 a day for meal and drink expenses, a local beer will normally cost around £1, a two-course lunch around £5 and a two-course dinner around £8, depending on where you choose to eat.
If somebody bows with their hands together (a 'wai') it is polite to do the same in return, unless they are hotel staff, waiters etc, however a 'wai' would also be appreciated by them. Thai people are softly spoken and avoid confrontation. Try to avoid shouting or raising your voice. Public displays of affection such as hugging and kissing are seen to be embarrassing so try to avoid this. If visiting a local person's house always take off your shoes. People in Thailand prefer to dress neatly and in clean clothes and appreciate it when visitors do the same. Thai people are tolerant of most kinds of behaviour, as long as it does not insult their monarchy or religion.
Any portrait of the King or any members of the royal family must be treated with a great deal of respect. This extends to currency; if you drop a Thai coin or note, ensure you pick it up. Never stand on a coin or note if you see one on the floor. Furthermore, you must not lick stamps. There will usually be a small sponge available for attaching the stamp to a letter. To celebrate the King's 60 years on the throne, and to show one's love for the King, you will see many Thais wearing yellow t-shirts, particularly on Mondays. Thais are very happy to see 'farang' (foreigners) do the same.
It is considered rude to show the soles of your feet in Thailand and you must never point your feet towards a Buddha image. Please do not touch anything that may be of religious significance, such as Buddha statues, altars, and burial grounds. Whilst much of Thailand has become accustomed to Western tourists, it is important to dress respectfully when visiting religious sites. Remove shoes and hats before entering a religious building.
If you wish to take photos of hill tribes, it is likely that they will either expect a small monetary donation or for those tribes that deem it bad luck, will ask that you do not photograph them. Please always ask permission before taking a photograph.
'Phra Farang: An English Monk in Thailand' by Phra Peter Pannapadipo. An excellent insight into Thai culture and Theravada Buddhism. 'The Beach' by Alex Garland. An interesting and quirky insight into the Thailand backpacker scene.
'Carabao' is one of the most popular bands in Thailand. Formed in 1976 by a group of students, their style is known in Thailand as 'songs for life'. Their music often incorporates political or social issues, and is a delicate mix of Thai folk, and Western rock music. Favourites include the songs 'Burloi', and 'Made in Thailand'. Typically Thai and highly recommended!
'The Man with the Golden Gun' (1974). Largely filmed in Thailand, parts were filmed in the breathtaking Phang Nga Bay, and gives you an insight into just how beautiful this area really is. 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' (1957); whilst actually filmed in Sri Lanka, it gives a fascinating insight into the Allied POWs during World War II. They were responsible for building the rail link from Bangkok to Burma, through some of the most inhospitable terrain imaginable and who were subjected to inhumane living conditions. Well worth a viewing either before, or after your trip to Kanchanaburi, to get an idea of the history of the area.
Som Tam; a very spicy salad made with shredded papaya is a Northeastern speciality that must be tried. Eat with sticky rice (khao neow). Geang Massaman; a truly delicious Southern Thai curry made with coconut milk, cardamom, cinnamon, and chilli, amongst other ingredients. Tom Kha Gai; a sumptuous creamy soup made with galangal, coconut milk, chicken, lime juice and lemongrass to name a few. Kow Soi; Egg noodles with a rich Northern Thai curry made from coconut milk, satay and lime topped with fried crispy noodles.
Singha and Chang are the most well known brands of beer in Thailand. Lesser known is Leo Beer. Try this with a spicy green curry (geang keow waan), they go very well together, after a long hot day. Lao Khao is a spirit distilled from rice. It is enjoyed largely in the northern provinces by rural Thais. It is often very strong, but tasty in moderation. Sang Som (Thai rum) is a must when relaxing on the Thai islands. It is often drunk neat over ice, or with cola. Watch out, it has a potent kick, but not an entirely unpleasant one!
For males, Sawadee krap and for females, Sawadee ka ('Hello/Goodbye'); Say with a prayer-like 'wai' gesture. Kop khun krap/ka ('Thank you'). Kor tawd krap/ka ('Excuse me'). Tow rai krap/ka? ('How much?'). Mai ow krap/ka ('No thanks').
Bustling markets, fiery dishes, beach fun, turquoise waters, colourful reefs, beautiful Buddhist temples, misty mountains, lush jungle.
Thai silk, wood carvings, hill tribe crafts, tailored suits, ethnic clothing.
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to Thailand by contacting one of our specialists...
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Further reading:Tours in ThailandWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationCountry Guides
Other countries in Southeast Asia:BorneoBurmaCambodiaIndonesiaLaosMalaysiaPapua New GuineaThe PhilippinesVietnam
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