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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Phanom Rung was erected as a Hindu monument between the 10th and 13th centuries and later additions to the site were made during Buddhist eras.
This dramatic example of Khmer architecture stands majestically on the summit of an inactive volcano with views towards Angkor Wat and the Dongrek mountains in Cambodia.
There are many impressive design features including a spectacular approach along a 200 metre avenue of pink sandstone pillars capped with lotus-buds to an ornate five-headed naga bridge and an ascent of many steps to the main sanctuary.
The exquisitely carved buildings are aligned so that on the days of the Full Moon in April you can stand at the western entrance and see the rising sun through all fifteen doors.
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Further reading:Tours in ThailandWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout ThailandCountry Guides
Other countries in Southeast Asia:BorneoBurmaCambodiaIndonesiaLaosMalaysiaPapua New GuineaThe PhilippinesVietnam
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