About Thailand Travel
Bangkok: Bangkok has been Thailand’s capital since 1782. It began as a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River in the mid-14th century. Today it is a global city that blends Thai, Chinese, Indian, Buddhist, Muslim and Western cultures. Its most notable landmark is the brilliant Grand Palace, with gilded spires, elaborate halls, pavilions and murals. The chapel of the Emerald Buddha adjoins the palace. Its superb 31-inch-high Emerald Buddha, carved from a single block of jade, is one of Thailand’s most revered icons. Temples such as the reclining Buddha and Wat Trimitir dot the cityscape. The city is home to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai is the largest city in the north, with more than 300 Buddhist temples, 20 churches and 13 mosques. A long-standing ritual takes place before sunrise each day when residents present food offerings to monks who gather for a procession through the town. Founded in 1296, the city was a strategically important center on an ancient trade route. It was built to succeed Chiang Rai as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. The city, however, was abandoned between 1776 and 1791. Today, Chiang Mai is a dynamic and modern city, which works to weave the rich tapestry of history with its increasingly modern side. Close by are the celebrated mountain hill tribes and artisan villages such as the traditional Akha people, known for sumptuous costumes with elaborate silver-embellished headdresses; and the Yao who are recognized for their customarily colorful embroidered outfits. The notorious Golden Triangle here borders on Thailand, Burma, and Laos.
Chiang Rai: Chiang Rai was founded in 1262 and became the capital of the Mangrai dynasty, but soon lost its status to the new city of Chiang Mai. Chiang Rai was conquered by then-Burma and remained under its control for several hundred years. In 1432, the small Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most revered Buddha statue, was discovered when an earthquake or lightening, depending on the storyteller, cracked open the stupa at Wat Phra Kaeo revealing the small jade figurine. The city is a good base for exploring the area’s vintage temples, local museums, lush forests and waterfalls. The Karen people are noted for their woven attire and profusion of beaded jewelry.
Hua Hin: Thailand’s oldest resort, Hua Hin has been a beachside resort town for more than 70 years and lures both foreign and Thai visitors. King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) visited this humble fishing village in the early 1920s, and thought it would be an ideal escape from Bangkok’s steamy summers. In 1928, the king built a summer palace here, which remains one of the royal residences. Siam’s upper class and nobility followed, building summer homes along the beachfront. A railway line from Bangkok insured the area’s easy access for nearly everyone. In addition to water sports, golf and spas, the area features great parks, serene waterfalls and mysterious caves. Hua Hin has the ideal recipe for a relaxing stay in an exotic setting.
Lampang & Sukhothai: Lampang is a pastoral town with well-preserved temples. It was the center of the ninth-century Hariphunchai Kingdom, and its goldtopped temple is one of the most sacred in northern Thailand. Si Satchanalai was a thriving spiritual center from the 13th to 15th centuries. Its grandeur is evident in the remnants of its temples with their detailed carvings of floral designs and poetic human figures. In the 12th century, Sukhothai was capital of the first independent Thai Kingdom. The dynasty flourished for more than 150 years, and its legacy lingers in the more than 20 remaining shrines. Nearby is a training camp for young elephants, where visitors learn about the lifelong relationships between elephants and their handlers.
Khao Sok National Park: In Surat Thani Province, the park comprises the largest area of virgin forest in Southern Thailand, and is a remnant of rainforest which is older and more diverse than the Amazon rainforest. The park is home to Malayan tapir, Asian elephant, tiger, Sambar deer, bear, guar, wild boar and white-handed gibbon. Langurs are one of the most common monkeys seen here, especially at the Cheow Larn Lake in the center of the park.
Phuket, Krabi & Phi Phi Islands: Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, has been dubbed Pearl of the Andaman for its golden beaches and turquoise waters. Its historic towns are steeped in Thai, Chinese and Malay culture. The rocky limestone cliffs, powdery beaches, tranquil bays and forests make this a wealthy and popular island with world-class resorts. Seafood lovers can enjoy the island’s famous lobster. Krabi is a southern province on the Andaman coast. It may be the country’s oldest continually inhabited human settlement. Stone tools, ancient beads, pottery and skeletal remains have been discovered in the surrounding cliffs and caves. Krabi may have been home to Homo sapiens back to 35,000-25,000 BCE. The province includes several coralfringed islands with well-known dive sites. The largest, Ko Lanta Yai, is park headquarters and home to the Chao Le, sea gypsies who subsist on fishing. Phi Phi Islands sit between Phuket and Thailand’s coast along the Andaman Sea, and feature limestone cliffs, splendid beaches, and caves such as Viking Cave with natural formations and rock paintings.
Nakorn Ratchasima, Khao Yai, Amphawa & Ayutthaya: Commonly called Korat, Nakorn Ratchisima was important to the Khmer kingdom. Nearby Prasat Hin Phimai National Historical Park shows that this area was connected to distant Angkor Wat in Cambodia by a ‘royal’ road dating from the end of the 11th century. This is Thailand’s largest collection of Khmer buildings. Khao Yai National Park was Thailand’s first national park, and some 3,000 species of plants have been identified. Wildlife includes wild elephant, deer, bat, monkey, wild dog, marbled cat, leopard, gaur, dusky langur and the very rare tiger and Malayan sun bear, and more than 180 bird species. Khao Yai has a variety of activities including jungle treks, bird watching, canoeing and elephant trekking excursions. Amphawa District is steeped in history and its waterways allow boats to travel to once-hidden temples and visit traditional wooden homes. Amphawa Floating Market, unlike some more visited bazaars, remains an authentic market, and may be the best kept secret in Thailand. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya was a thriving Siamese kingdom from 1350 until 1767, when it was captured by the Burmese. Today, Ayutthaya is known for its spectacular ruins and temples, including Wat Chai Mongkol with its Reclining Buddha.
Suggested Thailand Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand’s capital dates at least to the early 15th century.
Day 2: Bangkok
The city sights include the Grand Palace, the iconic Emerald Buddha and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Day 3: Bangkok / Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is the gateway to renowned mountain hill tribes and artisan villages of Lisu, Lahu, Palong and Yao.
Days 4/5: Chiang Mai
Buddhist temples, a young elephant training camp and river rafting are features of the region.
Day 6: Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai
Rugged mountains hide traditional villages of the Akha, and other hill tribes. The infamous Golden Triangle is here at the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos.
Day 7: Chiang Rai
The area includes vintage temples, local museums, lush forests, waterfalls and several hill tribes of the Karen.
Day 8: Chiang Rai / Bangkok / Krabi Or Phuket
Krabi on the Andaman Sea is likely the country’s oldest settlement, dating from 25,000 - 35,000 BC.
Day 9: Krabi Or Phuket
Kayaking, sailing, bird watching, snorkeling and trekking to waterfalls and caves are top activities here.
Day 10: Krabi Or Phuket /B angkok
Once a small trading post, Bangkok is home to two major airports and a host of world-class hotels and services.
Day 11: Bangkok / Depart
Custom Travel Options
Hua Hin (4 days)
Formerly a small fishing village, Hua Hin is an ideal beach retreat. One of Thailand’s oldest resorts, it came to the attention of the king of Thailand in the early 1920s.
Khao Sok National Park (4 days)
The park comprises the largest area of old-growth virgin forest in Southern Thailand. Elephant-back treks, hiking and canoeing are options here.
Lampang, Phitsanulok & Sukhothai (4 days)
Northern Thailand’s sacred temples and ruins from the 12th to 15th centuries are worthy of exploration.
Nakorn Ratchasima, Khao Yai National Park & Amphawa (7 days)
Ruins of Khmer kingdoms date back to the 11th century. Khao Yai National Park has more than 3,000 species of plants, and includes elephant, gibbon, bear and deer.
Phuket, Krabi & Phi Phi (4 days)
While each island has a distinct personality, they all provide excellent beaches, tropical forests, luxury resorts and a roster of activities to make for a wonderful island escape.
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$350 per person per day