The Highlights of Thailand
Thailand is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for party going twenty somethings and long term travellers alike. Beautiful coastlines and scenery, mixed with an incredibly interesting culture, excellent food and friendly people make it an ideal place to visit. Thailand is best explored over a period of three weeks or more, but it's possible to do it in less if you want a quick blast of hedonism at the beach. People who have got time on their side will want to explore as much of the country as possible, as well as explore the intriguing neighbouring countries of Laos and Cambodia. If you're looking to visit Thailand, then you should do your utmost to pack in these three highlights. Flights to Thailand are available from Dialaflight.
Most visitors to Thailand will arrive into the capital city of Bangkok. While some people refer to it as a big dirty city with not a whole lot to do, in fact the opposite is true: there's certainly enough to keep anyone entertained for four or so days – particularly if you want to shop! Most travellers will want to head to the grimy tourist airlock of the Kho San Road, in the Banglamphu district. There's always accommodation and plenty of bars and restaurants, but the overall feeling of the area is a fairly trashy mess. Venturing beyond the road of sleeping, eating, drinking and nick nack buying is the key to enjoy the city. Make sure you check out the splendid Royal Palace and Wat Pho, two of the best examples of regal oriental architecture you can find. East of this area is Chinatown – which is a huge sprawl of markets and stools where you can get goods at seriously low prices. Still further east and slightly north is Siam Square, the surrounding area of which is a mega complex of malls which is perfect for clothes and electronics buying. Nightlife in Bangkok is notoriously wild, and often seedy. Intrigue may take you to the Patpong District late at night; it's best to make your own mind up about that place!
The islands of the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea make Thailand one of the best beach hopping holiday destinations in the world. In the west on the Andaman coast, you have Phuket, Ko Phi Phi Don and Railay. The latter are certainly more raucous by night, with partying dragging on until the early morning, but Phi Phi also has a unique charm of incredible natural beauty. Much the same could be said of the quieter and exceptionally idyllic retreat of Railay, billed by The Lonely Planet as Thailand's best beach. On the eastern side of the thin mainland rising up from Malaysia is the Gulf of Thailand, home to Ko Phangan, Ko Samui, Ko Tao, and Ko Chang, all of which have a wide selection of beaches of bars. If you want the best party, then you can find this at the Full Moon Party in Ko Phangan. Meanwhile, Ko Tao is where most people choose to learn how to dive. It's worth visiting all the islands if you have the time, but if you're on a whistle stop visit, or you think you might tire of the beach, then it's probably best to hit Ko Phangan and Ko Tao.
Thailand's second city lies far in the northern highlands of the country, a twelve hour drive north of Bangkok. While the capital has a population of 7 million, even as the second city, Chiang Mai has only about 120,000 inhabitants. It's a beautifully cultural place, with a well laid out centre based around an age old moat and home to literally hundreds of temples. The city is also known as 'the activity capital' of Thailand, and there's a wide range of day time activities to keep travellers entertained. Certainly no visit to Chiang Mai would be complete without going to a Thai cookery school, where you can learn to cook six Thai dishes in a day for less than £20! Also Chiang Mai is famous for its jungle trekking. On either a one, two or three day adventure, you can head into the jungle highlands around the city, take an Elephant ride, go white water rafting, visit waterfalls and stay in a rural Thai village (with no electricity), you can't get a much more authentically Thai experience.
*Flights to Thailand start at £395 from Heathrow to Bangkok. Visit the Mushtaq Travel website for all their current deals