Thailand Travel Guide & Vacation Guide

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TWO WAYS TO EXPERIENCE LUXURY Thailand TOURS

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Join  small group tours to Thailand with like-minded travelers. Experience perfectly crafted luxury Thailand tours or create your own personalized, private departure for just you, your family and friends. See the possibilities at Custom Trips to Thailand.

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Like an architect creating your one-of-a-kind home, our Asia Travel Experts craft your personalized journey from the ground up. Your preference of destinations, pace, budget, dates, activities and lodging are skillfully arranged, down to the finest detail. Begin planning your custom luxury travel to Asia or the Pacific today!

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Highlights

If this is your first Thailand travel experience, there are some iconic cities, sites and destinations located throughout the country that are simply a must-see for first-time travel to Thailand, which include Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai and the incredible beaches of the south.

BANGKOK

TEMPLES & CANALS

The Grand Palace and its glittering Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the heart of the modern-day Thai kingdom and an overwhelming experience for visitors.

Travel Bangkok by river, visiting the Temple of Dawn and the enormous reclining Buddha at Wat Po, past the modern metropolis and into small canals that reveal another age and way of life. Stop at a small wooden school and a rural monastery.

CITY MARKETS & CHINATOWN

Bangkok houses the ultimate oriental bazaar, offering delicate orchids, seasonings, and spices; rare Buddhist amulets and pigeon's-blood rubies; mangoes and durians piled high in baskets; chicken feet and flopping fish. Chinatown's narrow alleys are lined with a mind-boggling array of wares and interesting temples, including one with a solid gold Buddha weighing in at 5.5 tons.

COOKING CLASS

For a unique Thailand travel experience, learn the secrets of great Thai cooking from a professional chef at one of our two favorite places: the Blue Elephant Cooking School or the Thai House Cooking School. Try tom yam kung and gaeng kiow wan, pad thai and som tam. Lessons include visits to local markets to buy the freshest ingredients. Half-day or full-day classes are available.

TEAKWOOD MANSIONS

Not only stylish, teak is one of the most sought after types of wood for withstanding extreme heat related elements and is resistant to termites. Teak homes and mansions are a sought after commodity in Thailand. Here are several of our favorite Teakwood Mansions in the greater Bangkok area:

VIMARNMEK PALACE

Explore the world's largest teakwood structure. There is an excellent exhibit on the Thai monarchy inside the complex as well.

PRASART MUSEUM

This private museum has an exceptional array of antiques and crafts from across Asia. It is set in lovely grounds dotted with rare trees and shrubs, several crumbling shrines and lotus ponds, making for a tranquil, reflective stop on your tour of Thailand. (Visits by appointment only. Please allow one-hour transfer to/from museum.)

JIM THOMPSON HOUSE

Visit the former residence of the American silk entrepreneur, Jim Thompson, who deserves most of the credit for the current popularity of Thai silk. As a tireless promoter of traditional Thai arts and culture, Jim Thompson collected teak homes from central Thailand and had them reassembled on a small lot on the backwaters of Bangkok.

SUAN PAKKARD PALACE

For the art aficionado on vacation in Thailand, explore this former royal palace that now houses a wonderful collection of Thai and Khmer art. Of special interest is the Ban Chiang pottery, from a Bronze Age civilization discovered 20 years ago in northeastern Thailand.

BANGKOK DAY TOURS

Tour Bangkok and see what else this bustling city has to offer. For example visit a tailor and have custom clothes made at a fraction of the cost at home. Or travel to the floating market of Damneon Saduak. Take a bicycle tour out into the countryside to see a peaceful side of Bangkok far from the frenetic pace of the main city. Try a traditional massage.

CHIANG MAI

Chiang Mai, a 700-year-old city and Northern Thailand's cultural capital, offers a delightful contrast to bustling, sweltering, manic Bangkok. The climate is cooler than Bangkok's, the pace is gentle, and the people are gracious and hospitable.

There are numerous stately temples, finely-wrought handicrafts and silks, and a night bazaar full of delights. Opportunities to explore the area by bicycle are available no matter the ability level of the biker.

BEACHES

A trip to Thailand is not complete without a stay at one of Southern Thailand's famed beaches.

PHUKET

The largest island in Thailand, Phuket is a place only nature could create, with forests of towering coconut palms, miles of pure white beach, and a sparkling sea rich with underwater activity.

Called "The Pearl of the Andaman Sea," travel Phuket and you'll discover that this extraordinarily beautiful island is indeed a precious gem. Optimum time to visit Phuket is November - May, as it is slightly rainier during the monsoon months between June - October.

KRABI

A gentle sea and sky, glistening white-sand beaches, and quiet bays surrounded by towering, jungle-covered karst formations with simple or luxurious accommodations. From here enjoy Thailand activities such as sea canoeing, rainforest walks, snorkeling, hikes, tours to rubber plantations and cave monasteries-and when you've worked up an appetite, treat yourself to some of the abundant, mouthwatering seafood the area is known for. The rain patterns in Krabi are similar to those in Phuket.

KO PHI PHI

A slice of heaven, the smaller of the two Phi Phi Islands was the setting for the film The Beach.

CHIANG RAI / CHIANG SAEN

Visit Chiang Rai, home to the notorious Golden Triangle, a spectacular area near the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma. Experience beautiful botanical gardens, lush green surroundings, and a simpler and slower way of life.

Nearby is the historic old city of Chiang Saen, with its ancient walls, interesting museum and a number of temples. View the mighty Mekong River from Wat Chom Kitti and peer far into bucolic Laos.

Adventures

Have more time, second trip to Thailand, or looking for something specific? Here are some additional highlights when creating your custom Thailand travel plan

THE SOUTH

KOH SAMUI

A stunningly beautiful Thailand travel destination, this tropical island has a mountainous interior comprised of coconut palms (about 2.5 million of them), coffee and rubber plantations. Mountain paths, waterfalls and strange rock formations abound, and can be explored by four-wheel drive, mountain bike, or on foot.

This island is located on the Gulf of Thailand so the monsoonal moisture pattern is different from the beach paradise found on the Andaman Sea side (Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi Island). The island is tropical all year round and rain can occur at any time. The driest time of the year, considered peak season for Koh Samui travel is from April - October.

TRANG ARCHIPELAGO

One of Southern Thailand's best kept secrets, the Trang Archipelago is just a short flight south from Phuket. Secluded islands and hidden beach resorts. A great year-round Thailand travel destination, its driest months are from December to April.

KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK

Khao Sok National Park, home to elusive tigers, hornbills, and rafflesia flowers, offers jungle hikes, boat trips through towering limestone formations, and a chance to experience an endangered natural world during your Thailand trip. Stay in a jungle lodge or tented camp.

MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO

Access Myanmar's (Burma's) remote waters to discover pristine snorkeling and sea gypsies. Phuket is your jumping-off point.

CENTRAL THAILAND

AYUTHAYA

A memorable day can be spent exploring Ayuthaya, which was once Thailand's mightiest capital. In its heyday it was far bigger and more magnificent than London or Paris. Razed by the Burmese in 1767, its archaeological ruins are sad but beautiful.

Travel to Ayuthaya by coach, returning by river aboard the Oriental Queen. Or for a unique Thailand travel experience, journey to the ancient capital on the Chao Phraya-the "River of Kings"-on an elegant, refurbished rice barge such as theManohra Song and the Mekhala.

KANCHANABURI AND THE RIVER KWAI

Only two hours west of Bangkok is Kanchanaburi and the infamous World War II bridge over the River Kwai. Travel by train across the bridge. A must-see for history buffs visiting Thailand, experience the War Museum and Cemetery, nearby waterfalls and caves, and a small Khmer temple. Option to stay overnight on a rafthouse more commonly referred to as a "Float-tel" or a tented camp near Kanchanaburi.

HUA HIN

Thailand is a snorkeler's paradise, featuring over 400 species of fish and 250 species of hard coral. Two hours south of Bangkok, elegant Hua Hin beach resort, favored by Thai royalty, has great beaches and dining, with two major national parks nearby.

KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK

Wild elephants within a two-hour drive from Bangkok? Yes, in Thailand's oldest national park. Full of exotic birds and beasts, Khao Yai has miles and miles of trails to explore. Hike through dense rainforest beneath rare orchids. See towering waterfalls. Go on night safaris and enjoy interpretive walks with an expert birding guide. Take a tour of a vineyard and sample delightful wine and Thai cuisine.

SUKHOTAI

Siam's "Golden Age" is revealed in the 13th century ruins of this glorious ancient capital. Beautifully carved Buddha statues, crumbling pillars, lotus ponds, temples and pagodas are strewn over this area and make for wondrous explorations. A UNESCO World Heritage historical park.

ISAN

Untouristed and undeveloped, Northeastern Thailand offers traditional village life, magnificent Khmer ruins, fine silks and handicrafts, national parks, and Mekong River scenery.  Isan is the jumping off point for travels onto the Khmer Trail. For those wishing to experience authentic Thailand travel, Isan is the country's least developed region and traditional culture still flourishes here.

UBON RATCHATHANI

Access Laos from this eastern port of entry.

THE NORTH

MAE HONG SON / PAI

For a unique Thailand travel experience, travel by 4WD vehicle and bamboo raft to an area of dramatic mountain scenery and exotic tribal cultures, including the Padaung long-necked people.

Explore Burmese style temples and overnight in a handsome riverfront hotel in Shan town. The tribal experience is the true reward in both of these areas.

PETCHABUN

Fairly remote, this area is a nature lover's dream. The vegetation is quite different from the surrounding areas of the North, large boulder rocks abound. The flora and fauna found in this National Park area is some of the most diverse in the entire Kingdom of Thailand. Nature and eco-resorts are quite popular in this area.

Questions? Ready to start planning your trip?

CONTACT A Thailand TRAVEL EXPERT

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