From the intensity of its fast-paced cities to the tranquility of its rural villages, Thailand is a land of rich diversity and incredible natural beauty. To get a full picture of this fascinating country would take years, but luckily for most of us who don’t have that time to spare, it is still possible to get a flavour of the different parts of Thailand in a shorter space of time. Even though you could probably find countless sides of the country to focus on, I have chosen just three to take a closer look at. No trip to Thailand is complete without seeing all three.
When you talk to anyone about Thailand, Bangkok is always a name that comes up. For those who’ve never been, they talk about its intense traffic, crowded streets, daring sex shows and hedonistic parties. For those who have been…much of the same! But there’s so much more to this place than just decadence. Here is where many travellers experience Asia for the first time, so it really does have an East meets West feel. The temples, palaces, floating markets and the people themselves all make this one of the world’s most fascinating cities. It may take a few days to get used to the pace of life here, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to do so.
The Great North
The most remote region of the country, the north is where travellers go to visit local hill tribes, see wildlife in its natural habitat and attempt to escape from the hoards of other tourists. The city of Chiang Mai is the first stop for most visitors, and presents a greener alternative to the smog-filled centre of Bangkok. Away from here, travellers try to get off the beaten track by finding some of the cultural treasures in some of the north’s forgotten corners. As this is the poorest part of the country, many people come here to volunteer in Thailand, whether that is by teaching English as a foreign language, working at one of the wildlife centres or helping out at at orphanage or childcare centre. Volunteering is a great way to experience the country while giving something back at the same time.
A world away from Bangkok, the islands of Thailand mean many things to many people. Tropical paradises. Full moon parties. An escape from real life. With hundreds of different islands, visitors from all over the world are drawn here every year. Many of the islands are found gathered together off the south coast and plenty of people enjoy island-hopping from one to the next. Party-goers head to Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Phi Phi for wild gatherings on the beach that go on all night. Scuba divers make for Koh Tao to experience an underwater odyssey that rivals most places in the world. Luxury holiday-makers go for Ko Samui with its stunning resorts and tropical brilliance. It’s a cliche, but there really is something for everyone.