It’s one of the most popular destinations for adventurers in the world and, for many who are new to travel, a week or two (or three…) in Thailand can be a life-changing experience. From tourist staples like beaches and bars all the way through to jungles and temples, this is a country which offers every bit as much as you can take. It’s the perfect place to begin your love affair with the wide, wild world – so read on for how to get started…
What to pack
Let’s start with the boring practical stuff that might just make life a little easier once you’re over there.
Thailand has a tropical climate, but it can also be kind of unpredictable. So, sure, take your best swimming gear and shades, just make sure you also take comfortable shoes you can hike in. A backpack is strongly recommended, and make sure there’s a jumper in there somewhere (nights can get cool) and, yes, a lightweight waterproof jacket (especially if you’re there between July and October – it’s called Monsoon Season for a reason). And please be aware you may also need to cover up if you do visit any temples.
On a short break
If you’re only visiting for a week or so (and this is your first time in Thailand), it’s probably a good idea to start with the capital, Bangkok. It’s the most visited city in the world for a reason; offering popular beaches, historic temples, huge markets and all the nightlife you can handle.
But, conveniently, there’s also plenty of other worthwhile destinations just a short trip from the city. So you might want to check out Ayuthaya, once one of the world’s grandest cities. Towering ruins are all that remain, but they’re very accessible for visitors. You can find yourself climbing temple spires to see Buddhist murals, wandering through beautiful gardens or even meeting animatronic statues of ghosts and skeletons.
Also conveniently close is the Khao Yai National Park, which is the perfect place to see unspoilt Thai landscapes complete with waterfalls, mountains and lush monsoon forests.
A longer stay
If you’re lucky enough to have two weeks or more to spend, the country opens up with possibilities.
One of the most fun destinations a little further away is Lopburi – otherwise known as ‘Monkey City’. If you want to mingle with some of the country’s most mischievous wildlife, this is the place to do it – they’re very used to visitors and not at all shy of saying hello.
Meanwhile, for those looking to relax, Chiang Mai is a laid-back city which seems to pack colourful and historic buildings into every backstreet (it used to be the capital). Monasteries, markets, ornate statues and museums of traditional Thai crafts are also there to be found.
And, finally, head to the Gulf of Thailand to experience the other side of the country’s beautiful shores. Here, you’ll find rocky islands rising out of the sea and a local scene of snorkelling by day – and partying by night.