Sandwiched between some of the most exotic and mysterious countries in Asia, Thailand offers “champagne on a beer budget!” Sort of.
Fast replacing Mauritius as an island destination in easy reach for South Africans, Thailand is so much more than tall temples and beautiful beaches! Easily accessible through the popular Middle Eastern carriers, no visas required for South Africans and a currency that is affordable to the Rand, this destination is an answer to a prayer.
Offering a great climate year round, with peaks of 40°C in in March to June, and a rainy season July to October, this is tropical weather at its best.
Bangkok at night
Most visitors are familiar with two places: Bangkok and Phuket. One for nightlife and shopping, and the other for nightlife and beaches! But scratch below the surface and you will find a goldmine of activities, food and culture, far exceeding your expectations.
Buddhism is at the heart of Thailand, with temples dotting the landscape in cities, forests and countryside. In addition to this, many homes, businesses and even hotels also have a “spirit house” – A tradition that pre-dates Buddhism, which houses spirits so they don’t enter the house and cause trouble. Spirit houses often reflect the building their housed alongside, so that the larger and grander the property, the larger and grander the spirit house! This is especially true in area there the property is deemed to be “unlucky”.
Phi Phi Islands
Places on your “must see” list would include the uninhabited islands around Phi Phi, accessible by kayak or by hiring a local wooden boat. Activities to consider on and around Phi Phi include snorkeling or diving in Maya Bay where the famous movie “The Beach” was filmed.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok, with it’s staggering in historical significance and craftsmanship. The Sunday Night Walking Street markets in Chiang Mai, offering the best Thai street food you will ever taste. Khao Yai National Park, where you can view wild Asian elephants, exotic birds of prey, monkeys, and plenty of other tropical creatures.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Sukhothai’s Old City, the ancient capital of Thailand, with its many temples reflecting the strong history of Buddhism. The famous mountain temple of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai and no visit to Thailand would be complete without a visit to one of the incredible floating markets, where vendors in their long wooden boats ply their goods, fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and tasty dishes.
Even if your focus is something more relaxing, a visit to Bangkok however remains a must see during your travels around Thailand, even it’s just for one night. Here skyscrapers and temples sit side by side, as tuk tuk careen through the streets en route to China Town, and hawkers peddle their wares between taxis, as the naughty nightlife entices visitors to exotic places. This cosmopolitan city is the centre of the hive that is Thailand, with extremes in all things, but not least the food. Here the taste and variety is like a billion sensations at once, with almost no boundaries on your flavourful experiences!
Thailand can best be described as a dish, it might appear mild and unassuming at first, but after that first mouthful, you will want to go back for more.