Thailand is largely tropical, so it's hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F), a degree of relief provided only in the mountains in the far north of Thailand. The careful observer will, however, note three seasons:
- Cool: From November to the end of February, it doesn't rain much and temperatures are at their lowest, although you will barely notice the difference in the south and will only need to pack a sweater if hiking in the northern mountains, where temperatures can fall as low as 5°C. This is the most popular time to visit and, especially around Christmas and New Year's, finding flights and accommodation can be expensive and difficult.
- Hot: From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F). Pleasant enough when sitting on the beach with a drink in hand, but not the best time of year to go temple-tramping in Bangkok.
- Rainy: From July to October, although it only really gets underway in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country. This doesn't mean it rains non-stop, but when it does it pours and flooding is not uncommon.
There are local deviations to these general patterns. In particular, the south-east coast of Thailand (including Ko Samui) has the rains reversed, with the peak season being May-October and the rainy off season in November-February.
Thailand is a shopper's paradise and many visitors to Bangkok in particular end up spending much of their time in the countless markets and malls. Particularly good buys are clothing, both cheap locally produced streetwear and fancy Thai silk, and all sorts of handicrafts. Electronics and computer gear are also widely available, but prices are slightly higher than in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.
A Thai speciality are the night markets found in almost every town, the largest and best-known of which include Suan Lum Night Bazaar in Bangkok and the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai. Here a variety of vendors from designers to handicraft sellers have stalls selling goods which cannot normally be found in malls and day markets. Most night markets also have large open air food courts attached.
You can also find marvelously tacky modern clothing accessories. Witness pink sandals with clear plastic platform heels filled with fake flowers. Night markets along the main roads and Bangkok's Mahboonkrong (MBK) Mall, near the Siam skytrain stop, are particularly good sources. Not to be left out is what is often touted as the world's biggest weekend bazaar - The Chatuchak Weekend Market or knowned to locals simply as "JJ" Market. Chatuchak sells a myriad of products ranging from clothes to antiques, covers over 35 acres (1.1 km square) and is growing by the day!
Haggling is the norm and often market and road-side vendors will try to charge you as much as they think you can afford to pay. It's not uncommon to buy something, walk outside, and find somebody who bought the same item for half or one third what you paid (or even less). Try to figure out the item's rough value first — adjacent stalls, government-run fixed price shops and even hotel gift shops are a good starting point — and you'll find that prices drop drastically when the seller realizes you have some idea of what it costs.
See also: Electronics and entertainment shopping in Thailand
is a country in South-East Asia with coasts on the Andaman Sea
and the Gulf of Thailand. It borders Myanmar (Burma) to the
north-west, Laos to the north-east, Cambodia to the south-east
and Malaysia to the south.
With great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture and,
hey, great beaches, Thaila
nd is a magnet for travellers the
Thailand is the most popular tourist destination in South-East
Asia, and for a reason. You can find almost anything here: thick
jungle as green as can be, crystal blue beaches that feel more
like a warm bath than a swim in the ocean and food that can
curl your nose hairs while tap dancing across your taste buds.
Exotic, yet safe and largely hassle-free; cheap, yet equipped
with every modern amenity you need, there is something for every
interest and every price bracket, from beach front backpacker
bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world. And
despite the heavy flow of tourism, Thailand retains its quintessential
Thainess, with a culture and history all its own and a carefree
people famed for their smiles and their fun-seeking sanuk lifestyle.
Many travelers come to Thailand and extend their stay well beyond
their original plans and others never find a reason to leave.
Whatever your cup of tea is, they know how to make it Thailand.
This is not to say that Thailand doesn't have its downsides,
including the considerable growing pains of an economy where
an agricultural laborer is lucky to earn 40 baht per day while
the nouveau riche cruise past in their BMWs, and a highly visible
sex tourism industry. Bangkok, the capital, is notorious for
its traffic jams and rampant development has wrecked much of
once-beautiful Pattaya and Phuket. In heavily touristed areas,
some lowlifes have made scamming tourists into an art form.
provinces can be conveniently divided into
five geographic and cultural regions.
- North - Chiang Mai, hill tribes, and the Golden Triangle
- Isaan - the great undeveloped north-east - get off the beaten track and discover backcountry Thailand and some magnificent Khmer ruins
- Central - Bangkok, lowlands and historic Thailand
- East - beaches and islands within easy reach of Bangkok, and Pattaya
- South - hundreds of kilometers of coastline and countless islands on both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, plus Phuket, Krabi, Ko Samui, Ko Tao and many more of Thailand's famous beach spots
- Bangkok - Thailand's bustling, frenetic capital
- Ayutthaya - a historical city, world heritage site and old capital of Thailand
- Chiang Mai - the capital of the North and the heart of Lanna culture
- Chiang Rai - gateway to the Golden Triangle
- Hat Yai - largest city in the Southern region
- Kanchanaburi - home of the Bridge over the River Kwai
- Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat) - main city in the Isaan region
- Pattaya - one of the main tourist destinations
- Sukhothai - Thailand's first capital
- Surat Thani - Main city of Ko Samui Ko Pha Ngan Ko Tao and Srivijaya Empire.
Islands & beaches:
- Ko Chang - once quiet island undergoing major tourism development
- Ko Kradan - Kradan Island Resort
- Ko Lanta - sleepy island near Krabi
- Ko Pha Ngan - site of the famous Full Moon Party with miles of quiet coastline
- Ko Phi Phi - backpacker favorite where The Beach was filmed
- Ko Samet - the nearest island beach escape from Bangkok
- Ko Samui - comfortable, nature, and entertainment hippie mecca gone upmarket
- Ko Tao - where the world learns to scuba dive
- Phuket - the original Thai paradise island
- Rai Leh - stunning beach by the limestone cliffs of Krabi
- Ang Thong National Marine Park - in Surat Thani Province
- Khao Sok National Park - in Surat Thani Province
- Khao Yai National Park - in Isaan
- Ko Chang National Park - in Trat Province
- Similan Islands - in Phang Nga province
- Tarutao National Park - in Satun Province
Thailand's a big enough country that you can find a place to practice almost any outdoor sport. Some selections:
- Golf - see the separate Golf in Thailand article
- Rock climbing - the cliffs of Rai Leh in Krabi are arguably among the best in the world
- Scuba diving - easily accessible Ko Tao and Ang Thong National Marine Park (near Ko Samui) draws the crowds, but also possible in Pattaya and Krabi, and the Similan Islands are worth the journey. See also Diving in Thailand
- SNUBA - Easy and safe way to explore Thailand's underwater worlds.
- Trekking - very popular up north around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai
- Liveaboard Diving see the separate Diving in Thailand article
- Spas - Although spas weren't introduced here until the early 1990s, Thailand has quickly become the second-highest ranking spa destination in the world. There are a phenomenal variety of spa types, and spas can be found at almost every destination in the country. The most popular spas can be found at major tourism destinations such as Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Bangkok, Ko Samui and Chiang Mai. See also
- Medical tourism - Many travellers go to Thailand to undergo medical treatments at a fraction of the cost charged in their home countries. The renowned Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok attracts on average 400,000 foreign patients per year or an average of 1,000+ a day. Other hospitals, such as Samitivej also specialize in serving foreigners. Private hospitals in Thailand are accredited by the government according to standards that meet or exceed those in North America, and many of the doctors in Thailand hold international accreditation and relevant licenses. Popular treatments treatments, ranging from cosmetic, organ transplants and orthopedic treatments to dental and cardiac surgeries, are available at a price much lower than the US or Europe. Treatments also include physical and mental therapies.