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  • Thailand Destinations
  • Thailand Destination

    Beaches and Islands

    Thailand’s islands and beaches are the destinations of choice for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Thailand is blessed with natural beauty and its islands are amongst the most scenic and beautiful in the world. Likewise, its beaches are simply stunning - clean sand, clear water, and wonderful scenery. Each of Thailand’s islands has its own character and identity drawing specific types of visitor. Some offer limited accommodation and facilities to draw the adventurous looking for a more ‘back to basics’ holiday experience. Others offer world class facilities (accommodation, restaurants, etc.) to entice visitors with bigger budgets who need their creature comforts. It is though important to note the diversity that exists not only between the islands, but between the beaches (both on islands and on the mainland). Whereas one beach might offer beaches that provide raucous entertainment, others in the same area might only draw those looking for a quiet life. There is then a lot to explore on Thailand’s islands and beaches and to get the best out of your trip you should plan where you are going carefully.

    History and Culture

    It is believed Thailand’s history stems from the Bronze Age some 5,000 years ago. Recorded history indicates a number of periods that mark important stages in Thailand’s history – the Sukothai Period from 1238 to 1438, the Ayutthaya Period from 1351 to 1767, the Thonburi Period from 1767 to 1782, and the Rattanakosin Period from 1782 until the present. The legacy of each of these periods is a series of temples, shrines, palaces and ancient sites, all depicting unique Thai architectural styles and lavish design. Although some of the historical significance of these attractions may at times be lost on you, the visual feast you experience more than compensates for your lack of insight. These are some of the most beautiful places you will ever experience. Simply relax and soak in the sights and sounds and build unforgettable memories. Never colonised, Thailand has never been detached from its culture. Thai dance, theatre, music and art, have all developed in entirely unique ways across the ages and play as important a role today as they did in years gone by. The numerous galleries and museums housing the treasures of bygone ages offer visitors a genuine visual delight

    Adventure and Eco-tourism

    Over the last few years there has been a world-wide explosion in interest in eco-tourism. People from many walks of life have recognised eco-tourism as being one means to enjoy the benefits of a country while remaining concerned about its environment and wildlife. But what exactly is eco-tourism? Originally eco-tourism involved travel to areas of natural or ecological interest (usually under the guidance of a naturalist) to observe wildlife and learn about the environment. By its nature, eco-tourism is also ‘low-impact’ tourism – groups are small and tours include advice and guidance on how to avoid damaging the environment. Nowadays, eco-tourism has grown to encompass a range of adventure and travel activities including Bicycle Tours, Elephant Safaris, Sea Cruises, Trekking, Walking and Wildlife Tours. Clearly, Thailand has huge advantages for the eco-tourist. The country’s rapid development has not reached all parts of the country and there are pristine areas for the adventurous tourist to explore.

    Budget Travel

    The main reasons for travel are to experience other cultures and to gain an insight to other ways of life. Clearly the best way to do this is to ‘go native’ and try as best you can to experience a country the way it is experienced by locals. This means eating the local food where locals eat it, travelling in the same way locals travel, and going to the same places locals might go for entertainment. If you ‘go native’ in Thailand, your travel experience will certainly be an inexpensive one.

    Street and restaurant food in Thailand is some of the best in the world. It’s cheap, and above all, it is Thai – one of the world’s most favoured cuisines. Travel in Thailand is also inexpensive. However, if you hunger for something a bit different, Thailand’s restaurants offer a wealth of culinary experience offering food from almost every part of the world at affordable prices.

    Long hauls from one end of the country to the other by bus or train can often cost only a few dollars. The emergence of a number of ‘low cost’ airlines in Thailand now means that air travel is no longer the privilege of a wealthy minority – a number of special promotions advertised on the Internet now mean that aircraft travel can be as cheap as any other form of travel. Imagine flying to the Northeast of Thailand for only 99 Baht – it’s possible if you keep your eyes open!

    Depending on what you do, entertainment in Thailand can also be reasonably inexpensive. Cinema tickets are among the cheapest in the world and local and international artists perform concerts at prices substantially cheaper than you will encounter in the west. Look around and you will find bars clubs and other entertainment venues all available at moderate prices. But probably the most enticing aspect of travel in Thailand for the budget traveler is accommodation. Thailand is well equipped for those on limited budgets. Almost every part of Thailand has guesthouses and low-cost hotels available for only a few dollars a night. Look around and you’ll find cheap, clean and safe budget accommodation is plentiful, whatever your budget.

    Nightlife

    Thailand is rightly famous for its nightlife. The kingdom has some of the best clubs playing the latest music, and not all of them in the capital - Thailand’s islands host world-class music venues and events (like “Full Moon Parties”) as do some of the regional capitals such as Chiang Mai. The kingdom also represents excellent value for film goers - ticket prices are much cheaper than in many other parts of the world and most of the country’s cinemas are top of the range. Aside from that, the country also has world-class shows (cabaret, etc.) and the world’s top performing artists grace Thailand’s shores on a regular basis – so far in 2005, Sting and Marilyn Manson with a host of others planned for the rest of the year! Of course, discussion on Thailand’s nightlife wouldn’t be complete with a mention of its’ world famous Go-Go scene. Again, this is not only confined to Bangkok – Pattaya is a recognized Go-Go centre, but this type of entertainment can be found in a number of parts of the kingdom. Wherever you are in Thailand, a great time can be had by all – whatever your taste in nightlife!

    Sport and Activities

    There are lots of places visitors can see and take part in mainstream sports like football, badminton, and tennis, and of course golf is a major reason why a lot of people visit Thailand. Equally important to visitors are opportunities for less mainstream activities. With over 3,000 kilometres of coastline it is a natural destination for people (whether novice or professional) to go diving and snorkelling. Also on offer are a range of water sports - jet skiing, surfing, surfboarding and kiteboarding to name a few. The worldwide popularity of Thai Boxing (Muay Thai) and other martial arts means Thailand has become a place of pilgrimage for martial artists from around the globe. Again, whether you are just into watching a fight, a complete novice who wants to try a martial art or a hardened fighter with lots of experience, Thailand will have something to offer you. Of course there are a number of sport activities available which are not really sports at all. Paintball is just a bit of fun really, and there are a number of places around the kingdom to try it out. Thailand is also a great place to give extreme sports like Bungee Jumping a first try. Whether you are an armchair sportsman or someone who likes to get in the thick of things, Thailand has a lot of opportunities for you to enjoy yourself.

    Spas and Well-being

    The modern world is a frenetic, often frantic place to live in. Modern life places more and more demands on us, and if the stresses and strains these demands cause remain unchecked, the result can be unhappiness, distress, and ultimately, illness. Recognising the importance of self-preservation in a fast-paced world, the last few years have seen a movement towards looking inwards, to understanding our physical and spiritual requirements, and dealing with issues such as stress before they become harmful. The growth in activities related to our well-being has been phenomenal. Whereas once health spas and retreats were merely the privilege of the wealthy few, today they are increasingly part of the majority’s lifestyle. Once the preserve of the fringe, activities such as Yoga, meditation, Reiki and Pranic Healing are now becoming increasingly mainstream. Herbal medicine and natural healing have also remerged as contenders to what many see as impersonal and drug-driven western medicine. As a holiday destination, Thailand is perfectly positioned to cater to people who want more out of a holiday than a suntan. The country’s spas offer an unparalleled level of elegance, luxury and pampering, and massage and traditional medicines (both Thai and Chinese) are not only rooted in the country’s past, they are active ingredients of the modern Thailand. Meditation is a core component of everyday religious activity and a commonplace activity. Yoga and forms of healing have been naturally embraced, and well-being centres and retreats emerge on a daily basis. As you can see, a trip to Thailand could indeed to you a world of good!

    Medical Tourism

    ‘Generation X’ is in charge and its legacy is a world where government ‘interference’ in the free market and healthcare is at an all-time low. Unable to depend on state healthcare systems, people in many parts of the world have to resort to their private resources for the operations and treatments they need. Private healthcare in the West is notoriously expensive, for some, prohibitively so. Even commonplace medical areas like dentistry and orthodontics are extortionately priced, while surgery and major operations can completely drain personal finances. Given the costs, and the stakes, many people have looked beyond the shores of their native homelands to find cost-effective solutions. Many have found their solutions in Thailand, spurring a trend in ‘medical tourism’ within the country.

    But why Thailand?

    The Thai medical profession is probably one of the most advanced in the region. Successive governments have invested in ensuring the education and training Thai doctors receive is parallel to that offered elsewhere in the region. Many doctors undertake specialist training abroad, particularly the United States and Europe, and are at least equally as well qualified as physicians in the West - often more so. A qualified, experienced medical profession is though useless without proper facilities and equipment. Fortunately, Thailand’s hospitals and clinics are world class. Huge investments have been made in equipment and management standards are so high that hospitals achieve ISO 9001 accreditation. Many major hospitals belong to management groups that ensure the very highest standard of medical service is available through their branch hospitals at various locations around the country. All this expertise and proficiency means that Thailand’s hospitals are a secure option for those seeking medical treatment.

    Thailand’s medical solutions do not though rest at major surgery or treatments. A variety of cosmetic surgery options are available, as is cosmetic dentistry (laser teeth whitening, etc.) and laser sight correction (LASIK, etc.). Thailand is also a very popular choice for people requiring sex reassignment surgery.

    Business Travel

    For many, Thailand is the ultimate business travel destination. Fast becoming a regional business hub ranking alongside countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, Thailand has admirably met its responsibilities to the world’s business community. Banking services here are efficient and reliable. Telecommunications services utilize Thailand’s satellite technology to offer comprehensive countrywide mobile phone networks, fast and efficient high speed Internet access and international teleconferencing. For the business traveller, Thailand’s hotels are a joy. Second to none for quality, services and facilities, many maintain business centres that offer the same facilities your office at home might offer. Thailand also has a fine tradition of serviced offices.

    For business people on the move, Thailand’s excellent domestic and international airports connect the country and the region, and the country’s road and rail networks offer genuine convenience. Thailand is also a centre for business events. With world-class facilities such as Queen Sirikit Centre, BITEC and Impact Arena, Thailand has become a natural choice for conference and convention organisers. Aside from all of this, what is special for the business traveller is Thailand itself – it’s a great place to do business. There are few countries that are both steeped in history and tradition and able to offer the best of the modern world. There are fewer still able to offer the variety of beaches, countryside and other natural beauty that Thailand permits you to enjoy.

    Shopping

    In Thailand you shop for anything from gems and high technology, to designer items and … err… things that look very much like designer items, but … err … aren’t quite! Trousers, shirts, dishtowels, gold, silver, antiques, silk, sharks fin, Chinese herbs and medicine – the mundane and the exotic, they are all found side-by-side in plentiful amounts. Of course Thailand’s markets are legendary, not simply because they are places to find cheap gifts for people back home, but because they are also a slice of the real Thailand. Markets are not just there for the tourists, they are focal points for the various communities that make up the kingdom. You will see the ‘real deal’ in a market – real people going about their daily lives rather than some contrived scene created for the tourists!  And of course, shopping is not restricted to markets. Every city and town has shopping malls that would be fit nicely in any other country. Thailand also has some great locations which act equally as much as meeting places as shopping venues. Places like Thailand’s world famous Night Bazaars where you can spend an evening picking up some bargains and also get a bite to eat and drink if you want. If shopping is your thing, Thailand is the right place for you – it is good value, however you look at it!

    Festivals

    Thailand is famed for the number of festivals it has. On a national level key festivals like ‘Songkran’ are now in themselves tourist attractions, while festivals like ‘Loy Krathong’ are becoming increasingly popular with visitors. On the local front though, the number of regional festivals far outweighs the number of festivals celebrated nationally. The Prap Ho Monument Festival is just one example - an annual event held in Nong Khai in March, the festival celebrates the bravery of Thais who resisted the Ho Chinese armies in the nineteenth century. The large number of festivals available in Thailand means there is usually some type of celebration for visitors to experience when they are in the kingdom. There are also a number of events that take place annually that are not festivals but great fun to go to.

    For Kids

    Thailand is one of the most family friendly holiday destinations in the world. One thing is for sure – Thais love children, especially children from other countries. You’ll always have someone willing to take of your child from you, and whenever you go out you’ll have crowds of women clucking around and apparently pinching your child while they say ‘Narag’ - ‘cute’ in Thai. Be warned: Such is their devotion to foreign children you will find Thai women can often plead to hold your child. If you allow them to, don’t turn your back! Your child will be passed around and in the end you might have trouble working out where he or she is! Thailand does though have a tradition of catering for families on holiday, so wherever you go, your child will be well looked after. There’s also plenty for families to do in Thailand… plenty of places to take the children and enjoy yourselves. Thailand has a number of theme parks that parallel anything you might come across elsewhere in the world. In addition, Thailand’s parks are full of family based activities (bike riding, etc.). Zoos and animal parks are also plentiful. You won’t have much trouble entertaining the children when you are in Thailand!

    Diving and Snorkeling

    Thailand’s beaches and islands are some of the best in the world, offering exotic landscapes and flawless beaches. But it is the crystal clear water and coral that really provide the fascination and draw for many of the kingdom’s visitors, whether for a dedicated diving holiday, or just part of a holiday experience.

    Although best between October and June, diving is possible all year round. For novices with no experience of diving or snorkelling, there could not be a better location for a first attempt. Compared to the west, diving is relatively cheap and all the equipment needed is available for rent at a reasonable price – no major outlay to indulge in something you might only ever try once or twice. Diving in Thailand is also safe – there are hundreds of dive schools and PADI – a professional diving organisation - oversees training standards. There are no short cuts, nothing done on the cheap – diving in Thailand is as safe as anywhere else in the world.

    For people with a bit of experience, Thailand offers a delightful diving experience. In some of Thailand’s waters visibility is up to 30 metres and there is a lot to see!  Underwater mountains, coral gardens, undersea rock formations, hard and soft corals – it is all there, alongside a rich variety of marine life including whale sharks, silver tip sharks and manta rays – enough to impress even the most experienced of divers. There are also sites for more experienced divers that offer holes in rock formations to swim through and journeys into sunken battleships.

    Educational Tourism

    Imagine studying in a country like Thailand… Imagine rewarding yourself with a weekend on the beach after a hard week’s study, or trekking through the jungle as soon as your exams are over! Whether for full blown degree programs or short vocational courses, more and more people are making Thailand part of their educational objectives and becoming \\\'Educational Tourists\\\'.

    With fewer Thai students studying abroad over the last decade, foreign universities opened campuses in Thailand or made agreements with Thai universities to run ‘Dual’ (or ‘Twinning’) degree programs - foreign degrees run at Thai universities. As a result, Thailand has a huge choice of international-level education options and is a major draw for students all over the world looking for world-class education.

    Of course, to benefit from higher education at an ‘English-medium’ university, students must understand English well. For many years there has been a booming domestic market for English language courses in Thailand; a market driven by Thai students who appreciate the benefits of studying with a native English speaking teacher. As a result, there are countless teaching jobs available to foreign teachers in Thailand, both at commercial language centres and within the state system. Such is the demand for teachers that visitors often include teaching English as part of their itinerary for a trip to Thailand. Would-be-teachers do though need training and as a result of there has been a dramatic rise in the number of English teacher training courses available in the Kingdom. Whether it’s short courses that give you the basics, or detailed internationally recognized courses that offer a stepping stone into the English teaching profession, there is certainly a course in Thailand to meet your needs.

    English though is not the only language you can study in Thailand. As the country takes its place on the international stage, its influence grows around the world. Increasingly, people take Thai language lessons for business and educational purposes, or simply build a short language course into their stay in the country for fun. As a result, a number of commercial Thai language centres catering for expatriates and visitors have emerged to give people an insight into the language.

    Of course, with the rise of tourism to Thailand the world is now interested in all things Thai – particularly Thai food. There is an abundance of centres in Thailand teaching foreigners the intricacies of preparing Thai cuisine… and very popular they are, too! With the worldwide boom in Spas and ‘Wellness’, the demand for masseurs able to offer Thai massage is increasing and the number of visitors studying massage in Thailand growing. Likewise, more and more visitors take courses in traditional Thai medicine to become practitioners in their own countries. What follows is a sample of courses for ‘Educational Tourists’:

    Weddings, Honeymoons and Romantic Getaways

    Thailand is many things to many people, but above all it is a place of romance. The kingdom casts a magical charm over its visitors and over the last number of years it has become a magnet for people getting married (or renewing their vows), newlyweds on honeymoons, or people simply interested in a romantic getaway. And where else could be better – or more affordable? From the breathtaking scenery of the north, to the beaches and islands of the south, and all in between, whatever sort of person you are, there’s somewhere in Thailand that meets your mood and needs… Thailand’s hotels are some of the best in the world, and its Spas and other places where the focus is creating a sense of spiritual and the physical well-being add just that little something that makes your trip to Thailand extra special. What follows is a snapshot of what’s on offers those getting married or in looking to Thailand for a romantic getaway…

     

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