Thailand has been on the tourism and business radar for UK and European visitors probably for longer than any other country in the region. The capital, Bangkok, and many of the resorts are more used to European visitors in many respects and yet the country as a whole retains an air of exotic mystique that keeps visitors coming back, over and over again.
Rich in history, culture and scenery of stunning beauty, there's always something 'new' in Thailand to discover - another resort, a historic site not visited, a previously undiscovered beach or island.
Thai people are very friendly and welcoming and English is widely spoken,although the native language, of course, is Thai. Bordering Myanmar to the west, Laos, Cambodia to the east and Malaysia to the south, Thailand faces the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman sea.
Set on the Chao Phraya River delta, Bangkok has been the capital of Thailand 1767, prior to which the capital was the city of Ayutthaya - the ruins of which are well worth visiting and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. Bangkok is the seat of central government and the main home of the King of Thailand, who is highly respected by much of the Thai population. The Grand Palace and the City Pillar Shrine are amongst the major tourist sights in this vast city - currently the world's most visited city according to recent statistics. Bangkok is also noted for the quality and range of shopping - from district markets to the vast shopping malls.
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and sits off the south west coast in the Andaman Sea. The island's best known beaches face Chalong Bay in the south and run along the west coast, facing the Andaman Sea. Patong and Patong Beach have been the focal point of development and it is in Patong that the liveliest night life and cheaper shopping areas are found. Phuket is heavily mountainous and this helps to create some dramatic scenery around the coast of the island and other islands nearby - including the well known Phi Phi Islands. Phuket offers excellent beaches, some great island hopping opportunities, wonderful snorkelling and scuba diving as well as some great golf courses and eco-adventures in the tropical forest.
Koh means island in Thai and Koh Samui is the third largest island in Thailand, 700 kilometers from Bangkok, located close to the mainland at Surat Thani in the Gulf of Thailand, Samui is cosmopolitan and attracts all types of travellers who stay for weeks and months in simple beach bungalow, boutique resorts, luxury hotels or villas on the beach. The unique relaxed atmosphere sets Koh Samui apart. This paradise island, also known as Coconut Island, offers something for everyone. Koh Samui has also sister islands closeby, like Koh Tao (excellent for diving), Koh Phangan, Koh Tan and Koh Nang Yuan.
*Photos on this page are courtesy of Jack Hardy - Photographer - a SmartOtels Trusted Associate