If images of the Buddha and pristine beaches come to mind when you think of Thailand, you aren’t alone, and you aren’t wrong either. This unique Asian country has seen a large growth in tourism in recent years, with more than 32 million travelers making their way there in 2016 alone.
Before you plan your trip to Thailand, though, there are a few things that you should know before you go. Check out the helpful information below to discover a few things about Thailand so you can make the most of your vacation.
Why is Thailand amazing?
There are so many wonderful reasons to visit Thailand, whether you are planning a solo getaway, a family vacation, or a romantic honeymoon. From the culture and the food, to the shopping and the outdoor activities, this country offers something for everyone. But here are a few reasons why so many travelers consider Thailand to be such an amazing destination:
- In addition to being beautiful on its own, Thailand is conveniently located, so you can gain easy access to other nearby destinations that are just as unforgettable. In just a few hours, you could travel from Thailand to Bali, Singapore, and Hong Kong, as a few examples.
- The locals in Thailand are welcoming and friendly. You may notice that they are quite happy, helpful, and polite. Travelers often feel safe as they make their way through the country and see the sights.
- Nature lovers will find an array of outdoor spaces to explore during their time in Thailand. From picture-perfect beaches, to lush jungles filled with wildlife and waterfalls, the natural beauty of Thailand can’t be replicated. So don’t forget to pack your camera and make sure the battery is charged!
- Many people ask, “Is Thailand affordable?” The simple answer is: yes! If you are traveling there with U.S. dollars, for example, your money will stretch very far. You could stay at a hotel or a guesthouse for less than $20 per night, so you can probably imagine that even the top-notch resorts will be surprisingly affordable. And when it comes to food, you could eat yummy Thai food at a restaurant without breaking the bank, or you could even get some food from the country’s famous street vendors for about $1.
- Sure, there are plenty of things to do during the day in Thailand, but what about at night? Well, you needn’t worry about that either. The country is home to a thriving nightlife, with plenty of bars and clubs to check out with your friends.
What are some of the must-see places in Thailand?
There are a lot of must-see places throughout Thailand, so creating an itinerary to follow once you arrive could certainly be helpful. Here are a few of the top picks for visitors who are going to be checking out Thailand for the first time:
- Doi Inthanon National Park: Perfect for exploring the great outdoors and the stunning landscape, this park is also home to the highest peak in the country, Doi Inthanon. Throughout the park, you will also have the opportunity to catch glimpses of various wild animals that you can’t find anywhere else.
- Sai Yok National Park: Another perfect spot for nature lovers, this is where you can spot some rare wildlife while also exploring caves and basking in the beauty of waterfalls.
- Khao Yai National Park: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the biggest monsoon forests in Asia, and it is also the second biggest national park in the country. You will find everything from valleys and waterfalls, to mountains and myriad species of mammals and birds.
- Phanom Rung Historical Park and Phimai Historical Park: Perfect for history buffs, these parks feature ancient Khmer ruins that date back to the 12th century.
- Bangkok: The capital of Thailand has plenty to offer travelers. Check out the incredible Grand Palace, which is one of the most famous landmarks in the nation. It dates back to the 1700s and boasts intricate details and stunning architecture. Then head over to the city’s famous floating markets, where you will find people in little boats selling a variety of fruits and vegetables, local food, and coconut drinks. And don’t forget to also visit Wat Pho, the well-known Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
- Similan Islands: The Similan Islands were designated as a Marine National Park back in 1982, so this is an undeveloped natural haven for those who truly want to get away from it all. Snorkeling and diving in these waters will give you access to an array of coral and fish, so if you love spending time in the water, this is the place to be.
- Phi Phi Islands: These popular islands are easy to access, as you can take a ferry or speedboat from Phuket. Once there, you will find breathtaking rock formations, pristine water, and perfect beaches for sunbathing and swimming with colorful fish.
- Chiang Mai: Another popular city in Thailand is Chiang Mai, which is found in the mountainous northern part of the country. One of its many attractions is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which dates back nearly 700 years and is one of the most important spiritual and historical spots in Thailand. But another popular historic attraction in Chiang Mai is the Wat Chedi Luang, which was built between 1385-1402.
What are the best beaches in Thailand?
Because Thailand is a tropical paradise with so many breathtaking islands to explore, there are plenty of fantastic beaches to choose from. You don’t need to go far to find your new favorite beach, and you can fill your trip with visits to a variety of sunny spots so you always have something new to explore.
To help you narrow down your many choices, here are some of the country’s top beaches:
- Kata Beach in Phuket
- Lamai Beach in Koh Samui
- White Sand Beach in Koh Chang
- Klong Dao Beach in Koh Lanta
- Donald Duck Bay in Similan Islands
- Railay Beach in Krabi
- Thong Nai Pan Noi and Yai Beaches in Koh Phangan
- Buffalo Bay in Koh Phayam
- Laem Thong Beach in Phi Phi Islands
- Pattaya Beach in Koh Lipe
Are Thailand’s tigers drugged? Are the elephants abused?
Unfortunately, as is the case with so many other places around the world that use animals for profit and entertainment, the wildlife in Thailand isn’t always treated well when they are used in tourist attractions.
Take the famous Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi as an example. For years, this establishment was accused of illegally breeding and trafficking endangered tigers. Visitors could pay to feed, pet, and even bathe the tigers, who were strangely calm. Reports surfaced that the tigers were drugged in order to keep them docile enough to interact with the visitors. Then, in 2016, more than 100 live tigers were confiscated by officials, and many tiger carcasses, including those of cubs, were also found in the facility before it was shut down.
When it comes to the elephant parks in Thailand, you should do your research before visiting one as well. Remember, a place could easily call itself a sanctuary without really functioning like one. It is best to steer clear of establishments that give you the option of riding elephants, taking a selfie with them, or watching them perform. These animals are captured from the wild, abused, and confined in severely cruel conditions, according to experts.
Ultimately, whenever you travel anywhere in the world, the very best way to view wildlife is in their natural habitat (and there is no shortage of truly wild places to view animals in Thailand). The second best way to view them would be within a reputable sanctuary that has a clean record of keeping their animals wild, free, safe, and well cared for. If an establishment is letting visitors take pictures with the animals, feed them, etc., this is a sign that it likely isn’t a place that truly respects the animals.
What are the best ways to get around in Thailand?
Generally, getting around Thailand is inexpensive and you can get to where you need to go efficiently. Transport options include buses, trains, minibuses, share-taxis, songthaews, and ferries. While buses are cheap and fast, trains are safer, more scenic, and slower, as well as better for overnight journeys. And ferries can be an ideal option for island hopping.
When is the best time to go to Thailand?
Thailand is a tropical destination, so you could travel there at any time of the year and enjoy hot temperatures and sunshine. But the best months to go are between December and March. Just keep in mind that an unpredictable rainstorm could occur even on an otherwise sunny day.
The west coast and its islands (Koh Lanta, Krabi, Phuket, and Koh Phi Phi) have the best weather in December and January, when there tends to be just a small amount of rain and loads of sunshine.
The islands of Thailand that are found within the Gulf of Thailand typically receive less rainfall even during the rainy season than other parts of the country. Experts recommend visiting the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, and Koh Samui between the latter part of January and the middle part of March. February will usually be the driest month.
The wet season in Thailand runs from May through October, and this is the season during which monsoons are possible. While you might get some good deals and smaller crowds if you’re traveling during that time of year, it may not be worth it if the wet conditions keep you from enjoying the beauty of the islands.
What is the currency of Thailand?
The currency in Thailand is the Thai baht (THB). You could exchange your currency before your trip, or you could exchange it after you have arrived in Thailand. Travelers could exchange their money at banks and ATMs, and some hotels may also be able to exchange your money for you.
It is a good idea to have some cash on hand at all times, as some shops, guesthouses, and small hotels may only accept cash payments. Other establishments, such as major shops, airlines, and larger hotels, may accept credit cards like Visa and MasterCard.
Which electrical outlet adapter do you need for Thailand?
Power sockets in Thailand include types A, B, C, F, and O. The standard frequency is 50 Hz, while the standard voltage is 220 V. Therefore, you might need to pack the appropriate power plug adapter and voltage converter to use your appliances during your stay.
Do you need vaccinations to go to Thailand?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of contracting Zika virus is high in Thailand. So if you are pregnant or you are planning on becoming pregnant, your doctor may recommend postponing your trip, as infection with the virus could lead to birth defects. Also, all travelers should take the appropriate steps to prevent both mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.
Before going to Thailand, talk to your doctor to be sure that you are up-to-date on routine vaccinations, such as the polio vaccine, flu shot, varicella vaccine, measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine. On top of that, the CDC also recommends receiving vaccinations for typhoid and hepatitis A, as both of these could be contracted through contaminated food and water in Thailand.
Also be sure to tell your doctor about where you are going in Thailand, what you plan on doing, how long you plan on staying, and if you are visiting other countries during your trip. This will help him or her decide if you need additional vaccinations, such as those for hepatitis B, cholera, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, and rabies.
Ready to dive into Thai culture?
Thailand truly is a country like no other. You could spend one day exploring a lush forest and the next one lounging on a sandy beach and swimming in crystal clear water. And in between exploring temples, ruins, and markets, you can sit down to indulge in some authentic Pad Thai and Thai iced tea. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next exciting trip to this exotic and unforgettable destination!
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