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Thailand…a mixture of great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture and great beaches – Part 2




Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia with coasts on the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

Overview 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.
• Thailand is a mixture of great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture and great beaches.

Shopping in Thailand

– Without question, Bangkok is one of the world’s premier shopping destinations.
– Shopping in Thailand is world class, featuring 21st century shopping malls, such as Siam Paragon; multi-story electronics malls including Panthip Plaza; expansive local markets, such as the JJ weekend market; and local markets from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani that sell everything from clothes and household goods to food and flowers.
– Nearly, every city and town has a central market that is a fascinating way to spend a few hours and a great way to pick up toiletries, clothes, or local handicrafts.
– In the larger, touristier towns like Chiang Mai, weekend markets and night markets feature all variety of handicrafts both modern and traditional, including t-shirts and dresses made by inspirational young artists and puppets and jewelry crafted by hill tribe communities.
– Bangkok’s night markets on Patpong and Sukhumvit Roads are ideal places to pick up souvenirs or gifts for those back home.
– More impressive gifts can be procured from retailers such as certified antiques dealers, gem and jewelry shops, or Jim Thompson, the famous silk pioneer.
– In regards to gems and antiques, it should be noted that there are numerous occurrences of scams involving antiques and gems, and restrictions on the export of Buddha images.
– Otherwise, with the right guidance there are genuine opportunities to make some brilliant shopping discoveries.
– Getting clothes tailor made in Bangkok is a top priority for many, though boutique shops in Siam Square feature the latest ready-to-wear designs from the city’s chic young designers.
– Meanwhile, in Chinatown, almost every conceivable knick-knack and trinket is for sale in the myriad mazes of back alleys, while those shopping for gold can do so along the district’s Yaowarat Road.

Meditation in Thailand

– As a Buddhist nation, Thailand is full of spectacular temples, the purpose of which is for Thais to devout themselves to the principals passed down by the Buddha, nee Siddhartha Gautama.
– As Thailand is such a welcoming country and Buddhism is a non-restrictive religion, it is easy for visitors to study Buddhism and learn meditation at a number of temples and meditation retreats around the country.
– While those simply curious about Buddhism can attend “monk chats” at Wat Chedi Luang or Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai, these and other temples allow visitors to check themselves in for a week or longer of intensive meditation study.
– While certainly intriguing, these meditation retreats are not for those unprepared for serious self reflection.
– The purpose of meditation is to clear the mind and achieve clarity and inner peace.
– Consequently, most meditation programs do not allow students to talk during their stay, with the exception of meditative chanting and discussions with senior monks to help their meditation techniques.
– Furthermore, by its very nature, meditation can be somewhat mundane, and so visitors are expected to follow the routines and procedures quite thoroughly if they wish to genuinely learn to meditate properly and achieve the most from their experience.
– For those unable to commit to a remote meditation retreat from which they cannot easily leave, Wat Mahatat, near Bangkok’s Grand Palace, allows visitors to study meditation no less strictly, but with more flexible time requirements.

Beaches and Islands in Thailand

– Thailand’s beaches and islands attract millions of visitors each year from all over the globe.
Hua Hin is Thailand’s oldest beach resort, discovered by King Rama VII in the 1920s as an ideal getaway from Bangkok.
– While Pattaya, Phuket and Ko Samui were only discovered in the 1970s, these are now by far the most developed beach resorts.
– Krabi Province has some beautiful spots, including Ao Nang,Rai Leh and the long golden beaches of Ko Lanta.
– Ko Phi Phi, renowned as a true paradise island, has been undergoing massive development since the release of the film The Beach in 2000.
– Ko Pha Ngan gives the best of both worlds, with well-developed beaches and empty ones a short ride away.
– Ko Chang is a bit like Ko Samui used to be, it has a backpacker vibe, but is fairly laid-back and there is accommodation in all price ranges.
– If you’re looking for unspoiled beaches, Ko Kut is very thinly populated, but also difficult to explore.
– Ko Samet is the closest island beach to Bangkok, but its northern beaches are quite developed and hotels are pretty much sold out on weekends and public holidays.

Natural scenery of Thailand

– While not as beautiful as Malaysia or Indonesia, Thailand does have its fair share of tropical forest.
– Khao Yai National Park, the first national park of Thailand, is the closest to Bangkok.
– Wild tigers and elephants are increasingly rare, but you can’t miss the macaques, gibbons, deer, and species of birds.
– The stretch of jungle at Khao Sok National Park is probably even more impressive, and you can spend the night in the middle of the jungle.
– Waterfalls can be found all over Thailand.
– The Heo Suwat Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park and the 7-tiered Erawan Falls in Kanchanaburi are among the most visited.
– The Thee Lor Sue Waterfall in Umphang and the 11-tiered Pa La-u Falls in Kaeng Krachan National Park are equally exciting.
– Finally, the gravity-defying limestone formations of the Phang Nga Bay shouldn’t be missed by anyone who stays in the region.

Pampering in Thailand

– Traditional Thai massage has a history of more than 2,500 years.
– Practitioners of Thai massage operate on the belief that many invisible lines of energy run through the body.
– The masseur uses his or her hands, elbows, feet, heels and knees to exert pressure on these lines, releasing blockages that may exist, allowing a free flow of energy through the body.
– Many Thais believe that these massages are beneficial for ailing diseases and general well-being.
– You’re supposed to feel both relaxed and energised after a session.
– Although spas weren’t introduced here until the early 1990s, Thailand has quickly become one of the highest ranking spa destinations in the world.
– Besides traditional Thai massage, there is a phenomenal variety of international treatments, including aromatherapy, Swedish massage and many others.
– There is usually an option for every budget, varying from extravagant wellness centres in the five star hotels to the ubiquitous little massage shops found on many street corners.

Outdoor Activities in Thailand

– Thailand’s a big enough country that you can find a place to practice almost any outdoor sport.
– Ko Tao is becoming one of Asia’s great Scuba diving centres, while the Ang Thong National Marine Park near Ko Samui and the Similan Islands also draw the crowds.
– One of the newest hot spots for diving is Ko Lipe, a small island that is amazingly unspoilt with great reefs and absolutely stunning beaches.
– Snorkeling can be done at pretty much at every beach, but coral reefs of the Similan Islands stand out as particularly worthwhile.
– While Thailand does not match surf paradises like Bali, surfing does have its place.
– The waves are generally small, good for longboarding and those wanting to learn to surf.
– Khao Lak and Phuket’s west coast beaches are among the better ones, but the best waves are to be found at the relatively unknown Ko Kradang at the west coast of Trang Province.
– Other surf-spots include Rayong and Ko Samui, but the waves of the Gulf Coast are less reliable.
– Phang Nga Bay’s gravity-defying limestone formations are usually seen with boat tours, but if you go sea-canoeing, you can get into areas unexplored by the tourist masses.
– The limestone cliffs of Rai Leh are arguably among the best in the world for rock-climbing.

Golf in Thailand

– Golf arrived in Thailand during the reign of King Rama V one hundred years ago.
– It was first played by nobles and other elitists of high society, but since then, things have certainly changed.
– Over the past decade or so, the popularity of golf in Thailand has escalated; played both by local Thais and visiting foreign tourists and expatriates.
– Meeting to the recent needs of an average of 400,000 foreign golfers coming to Thailand annually, golf in Thailand has turned into a huge local industry with new courses constantly being churned out.
– Golf alone is annually bringing an income of 8 billion baht into the local economy.
– Thailand offers over two hundred courses with high standards.
– Internationally renowned courses can be found in tourist-spots like Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.
– There are an abundance of reasons why golf in Thailand became so popular.
– First, if you compare the cost to most golfing countries in the world, membership and course fees are exceptionally low.
– The general low cost of travel in Thailand itself makes the country ideal for cost-efficiency minded tourists.
– Also, many of the golf courses in Thailand have been designed by top names in the game such as Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman.

Best time to visit/climate

• Thailand is largely tropical.
• It’s hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F).
• From November to the end of February, it doesn’t rain much and temperatures are at their lowest.
• From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F).
• From July to October, although it only really gets underway in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country.

Location on Google Maps


View Larger Map

Or click and paste the URL below on your browser:
http://maps.google.co.in/maps?q=Thailand&hl=en&hnear=Thailand&gl=in&t=m&z=5

Some Travel Books about Thailand

Lonely Planet Discover Thailand Thailand PhotoMazing Thailand

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers)

Hotels at wikitravel.org
Hotels at tourismthailand.org
Hotels at gothailand.com

Blogs / Sites about Thailand

Blogs at wikipedia.org
Blogs at tourismthailand.org
Blogs at thailandmusings.thaivisa.com
Blogs and reviews at lonelyplanet.com

Images and photos of Thailand

Images at google.com
Images at molon.de
Images at flickr.com
Images at trekearth.com

Videos of Thailand






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