The central area
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is a fascinating mix of East and West, traditional and modern. Buddhist temples along with great shopping and nightlife attract millions of visitors every year. Ayutthaya, the Thai capital from 1350 to 1767, and only 76 kilometers from Bangkok is the most interesting historical site in the country.
It is best visited by boat from the centre of town and makes for a good day out.
The province of Kanchanaburi, to the north-west of Bangkok, has some wonderful scenary and is also the site of the infamous Death Railway and the Bridge over the River Kwai.
In Saraburi there is a famous Buddha Footprint worth visiting if passing the area and the province of Lopburi has many khmer style shrines and the remains of King Narai’s palaces built in the 17th century. The town of Nakhon Pathom is easily reached from Bangkok and has the tallest Buddhist Pagoda in the world.
Pattaya, Thailand’s biggest sea side resort town, is only a couple of hours drive from Bangkok, and boasts long fine-sand beaches, every water sport imaginable and some of the best hotels, restaurants and entertainment in South East Asia. Chanthaburi is best known for it’s gemstones and fruits. Rayoung has the popular Samet Island just off the coast with it’s beautiful veaches and crystal clean sea. Thailand’s most eastern province is Trat which has the, as yet unspoilt, Ko Chang National Marine Park available to those who enjoy natural scenic beauty at its best.
The northern region of Thailand with its mountainous scenery, hill-tribe peoples, beautiful handicrafts and fine weather in the cool season has some thing to offer every visitor. Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city, but is a small town when compared to Bangkok. The province of Chiang Rai is found at the far northern tip of Thailand, right in the middle of the infamous Golden Triangle where Burma, Thailand and Laos meet, and is known for its scenic views and elephant-back trekking. The town of Lamphun has many orchards and ancient tenples worth visiting. Lampang is the only province in Thailand that still uses horse-drawn carriages as a means of everyday transportation. Mae Hong Son is also known as the “Town of Three Mists” as it is shrouded by mist in each of Thailand’s three seasons. The town of Sukhothai was the first capital of the Thai Kingdom and is a famous historical site.
The north-east or Isan in Thai is the poorest region of the country but has a large number of tourist spots worth visiting, Nakhon Ratchasima or Khorat has some fine khmer style ancient shrines. Khon Kaen is a commercial centre for the localy produced mut-mee silk. Sakon Nakhon can boast the beautiful scenery of the vast Nong Han Lake. Surin is famous for its annual Elephant Round up, with hundreds of animals and their handlers attending each year, usually taking place on the third weekend of November. Buri Ram has the largest khmer style tenple in Thailand which is known as Prasat Phanom Rung. Loei is best known for having the lowest cool season temperatures in the country and some fine mountain scenery.
Thailand’s biggest island, Phuket, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South East Asia and is famous for its beautiful beaches, seafood and ich coral and marine life. Numerous small island near-by are fascinating to visit for their incredible rock formations. The small island of Samu, off the coast of Surat Thani province, is a bit less developed and thus a litrtle bit quieter then Phuket. Ranong is the country’s wettest province but has hot springs and Burmese gems to offer. Songkhla is a popular local seaside resortand has a large lake where cruises are available. Phang-nga next to Phuket has a great coastline and some wonderful limestone caves. Trang and Krabi provinces has some beautiful and underdeveloped beaches to explore.