Encapsulating Thailand’s quintessential blend of old and new is Bangkok, located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The nation’s capital since 1782, it is both a gateway and principal destination for most travellers. Amazingly, in the midst of this dynamic modern world, Bangkok miraculously manages to preserve its cultural heritage to a marked degree. In the soaring roofs and gleaming spires of the Grand Palace and the city’s many historic temples - Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Temple of Dawn and other evocative shrines - the visitor is presented with a picture of classical Oriental wonder. In addition, contained within Bangkok’s monuments and sights are treasures of the nation’s artistic and cultural endeavour that typify the land and the people.
The influence of the past is not limited to major monuments and it continues to colour daily life. Files of saffron-robed monks making their early morning alms round, for example, present a scene unaltered in essentials by the passing of time. Today’s backdrop of high rise buildings only adds wonder to this and other enduring sights from which the city continues to draw definition. Ultimately, it is from the people that Bangkok derives its unique flavour. Fun-loving and easy going, the people possess a rare tolerance which imbues the city with a real sense of freedom. It may appear at times hectic, yet what finally come across is Bangkok’s good natured acceptance of life with all its idiosyncrasies. Thailand’s “City of Angels” is, indeed, a magic place where possibilities are limited only by the imagination. You’ll marvel at the glories of the past, and delight in the golden opportunities of the present.
The hub of the North is Chiang Mai. Founded in the late 13th century as the capital of the once independent Lanna Kingdom. While it is Thailand’s second city, it is still only one fortieth the size of the capital and quite unlike it in most other respects, with sights and charms peculiar to itself. Situate 700 kilometers north of Bangkok and readily accessible by several daily flights, as well as by overnight train or coach, Chiang Mai combines modern city comforts with a veritable treasure house of the arts and architecture unique to the region. Within the city’s original perimeter, still marked by a moat and fortified gates, are numerous ancient Buddhist temples and other monuments attesting to a distinguished past. Attractively sited on the banks of the Ping River and situated amid a lush valley fringed by forested hills, Chiang Mai lies in the heart of some of Thailand’s most beautiful natural scenery.
As well as offering a wealth of its own sights, and sceneries Chiang Mai is also a convenient gateway not only to other Northern destinations but also increasingly to neighboring countries of the greater Mekong Region - Myanmar, Laos and southern China. Not least in distinguishing the North from the rest of the country is a host of handicrafts traditional to the region. Chiang Mai has one of the largest concentrations of cottage industries in the world. Renowned celadon pottery, silverware, lacquer ware, woodcarving, silk and cotton, hand - painted paper umbrellas and more are all produced by craftsmen employing skills passed down from generation to generation.
Geography Khonkaen lies in the geographical heart of Thailand's sprawling northeast plateau, an are known among Thai as I-San. Khonkaen was established in 1783 and is a major regional development centre and university city. The provincial capital is 449 kilometers northeast of Bangkok. The province covers an area of 10,886 square kilometers, parts of which contain national and forest parks.
Located 147 kilometers southeast of Bangkok or only about two-hour drive, Pattaya is Thailand’ s premier beach resort and annually attracts hundreds of thousands of pleasure- seeking tourist from all over the world. Visitors can windsurf, water ski, swim, sunBaht, snorkel, sail, or take trips to offshore coral islands. Tennis enthusiasts can enjoy themselves at leadings hotel’s courts, and golfers can visit beautifully - landscaped and challenging golf courses around Pattaya. Bowling alleys, snooker halls, shooting galleries and archery offer further entertainment while Tiffany and Alcazar Cabarets offer fascinating night shows with broad popular appeal.
Pattaya boasts an incredible choice of accommodation to suit every pocket. Facilities range from air-conditioned opulence to basic simplicity. Essentially, the visitor has the choice of luxury hotels with private - beaches; bayside hotels and bungalows; and ”inland” economy class hotels. Pattaya offers some of Thailand’s choicest seafood in several specialty restaurants. Gourmets and gourmands find satisfaction in restaurants featuring French, Italian, Swiss, German, Hungarian, Scandinavian, English, Indian, Moslem, Japanese, Chinese and Thai Cuisines. From families to individual visitors, Pattaya offers something for everyone and all the ingredients for a truly memorable holiday.
This beautiful 247 - square-kilometers island, one of the most famous attraction of Thailand, is some 84 kilometers east of Surat Thani’s provincial, capital. Samui Island is a rare gem, preserving the idyllic simplicity of a tropical hideaway. Here you can delight in a latter-day Robinson Crusoe experience - in comfort. It can be reached by ferry from Don Sak (some 7 kms from Surat Thani town) or by air from Bangkok or Phuket. A 51 kilometers ring road encircles the island, which has numerous lovely beaches and bays. A mountain ridge runs east to west and most of the hinterland comprises forested hills. The rich hues of wild vegetation are dappled throughout with the contrasting greens of coconut palms and emerald paddy.
Samui’s best beaches line the northern and eastern coasts. The most popular are Hat Chaweng and Hat Lamai where, generally, attractive accommodations can be found. Besides marvelous beaches, other About attractions include the Samui Butterfly Park; the Monkey Centre; the Hin Lat and Na Muang waterfalls; the phallic rock formations at the southern end of Lamai Bay, and a massive seated Buddha image on Kho Fan.
The dream of an idyllic escape into a tropical island world becomes a reality on Phuket, Thailand’s southern paradise isle. Shaped like an irregular pearl and measuring approximately 21 kilometres wide by 48 kilometres long, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, a province in its own right. Sparsely populated outside Phuket town, the landscape is one of lush green hills, coconut groves, rubber plantations and a coastline dotted with a dozen spectacular beaches. Unspoilt stretches of fine white sand are found along the entire west coast of the island Each sun-drenched beach has a character and charm of its own, and is separated from its neighbours by picturesque headlands and backdrops of wooded hills. Lapping the shore are the sparkling warm blue waters of the Andaman Sea.
Located off the south-west coast, just an hour’s flight from Bangkok, Phuket is linked to the mainland by a causeway and is thus accessible by road as well as by air. Thai Airways International operates several daily flights from Bangkok, while Phuket is also an international airport and has direct air links with Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Europe. Alternatively there are overnight bus services from Bangkok. The bounty of nature that has always distinguished Phuket is today complemented by man’s contribution in the form of fine accommodations in all categories. From Thailand’s most exclusive and luxurious hotels to bungalows offering simple facilities, there is the style of resort to suit you. Not only do you have choice in the style of resort, you can also select the location to your liking.
With its size and number of beaches, Phuket provides a variety of focal points, each with its own identity.Whatever their location, virtually all resorts offer a full range of watersports, including, yachting, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, windsurfing, waterskiing and more. At the more developed beaches there are also dive shops and scuba enthusiasts will find ideal conditions in the clear waters around Phuket which are rich in coral and marine life. Besides sun, sea and sand, Phuket is a multi-faceted destination and offers ample scope for exploring what is a fascinating island.
Phang Nga, a land of tin mines and beautiful scenery, nestles among soaring mountains which rise up around the town. Phang Nga is located 788 kilometers from Bangkok and covers an area of 4,170 square kilometers most of which is mangrove and evergreen forest. The area is bordered to the west by the Andaman Sea and consists of plenty of spectacular islands.
Krabi is an idyllic southern coastal province of outstanding physical beauty. Krabi covers some 4,707 square kilometres, edges the Andaman Sea, and numbers among its major attractions picturesque tropical islands, palm fringed beaches, forest waterfalls and caves. The provincial capital lies some 814 kilometres by road south of the Thai capital. Krabi is most conveniently reached from Bangkok by flying Thai Airways to neighbouring provincial capitals such as Surat Thani (211 kilometres from Krabi) or Phuket (176 kilometres) and completing the journey by road.
Hat Noppharat Thara, some 18 kilometres west of the provincial capital, is an extensively scenic beach lined with casurina trees, and offering a commanding view of offshore islands. The beach is popular with those who prefer swimming and sunBahting in tranquil surroundings. A few kilometres to the south, the palm-fringed Ao Phra Nang Beach is fronted by resort accommodations and bungalow complexes, dive shops, restaurants offering Swiss, Italian, Thai and Chinese food, windsurfing clubs and souvenir shop. The beach is popular with snorkellers and windsurfers, and is ideal for sunBahting and swimming.
Kho Phi Phi
Phi Phi islands, Phi Phi Le and Phi Phi Don, can be reached by a pleasant 1 hour and 15 minute to 3 hour boat ride, depending on the size of vessel, from the provincial capital’s estuarine pier (Krabi) or from Phuket. Merely some six square kilometres in area, the rugged Phi Phi Le is characterized by steep, lightly vegetated cliffs rising from the seabed, hidden bays concealing petite, pristine beaches and calm clear waters, and a spacious, airy cave known as Viking Cave by virtue of purportedly ancient cave murals depicting Viking like sailing vessels. The cave houses sea swallows whose gelatinous nests are prized by Chinese gourmets. Two kilometers north, the larger (28 square kilometers)
Phi Phi Don has a cuving white and palm-fringed beach extending between mountain masses sheltering calm waters. This, and other minor beaches, offers beachside bungalows and chalet accommodations. The area immediately adjacent to a Muslim fishing village contains bars offering living music; restaurants specializing in popular European cuisines and Thai food; cabarets; souvenir shops; dive shops and charter boat operations offering game fishing excursions and day trips, including several opportunities for snorkeling, around the major islands, including Ko Pai (Bamboo island), half an hour from Phi Phi Don and touted by locals as one of the most beautiful and unspoiled, uninhabited islands in the area.