Beaches, bargains, palaces, and stunning temples. Thailand has much to offer anyone, from the burned-out corporate executive in search of ultra-luxurious respite to the intrepid backpacker hoping to explore beyond the beaten track.
What brings visitors back here time and time again is undoubtedly the warmth of the Thai people, their laidback attitude, the kingdom’s at-times incomprehensible yet beguiling customs, feverish festivals, and amazing culinary adventures. For many, Thailand’s most notable draws are its opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins, and ornate temples housing skillfully crafted figures of Buddha, a revered symbol that underscores a fervent and widespread devotion by the (less Westernized) traditionalists.
In madcap Bangkok, you’ll find an ultramodern cityscape muscling in on quiet canal and riverside communities. Mercantile hubs such as historic Chinatown consist of scores of labyrinthine alleys crammed with narrow “shophouses,” markets, and diners, all evoking a heady mix of sights, sounds, and smells. Beyond Bangkok, rice paddies carpet endless flat plains in a landscape dotted by tiny villages and mountains. White sandy beaches and acres of coconut palms and rubber plantations lace the southern and eastern gulf provinces. Wherever you go, expect contradictions and oxymorons: Witness all-permeating Buddhist pacifism co-existing with popular pugilism in Muay Thai boxing. Inscrutable Thailand will incessantly intrigue and confound the curious traveler.
Insiders on: Southeast Asia
- Geography: Islands, beaches, mountains, rock formations
- Culture: Heavily influenced by China, India, and colonizers
- Climate: Tropical
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