Ten hours from Europe and Australia and just a couple of hours from Hong Kong and India, Thailand is always in your reach. The name of Thailand has been widely recognized by travel-lovers and stuck in their mind as the "must-go" city. This is not surprising, though.
As one of the most popular tourist cities, Thailand indulges its visitors with such endless appealing offers and exotic experiences that earns the country the 15th most favorite tourist destination ranked by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) recently. Even travelers with different interests can rest assured that they can enjoy and make the most of their trip in Thailand.
Lying in the humid tropical area, the axe-shaped country is located in the heart of Southeast Asia. The distinctive geography - the North and the Northeast facing mainland Asia sharing borders with neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao P.D.R, while the peninsula South stretching to the beautiful paradiso Andaman sea- results in four geographically different characters: the lush mountainous North, the fertile central Plains, the dry northeastern Plateau, and the tropical South with a large number of marvelous sand beaches and offshore islands. Although Thailand tends to be warm and humid throughout the year, easy soft breeze and chilling air in December to February appears to be favorable and highlights the peak travel season.
As mentioned earlier, geographically, Thailand is regarded the focal point of Southeast Asia. However, it is more accurate to say that Thailand is the gateway country, the door that leads to Southeast Asia, East Asia and continental Asian countries. Some travelers probably make a stop at Thailand to connect a trans-asian flight to other destinations, but most prefer to make Thailand their destination. They find that the Land of Smiles is not simply the transit port of travelling because in fact it is where the journey lies and begins.
In the late twentieth century as tourism reached its ultimate popularity, Bangkok had undoubtedly been included in the most-visited city directory. The two-hundred-year-old capital city with the longest official name is commonly known to visitors as Bangkok and as "Krungthep" to the locals, short for its original official meaning "the City of Angels". Through years, it has commercially and socially prospered and eventually achieved the significance of economy and culture. People of ethnic diversity enter the country, particularly heading Bangkok in anticipation of business fortunes and career success. Up to now, Bangkok is increasingly populated with over 5 million residents, with the mix of native Thais and expatriate residents. Such melting-pot lifestyles create a unique enchanting living atmosphere, and at the same time, attract people from different societies worldwide.
Nowadays, modernization and urbanization have rapidly altered lives in Bangkok a great deal, generally in an improved and advancing mode. Communications and transportation become very fundamental concerns that the government attempts to provide to the public and to facilitate the maturing tourism at present. Such development in the Thai society is attributed to the exploit of modern technology and the novel reinforcement of global Information Technology. The congested traffic, for example, is no longer a barrier of traveling in Bangkok as it is mitigated and soothed by the use of sky train (Bangkok Transportation System ). It is much less time consuming to travel in downtown Bangkok, and makes several important busy-all-day routes, especially in shopping plethora areas and business quarters on Payathai, Silom, Sikhumvit roads, within easy reach.
As rapidly as the city has grown, hospitality business and services have constantly increased, ranging from local street-vendor markets, lavishing imported international brand shops, family-run guesthouses, extravagant world-class hotels, pervasive Thai restaurants and multi-tastes of foreign cuisines.
Not only Bangkok, other cities in Thailand also offer unlimited pleasure as well as open up new visions to those visitors withpeerless experience once they get to venture around. Despite differences in interest and passion, this country has never disappointed the tourists. With the inherited wealth of historical sites nationwide, local attractions and the richness of natural beauty, plus the heartfelt Thai hospitality, Thailand is supreme ecstasy.
Thailand is the right place for those who have admiration for great ancient civilizations and architectures as it had long been a prosperous kingdom and the center of Asian trade and agriculture dating far back a thousand years ago. Even though the ancient civilization had vanished through time and been replaced by the new, its remaining can reflect the vivid picture of the past glory. Ayuttaya, for instance, is declared the world heritage and entitled " Ayuttaya Historical Park and World Heritage Site". Physical constructions found are mostly Buddhist temples and royal palaces. Over seven hundred years of age, further up north 5 hours from Bangkok, the legendary kingdom of Sukhothai has been peacefully rooted as the capital of the very first Thai kingdom. Apparently, its arts uniquely differ from those of Ayuttaya with the dominant influence of foreign cultures. However, those who have passion for such historical attractions but cannot afford time to go out of town are recommended to spare a day for a Bangkok city tour. The Tourism Authority of Thailand arranges a quickie city -sightseeing- tour bus, which takes only one hour to admire the Rattanakosin Island, where you can get a glimpse of spectacular Thai conventional architectural constructions like the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha Temple, and many other magnificent temples built in the early Rattankosin Dynasty. Unlike Ayuttaya and Sukhothai, the tourist attractions of historical value are rejuvenated and maintained in a decent condition.
Best Choice, Best Buys
Most visitors have definitely often heard of Chatuchak Market, a well- noted bargain market. Located in central Bangkok, Thailand's Notting Hill is easy to reach by BTS, city buses and privately-hired transportation such as taxis and "tuk-tuk", a local open-air three-wheeled vehicle. Clothing, accessories, antiques, handicrafts, second-hands and miscellaneous goods are assembled in this large commonplace.
It would also be such disappointment if you miss a visit to Siam Square. To native Thais, it is their favorite spot of fashion and design. To foreigners, it is irresistible! Posh and brand-conscious visitors are recommended to drop by Siam Discovery, Siam Centre, Gaysorn Plaza, Central Chid-lom Department Store and the Emporium, all located along BTS route. There, you can gain an easy access by the convenient fast sky train BTS. Careful spenders, on the other hand, probably prefer to have a look around Siam Square, Ma-Boon-Krong Centre (MBK), and World Trade Centre (WTC) for a good deal of ready-to-wear clothes, trendy bags, casual shoes and other various types of goods.
Thailand is also famous for traditional handicrafts and traditional products such as silk, batik, jewelry and pottery. Mat-mee, a renowned Thai silk, is local to the Northeast while other types of reputable Thai silk can be normally found in the North. If time is limited, you are encouraged to spend time visiting Thai silk outlets in Bangkok, Jim Thompson's and Shinnawatra, for example.
Antiques and gemstones are, too, excellent buys. Each province of Thailand has its own specialty, so visitors are advised to look for specific information for time -saving. However, such rare pieces as Buddha images, colored gems and diamonds require license and documentation. Shoppers are noted to exercise caution and ask for advice from dealers.
Give yourself and your health a break
If you fancy a pampering holiday, Thailand offers exquisite traditional styles of therapy. Thanks to Mother Nature, traditional Thai therapies make use of its healing power that apparently is the best of all treatments. This includes Thai-style herbal massage, Thai massage and spas.
Thai massage has gained increased popularity in these recent years. Traditional physical therapy dates back to ancient India even before the lifetime of Buddha. With a wide range of massage postures, it is proven to be effective cure for body pains, muscular tension and nervous strains caused by stress. The most notable massage therapy, also believed to be original, is at Wat Pho (the temple of the Reclining Buddha), whereas at leading hotels, the services are commonly found.
For ladies and those who are conscious about beauty and health care, herbal treatment is another appealing alternative. Herbs mixed with hot steam from a water heater is being used and taken out its best quality. It will help get rid of body toxin and bring back physical balance. Likewise, modern spas are rising more prevalently. The world-class spa, Chiva-som, in Hua-Hin, offers a complete service of spa facilities where you can expect healthy and relaxing treat. You can also enjoy such luxury at Devarana spa at Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok, and at most five-star hotels either in the capital or in other cities throughout the country. Wealth without health is meaningless, so make your stay meaningful by gaining wealth in health here in Thailand.
To experience Thailand to the fullest, one should spare some time to try some soft adventures such as diving, water sports, golfing, climbing and track local festivals to absorb the real touch of "Thai way".
The scenic southern beaches welcome tourists who are keen to explore marine life and enjoy natural spectaculars of the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Apart from water sports and underwater experience, taking a golfing holiday seems to be quite a desirable getaway. Today, Thailand is well-noted for one of Asia's finest golf destinations as golf courses in Thailand vary according to its location, on hills or on islands where golfers, both amateurs and professionals, can take pleasure from the excitement of the game and appreciate natural surroundings.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If this is true, it must take innumerous pairs of eyes to behold all peerless beauty and exuberance that await to be discovered in Thailand. Your stay in Thailand may not turn out to be just a nine days' wonder, but a lifetime!