If it were anywhere else on earth, the nickname 'the land of smiles' would be an advertising ploy but here in Thailand it's the simple truth. For this is a land that prides itself on welcoming foreigners. From the elephants and paddy fields of the north, through the wild city nights of Bangkok, to the sleepy jungles and white-sand beaches of the untouched south, Thailand holidays take you to a country that mixes adventure with relaxation and a genuine hospitality.
Things to do
Your list of things to do in Thailand will be long, so plan well to pack it in. For history buffs, Chiang Mai's Wat Phra and Doi Suthep temples are breathtaking even before you've explored Bangkok's ornate Grand Palace, and the tremendous reclining Buddha in What Pho. Adrenaline junkies will get their kick stroking wild tigers at Tiger Temple, scuba diving in the Similan Islands, or even studying Muay Thai kick-boxing in Bangkok. If all that sounds too much like hard work take a Thai cookery course in Chiang Mai, sunbathe on one of Thailand's breathtaking beaches or indulge in a traditional Thai massage.
Food & restaurants
Thailand's food is a main attraction for many visitors and budget travellers will not struggle to find delicious, affordable eats. Find bustling options in the street food stalls of Bangkok's Lumpini Park and Sukhumvit 38. Take it up a notch with Kalapapruek, which serves regional Thai specialties and western options. Meanwhile Sra Bua dishes out innovative molecular Thai food and Phranakorn Bar has a laid back alfresco rooftop vibe. In Ao Nang, The Last Fisherman allows visitors to sip their sunset Mai Tais with the sand between their toes.
Thailand accommodation options offer great value for your baht. In Bangkok, The Wild Orchid Villa, near Koa San Road, has reasonable, clean and comfortable rooms. For bigger budgets, the opulent Shangri La has spacious suites, huge bathtubs and multiple panoramic bars. For musicians, Chiang Mai's quirky Chai Blues House is run by one of Thailand's best guitarists. In Kanchanaburi, soak up Thai culture with a stay in The Float House on the River Kwai. Beach bunnies should try Ko Lanta's Where Else which epitomises relaxation with hammocks swinging lazily between wooden bungalows.
When shopping in Thailand, haggling is a necessity. Bangkok's Chatuchak, the world's biggest flea market, has nearly 10,000 stalls selling everything from antiques and homewares to jewellery and opium pipes. Patpong Night Market is your spot for surprisingly convincing fake labels. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market sees elderly Thai ladies pushing boats displying Thai crafts, ceramics and silks. And in Chiang Mai, the Saturday and Sunday Walking Markets see vendors selling a variety of goods, in particular, beautiful jewellery.