Tropical beaches, royal palaces, spectacular ancient ruins and temples, Thailand has it all.
Ideal for families, couples, groups and explorers there truly is something for everyone in the Land of Smiles.
With direct flights from the UK to Bangkok it is also very accessible and is ideal for multi-centre trips.
We have also looked at the current travel situation throughout South East Asia in our article South East Asia Travel, What are the Options?
“Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before” Dalai Lama
Chiang Mai – a Northern Thailand city with stunning temples and is the gateway to the mountainous north
Phuket – a large island with a range of resorts and locations that offer something for everyone
Ko Samui – stunning beaches with high-end resorts as well as more basic accommodation offers something for everyone.
Krabi – spectacular limestone cliffs, world famous beaches, coastal resorts and islands
Khao Lak – a series of linked villages that provide a more laid back resort feel
Pattaya – a city resort with a bustling feel centred around it’s beaches and nightlife
When to Visit
Thailand is truly a year round destination however there are regional variations that you need to understand to make sure that you have the weather that you are looking for.
North Thailand including Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
The dry season runs from November to May or June with very low levels of rain. The temperature heats up from mid-January hitting peaks in the high 30’s between March and May. High temperatures continue into the rainy season but with increasing levels of humidity which can make it feel much less comfortable.
The rainy season starts from May with short downpours meaning that travel becomes cheaper but also has generally excellent weather as the rain helps to cool temperatures down. By August or September however the rain can become much heavier and longer. Temperatures remain high however until October and November when they get much cooler especially in the far north until January. Dry weather returns by December.
Andaman Sea including Phuket, Khao Lak & Krabi
November to March is peak season with more comfortable temperatures in the low 30’s, cooling breezes and low humidity.
Temperatures rise from March to May, with rising humidity. Towards the end of May the monsoon will have arrived which usually lasts until October with short, sometimes very heavy, afternoon downpours for most of the period although more consistent rain can be seen in September and October.
Gulf of Thailand including Hua Hin and Koh Samui
There are three seasons with peak season being December to February with little rain and cooling winds keeping temperatures and humidity more comfortable. Temperatures increase from March usually peaking in April and May with little rain until it starts to increase in June with short, afternoon downpours.
Much heavier and longer periods of rain and increased humidity arrive by August as the monsoon lands in the area. Temperatures remain hot and there can be significant periods of sunshine around the downpours although rain continues to increase until November. Hua Hin has less rainfall where it is only a serious consideration in September and October.
How To Get To Thailand
There are international airports in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Ko Samui and Hat Yai. Direct flights from the UK are only currently available to Bangkok and Phuket.
Most people will fly into Bangkok (around 11 and a half hours) and then fly from Bangkok to their next location. Direct flights from the UK to Bangkok are available from London Heathrow by Thai Airways, British Airways and Eva Air.
Other common routes are via Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpar and Doha although you are likely to have longer flight times and possibly long layovers between flights. This will give the option of flights from regional airports so may suit some better than a trip to Heathrow.
Language and Currency
The language throughout is Thai but English is spoken widely in Tourist areas.
The currency is the Baht and it is recommended that you take a variety of notes with you for your arrival. Smaller notes are useful for tipping although it is not a traditional part of Thai culture. I always work on about 10% for good service.
There are plenty of places to exchange money in towns and tourist areas as well as cash machines. Be aware of exchange rates and any additional charges especially when using ATM’s.
Food and Drink
The food is excellent. I am biased as I love Thai food but it is for good reason that the food in Thailand is world renowned. If you are less adventurous there are plenty of places with Western Food in tourist areas (don’t expect it to be like your mother made though unless she was Thai). We have traveled with people who would not eat anything “foreign” and found that after a while they became fans of some of the dishes once we explained “no spices”.You will often find sellers on the beach who will prepare a fresh coconut or pineapple for you.
Speaking of spices some of the food can be on the spicy side. They are well used to preparing dishes tamed for the western palette and will amend if asked. There is always the chance a dish will catch you out. I had a meal on the last day of a trip to Khao Lak at a restaurant we had ate in twice before. I asked for a different dish but when asked I said spicy, as I had done before. She asked if I was sure and said yes. When it came it was gorgeous but hot, VERY hot! I used a number of napkins just to mop by brow. When she took our plates she asked if I enjoyed, I said yes but it was hot, she smiled and said she had done it medium strength.
Some of the fresh juices will knock your socks off with their flavour, often they will make them from fresh fruit in front of you that has only just been picked. Local beer is very nice, many people will be aware of Singha but my favourite is Chang, many places will also have Leo. Local whiskeys are popular, Mekhong and SangSom are the most popular although technically they are rums, if you need a genuine Thai whiskey then Hong Thong and Blend 285 are for you. If you are looking for a Thai Brandy then Regency seems to be the brand of choice. Thai wine can be cheap but there is probably a reason for that, the most popular brand is probably Monsoon Valley.
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