More than in any other Asian metropolis, tradition, and modernity in social graces, culture, and architecture are so balanced. A visit to Thailand’s vibrant capital is a must on every trip to Thailand.
Panoramic View of Bangkok from the Golden Mount
Therefore it’s very convenient, that most individual travellers are landing in Bangkok, a city certainly worth a visito of more than just one night.
Reportedly, there are about 1430 islands in Thailand – obviously not all of them inhabited, but sadly, many of them crowded. Charmingly, some of the Thai islands come in clusters and are therefore easily accessible when island hopping.
The most idyllic way of island hopping is done by the traditional longtail boats.
While formerly, most of Thailand’s islands were uninhabited, more and more have been developed for tourism. However, since the most famous and popular ones are not automatically those that have the most beauty and serenity in store, with a little research – and a tip from me – you can still find your tropical paradise far from the party crowds.
So while I thought places like Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, and Chiang Mai were touristy, thus in an amene way, I didn’t know the half of it till I came to Ao Nang.
It must have been a nice place, albeit today, it is far too crowded.
However, it is the gateway to the paradise of the islets and isles scattered in the Andaman sea.
Ao Nang’s strongest suit is being a gateway to the countless isles scattered in the Andaman Sea.
The city of Krabi, however, is not much more than the central hub for the adjacent beaches and islands and doesn’t have much to offer. However, waiting for your ride or flight, you can spend half a day checking out the few unspectacular sights.
There are over 300 Buddhist temples in the glorious city of Chiang Mai! If I had the chance to visit only one place in Thailand, it would definitely be Chiang Mai.
One out of 300 of Chiang Mai’s Temples.
For the number and variety of those breathtakingly beautiful houses of worship, for the lovely coffee shops, for the charming little shops, for the good massage places, for the fact that they offer language lessons, for the perfect mix of traditional and historical and modern and hip.
Sukhothai took me by storm: The incredible number of remnants of the glorious times when the city was Siam’s capital is just surreal.
The archeologic park of Old Sukhothai is a place of magic and surreal beauty. Best discovered cycling since this way you don’t miss even the tiniest detail of the ancient grand art.
Since it would be a big mistake to limit your visits to the archeologic park in the city center, Sukhothai is best explored cycling; this way, you get to all the sites you like to see – and there are quite a few: Almost 200, to be precise.
Actually, I’d visited Kamphaeng Phet and Phitsanulok for different reasons: The first – although metaphorically as well as geographically a bit off the beaten tracks – is a nice break from the large tourist crowds. Although there is a wonderful archeologic site hidden in what seems to be a bewitched forest, most visitors skip Kamphaeng Phet altogether.
At Kamphaeng Phet, you even don’t have to go to the archeological park – there are majestic ruins to be admired right in the center of the city!
Phitsanulok cannot be avoided when travelling from Sukhothai up north by train. But it’s totally okay to keep this phitstop rather brief.
Ayutthaya is a historic wonderland less than 90 kilometers north of Bangkok.
Many do visit this enchanted place packed with an incredible number of ancient ruins from the times when the city was Siam’s proud capital. However, I recommend spending at least two days to really take the ancient glory in – and to include a half-day trip to Lop Buri.
I wasn’t crazy about going to Thailand. I knew that it has been an average holiday destination for everybody who wanted to stew on a beach.
Especially the disgusting sex tourism to some Thai destination made the country repulsive.
Wat Arun, one of Bangkok’s most important temple complexes on the west bank of River Chao Phraya.
But man, was I wrong! It obviously only depends strongly which route you travel and where you’re going. I fell in deep, lasting love with Thailand.
As a matter of fact I enjoyed the first part of my trip meandering from Bangkok to Chiang Mai much better than the beach part that brought me to the beaches and island around Krabi in the Andaman Sea.
Thailand’s territory covers a big part of the South East Asian land area, stretching from the Himalaya’s most far foothills over more than 1,100 miles all the way South to the Malayan border. Along this stretch, for many travellers the most attractive part are the beaches – 1,200 miles on the Golf of Thailand in the East, and all the same 620 miles along the Andaman Sea in the West. If you add the 1,430 islands, islets, reefs, and cays, there sure is space – thus the popular beaches are overcrowded due to the concentration of mass tourism in certain areas.
The country is facing major problems because of that: while it has a population of about 68 million people, only in 2016 34 million tourists visited the country – and they weren’t 34 million greenpeace activists so that mainly the ocean life is endangered.
The land area of aobut 513,115 sq km (approx. 198,115 sq mi) is dominated by a tropical monsoon climate. On boxing day in 2004, Thailand was one of the countries hit by a tsunami that caused 5,395 confirmed deaths, 8,457 injuries, and 2,817 missing(effective June 2005). Mainly affected was the area along the Andaman Sea. Since 2012 Thailand has had the best tsunami warning system in South East Asia.
Those who don’t go to Thailand to get a sun tan mostly go there because they have seen ‘The King and I’ and are fascinated by Siam’s history. The predecessor called ‘Siam’ never was a national state but a ‘geo-body’ defined rather by the adjacent French and English colonies. Amazingly Siam itself never was a colony.
It’s wonderful to follow the traces of the Mon (3rd century) to the Khmer (9th to 12th century) to the Sukhothai (13th) and Ayutthaya (14th to 18th century) and admire their rich cultures at the remnants of their palaces and temples.
At the end of the 18th century, the Chakri-Dynasty took over, and Bangkok became Thailand’s capital. After the beloved king Bhumibol died in 2016 – by then he was longest acting head of state, the present king is Maha Vajiralongkorn, Bhumibol’s second child – Thailand is a hereditary monarchy.
Most Thai follow the Theravada Buddhism, and although Buddhism isn’t the state religion, according to the constitution the king has to be Buddhist.
These are the places I’ve travelled, the entire route is on the map below:
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