THAILAND – a comprehensive travel guide

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:


46 Replies to “THAILAND – a comprehensive travel guide”

  1. Thailand has so much to offer the traveler! Whether on a budget or seeking luxury finds, it's a country that seems to have it all. Glad you enjoyed yourself so much there!

  2. I agree with you on the sex tourism and so forth, however, Thailand is a tourist destination for a reason. As I live in Yangon, Myanmar at the moment I need to go there every three months for a visa run. It has slowly grown on me.

    It is a great place to relax, the food in Bangkok is epic, and it has an incredibly rich cultural history.

    I am also a fan of Koh Lanta, which is not yet overrun by tourism.

    1. I absolutely agree with what you are saying. Yes. Ko Lanta is very nice – but I liked Ko Jum even better, which of course has hardly any infrastructure whatsoever….

  3. I'm glad you ended up having a positive experience despite your expectations! Thanks for adding your perspective. I've heard so much about the beauty of Northern Thailand that it sounds like I'd have to add it to the itinerary. I'm generally a beach girl, but it looks stunning!

  4. I haven't been to Thailand so far, but I pretty much have the same impression that you had initially! It seems that I really need to go there to see for myself what is going on! Your article, with each location and pictures is really nice. I particularly like the Chiang Mai one, as I had just read about that location. It is really interesting how they got the ex-cons and cons to work. Keep it up and safe travels!

  5. Thailand can be everything! Sex tourism, drunk idiots on the beach, poverty, riches, incredible culture and full of history. A few years ago I did an exchange semester in Bangkok and Thailand absolutely grew on me. The people are so incredible friendly and there are beautiful things around every corner, especially when you move away from the tourist masses.

    1. Hahaha, yes, I skipped the drunk idiots on the (Party-) islands – and I totally agree with what you are saying!

  6. It's a shame that it is so often tourist who ruin the reputation of destinations. When foreigners travel to countries for unsavoury reasons they tarnish the rich culture and histories the locations offer.

    You have done a great job of looking past stereotypes and immersing yourself in everything that is great about a Thai adventure.

    We firmly believe it the responsibility of Travelbloggers to break stereotypes and help to educate travellers how to experience other cultures, while treading lightly and not imposing their own prejudice or destructive tendencies.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep travel blogging. Adventure is better shared with friends!

    1. Here you are again, Anthony, leaving such a deep and lovely comment – thank you, you are really encouraging me a lot! Happy travels!

  7. I wrote a paper on the sex trade in Asian in college and ever since I haven't been crazy about going to Thailand either. Good to know you felt the same, and ended up falling in love with it. 🙂

    1. Yes, Lara, there are strong up- and down-sides to Thailand and the sex tourism is probably the most disgusting one. But when you just stay away from certain places, it's fabulous!

  8. Thailand has so much to offer, I'm glad you changed your mind! My heart is in everlasting love with Cambodia, but I used to travel to Thailand often to reset my Visa and every time I discovered some new and wonderful bit 🙂

    1. As a matter of fact, Erica, I liked Thailand much more than Cambodia. But it always depends on incidents and people you meet and many factors that actually don't have much to do with the country itself; sometimes it's even the weather that shapes your image of a country.

  9. Ohh this looks interesting. We are heading to Thailand in the middle of the year. I've already spent 2 months there but my partner has never been. I didn't go anywhere in the middle of the country, is it worth stopping there? What was the least touristy place you went?

    1. Great question, Rohan. The least touristy spot worth visiting was Kamphang Peth: It has an archeologic park right downtown and another one just ten minutes by bicycle from the city center. There is good food at the night market – and I was the only tourist I've seen:
      However, my favorite place was Sukhothai with all the temples and nice places.
      Regarding islands I liked Ko Jum the best – it's so secluded, they don't even have a jetty:
      Wherever you end up: have great trip!

  10. I really enjoyed my time in Thailand. I explored temples and learned a bit about the culture, but I also spent time on the beach. I think it's possible to do both. I'd love to go back!

  11. I absolutely loved Thailand. It really does have something for everyone, whether you want to laze on a beach or discover the amazing historic and cultural attraction… and OMG the food!

  12. I'm glad that Thailand was able to make you change your mind. It's a pretty spectacular place, isn't it? I too am totally turned off by the sex-tourism-destination and the super-beaten-beach-path, but Thailand is SO MUCH more than that! Next time you go, you should check out Kanchanaburi. I think you'd love it!

  13. I am not too excited about it either, but I do want to see Thailand and check it out. Glad you got to experience it and have a change of mind.

  14. I've only been to Bangkok in Thailand and I wasn't much of a fan of the city. However I've heard so many wonderful things about the rest of the country that I would definitely want to go back and go elsewhere.

  15. I've traveled to Thailand several times for work and vacation and fell in love with the country. It is unfortunate that it does have that bad reputation for sex tourism, but I am happy that you were able to go and see a whole different side!

    1. Well, Jessica, it has this image for a reason. But I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to stay away from these horrible hot spots and just see how wonderful it is. It's been probably my nicest trip to Asia so far.

  16. It is always an eye-opener to see a city/place first-hand and disprove the image that some news reports make us believe. 🙂 It is a good thing that the experience made you see it differently. And such a wonderful experience…great photos!

    1. Actually the bad image is there for a reason, but you can easily avoid the places all this disgusting monkey business takes place. You then see these 'gentlemen' only at the airport – which is repulsive enough, though.

  17. True. Some countries have had a bad image that stopped people from traveling and seeing their beauty. For me though, being an Asian, I felt Thailand won't be on top of the list, but your photos made me want to take a tour to the country. =)

  18. I have had lots of mixed feed back from people who have been to Thailand. Sure its cheap but is it everyone's up of tea? Your blog has definitely answered that question. You have made me want to visit Thailand. I am going to try the places you have recommended especially KO PHI PHI.

    1. Thanx, that was exactly what I felt. I was afraid to end up somewhere between disgusted and bored – but by no means! Ko Phi Phi is nice, but man, is it a Partyplace….my favorite was Ko Jum, but I like secluded…anyway, happy travels!

  19. I enjoyed Thailand so much. I went with my daughter, and it was so easy to get around and there are plenty of things to do. We did not go to the beach…I know…strange.

    1. No, Corinne, I totally get you. As I wrote, it's not the beach area that makes me love Thailand, it was the landroute up north.

  20. I love that you challenge your thinking about a destination, and see it with open eyes. The thought of all that history makes me eager to visit, and I can imagine it being a fascinating trip. I'm glad that you found something there that resonated with your travelling soul.

    1. '…that resonated with your travelling soul' – thank you, Bernie, this is so poetic! And yes, I think I do have a travelling soul – I need to pay more attention to that.

  21. Thailand is so diverse and has so many different experiences to offer to every traveller. Our thailand trip is still pending and wish to go there soon. Krabi is my Fav and looks like you have covered lot of lovely places in thailand.

  22. I am so happy to read that you've enjoyed Thailand. Thanks fr sharing your awesome experience with us and enlightening us, Renata!

  23. I couldn't agree more! It is easy enough to have a holiday in Thailand where all you do is sit and tan but there is SO much to see and do, especially in the North of the country. It is a good lesson in not judging a place before we visit.

  24. I'm so glad to have read your post about Thailand. I, too, had mxied feelings about traveling there but I'm glad to know you had some of the same fears and ended up loving the country. Chiang Mai is on my list! Thanks so much.

  25. Thailand's reputation as a premier tourist attraction with good local fare and inexpensive shopping has oftentimes been marred by its sex tourism industry. Nevertheless, it's great to hear that you ignored the prejudices and managed to enjoy yourself in the country.

  26. Great to know you found the parts of Thailand that you liked. And it was really interesting to read a bit of history of Thailand here. I also want to visit the beaches of Thailand, who knows, when I go, I might discover better parts of the country like you 🙂

  27. I am going to spend some more time looking at your places that you travelled. Your map of Thailand look like you made a great exploration of the area. So much to see there!

  28. Thanks for sharing. Thailand has been on the top of my bucket list forever. You shared so much important information that's necessary for anyone thinking to head to there. I look forward to planning a trip there in the next year.

  29. I felt that same way about Thailand even though I know many people who have gone and loved it! You may have just changed my mind about visiting, so thank you!!

  30. I’m yet to explore Thailand, like you I’m not very keen on planning a trip to this country as I have certain reservations. Regarding your post I’m thinking maybe even I should give it a try. Thanks for all the information you have shared here.

  31. Had never heard about the other side of Thailand from anyone before. It must be a wonderful experience to visit non tourist places.

  32. Vacation in Thailand is always a dream. I am planning a solo Thailand trip want to have a idea about all the places that i can visit. I found great Thailand tour packages here ,even this can be helpful

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