Thailand has many different faces and even more provinces. This country of tremendous diversity covers 514,000 square kilometres and is divided into 77 regions. Its two coastlines – on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea – offer sparkling azure seas and picture-perfect white sand beaches. Inland are tropical forests, emerald green rice paddies, limestone peaks, and thundering waterfalls. The teeming metropolis of Bangkok is a world away from the squat villages inhabited by colourful hill tribes in the north. Countless clusters of islands dot the seas where divers can spot whale sharks, dugongs, and Bryde’s whales. In the Golden Triangle, where Myanmar and Laos meet Thailand, elephants bathe and frolic in the Mekong River.
Spirituality in this Buddhist nation is ubiquitous. The spectacular Hindu Khmer temple Prasat Phanom Rung (‘Big Temple’) set on the summit of an extinct volcano and the Phra Si Ratana Temple in Phitsanulok, with its bronze-cast Phra Phuttha Chinnarat – considered the kingdom’s most beautiful Buddha – are just two of the country’s 45,000 temples. Second only to religious devotion is cuisine. Fundamental to Thailand’s identity, the fresh, fragrant food is based on the balance of five flavors: spicy, sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Taking the culinary journey is the most delicious part of the Thai experience.
Full credit goes to the Thai people for earning their country the moniker "Land of Smiles". Here, the hospitality is so legendary that there’s even a phrase "Ton-Rub-Kub-Suu" that refers to the process of warmly and courteously welcoming guests. Wherever you decide to travel in Thailand, Red Savannah can tailor-make an itinerary that can encompass culture, adventure, history, relaxation and wellbeing.
From Bordeaux, you could head north to the beautiful Ile de Ré or decamp to a private villa on the Cap Ferret Peninsula, famous for its beaches and fresh-from-the-sea oysters. Or instead, head east to explore the Dordogne, where tiny honey-coloured towns and rolling green hills recall the Cotswolds of old.
Far smaller than its big brother Phuket, you can’t help but fall for the chilled island ambience Koh Samui emits through its gentle waves, secluded bays and dreamy pool villas. For a glimpse of local life, Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village was once famed for its daily catch, but now its rustic huts are home to boutique shops and a charming café culture, while the buzzing beaches on its east coast are perfect for a sundowner. Near neighbour Koh Phangan carries an undeserving label of being a backpackers’ haven but it’s easy to escape to idyllic coves and unspoilt jungle. Anantara Rasananda offers a sophisticated base from which to explore, with the bright blue lagoons and forested islands of Ang Thong National Marine Park within easy reach.
Feeling more like a sleepy ancient town than one of Thailand’s biggest cities, Chiang Mai’s historic moated centre is an attractive collection of 1,000-year-old temples, wooden houses and tranquil pagoda gardens. Among its gilded antiquity lies the hilltop Wat Pra That Doi Suthep, one of the country’s most sacred Buddhist sites and a great place to take it sweeping views of Chiang Mai is all its majesty. Make sure you venture beyond the moats though, as a wealth of wild experiences lie beyond, including river rafting, ethical elephant experiences and walking through virgin jungle inhabited by hill tribes eager to show you their traditional culture. Even further north lies the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and Laos meet on the banks of the Mekong River.
Krabi is the Thailand you imagined – dramatic karsts rising above turquoise waters and rugged limestone cliffs hanging over perfect white curves of sand. Its fine beaches make it a great holiday destination to relax in a tropical setting but the surrounding jungle-clad hillsides remind you it’s an adventure waiting to happen, with jungle trails taking you to churning waterfalls and hidden caves. For water babies, dip below the ripples off Koh Lanta for an underwater world like no other. Hin Daeng is home to manta rays and whale sharks, Ko Rok has a kaleidoscopic coral garden teeming with colourful fish and Ko Muk hides a secret lagoon.
In the ‘Land of Smiles’ nowhere will have you grinning from cheek to cheek quite like Elephant Hills. Set among the wilderness of Khao Sok National Park, with one camp in the heart of prime rainforest and the other floating on Cheow Larn Lake, it’s a heartening and ethical way to engage with elephants. Wash them, feed them their daily meals and watch them grazing and roaming free in their stunning natural environment. As well as spending time with these beautiful beasts, there are plenty of other ways to soak up the jungle, from canoeing down the Sok River to trekking through its wilds.
We all know and love Thai cuisine. Food is a way of life here and it’s essential to try its many flavoursome dishes to understand Thailand. The local markets of Bangkok are a treat for the senses, a rich array of smells, colours and sounds, while fine-dining restaurants are a tasty window into how Thai food has been interpreted in modern cooking. The markets of Chiang Mai show off its staple ingredients but the best way to appreciate the flavors of Thai food is through a cooking class, where a local chef will help you buy ingredients from the markets, cook it the traditional way and then devour your creations. Yum!
Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio and Tetanus-Diphtheria vaccinations are currently recommended and Thailand is deemed to have a risk of Malaria (with the exception of Bangkok) and the Zika virus. If you’re entering Thailand from a Yellow Fever zone, possession of a valid Yellow Fever inoculation certificate is required. For any current travel health advice, you should seek guidance from your GP at least four to six weeks prior to travel. You would also need a Covid-19 vaccination card and a negative Covid-19 PCR test result not less than 72hours old.
The official currency of the country is the Thai baht.
You need a visa to go to Thailand, as long as you are not from one of the countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirements. Speak with your agent on how to get a visa.
The official languages spoken in Thailand is Thai
Thailand’s weather can differ depending on which part of the country you’re visiting, with some regions experiencing dry, sunny days while others are in the middle of monsoon season.
Northern and Central Thailand
In Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle, the dry season runs from November to May, with little to no rain expected. Even this can roughly be broken into two, with December and January experiencing temperatures around 30°C. From February onwards, the heat rises and the mercury has been known to touch 40°C in the central regions.
The rainy season begins in June and usually lasts until October, with a sticky heat joining the clouds. Early on (June to August), the rains come in short, sharp showers that often disappear within an hour. The later you travel in the wet season, the higher the chances are that the showers will become heavier and longer. October is the tail end of the wet season, when the rains dissipate and the weather is cool, making for a great weather window in which to plan your holiday.
Gulf of Thailand
Unlike the upper mainland of Thailand, the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan experience the bulk of their rain from October to early January, with November and December peak monsoon season. From rest of January until April, days are dry, sunny and warm, with temperatures ranging from the late 20s to the early 30s (degrees Celsius). Some rainfall often falls during May, though you’ll still get plenty of sunshine. The summer months from June to August then return to being dry and hot, while the rest of Thailand gets soaked, before September sees a sprinkling of showers in anticipation of the rainy season returning.
Phuket, Khao Sok National Park and the Andaman Coast
Phuket, Khao Sok, Krabi, Koh Lanta, and the surrounding islands have a similar yearly weather pattern to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The best weather from November to March brings the best weather, with dry heat (temperatures between 25 °C and 32 °C) tempered by a cooling breeze, making conditions outside comfortable. From March, the humidity and mercury rise (sometimes north of 35°C), while the winds disappear.
May marks the start of the monsoon season, and, inevitably, the chance of wet weather increases. Short, heavy downpours in the afternoon are usually the order of the day, but September and October can experience much heavier and more frequent bursts. If you’re visiting Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park, the monsoon season is great, with the land a lush green and wildlife easier to spot. Here, some rain can occur year-round, too.
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