Thailand was the first of the countries of Indochina to get mass tourism from beyond its immediate borders. It still attracts more tourists from the West than any of its neighbours. It offers a stunning coastline where many backpackers have congregated but there is also the exotic, and fairly hectic, city of Bangkok that combines its bustle with great landmarks, famous, some say infamous, nightlife and lovely cuisine. Thailand private tours combine the best of the country with the special interests of clients taken into account.
Thailand tour packages usually begin in Bangkok, the country’s capital. It is the natural port of entry for the majority of visitors and Thailand tours will always devote time in this busy city of 11 million. The transport infrastructure of Thailand is fairly good and there are few problems getting to the other regions of the country.
Two days is hardly sufficient to see the highlights of the city. The waterways are a good way to get around but it is not possible to see the major landmarks without negotiating the traffic. It is important to be patient at times but Bangkok certainly rewards that patience:
• The Grand Palace and Wat Pra Kaew tops the list. The palace is still used for special occasions but otherwise it is the major tourist attraction in a city of many attractions. The emerald Buddha in Wat Pra Kaew within the complex is stunning. The temple dates back to the 15th Century, many years before the palace was built in 1782.
• Wat Pho has the huge reclining Buddha whose feet are even 5 metres high. 45 metres in length and 15 high it is difficult to get a photograph to really represent what the eyes have seen.
• Wat Arun is on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River directly opposite Wat Pho. It was built in the early years of the 19th Century in Khmer style and is often used by travel companies promoting Bangkok.
• Wat Traimitholds a small Buddha whose real value was hidden for many years. It is just 3 metres high and was seemingly made of plaster. It was only when it was dropped and the plaster chipped that its real value became apparent. It is solid gold so decide for yourself how much it is worth.
• The floating markets usually begin early in the morning, fresh produce for sale to families as well as restaurants. Your travel company will make arrangements within Thailand tours to visit one so make sure you put your alarm on.
• Jim Thompson’s house is a museum today. He was an American who disappeared in Malaysian jungle in 1967. He is regarded as the reason for the renewed popularity of silk and the six teak houses that were his home are well worth a visit.
• Ayutthaya is a former capital and its ruins are just outside Bangkok to the north; it is a UNESCO World Heritage site worth seeing before you travel on to see more of the country.
By night the city seems to get even busier if that is possible. There are some superb restaurants and it is a real experience to dine while watching a cultural show of song and dance. Thailand private tours can certainly arrange activities at night including your first taste of Thai culture. There will be more to come in more remote parts of Thailand where life has changed little over the years; it is initially quite difficult to believe that while you are surrounded by the neon lights of Bangkok.
Elsewhere in Thailand
• Phuket and the South in general has much to offer Thailand tour packages. Huge numbers visit the Island of Phuket on the west coast facing the Andaman Sea. The beaches are great while water sports are readily available. Thai cuisine is lovely and the fresh seafood on the coast adds a further dimension. The resorts facing east into the Gulf of Thailand is less developed at present.
• Chiang Mai and the North is easily accessed by domestic flights. The 14th Century Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep has a golden dome that can be seen by most people in Chiang Mai because of its location at a height. The old city is small and really interesting. The main reason though to head to the north are the mountains and the chance of outdoor activities; hiking, climbing, fishing and kayaking. After the 11 million of Bangkok, the 170,000 living in Chiang Mai make a pleasant change.
• Pattaya and the East have a border with Cambodia and hence travellers looking to see more of Indochina can head further east from here. Pattaya is arguably the most famous of Thailand’s coastal resorts though it is no longer to everyone’s taste. There are still some fairly under-developed parts of the coastline and the mountainous interior is worth exploring as an alternative to heading to Chiang Mai and seeing the north. Better still; see both.
• Isaanis perhaps the least visited region in Thailand. It borders with Laos and Cambodia and hence life has been influenced by their proximity. Remember Thailand never had a European colonial master. One of the highlights of Isaan is the UNESCO World Heritage site, Khao Yai National Park. Khmer architecture is found here and further east right to Angkor Wat. Thailand tour packages regularly include this region in their itineraries.
The coastline of Thailand has become a popular location with film makers and the images they have shown the world have led to even more people wanting to visit its islands and beaches. They provide a real contrast to the city of Bangkok which offers everything tourists would expect of a modern city and much more.
Thailand private tours can be tailor-made to the interests of clients and those needing advice will find good tour companies able to find a good balance and variety to make memorable experiences. Few who have the chance will turn down the chance to return to see more of this lovely country.
Read more: Top 20 things to do in Thailand