Thailand is the country in Southeast Asia
most visited by tourists, and for good reason. You can find almost
anything here: thick jungle as green as can be, crystal blue waters that
feel more like a warm bath than a swim in the ocean, and food that can
curl your nose hairs while dancing across your taste buds. Exotic, yet
safe; cheap, yet equipped with every modern amenity you need, there is
something for every interest and every price bracket, from beach front
backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world.
Bangkok is at the start of many visitors' itineraries, and while a modern city, it has a rich cultural heritage. Most visitors at least take in the Grand Palace, a collection of highly decorated buildings and monuments. It is home to Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand that houses the Emerald Buddha. Other cultural attractions include Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Jim Thompson's House, but these are just a fraction of possible sights you could visit.
In the northern provinces live unique hill-tribe peoples, often visited as part of a trekking. The six major hill tribes in Thailand are the Akha, Lahu, Karen, Hmong, Mien and Lisu, each with a distinct language and culture. Chiang Mai makes a good base for arranging these trekkings, and has some cultural sights of its own, such as Wat Doi Suthep.
For those interested in recent history, Kanchanaburi has a lot of sights related to World War II. The Bridge over the River Kwai, popularised by the film of the same name, is the most famous one, but the museums in its vicinity are a lot more moving.
Thailand's beaches and islands attract millions of visitors each year from all over the globe. While Pattaya, Phuket and Ko Samui were only discovered in the 1970s, these are now by far the most developed beach resorts.
The Chumphon Archipelago has a great selection of islands from touristic to unspoilt. Using Chumphon as a gateway, the islands of Ko Tao, Ko Nang Yuan, Ko Phangan and Ko Samui can be reached by high speed catamaran. The archipelago also includes 2 marine national parks, Mu Ko National Park and Ang Thong National Marine Park
Krabi Province has some beautiful spots, including Ao Nang, Rai Leh and the long golden beaches of Ko Lanta. Ko Phi Phi, renowned as a true paradise island, has been undergoing massive development since the release of the film The Beach in 2000. Ko Pha Ngan gives the best of both worlds, with well-developed beaches and empty ones a short ride away.
Ko Samet is the closest island beach to Bangkok, but its northern beaches are quite developed and hotels are full on weekends and public holidays.