I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world
- Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey
Lush rice paddies, tropical forests and ancient villages; hazy mountains with cascading waterfalls; craggy limestone cliffs rising from the land; gleaming temples and golden Buddhas; jungle-covered islands anchored in azure waters; miles of sandy beaches; bustling cities and markets packed with people and produce. Welcome to Thailand, the Land of Smiles.
When to go
The best time to visit most of Thailand is between November and February, because it rains the least and it is not too hot. For travel to the southern islands, choose those west of the peninsula (Phuket, Phi Phi) between mid-November and April and those to the east (Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan) between December and September.
Thailand's capital is a place of contradictions. Mega-malls and floating markets, office towers and temples, old village homes and condo-blocks all vie for space. Get under its skin and discover a world of food and hidden places, a city you will not lightly forget.
This laid-back city in the north, the gateway to the Golden Triangle, is a great town to discover markets, taste some great food and while away in the serenity of a temple.
Ayuthaya & Sukhothai
The ruins of these former capitals offer a tantalizing glimpse into Thailand's glorious past. Explore them by bike or on foot.
Kanchanaburi, Bridge over the River Kwai, Erawan National Park
The tragic events from WW2 are commemorated here with memorials and museums. Nearby Erawan National Park is famous for its 7-tiered waterfall.
Khao Sok National Park
Dramatic limestone cliffs, waterfalls and lowland rainforest are what make this national park so enchanting. Hike the many trails in search of mammals and birds.
Krabi & Ao Nang
Famous for its limestone rock formations, Krabi and nearby Ao Nang make for great bases from which to explore the nearby beaches, cliffs, mangroves, turquoise seas and bustling islands.
The ultimate holiday island, Phuket offers plenty of nightlife and shopping, deluxe accommodation, spas and glorious white-sand beaches.
Ko Phi Phi
These two incredibly beautiful islands are worth a day trip to snorkel, explore hidden coves and beaches or to shop and eat in the main town.
For all its beautiful beaches and accompanying hotels, resorts and restaurants, Ko Samui still feels very much Thai. Take a motorbike taxi around the coast and enjoy the scenery, or go snorkelling in its off-shore national park.
While one part of the island gets crowded during the Full Moon parties, the rest of it lingers on in obscurity, with its beautiful interior jungles and forgotten coves and beaches.
Lesser known islands
Ko Tao, north of Samui is famous for its diving. Ko Lanta, near Phi Phi, is far more calm and a haven of Thai culture, beautiful beaches and lovely resorts.
Village home stay
A homestay in Thailand is a great way to learn more about local life. Be welcomed by your hosts, explore the village and trails and enjoy some delicious food and traditional music and dance.
Thailand is well known for its delicious food and nowhere will it be fresher than from a street-side stall.
Mae Glong river raft house
Stay and play on a river raft house. As you float down the river and see life on the banks go by, your accommodation is on board!
Hilltribe Trek & lodge
Walking through hilltribe country, the forests, fields and villages are for many a highlight of their visit to Thailand. Opt for a homestay or, if comfort is important to you, a hilltribe lodge.
Take a tuk-tuk
Take one of these "mopeds with a cabin" on a hair-raising but fun ride through narrow streets.
Long-tail boat ride
Dubbed canoes with a jet engine, these boats are the transportation of choice on Bangkok's and indeed Thailand's canals and rivers.
Visit a floating market
Take a boat out to a floating market and mingle with all the vendor's boats, marvelling at the heaps of fresh produce they brought in.
Don't forget to indulge in a traditional Thai massage. You will feel reinvigorated and renewed!
Accompany a Thai chef to the market, shop for fresh ingredients and try your hand at some of the best recipes this country has to offer. Then, feast on your own creations!
Seek the sun
Well, the sun is never far away. But for serious sun-worshipers, Thailand's beaches are some of the best in the world.
Visit a camp caring for sick, injured or rehabilitating elephants, interact with them and bathe them, and know that your hard-earned money helps to care for these beautiful animals. We discourage our clients from riding elephants as animals are abused during training.
Shop till you drop
Housewares, clothing and souvenirs - Thailand has plenty of shops, markets and stalls where you can engage in some serious retail therapy. Don't forget to hone up on your bargaining skills!
Hit the trails
Thailand's jungles, islands and rural lands offer plenty of opportunities for a ramble or a serious hike.
Tour code: EAOE
Why we love this trip: our 2-week discovery showing all the highlights of northern Thailand and some time on the beach.
Places visited: Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Bridge over River Kwai, Erawan NP, Ayuthaya, Elephant Park, Jungle Lodge, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin beach
Signature Experiences: glorious food, hilltribe walk, hilltribe lodge, take a tuk-tuk, long-tail boat ride, Thai massage, cooking class, seek the sun, elephant encounter, shop till you drop, hit the trails
Length: 14 days
Accommodation: 11 nights comfortable hotels, one night comfortable rustic lodge, one night an air-conditioned sleeper train
Included meals: 11 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner
Transport: Private van, sleeper train, flight
Departures: Set small-group dates and daily private departures
Customizable? Yes, price on request
Price: Small group departures priced from $2210
Islands in the Sun
Tour code: XITS
Why we love this trip: a 14-day discovery of delightful Thai islands and beaches
Places visited: Bangkok, Phang Nga Bay, Ko Yao Noi, Krabi, Ko Lanta, Ko Hai, Ko Muk
Signature Experiences: beaches, glorious food, take a tuk-tuk, Thai massage, seek the sun, shop till you drop, hit the trails
Length: 14 days
Accommodation: 7 nights hotel, 2 nights overnight train, 4 nights bungalow
Included meals: 11 breakfasts
Transport: bus, train, boat, ferry
Departures: set small-group departures in winter, daily private departures
Customizable? yes, price on request
Price: small group departures from $1560
Highlights of Thailand
Tour code: PTHU
Why we love this trip: our popular 10-day exploration of northern Thailand
Places visited: Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Bridge over River Kwai, Sukhothai, Hilltribe Lodge, Chiang Mai, elephant hospital
Signature Experiences: glorious food, hilltribe lodge, take a tuk-tuk, long-tail boat ride, Thai massage, cooking class, elephant encounter, shop till you drop, hit the trails
Length: 10 days
Accommodation: Hotel (5 nights), Lodge (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (1 night), Resort (2 nights)
Included meals: 9 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners
Transport: Bicycle rickshaw, Private van, Sleeper train, Train
Departures: set small-group dates
Customizable? Yes - price on request
Price: Small group departures priced from $1840