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Thailand Travel Guide - Thailand Tourist Attractions
Explore bustling Bangkok, enjoy nature at Khao Sok National Park, relax on the white-sand beaches of Koh Samui and Koh Tao, spot coral and marine life while snorkelling………as you board on Sizzling Thailand!!!!!
From Bangkok nightclubs that never close to laid-back beachside drinks on Koh Tao, experience the energy of southern Thailand. Hike through the magnificent lowland rainforest of Khao Sok National Park, where tigers still roam, or laze in a riverside hammock. This is your trip……so tread your own path. With an expert leading the way, you're free to snorkel beautiful coral reefs or work on your tan. Enjoy the best of the beachside sun and backpacker nightlife in these amazing days.
Today is the arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are free to relax, explore the city and adjust to the frantic pace and tempered heat of Bangkok. Spend the evening in …..taxi ride from Khao San road and the central shopping area of Siam Square, where, you may be boarded at a hotel, where all rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel has a small pool and wifi is available at extra cost. You have the chance for an optional visit to Wat Po, home of the giant reclining Buddha or a long-tail boat can be arranged to explore the canals of Bangkok. Enjoy one of two street food crawls with your family or companions whilst in Bangkok. Bring your appetites and your wallets, and the expert guide will bring you to the best spots and teach you a bit about the local street food.
There is some free time until you head off to the railway station in the late afternoon to board a sleeper train to Surat Thani, gate way to the South…….also renowned as a "city of good people". The accommodation is an overnight sleeper train. Beds are dormitory style, with bunks on two layers along the side of the train carriage. There are curtains along each bunk for privacy. Your luggage will be accessible during the journey. The train has air-conditioning and clean bedding is provided for each bunk. There are both western style and asian style toilets at the end of each carriage. Food and drinks are served on the train but you can always bring your own food from the shops and restaurants in the train station.
Arrival at Surat Thani and here you go! This town is near the mouth of the river Tapi and forms the regional commercial center, with a seaport dealing in the main products of the province, rubber and coconuts. It is mainly known to tourists as a transfer to the nearby popular Ko Samui and……the Ko Pha Ngan islands which are home of the infamous Full Moon Party in Haad Rin, but there are also near-untouched landscapes…..and detox centers……..an extensive and detailed trip of another region of………Sizzling Thailand!!!!!
Arriving in the early morning, and take a public bus to the Khao Sok National Park and settle into a simple, yet comfortable, fan cooled bungalow style room for an afternoon of exploration and discovery. Entrance to the national park is not included. Khao Sok is a diverse area of natural beauty, a perfect place for people who want to hike and get out there in nature or those that just want to chill out in a hammock by the riverside watching monkeys take their afternoon bath. It includes the Cheow Lan Lake and is the largest area of virgin forest in southern Thailand. Beautiful sandstone and mudstone rocks rise high above sea level. The park is traversed by a limestone mountain range from north to south with a high point, and heavy rainfall and falling leaves led to the erosion of the limestone rocks and created the significant karst formations seen today. In this area, bamboo holds topsoil very tenaciously, liana trees grow rapidly wrapping around any vertical or horizontal support base such as takian or "rain trees", and buttress roots are enlarged root bases mostly of trees that grow above the upper canopy of the forest area.. Many kinds of wild fruit can be found around the national park and serve as sustenance for animals. Among those fruits are wild jackfruit, mangosteen, durian, rambutan, jujube, pomelo, and wild bananas. Wild pepper and ginger are not uncommon, and the National Park is perhaps most famous for the bua phut or Rafflesia kerrii….. flower. It is estimated to contain worlds species, that include wild mammals such as the Malayan tapir, Asian elephant, tiger, sambar deer, bear, guar, banteng, serow, wild boar, pig-tailed macaque, langur, white handed gibbons, squirrel, muntjak, mouse deer and barking deer……..satiate your wild desires with these rare species……..around Sizzling Thailand!!!!!!
Thanks to other protected areas….. Klong Saers and Khlong Nakha…. next to Khao Sok, the actual protected area is enormous in size. The dominant forest is a lowland rainforest and is about a few million years old, which makes it older than the Amazon! The hotel in Khao Sok is a short distance from the entrance to the National Park. All rooms are double or twin share with en suite bathroom. Free wifi is available.
Taking a public bus and ferry from Surat Thani, and arrive at Koh Samui during the afternoon. Lying off of Thailand’s east coast, this family of spectacular islands lures millions of tourists every year with their powder-soft sands and emerald waters.
Koh Samui offers everything you could possibly want in a beach retreat….. white sandy beaches, coconut palms, fresh seafood and warm, clear waters. With a huge area, this is the largest island in an archipelago of around eighty islands which together compose the Ang Thong Marine National Park or Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park …..a striking kayaking and snorkelling paradise.. The central part of the island is an almost uninhabitable tropical jungle mountain called Khao Pom, The expansion of tourism here has resulted in growth in building resorts, bungalows, and luxury private villas on the island. Like Phuket, this island attracts many visitors but still has plenty of out-of-the-way spots for those wishing to get away from it all. It is well known for it’s magnificent beaches and party nightlife. The most popular and commercialised beaches are Chaweng ….the largest and most-developed beach, with a curious mix of luxury hotels and backpacker guesthouses and a hopping nightlife. This beach was home to just a sprinkle of wooden bungalows but now the place is swamped with hotels, pizza joints, pubs, and go-go bars….. and is packed out with nightclubs playing mostly commercial pop and electronic music and serving exotic cocktails……..so who can stop you from indulging yourselves in………Sizzling Thailand!!!!!!
Lamai, is the "second" beach south of Chaweng, more backpackery but full of hotel tourists and a vibrant night life too. It has been transformed from a hippie hangout into a fun, party place packed out with bars and an exciting nightlife. Wander around the Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks……as these odd-looking rocks at the south end of the beach bear a striking resemblance to male and female genitalia and they have turned into one of the island’s biggest attractions. For those who would like to hear a legend or two surrounding the rocks, they need only ask a local resident. The Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo, south of Limai, presents a fun day out for the family. The undersea world of the aquarium has an amazing collection of tropical fish and other vibrant aquatic animals such as turtles and colourful coral. The tiger zoo is home to Bengal tigers and leopards. For those who are daring enough, they can have their photograph taken with these awesome animals.
The northern beach along the adjacent village of Mae Nom……..has a quiet and beautiful beach by the same name…… decent enough for swimming and sunbathing especially for families with children due to the shallow water. Bophut known for it’s Fisherman's Village, laid-back but growing fast and a popular starting point for diving tours, dotted with plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars. Monkey Shows can be observed at the open-air theatre on the main road behind Bophut beach. The entertainment also includes performing elephants, and it is here that the training of otherwise wild animals is curiously questionable? Seek an answer as you watch them dance or jump around……in…….Sizzling Thailand!!!!!!
Bang Rak at the northeastern tip is the home of the Big Buddha that offers visitors good swimming and lovely views. The area has developed a lot over the past few years and there are now plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars. The Wat Phra Yai also known as the Big Buddha Temple has as a fifteen metres tall statue of the Buddha. The Secret Buddha Garden is a beautiful garden surrounded by lush jungle, rocky hills and is adorned with sculptures depicting both humans, in different poses, as well as various deities. Since the garden is the highest point on the island, some awesome views are enclosed.
Choeng Mon is a quiet north shore beach and a perfect place for relaxing!!!!The Ban Lipa Yai. village grows high quality fruits, including rambutan, durian, mangosteen and the famed langsat.The Hin Lat Waterfall is easily accessible by car. Some of the numerous tiny levels have a large basin for swimmers. The Na Mueang Waterfall has purple rocks surrounding the stream of water, which gushes in from an impressive height. The Old House is a Chinese-style house, almost two- hundred years old, represents Samui's hints at it’s distant cultural past. Grandpa Si and Grandma Maen Hancharoen, the present owners, open the house to visitors.
The Samui Butterfly Garden - Insect Museum ….. in the southeast near Laem has a huge collection of butterflies, some a quarter of a metre wide. Visit the insect museum nearby to see a variety of rare bugs and a bee house. Laem Sor Pagoda Ko Samui…… this chedi or pagoda at the Laem Sor temple is one of the most important shrines in Ko Samui. The structure with its yellow tiles gives off a golden aura which is quite impressive. Around this area, the Wat Khunaram Ko Samui is the most famous temple for its mummified monk on display……a must-view shrine!! The mummy sits upright in a glass casket and devotees offer it flowers and incense. The mummy is in fact the body of a very revered former abbot of the temple who was also a meditation master able to predict his own death. The Ko Kra and Ko Losin are two small islands that do not get too many divers due to their remoteness, but blacktip sharks, manta rays and hard to find loggerhead turtles can be seen………what a tantalizing sight…….in Sizzling Thailand!!!!!
The Samran Pinnacles is an area with strong currents….. the site is recommended for experienced divers only. Due to the currents, the site is a haven for larger pelagics such as barracuda and jacks.
The Rum distillery on the southern coast of this island brews five flavours, and offers tours during the sugar cane season and free samples any time. The flavours are natural or sugar cane, lemon, orange, pineapple and coconut. Natural and coconut are quite tasty and lemon has a very strong pleasant citrus flavour, They also have a delicious mixer to serve with an inclusion of lime juice, cinnamon and other spices. Worth heading to if you're in the area or just for the novelty of sampling authentic Thai rum. You would be attended by a very friendly and warm staff.
Interested in some legendary culture…… then…..The Ten Stars Samui Art Party is a recurring cultural event bringing together art lovers, local Thai and international artists, with their new, original artworks. The annual event, hosted at various high-end resorts and other high-end venues on the island, focus on building the art community, with presentations by featured artists. The Samui Regatta is a sailing tournament held every year, and is internationally known as competitors come from as far away as Australia, Singapore, Japan and China. One of the best-known festivals is the Buffalo Fighting Festival which is held on special occasions such as New Year's Day and Songkran. You would be astonished to find the buffaloes beautifully decorated with ribbons and gold-painted leaves……..unique and spectacular………Sizzling Thailand!!!!!!
Take a full-fledged tour of the island and it’s main sights or simply relax and enjoy the beautiful beaches. There are karaoke bars around the region and customers can either choose a private room or sing in the main lounge for everyone to hear. There are Thai songs and international songs. There may be pretty hostesses available to sit for a pleasant chat. These bars are especially popular with Asian tourists..
After a short boat ride, you arrive on the small island of Koh Phangan, where you have a day to explore the island's waterfalls, swim in its lagoons, enjoy some scenic hikes or just relax. With everything from yoga and meditation courses, natural beauty, and its famous full moon parties, this island has something for everyone!!!!
Next, get on to a water taxi towards the island of Koh Tao or ‘turtle island’ …..as some say, because of its shape, and others say because the waters in the area were rich with sea turtles, whereas now they have moved onto other breeding grounds.
Once the baby of the Samui, Pha-Ngan, Tao trio, Ko Tao may still be the smallest in size but in many other ways it's grown up. The island is consistently gaining popularity and going more upscale, but for now this jungle-topped cutie has the busy vibe mixed with the laid-back nature. It also has its wildcard, something the others don't…. easy-to-get-to….. diverse diving right off its shores. Cavort with sharks and rays in a playground of tangled neon coral, toast the day with sunset cocktails on a white…. beach then get up and do it all over again the next day. But even while the island may be synonymous with diving, there is much more to the place. Hikers and hermits can re-enact an episode from Lostin…… the dripping coastal jungles…… and when you’re Robinson Crusoe-ed out, hit the pumpin’ bar scene that rages on until dawn………….in Sizzling Thailand!!!!!
Enjoy a full-day snorkelling excursion. Initially the island was not inhabited and there was only the occasional fisherman from the neighboring islands looking for shelter in a storm or just taking a break before continuing their journey. About four decades ago, the first travelers discovered the island paradise and word spread and made it widely known and a popular backpacker destination. As a consequence, bigger, faster and safer boats were used to allow easier access to this island. During the past ten years the reputation has been enhanced to natural beauty, especially with it’s marine life and coral reefs….. spread across the world over and the number of paradise seekers and divers have increased rapidly. It soon became one of the major dive sites in Thailand, attracting beginners and professionals alike. The island today, though still remaining a unique haven….. caters to all tastes and budgets.
Besides scuba diving and snorkelling, the island is well-known for hiking, rock climbing, and bouldering. The most popular place for tourists is Sairee on the west coast, which has a white sandy beach interrupted only by a few huge boulders and a scattering of some resorts and restaurants. Chalok Baan Khao, to the south of the island, is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative for those wishing to escape the crowds. A great many granite boulders, both in the forests and on the beaches attract a growing number of climbers. Chumpon Pinnacle, a dive site to the west of the island has a reputation for divers in search of both whale sharks and bull sharks……..mingle with them……..in Sizzling Thailand!!!!!
While most of the visitors spend their days in the water, in the evening the beach bars and hotels spill over with people looking to share their tales of the day’s activities and a cold beer or two. Another destination on this trip……Prachuap Khiri Khan is a town in southern Thailand…. well known for its fresh and inexpensive seafood, with stalls set up each evening near the fishing pier on Prachuap Bay. A night market in the large square in front of the police station at the center of town offers a variety of inexpensive dishes, including local specialities. The "monkey temple", Wat Thammikaram, is just north of the town on a steep hill. Many monkeys live in the temple and a monkey fountain statue is at the base of the hill. The temple provides excellent views of the bay and countryside, and many inhabitants there go to feed or watch the monkeys. The Ao Manao beach is excellent, but can only be reached through the air force base……..ensure a visit to this resort……..in Sizzling Thailand!!!!!
The Khao Sam Roi Yot is a marine national park in Sam Roi Yot district, in the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. Rare animals in the park include the Mainland Serow ,Dusky Langurs …….as well as many bird species. In the ocean occasionally Irrawaddy Dolphins show up. Tourists can go to the Phraya Nakhon cave by renting a boat or by walking across Tian Mountain.……. a cave made of baked clay bricks in a trapezoid shape, which was dug for drinking water in the past. This is a large cave which has a big hole in the ceiling so that light from the sun can come through into the cave. Below the cave is a jungle with tall trees and a lot of beautiful stalactites which look like waterfalls The outstanding feature of this Cave is Thpone, a historic site, best viewed in sunlight, with the beautiful shining reflection of the sun falling on it’s structure and lending it a stunning persona!!!! Make a short trip to the island of Ko Kho Ram on the other side of the gulf …..which was the elephant and the ox cart with the wedding presents…..and it would be exhilarating to note the island's silhouette, when seen from certain angles, looks like a person resting in the middle of the sea!!!!! Definitely, a wondrous site!!!!
Thai Cooking….. courses on these islands offer foreign tourists the chance to learn to cook their favourite dishes such as tom yum kung, sweet green curry, and chicken with cashew nuts…….a unique palate adventure! Another exotic spell……the spa….. traditional Thai massage, characterized by its holistic approach to health, is aimed at enhancing not only one’s physical and emotional state but also to allow one to grow spiritually. There are many spas on this island…..and lo! massage on the beach is also possible………..as you splurge around………Sizzling Thailand!!!!!!
Get back to Bangkok and again there is some free time to explore the sights such as The Grand Palace, Wat Po, National Museum, and Jim Thompson's House……. are just a few suggestions. A trip along the Chao Praya river and through the canals or klongs gives you a different perspective of daily life in this busy city. The city is dotted with 400 glittering Buddhist temples of great beauty, magnificent palaces, classical dance performances, numerous shopping centres, and a still functioning traditional way of life, especially along the canals and the Chao Phraya River, the `River of Kings’, which winds through the city. Bangkok truly is the `Venice of the East’. The thickly-forested Lumphini Park, a captivating Butterfly Farm, Dusit Zoo, the Thai Aquarium, the Thai Water Amusement Park, numerous enchanting gardens, two huge parks – Rama IX and Chatuchak….. that contain lakes, botanical gardens, besides traditional English, French, and Japanese gardens, are added attractions…
There are several charming Buddhist temples in Bangkok, including the Reclining Buddha temple with a huge statue of a reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, the oldest of the city temples opposite the stately Grand Palace; and, the Golden Buddha or Wat Traimit temple, which has a solid statue of the Buddha weighing 5.5 tonnes in gold! ! An escapade to this city is not complete without experiencing the vibrant nightlife, during which time you may even witness the occasional elephant wandering the streets!
In the evening you will say good bye and enjoy a Thai meal and perhaps a beer together…… to celebrate the end of an amazing journey……..in Sizzling Thailand!!!!!!!
Bangkok has some excellent department stores and designer boutiques housed in upmarket complexes such as The Emporium, MBK or Siam Paragon and there are several sales around the year so tourists can be sure of picking up a bargain in clothing, bags, accessories, home furnishings, wooden handicrafts, art curios, paintings,cosmetics, exquisitely studded silver, gold and diamond jewellery. The beach islands that you disembark onto, are crowded with stalls selling seashells, jewellery and art in mother-of-pearl, trinkets, clothes, belts, bags, curios and souvenirs and some outlets selling delectable foodstuff. Innumerable shops, upscale boutiques, and street markets sell all kinds of merchandise. Spa treatments are available. Shop all you like but remember that you can get VAT refunds in Bangkok, so keep your shopping receipts safely. There are also a lot of handicrafts sold in batik such as songkets, sarongs, fabrics, linen, paintings, coasters, and also pineapple paper.
Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes, which are essentially, sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Some common ingredients used include garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, and fish sauce. The staple food in Thailand is rice, particularly known as Hom Mali rice which is included in almost every meal and also served in some quality restaurants. Considered an arena of delectable cuisine, Bangkok has innumerable restaurants with Thai, International and Indian cuisine to cater to travellers from around the globe. Otherwise there are restaurants serving a wide selection of snacks such as danish and croissant, fresh pasta, pizza, sandwiches, complemented by fruit shakes, liqueurs and evening cocktails. The best "fried ice-cream" may also be tasted here. The Italian restaurants are acclaimed for serving very good pizzas and some catering outlets serve traditional English breakfast with eggs, Heinz baked beans, sausage, bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, and English tea. There is an enormous variety of Japanese food consisting of sushi, ramen, and teppanyaki dishes, Chinese consisting of dimsums, seafood, Cantonese, Sichuan, Shanghai, Taiwanese, teochew and vegetarian dishes, authentic fare from the West such as Belgian, Danish, Italian, Irish, French, German, Suisse, Spanish and European delicacies, besides Malayan, Indonesian, Mongolian and a huge Indian spread! The entire culinary range is clean and sometimes reasonably priced! It would be a novice and enthralling to indulge in a treat from the hawkers lined up around the city and the beach resorts.
In general, Southern Thai food is renowned for its spiciness. Much of the cuisine has its origins in Malay, Indonesian, and Indian food. Favourite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry or massaman, rice noodles in fish curry sauce or khanom chin, and khao mok kai or chicken biryani. Pad Thai is one of the most favoured dishes and this is also available throughout the island group.
Samui is well known for its coconuts, which are available everywhere and quite tasty. Being an island, seafood is generally a good choice although in high season demand often exceeds local supply. The larger beaches have a number of international restaurants as well…. often run by Thai couples….. with Bophut having a particularly good reputation. Southern Thai food in general is renowned for its spiciness. Much of the cuisine has its origins in Malay, Indonesian, and Indian food. Favourite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry or massaman, rice noodles in fish curry sauce or khanom jeen and chicken biryani. Popular local foods are salted eggs and rambutan. Main courses in a standard, low-key Thai restaurant should be quite reasonable except for some seafood dishes. There are innumerable options for a drink, ranging from the loud and brash tourist pubs and girlie bars of Chaweng to the candle-lit romantic bars of Bophut. The local beers of Singha, Tiger, Chang and Leo are available along with imported beers. Wine is especially expensive and Chaweng Beach is famous for its beer bars staffed by pretty hostesses. Beer bars can be found all over this beach. The bars offer pool, Connect-four and other popular bar games.
The tropical climate of Thailand has only two seasons…. the dry season from November to May and the rainy season from June to October. Recommended for a visit throughout the year, except for the rains which might hamper your daring beach activities temporarily, wherein you may choose to drive through the green environs instead of sailing through the waters…..though there is plenty to keep you locked indoors with land sites outdoors………embracing the enigma in the lap of nature on a great vacation!
Surat Thani has a tropical savanna climate There is a short dry season from January to April, followed by the wet season that lasts from May to December. The heaviest rains occur in October and November. Samui's weather patterns are a little different from the rest of Thailand. In April-September, when most of the country has its monsoon, it stays fairly dry, but from October-December, it's wet in Samui and drier elsewhere. Prachuap Khiri Khan has a tropical savanna climate and in general the months from December to April are drier, while October and November are the wettest months.