UPDATED AUGUST 2018
Renowned for being ‘the’ backpacker destination, Thailand is the place you have to visit to understand how fascinating it really is. Enchanting temples, elephant sanctuaries, jungle adventures and euphoric islands, it doesn’t get much better. Meet wonderful locals and be charmed, in The Land of Smiles.
Bangkok to Phuket
Best for… big city meets beach breaks
The journey: 429 miles
Immerse yourself in the glow of this exotic city. Start your discoveries of Thailand in the enthralling capital of Bangkok. Crowded floating markets, tours on the Chao Phraya river and glistening temples burst with beauty and mystifying atmosphere, while bustling night markets brim with aromas and character. Explore the wonders of the Grand Palace in the heart of the city and take a stroll along the intriguing Khao San Road – come day or night.
Jump in a tuk-tuk for a fun-filled ride to a Muay Thai boxing match, or kick back streetside on a comfy chair for a Thai foot massage (if you’re not too ticklish). Hit the gigantic MBK shopping mall, tuck into tantalising street food and head to a rooftop bar at night for luminous skyline views. Just outside the city lay the utopian beaches of Hua Hin, Pattaya and the enchanting islands of Ko Khrok, Ko Sak, Ko Lan.
Where to stay: The Shangri-La Bangkok sits perfectly by the Chao Phraya river. Jump in a boat and discover the mystifying city by water. Grab a tuk-tuk into the centre or to the Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market. After a day of exploring, relax in the award-winning CHI Spa.
Extend your trip: Make your way to Malaysia and discover the sensations of Singapore. Add on a few more nights to your multi-centre holiday and stay at the opulent Marina Mandarin Singapore. Savour a sanctuary in a glowing location, with striking views across the hottest city sights.
Snorkel at night and swim with plankton, which light up the waters like a starry night sky.
This tropical island is the biggest in Thailand, oozing with cultural gems, blissful beaches and mesmerising monuments. Relish the azure waters and white sand of the shores, with the popular Patong beach on the west and the surfing waves of Kata beach and the sea turtles in the coastal Sirinat National Park to the north. Journey to Phang Nga Bay, to see the sights of the Bond film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. Venture to the top of the Nakkerd Hills to see the magnificent Big Buddha, a 45-metre tall marble statue, with panoramic views. Feel enchanted by the views and enormity of this humble sculpture.
Make a move to the Wat Chalong Buddhist temple, journey down to the Promthep Cape in the south, for breathtaking beach sunsets. Take a trip to the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery, enjoy a mojito on arrival and join a tour around the only working distillery in Phuket. Have a big night out along Bangla Road or get tickets for a show at the Phuket Simon Cabaret.
Where to stay: Gaze out to azure waters with a west coast stay at Twinpalms Phuket. On the doorstep is ‘Millionaire’s Row’, Surin Beach – a golden shore with warm waters, favoured by celebrities. Just to the north is the four-mile stretch of white sand at Bang Tao Beach, to the south is the breathtaking Kamala Beach.