Many people whisper that Thailand is the most beautiful country in the world and they might be right. In the kingdom of Siam, your taste buds will be carried away by the sweet flavors of coconut milk and lemongrass. You will be amazed by the temples of Bangkok or the beaches of Koh Lipe and Koh Phi Phi. In the bay of Phang Nga, you won’t know where to start. And from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, you will discover northern Thailand, wild and authentic. The Land of Smiles takes you on an adventure to meet a welcoming people and a millenary culture that is absolutely fascinating, where Buddhist mythology, architecture, craftsmanship and martial arts blend together. Are you visiting Thailand for the first time? Here are the 5 places not to be missed on your first trip to Thailand
It will surely be your gateway to Thailand: the Thai capital is a megalopolis of 19.5 million inhabitants who never sleep. The city has more than 400 Buddhist temples and is a singular mixture, as often in Asia, of tradition and modernity. You can both visit the temples and get drunk 24/24 in the bars of Khao San Rd, the backpackers avenue which does not reflect the authentic Thailand, but is a good spot for cheap accommodation and partying. The temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Arun and Wat Pho are three must-see temples that you must absolutely discover during a tour of the temples. In Wat Pho, you will walk around the great reclining Buddha, representing the Buddha on his deathbed accessing the parinirvana, 43 meters long and rising to 15 meters high. Bangkok is known for its frenzy, energy and the feeling of being in the middle of a joyful bazaar. If you travel in Thailand, you will always stop at the classic Bangkok, its capital. And although many people consider it an ugly capital and only spend a day there, we love the capital. It’s a place where life goes by fast, move around in your tuk and feel the traffic of this big city. Take the road to the temples, enjoy the night on Khoasan Road, its Thai massages and shop in the MBK shopping mall. There are many things to do in Bangkok and it is a very lively city.
Ayutthaya, the ancient holy city, is located about 75 kilometers from Bangkok. Formerly capital of the Kingdom of Siam, this ancient city classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was completely destroyed by the Burmese. It remains today an exceptional set of prangs and religious monuments of impressive proportions. This city is one of the places to see absolutely during a trip organized in Thailand. This gigantic set of temples and monasteries will give you a glimpse of the grandeur of the kingdom of Siam in the 14th century. Among the monuments not to be missed in Ayutthaya are Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Si Sanphet.Ayutthaya is one of the jewels of Thailand, of all the places you can visit, it is undoubtedly a must. The advice is to negotiate the price of a Tuk Tuk to take you to all the temples, the duration is normally about 4 hours. You also have the possibility to rent a bike, although the distance between one temple and another is quite long and it takes much more time to get around.
3. Chiang Mai
What to do in Thailand if you don’t like the beaches where Western tourists are accumulating? Go up to the north of the country, in the mountains and visit Chiang Mai. Note that a large community of expatriates and/or western nomadic workers, including French people, has settled there. We passed there during a first trip to Thailand and Chiang Mai is for you one of the most beautiful sites to explore to visit Thailand. Certainly, it is a major tourist destination of the country but the atmosphere is pleasant. On the temples side, you will have to visit Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the most famous temple of Chiang Mai and Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple of the city. The other interest of Chiang Mai: take the opportunity to discover the Thai cuisine. You will also be able, on your way back from a cooking class, to watch a Muay Thai boxing match. You can’t make a complete trip to Thailand without visiting the north of the country. The main attractions in Chiang Mai are the Doi Suthep Temple and the Night Bazaar, where you can buy bargains and imitations at a good price. In addition, Chiang Mai offers a wide range of excursions of all kinds to enjoy the area, ranging from trekking for one or more days, to Thai cooking classes, visiting elephant sanctuaries and endless possibilities. It is undoubtedly the ideal destination for all kinds of activities. It is also an ideal place to get in touch with people from different parts of the world, many foreigners have chosen this city as their place of residence.
4. Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai, also known as its famous White Temple, is another key stop on your first trip to Thailand. Although it is quite far from Chiang Mai, there are day trips that take you to the Chiang Rai temple. The architecture of this temple is totally different from any architecture you have ever seen. Be prepared to see skulls and futuristic elements. Inside, you will find paintings of Goku, twin towers and other moments of history. Very curious, isn’t it? The temple isn’t finished yet because the architect still has a lot of other ideas he wants to project there. Normally, day trips to Chiang Rai include a visit to the Golden Triangle and a boat trip where you will see the borders of Burma and Laos (Discover the natural parks of Laos).
5. The Islands
On your first trip to Thailand, you must include a few days in the islands. There are several low cost airlines such as Air Asia or Thai Airways which, for only a few euros, allow you to travel from Bangkok or Chiang Mai to the islands. Which island to choose? They are all impressive, so in principle, if you travel during the rainy season: summer months, you should look if you choose Krabi, Phuket or Koh Samui.