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Experience the Variety

Experience the Variety Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan (The Temple of Dawn) With a rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes of great Phad Thai natural beauty, Thailand is truly a land of dazzling variety. From the glorious ruins of ancient cities to the excitement of dining and entertainment have vastly expanded in the last dynamic modern Bangkok; from the lush forested hills of the couple of decades. North to the white sandy beaches and tropical islands of the Now, modern luxury buys are available as well as traditional South, from sporting activities to fun-filled entertainment, the handicrafts; Thai restaurants are matched by others offering Kingdom offers a kaleidoscope of sights and scenes that’ll keep virtually the whole gamut of world cuisines, while entertainment you spellbound. can be as diverse as a classical concert at the Thailand Cultural Whatever your preference is from exploring jungle trails, Centre or an lrish band playing in an Irish pub. marvelling at the treasures of the past, enjoying soft adventure Amazingly, at the same time as developing as a thoroughly tours or simply lazing in the sun soaking up an enviable tan, modern metropolis; Bangkok has succeeded in preserving you have every best choice for the vacation of your dreams. monuments to its traditional Oriental splendour. It is still a city And whatever your chosen style of holiday, you can be sure that of temples and palaces, of golden spires and orange tiered somethings do remain wonderfully constant. The pleasures of roofs, of saffron-robed monks and serene Buddha images. Thailand’s world-renowned culinary art, its wealth of shopping Classic sights, most famously the Grand Palace and Temple of delights, its superb choice of hotels and resorts, and, of course, the Emerald Buddha, remain as magnificent as ever. its year-round sunshine all promise the perfect stay. Ultimately, In its enchanting ambience as well as in its major sights, however, it is the people who define the Kingdom. Genuine Bangkok retains its own special essence. In all things there is hospitality is a time-honoured tradition among the Thais, and warm welcome, together with smiling service, complete an unforgettable experience of Thailand’s enthralling variety. Central Thailand Bangkok Locatedonthe banks of the ChaoPhrayaRiverand thetraditional lifeblood ofThailand’s fertile Central Plains, Bangkok is a thrilling paradox. It is a city that both preserves the old with respect and embraces the new with enthusiasm. The Thai capital for more than two centuries, Bangkok has in the last 20 years undergone more change than at any other period during its history. Concrete and glass high-rises have reshaped the skyline and multi-lane expressways, remapped the city. The ultimate impact of all the development is that Bangkok is now better than it has ever been-greener, more comfortable, quicker and simpler to get around. Likewise, the options for shopping, 1

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Ayutthaya Phraya Nakhon Cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Prachuap Khiri Khan River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi Mural Painting in Wat Yai Suwannaram, Phetchaburi an element of Thainess, a sense of style found nowhere else Prachuap Khiri Khan and which indelibly stamps the culture. Thus Bangkok retains a personality that is unchanging and uniquely its own, which This narrow coastal province, directly south of Phetchaburi is allows the traveller to discover somewhere truly different while similarly best known as a beach resort, Hua Hin, which is the also enjoying all modern conveniences. country’s oldest seaside vacation centre. First coming into vogue in the 1920s as a royal summer retreat. Hua Hin today Ayutthaya offers modern luxury accommodation while preserving much of its traditional character as a classic beach destination, including Set in the heart of the Central Plains that extend north from one of the country’s first and finest 18-hole golf courses. The Bangkok is Ayutthaya. Easily visited on a day excursion from natural coastal environment is also well preserved at Khao Sam Bangkok, either by road or, more interestingly, by the Chao Roi Yot (Mountain of 300 Peaks) National Park, which contains Phraya River, this ancient city offers an intriguing glimpse into a wide range of shoreline habitats-limestone hills, marshes, a glorious past. mangroves, coves and caves. The fauna is especially rich in Founded in the 14th century, Ayutthaya was the nation’s capital both resident and migratory birds, of which more than 300 for more than 400 years until its destruction in 1767. During the species are to be found. Indeed, Prachuap Khiri Khan provides height of its power, it ranked as the largest, most magnificent equal opportunity for relaxing in the sun and for exploring a rich city in the Orient, as witnessed in the extensive ruins of natural setting, all within easy distance of Bangkok. numerous temples and palaces that are today preserved in what is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Phetchaburi Kanchanaburi Situated on the western shores of the Gulf of Thailand, Phetchaburi is best known for its beach resort of Cha-am, an West of Bangkok and abutting the mountains which divide established favourite for family vacations by the sea. Thailand from Myanmar, Kanchanaburi combines historical Aside from its long sandy beach, the province also boasts interest with some of the most picturesque scenery in the both historical and scenic attractions of considerable interest. whole country. The landscape is dominated by forested hills and Phetchaburi town, today a small provincial capital, has a the valleys of the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai Rivers, where waterfalls distinguished history as witnessed in ancient Khmer ruins and and caves are additional elements of natural wonder. Historically a number of venerable temples, including Wat Yai Suwannaram Kanchanaburi is best known as the site of the infamous ‘Death and Wat Ko Kaeo Suttharam, which contain some fine mural Railway’ and ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, built by allied POWs paintings. There is also a 19th - century hilltop palace built by and Asian forced labour during World War II. The region, King Rama IV, and an enchanting grotto enshrining Buddha however, has a long past, with evidence of settlement during images. The province’s natural beauty is best showcased at Neolithic times, while in recorded history, the area was occupied Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand’s largest protected area by the ancient Khmer prior to the rise of the Thai. 2

covering 2,920 of well-watered forested hills and valleys, more-which makes the city a veritable paradise for the shopper. and home to some 40 mammal species, including Malaysian sun Beyond, the countryside beckons, offering adventure travel by bear, Asiatic black bear, clouded leopard, tiger and elephant. trekking, elephant-back, river rafting or four-wheel drive safaris The park also encompasses the scenic 45 Kaeng Krachan into a natural wonderland, where the traditional villages of Reservoir. colourful hilltribe people are a unique feature in the landscape. The North Mae Hong Son Chiang Mai The remotest of the northern provinces, lying west of Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son is the ideal destination for those who love The province of Chiang Mai, located 700 kilometres north wild hill country and who seek the thrill of sweeping valley vistas. of Bangkok epitomizes the charm and attractions that typify Cradled in mist-shrouded forested mountains on the border with northern Thailand. Here you will discover a landscape of high Myanmar, Mae Hong Son town is one of the most enchanting forested hills and idyllic river valleys, while the cities, towns settlements in the entire North that is both readily accessible and and villages of the region display a distinct culture arising from enticingly remote. The ease of getting there is complemented a long and separate history. At the same time, deluxe hotels by a good choice of accommodation. Sights include a lively and mountain resorts provide all modern comforts. The city of morning market and a handful of temples with multi-tiered roofs Chiang Mai, pleasantly situated on the banks of the Ping River, typical of Burmese religious architecture. Beyond Mae Hong Son, is a treasure trove of ancient temples, fascinating for their journeys of discovery and adventure lead you into breathtaking distinctive northern Thai architectural style and rich decorative mountain scenery dotted with the villages of Karen, Meo, Lisu detail, while on the outskirts is the famed hilltop temple of Wat and Lahu hilltribes. Alternatively, the little town of Pai provides Phrathat Doi Suthep. Chiang Mai is equally famous for its wealth a tranquil escape amid stunning scenery. of traditional handicrafts-in silk, wood, silver, ceramics and Wat Chong Kham and Wat Chong Klang, Mae Hong Son Ban Pa Bong Piang, Chiang Mai Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park, Kamphaeng Phet 3

Tea Plantation on Doi Mae Salong, Chiang Rai Kamphaeng Phet Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Sukhothai A quiet rural province south of Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet Mekong River. The site of an ancient and once powerful was an important line of defence during the Sukhothai era, and settlement, it is full of historical interest as well as being the the old city has similarly been preserved as a UNESCO World nearest town to the famous ‘Golden Triangle’, the confluence Heritage Site. of the Mekong and Ruak Rivers form the border between The ruins here are smaller and less imposing than those of Thailand, Myanmar and Lao PDR. Sukhothai itself, but they benefit from a tranquil, leafy setting that lends a romantic charm to their architectural interest. Sukhothai Lampang Situated at the lower edge of the northern region, bordering the Central Plains, Sukhothai, the cradle of the Thai nation Located east of Chiang Mai, Lampang is more typically and and the first capital city, was founded in the 13th century. traditionally Thai than its neighbouring province, little changed Today, the extensive ruins of Sukhothai, as well as those of in spite of the growth of tourism. The town of Lampang, sited on its nearby satellite town, Si Satchanalai, are preserved in well- the banks of theWang River, nonetheless possesses considerable kept historical parks that have been designated UNESCO World historical interest. It has been a cultural hub since the 7th century, Heritage Sites. when it was part of the Mon Kingdom of Hariphunchai, and in At the centre of Sukhothai stands the magnificent remains of the early 20th century was the centre of the then all-important Wat Mahathat, which was the administrative and spiritual heart teak trade. Sights today include several well-preserved temples of the ancient Kingdom. Spreading out from Wat Mahathat, that display a blend of Thai and Burmese architectural styles. over an area of some 70 square kilometres, are the ruins of Especially notable among these is Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang, more than 20 other major monuments attesting to the glory arguably the single most fascinating temple in the North. that was Sukhothai. Si Satchanalai, 56 kilometres to the north, is a smaller, though Chiang Rai nonetheless impressive site, where a cluster of ruined temples are attractively backed by wooded hills. This is Thailand’s northernmost province, a region of rugged mountains and fertile valleys, where the relaxed provincial capital of Chiang Rai offers excellent accommodation to serve as the perfect centre for exploring the Far North. Two high forested peaks, Doi Mae Salong and Doi Tung, are located just a few kilometres north of the town and both afford easy access into quite spectacular hill country. Of the two, Doi Mae Salong presents the wilder scene, while Doi Tung has been extensively and well developed as part of a royal project conducted under the auspices of the late Princess Mother. Northeast of Chiang Rai is Chiang Saen, on the banks of the 4

Phimai Historical Park, Nakhon Ratchasima Phu Kradueng National Park, Loei The Northeast province, fascinating for its river views. At Nong Khai town, the Mekong is spanned by the 1,190-metre Friendship Bridge, Nakhon Ratchasima opened in 1994, and the charming little provincial capital, distinguished by a handful of fine temples, serves as a gateway Also known as Khorat, Nakhon Ratchasima is the gateway to to Lao PDR, as well as being an extremely pleasant spot in its Thailand’s northeast region, known as I-san inThai, a largely rural own right. area and the least changed part of the country. The province has a long recorded history and during the pre-Thai Buri Ram period was an important outpost of the ancient Khmer civilisation centred on Angkor, in Cambodia. The largest and finest of several Ancient Khmer ruins are the major attraction of Buri Ram, with Khmer sites in the area in Phimai is an 11th century temple complex a number of temple ruins that were originally built between that has been well restored. the 10th and 13th centuries. The largest and most important Besides places of historical and cultural interest, Nakhon and most spectacular-of these is the hilltop temple complex Ratchasima is also home to vast tracts of Khao Yai National of Phanom Rung Historical Park. The site combines architectural Park, ranked as one of the country’s finest nature preserves and wonder with a superb location that commands panoramic views featuring a great diversity of habitats from evergreen rainforest of the surrounding countryside. to savannah. Surin Loei For most of the year, Surin is a place of deep rural tranquillity, but A trifle off the beaten track, Loei is the region’s westernmost in late November the provincial capital comes fabulously alive as it province and thus has features in common with the North. The hosts the annual Elephant Roundup. This exciting and colourful landscape is one of high hills and mountains, and there is an spectacle celebrates the remarkable role elephants have played enormous climatic range, the province recording the country’s in Thai history and the development of the country. It’s a most highest and lowest temperatures. Not surprisingly, the major special occasion and not to be missed. attractions are scenic, notably the national parks of Phu Kradueng, Phu Luang and Phu Ruea, all three being mountain areas with Ubon Ratchathani pines and other cool climate trees and abundant wildlife. Ranked among the largest of the northeastern provinces, Ubon Udon Thani Ratchathani borders both Lao PDR, and Cambodia, the juncture of the three country’s being dubbed in recent times UdonThani is a busy communications and transportation hub and ‘The Emerald Triangle’ on account of the area’s lush forest cover. provides ready access to the surrounding provinces of Khon Kaen The province’s main topographical feature, however, is the Mun to the south, and Nong Khai to the north. River and its junction with the Mekong, the latter forming much The province’s biggest attraction for the traveller, however, is the of Ubon Ratchathani’s eastern border. The meeting of the two prehistoric site of Ban Chiang where, in the 1970s, archaeological finds yielded evidence of a civilisation dating back more than 4,000 years. Example of the finds, including skeletons, tools and distinctively patterned pottery, can be seen in excavation pits that have been left open at the site and which give a good insight into the thrill of archaeological discovery. Khon Kaen Renowned for its I-san food and its hand-woven silk, Khon Kaen lies in the heart of the Northeast. A large modern city with a good choice of hotels and restaurants makes it an extremely inviting place for a stopover en route to other destinations to the North and East. Nong Khai Ta Klang Elephant Village, Surin Stretched out along the banks of the Mekong River, opposite the Laotian capital of Vientiane, Nong Khai is an attractive 5

Prehistoric Painting in Pha Taem National Park, Ubon Ratchathani Chanthaburi Southeast of Rayong, Chanthaburi is known asThailand’s ‘Garden Province’, being famous for its vegetable and fruit cultivation. Topping the list of fresh produce are three of Thailand’s most exotic fruits-durian, mangosteen and rambutan. Different fruits of the earth, in the form of rubies and sapphires, were also formerly products of Chanthaburi, and while the local gem mines have now been largely worked out, the provincial capital remains a renowned market for gems from all over Southeast Asia. rivers affords some most picturesque scenery, while prehistoric Trat rock paintings at the nearby cliff of Pha Taem adds to the area’s fascination. Overall, the province is a showcase for traditional Trat, the far boundary of Thailand’s East coast, has long been I-san culture, most readily seen in such colourful annual pretty much frontier territory, literally as it borders Cambodia events as the Candle Festival, which celebrates the start of the and figuratively in the somewhat rough-and-tumble world of Buddhist Rains Retreat. its gem mining past. The picture is changing today, however, with the growing popularity of the province’s big attraction, Ko The East Coast Chang, Thailand’s second largest island. Lying eight kilometres off the coast, Ko Chang is the main isle in a 52-island archipelago Pattaya that forms Muko Chang Marine National Park. Mainly because of its isolation, only now are the island’s idyllic beaches being Situated just a 2-hour drive from Bangkok, Pattaya is famous as discovered by international travellers. There is a choice of an international playground in the sun. Facing a wide bay and accommodation, although infrastructure development is slight a long sweep of beach, it is a seaside resort with city status, and compared to other Thai resorts, and it is still possible to enjoy the goes all out to offer a huge variety of sporting and entertainment thrilling sense of discovering a tropical paradise anew. opportunities both on the water and on land. By day, Pattaya is alive with watersports action, while come nighttime the place Rayong is equally active as vacationers flock to the resort’s neon-bars, discos, nightclubs and restaurants. Further along the coast from Pattaya, Rayong is a province Pattaya’s non-stop action can be overwhelming, yet the resort that combines a lush interior with a coastline of quiet beaches aims to offer something for everyone and easily reached that are less developed than Pattaya’s and promise a more tranquil surrounding attractions provide plenty of alternatives. Several vacation by the sea. Complementing the mainland beaches excellent golf courses, for example, are just a short drive away, is the offshore island of Ko Samet. Immortalised by the classical while more traditional beach scenes can be found at Bang Saen Thai poet Sunthon Phu, who set part of his epic Phra Aphaimani or the offshore island of Ko Si Chang. There are also plenty of on the island, Ko Samet is indeed a picturesque island with options for family outings, including a cultural village and a tiger some excellent beaches and simple yet comfortable bungalow zoo. A wide selection of hotels, from super deluxe to bungalow style accommodation. On the way to the beach, Rayong town style, afford every modern comfort, and a stay in Pattaya can be presents a couple of cultural sights in Wat Pa Pradu, which as much a quiet escape lazing by your hotel pool as a fun-packed enshrines a large reclining Buddha statue, and the Taksin monument at Wat Lum Mahachai Chumphon, which action holiday. commemorates the occasion when King Taksin raised an army to expel the Burmese after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. Pattaya Beach, Pattaya Muko Chang Marine National Park, Trat 6

Ko Racha, Phuket Muko Similan Marine National Park, Phang-nga The South Krabi Chumphon For many travellers, Krabi is the most beautiful province along the Andaman coast. It is the kind of place where tired cliches Southern Thailand begins with Chumphon, a sliver of a province like idyllic and pristine take on fresh meaning, with the beaches with a long coastline facing the Gulf of Thailand, where a number displaying the characteristic qualities of the Andaman coast-soft, fine of unspoilt beaches afford the opportunity for a quiet escape. white sand, warm clear water and lush tropical greenery spilling on There are offshore islands, too, in particular Ko Tao, which is to the shore. Providing a dramatic backdrop to the most beautiful conveniently accessed from Chumphon and offers some of the locations are rust-hued cliffs, some soaring to 1,000 feet. There are also very best dive sites in the whole of the country. offshore islands, most famously the twin Phi Phi isles, location for the movie The Beach, and newly popular Ko Lanta. Phuket Phang-nga Justly famous as one of the world’s premier tropical beach resorts, Phuket blends extraordinary natural beauty with superb tourism Located immediately north of Phuket, Phang-nga is renowned for facilities to ensure the perfect vacation in the sun. Against a its island-studded bay of haunting natural beauty. Typically, you backdrop of green hills, the west coast of what is Thailand’s approach this wondrous seascape down a river estuary where largest island is blessed with a whole string of magnificent mangrove swamps evoke a primeval mood. The eeriness takes a beaches and coves bathed by the clear blue waters of the dramatic turn as the estuary widens and the bay is suddenly revealed Andaman Sea. Nature’s bounty is then matched by luxury hotels sprouting countless, weirdly shaped limestone outcrops swathed and resorts of the highest international standard, while for your in tangles of creepers and shrubs. Some rise sheer from the water, leisure, pleasure and sheer indulgence there are watersports, others are humped or jagged and all present an unearthly aspect. yachting, scuba diving, golf, spa treatments, exquisite dining One is particularly famous; known as‘James Bond Island ’, it was the and more. Yet Phuket is not just an island in the sun; as a location for the movie‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. province in its own right it has a wealth of scenic and cultural A different attraction awaits off the northern shores of Phang-nga, attractions. Buddhist temples, Chinese pagodas and Muslim where the waters around the Similan and Surin island groups mosques, as well as the fabulous annual Vegetarian Festival, present ideal conditions for scuba diving, there’s the underwater attest to a multi-cultural history; magnificent mansions built world teeming with tropical fish and abounding in breathtaking in the Sino-Portuguese style tell the story of riches made from coral formations. tin mining in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and rubber and coconut plantations contrast with areas of surviving virgin forest Trang in a refreshingly green landscape. In all, Phuket is an island of unparalleled beauty and unique South of Krabi, the province ofTrang is something of a mid point that cultural traditions, a place to explore as well as to relax totally is also distinguished by offering both coastal and inland attractions. and relish the vacation of a lifetime. Cruising the coastal waters, visiting such notable sights as the Emerald Cave and offshore islands, is Trang’s prime marine attraction, along with excellent opportunities for snorkelling and scuba diving. Inland excursions are equally rewarding, with a lush and hilly landscape dotted with caves and waterfalls. Some of the caves, such as Tham Phra Phut, have the added cultural interest of Buddha images, while others are sheer natural wonders. As with caves, Trang can boast more than its fair share of waterfalls with at half a dozen cascades well worth seeking out, which are all stunningly picturesque both in themselves and in their tranquil forest settings. Printed in Thailand by Promotional Material Production Division, Tourism Authority of Thailand for free distribution. E/JAN 2020 The contents of this publication are subject to change without notice. Ko Poda, Krabi 7

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