What makes this South-east Asian tropical country grow increasingly popular with tourists year after year? Easy travel, comfort, friendliness, exotic environment, good weather? Yes, but more than any factor, what makes this dynamic country stand out is its tourism diversity – its ability to evolve to accommodate anyone, whatever his or her needs are. Thailand is not just a land of stunning idyllic beaches. Amongst it’s many other attractions, it has vast areas of forests, mountains (most notable, the ranges around Pai and Mae Hong Son), an excellent public transport network, ethnic tribes, endless temples, coral reefs, five star hotels with legendary Thai service, one of Asia’s most exciting metropolises, a rich Buddhist culture, and a cuisine that is the envy of the world.
Thailand appeals to both backpackers and high end tourists. If a cheap and simple beach bungalow with cold water shower and a bed with mosquito net is all you want, you have countless islands to choose from: Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao, Koh Payam, Koh Lipe, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and many more. If budget is no problem and you want to pamper yourself in five star luxury then book into world famous Mandarin Oriental on the banks of the Phraya River in Bangkok, or the Six Senses Resort on Koh Yao Noi.
If you want to enjoy glorious winter sunshine, yet still eat traditional European food, drink European alcohol, and read European newspapers, dance to loud music, live a hedonistic life, or simply relax by a swimming pool drinking pina-coladas then the cosmopolitan resorts of Pattaya, Koh Samui and Phuket will accommodate all but the most demanding of tourists. Or if your idea of a holiday is a peaceful detox break, there are meditation and yoga retreats scattered across the entire country, from the Sanctuary Beach in Koh Phangan to the holy Doi Suthep temple that looks down upon the ancient North-east city of Chiang Mai.
Interested in diving? In the Andaman Sea, the Similan islands has excellent diving including Richelieu rock, once voted one of the world’s top ten dive destinations. If you prefer rock climbing, the limestone cliffs of Krabi, on Thailand’s south west coast, have become a mecca for climbers of all abilities. For sailing, Phuket has one of the largest harbours in Southeast Asia. From here it is possible to sail among idyllic islands all the way down the Andaman Sea to the Langkawi in Malaysia.
Thailand’s former capital city, Ayutthaya, fascinates those who prefer history and ancient temples. For those more interested in the history of World War Two, in the lush Kanchanaburi province there is the famous bridge on the river Kwai.
Many pages could be written proclaiming why this ‘land of smiles’ is arguably Asia’s most popular tourist destination. Ultimately, Thailand is not just a country of delicious food, Buddhism, and tropical beaches. It has a diversity to cater to almost all tourists, whether you have a family, are single, a couple, old, young, a culture junkie, party animal, sports enthusiast, or a beach bum. It doesn’t matter you are and what your tastes are, search hard and you’ll find something you like. And, like many tourists, you’ll return.