The top Thailand destinations are very much like a big-screen mid-20th-century Technicolor movie: captivating, vivid and larger than life. From the intense blue-green of the Andaman Sea to the bright saffron orange of local Buddhist monks’ robes, Thailand is a visual feast that satisfies many vacation appetites. The most popular Thailand travel destinations range from bustling 24/7 Bangkok and fun-in-the-sun Phuket to more laid-back islands such as Ko Samui, Ko Lanta and Ko Phi Phi and the northern hubs of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai with their luxury resorts and elephant camps. It may be half a world away, but once you get here, travel within the country is easy and affordable, making Thailand a buy one, get multiple experiences kind of place.
The most popular Thailand destinations offer a combination of exotic cultural immersion and breezy beach settings — with the added delights of some of Asia’s most celebrated cuisine (the flavors in the soups, curries, salads and even the desserts will seduce you) and craftsmanship (Thai silk is world renowned). And Thailand’s exquisitely gilded Buddhist temples — there are more than 30,000 temples, known in Thailand as wats, scattered around the country — are assured to inspire awe and reverence, while its sea-life-rich reefs and shimmering lagoons make ideal playgrounds for snorkelers, divers and swimmers. Add in five-star resorts, set on perfect golden-sand beaches and known for their award-winning service, and spa retreats lauded for their massage techniques and yoga, and you have the perfect Asian vacation.
Thailand, with its inspired architecture and postcard-perfect scenery, is also an ideal setting for an Asian honeymoon. It’s a destination that’s romantic, intoxicating and enlightening — plus new couples will love the many chances to shop for extraordinary silk and carved-wood house wares, take cooking classes to learn how to prepare delicious Thai dishes, ride an elephant alongside a photogenic river, and surrender together to a breezy couples’ massage at the edge of a turquoise lagoon at sunset. There aren’t many destinations that offer all this — and in such stunning, ready-for-its-Hollywood-close-up detail.
5 Reasons to Take a Vacation to Thailand
1. A MAGICAL KINGDOM OF ANCIENT AND PRESENT DAY SIGHTS
Glittering royal palaces and elaborate, ornate temples contrast greatly with the high rise buildings and neon lights of the cities, but both sites make Thailand a must-see destination. The Buddhist temples are spectacular and color the city with spirit and culture.
2. AN AMAZING DESTINASTION FOR ADVENTURE ENTHUSIASTS
Whatever adventure your heart desires, you can do it in Thailand. There is biking, diving, rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, boating, and much more. You can embark on eco treks or ride elephants through the jungle. You can enjoy once in a life time experiences mingling with all kinds of exotic animal species. If you really want to immerse yourself in nature you can take an overnight tour to remote islands and experience authentic Thai village life.
3. SPECTACULAR CUISINE
Thailand has become known as a culinary epicenter with a wide range of eateries offering exquisite authentic dishes. There are many fine dining establishments offering international and local fare as well as street stands serving up surprising treasures. Thai food is known for its spice, use of lemongrass, mint, and other herbs, and fresh seafood. Enjoy traditional delicacies and sample flavors that can’t be found anywhere else.
4. SOME OF THE MOST AMAZING BEACHES ON THE PLANET
Thailand offers two beautiful coastlines full of some of the best beaches in the world. Pearl-white sand is only matched by the immaculate azure waters. Palms shade the beaches and warm breezes flow through the air. The waters provide amazing diving spots as well as snorkeling and surfing.
5. THE PERFECT PLACE TO RELAX AND INDULGE
In Thailand, relaxation is an art to be practiced and appreciated. The country is full of luxury resorts and massage salons ready to pamper you and turn your holiday into a dream come true. Treat yourself to massages, facials, steams, and any other revitalization experience. Take your relaxation to the next level and practice the art of Thai meditation at meditation temple or on a meditation or yoga retreat.
HOW TO GET THERE
- Thailand has four international airports, however most international flights arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Direct flights by from Los Angeles are approximately 17 hours long. Many international carriers offer fights from Los Angeles to other regional destinations then connecting flights onwards to Thailand.
- Many cruise lines also service the area and arrive mainly in Phuket.
GETTING AROUND ONCE YOU ARE THERE
- Thailand offers local transportation by bus, train, taxi, or private car.
- For travel around Thailand by plane, Thai Airways offers domestic flights out of Bangkok to many other popular destinations around the country.
- Renting a car is an easy option for travelers looking to enjoy the scenery while traveling around. Many major rental agencies are conveniently located and offer reasonable rates. You are required to have an international driver’s license to rent a car.
Thailand is +15 hours ahead of Los Angeles and +16 hours during daylight savings Time.
ENTRY AND VISA REQUIRMENTS
- If you are a citizen of a country that qualifies for a Thai visa waiver or Thai visa exemption, which includes the United States and Canada, as well as around 40 other nations, you do not need a visa for entry for up to 30 days.
- Thailand visa waivers are issued upon arrival.
All visitors must have:
- A passport that is valid for at least 6 months before your arrival date.
- Evidence of onward/return travel.
- Entry requirements are subject to change without notice and we advise that you check with your Islands in the Sun specialist before departure. More information can be found by contacting the Thai Embassy or Consulate in your country of origin.
The only required vaccination for entering Thailand is for smallpox. Although it is not required, it is recommended that travelers have up to date vaccinations for typhoid, hepatitis A and B, and tetanus immunizations.
The weather is hot and humid with monsoon, or wet season, running from June to October. The hot season runs from March to June with April and may being the hottest months while the cool season runs from November to February. Temperatures are usually around low 80s Fahrenheit during the cool season and around mid-90s Fahrenheit or higher during the hot season.
Thai with a central (or Bangkok) dialect is the official language of Thailand. English, however, is spoken is most major cities and hotels and restaurants.
CURRENCY AND TIPPING
The currency is the Thai Baht. Most major foreign currency and travelers checks are easily exchanged at most hotels, shopping centers, and money changers. Major credit card are widely accepted but may charge a usage fee as well as additional fees for foreign transactions. Tipping is not customary in Thailand but is welcomed and appreciated. Most hotels and restaurants charge a 10% service fee automatically to the bill but it is still appropriate to add 10% on top of that.
Bargaining in local shops, other than department stores, is appropriate and expected. Although it is normal practice, it is still expected that customers will use good manners and maintain a sense of humor when bargaining.
WATER AND ELECTRICITY
Water: It is not recommended that you drink the tap water in Thailand. Instead drink bottled water which is available everywhere.
Electricity: Thailand’s electric current is 220 volts. It is recommended that you bring a universal adaptor to ensure that all your small electronics operate properly.
INTERNET AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Internet: Upscale hotels will offer Wi-Fi connections complimentary or at an additional cost. Although Wi-Fi has traditionally been unreliable and inaccessible, it is becoming more common and more consistent. Thailand also has internet cafes.
Telephone: Thailand’s country code is 66. The country has three major phone companies and four cell-phone operator. Most hotels charge significantly for telephone services so it is recommended that you use the public pay-telephones instead to make international calls. You may also wish to obtain an international pre-paid Sim card to insert into your cell phone while traveling.
ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO PACK
- Loose or breathable clothing
- Swim suits
- Hat with a brim
- Insect repellant with DEET
Thailand is a wonderful place to exchange vows with the person you love. The exotic and magical atmosphere is perfect for any couple wishing to experience romance in paradise. Your Thai wedding can be legally binding if you follow the steps outlined by the Thai government. For more information contact your Embassy or Consulate in Thailand.
To get married in Thailand:
- Complete an affidavit at the U.S. Embassy and have it notarized for a fee of $50.
- The affidavit must be translated and brought to the Legalization Division of the Department of Consular Affairs in Bangkok.
- The affidavit and supporting documents must be brought to a local Thai Amphur (Civil registry Office) where you must register your marriage.
- The Amphur will also require both parties passports, permission from parents with Thai translation if under 20 years old, proof of termination of any previous marriages.
Honeymoon wedding registry:
Islands in the Sun offer a honeymoon wedding registry as a convenient alternative to the traditional bridal registry. Talk to one of our specialists to set up your free registry!
How it works:
- Add items to your registry with your dedicated honeymoon planner
- Inform your friends and family about the trip
- Guests contact us to purchase from your registry
- Collect wedding gifts
- Have the honeymoon of your dreams!
THE GRAND PALACE AND WAT PRAKEAW
Perhaps the city’s most well-known landmark, this palace is opulent and remarkable. The Thai King lives here and it is also holds the royal court and is the administrative seat of government. This huge complex also houses the national mint, war ministry, and other state departments. Don’t miss out on seeing this center of Thai government, culture, and spirit.
This is a living and breathing center of commerce all floating on Bangkok’s waterways. The bright colors of the markets add to the bustling excitement that makes this a must-see for visitors. You can find anything here, including native fruits and vegetables, local cuisine, and all kinds of handicrafts.
KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK
Discover the natural beauty of Thailand at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, and plants make this park their home. Explore the diverse landscape of jungle, mountains, and valleys. Stunning waterfalls complete this picturesque environment so be sure to bring your camera.
PHI PHI ISLAND
Hope on a 90 minute ferry ride from Phuket to experience this gorgeous island. Here are the iconic beaches and blue waters you have seen in postcards and travel guides. Engage in watersports or just relax on the shore during the day but be sure to save your energy for this island’s non-stop nightlife.
Find peace and tranquility at this beach that is only accessible by boat. At Railay Beach there are no roads, only sugar-white beaches and hidden island secrets. Explore caves and marvel at the rising limestone cliffs that line the coast.