Bangkok, Chiang Rai & Chiang Mai
The capital city of Bangkok sprawls itself around the Chao Phraya River, and offers an enlightening experience into the diverse nature of the country’s entirety. The temples and long-established street markets offer a secret glimpse into Thailand’s ancient heritage from within the country’s cultural core.
Chiang Rai is the most northern province of Thailand and though completely landlocked, what it lacks in beaches, it makes up for in captivating scenery and an abundance of national heritage sites including temples, ruins of ancient settlements and Buddhist shrines. South-west of Chiang Rai sits Chiang Mai, the principal city of the north; this historic city located on the banks of the Ping River boasts three-hundred beautiful gilded temples and museums to marvel at. Natives of Chiang Mai cradle their long-established customs and cuisine and speak their own unique dialect. Whilst here, visitors can trek across the province on elephant back and experience a humbling insight into rural living.
Hua Hin & Koh Kood
The coastal resort of Hua Hin is the oldest and probably most traditional Thai resort, successfully combining the charms of yesteryear with modern day facilities. Situated 200km south west of Bangkok, this stunning resort has long been the holiday destination for Thailand’s elite. Noted for its established fishing port, this thriving yet peaceful resort preserves archetypal Thai ambiance. Koh Kood is one of the larger yet least developed islands; lying close to the Cambodian border it is home to some of the most pristine beaches in the Gulf of Thailand.
Phuket, Krabi & Koh Yao Noi
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, blessed with an unparalleled mix of lush tropical rainforests and stunning stretches of sandy beaches immersed within the balmy Andaman Sea; in Phuket City - undoubtedly one of our most popular destinations - colonial architecture blends with new-age charm. Where the Krabi River reaches the Andaman Sea, situated due east of Phuket, you'll find the province of Krabi. Famous for its lengthy coastline down the west coast of Southern Thailand, visitors are sure to fall in love with this all encompassing paradise set amongst the rubber tree plantations, limestone cliffs and unscathed beaches. Half way to Phuket and the Krabi mainland is Koh Yao Noi, an island which exists as a calm refuge far removed from the crowds of neighbouring towns, emanating peace and tranquillity from every angle.
Khao Lak & Koh Samui
Kao Lak is located in the Phang Nga province of southern Thailand and exudes splendour from its immaculate beaches and raw, flourishing jungle. With access to the world famous Similan and Surin Island dive sanctuaries, visitors can explore the waters or alternatively venture inland to the five national parks bordering the area. On the opposite side of the peninsula is the much quieter island of Koh Samui, an area home to sleepy villages and forested hillsides sweeping down to white sand beaches fringed with lazy coconut palms. Visitors can accompany a local guide whose expertise reveals the inner-jungle world and exposes beautiful, hidden waterfalls perfect to plunge in, or relax and rejuvenate in their calming vicinity.
Capital city Bangkok is the country’s hub for onward travel, offering easy connections onto Burma, Cambodia and Laos - and indeed to the rest of the world - stopping here gives you a chance to catch your breath and sample some of the city’s attractions.
The Eastern & Oriental Express
South East Asia’s most glamorous train, the Eastern & Oriental Express travels through Thailand at a gentle pace. What better way to watch some of the most spectacular scenery pass you by than sitting in a comfortable arm chair sipping on a chilled Singapore Sling? Choose from a selection of itineraries, all of which include guided excursions, bringing you even closer to this fascinating part of the world.
A country filled with devout Buddhists, you’ll find a host of ornate and wonderfully sculptured temples, or wats, across the country where locals come to pay their respects on a daily basis – temples are more than just places of worship, they reside at the heart of the local community, representing and providing guidance and education, as well as acting as a social centre for festivals, ceremonies and charitable events; as a focus for artistic endeavours they harbour unique examples of architecture, sculpture, painting and decorative arts and crafts. Two of the country’s most famous are Wat Pho in the capital and the magnificent Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in the northern town of Chiang Mai.
With over 3,000 miles of tropical coastline, Thailand has a beach to suit any one of any age; choose from the resort island of Koh Samui or Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, blessed with an unparalleled mix of lush tropical rainforests and stunning stretches of sandy beaches immersed within the balmy Andaman Sea. Alternatively there are the low-key islands such as Koh Yao Noi – which sits in the middle of Phang Nga Bay – and the as yet, undeveloped Koh Kood.
Thai food needs little introduction, from the spicy soups of the north to the sublime creamy green curries in the south, Thailand is an absolute paradise for food lovers. An intricate interplay of texture and colour, with each dish a juxtaposition of tastes - sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy - Thai cuisine often takes into account the medicinal benefits of ingredients as well their flavours.
Phuket is the diving centre of Thailand; most sites are suitable for all levels but there are some deeper locations for the more experienced; sites are usually off nearby islands, the reefs are healthy and there’s a profusion of marine life to admire.
To the Thai people "sanuk" is about striving to achieve satisfaction and pleasure from whatever they do, whether it’s the office, the karaoke bar or working in the rice fields. As a visitor it will help do to likewise especially if you’re staying at The Peninsula Bangkok and are visiting the market – if you barter in the right manner, you may be surprised and delighted at the results.
If you’re staying at the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai or are enjoying a luxury rail journey on the
Eastern & Oriental Express and have decided to pay a visit to the temples, do wear appropriate clothing, i.e. make sure your knees and shoulders are covered and remove both shoes and hats before entering the temple (or indeed any room where there is an image of Buddha). There is a direct association between the head (high status) and feet (low status) so don't place your hat on top of your shoes.
All buildings in Thailand have a raised threshold which is there to keep out evil spirits. You’ll see this in hotels like the Amanpuri and Trisara, take care to step over the raised threshold of the wat as it is bad manners (and bad luck) to place your foot on it.
Inside the wat, do try and keep your head lower than the images of Buddha and the monks. Don’t point the bottom of your feet at the images of Buddha or the monks - you will always see the Thai people kneeling with their feet tucked behind them.
If you do take photos, be discreet and consider leaving a small donation in the collection boxes as it will go towards the upkeep of the temple.
The Thai Smile
In Thailand, the smile isn’t just a sign of happiness, although you’ll be the recipient of many smiles when you enter any of our featured hotels and resorts and in particular the Banyan Tree Samui
which has been described as a little piece of heaven soaked in angelic tranquillity. Thais smile when they are amused, bemused, apologetic, annoyed, uncertain, wrong, furious or embarrassed. In fact, there is a Thai smile to cover just about every circumstance. Bear this in mind and it shouldn't lead to confusion.
Tropical and humid for most of the year, northernThailand's climate is determined by three clearly defined seasons.
Between November and February and from March to May it’s mostly dry, with the latter months being the hottest.
Whilst the northeast monsoon doesn’t directly affect the area, it does bring with it cooling breezes from November to February. From May to November, northern Thailand is dominated by the southwest monsoon during which time, rainfall is at its heaviest.
The southern peninsular has two seasons - wet and dry. However, these seasons do not run at the same time on the west as they do on the eastern side of the peninsular. Rain falls at its heaviest on the west coast between April and October whilst on the east coast it’s at its heaviest between September and December.
Generally speaking, the best time to visit Thailand is from November to February when the northeast monsoon is blowing cool, dry air. April is quite simply the hottest month across the country.
From July to October the monsoon season brings most of Thailand's annual rainfall with humidity averaging at just under 90% and temperatures averaging around 29º C (Bangkok). For the Western visitor unused to humidity, there is no such thing as "cool" in the Far East just cooler than "hot" and "drier than humid". Light cotton clothing is very much the order of the day. Do remember that the tropical sun can be quite fierce so a hat is useful, and of course a good sun screen is essential.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Thailand.
British Airways and Thai Airways from London Heathrow to Bangkok. Etihad Airways from London Heathrow and Manchester (via Abu Dhabi). Flights with Emirates (via Dubai) from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow are also available. Onward connections from Bangkok to Phuket, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Chiang Rai.
From London Heathrow to Bangkok: 11 hours, 40 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
British passport holders arriving by air or land can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa - this is known as a visa exemption. It is now possible to extend your stay beyond the 30 days granted by the visa exemption by an additional 30 days from the expiry date of the original visa. To extend your visa you will need to apply at an immigration office.
If you have any queries about visas or entry requirements, please kindly check with the Royal Thai Embassy.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.
For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website. View the travel advice in full here: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/thailand