The Best of Thailand: Big Buddha, Phuket
Posted: 08 August 2016
Thailand is a desirable destination, with a rare capacity to appeal to independent travellers, honeymooners and seasoned explorers, alike. From the tranquil island setting of Koh Samui to the rich colours of Hua Hin’s inspiring temples and Phuket’s beautiful beaches, Thailand boasts something for every discerning traveller, and much more besides. Effortlessly combining the allure of Asia with flawless Western luxury and warm, welcoming hospitality, Thailand has earned its reputation as a definitive dream destination, with a fabulous array of festivals, activities and unforgettable experiences awaiting your discovery.
The number one question our dedicated luxury Asia team are asked about Thailand is “when is the best time to go?” Many travellers, mistakenly, believe the rainy season rules out summer travel or that temperatures reach uncomfortable levels in the height of summer. Fortunately, this is not the case. Thailand has a complex climate that is best understood as two microclimates in Phuket and Koh Samui. In short, Koh Samui enjoys the best weather during the British summer months of May to September whilst Phuket is a great winter sun destination from November to April. The north of Thailand, such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, is cooler from December to February, making this an ideal time to enjoy trekking, elephant mahout courses, and Thailand’s many other active pursuits. Aside from the weather, another important factor to consider when travelling to Thailand is the many invigorating events which take place throughout the year. Combining your trip with one of this captivating country’s many festivals is the ideal way to experience a taste of the true Thailand and see one of Asia’s cultural gems brought to life.
Alternatively, our unique Elegant Journeys can take the hassle out of arranging a multi-stop luxury holiday that incorporates Thailand’s main highlights. For travellers seeking to make the most of their time in Thailand, our signature Elegant Journeys showcase the most luxurious hotels, whilst ensuring guests experience the best that these diverse and vibrant regions have to offer. For further information about our exclusive luxury Thailand itinerary, in partnership with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, please click here. Alternatively, families can enjoy a dedicated journey designed just for them that incorporates the best of Bangkok’s energetic city lifestyle together with the beauty of Phuket’s sedate beachcombing and temple dwelling-pace. For further information about our Thailand for Families Journey, please click here.
September is a great month to visit Thailand, with Koh Samui’s warm and dry climate particularly appealing to honeymooners at the end of wedding season and those seeking to explore the island’s lush landscape. Any trip to Thailand is guaranteed to be a feast for the senses, with colourful and tempting cuisine available at almost every turn. In September, Phuket plays host to Thailand’s National Vegetarian Festival and even carnivores are sure to delight in the mouth watering mix of flavours and variety of ingredients on offer. Many of Phuket’s restaurants honour this much-loved festival by offering specialist menus, whilst street vendors incorporate meat-free options into their enticing array. With much of the produce made from fresh, locally grown ingredients, this is healthy eating at its most delectable.
If you’re seeking a luxurious pre-Christmas getaway, Thailand has a lot to offer in November. The Surin Elephant Festival takes place this month, as one of Thailand’s sacred animals is celebrated across the country. Carnival-style parades, colourful celebrations and ceremonious rituals are enjoyed across Thailand, but Surin city, in the north, is the centre of the national festival. Up to 300 elephants are decorated in bright colours, fed specially prepared food (often blessed by monks) and bathed in water during this unforgettable eleven day event.
Also taking place in November is one of Thailand’s most photographed events, Loy Krathong: Festival of Lights. This is an annually celebrated event throughout the southern regions of Thailand whilst Chiang Mai hosts its own Yi Peng Lantern Festival to coincide with Loy Krathong. The festival of light is both visually beautiful and spiritually significant, as the light symbolises the enlightenment achieved by Buddha. Natives and travellers gather in market squares, beaches and temples to release lanterns into the sky during darkness and the effect is truly mesmerising. A mass lantern release, organised by an independent Buddhist group, takes place in Mae Jo, near Chiang Mai, and travellers can purchase a lantern to release.
The climate in central and northern Thailand during December is a welcome departure from Britain’s rain, sleet and snow. This month also sees one of Thailand’s most prestigious events take place in Phuket, Phuket King's Cup Regatta. First held in honour of the Thai king’s 60th birthday, this sought-after event hosts some of the world’s best sailing yachts and finest vessels. The week-long event showcases several races, with luxurious hospitality packages also available.
New Year in Thailand is a suitably celebratory affair and guests can enjoy a lively countdown and high-octane celebrations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, whilst many of our luxury Thailand hotels organise gala dinners or special celebrations to mark this annual event.
Start the year with sun and celebration by planning a post-New Year break to Thailand. Bo Sang Umbrella Festival is another visually arresting festival celebrating colour and culture in a delightfully unique way. The festival takes place in Bo Sang, a small town just outside of Chiang Mai, over three days. Streets are lined with colourful lanterns and hundreds of hand-made umbrellas, often designed with floral motifs. This festival is steeped in historical and spiritual significance, as the legend says a monk was travelling to Myanmar, where he was taught to craft paper umbrellas to protect him from the unforgiving sun. He taught the technique to the people of Bo Sang and the umbrella industry went on to thrive, bringing prosperity and fortune to the town. The festival has gained a large following throughout Thailand and now features live bands, a beauty contest, food festivals and much more.
Enjoy a Valentine’s Day to remember in Thailand. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival takes place in the first weekend of February and this growing event is truly spectacular. Flower sculptures reach dizzying heights, whilst artistic displays continue to become more creative with each year. Large parades, performances and street market events join together to transform Chiang Mai into one of the most beautiful public gardens on earth with flowers blooming across Thailand’s ‘Rose of the North’.
Thai New Year is a public holiday, formally celebrated as ‘Songkran’: the water festival. A celebration of the life-giving, cleansing and restorative properties of water, Songkran is an annual celebration across Thailand. The iconic event takes place from 13 – 15 April each year, with participants filling the streets and splashing water over each other and their surroundings. Songkran holds deep significance within Thailand, as the purifying nature of water is said to wash away troubles and bring good luck for the coming year. It is traditional to wear bright and floral prints on this day, whilst many towns and cities enjoy large parades featuring Buddha statues and flower sculptures. It is customary to bathe and wash Buddha statues and prepare food for monks during this festival.
For further information about any of these events, or to plan your unforgettable luxury holiday to Thailand, please call one of our dedicated Travel Consultants on 01244 897 551.
Images courtesy of Thailand Tourist Board.