Thailand: Bangkok and The Islands
With mythical beaches stretching across both coastlines and jungle-swathed islands rising from sapphire waters, Thailand is a tropical escape for seekers of fun and solitude alike. Whether you fancy frolicking in the surf, scaling sea cliffs, meditating among the palms, or just basking in the sun, you will find paradise with car hire in Thailand.
Places to See in Bangkok
Prepare your senses for an exhilarating experience when you arrive in Bangkok, an intensely humid city teeming with tuk-tuks and spicy street food. Beyond the air-conditioned malls and lofty skyscrapers is a city firmly grounded in ancient Buddhist beliefs and traditions, however. Saffron-robed monks, gold-spired temples, and clouds of incense infuse this exotic world with a steadying air of serenity.
Beat the humidity in Bangkok by setting out early and and refreshing yourself with open-air massages and fresh coconut juice between temples. Dress modestly to view the stunningly complex Grand Palace’s sacred Emerald Buddha and nearby Wat Pho’s 46-meter-long Reclining Buddha. Families release colorful dragon kites at the adjacent Sanam Luang square, and locals practice morning tai chi in the lake-scattered Lumpini Park. Evening is the perfect time for a long-tail boat ride along the Chao Phraya River, when the palace spires and bell-shaped stupas create stunning silhouettes against the sunset.
Tour the Canals
Few tourists explore the klongs (canals) that criss-cross Bangkok, except to join the floating market tours and touristy river cruises, but the klongs present a unique perspective of the city, offering glimpses of daily life and temples, houses, parks, and schools. You can travel on one of the public boats for about 30 bahts per ride, or hire a longtail boat for about 400 baht per hour. Travel outside of morning and evening rush hours, though.
You haven’t really eaten real Thai food until you’ve feasted on Bangkok street food. The underlying explosion of spicy, sour, salty, and sweet can be a scare for the senses, but for those who like to immerse themselves in authentic regional cuisine, there’s probably no better dining destination in the world. A few baht will get you a sticky pad thai or spicy papaya salad from the food stalls in Banglamphu’s narrow streets. But if you don’t fancy eating on the street, try Thai-style dining in an antique teak houses or even a dinner cruises.
Just beyond Bangkok, the Kra Isthmus points you in the direction of hundreds of tropical islands. The Andaman Sea to the west is home to the well-known islands of Phuket and Phi Phi. On the opposite coast, in the Gulf of Thailand, you’ll find Samui, Koh Phangan, Pattaya and emerging islands including Koh Chang.
Thailand’s biggest and most visited island, Phuket is the definitive dream destination. This hedonist’s fantasy offers magnificent scenery, exciting culture, and heavenly beaches, as well as superb food. Enjoy everything from authentic local street food to exquisite delicacies at gourmet restaurants. With a spirit of adventure and a set of hire-car wheels, venture beyond the well-worn haunts like Patong and seek out Ao Sane, Ao Yon, or Banana Beach. These beach gems may be harder to find, but you will be rewarded with unrivalled tranquility and beauty.
With its icing-sugar beaches framed by swaying palms, and an idyllic backdrop of verdant hills interspersed with charming wooden huts, Koh Samui is the original beach paradise. As appealing to budget backpackers as it is to lovers of five-star bling, Samui has sharpened its image as a hippy island haven and now delivers comforts from air con to Internet cafes. Of all Koh Samui’s strands, Chaweng Beach has the snowiest sand, the most limpid water, the hottest nightlife, and the biggest crowds of all.
The beautiful crescent of Pattaya Bay sweeps around the headland of the island to the resort of Hat Jomtien, and soft sea breezes stir the sun-seared air. Pattaya is a party town, but if you get up before the crowd, there are plenty of activities to be explored. Dive the offshore reefs and wrecks, play a round on top-class golf courses, or visit Underwater World and Pattaya Tower if you’re on a family holiday.