Thailand is a wondrous kingdom, featuring Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and spectacular islands. Along with a fascinating history and a unique culture that includes delectable Thai food and massage, Thailand features a modern capital city, and friendly people who epitomize Thailand’s “land of smiles” reputation.
Thailand, the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonized by European powers, is a constitutional monarchy whose current head of state is HM Bhumibol Adulyadej. A unified Thai kingdom has existed since the mid-14th century, and Thailand was known as Siam until 1939 when it officially became the Kingdom of Thailand. Thailand is the 50th largest country in the world; most nearly equal in size to Spain. Located just 15 degrees north of the equator, Thailand has a tropical climate and temperatures typically range from 19 to 38 degrees C (66-100 F). Thailand’s largest peak, Doi Inthanon, is 2,565 meters (8,415 ft) tall. Thailand covers 510,890 sq km of land and 2,230 sq km of water. The coastline of Thailand is 3,219 km long. Thailand’s longest shared border is with Myanmar (Burma), stretching 1,800 km. The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid: typical of its location within the tropics. Generally speaking, Thailand can be divided into three seasons: “hot” season, rainy season, and “cool” season, though Thailand’s geography allows visitors to find suitable weather somewhere in the country throughout the year. The population of Thailand comprises of roughly 65 million citizens, the majority of whom are ethnically Thai, though people’s of Chinese, Indian, Malay, Mon, Khmer, Burmese, and Lao origin are also represented to varying degrees. Approximately 7 million citizens live in the capital city, Bangkok, though this number varies seasonally and is otherwise difficult to accurately count. Thailand has a rough geographical area of 514, 000 sq km (200,000 sq miles). This makes Thailand roughly equivalent in size to France or Texas.
Where to Go in Thailand
As the political, economic, cultural, culinary, and spiritual capital of Thailand, Bangkok features both old-world charm and modern convenience, at times served up in an apparently chaotic manner, but always with a gracious smile.
Invariably, every Thailand holiday includes a visit to the kingdom’s capital city, Bangkok, or Krung Thep, “the city of angels” as it is known to its inhabitants. Many tourists who travel to Bangkok are immediately overwhelmed by the sheer size of the city and the vast number of attractions Bangkok has to offer. Indeed there are a wide variety of Bangkok sightseeing opportunities spanning more than two centuries of rapid development following the city’s founding in 1782 by King Rama I, the first king of the present Chakri dynasty; since that auspicious date, Bangkok has swelled to a cosmopolitan, 21st century city of more than ten million inhabitants.While the immensity of the city and the chaos of its bustling streets can be intimidating at first, those who spend some time in Bangkok are quickly enamored by the variety of attractions Bangkok contains, from exotic temples, which epitomize Thailand’s strong Buddhist history, to modern shopping malls, which have made shopping an integral part of any Bangkok holiday. As the kingdom’s political, economic, cultural, culinary, and spiritual capital, Bangkok features attractions guaranteed to please visitors either simply passing through the city or spending their entire Thailand holiday in Bangkok. Nearly every Bangkok holiday includes a visit to Thailand’s Grand Palace, arguably the premier Bangkok sightseeing attraction. Situated in the heart of Bangkok’s Rattakosin district, the gleaming spires of the Grand Palace are conveniently located nearby Bangkok’s most spectacular temples, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Keaw), the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), and Wat Po, which features an enormous reclining Buddha and was home of the first Thai massage school in the kingdom. These iconic destinations are top attractions to all visitors who travel to Bangkok looking to appreciate Thailand’s unique cultural traditions.In fact, there are more than 400 functioning Buddhist temples throughout the city and it’s not uncommon when you travel in Bangkok to spot saffron robed monks collecting morning alms or traveling throughout out the city, including along the Chao Phraya, the “River of Kings”, which passes alongside Rattakosin and the Temple of the Dawn. The winding Chao Phraya is connected by numerous canals from which Bangkok has earned its nickname the “Venice of the East”; when you travel around Bangkok, a cruise on the Chao Phraya, a visit to a floating market, or an exploration of the cities “back alley” canals (klongs) are themselves unique Bangkok attractions.Other historical and cultural Bangkok sightseeing ‘must sees’ include the National Museum, Vimanmek Mansion, and Suan Pakkad Palace, all of which either house fine art or are national treasures in their own right.Beyond Bangkok’s historical district, there are plenty of other attractions that make a Bangkok holiday both enjoyable and memorable. While modern “downtown” districts along Silom and Sukhumvit Roads were once nightmares of oppressive heat and unbearable traffic, a modern and convenient electric rail system, including an elevated sky-train and underground subway have made travel in Bangkok both easy and enjoyable. Connecting hotels directly to modern shopping malls and traditional markets, such as the Suan Lum Night Bazaar and Chatuchak (JJ) weekend market, the MRT and BTS electric rail systems have literally elevated Bangkok shopping to world-class status. Of course, no Thailand holiday is complete without experiencing Thailand’s vibrant nightlife, during which time you may even witness the occasional elephant wandering the Bangkok streets! Whether, the purpose of your Thailand holiday is to immerse yourself in Thailand’s unique culture or simply to splurge in Bangkok shopping malls, when you travel to Bangkok you are guaranteed a fascinating experience of both old world charm and modern convenience and luxury.
Over the last few decades, Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, has changed into a modern, exciting, and sophisticated city. Bangkok offers visitors not only the modern amenities they would expect from other cosmopolitan cities, but also a unique treasure trove of cultural attractions. Thailand, in the heart of Southeast Asia, was never colonized and thus kept its unique culture and heritage intact. Bangkok offers visitors the opportunity to experience a fascinating glimpse of Thailand’s gentle culture amidst the bustle of a great and dynamic metropolis. Amazingly, this great city has had astounding success in combining the ancient and modern worlds.For tourists, Bangkok has a feast of attractions to offer. The city is dotted with 400 glittering Buddhist temples of great beauty, magnificent palaces, classical dance performances, numerous shopping centers, and a still functioning traditional way of life, especially along the canals and the Chao Phraya River, the “River of Kings”, which winds through the city; Bangkok truly is the “Venice of the East”.
- Beware of scams involving tuk tuks, gem shops, and tailors, particularly around popular tourist attractions. Remember, there is no such thing as a free ride.
- Its better to flag down taxis that are already driving (the red light means empty); these will generally use the meter while parked taxis typically ask for higher fixed fares or will take you for the proverbial ‘ride’.
- During the monsoon season months of June through September rains come quickly and heavily, particularly in the afternoon. Adequate footwear and an umbrella are advisable.
One of the hottest beach-resort destinations in Thailand, Pattaya may not be idyllic but it certainly makes up for it with a wide variety of activities, accommodation, and nightlife venues.
Pattaya is a popular beach resort on the Gulf of Thailand just 150 km southeast of Bangkok: a mere two hour drive. While Pattaya once had a well deserved reputation for its seedy nightlife, local authorities have, in recent years, improved the quality of the beaches and reinvented the resort, to some degree, as a more family friendly destination. Today, hundreds of thousands of visitors are drawn each year to Pattaya to windsurf, water ski, swim, sunbathe, snorkel, sail, or take trips to nearby islands. Other activities include Bungee jumping, cycling, skydiving, go-Karting, Muay Thai (Thai boxing), and Paintball (to name only a few!) Golfers, both novice and expert are well catered to as well, with a wide selection of golf courses around Pattaya including the Phoenix, Pattaya Country Club, and the Navy course near Sattahip, which offers 18 holes of golf for around 1,000 baht (around 30 US dollars)! Another major draw for visitors to Pattaya is the wide selection of restaurants serving some of Thailand’s freshest seafood. Due to the high number of expatriate foreigners in Pattaya there is also an excellent selection of authentic foreign eateries serving French, Italian, Swiss, German, Hungarian, Scandinavian, English, Indian, Moslem, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine. Drawing such a large number of diverse visitors from across the world, it’s no surprise that Pattaya also boasts an incredible choice of accommodation. Those on a tight budget and those with money to burn are equally able to find rooms to suit their needs. Even those who are turned off by the widespread development along Pattaya’s main beach can find some peaceful beach time at nearby Jomtien beach, just 3 kilometers south, which is a far quieter alternative.
Just over one hour from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Pattaya is a lively beach town that draws visitors from around the world. With activities that include a wide array of water sports, golf, shopping, cabaret shows, an elephant village, and a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum (to name only a very few) it’s impossible not to have an action-packed Pattaya holiday. Unless of course its relaxation you crave, in which case there are thousands of beach chairs and umbrellas lining the Pattaya shore, where wandering vendors will cater to your every need: from barbequed shrimp to a foot massage. Pattaya is certainly a Thai beach resort that meets the needs of any visitor on any budget.
- Only fish during the appropriate fishing season.
- Dress politely and take off your shoes before entering Buddhist temples.
- Examine rental motorbikes and cars thoroughly before renting.
- Drive motorbikes and rental cars with extreme caution.
- Beware of con-artists who prey on new tourists to Thailand. While most Thai people are just being friendly, be careful of those offering to do you too many favors or promising you incredible bargains.
- Beware of pick pockets, especially on Walking Street when it’s crowded.
- Beware of entertainment venues that have poor signage or are poorly lit inside; some venues offer free admission and then refuse to allow visitors to leave until they have paid exorbitant bar bills.
- Do not purchase or consume illegal drugs or participate in illegal gambling.
- Show respect to the local Thai people and the Thai police. Guilty or not, your display of anger will only make things worse.
- Haggle in a good natured way with small shop vendors. A polite “no thank you” will be more effective than a loud display of emotion.
- Ask for the price first when ordering food and before getting a massage or manicure on the beach. Do likewise before renting a jet ski or getting in a tuk tuk or taxi.
- The sun in Pattaya is very strong; apply sunscreen liberally and frequently.
- Tap water in Thailand is not safe to drink; however, bottled water is cheap and readily available.
- While illegal, the sex industry is a reality in Pattaya. It is strongly advised to protect yourself accordingly, both from sexually transmitted diseases and from theft.
Koh Samui is the premier island destination in the Gulf of Thailand; Samui is easily accessible, features beautiful beaches and a variety of activities, and caters to visitors on any budget.
Koh Samui, Thailand’s second most popular island destination, is located in the Gulf of Thailand roughly 700km south of Bangkok and 80km from Thailand’s eastern seaboard. Samui is the third largest island in Thailand and the largest in an archipelago of more than 80 islands that includes the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a kayaking paradise and top day trip from Koh Samui. While Samui is small enough to be circumnavigated in just a couple of hours by motorbike or car, the island features such a variety of beaches and activities that it would be impossible to experience everything in a single visit. However, this was not always the case. Until the late 20th century, Samui was home to a small community engaged primarily in fishing and harvesting coconuts. There were not even any roads on the island until the early 1970s. However, once foreign visitors discovered this island gem, lush with tropical forest, fringed with palm tree lined stretches of golden sand, and surrounded by pellucid, aquamarine water, development quickly followed. Today the beaches of Chaweng and Lamai are bustling beach towns with fabulous beach resorts, internationally acclaimed restaurants, and world-class nightclubs; activities around Koh Samui include cooking courses, yoga instruction, Muay Thai training, scuba diving, and even golf. While there are a few quieter beaches that are ideal for relaxation, particularly those that feature some of the finest 5-star resorts in the world, and some that exude old world charm, such as Bo Phut, which features converted, old Chinese shop houses, Samui is far from the unspoiled island it was a few decades ago. Nonetheless, Koh Samui has developed into its own style of island paradise, retaining much of its natural beauty while offering nearly every imaginable activity or service for the ultimate beach holiday.
Koh Samui, the third largest island in Thailand, is the second most popular island destination in the kingdom, thanks in part to its airport that connects the island to a number of Thai and international destinations. Koh Samui features spectacular beaches, outstanding dining, and a comprehensive array of activities including cooking courses, yoga instruction, Muay Thai training, scuba diving, and even golf. Koh Samui has secluded beaches that are the exclusive domain of luxury 5-star resorts, family friendly beaches with shallow shores, and shopping, dining, and nightlife venues that make the island a paradise both day and night.
- While affordable and convenient, motorbikes are the cause of numerous accidents and fatalities; always wear a helmet, never drive drunk, and drive defensively at all times.
- Negotiate all taxi and tuk-tuk fares prior to departing for your destination.
- Be careful walking on the beach or swimming at night, particularly if alone.
- Make sure your scuba diving instructor is fully certified.
- Respect Thai values regarding dress: women should not go topless on the beach and men should not walk around shirtless other than at the beach.
Krabi, a province on southern Thailand’s Andaman coast, is an almost otherworldly region of labyrinthine archipelagos, where islands seem to erupt vertically out of the sea and secluded beaches are only accessible by colorfully adorned long tail boats. Krabi’s myriad of bays and coves have sheltered pirates, merchants, and sea gypsies for thousands of years and archaeological evidence indicates that Krabi was originally inhabited as early as 25,000 – 35,000 years ago! With attractions including hot springs, a wildlife sanctuary, sea caves, flourishing coral reefs and exotic marine life, limestone cliffs that draw rock climbing enthusiasts from around the world, and national parks that include the island paradises of Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta, one could easily spend weeks in Krabi and leave yearning for more.If that wasn’t enough, Krabi features some of the most photogenic sunsets in Thailand, often accompanied by spectacular displays of cloud to cloud lightning, that are best enjoyed from a beachside bar or restaurant. Meanwhile, with all the tourists spread out among various beaches and islands, life goes on in Krabi Town, the somewhat sleepy provincial capital. Surprisingly few tourists spend time in the charming riverside town, whose hilly streets feature a number of cozy cafes and inexpensive and authentic Thai cuisine is served at an outdoor, riverside evening market. “Town” to most visitors is Ao Nang, a seaside strip of guesthouses, hotels, bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops that continues to grow as tourist arrivals increase, now spreading north into Noppharat Thara, whose quiet, shady beach is part of the national park that includes the Phi Phi Islands. Ao Nang is the major launching point for boat trips to nearby islands and the isolated beaches of Phra Nang Cape, where the famous former hippie enclave of Railey Beach is located.
Krabi Province, which lies along the coast of the Andaman sea in Southern Thailand, is a top tourist destination as a result of its plentiful natural attractions including, white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, extensive coral reefs, numerous caves and waterfalls, and over 130 islands, including Koh Lanta and the jewels of the Andaman coast, the six islands of Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park. While not the top destination in and of itself, Krabi Town is a charming provincial capital located along the banks of a river that leads to the nearby Andaman Sea. Consequently, Krabi is an important port city for both local fisherman as well as boats ferrying visitors to the nearby attractions, including Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, and Railey Beach, one of the premier rock climbing destinations in the world.
- Visitors are advised to make early reservations (up to a year in advance) for accommodation during the peak season from late December to early January because of the popularity of the Krabi and its attractions.
- When traveling by ferry to islands around Krabi, it may be preferable to purchase only a one way ticket so that your trip can be more easily altered and you can more easily arrange your departure.
What comes into the mind of travellers when we talk about sea, sun and sand? Phuket must definitely be one of the answers. Especially when we think about the island in which there is plenty of accommodation and all kinds of facilities. In addition, a number of various activities can also be found on this island. In the early Christian Era, the cape of Phuket was locally referred to as Jung Ceylon, while locals called it Thalang, which evolved to Thanlng the name of the main town to the north of the island. As the perfect stopover sheltering traders from monsoons, Jung Ceylon welcomed merchants from India, Persia, Arabia, Burma, China and aslo Siam. During the 16th century, the island was also a popular trading port for tin. In 1785, Thaland town was surrounded by Burmese troops who invaded the coastal area. It was under the leadership of Chan, the widow of the governor, and her sister, Muk, who united the local resedents and successfully fought and drove the invaders out of Phuket. It took over 30 days for the defending troops of Phuket, under the command of Chan and Muk, to claim their victory. As a result of such heroic deeds, noble titles were granted to Chan and Muk as ‘Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Sri Soonthorn, repectively. There are still hightly respected by Phuket residents even today. When the city was in a peaceful state, the development of mining was so unprecedented. Chinese businessmen and miners later migrated to Phuket and soon enjoy thriving weath. The island’s long history has shaped the distintive Phuket of the present with its diverse ethnic groups, culture, architectural influence, and fine cuisine. Phuket has a lot more to offer its visitors than its natural heritage of sea, sand, sky beach, forest, and world renowned diving sites. Sino-Portuguese architecture casts its spell delighting travellers to the city, while Phuket style of hospitality has never failed to impress visitors from all walk of life.
Getting to Know: 1. Phuket is located approximately 862 kilometres south of Bangkok. 2. There are only two seasons in a year the green season ( May to October) and the hot season (November to April) 3. Phuket is divided into 3 adminstrative districts: namely, amphoe Mueng, Amphoe Thaland and Amphoe Kathu.
- The beaches of the south coast are typically crowded, while the north is far more tranquil.
- All the major beaches (such as Patong beach, Kata beach, Karon beach, Nai Han beach, Mai Khao beach , Nai Yang beach) offer instruction and equipment for diving, snorkling, wind surfing and sailing. Don’t forget to notice red flag! before swim.
Where & What To Eat in Thailand
Thailand features not only one of the finest cuisines in the world but also a wide selection of restaurants serving authentic Italian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and other global cuisines. Find restaurants, recipes, and cookery classes to fill your holiday with epicurean pleasure.
While Thai food has a reputation for being spicy, Thai food is actually based on a balance between different flavors including spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. This goes beyond simply combining the flavors within an individual dish to incorporate the contrast in flavors between two or three different dishes, which is one reason Thai’s share meals and eat family style.
One distinctive aspect of Thai food is the use of fresh herbs and spices as well as the inclusion of fermented fish sauce in nearly every dish –a potential problem for vegetarians, though saying “jay” to indicate you are vegetarian goes a long way.
However, there are certainly regional variations in what is typically considered Thai food; these are due to the influences of neighboring countries, such as China, Laos, Burma, and Malaysia. While some Thai restaurants specialize in specific dishes, most have a huge menu of Thai and western fare and prepare Thai food from throughout the kingdom.
Rice is the staple food for Thais, eaten with most meals, from breakfast to dessert. In fact, in Thai language, if you say you are hungry or you want to eat you literally say “I want to eat rice.” Its should be unsurprising to learn then that Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice and that Thai rice includes more than one strain, each of which has its own characteristic and flavor.The most esteemed Thai rice is Jasmine Rice, sweet-smelling long-grain rice that is indigenous to Thailand. Served steamed, jasmine rice is the finest rice to accompany most dishes, including Thai curries. While Jasmine rice is the most coveted, it is also the most expensive. Consequently, most restaurants serve Khao Suoy, “beautiful rice”, a plain white variety that grows in abundance and is consumed with all style of entrée. Khao pad or “fried rice” is made with fried with pork or chicken, chilies and fish sauce, typically with leftover Khao Suoy, so as not to waste leftover rice that is a bit “stale”. Khao Tom is a popular breakfast dish, a salty porridge-like soup that is cooked with pork and garlic. Khao Niaw, “sticky rice” is eaten by hand when served with dishes of northeastern influence, such as grilled chicken (gai yang) and spicy papaya salad (som tam); however, sticky rice is a crucial ingredient in a favorite Thai dessert, sticky rice and mango.
While noodle dishes are quite common in Thailand (an influence brought by Chinese migrants) most Thai dishes are stir fried or grilled and served with rice. Fish (blah), pork (moo), beef (neua), and chicken (gai) are all prepared in a variety of ways, though typically cut into bite sized pieces and stir fried with various spices, such as garlic, chili, and/or basil. Fish and chicken are frequently grilled or fried, fish typically cooked and served whole.
Thai Curry & Soup
As Thai meals are typically served family style, with all diners sharing entrees, a Thai curry or soup is usually ordered with a meal. The consistency of each Thai curry varies widely, with some curries arguably classifiable as soups. However, most Thai curries are coconut milk-based and some are spicier than others. Gaeng Massaman, is a mild, peanut and potato curry; Gaeng Kiaw Wan (Thai green curry) is a curry of medium thickness and spiciness, while Gaeng Daeng (red curry), otherwise known as Gaeng Pet (spicy curry), is a thinner, obviously spicier option. Tom Kha, a mild coconut soup, blurs the lines between soup and curry, while Tom Yam Kung, a quintessential Thai soup, is often blisteringly hot. While Thai curries are shared and meant to be ladled over rice, soups are served communally with diners receiving small bowls to eat out of. Although some curries and soups can be served without meat for vegetarians, many Thai cooks put fish sauce in all dishes as it’s the Thai substitute for salt.
Unlike typical Thai dishes, which are served for communal consumption, most Thai noodle dishes are served as individual dishes. While some restaurants will serve Thai noodle dishes, particularly Pad Thai noodles, noodles are more frequently served and eaten at street stalls that specialize in Thai noodle dishes. Thai noodles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including “small” (sen lek), “large” (sen yai), angel hair (sen mee), and x-large (gway tiow). Most Thai noodles are made of rice, though egg noodles (ba mee) and mungbean based glass noodles are also common. Other than pad Thai noodles, rad naa and gway tiow are stir fried noodles served with beef, chicken, or pork; condiments, including dried chilies, fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar, are available to tailor to individual diner’s taste. Otherwise, Thai noodles are normally served in soup, either with spicy red pork (moo daeng), chicken (on the bone), and occasionally coagulated pigs blood. Unlike most Thai dishes, which are eaten with fork and spoon, Thai noodles are typically eaten with chopsticks and spoon, a reflection of the Chinese origin of the cuisine.
You couldn’t tell by looking at slim waste lines of many Thais, but Thai people love to eat dessert. This includes both traditional Thai desserts as well as western fare, including cakes and ice cream. Traditional Thai desserts are quite sweet, made predominately from various combinations of rice, coconut milk, and sugar, along with a few seemingly less common dessert ingredients, such as sweet corn or kidney beans. Some egg based Thai desserts trace their history back to the influence of Portuguese missionaries (who also introduced the chili!) While these desserts are not prominently featured on menus in Thai restaurants and infrequently ordered at the conclusion of a meal, they are occasionally served complimentarily or can be found sold at street stalls that specialize in particular desserts. Fruit is also a common Thai dessert and is usually served plain and sliced, though Mango with sticky rice, covered in sweet coconut milk is a popular dessert when Mangos are in season.
A Thai salad is often one of the spiciest Thai dishes and is frequently ordered as one of the many communal dishes in a meal. A Thai salad is generally made of raw vegetables mixed with chili, lime, and fish sauce, though some, such as Yam Neua (Thai beef salad) contain meat. The most internationally recognized Thai salad, Som Tam is technically a dish of Lao origin, and is most popular in Northeastern Thailand, where it is prepared in a manner that would wreak havoc on the stomach of an unsuspecting visitor unaccustomed to real spicy Thai food. Som Tam consists primarily of shredded papaya and is often served with grilled chicken (gai yang). Yam som-o, is a more mild salad that is based on the pommels, a fruit similar to, but less sour than, a grapefruit. Yam som-o is usually served with shredded chicken. Other salads include Yam Neua, a Thai beef salad served with tomato and onion, and Yam Wonsan, a glass noodle and shrimp salad. Technically Thai meals don’t include appetizers per se; all dishes are ordered at once and come out in random order for diners to share as they arrive. However, there are certainly finger-food style dishes that can be categorized as appetizer style foods. Satay (grilled meat on a stick) and spring rolls are the most common of these, the former available on many street corners and technically classified in Thai cuisine as a snack rather than an appetizer.
Source or Paste
Thai chili paste, or nam prik, is the base of many Thai dishes, though variations of it are also served as dips. Thai Chili pastes are made by muddling chili, garlic, shrimp paste, lime, and other spices (depending on region of origin). As a dip, it is served along with raw vegetables and occasionally pork rinds.
Thailand is undoubtedly a nation of fruits; fruit vendors sell dozens of different chilled fruits on street corners throughout the kingdom, selling sliced ponelamai (fruit) for as little as 10 baht per serving. Thai fruits include the familiar: banana, pineapple, watermelon, and papaya, as well as the exotic: dragon fruit, chompu, durian, and jackfruit. Dragon fruit is a large, odd looking fruit, with pink spiky skin, though beneath the extravagant exterior is a tender white meat akin to a mellow, juicy kiwi fruit. Chompu is a refreshing pear-shaped fruit that tastes something like a watery apple. The pungent smelling durian and its mellower cousin the jack fruit require an acquired palate, their flavors and textures revered by some and reviled by others; in fact so strong is the smell of the durian that it’s not infrequent to see “no durian” signs inside many buildings! Mangos are served both ripe and juicy and unripe and excruciatingly tart, a taste that Thai’s typically balance by dipping in a mixture of sugar and chili. There are literally dozens of other exotic Thai fruits, available seasonally, and always reasonably priced. Buy a bunch and share with friends; they make economical and healthy snacks.
Thai Beer & Beverages
While tap water is not generally recommended for consumption, ice is generally safe in Thailand and bottled water is ubiquitous and cheap. If you are concerned, you can always stick with Thai beer, its nearly as cheap and the high alcohol content of Thai beer ensures that any germs aren’t likely to survive; Singha (pronounced “Sing”) and Chang (which means elephant) are the two most popular. Fruit smoothies and fruit juice are both very popular: smoothies made with fresh fruit and sugar syrup are blended with ice that is generally safe to consume. Coconut milk is another safe option as the coconut is simply cracked open from the top and served whole with a straw. Thai ice tea is served with condensed milk, which gives it a pinkish orange color and sweet flavor. Thai ice coffee (oliang) is a strong black pick me up far superior to the Nescafe that is so often served as “coffee” in many restaurants. Otherwise, there are many Starbucks throughout the Kingdom, particularly in Bangkok, if you really need a quick coffee fix.
Finally, Red Bull Energy drink was invented in Thailand and can be procured at 7-11 and mom and pop minimarts for 10 baht. There are other local brands, but taste and potency vary widely.
Thai Gourmet Specialties
While “Thai food” has gained international recognition, Thai cuisine can actually be broken down by the region from which it originated. Each of Thailand’s different regions has developed its own style and is responsible for dishes that are quite different from those of other regions. Thai food from Issarn, in the northeast of Thailand, shares many similarities with cuisine from neighboring Laos, though the Thai versions of the dishes, such as Som Tam, are a lot heavier on the chili. Southern curries on the other hand, are less spicy, with a greater Malaysian influence, and feature more coconut and turmeric. And while Thai people love fish, whether from the river or the sea, Thailand’s beaches are the prime destinations to sample the best Thai seafood dishes.
Where To Shop
Where to go Shopping in Thailand is a comprehensive shopping guide to Bangkok shopping malls and other Thailand shopping destinations, including department stores, malls, and markets across the kingdom. If you are looking for where to shop for souvenirs, clothing, or Thai handicrafts, such as silk, this Thailand shopping guide will help you find the nearest market or mall for you to purchase the products you desire.
There are almost innumerable products to select from when shopping in Thailand, from international brand name products to hand made crafts. Many visitors are particularly interested in shopping for Thai antiques; Thai arts & crafts, including paintings, wood carvings, handicrafts, lacquerware, nielloware, pewterware, and Thai dolls & toys; artificial flowers and live orchids; and rattan & wickerwork accessories, such as furniture.
Other favorites for those on a Thailand shopping holiday or simply looking for bargains while souvenir shopping in Thailand include apparel & accessories, Thai gems, jewelry, gold & silverware, clothing and leather goods, and various fabrics, such as the world famous Thai silk.
Products for sale in Thailand include: Antiques, Arts & Crafts, including Paintings, Wood Carvings, Handicrafts, Lacquerware, Nielloware, Pewterware, and Thai dolls & toys; Artificial Flowers and Live Orchids; Rattan & Wickerwork accessories as well as furniture; Apparel & Accessories, such as Jewelry, Gems, Gold & Silverware; clothing and leather goods; and various fabrics, such as the world famous Thai silk.
Shopping in Thailand is one of visitors’ favorite activities. Consequently, these Thailand shopping tips are intended to help visitors make the most of their Thailand shopping experience. Knowing when and where to shop, how to haggle, what forms of payment are accepted, how VAT refunds can be processed, and what are typical return policies should help visitors on a Bangkok shopping spree or simply picking up a few souvenirs enjoy their time shopping in Thailand. Most shops, including those in malls and departments store complexes, are generally open from 10 am to 10 pm, though opening hours are typically longer in tourist areas than in smaller local towns. Furthermore, some shops close on Sundays, though most major stores in Bangkok and those in tourist towns are normally open seven days a week. Night markets typically begin at dusk and close around midnight. Wet markets, where local Thais purchase food, open around 4 am and close around 9 am. Usually, fixed prices are the norm in department stores, while bargaining is expected at most other places, particularly at night markets and local central markets. Generally, the price in Thailand is variable and you can obtain a final figure of between 10-40% lower than the original asking price. Much depends on your skills and the shopkeeper’s mood. But remember, Thais appreciate good manners and a sense of humor. With patience and a broad smile, you will not only get a better price, you will also enjoy shopping as an art. A good strategy is to casually inquire about an item the first time you see it in order to get a ballpark estimate of the price. Also, you will learn that walking away will often be met by a lower figure shouted at you to lure you back. Also, you are more likely to get a good price if you shop just as a market is opening, as vendors believe an early sale is “lucky” and will help them have a prosperous day.
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Content Courtesy : Thailand Tourism.Org