In partnership with TUI
1. The stunning limestone cliffs of Krabi
The 150 kilometres of coastline along Krabi province are lined with astonishing limestone cliffs (karsts) that project like fangs from the sea. Along with Croatia and Vietnam, it’s one of only three areas in the world where such tower-like karst formations extend into the sea, forming pillars that rise almost vertically from the waves. Railay Beach is one of the best places to explore the karsts – Krabi Rock Climbing offers courses for beginner, intermediate and expert climbers across 631 climbing routes (prices start from 1,000 THB for a half day). Railay is only accessible by boat – you can board a traditional Thai long-tail boat at Krabi Town or Ao Nang beach, and the trip should take around 15 minutes. Krabi also offers a whole range of beautiful resorts that invite you to just relax and enjoy life. One to point out would be the Apasari Krabi hotel, which is close to the beach, yet in the middle of the city in a calm residential area. Perfect for a chilled, yet fun holiday.
2. The all-night parties of Phuket
Phuket – Thailand’s largest island at around 540 square kilometres – has gained a reputation for partying, and Patong is party central. The island’s largest town is home to mega-clubs like Illuzion, offering multi-level dance floors and international DJs, and there’s a range of bars serving everything from craft beers (the Craft Beer Lounge at the Grand Mercure hotel) to cocktails (the Caribbean-style Sole Mio). The beautiful white-sand Patong Beach at least offers somewhere to rest and recover the morning after – and you could always treat yourself to a foot massage and facial at one of the many spas in town, like So Thai Spa (prices start from 1,300 THB for 2 hours). TUI offers luxury holidays in the centre of the nightlife at the Kee Resort and Spa, boasts a swim-up bar as well as an LED-lit fountain in the pool.
3. The bustling markets of Bangkok
There are dozens of bustling markets in Bangkok, but probably the most famous are the remarkable floating markets. The city was known as the ‘Venice of the East’ in the nineteenth century on account of its extensive network of canals (known as khlongs), and although many were filled in during the twentieth century, they’re still used today for commuting and trade. Taling Chan Floating Market in Thonburi is one of five water-borne trading extravaganzas – hire a long-tail boat at any of the nearby piers for a close-up look at locals selling and cooking fresh food from traditional wooden boats.
4. The virgin forests of Khao Lak
Khao Lak on the southwest coast is an excellent spot for exploring Thailand’s nature. Taking its name from the 1,000-metre mountains at its heart (the name literally translates as ‘Lak mountain’), Khao Lak has three pristine national parks to its name, and its uncrowded beaches are important nesting grounds for leatherback turtles. Various operators, such as Khao Lak Explorer, offer treks through the lush jungles as well as kayaking trips that thread through the mangrove forests that line the coast. After an adventurous trip it’s time to relax in one of the luxurious resorts such as the Khao Lak Merlin Beach Resort. Pool with waterfall? Check. Bar in pool? Check. Spacious, elegant rooms? Check. Lush gardens? Check. Beach right outside? Check.
Can’t choose where to go? Just do a multi-stop holiday and combine your favorite spots in Thailand with TUI’s multi-centre holiday offers. Here we got an exciting mix of destinations worldwide for you to pick: 10 of the best multi-stop holidays.
5. The deserted beaches of Mai Khao
On Mai Khao Beach in northwest Phuket, you’ll often find you have the sand all to yourself. This 11-kilometre beach is part of the Sirinat National Park, so unlike some of Phuket’s other resorts, it’s still mostly undeveloped. The strong current makes it inadvisable to go swimming, but because it faces west, it offers a wonderfully tranquil spot to watch the sun set and admire the stars.
6. Bangkok’s amazing grand palace
The Grand Palace (entrance fee 500 THB, open daily 8.30am to 3.30 pm) was built as a home for the Kings of Siam in 1782, and it comprises myriad stunning buildings scattered across an area of more than 200,000 square metres. Much of it is closed off to the public, but visitors can still survey the palace grounds, as well as four illustrious buildings. The Grand Palace Hall, completed in the nineteenth century, is the largest building and comprises a mix of Italian renaissance and Thai-style architecture, the roof-top golden spires being a stunning example of the latter. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, meanwhile, hosts an image of the Buddha carved entirely out of one lump of green jadite. Visitors should note that there’s a strict dress code for the palace – legs and arms should be covered, and no sandals are allowed (unless you’re willing to commit the fashion faux pas of wearing socks with sandals).
7. Traditional Thai massages on Kamala Beach
Kamala provides a relaxing alternative to the heady nightlife of Patong to the south. This fishing village has a beautiful 2-kilometre beach that’s bounded by tree-covered hills, and the pace of life is generally much slower than elsewhere on Phuket. As befits its relaxed air, there are plenty of places to indulge in a traditional Thai massage, with various massage huts lining the beach. But if you head inland a little, you’ll find Home Massage Kamala (75/2 Rim Hat Road) offers excellent value, with prices of around 300 THB for a foot massage lasting an hour.
8. The deserted islands of Koh Phi Phi National Marine Park
Koh Phi Phi Marine Park is riddled with deserted islands that are packed with rock pools and waterfalls just ripe for exploring ¬¬– as well as some stunning marine life beneath the waves. Because it’s a protected national park, you’ll need to book a trip with an official operator: Blue View Divers offers a two-dive day trip for 2,500 THB so you can explore the reefs and pinnacles of the park. Expect to see everything from hawksbill turtles to seahorses, and maybe even a harmless leopard shark or two.
9. The famous reclining Buddha of Wat Pho
Also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho is one of the largest temples and most beautiful buildings in Bangkok. The original temple dates back to the seventeenth century, and the grounds are speckled with golden spires and ornate carvings. But inside is the real treasure: a 46-metre-long reclining statue of the Buddha, one of the largest in Thailand, and complete with feet inlaid with mother of pearl. Its posture represents Buddha entering Nirvana and ending the cycle of reincarnation, and it’s lined with 108 bronze bowls that represent the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Dropping a coin into the bowls is said to bring good luck – and it also helps to raise funds for the upkeep of the temple.
10. The turquoise waters of Ao Nang
The waters of Ao Nang in Krabi glow in a formidable turquoise hue in the dry season. Combined with the soaring karst towers and white sands, it showcases some of Thailand’s most sublime natural beauty. The waters can get a little murky during the wet season, as sands get stirred up by the monsoons, but even then you can still catch a local boat to one of the nearby islands to enjoy pale-blue, clear water all year round. TUI offers packages to the Holiday Inn Resort just a short trip from the beach, which provides excellent views of this exotic coastline.
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*Published October 2017. This content was produced in partnership with TUI. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.