At the crossroads of South East Asia, Thailand is a land of many face, of many worlds. The central plain, home to amazing ancient cities, occupies most of the territory. The northeast, otherwise known as Isaan, surrounded by river Mekong, is a vast plateau adorned with rich vegetation. Majestic mountains dominate the north of the country and shelter the oldest sanctuary in the world. Finally, the region of the gulf of Siam and the south peninsula offer everything an authentic seaside paradise should: a tropical climate, luxurious resorts, white sand and a seemingly neverending turquoise sea.
For seaside lovers Thailand is paradise with over 1684 miles of coastline. Instead of the unattractive beaches close to Bangkok (like Pattaya in the east), go for the southern shores where you'll find the hundreds of islands that render Thailand's beaches famous. As well as the gulf of Siam which has done a good job of preserving its natural environment, Ko Samui, the 'coconut kingdom', holds the world's record for the most coconut trees within a square kilometre. It is among the most popular islands, with tourists and locals alike.
Thailand's natural heritage has been severely devastated by deforestation and poaching. Nonetheless, although it is not easy to spot wildlife, there are numerous possible excursions. The conservation sites and national parks are wonderful places to experience the natural flora.
Suhkotai, "the city of happiness," symbolises the Thailand of yesteryear. The first capital of Siam, this ancient city is a genuine treasure where art blends seamlessly into history. Ayutthaya is home to temples of Siamese origin. Popular with tourists, it is a suberb stop-off for splendid ruins and it has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The ancient kingdom of Siam and the land of Buddhism and Theravada, also sharing its borders with the ancient kingdoms of Southeast Asia, such as the Khmer Empire in Cambodia, Thailand is country with a very rich culture. Between the religion, the wealth of the arts and crafts, the traditions of the tribes in the north, and the Sino-Tibetan relics, the country has a lot more to offer than just its heavenly beaches in the south.
Thailand is one of the world's gastronomic destinations. Once little known outside of Southeast Asia, Thai cuisine is today considered to be one of the richest and most complex in the world. The dishes are mainly cooked using a base of various spices, fresh and saltwater fish, as well as rice and curry. Thanks to its diverse geography, Thailand has several distinct regional styles of cuisine; you won't find the same things to eat in Chiang Mai as in the south of the Andaman Islands. The north, on the border with Laos, is especially renowned for its gastronomy.
This country with so many traditions obviously has a whole range of activities to offer when it comes to sports and well-being. You can take part in water sports along the coasts and on the islands scattered about in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, diving in the rich underwater depths of the Andaman Sea. Less sporty visitors can opt for relaxation and enjoy discovering the wonder that is Thai massage.