Thailand was the first of the countries in Indochina to receive significant tourist numbers. Many people saw images of what was then Siam in the famous 1950s film, ‘’The King and I’’ starring Yul Brynner but at that time few tourists headed east; it took so long to get there. Things have changed dramatically of course and more modern films show the wonderful beaches on Thailand’s coast. There is still an air of mystery in many parts of the Country. Bangkok is a typical Asian city yet there are huge tracts of Thailand that still fairly remote and where life has changed little over generations. Good Thailand tour packages aim to provide a blend of city life, the religious and cultural history of the country, rural life and of course the great cuisine.
Thailand, formerly Siam, has the proud distinction of never having been conquered by a colonial nation unlike the rest of Indochina. Indochina tour packages include Bangkok and other highlights of the Country. While most people begin their holiday in Thailand in Bangkok, there are a number of different parts of the Country that attract holiday makers, notably a number of coastal areas and Chang Mai up in the hills in the North. Group holidays have all arrangements in place but if you are heading to Thailand it is worth understanding a little bit more about life in Thailand and things you are likely to encounter. The main attractions are also worth repeating.
• Make a deal. If you are in a Thailand market there will be no fixed prices. Indeed it is possible to negotiate for most things and it is expected. As a tourist when you take Thailand holiday, you will be seen as someone who has money, certainly more than the locals except for the very rich. As that is the case why shouldn’t you pay a little more is the logic. What discount you might ultimately get depends on how determined you are.
• Thai food. Thai cuisine is now popular all over the world. It is extremely distinctive and hence has been able to compete with the two other main Asian styles, Indian and Chinese. Street food is something that travellers are told to avoid in many places, Africa being an example where hygiene is questionable. In Thailand that is not the case because busy sellers that have a good turnover are inevitably selling things that are fresh. Alternatively when it comes to restaurants if you are at all uncertain then go into somewhere where you can see plenty of people eating. If the locals support a place it is safe for you to as well.
• It’s fun exploring. If there is some free time in Indochina tour packages why not explore for yourself? You should always show due respect to the locals, especially if you are taking photographs. Equally it is important to understand local customs and dress as the situation demands, particularly at religious sites.
• Be up to date. There may be some local news or event that will interest you. It may be something that was not in the calendar when you decided to travel in Thailand. It would be a shame to miss it if it is something close by.
• What’s in a label? If you recognise a label, then you may buy and try. It may not be what you expect because it will have been made specifically for the local market. There are plenty of local things to try if you are disappointed.
• Free Time. Good Thailand tour packages cannot possibly cover everything. They will provide free time and if there is a local attraction check to see whether you can get a local tour to see it.
• Local Transport. In that free time take when you are left to your own devices you may need to rely on local transport Taxis are the most convenient way to get around but you need to be certain of the costs involved in any journey.
• Health. Health facilities in Thailand are fairly good but not up to the standard you probably expect at home. Medical tourism is actually developing in Thailand but it is your general health you need to safeguard. Just to be certain take any medicine you think you might need as well as a basic first aid kit.
• Crime. Petty crime in towns and cities is a fact of life all over the world. First of all you should take a photocopy of all your valuable documents and keep things in a safety deposit box if you do not need them with you. Just be careful of pickpockets in crowds.
• Approaches. Strangers generally mean no harm but as an obvious tourist you may find them approaching you as they see an opportunity.Politely refuse any request to help you.
Thailand can probably be broken down into five components with Bangkok the place with most of the landmark attractions that anyone who researches Thailand will have on their list of things to see. The coast has had a great deal of exposure with the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘’the Beach’’ showing the stunning blue seas around the Country Here are a few ideas of things you should try to see with all likely to be included when you travel in Thailand on organised Thailand tour packages:
Bangkok is a lively city. Its nightlife is famous, even notorious, there are interesting waterways and wonderful restaurants. It is sometimes difficult to get around this city of 11 million people though the waterways certainly help.
The Capital has a number of things that will always be included in Thailand tour packages:
• The Grand Palace is a major landmark in the City and within the site there is Wat Pra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) from the 15th Century long before the Palace was even thought of. The original home of the Thai monarchy was actually built in 1782 but is no longer where the monarchy resides. The Palace however is used for all special royal occasions.
• Wat Pho holds the reclining Buddha, 45 metres long and 15 high. The feet are 5 metres high. It does mean it is difficult to take a photograph that remotely does it justice.
• The third major Buddha is solid gold, something that was unknown until it was dropped and its plaster covering was chipped.It was made in the 14th Century and after being moved around several times since then it is in Wat Traimit. What price a 3 metre high piece of solid gold?
• Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) dates back to the early 19th Century. It is built in Khmer style and was regarded as a symbol of the new capital after the ‘’fall’’ of Ayutthaya. It has a great location on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and is almost directly opposite Wat Pho.Ayutthaya incidentally is north of Bangkok and was the ancient capital. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991 with impressive ruins of the Old City.
• The floating markets of Bangkok start very early in the morning but they are worth the effort. There are various alternatives and if you are on organised Thailand tour packages the selection will be done for you.
• One of the mysteries of this part of the world was what happened to Jim Thompson, an American who is regarded as the person whose efforts led to the popularity of Thai silk. He disappeared in the jungles of Malaysia in 1967 but his home, 6 teak houses left as they were when he disappeared are now a museum that certainly deserves some of your time.
• The Island of Phuket is the most famous place in the South and remains a great place for a break at the beach, probably enjoying as much seafood as possible while you are there. Many of Thailand’s popular resorts have become very commercialised and that is certainly the case with Phuket. However it would be wrong not to visit the area and its natural beauty.
• Indochina tour packages will pass through here because it is so close to Cambodia. The most famous resort is Pattaya but there are also some lovely places that will be a little quieter. Once again the coastal regions are great for relaxation and the seafood is a further attraction of course.
Chang Mai and the North
• The 14th Century Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep looks down on Chang Mai. It has a distinctive golden dome that makes it visible right across the City of 170,000. Chang Mai is the gateway to a great natural region where there are plenty of outdoor activities including trekking, fishing, climbing and rafting.
• There are a number of national parks in this area close to the Cambodian border. Khao Yai is a UNESCO World Heritage site and Isaan’s Khmer architecture is a feature that spreads east into Cambodia and Angkor.