The Land of Smiles, where 'Sanuk' is a way of life. Although no direct translation exists for Sanuk the closest meaning is to have a good time, to have fun, to enjoy oneself and to derive pleasure and joy from something. It is almost a rule of living for Thai people that whatever they do, it has to be sanuk. It stands to reason that Thai New Year is spent in a collective drenching in a country-wide water fight that lasts for 3- 5 days.
Thailand - home to heavenly resorts and serene Buddhist temples; the hottest spicy food, spa sanctuaries and bustling markets; where aromas of lemongrass and coconut fill the air and the gracious and gentle people greet you with a Wai - a prayer-like greeting of closed palms.
Thailand - lotus flowers, orchids, all-day and night shopping and searing humidity.
Thailand - where creativity and design knows no bounds.
Why do we love Thailand so? Because to us, the Land of Smiles is also the Land of Contrasts. Serene one minute, noisy and smelly the next. Some of the world's most beautiful beaches go hand in hand with the seediest Red Light Districts. You may feel ripped off by a market trader who charges you higher due to your Farang status but shortly after you'll meet a Thai friend who will will welcome you into their family and share fabulous food with you. So many contradictions, so very Thailand.
Top 10 "Not to be Missed" Thailand favourites - not an easy list to put together, where do we start, where do we end?
Songkran in Chiang Mai - experience the mayhem at least once in your life. You've never had fun until you've had this much fun.
Breakfast buffet at either Shangri-La or Intercontinental Bangkok.
Terminal 21 Shopping Centre, Bangkok. Ok there are enough shopping malls to keep a Shopaholic busy for an eternity and I could have picked several to mention here. But Terminal 21, one of the newest additions to the Bangkok cityscape has to be seen to be believed. Each floor is themed - you can visit London, Tokyo City or Istanbul without stepping on a plane. Crazy, just like Bangkok.
Take a long tail boat from Krabi to the paradise Railay Beaches, an iconic location and used for many a postcard shot. Don't forget your snorkel and pack your beach bag with some crumbs to feed the fish whilst you swim.
Seafood Pier Restaurants, downtown HuaHin - so good that many years ago I told Celebrity Chef Rick Stein to try them out and sure enough, they featured on one of his travel shows. Choose how you want your seafood cooked, grab some bottles of cold Singha or Chang Beer and throw in a plate of morning glory with every meal. Sheer perfection.
Massage on the beach anywhere but if I had to pick one I'd have to say Laem Sing beach on Phuket Island. This tiny beach was severely damaged during the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami but the locals, in typical Thai style, have picked themselves up and bounced back. Head here for a swim, a foot massage or pedicure and complete your day with BBQ seafood at one of the beach shacks.
Look on in wonder at the The Reclining Buddha at Wat Po, Bangkok. Marvel at the detail on the Buddha's head and toes. But don't ever believe a TukTuk or Taxi Driver who will tell you Wat Po and the Grand Palace are closed in an attempt to take you elsewhere. This is a ruse and yes we've all fallen for it at least twice!
Spend a hot and exhausting but exhilarating day at Chatuchak (or JJ as the locals call it) Weekend Markets. Bring cash, lots of water and comfy shoes. Leave room in your luggage for all your purchases. JJ is easy to get to now with its own BTS station.
Make your own Bloody Mary for breakfast at the heavenly Sala Samui Resort on glorious Choengmon Beach, Koh Samui. Book a Pool Villa here and it's unlikely you'll ever want to leave.
Enjoy the exquisite Tasting Menu of delectable modern Thai cuisine at Le Du Restaurant, Bangkok. Bit hard to find, ask your concierge.
And a bonus 11th favourite - Jump in a Tuk-Tuk with disco lights and pumping music and take a ride around any of the major cities at night enjoying the madness that we find so charming about our Amazing Thailand.
Extra bonus no 12 - Oh whoops can't talk Thailand without mentioning the revered Elephant - for an experience that will stay with you forever visit for a day or volunteer for a week at the Elephant Nature Reserve in Chiang Mai
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