Thailand’s beaches and islands are top tourist destinations and nearly every imaginable water activity is available for visitors to participate in. Windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving are simply a few of the innumerable activities available in and around Thailand’s beaches and islands. Many inland destinations, including Chiang Mai, are located on or near major rivers and offer a variety of other water sports, the most popular of which are whitewater rafting and kayaking.
Thailand’s geography and terrain are quite diverse: from the lush, jungle covered peaks of the northern mountains to the turquoise hues of the Gulf of Thailand. Exploring Thailand by air, whether skydiving or riding aboard a hot air balloon, glider, helicopter, or small aircraft allows visitors to have an exhilarating experience while getting a unique perspective on Thailand’s spectacular countryside.
Hiring a car and exploring Thailand on your own is an outstanding way to see the real Thailand, as hiring a Thai car is a cheap way of seeing rural areas and meeting everyday Thai people. Whether you hire a car to explore around Phuket or to see the countryside around Chiang Mai, renting a car is generally an easy and fairly inexpensive proposition. One way rentals between destinations (e.g. Bangkok-Chiang Mai) are also a possibility, though you should expect to pay a drop-off fee.
Avis, Hertz and other international car hire agencies are well represented in Thailand, although many rental companies will not rent a Thai car or provide insurance to drivers who do not have an international driving license. While it is technically legal to drive in Thailand with a valid foreign driver’s license, having an international license will make renting and driving a Thai car potentially less problematic.
Furthermore, Thailand has an excellent network of well maintained roads and highways between all the provincial capitals and major towns and cities in between.
Most roads and highways are in good condition, and have two or three lanes on each side, including a majority of the north-south route (from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to the southern beaches). Road signage follows international convention and is in both Thai and English, though some are only in Thai (like 'Stop' and 'Give Way'). Buy a decent road map before you set off, though it’s well to remember that Thai words aren't always romanized consistently (e.g. Petburi road on the map and Phetchaburi road on the street sign are one and the same).
With idyllic tropical beaches, majestic temples, fascinating culture, and world class service and accommodation, Thailand is undoubtedly a romantic kingdom. Consequently, it’s a top destination for those looking to marry in an exotic land or experience the ultimate honeymoon. In fact, many of Thailand’s finest hotels and spa retreats offer wedding and honeymoon packages specifically designed to ensure you have the ultimate romantic getaway. Whether you are looking for a private beach-side swimming pool, an outdoor tub overlooking the jungle, a romantic riverside candle-lit dinner, or the ultimate his and her pampering at a Thai spa, Thailand has innumerable options to make your special date the most memorable experience of your lives.
As a Buddhist nation, Thailand is full of spectacular temples, the purpose of which is for Thais to devout themselves to the principals passed down by the Buddha, nee Siddhartha Gautama. As Thailand is such a welcoming country and Buddhism is a non-restrictive religion, it is easy for visitors to study Buddhism and learn meditation at a number of temples and meditation retreats around the country.
While those simply curious about Buddhism can attend “monk chats” at Wat Chedi Luang or Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai, these and other temples allow visitors to check themselves in for a week or longer of intensive meditation study.
While certainly intriguing, these meditation retreats are not for those unprepared for serious self reflection: the purpose of meditation is to clear the mind and achieve clarity and inner peace; consequently, most meditation programs do not allow students to talk during their stay, with the exception of meditative chanting and discussions with senior monks to help their meditation techniques. Furthermore, by its very nature, meditation can be somewhat mundane, and so visitors are expected to follow the routines and procedures quite thoroughly if they wish to genuinely learn to meditate properly and achieve the most from their experience.
For those unable to commit to a remote meditation retreat from which they cannot easily leave, Wat Mahatat, near Bangkok’s Grand Palace, allows visitors to study meditation no less strictly, but with more flexible time requirements.