There is so much to see and do in Thailand that few visitors can resist returning. With an expansive coast line and gorgeous tropical islands, Thailand is justly famed for its wonderful beaches and laid-back lifestyle. Inland, there are the iconic sights of lush jungles, rolling hills and rice paddies. As a country of Buddhists, there is also an abundance of golden temples and beautiful, spiritually-inspired architecture. One word of caution though: to avoid the common fate of temple fatigue, visitors shouldn't try to see too many. They should rather concentrate on a few key attractions and spend some quality time in each of them.
In contrast is the buzzing atmosphere of Bangkok, whose neon lights and smoggy streets blend with gardens and floating markets to create a unique hybrid of old and new - at a frenetic pace.
One reason why Thailand is such a rewarding sightseeing destination is that it has retained its distinctive identity in the face of significant western influence. That makes visiting here an exciting and exotic experience, whether travellers are resort-loving beach bums or adrenaline junkies exploring hill tribes and river rapids. More good news is that Thailand is blessed with year-round temperate weather, so travellers can visit at any time - although in the months from June-October, rough sea conditions may make some islands unreachable via the ferry system.
Getting around is fairly easy and remarkably safe. An excellent bus network connects even far-flung towns with the major cities, while a comfortable sleeper train connects Chiang Mai in the far north with the capital Bangkok. Many people prefer to see the sights via organised tours and air-conditioned buses, but by doing so visitors risk missing out on the fun of getting between attractions, where they will encounter local people in unexpected ways.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is an escape from the Western-style shopping malls of Bangkok and a glimpse into the past, revealing the centuries-old way of life of the residents whose stilt-houses perch on the canals and make their living selling fruits, vegetables and... see full details
Royal Grand Palace
The Royal Grand Palace is a popular Bangkok attraction. Construction of the palace began in 1782 and was completed in time for the coronation of King Rama I, and opened in 1785 to signify the end of the Burmese invasion of Thailand. The... see full details
Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
Situated adjacent to the Royal Grand Palace, Wat Pho is Bangkok's oldest, largest and most famous temple, recognised by the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. The grounds of Wat Pho contain over 1,000 statues of Buddha, and the temple houses one of Thailand's... see full details
Located 89 miles (143km) west of Bangkok, the town of Kanchanaburi has secured its position of infamy as the original site of the Bridge Over The River Kwai, where during World War II allied prisoners of war were used by the Japanese to... see full details
Mae Sa Waterfall
Set in the lush Doi Suithep-Pui National Park, only 10 miles (15km) out of town, the Mae Sa Waterfall is definitely worth visiting on any Thailand holiday. Travellers should follow the winding pathway to the waterfall's plummeting 10-tiered cascades. There are various little secluded... see full details
Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit)
Dating back to the 13th century, the buddha at Wat Traimit stands nearly 10 feet (3m) tall, weighs over five tons and is believed to be solid cast gold, the largest gold statue in the world. It was discovered by accident in 1957... see full details
Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)
Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple, is constructed of white Carrara marble (even the courtyard is paved with polished white marble) and is known as one of Bangkok's most beautiful temples. The temple's name literally means 'The Temple of the fifth King... see full details
Vimanmek Mansion Museum
Built by King Rama V in 1900, the exquisite golden teakwood mansion, also known as Vimanmek Palace, is located in the Dusit Palace complex. It was restored in 1982 for Bangkok's bicentennial and King Rama IX granted permission to transform Vimanmek Mansion into a... see full details
Fight fans will get a kick out of Thailand's national sport, Muay Thai. The matches are best watched at the Rajadamnern stadium, though visitors should be warned that the prices for foreigners or farang are much more than local's. Usually fewer than 10 matches... see full details
Ayutthaya is the former capital of Siam, from 1350 until mid-18th century, and at one time was one of the largest cities in the world. The capital was relocated to Bangkok in 1768 when the Burmese army destroyed much of Ayutthaya. Today, tourists... see full details
Located 83 miles (135km) up a coiled mountain road from Chiang Mai in the extreme northwest of Thailand, Pai is an unlikely tourist attraction. The town has undergone a number of transitions from hill tribe village to hippie hideaway to a tourist playground. Its... see full details
Chiang Mai Temples
Temple tours of Chiang Mai are a wonderful attraction for visitors. The old town is home to the most honoured temples and some tranquil Buddhist sanctuaries. The historic Wat Pra Singh holds the revered Phra Singh Buddha, which possibly dates from the 14th century.... see full details
Lisu Hill-Tribe Display
A worthwhile Chiang Mai attraction is the Lisu Hill-Tribe display at the Hill-Tribe Research Institute Museum. The lives and cultures of the hill-tribe people of Thailand are exhibited here through photographs, agricultural implements, religious artefacts and musical instruments. Household utensils and ethnic costumes are also... see full details
Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden
A beautiful Chiang Mai attraction, the first genuine botanical garden in Thailand was the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden in the Mae Sa Valley. It now also serves as a centre of botanical research and studies. The main feature of this attraction is the... see full details
Phang Nga Bay
The holiday spot of Phang Nga Bay is characterised by sheer limestone cliffs that jut vertically out of the emerald green water. The bay contains a fascinating collection of 3,500 islands, most of them uninhabited, which are unique in that they have central hollows... see full details
Similan Islands National Park
The Similan Islands have a reputation, even among the many Thai islands, as one of the world's top scuba diving sites. The intense blue waters are framed by white coral sand beaches, and are home to intricate coral reefs and rock formations. The... see full details
Now a small city in southern Thailand, Sukhothai was once the seat of an ancient Siamese culture. The Sukhothai National Historic Park has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is dedicated to preserving the area's many temples, palaces and monuments, which date... see full details