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EPISODE 3: Discover

The Beaches

A visit to Thailand would be remiss without a stay on its spectacularly stunning beaches.

  • Some of the more notable beaches can be found in areas such as Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Khao Lak, Koh Phi Phi Don, Krabi, and Koh Lanta.

While couples may have a variety of beaches that are closer to home from which to choose, none of those destinations can supply the unique blend of Thai culture and hospitality that elevates a beach vacation to an experience providing unforgettable memories to last a lifetime.
 
Ao Nang, a resort town in southern Krabi Province, is a large bay with unspoiled, scenic beaches with magnificent limestone backdrops, preserved mangrove forests, and semi-submerged caves. If your couples desire something even more idyllic and adventurous, there are pristine beaches on a number of outlying islands that can be accessed cheaply and quickly from Ao Nang by local long-tail boats.
 
Koh Phi Phi offers the ultimate tropical getaway, just a 90-minute ferry ride (or one hour 45 minutes by speedboat) from Phuket. Complete with white-sand beaches, clear blue seas and limestone cliffs that rise dramatically out of the water, this is the beach for the couple that is adventurous and fun-loving.
 
Located approximately an hour and a half north of Phuket airport, and connected by a bridge, Khao Lak is one of Thailand’s quieter, up-and-coming beach destinations, with secluded stretches of sand and surf, as well as options for scuba diving.
 
Movie buffs will love an excursion to Maya Bay off in Krabi, with its silky soft white sand and exceptionally clear water. Here is where the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach was filmed.  Take note, however, that Maya Bay has no hotel accommodation of its own.  

Or venture or Koh Clicku in Phang Nga Bay, made famous in The Man With The Golden Gun and is today more popularly known as James Bond Island.


Cultural Activities

Thailand’s bountiful cultural and historic attractions are other reasons why the destination makes a memorable and unique choice for honeymooners. Topping the list would be any number of temples (wats) that evoke deep senses of spirituality.

  • Thailand is a Buddhist country and visitors must be prepared to remove their shoes to enter temples as a sign of respect.

  • It is also very important to inform your clients of the appropriate dress code when entering Temples.  Shoulders must be covered.  Ladies should wear long pants or skirts especially when visiting the Grand Palace. 

  • In the hot destinations, pants that cover the knees are often acceptable.  Couples should always confirm dress code with their tour company before proceeding on tour.
 
Among the best ways to explore undiscovered Bangkok, often called the Venice of the East, is by boat. A long-tail boat cruise along the Chao Phraya River into the klongs (canals) of Thonburi afford glimpses of the serene and simple lifestyle of riverbank dwellers, as your  clients drift past stilted wooden homes, colonial mansions and all kinds of colorful riverfront culture. En route is usually a stop at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, one of the most attractive temples in Thailand. Other attractions visited by various klongs  or other sightseeing tours may include the Royal Barges Museum, the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
 
Bangkok is also home to an enriching museum scene:

  • The Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall is an interactive self-learning center with state-of-the-art multimedia technologies giving information on history, arts and culture of 18th and 19th century Bangkok.

  • The Art of the Kingdom at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall of Dusit Palace is another great exhibition space that houses many treasures of Thailand and the Royal Family.

  • The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, located at the Grand Palace, collects and displays textiles, past and present, from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia, with a special emphasis on the textiles of, and related to, the royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.

Cultural Experiences

Northern Thailand embodies the heart of the country’s ancient heritage, the largest and most significant of which is Chiang Mai. This culturally rich city is home to the centuries-old traditions of the former kingdom of Lanna. Chiang Mai has some 300 temples, many of which date back to the founding of the city more than 700 years ago. The most impressive of these is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which sits at a lofty 3,520 feet above sea level. In addition to history, the city is known for its artisan culture, including the manufacturing of silk, lacquerware, silver and other crafts.
 
Another top spot for culture vultures is Chiang Rai, endowed with abundant natural attractions and antiquities. This is also the spot from which to explore the Golden Triangle, the intersection of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos on the Mekong River. Highlights include the city of Ban Sop Ruak in the heart of the triangle, home of the Opium Museum, which chronicles the region’s notorious past.
 
Just south of the Golden Triangle sits the city of Sukhothai, the original capital of the first Kingdom of Siam during the 13th and 14th centuries. Within the city walls of Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are the ruins of 20 temples, as well as monuments, the most notable of which is Wat Mahathat.
 
Following Sukhothai as the capital was Ayutthaya, which was at its peak during the 15th century. Ayutthaya is located one hour (by car) from Bangkok. Today travelers can see the impressive ruins of nine stone temples, as well as nearby attractions like the Ayutthaya Historical Study Center; Chao Sam Phraya National Museum; and Chankasem National Museum.  The area has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Magnificent National Parks

Thailand is home to more than 100 national parks, teeming with wildlife. Couples with a passion for nature might be lucky to catch dozens of species in the natural habitats, from tigers and leopards to Malaysian sun bears, sambar deer, otters and civet cats. But in addition to these, Thailand is home to more than 1,000 different mammal species. It is also famous for its variety of fruit- and flower-bearing trees and plants, the most iconic of which is the orchid.
 
Thailand’s first national park is Khao Yai National Park, often called the Yellowstone of Thailand. The park sits in the Sankembeng Mountain Range and covers an area of 837 square miles. Thailand’s second largest park, Khao Yai is home to more than 3,000 plant species, 320 species of birds and 67 species of mammals.
 
The largest national park in Thailand is the 1,125-square-mile Kaeng Krachan National Park, which sits at the northern end of the Malay Peninsula near the town of Hua Hin. While much of the park’s wildlife is difficult to spot, guests can keep themselves entertained with the park’s numerous caves, a reservoir, waterfalls, mountains and scenery. Be on the lookout to catch a glimpse of the park’s wild elephants.
 
In the mountainous North, Thung Salaeng Luang National Park is a must. The limestone mountain range stretches out in a long line, with the highest point culminating at Khao Khae. Once inside the park, visitors can create separate trips to many of the intersecting attractions. The Hanging Bridge is approximately two miles from the Office of the National Park and is flanked on either side with lush forest, providing a picturesque and romantic spot for relaxation.

Famous Night Markets

Shopping is a fun activity for couples to do together and in an exotic place such as Thailand, where it’s also an exhilarating cultural experience. Bangkok in particular is one of the world’s premier shopping destinations, with a wealth of 21st century shopping malls and department stores.

  • Upscale favorites include Central World, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, The Emporium, Central Chitdlom and Central Embassy and Gaysorn Shopping Center. In these centers, couples will find glittering brand name favorites like Gucci, Hermes, Prada and more.
 
Chatuchak Weekend Market, popularly known as JJ, is a must for shoppers. With more than 15,000 individual stalls spread over 35 acres, this open-air market is a treasure trove showcasing an array of clothing, jewelry, antiques, furniture and books. It is not for the faint of heart. 

For those wanting a similar experience on a smaller scale, suggest a visit to Asiatique The Riverfront, Bangkok’s newest night market which is located along the Chao Phraya river.  It is opened daily from 3 pm until midnight and offers free shuttle service from the Taksin Pier  It is also accessible by taxi.
 
Also be sure to tell your clients about Bangkok’s additional night markets, where they can purchase a variety of products at excellent deals. Two of these markets are located on Patpong and Sukhumvit Roads and are ideal places to pick up souvenirs or gifts for those back home, while more impressive gifts can be procured from retailers like certified antiques dealers, gem and jewelry shops, or Jim Thompson, the famous silk pioneer. When it comes to antiques and gems, advise your clients to buy only from certified dealers and alert them of the restrictions on the export of Buddha images. 
 
Bangkok is a hub for tailor-made clothing, although boutique shops in Siam Square also feature the latest ready-to-wear designs from the city’s chic, young designers. In Chinatown almost every conceivable knick-knack and trinket is for sale in the myriad maze of back alleys, while those shopping for gold can do so along the district’s Yaowarat Road.

Shopping for Couples

Young couples in particular will be drawn to K-Village, a relatively new, hip and trendy lifestyle hub that, unlike the big malls, is built on two levels. Here they will find a selection of boutiques, restaurants, a gourmet market, nail and hair salons, ice cream shop, and a wine bar.

For something more chic that will appeal to luxury travelers, consider Soi Thonglor, a street in the heart of Bangkok lined with upscale shops and restaurants.
 
More opportunities to browse and buy can be found outside the capital, from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani and beyond. Nearly every city and town has a central market. These are fascinating ways to spend a few hours and a great way to pick up toiletries, clothes, or local handicrafts, including wood carvings, lacquerware, and ceramics.

In the larger, tourist-oriented towns such as Chaing Mai, weekend markets and night markets feature all variety of handicrafts, both modern and traditional, including T-shirts and dresses made by inspirational young artists.

West of Chiang Mai, along Nimanhemin Road, is a relatively new shopping area where couples can shop for home furnishings, art fabrics and more. For upscale shopping suggest a visit to the Viang Ping night market near Tha Phae Road.
 
Couples visiting beach resort areas such as Phuket also have ample opportunities for shopping. Phuket Night Market on Patong Road is an especially popular venue for bargain hunters. There are hundreds of stalls selling Thai art, handicrafts, Thai silk and other souvenirs, all at excellent deals. Inform your clients that vendors expect buyers to haggle over prices, so items are priced accordingly.

Fun Festivals

For something extra special, let your clients know about the many fun festivals that are held year-round throughout Thailand. It shouldn’t be difficult to align their trip with one of these events, as there is at least one festival per month in the Kingdom. From religious and spiritual events to performing arts and food festivals, as well as sports and recreation tournaments, they owe it to themselves to be a part of one of these occasions - and your clients will appreciate the time you took to plan this special moment for them. Here are a few to get you started:
 
JANUARY

New Year’s Day: To greet the New Year, a range of uniquely Thai traditional and cultural festivities are held in various parts of the country.  New Year’s eve along the Chao Phraya river is also a spectacular highlight.  The fireworks display is very elaborate and the lighting of the Temple of Dawn to mark the countdown of the New Year is a recently added attraction in Bangkok.
 
Chinese New Year Festival in Bangkok: Thailand’s vast Chinese community rings in the New Year with colorful dragon processions, line dancing, local Chinese cultural performances and Chinese opera and fireworks.
 
APRIL

On April 13th Thailand celebrates Thai New Year - Songkran Day: The biggest party of the year marks the beginning of a new year by splashing water to symbolize good luck, health and prosperity through the coming year Chiang Mai and Bangkok are two of the most popular places to celebrate.

More Festivities

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

Longboat Racing Festivals: These are held in several provinces. The boats, built along the lines of battle vessels from six centuries ago, are brightly festooned with flower garlands and ribbons. The Phitsanulok and Narathiwat festivals are the most well known.
 
International Festival of Dance and Music: Bangkok’s Thailand Cultural Center welcomes high-class performers from around the world.
 
Thailand’s Royal Barge Procession: This is one of the most regal events in the world, performed during the Tod Kathin Buddhist Festival when His Majesty the King delivers new robes to the monks at Wat Arun.
 
NOVEMBER

Elephant Roundup Show: Held in the Northeast province of Surin, this festival displays the amazing grace, strength and intelligence of these huge mammals in games of soccer, log carrying and tug-of-war against human teams.
 
Loi Krathong: Thailand becomes aglow during Thailand’s Festival of Lights. The exact dates for this Festival coincide with the Lunar calendar.  For exact dates we encourage you to check our website.  During Loi Krathong, Thais decorate krathongs, little cups shaped like lotus flowers, with candles, incense and other decorations. These krathongs are released on water of a symbol of cleansing and purity.  One of the best places to view and be part of the festival is in Chiang Mai. The releasing of lanterns into the sky is also a major highlight of this Festival.
 
DECEMBER

The King’s Birthday Celebrations: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, is well beloved and deeply respected by all Thais, old and young.  The King’s Birthday is December 5th and celebrated throughout the country.