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Things to do and see

Things to do and see

Thailand holiday is the amazing trip to the ‘land of smiles’, the country surrounded by emerald waters, sensational food, jaw-dropping temples and there are so many interesting activities can be arranged during your holiday in Thailand.

Cheer the winning fighter at kickboxing match - Muay thai (Thai kickboxing) is the national martial art, an ancient form of combat with spiritual overtones. Energetic bouts can be seen in most major cities, preceded by elaborate rituals and accompanied by bombastic music played on drums, cymbals and the Thai oboe. If you fancy getting in the ring, there are training academies across the country offering training.

Dive into the jungle in a Thai National Park - Large areas of Thailand are given over to national parks, many in the jungle-covered highlands, where the landscape is too tortuous for agriculture. Doi Inthanon National Park near Chiang Mai surrounds the nation’s highest peak, while Khao Sok National Park near Phanom preserves the largest area of virgin rainforest in Thailand.

Drift around the islands of Phang Nga Bay - Covering 400sq km (154sq miles) Phang Nga Bay is one of the world's great scenic wonders. Rising surreally from the turquoise ocean, are hundreds of limestone islands and outcrops, home to rare wildlife and peppered with caves and grottoes. If it looks familiar, it’s probably because The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed here in 1974.

Find a perfect beach on Thai islands - Now well recovered from the 2004 tsunami, Thailand’s islands offer some of Asia’s finest beaches. Take your pick from resort luxury on Ko Samui, backpacker vibes on Ko Chang, or a glimpse back to the early days of tourism on Ko Lipe. In fact, pretty much every Thai island has a perfect beach to kick back on.

Get in touch with your spiritual side on a meditation course - There are retreats all over Thailand where you can get in touch with your spiritual side, from yoga resorts on tropical beaches to remote forest monasteries offering strict training in Buddhist meditation. If you are just curious about Buddhism, try chatting to the monks at Chiang Mai’s popular ‘monk chat’ sessions.

Get soaked for Songkran - The biggest party on the Thai calendar, Songkran marks the Thai New Year every April. After genteel visits to monasteries to shower Buddha images with water, locals grab hosepipes and water pistols and engage in running water fights in the streets of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The atmosphere is incredible, and everyone – foreigners included – gets a soaking.

Go temple hopping in Chiang Mai - The temple-studded city of Chiang Mai is the capital of northern Thailand, and the homeland of the Lanna people, who were once an independent nation before unification with the Kingdom of Siam. Within the ruined medieval city walls are dozens of timeless wats (monasteries) with soaring, tiered rooftops adorned with golden carvings of nagas (sacred serpents).

Interact with elephants at Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai - Elephant riding is falling out of favour in Thailand because of concerns about animal welfare. These days, the focus is on more gentle elephant interactions, where visitors wander with herds of jumbos, rescued from tourist shows and logging camps. Elephant Nature Camp is one of the best, and visitors feed the herd and participate in elephant bath time.

Learn the fine art of Thai cooking - Why stop at just tasting Thailand’s fabulously spicy cuisine? Across the country, local cooks have started cooking schools where you’ll learn to whip up the perfect green curry and pound your own curry pastes, usually after a visit to a local market to buy ingredients. Chiang Mai is Thailand’s undisputed cooking school capital.

Make the pilgrimage to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai - The gleaming golden spire of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep rises above the rooftops of Chiang Mai from the slopes of Doi Suthep, the city’s most sacred peak. The monastery was founded in the 14th century, after the location was selected by a wandering white elephant, and it remains a stunning example of Northern Thai architecture.

Marvel at the grandeur of the Grand Palace, BangkokRising like a gilded shrine beside the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok's glittering Grand Palace is one of the wonders of Asia. In the grounds is the equally glittering Wat Phra Kaeo, covered in gold and mosaics and housing in its most sacred sanctum, the legendary Emerald Buddha, once enshrined in both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.

Measure up against Thailand’s biggest reclining Buddha - A stone’s throw from the Royal Palace, magnificent Wat Pho is the most important monastery in old Bangkok and the spiritual home of Thai massage. As well as chapels piled high with golden Buddha images, the monastery enshrines the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand, measuring 46m (150ft) from its gilded topknot to its mother of pearl-inlaid feet.

Ride the Chao Phraya Express - All day, the crowded ferry boats of the Chao Phraya Express cruise up and down the Chao Phraya river, offering gorgeous glimpses of the spires of the Grand Palace and the towering prangs (temple towers) of Wat Arun. As well as front row seats for life on the river, the boats are buffeted by welcome cooling breezes.

Roam through the ruins of a vanished empire in Ayuthaya - The ruins of abandoned royal capitals are scattered across the central plains in Thailand, but the UNESCO-listed remains of Ayuthaya, the most important power in the country from 1351 to 1767, are perhaps the most atmospheric. Exploring the ruins by bicycle, you’ll still be stuck by the grandeur of the crumbling monasteries and Buddha images on all sides.

Scale the limestone cliffs of Krabi - Krabi was a sleepy country town before rock climbers discovered the astonishing karst cliffs at Ao Nang and Rai Leh. Today, hundreds of bolted sport climbing routes ascend soaring limestone buttresses that rise dramatically above white sand beaches, and Krabi has become an essential stop on the backpacker circuit. Local climbing schools can show you the ropes.

Scuba dive the teeming reefs of southern ThailandThailand’s coral reefs are one of world’s best places to scuba dive, attracting everything from miniature shrimps to gigantic whale sharks. The southern coast is dotted with spectacular dive sites, some accessible from shore, others only open to divers on live-aboard cruises. Topping the list are the Surin Islands and Similan Islands, northwest of Phuket.

Step into Thai history in the National Museum - Bangkok National Museum is the largest museum in Southeast Asia and houses some remarkable relics from Thai history, including the gold-encrusted funeral chariots used for members of the Thai royal family. Nearby, on the far side of the river, are the Royal Barges used for ceremonial processions on the Chao Phraya river.

Trek in the hills above Chiang Rai - A hill tribe trek has become an established part of the Thai traveller experience, but the traditional image of hill tribe farmers in native costume is harder to find with each passing year. The most popular spot for treks into the hill tribe heartlands is Chiang Rai, worth visiting in its own right for its northern-style monasteries and laid-back attitude.

Unwind with a traditional Thai massage - Traditional Thai massage – reputedly founded by the personal physician of the historical Buddha more than 2,500 years ago – is offered on every other street corner in Thailand. Some of the best practitioners are trained by the massage school at Bangkok’s Wat Pho, the spiritual home of Thai massage, or graduates from government training programmes for the blind and rehabilitated ex-convicts!

Walk across the Bridge Over the River Kwai - Internationally famous thanks to the 1957 film The Bridge Over the River Kwai, the iron-bridge that spans the Kwai River was constructed as part of the Japanese Siam-Burma 'Death' Railway during WWII. An estimated 16,000 Allied prisoners of war died during in its construction, and the bridge remains a poignant symbol of the Japanese occupation.

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