Southeast Asia is a large and diverse region with several fascinating cultures. AWR offers trips in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos. While these Buddhist countries share many characteristics, they differ in their languages, landscapes, cultural heritages, traditions and cuisines.
Below we explain some highlights and where to go in Thailand. You can combine several countries in one trip (for example our 10-day Thailand and Cambodia Adventure) and it is even possible to combine all five for travelers with a month or more for travel time, so we’ve also provided links with “where to go” information for the other Southeast Asian countries at the end of this post.
Thailand: Where To Go
Bangkok and Central Thailand: Bangkok is the arrival point for many travelers to the region, even if they are headed to another country. This modern city also houses several treasures from Thailand’s rich history. You can visit the numerous temples (or “wats”) including the dazzling Grand Palace area with the Wat Phra Keo and Wat Po, cruise down the Chao Phraya River (River of Kings), enjoy a cooking class to learn the secrets of Thai cuisine, or explore the traditional architecture of both the Vimanmek Teak Mansion and the Jim Thompson House.
Outside of Bangkok visit the famous Damneon Saduak floating market. Just north of the city you can explore the tranquil Khmer ruins of Ayutthaya before continuing to the far north! Travelers with more time can also consider a stop in Sukhothai, Thailand’s ancient capital with beautiful ruins from the country’s “golden age.”
Northern Thailand: Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and the heart of the country’s far north. It is a quiet university city compared to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Chiang Mai is well-known for its night market, the perfect place to shop for souvenirs and enjoy dishes from food stalls including fried morning glory and Chiang Mai curry. In Chiang Mai you’ll enjoy a gentler pace of life with the presence of monks in their saffron-colored robes.
After some city time most travelers head to the hills. You can trek among hill tribes in areas including Chiang Dao. For an even quieter pace of life the town of Chiang Rai enchants many visitors. Other popular activities include elephant rides and river rafting.
Islands and Beaches: Thailand’s beaches are simply amazing! A short detour from Bangkok, usually by air, will transport you to paradise! Many of the popular destinations including Pukhet and Koh Samui are heavily developed; however, traveling a little further will get you to more secluded spots. Some of our favorite places included the marine park off of Koh Samui and Koh Chang where you can embark on a multi-day kayak trip to secluded islands. If you visit the Pukhet area consider heading to Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta for a few days.