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  • Claire Vorster

Top 7 Reasons To Love Thailand

What’s so great about Thailand? For a start, it’s smack dab in the center of everything - a quick hop from Singapore, Hong Kong or Bali and half way between Europe and Australia.

The kingdom of Thailand has a fascinating history and is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonized by European powers. Located just 15 degrees north of the equator, Thailand has a tropical climate, with temperatures varying between 19 to 38 degrees.

If you are a first time traveller or a veteran, this wonderful country offers plenty of options for a great break and friendly people who wholly justify Thailand’s “land of smiles” reputation.

1. Ancient Sites and National Parks

Thailand offers everything you could ask for in both scale and beauty.

Doi Inthanon National Park - Home to Thailand’s highest mountain peak (elevation 2,565 m).

Khao Yai National Park - One of Asia’s greatest monsoon forests and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sai Yok National Park - Want refreshing waterfalls, hidden caves and diverse animals? You got it! Have more time? Phimai Historical Park - Explore the 12th-century Khmer ruins. Phanom Rung Historical Park - Set on the rim of an extinct volcano, home to Ancient 12th century Khmer sandstone ruins.

The Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary - Belongs to the highest mountain range in southeastern Thailand and a wonderous 16-level waterfall that flows year round. Get you walking shoes on and enjoy! And there’s more….

Erawan Waterfall - Boasting seven tiers of waterfalls, each feeding crystal pools in which you can take a dip. 2. Island Hopping, Phang Nga Bay Thailand has over 5,000 miles of coastline just waiting to be explored from the bow of a long-tail boat. These plentiful local boats are the perfect way to explore the islands without the masses packed onto tourist boats. The clear conditions and calm sea around Phang Nga Bay are also perfect for kayaking. The coastlines of Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phan Ngan, in the Gulf of Thailand are particularly beautiful.

3. Hill Trekking, Northern Thailand

Northern Thailand offers many colourful tribal treks in areas where the Hmong, Lisu, Akha, and Karen tribes are found. Get off the beaten track for a little longer, and try a home-stay with a local family to experience a different way of life.

4. Thai Elephant Conservation Center

Elephant Nature Park is a respected elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre in Northern Thailand where you can volunteer or visit to learn more. The park provides a natural environment for elephants, buffaloes and many other animals.

This conservation centre has received numerous awards from institutions including the Smithsonian. The founder was named Asian Hero of the Year by Time magazine in 2005 and the park has been featured in many international publications including National Geographic magazine as well as feature documentaries from respected film production companies – Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, BBC, CNN, KTV, RAI, major Thai language TV channels, printed press and radio stations. 5. The Golden Triangle

Meeting point for the Mekong and Ruak Rivers and locally known as Sop Ruak. It's famous acrioss the globe as the Golden Triangle. From the Thai river bank, you can look across to Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, or rent a boat for an even better look.

The Golden Triangle was a prolific opium growing area, depicted in exhibitions at the Hall of Opium, Golden Triangle Park. It’s a good introduction to local history and far reaching effects of the industry, as well as the menacing power of the drug. 6. Floating markets

It's the ultimate holiday photo - the floating market, with ancient wooden boats brimming with local flavor and colour. Choose your market, arrive early to beat the crowds and grab the best bargains. Recommendations include: Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi - Most famous floating markets of them all, 100km south-west of Bangkok towards Hua Hin/Cha-am. Amphawa Floating Market, Samut Songkhram - Afternoons only, near a local temple. Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market, Bangkok - A recent tourist favourite, very authentic and loved by the city’s residents.

7. Floating lanterns festivals Events include November’s famous Loi Krathong. Check out Songkran in April (for the Thai New Year water festival) and October’s Naga Fireballs – a natural phenomenum reportedly found along a 250 kilometre section of Mekong river!

Let us know your favourites.

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