Thailand is a busy country of more than 60 million people, located just north of Malaysia and bordering countries like Burma and Cambodia. It is well known for its elephants, majestic Buddhist temples, painful gridlocked roads, beautiful beach resorts and um... vibrant night life. The capital Bangkok is about two and a half hours away from Singapore by air, although some budget-conscious travellers actually travel up the length of Malaysia from Singapore by coach. The climate is very similar to Singapore's, although the hot months from March to May sometimes boast of temperatures of up to 40 degrees celsius. June to October are the rainy months while November to February is the cool season. One of the top attractions in Thailand are the various year-round festivals, from the Loi Krathong (Festival of lights) in November to the Elephant shows to the traditional boat races. By the way, 1998 and 1999 have been earmarked as tourism promotion years, with the slogan being "Amazing Thailand".
For more information, check out the Tourism Authority of Thailand website.
Bangkok is sometimes known as "the city of angels", a shortened name from its 14-word (!)Thai version. Although it's hard to see where that name comes from, Bangkok does offer the visitor a great deal to do, from theme parks like Safari World, to huge shopping malls and exotic sports like kickboxing. There are also the temples, in particular the Wat Phra Keo, or Emerald Buddha Chapel. And of course there's the wonderful Thai cuisine - pineapple rice, green curry, barbecued squid and lots more. You may also want to check out nearby coastal towns Cha-Am and Hua Hin for their family-oriented resorts and golf courses.
Both Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways fly to Bangkok daily. Expect to pay about S$400 for a return ticket.
- Koh Samui
Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is the third largest island in Thailand. There are three main beaches on the island: Chaweng, the largest, and Lamai are the main tourist destinations, and both feature dozens of hotels, chalets, restaurants and discotheques around the beaches, not unlike Bali. The third, Bophut, is quieter and less commercialised. The best months to visit are from November to March, when it's cooler, and from July to September.
There are daily flights from Singapore on Bangkok Airways, or you can make your way to Bangkok first and then take the one-hour domestic flight to Koh Samui.
The largest island in Thailand - roughly the size of Singapore - and most of it a giant beach resort. Almost everyone who goes to Phuket comes back with rave reviews. By the way, for food lovers: Phuket supposedly has the best seafood in Thailand. Like Koh Samui, the best time to visit Phuket is from November to March. Doing the hot months of April and May, temperatures can reach 37 or 38 degrees celsius. The annual King's Cup Regatta, one of Asia's premier yacht racing events, takes place in December (this year, from 6-12 Dec).
Besides the daily flights from Singapore and Bangkok, there are coach trips from Singapore, but these are extremely long and only for the adventurous or the broke.
The beach resort of Pattaya is located 150 km from Bangkok, and has a rather dubious reputation for noise and sleaze. So if you're looking to party till dawn, go there by all means but if you are looking for a tranquil, relaxing holiday, Koh Samui, Phuket or Lanta Island may be more suitable. The famous Pattaya festival, featuring parades, floats and fireworks is in early April .
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