Those who have ventured to the golden shores of Thailand will be hardly surprised to learn that the country is the most visited in all of Southeast Asia. While its popularity is irrefutable, the reason why is less apparent. For some, Thailand's golden beaches are worthy of a plane ride, best experienced on peaceful islands like Koh Samui and Ko Pha-ngan with a cocktail in hand. Others prefer the chaos of it all, diving head first into the thick of Bangkok and loosing themselves amongst a sea of over 8 million people. Then there are the gourmet travellers, the party animals, adrenalin junkies and people just looking for a change of scenery at a cheap price.
Such breadth of tourism is testament to Thailand's assets, of which there are many. Located in the centre of the Indochina Peninsula, Thailand enjoys a variety of terrain from thick jungles to tropical islands, mystic highlands and river valleys. It's most famous drawcard, the beaches; line the Adaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, providing ample room for the tourist crowds to enjoy a peaceful spot of their own. Then there is the Thai culture, heavily influenced by Buddhism and best appreciated with a bowl of Tom Yum Goong or a visit to an ancient temple, known locally as wats. Combined together it's not hard to see why travellers are so attracted to Thailand, each one returning home with their own list of reasons to visit.
If Hollywood movies are anything to go by, Thailand's best scenes are set along the water, where Leonard DiCaprio looks for paradise on Phi Phi Islands in The Beach and Phang Nga Bay stands in for Vietnam's Halong Bay in Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. Of all its seaside spots, Phuket is the undeniable favourite; the largest Thai island located off the west coast in the Andaman Sea. And while Phuket is well equipped to accommodate and entertain the tourist hordes, it's not the only place to find a tropical beach-side holiday. Krabi, Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan will more than suffice.
Bangkok too stands high on the priority list, with its wild energy also catching Hollywood's eye as the setting of The Hangover Part II. And while the movie's chaotic events are a case of the humorous extreme, Bangkok's innate liveliness will provide you with a thrill. Outside of the bustling capital is a Thailand of lush jungle and ancient ruins. You can see it at the abandoned city of Ayutthaya which dates back over 400 years, or Khao Tai National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Sity rich in biodiversity. Ample options for you to create a few of your own movie-magic moments.
For more must-dos in Thailand check out our things to do page and start planning your Thailand holiday.