Go East is a new series from Lighthouse that brings you countries and destinations that lie east of India and have not hit the big time yet on the travel circuit. Forget Europe, forget Australia, forget Morocco. Give a miss to South Africa, drop the trip to the US, keep New Zealand waiting. Go east with Lighthouse as we move to Thailand having covered Bhutan and Myanmar.
What does Thailand mean to you? Beyond Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui?
Of course, there is more to Thailand than just that. Here is food for thought for your next trip to this wonderful country.
Spend some time at Koh Tao, taking in the leisurely comfort and tranquillity that is hard to find in the usual Thai haunts. Enjoy the abundant marine life by going scuba diving or play golf, indulge in sailing and wake boarding, do a spot of rock climbing. You get the drift…there’s lots to do here.
If history is your cup of tea then head to Ayuthaya. Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya was the second capital of the country and a world centre of trade and commerce. All came to an end in 1767 when the Burmese invaded the city and almost completely burnt it down to the ground. Today it boasts of numerous magnificent ruins of temples and palaces.
Khao Sok National Park is a remnant of a 160-million-year-old forest ecosystem that is much older and richer than the forests of the Amazon and central African regions. Keep your eyes open for wild elephants, leopards, serow, banteng, gaur, dusky langurs, and perhaps, tigers and Malayan sun bears. It is also home to Rafflesia kerrii Meijer, one of the largest flowers in the world reaching 80cm in diameter. When it blooms in January and February it emits a stench like rotten meat to attract pollinating insects.
What you can do in Chiang Mai you can do in Kanchanaburi. Closer to Bangkok – just 130km away – you can go on elephant rides, short hikes and bamboo rafting. The laziness of the town is under siege on weekends and holiday when Bangkok residents descend upon this town for the floating discos and karaoke barges. That may be the best time to go discovering the temple caves in the surrounding limestone hills. There is also the bridge made famous in The Bridge on the River Kwai, a few museums and a cemetery for those interested in World War II.
When you want to do nothing, head to Sangkhlaburi. Located at the edge of the Khao Laem Dam there’s nothing much to do except wander around traffic-less streets and watch fishing boats on the lake. The town is a popular startigng point for jungle tours and elephant treks and the Mon National Day, celebrated during the last week of July, is the only time when there is some hustle and bustle.
Wouldn’t you love Pattaya without the crowds? Hua Hin is your answer that still retains the beachside atmosphere that kicked things off back in 1922 when King Rama VII instructed his Italian architect to construct Phra Ratchawang Klai Kangwon (‘Far from Worries’ Palace). Play 18 holes at the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course or go horseback riding on the beach. The beaches are clean, the weather dry and swimming safe. Really, Hua Hin is a relaxing experience.
Want to party then wait for the full moon in Koh Phangan. Every month on the full moon people get togther for the Full Moon Party’s all-night festivities, including music on the beach. By day, it’s rather a nice island with coconut trees and sandy white beaches. If you’re a diver, visit Sailrock for a spectacular wall dive.
If you must travel to Chiang Mai, then take in a cooking class. There are quite a few available and include not just cooking but also choosing the right ingredients – from a garden or the market. Most of them will pick you up and drop you back to your hotel as well. Plus, you get to eat some authentic Thai cuisine in the bargain!
Lastly, what new in Bangkok? Since shopping is pretty high on the list, consider some little known markets that the city has to offer. Ta-Prajan market is very close to Wat Po and known for amulets. The night market at Rajamangala springs up at round 5 pm and offers food, clothing, shoes, leather craft, sacred amulets, pet rabbits, and almost everything else you could possibly imagine. Take a canal tour and discover interesting sites along the water way. The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles displays, preserves, and serves as a centre for textiles from East, South, and Southeast Asia with an emphasis on Thailand and its royal court. Always worth a visit. There’s more but we’d run out of space…
You know what? If you want to Go East to discover Thailand just call Lighthouse on (0) 9818905024 or email email@example.com. We’ll set