As soon as you step off the plane in Thailand, you’re overwhelmed. The heat, the smiles, the traffic… Bangkok and beyond to Thailand’s 1430 islands, this country has a charm that will leave you wishing to stay forever.
Bordered by Burma, Laos and Cambodia, Thailand is an enchanting mix of tropics, secluded beaches, busy cities and Buddhist temples. Most traveller’s first experiences in Thailand will be in the capital city when they arrive off flights to Bangkok but there is a whole country to discover, one sense at a time!
Their bright orange robes give them away instantly. Thai monks can be seen just about everywhere in Bangkok and especially in cities with big monasteries. Spot the young ones playing in the streets, following their curious noses to the marketplaces and saying their prayers at the Buddhist temples.
Spice. It’s in everything cooked here in Thailand. If you’re not used to hot food then watch out! The philosophy behind Thai food is all about balancing the flavours: sour, sweet, bitter and salty. Their dishes are know for being enthusiastically flavoured with herbs and spices like lemon grass, mint, garlic, ginger and a lot of chilli.
The closer you get to a Buddhist temple or monastery the more you will smell the sweet and aromatic scent of burning incense. Some say it reduces stress and helps to relax during meditation, others say it purifies the environment, making it a suitable place to meditate and make offerings to the Buddhas. Incense is also used as part of Thai marriage ceremonies.
At the market places around Thailand you’ll head a number of noises while shopping. The chit-chatting of Thai ladies, gossiping about their relations, the men about politics. Sellers yell out their best deals, louder than the merchant next to them to be hear over the crowds. Every once in a while even a train may pass through the market, trading the buzz of conversations for the sound of grinding steel.
If you head to any of Bangkok’s markets you’ll be able to see the lustre of Thai silk between your fingers. It’s produced mainly in the north east in Khorat Pleateau where the precious silkworms feed on mulberry leaves. Believed to be the finest in the world, you can buy it in any colour of the rainbow. Even more precious is Thai silk that has been hand-woven.
Thailand may be located in the far east but if you keep you eyes open for flight deals, you can make a trip to Bangkok just as affordable as one to anywhere else. Fly with Royal Jordan from London to Bangkok for £403 (return, tax included) in November.
Have you discovered Thailand yet?