Whether you're seeking paradise islands or contemplative temples, Thailand has it all.
Thailand is unique in Southeast Asia — it's the only country that never capitulated to a foreign power, so its culture and character remain distinctive and intact. You'll see it as you eat your way through varieties of spicy noodles at Bangkok's street food markets, take an hour for quiet contemplation in the temples of Chiang Mai or bask in the vibrant colors of Krabi and Phuket. Cruise to Thailand to explore stunning beaches like Kata Noi and Ya Nui near Phuket, glide down the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok in a traditional Thai boat, or adventure through the country's historic spots and see the Buddhas at the Grand Palace and the Wat Pho Temple.
Serene temples, pristine beaches and spicy noodles await you on a cruise
No matter where your Thailand cruise calls, a beautiful beach isn't far away. Sun yourself on the beaches of Krabi, or head out on a boating expedition in Bangkok or Phuket. Either way, you'll fall in love with the turquoise waters of Thailand.
Long-tail boats are more than just pretty things to photograph, though you'll surely be called to snap a few photos of them. As far as southern Thailand's seafarers are concerned, they're the original taxi. If you're up for a getaway, hop on one of these water taxis for a day trip from Krabi or Phuket to quiet islands like Koh Poda or party spots like Koh Phi Phi.
All of Thailand's beaches are amazing, but you're sure to notice some important differences. While the islands of the Andaman Sea (to the west and south of Phuket) feature dramatic cliffs and fluorescent waters, white sand and more muted shades of turquoise define the experience of swimming in the Gulf of Thailand south of Bangkok. No matter where you take a dip, though, you'll be in paradise.
Thais are rightfully proud of their heritage, from the long-ruling Chakri dynasty to hundreds of years of Theravada Buddhism. From ancient culture to the pulse of modern Bangkok, you'll find a unique mix of the historic and the contemporary in Thailand with your cruise vacation.
Thailand's street food scene boasts quick, delicious meals to fuel you as you adventure through the cities. Don't be afraid to dive into local delicacies during your vacation, or pair familiar favorites like Pad Thai noodles and green curry chicken with tangy Som Tam papaya salad or crispy Khaaw Muu Grop pork belly with rice.
Thailand offers a ton of opportunities to responsibly get wild. Ethical establishments like the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center in Phuket allow visitors to honor nature as they observe it, and at Khao Yai National Park, a less-than-two-hour drive from Bangkok, you can see elephants roam the land before you raft below thundering waterfalls.
While Thailand's temples give you a peek into ancient history, its cities offer more modern adventures. Explore award-winning shopping malls like Bangkok's Siam Paragon, or enjoy a panorama from the viewing deck of Baiyoke Sky Tower. To glimpse local culture, visit rice fields outside Chiang Mai or the villages of Phuket.
Thailand is as much of a revelation for new Southeast Asia travelers as it is for those who are experienced in the region, and you can tailor your experience to your preferences — whether you're into nature trekking, beachside relaxation or urban exploring. Not impressed by the sprawling markets of Bangkok or the towering limestone cliffs of Krabi? Phuket's Old Town and Chiang Mai's Golden stupas should do the trick.
With their incredible hospitality, the Thai people embody the nation's nickname, the "Land of Smiles." Whether they greet you at your hotel with a friendly wai and bow or deliver you delicious local cuisine, Southeast Asia's most independent people are also its most welcoming.
Thai can be a difficult language for non-natives, but you should definitely learn the word aroi, which means "delicious." It'll be the perfect way to describe the indulgent cuisine of the area, full of bright spices, pungent fish sauce and tangy vinegar.
Whether you eat it with shrimp, pork or chicken, few Thai dishes are more satisfying than stir-fried noodles, also known as pad thai. Stop by one of the food stalls on Charoen Krung Road or another of Bangkok's popular street food spots, where pad thai is traditionally cooked up with tangy-sweet paste of tamarind, a tropical fruit.