Thailand has it all: fascinating culture and art, stunning architecture, glorious beaches, friendly people, five-star hotels and resorts, entertaining nightlife, and some of the finest cuisine in Asia. Thailand is often called ‘The Land of Smiles’ because its extremely affable and hospitable Buddhist people. Formerly known as Siam, the Kingdom of Thailand was one of the few Asian countries never colonised by the west, so its vibrant culture is largely free of European influence. Quite modern relative to some of its neighbours (particularly in cosmopolitan Bangkok), Thailand is one of Southeast Asia’s economic powerhouses, with first-rate hospitals and other international-level facilities.
BangkokA very international, cosmopolitan city, thousands of tourists throng Bangkok’s sites everyday. The city’s top attractions include the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Wat Pho, but it is getting increasingly difficult to have local and authentic experiences and this is where Nonpareil excels.
In this city of bright lights, you can visit a monk hospital and have a patient give you a private blessing, or travel up Bangkok’s main artery, the Chao Phraya River, to Ayutthaya, an ancient city founded in 1350. Get a startlingly different viewpoint to the ‘Land of Smiles’ by visiting the Bangkok Corrections Museum, or walk through a bustling, outdoor produce market with a local chef, who will teach you the basics of Thai cookery in his home.
The heart of the infamous Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, is a landscape of spectacular beauty and the amazing confluence of the cultures of three different countries: Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Receive mahout, or elephant minder, training, drive up the famed ‘Burma Road’, visit markets just across the border in Myanmar and Laos, and have tea with an Akha family, a colourful minority group that has been in northern Thailand for centuries.
Chiang MaiChiang Mai, one of the most beautiful cities in northern Thailand, became the capital of the Lanna Kingdom after Chiang Rai in 1296. It is nestled in the mountains and a major tributary of the Chao Phraya, the Ping River runs through the centre of the city. Here you can wander the streets of the city with an expert in Lanna architecture, or visit The Land Foundation, a large-scale, collaborative and trans-disciplinary project managed collectively by a group of resident and visiting artists. Climb to the top of Doi Suthep to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, a stunning temple that once housed Buddha’s scapula bone, and learn about traditional Issan crafts from a professor at one of Chiang Mai’s renowned universities.
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