Land of smiles
Thailand's balmy temperatures and palm-lined shores make it a prime beach destination, but the Land of Smiles is much more than just sun and sand. Scenery-wise, the white sandy beaches often give way to greenery, whether it's groves of palm trees, rows of tall casuarinas or lush jungle.
You'll find Buddhist temples, or wats, everywhere - they're quiet sanctuaries in the middle of chaotic cities and calm retreats tucked away in countryside villages. Each temple is ornately decorated, often with golden spires and mosaic tiles, and always with Buddha statues.
The capital, Bangkok, is a whirlwind of a city, mixing skyscrapers, luxury hotels and super-modern shopping malls with ancient palaces, street-side markets and beeping tuk-tuks. Snaking slowly through the city is the Chao Phraya River - a boat trip along its waters is a great way to see the sights at a leisurely pace.
Then there are the beach resorts. On the west coast, you've got Khao Lak and Krabi. Khao Lak is home to huge swathes of unspoilt beach, plus a trio of national parks, while Krabi's white sands are overlooked by limestone karsts and cliffs.
Just across the Andaman Sea is the island of Phuket, which lines up pristine beaches, national parks and lively towns. Off the east coast of Thailand is the island of Koh Samui. It's one of Thailand's original holiday destinations, thanks to its fantastic beaches.
Flight time from the UK to Thailand is approximately 11 hours 30 minutes.
Thailand has a tropical climate, which means it’s hot and humid for most of the year. Rainy months vary depending on where you are in Thailand: in south-western areas like Phuket, the monsoon season starts around April and finishes in October, while south-east destinations like Koh Samui see more rain between September and December (there’s still plenty of sunshine between showers, though). The hottest months are March to June, although humidity is high and average temperatures can push 40°C. Wait until after the rainy season if you prefer slightly cooler temperatures – between December and February, averages stick to the high 20s and early 30s.
British passport holders do not require a visa for stays of up to 30 days.
Tipping is not expected in Thailand, although most hotels and restaurants will include a 10% service charge.
The official language of Thailand is Thai. English is widely spoken too.
When travelling to Thailand, the following immunisations and tablets are recommended: hepatitis A, polio, typhoid and malaria. All routine immunisations should be up-to-date. Please contact your GP for more information.