Chiang Mai


This glorious country of spectacular islands, Buddhist temples and exotic wildlife boasts a fascinating heritage and a rich culture of pampering the senses. The Kingdom of Thailand, once called Siam, was never colonized by the West and is relatively free of the European influence that colors so much of Asia. Though steeped in history, Thailand is modern in attitude and offers luxuries beyond compare. The people are so friendly and gracious that their country is known as “the land of smiles.” In Bangkok, royal palaces and glittering temples are interspersed with chaotic outdoor markets, many of them open late into the night. Life spills out onto the streets here and the energy is high. The capital also has arguably the world’s most exciting shopping, whether you are interested in artisanal crafts, Asian antiques or the latest designer fashions. Up north is the Golden Triangle, where Thailand meets Myanmar and Laos, a region perhaps best explored by riverboat. In the heart of hill-tribe country, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai are strongholds of ethnic culture, exotic wildlife and mind-blowing cuisine. Throughout Thailand, in fact, you will eat some of the freshest, most complex and delectable food of your life. In the South, exclusive island resorts boast crystalline waters and spectacular palm-shaded beaches stretching up to lush jungle. There are options for those looking to party, as well as those in search of a peaceful retreat, but among the attractions are surfing, kiteboarding and diving with sharks. It’s a cliché to say that Thailand has it all—but it really does.