Thailand is indeed an Asian country; it’s even shaped like a head of an elephant, an animal considered one of the symbols of that continent – the Malayan Penninsula in Thailand’s south is the elephant’s trunk and the rest of the country makes up its massive head. Consider this a reminder that your visit to Thailand won’t be complete without a face-to-trunk encounter with those majestic animals.
Thailand’s geography is characterised by immense diversity. The South of the country is home to hundreds of kilometres of coastline dotted with tropical islands. Which one’s the best? There’s no one good answer, but you’ll have plenty to choose from. Either way, if it’s the beach that you’re after, South you go! And you’ll probably feel like taking a break on the beach after a visit to Thailand’s North – the kingdom of wild nature. In the North, you can enjoy trekking in the mountains, white water rafting or a bit of survival. You’ll never forget those landscapes, flavours and local people.
The hills of northern Thailand are home to numerous local tribes, often underprivileged, struggling to find their place in Thai society but always fascinating. They share their land with countless species of plants and animals who enjoy the slightly cooler climate of these parts. It’s also here that Thailands higher mountain is located, called Doi Inthanon and reaching 2566 m up. More mountains follow all the way up to the Northern border with Myanmar and Lao.
Another fascinating region, especially for those looking for something more off the beaten track, is the northeastern part of the country called Isaan. Bordering Lao via the river Mekong, this plateau is significantly different from the rest of the country. This agricultural land feeds the rest of Thailand with its rice but is also home to some of the poorest Thais. Flat, often troubled by droughts, Isaan makes up for its at times monotonous landscape with one of the best cuisines in Thailand and some of the kindest people.
The central part of Thailand is covered with rice paddies. This lush green landscape is cut across by Chao Phraya river which passes through Bangkok to end its run in the Gulf of Thailand.
South of Thailand is set on the Malay Penninsula, with the Andaman Sea to the west and the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand to the East. In the south you’re almost never far off a beach – many of them world-class. Add to this countless islands doting both the coasts and you could spend a lifetime doing nothing on a beach in those parts. The most popular islands – Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Phuket, are just the begining of a long, long list.
Sizewise, Thailand is the 51st country in the world, but when it comes to what it offers to visitors, it’s way ahead of the pack.