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.
While Krabi and Phuket have world-class beaches, you can find beautiful views all over Southeast Asia. Continue sailing southward toward Malaysia, where islands like Langkawi and Penang fuse amazing Andaman scenery with a mix of eclectic cultures. Southeast Asia is a wonderland for urban travelers, too. See the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi, explore ancient cities like Hong Kong or take advantage of world-class shopping, from Singapore's upmarket Orchard Road to the rough-and-tumble markets of Ho Chi Minh City.
While Phuket is where many travelers arrive in Thailand, it is also the perfect start to a Southeast Asian journey. Take long-tail boat trips to Koh Phi Phi or Koh Khao Phing Kan (aka "James Bond Island"), or explore the inland part of the island, where you can walk the streets of old-town Phuket or enjoy a panorama from atop the aptly named "Big Buddha."
Thailand is both a cross-section of Southeast Asia and a gateway to the region. Cruise through the Andaman Sea to Malaysia, or sail into the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea to explore destinations like Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. By adventuring through Southeast Asia, you're sure to see the region come alive.
Basic English is broadly spoken in areas of Thailand where tourists often visit, but learning some basic Thai will earn you many smiles.
Service of alcohol in Thailand is prohibited before 11 a.m. and between 2-5 p.m., so be sure to head to the bar at the right times.
To show respect for local customs, remove your shoes whenever entering a temple or a local person's home.
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.