Thailand is a country on Southeast Asia’s Indochina peninsula known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha, a revered symbol. In Bangkok, the capital, an ultramodern cityscape rises next to quiet canal and riverside communities. Commercial hubs such as Chinatown consist of labyrinthine alleys crammed with shophouses, markets and diners. Bangkok welcomes more visitors than any other city in the world. City contrasts with action at every turn; marvel at the gleaming temples or take a long tail boat through floating markets. Food is another Bangkok highlight, from local dishes served at humble street stalls to haute cuisine at romantic rooftop restaurants. Luxury malls compete with a sea of boutiques and markets.
Ko Samui, one of Thailand’s largest islands in the Gulf of Thailand, is known for its palm-fringed beaches circling coconut groves and dense, mountainous rainforest. It’s also home to luxury resorts, posh spas and a rowdy nightlife scene that often attracts a backpacker crowd. The 12m-tall golden Big Buddha statue at Wat Phra Yai temple is a local landmark.