Thailand! September destination of the month

From buzzing Bangkok and mist-shrouded Mae Hong Son to the paradise beaches of Phuket and rambling ruins of Ayutthaya, Thailand has so much to offer. Here's what makes it our Destination of the Month for September
Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok, (photo by Peter Stuckings )
Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

Now is the time to be planning a trip to Thailand. November to February is the cool season, with temperatures ranging from 18–32 degrees Centigrade (65–90 degrees Fahrenheit) and less humidity. Of course, that also coincides with the peak tourist season and centres like Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai will be busy, so book ahead!

Thailand is blessed with some 3,000km (2,000 miles) of stunning coastline and more than 1,000 paradisiacal islands washed by two seas – the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

But there are a wealth of other unique experiences to be had. Adventurers can wildlife-watch on jungle treks and discover the fascinating hill tribes of northern Thailand, or seek greater adrenalin rushes with freefall parachuting, deep-water climbing, and bungy jumping. On the flip side, pampering types can find spa treatments with Thai massage, body scrubs and yoga performed in beachside villas and jungle hideaways.

The hot, spicy hit of Thai food, the subtle lemongrass, galangal and smoky shrimp paste, are all a big draw too – and the streets brim with tasty dishes at cheap prices. Over the coming month, we'll be bringing you in-depth articles on the likes of Thai festivals, shopping in Bangkok, where to see elephants in Thailand, the top beaches and the best Thai movie locations. 

Massage in Thailand

Thailand is the perfect destination for a relaxing retreat on holiday. Photo: Peter Stuckings / APA Publications 

Where to go in Thailand

Thailand's capital Bangkok might be a shock to the senses, but there is plenty to see for anyone prepared to put up with the heat and confusion – from its huge shopping malls, shady temples and bustling markets to its restaurants, sleep canals and brazen nightlife.

The northern city of Chiang Mai, with its beautiful, historically important old city, is generally considered to be the cultural centre of Thailand, and the surrounding mountainous countryside is rich with old towns and villages where traditional lifestyles remain unscathed, filled with lovely Lanna-style temples, markets and museums. In the lush valleys north of Chiang Mai you'll see the many orchid farms and tribal villages camps that help give Thailand its unique identity.

Deeper into the northern regions, to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle, hill-tribes follow rituals established thousands of years ago. For jungle trekking, head further northwest to the town of Mae Hong Son, deep in the jungle bordering Burma.

The centre of Thailand is known as the Rice Bowl, and contains the ruins of former kingdoms that once ruled these lands, such as magnificent Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

If you prefer more natural attractions, head for one of the vast national parks, such as Khao Yai or Khao Sok.

In the south, in the Gulf of Thailand, and off the sandy shores of the Andaman Sea, you'll find spectacular tropical islands and the resorts of Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Samui.

The great Khmer-style prang of Wat Arun in Bangkok. Photo: Peter Stuckings / APA Publications

Here are our recommendations for where to begin your holiday in Thailand:

If you're looking for culture, try Chiang Mai

The capital of the ancient kingdom of Lanna has an old city filled with historic temples. Away from the main avenues, the narrow winding lanes draw the visitor into an atmospheric world populated by cobblers and other trades people, noodle shops and over 30 Lanna-style temples.

The Nothern Thai cuisine you'll find in Chiang Mai is an enticing blend of Thai, Lao, Shan and Yunnanese elements, and the city is famous for its cookery courses.

Chiang Mai is also a major centre for hill tribe treks, and dozens of agencies will arrange hikes with transport, lodging, food and guide services included.

Explore Insight Guides' itineraries to Chiang Mai, which include cooking courses, temple tours and lessons in recreating local crafts. 

If you're looking for beautiful beaches, try Krabi...

Surrounded by marvellous sheer-sided karsts, many of the islands around Krabi Province on the Andaman Coast are tiny or blissfully isolated, although the legendary beaches of Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta are extremely attractive to tourists. The mainland is also blessed with a string of white-sand beaches. Explore them all on a holiday with Insight Guides: review all trip itineraries including Krabi online now.

... or for world-class diving, try Ko Tao

On the Gulf Coast, Ko Tao (which means "Turtle Island") is a remote and tiny island topped with tropical forest and fringed with secluded bays. It's a laidback outpost of affordable dive schools that operate excursions to the coral-abundant waters, making this one of the world's best places to learn diving.


Thailand's islands have something for every type of traveller: from snorkelling to sunbathing. Photo: Peter Stuckings / APA Publications


Ready to take your trip to Thailand with Insight Guides? 

Browse ready-made holidays online now or speak with a local expert today to plan your trip from scratch

Looking for a little more inspiration?

Discover the best time to travel: When to visit Thailand

Temple art and architecture in Thailand

Add it to your itinerary: Thailand's hill tribe trekking

How to party hard: Full moon fallout, Thai-style