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Close up of colourful decorative faces adorning the grand palace.

Thailand holidays

Called the ‘The Land of Smiles’ for good reason. There’s so much in this Asian gem to leave you beaming, from the invigorating local cuisine, world-famous beaches and the calm nature that runs through its people.

Thai people have a strong sense of identity and an open and engaging nature. Meeting local people is one of the joys of travelling here.

This is closely followed by the food, whether it be steaming bowls of rice on a street, eating freshly cooked fish on the beach or pungent snippets of zingy flavours, spicy chillies and fresh fruit from the markets, Thailand will stimulate the taste buds. Thailand still offers fabulous value for money and should be considered for families, honeymooners or adventurers alike.

Blurry image of tuk tuk speeding through streets at night.
Tuk tuk in Bangkok
Buddist Monks Praying, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Monks praying in Chiang Rai

What to expect on your Thailand holiday

Bangkok is a fun and vibrant city. With funky gin bars and pop up restaurants occupying former warehouses in Chinatown and lovely riverside hotels, it is a frenetic and colourful city – be prepared for the crowds and pack broad shoulders for walking the city. As with many countries, there are pockets which have been cornered by the mass tourism market but we can ensure a well planned itinerary visiting less developed areas for some fabulous and typically Thai experiences.

The beach hotels are second to none, rivalling any in the world and with Michelin standard cuisine available, they are offering a dining experience to compete on a truly international stage. Less visited rural areas in the north allow for self-drive options and boats to Laos being a stunning and peaceful way to experience the Mekong. Buddhism is integral to the lives of Thai people and with that comes a sense of calm as well as some stunning temples and palaces.

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Explore Thailand

  • Bangkok
  • Northern Thailand
  • Koh Samui
  • Phuket

Experiences

A selection of activities and experiences you could consider including in your holiday to Thailand.

Experience a Homestay

Trek to a hill village and stay the night in a local home to gain an insight into life in this rural region.

Ayutthaya

Visit the former capital of Ayutthaya, travelling one way by boat.

Learn Thai Massage

Relax on the beach, followed by a Thai massage or better still book a private Thai massage lesson.

Encounter Asian Elephants

Learn more about the Asian elephant at the Four Seasons Tented Camp or Anantara Hotel Chiang Rai. With a focus on care and understanding, neither offer elephant riding.

Local Market Cooking Class

Chiang Mai is home to some delicious regional food so a cooking lesson in the market is fun.

Hire a Private Villa

Hire a private, staffed villa with friends and family for a stay of pure Thai comfort and hospitality.

Picnic on the Beach

Bundle up an beach blanket, a basket full of food and wine and a sun umbrella before being whisked by private boat to a deserted island for a beach picnic.

Take the Sleeper Train

Journey on the local overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai or treat yourself to Eastern & Oriental’s journey to Singapore.

The Hall of Opium Museum

Visit the Hall of Opium Museum, set up to provide education and information on the opium trade, which once plagued this region.

Cruise Bangkok’s Canals

Explore the canals of Bangkok by long tailed boat – James Bond style.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Amy Waters

After my degree in Fine Art I didn’t really know what career I wanted or what path I would take. The only thing I knew is that having spent a summer in America it had given me the desire to explore and see as many places as possible before becoming a grown up and entering the real world.
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Paul Craven

Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz. Later, my father’s postings took us to Nepal where we had to transit Delhi and Kathmandu where we were sometimes stranded for days and Hong Kong from where I travelled in 1983 through China for two months.
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Deborah Brock-Doyle

My first journey for Steppes was in 1999 when I set off to explore Thailand to gather those little details that constitute Steppes Travel’s trademark knowledge. I have since been lucky enough to travel extensively in Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East and India. A few special memories include being joined at dinner by an otter in Laos, proudly being shown an illicit picture of the Dalai Lama in Tibet and diving with manta rays on Christmas day in Indonesia. I’m pretty sure I always leave a country wishing I had done more, seen more, learned more ….. but I also always hope to return …
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Our team is waiting to help you tailor a trip that will leave you with stories for a lifetime. Call us on

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Amy Waters is warm and friendly and went out of her way to try and resolve issues and meet any requests. Always helpful, noticing small details, lending a hand and quick to learn what appealed to us, drawing our attention to things that may be of interest.

Thailand

Paul's knowledge and expertise was invaluable when planning this trip. I told him where we wanted to go and the sort of hotels and things we wanted to do and everything was spot on - more than we ever expected! We will definitely be using Steppes Travel for future trips.

Thailand and Vietnam

Frequently asked questions about Thailand

I read the Royal Family are held in high regard, should I be aware of anything?

Yes, the Thai Royal Family respected above anything else and open criticism of them could lead to you being arrested. The King and Queen are particularly revered and you should avoid discussing them unless speaking in the highest terms.

I'd love to try the street food but I'm worried about cleanliness and it being too spicy?

Thai food is one of the hottest you may eat but you can say ‘mai pet’ which means ‘little heat’ when ordering. Choose a busy stall and see what the locals are ordering. The food is usually cooked fresh in front of you and take it to small plastic road side chairs and tables. Avoid the dried chilli’s on the table as they are very fiery indeed, unless you want extra heat! In Bangkok a good idea is to have a private guide for an evening to show you some of the delicious street food on offer so you can order with confidence during your holiday.

What is the appropriate dress code for sightseeing?

When sightseeing in Bangkok and other major cities such as Chiang Mai wear shoes you can take off easily as when visiting a temple you must be barefoot. Light cotton clothes as it can get hot and sticky.

Are there any customs I should be particularly sensitive to?

Yes, never touch a Thai person on the head as it is sacred and the feet are considered dirty. If visiting someone’s house take your shoes off and never allow your feet to point at a statue of Buddha, also avoid putting your feet up on chairs in places you are eating. Be careful not to touch a monk, especially for woman.

Are there any laws I may be unaware of?

From the 1st February 2018, Thailand has imposed a smoking ban across a number of popular beaches including beaches in Phuket, Samui, Krabi, Hua Hin and Koh Phi Phi. This is to maintain a clean and safe environment for all to enjoy.

Please note that being in possessionof e-cigarettes in Thailand is illegal.

Are there any major festivals I should be aware of?

Thailand is full of wonderful festivals and you are likely to stumble across one during your travels. Songkran is very popular and in theory should be a gentle water festival in April, however it has been taken over by water pistol tooting locals and backpackers so if you don’t want to get a soaking it is best avoided in Bangkok. Loy Krathong is a wonderful and charming festival in November – gentle floating baskets (Krathong’s) laid in the rivers with offerings and candles.

How to I bargain for a great deal?

The cheeky way is to go in with an offer half that of the suggested price and work up from there. The Thai’s are shrewd bargainers and you’ll have to be strong to get a good deal. Be friendly and treat it as fun, rather than taking it too seriously. Don’t expect to bargain in a standard shop – it is only for markets and street vendors.

Can I use my mobile phone in Thailand?

Thailand has excellent mobile phone coverage. However, the country’s more mountainous areas are likely to have sparse coverage. These include areas bordering Myanmar, which is where some of the poorest coverage can be found.
As always, be aware that roaming rates will apply when using your phone in Thailand; these can be very expensive.

What is the international dialling code for Thailand?

66

What is the time zone in Thailand?

Thailand is seven hours ahead of GMT. Due to its position close to the equator, it does not observe daylight saving time.

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