Mangosteen Thailand

Thailand Holidays

Why we like Thailand

The 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 adventures alike.

What to expect on your Thailand holiday

Bangkok has undergone a renaissance over the past few years. With funky gin bars and pop up restaurants occupying former warehouses in Chinatown and new hotel openings along the river, 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 a well-chosen itinerary visiting less developed areas can still provide you with that heavenly experience for which Thailand is renowned. The beach hotels are second to none, rivalling any in the world and with the first Michelin star recently awarded in Phuket (November 2018) they are offering a dining experience to compete on a truly international stage. Less visited rural areas opening in the north allow for self-drive options and boats to Laos being a stunning and peaceful way to experience the Mekong.

Despite its reputation for scantily dressed visitors (and some locals), Thailand is actually a pretty conservative country and dressing modestly is appreciated and will win you friends and respect. Buddhism is integral to the lives of Thai people and with that comes a sense of calm. There is a wonderful Thai expression – ‘jai yen’ - which translates as ‘cool heart’ and shouting shows a loss of face. A calm nature and a quick ‘mai pen rai’ (meaning no problem) will get you far in the 'Land of Smiles'.

Some ideas for a Thailand holiday

    • A few days exploring Bangkok, the capital, is essential with its temples, palaces and colourful markets.
    • Visit the Golden Triangle of the north where Thailand borders Burma and Laos.
    • Spend three days at a luxury tented camp 
    • Thailand’s beaches are great for a family holiday with exclusive properties taking pride of place or up and coming ‘hot spots’ such as northern Phuket and Ko Pha Ngan.
    • End your holiday at a private, fully staffed villa. There are plenty to choose from. Enquire with our experts.

Beyond the ordinary

  • Travel out to Mae Hong Son province and spend a night in Pi exploring less visited hill tribe communities 
  • Cruise by converted rice barge to the former Thai capital of Sukhothai
  • Take the local overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai or treat yourself to Eastern & Oriental’s journey to Singapore
  • Journey by river to the UNESCO city of Luang Prabang in Laos – a peaceful two-day Mekong sojourn


Our Asia & Oceania Product Manager Sally was bought up in Thailand and delights in sharing her local secrets - which are the best markets, where to have a stylish dinner or searching out the best street food. Deborah has visited several times and loves waxing lyrical about her Thai travels, and Amy has returned from her second visit with plenty of new ideas and hotel suggestions.

Thailand FAQs

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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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.  
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 possession of e-cigarettes in Thailand is illegal. 


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Sandstone Castle, Buriram Province, Thailand

Surprising Thailand

Dig a little deeper and discover things about Thailand you'd never expect. 

1. Bangkok is rightly thought of as a buzzing cosmopolitan city. However Bang Krachao Park is home to a luscious ‘green lung’ made up of bike-friendly elevated walkways through a green wilderness in the middle of the city. Only reached by boat, hire your own bike or join one of the family friendly tours. 

2. Modern Art; Bangkok is has a Museum of Contemporary Art or visit Rebel Art Space, home for some banned art works and a platform for new art. 

3. Spend a Saturday with Sanuk My Saturdays. This is a charitable organisation, which welcomes volunteers on Saturday afternoons to help slum children, by giving English classes or doing other community work. Just one day out of a holiday to give something back.

4. Thailand is home to not one but five UNESCO Site’s – Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Ban Chiang , Don Phayayen Khao Yai and Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng.

5. End of September, early October is Phuket’s vegetarian festival. Not a food festival but one of spiritual cleansing, stretching back to the Quin and Han dynasties in China. During this day long festival ceremonies take places at Chinese shrines and specific worshippers known as Mah Song (or spirit horses) find themselves in a trance, feeling no pain. The Mah Song bless local people and preform extraordinary feats such as walking over hot coals and piercing their bodies, faces and tongues with sharp objects. Quite a spectacle.


Client Reviews

Lotus Marigold, Temple Flowers, Thailand
"New to Clare but she again demonstrated the excellent client service that is Steppes hallmark and why we come back. 
We had a fair amount of chopping and changing  but nothing was too much trouble. Indeed, Clare's unprompted insight and advice, steering is in the right direction was much appreciated."

Neil McPherson

Golden Buddha, Thailand
''What a fantastic trip, everything was...
...meticulously organised.''

Melanie Tanner

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Holiday Ideas in Thailand

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