Cities don't come more buzzing or colourful than Bangkok: a fast-paced and eccentric metropolis where serene temples stand alongside glittering skyscrapers, and a shopping spree can involve anything from bagging designer steals with a personal stylist, to having a suit exquisitely tailored, or visiting a traditional floating market.
One of the best ways to soak it all up is by taking a cruise along the Chao Phraya River, or zipping around in a tuk-tuk and discovering where it all began in historic Chinatown. Your next stop might be the Grand Palace, home to the famous emerald Buddha, and after this you can stroll through the Chatuchak Weekend Market for some of the best street food you've ever tasted; knock back some tom yum martinis, and finally venture into a totally different and dazzling world by night.
Thailand’s central region north of Bangkok is home to ancient ruins, areas of great natural beauty, and harrowing reminders of the horrors of war. In the atmospheric Sukhothai, you’ll find the crumbling ruins of a kingdom which ruled this area from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Kanchanaburi, to the west of Bangkok, is immortalised as the inspiration for the (fictionalised) Bridge Over the River Kwai. During WWII, the Japanese army forced prisoners of war and civilians to build a railway here, and over half of them – numbering over 12,000 – died of malnutrition, accidents or disease during its construction. Today, the JEATH War Museum and Thailand-Burma Railway Museum pay tribute to those who lost their lives.
For a nature and wildlife fix, head to the Khao Yai National Park, which lies around 2 hours east of Bangkok. The creatures who make their homes here include wild Asiatic elephants, pig-tailed macaques and water monitors, and the wildlife combined with the huge, waterfall-dotted forest landscapes make this Thailand’s most popular nature reserve.