Ayutthaya presents a glimpse into the glory of ancient Thailand, where visitors can wander the haunting but romantic ruins of the former capital. After the Sukhothai period, the city was the most important in Thailand, and the old palaces and temples stand as a testament to this. There are also several foreign settlements, where you can gain a greater understanding of the influence other countries had in Thailand at the time. Ayutthaya is located only a short bus trip or train ride from Bangkok, making it convenient for a day trip if you're pressed for time. If you're on a more leisurely schedule, plan on spending a few days in the ancient capital and rent a push-bike to tour both the old city and the new.
Even if your plans for Thailand mainly involve frolicking on a beach, cozying up to elephants, and eating as much Massaman curry and tom ka gai as humanly possible, you'll probably spend at least a day or two in Bangkok. There's plenty to see and do in the capital, but it's perhaps best to start with the Grand Palace. This is the number one sightseeing attraction in the city, and it's staggering in historical significance and craftsmanship. The grounds are a maze of royal halls, temples, and ancient relics, the most important being Wat Phra Kaeo, Temple of the Emerald Buddha. A relic within this temple is said to be a piece of bone or hair from the enlightened Buddha himself. Allow several hours to do the Grand Palace justice, but if you're up for more walking afterward, you can easily take in some of the city's other major landmarks. The famous Wat Po and Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn (a great place to watch the sunset), are also nearby. And as Bangkok is a main hub for international travel, it's a great starting point for excursions throughout the country.
A visit to one of the floating markets is a fun way .To do some shopping and eating while supporting local vendors and observing local commerce in action. Some do seem to cater more to the tourist crowds than to be part of the fabric of local Thais' daily lives, but there are others that make for a nice authentic travel experience. You'll need to get up early to visit a floating market, as vendors are out in their long wooden boats first thing in the morning with their goods, fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and Tasty dishes. There are several floating markets near Bangkok, Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak being among the most popular. You can go it alone or join a guided tour, which can include visits to local houses and shops.
Phi Phi is a beautiful archipelago located in the Krabi Province not too far from Phuket. Ko Phi Phi Don is the only island in the group with permanent inhabitants while the smaller Ko Phi Phi Leh is famous as the filming location for the 2000 movie “The Beach”. Travelers go here enjoy the beaches and to participate in a variety of water recreation activities, such as snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking. As a result of the masses of tourists, Ko Phi Phi is becoming less and less attractive but for now it is still a very beautiful place to visit.
Elephants are revered in Thailand, and statues and paintings of them can be seen everywhere you go. There are many tour groups and elephant camps throughout the country allowing you to spend a day or more with the creatures, trekking through the jungle, bathing them, and even getting to help out with their morning feedings. But perhaps more exciting is the chance to see them in their natural environment, and Khao Yai National Park provides a great opportunity to do just that. You'll see elephants roaming near waterfalls, exotic birds of prey, monkeys, and plenty of other tropical creatures that call the park home. If a one-day stay isn't enough to take it all in, it's possible to camp out at the park and get up early enough to watch the sunrise over the lush landscape