Begin your tour of Thailand in bustling and beautiful Bangkok. (Photo: Images )
Thailand's majestic temples, lush jungles and crystalline beaches call to visitors from around the world. Whether you're journeying to Thailand for the fist time or you're ready for a relaxed and indulgent way to visit, all-inclusive tours can make it easier to see Thai culture close-up. Start by doing your homework on the country's sights; once you have an idea what interests you, peruse tour operators until you find one that lines up with whatever excites you most.
It would be difficult, and a shame, to visit Thailand without going through Bangkok. Most all-inclusive tours begin in the capital and devote some time to the city's sights, visiting the opulent Grand Palace; Wat Pho, the city's oldest temple; and a group outing to see some local color, such as the floating market or a traditional silk factory. Once you've departed Bangkok, your tour might head to Chiang Mai, a traditional city to the north, or to the temples of Thailand's Golden Triangle. Sun-lovers will prefer to head to Phuket's white sand beaches to take in the rays.
A Different Spin
For an unusual take on Thai touring, see the country from a slightly higher vantage point: on the back of an elephant. For animal lovers, the opportunity to get to know these giant beasts will make a trip to Thailand truly memorable. Virgin Holidays offers several elephant-themed tours of Thailand, with the opportunity to feed, interact with and ride an elephant, yourself. Culinary tourists can make the most of their time in the country by joining a gastronomic tour of Thailand with Virgin Holidays' Flavours of Thailand tour. Learn about traditional Thai herbs and spices, go shopping at the local market and practice Thai cookery, sampling professional dishes along the way.
With Thai food and culture attracting notice throughout the world, plenty of tour operators provide all-inclusive options for visiting the country, whatever your budget and tastes. Ritz Tours, founded in 1970, offers several tours through Thailand, taking care of everything from airfare to airport transfers to meals and lodging. At the other end of the spectrum, HotelThailand, a much smaller operator, has a number of regular, shorter all-inclusive tours - for example, a four-day jaunt through southern Thailand aboard a junk-rigged luxury schooner. While HotelThailand's trips are all-inclusive, you must arrange your own travel to Thailand.
Before deciding on an all-inclusive trip to Thailand, weigh your desire for structure and security against your interest in exploration and economy. For the solo traveler, Lonely Planet estimates that outside Bangkok, most travelers can comfortably get around on a daily budget of around 700 baht, or about $25, a day. On the other hand, contracting an international tour operator for the full duration of your trip will mean that you don't get to take advantage of the country's quite low cost of living. On the other hand, booking an all-inclusive trip from a reputable international company means you avoid the risk of dealing with any local amateur outfits. To minimize risks, pay with credit cards whenever possible.