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As I am planning my travels for the rest of the years I have been wondering lately where I’d be spending the winter months. I thought about my requirements for the perfect place to escape winter from and quickly realized that there was only one place that ticked all my boxes: Thailand! I can’t wait to return to the Land of Smiles this winter and leave the grey European winter weather behind me. Read on to find out why in think Thailand is the perfect place for a winter escape:
1 The weather
This one might be obvious, but there’s just nothing better than getting on a plane in freezing below-zero temperatures and getting off it in tropical heat. Thailand’s rainy season stops in late October / early November – just at the time when the weather gets really ugly in Europe and North America.
2 Thailand is dirt cheap!
Seriously, it almost can’t get any cheaper than Thailand – a dinner in one of the amazing food markets for $1, a sit-down meal in a proper restaurant between $2 and $3, drinks for $2 to $3, cheap inland flights if you’re planning to hit up some beaches in the south and maybe Chiang Mai for culture and shopping in the north. Hotels are also ridiculously inexpensive- $20 a night will get you a decent room, but $50 a night will get you a 4* hotel with swimming pool and other nice amenities. And if you want to travel on a really tight budget – the rooms we stayed in for $10 a night were usually fine. A 30-minute massage will set you back at $2, why not splurge and get a full hour massage for $4 to $6!?
3 The mix of culture, beaches and wildlife
Thailand is one of the most westernized cultures in South East Asia, however, it still feels foreign and exotic enough to give you the impression your worlds away from your usual surroundings. The ubiquitous Buddhist temples, the wonderful smells of coconut, lemongrass and sticky rice when wandering through the street food markets, the tropical flora and fauna, the awe-inspiring wildlife. Where else in the world do you have monkeys come visit you on the terrace of your hotel, colorful underwater sea life, elephants roam in the world (admittedly, only few – and please don’t ride any!), exotic birds and butterflies, and other rare animals like civets or leopard cats.
The Siam culture can be explored all over the countries, and you’ll never get tired of visiting the countless Buddhist temples throughout the country since they all have their own special features and distinct decor. Not to mention ancient Siam cities like Ayutthaya or Sukothai! And last but not least – the serene beaches! There’s almost no other place in the world where you can find such a great amount of beaches with crystal clear water and fine white sand. As if this wasn’t enough, Thailand has also stunning landscapes – from green mountains in the north to lush rainforests in the south and miles and miles of rice paddies in between. The natural beauty of the country is reason enough to visit – there are jawdroppingly beautiful views around every corner. The mix of culture, scenery, beaches and wildlife is what makes Thailand truly unique!
4 Thai Food
Oh, the glorious Thai food! Like I already said in #2, food in Thailand is super cheap – but not only that! It is super delicious as well. The curries, the noodle soups, the rice dishes, mango and sticky rice, fresh coconuts, tropical fruits, you will want to eat your face off throughout your entire stay, I promise. There is just so much good food to be had, and street food is safe to eat here. Almost every town has a big night food market where entire families gather to eat their dinner on tiny stools on the sidewalk. You’ll find anything here from fresh seafood to yummy Thai pancakes to hot stir fries. I have yet to eat a Thai dish that I DON’T like! You don’t like Asian food? No cause for despair – you’ll find about any other cuisine in Thailand as well. Italian food, Mexican, American or Indian cuisine: you’ll find it all, at least in those places that are popular with tourists. And again, it’s all wonderfully cheap! I dedicated an entire article to my favorite vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai, where I escaped to for a winter, and which deserves an entire dedicated section why Thailand is the perfect winter escape. Not sure what I’m talking about? Here are just a few things I love about Chiang Mai.
5 Amenities and ease of travel
Another reason that makes Thailand the perfect winter escape destination is the fact that traveling there is incredibly easy. As I mentioned before, it is one of the most westernized countries in the region and you’ll find that all the facilities and amenities are en par with European or North American facilities – if not even better! Hotels are oftentimes newer and more modern than their counterparts in the U.S. for example (simply because they are newer), spas are of world class quality, hospitals are state-of-the-art, airplanes and buses are comfy and safe. Wi-fi is just as fast as in western countries, and sometimes even faster, and the shopping malls and cinemas in Bangkok make their European counterparts look tame in comparison. The ease and comfort you get in Thailand and the small price you pay for it make it one of the most pleasant places you can travel in – especially compared to some places in the Caribbean where facilities have not been modernized yet or/and cost a fortune.
For more information on Thailand, check out Rough Guide’s Thailand travel guide online or order a paperback version of the latest Lonely Planet Thailand on Amazon.