Polina Price

New York, New York Travel Agent

The Magic of Thailand

Thailand is an amazing country. I have been there several times and love how it is so very different from everything we know: the culture, the food, the traditions. The service is unlike anything you can imagine. Thai people have a nice way about them, and for Americans, Thailand offers fabulous value.  

Bangkok is most people’s first stop. The hustle and bustle can be overwhelming at times, but if you stay at one of the riverside hotels, you are a bit removed. You feel the cool breezes off the water, the sunsets are magnificent and it is mesmerizing to watch the traditional boats going up and down the river. There are also water taxis and ferries--a pleasant way to get around.  

I especially love exploring Bangkok’s Old Town on foot. The biggest reason to come here is the Grand Palace, a huge complex with lovely gardens and a temple that houses the sacred Emerald Buddha. Just ten minutes away is Wat Pho, an impressive temple with a giant gilded Reclining Buddha more than 40 meters long. The temple also operates a traditional massage center that is said to be the birthplace of Thai massage. 

One of my most memorable experiences was totally unplanned. I was in one of the less-known temples and it turned out to be the time the monks have tea, and my husband and I had a chance to sit down and speak with some of them. The one I remember most was a former taxi driver who felt he had been getting sick and at a young age, decided to become a monk.  

A highlight for most visitors is the chance to interact with elephants in their natural habitats. There are elephant preserves across Thailand where you can spend a few hours or a day with these gentle giants. At most preserves, you’ll have a chance to feed them, take them down to the river and help wash them. You may also have the chance to join the elephants on a jungle walk and learn how to playfully interact with them.  

In the north, it is exciting to drive or trek through the Golden Triangle, the area where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. You can see all three countries at once from one of the mountain overlooks. This region also has some amazing temples; many are quite dramatic, towering over the landscape, often guarded by sculptures of elephants and other guardian creatures. Not to be missed is the ancient capital of Chiang Mai, an ancient compact walking city packed with history. 

Thailand is also known for its seaside hideaways, such as Ko Samui and Krabi. My personal favorite resort is the Ritz-Carlton Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Krabi. The accommodations are spread on a seaside plantation. Many have private pools, and everywhere you look, there are picture-perfect views.  

The resort offers cultural programs such as Batik painting and Thai cooking workshops, and from here, you can hike to a jungle waterfall, take a traditional Long-Tail boat ride, or take a 45-minute boat trip to Phang Nga Bay, an incredible bay dotted with hundreds of small limestone islands that take fantastical forms. Some have small beaches; many just pose on the water like strange animals. This stunning bay will look familiar to people who saw the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”. 

Thailand is one of the world’s most wonderful and exotic destinations, and I return as often as I can. If you are looking for a trip that transports you into a welcoming culture and landscape that is different from anywhere you have ever been, I would love to help you discover the magic of Thailand.