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Lonely Planet Thailand’s Islands & Beaches

Splendid Beaches

Thailand’s beaches are legendary: tall palms angle over pearlescent sand, coral gardens flourish in the shallow seas and beach parties are liberally lubricated with alcohol and fun. With two long coastlines and jungle-topped islands anchored in azure waters, Thailand is a getaway for the hedonist and the hermit, the prince and the pauper.

Scale the sheer sea cliffs of Krabi, cavort with gentle whale sharks at pinnacles off Ko Tao and Ko Pha-Ngan, toe the curling tide alongside gypsy fishermen in Trang, gorge on seafood in Hua Hin or relish perfectly practised butler service at your luxury digs in Phuket. The adventure awaits

Hot & Spicy

The beaches may bring you to Thailand, but it’s the food that will lure you back. Enjoyed around the world, Thai cuisine expresses fundamental aspects of Thai culture: it is generous and warm, outgoing and nuanced, refreshing and relaxed. And it is much more delicious in its native setting. Thai dishes rely on fresh and local ingredients, from pungent lemon grass and searing chillies to plump seafood and crispy fried chicken. With a tropical abundance, the varied national menu is built around the four fundamental flavours: spicy, sweet, salty and sour.

Local Smiles

Whether it’s the glimmering eye of the meditative wâi (palms-together Thai greeting) or the mirthful smirk of passers-by, it’s hard not to be charmed by the Land of Smiles. The moniker is not only apt but also well earned. Thailand has long been Southeast Asia’s mama-san, inviting foreigners from near and far to indulge in the kingdom’s natural splendours. This recipe is perfected along the beaches and islands where a heady mix of seascapes, limestone towers and equatorial sunshine provides the perfect backdrop to expertly run resorts catering to whimsy with a desire to please.

Mean Massages

You asked for this. The view may be of white sands and blue waters but as your massage therapist squeezes the stress from your back with an exceptionally strong fist, twists your body until you let out a small yelp, then cracks your finger joints, you begin to question your sanity. But, when they’re done, a smile spreads over your face, your shoulders drop and you feel more at one with the tides, the breeze wafting through the palms and the cold Singha awaiting you.

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