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12th March 2013

Thailand: a cultural paradise

Thomas Oriel’s love letter to the South East Asian destination

When students talk about their dream destinations, Thailand is always high on the list. So what is it that is so attractive about South-East Asia? I had the chance to find out for myself in the summer of 2011.

When I arrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, I realised just how far away from home I was. There were people travelling in cars with no doors, eating ‘street’ food and elephants walking down major highways. After getting used to the initial cultural differences though, Thailand began to feel like a home from home.

It was impossible not to warm to the kindness and generosity displayed by the Thai people. Most people you pass in the street will say “Hello” and smile, which is more than can be said for the UK. This community feel teamed with the history, culture, food, nightlife, climate and scenery culminate together perfectly to create a cultural paradise.

The cosmopolitan capital, Bangkok is a must-see. The shopping opportunities are particularly good for all you spend thrifts out there. If traditional, eclectic markets happen to be your thing, why not try the nearby Khlong Lat Mayom floating market one weekend? The novelty of its riverside location and wide variety of products from clothing and household accessories to boat-cooked cuisine makes it well worth a visit. If you fancy trying something a little more upmarket, there are plenty of multi-storey shopping malls to choose from, such as the legendary MBK, which is a beehive of activity with its eight floors and 2000 stores.

The nights you are more likely not to remember at The Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan are not to be missed out on. Beginning at dusk when the moon makes its appearance over the beach of Haad Rin, there are 10-30,000 people at the party every month. The music is varied to suit a number of different tastes with dance, drum and bass, trance and more commercial styles on offer. So, if this trip is on your to-do list, then I certainly recommend doing it sooner rather than later.

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