1. KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK in Southern Thailand is often dubbed the country’s own ‘Jurassic Park’ because of its unspoilt treasure of native flora and fauna. Huge swathes of virgin rainforest and enormous vertical limestone mountains stretching back 160 million years are home to elephants and leopards and teeming with a riot of noisy birds and chattering monkeys. Trek the park on foot, go in a canoe or on a truck safari, and venture into its heart to see the stunning Cheow Lan Lake with its floating raft houses and luxury tents.
2. THE TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA in the grounds of the Grand Palace in central Bangkok includes Phra Si Rattana Chedi, a stupa [dome-shaped shrine] said to house relics of Gautama Buddha, with a jaw-dropping exterior covered in gold mosaic. Head there in the early morning before the heat descends.
3. KANCHANABURI in the west is admired for its beautiful scenery, though it’s best known for the film Bridge on the River Kwai that’s linked with the infamous historic Burma Railway. Tens of thousands of Asian labourers and POWs died during the railway’s construction under Japanese occupation during WWII. There’s a memorial and two museums to commemorate them, while outside the town are national parks with waterfalls and caves.
was once declared the most magnificent city on Earth, and with its three gilded palaces and 400 treasure-laden temples, it’s not hard to see why. The ruins of the old city – once the capital of Siam – now form the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a World Heritage Site. Just 65 km north of Bangkok, the city sits on an island surrounded by three rivers connecting it to the Gulf of Thailand.