Picture of the week (No.21): Tourist attractions of Thailand.
Each week (actually about 2 or 3 times a month), Willgoto selects here a nice picture. The tourist attractions of Thailand, more particularly the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), are the theme of the twenty-first picture of this series. That temple, famous for its whiteness as pure as unusual, is indeed one of the many attractions of Thailand.
Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand.
The country. Located in Southeast Asia between Myanmar to the west and Laos and Cambodia to the east, Thailand has an area that is roughly equivalent to that of the continental France. The kingdom has 68 million inhabitants who are, for the most part, Buddhists.
In recent decades, industrial activities (particularly in electronics, textiles and automotive industry) have developed significantly in this country, which has long been largely agricultural and remains one of the world's largest rice exporters. With more than 32 million foreign visitors in 2016, Thailand is listed in the top 10 of the world's busiest tourist destinations.
Tourism. Among the general public, Thailand is best known for the beautiful beaches of fine sand and the paradise islands in the southern part of the country. Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Samui, Koh Chang, Koh Lipe, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Phuket, Hua Hin and many others: they are dream destinations for any lover of beach holidays. Another seaside resort, Pattaya, is best known for its nightlife and sex tourism, despite the repeated willingness of the authorities to put an end to it.
Thailand has many other tourist attractions besides seaside tourism. In particular, Bangkok, the capital of the kingdom and the most popular tourist destination in the country, brings together various attractions that are likely to appeal to a wide range of visitors.
Bangkok is home to beautiful monuments such as the Grand Palace, splendid Buddhist temples such as Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha located within the precincts of the Grand Palace), Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha with a 46 m long statue), the Wat Traimit (with the Golden Buddha, a gold statue that weighs 5.5 tons) and the Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mountain), several interesting museums such as the Jim Thompson House, the Bangkok National Museum, and the Vimanmek Mansion, as well as many other sights like the floating market, not forgetting a lively nightlife and some great shopping opportunities (especially at the Chatuchak weekend market) and authentic Thai massages.
Thailand also offers a phenomenal amount of natural attractions. No less than 20% of the country's territory consists of protected areas: 150 National parks, more than one hundred wildlife sanctuaries and other natural reserves, and 120 forest parks. Khao Yai National Park, located 3 hours' drive from Bangkok, offers 50 km of hiking trails and is accessible to vehicles and bicycles. With four other protected areas in Thailand (Pang Sida National Park, Thap Lan National Park and Ta Phraya National Park, and Dong Yai Wildlife Sanctuary), it forms the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, which spans 230 km to the east of the country.
The Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex is home (among others) to 112 species of mammals (elephants, deer, gibbons, and more) and 392 species of birds. Like the Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries, whose magnificent landscapes extend over 600,000 hectares on the border with Myanmar, it is part of the World Heritage identified by UNESCO.
The popularity of Khao Sok National Park in the southern part of the country benefits from the proximity of the Thai seaside resorts. It offers, among others, opportunities of trekking in the forest, kayaking and rafting as well as boat trips on the Cheow Lan Lake.
In the twenty marine national parks of Thailand, particularly Mu Ko Similan National Park in the Andaman Sea and Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park in the Gulf of Thailand, you find some of the best scuba diving sites of the world.
In Thailand, lovers of archaeological sites visit the sites of Sukhothai (the capital of the first kingdom of Siam) and Ayutthaya (the second Siamese capital), both located to the north of Bangkok. Both ancient cities as well as the archaeological site of Bang Chiang have been inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list.
With a wide range of attractions and great trekking opportunities, Northern Thailand, especially Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, attracts a growing amount of tourists. It is the best destination among others to meet ethnic minorities of Thailand like the Karen, the Akha and the Lahu, to visit for example an elephant conservation center or an orchid farm, and to discover the Golden Triangle that overlaps mountains of three countries Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand.
Northern Thailand is also home to a rich religious heritage. Chiang Mai is said to have three hundred temples.
The beautiful temple Wat Rong Khun, located in the vicinity of Chiang Rai, is entirely white. This is why the temple is commonly known as White Temple. It is actually a relatively recent construction (1997) of a Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, who built it with his own money on the site of an old Buddhist temple that was fallen into ruins. The whiteness of the temple symbolizes the purity of Buddhism. Damaged by an earthquake in May 2014, the White Temple has been restored. The achievement of the whole project of the artist could take still many more years. The site is open to the public. It is a popular attraction in Northern Thailand.
The author of the pictures. All above pictures belong to Willgoto and partners.
Picture of the week 1: Bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. It is endemic to Cuba.
Picture of the week 2: Pagoda of the Golden Rock in Myanmar. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
Picture of the week 3: Seychelles beach. Seychelles is a perfect destination for a dream holiday.
Picture of the week 4: Lemur of Madagascar (Coquerel's sifaka), an endangered species of primates, which, like all other species of lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar.
Picture of the week 5: World heritage in Cambodia. The temple of Banteay Srei, better known as 'Citadel of the women', in Cambodia is a jewel of Khmer art and a world heritage site.
Picture of the week 6: Bull shark and tiger shark. Both sharks are unfortunately known for fatal attacks on humans. However, experienced divers can approach them and swim with them.
Picture of the week 7: Firewalking in Mauritius. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice.
And many more pictures of the week including:
Picture of the week 19: The Beaches of Isla Mujeres(Cancun). They are much appreciated by holidaymakers, especially those who come from Europe and the United States in winter.
Picture of the week 20: Tourist attractions of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka offers a wide range of attractions that make it a tourist destination visited by a growing amount of holidaymakers.
See all our "Pictures of the week".