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When planning your next family vacation Thailand may not be at the top of your list - but it should. The country's sunsets and world-famous attractions make it one of the most beautiful places in the world. So beautiful, in fact, that many of its attractions have been used as a backdrop for several Hollywood films. But before you go, do your research because the attractions are endless. Check out these top 10 things to see and do for the best Thai vacation that will leave you with years of memories.

 

The Grand Palace & Wat Prakeau

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Located in Bangkok, the Grand Palace is considered the city's most famous landmark. Built in 1782, this building leaves people breathless with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail that the Thai people are known for. This palace used to be the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government. Today, however, it is the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. Within the palace are several buildings, including the Wat Phra Kaew and The Temple of The Emrald Buddha, which is considered Thailand's most sacred site. It's considered so sacred, in fact, that a strict dress code applies. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves and no bare feet. Women must not wear any see-through clothes or show bare shoulders. Visitors who are not dressed appropriately can be denied entry or sent to a nearby booth where clothes can be provided to cover you up properly.

 

Floating Markets

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If you're looking for fresh fruit, ready-to-drink-coconut juice and the best local cuisine, you must check on the floating markets in Bangkok. It's here you can get a local Thai meal cooked right from a floating kitchen on a boat. Other floating markets are located in Taling Chan Market, Bang Ku Wiang Market, Tha Kha and Damnoen Saduak. For an even better experience try relaxing on a guided boat tour while eating. It's one of the coolest Thailand experiences that will ensure great photos and memories.

 

Khao Yai National Park

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This is one of Thailand's most visited national parks. Located three hours (drive) from Bangkok, it is so big it spreads across four provinces – Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Ratchasima and Prachinburi. It's known for its lush, mountainous landscape with deep valleys, beautiful waterfalls and rich biodiversity. You'll also be greeted by diverse animal life, since the park is home to 320 species of birds, 67 species of mammals and thousands of plants. The west side of the park has a range of wild-west theme parks and vineyards of Thailand's award-winning labels, including Pirom Khao Yai Reserve and Sawasdee Chenin Blanc.

 

Railay Beach

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This beach is one of Thailand's most sought-after areas to visit because of its tranquility. It's known for its perfect white sand beaches, high limestone cliffs, picturesque views, caves and a lagoon hidden inside the cliffs. It's here you can spend a quiet, lazy day in what has been called a “tropical paradise.” There are no roads at this beach, only footpaths. That means no cars or tourist busses to distract you from the beauty.

 

Phi Phi Islands

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These islands have been called the “picture-postcard” islands – and for good reason. Just a 45-minute speedboat ride or a 90-minute ferryboat ride from Phyket, the islands are lush with white-sand beaches, stunning rock formations and beautiful tropical waters filled with marine life. Some say these islands are “paradise perfected.” Phi Phi Don is one of the larger of the islands and attracts hundreds of visitors. The village is considered party central with its bars, pubs and clubs filled with young partygoers.

 

Elephant Trekking

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The elephant is Thailand's national symbol and is considered a revered animal in the country. If you want to learn more about the animals you should check out the Chiang Dao Elephant Camp and Thai Elephant Conservation Center. If you're looking to stay overnight while experiencing these magnificent animals you can try Anantara Golden Triangle and Elephant Hills for a comfortable tented experience. You'll also get a chance to ride the animals.

 

The Golden Triangle

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Known locally as Sop Ruak, the point where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River is known around the world as the Golden Triangle. It's the point where Burma/Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet and is considered one of the most stunning areas. You can stand on the Thailand river bank or hire a boat for a closer view. Here you'll find market stalls as well as Buddha and elephant statues. It used to be an area known for opium growing and you'll find lots of chances to get caught up on the local history and the effects of the industry.

 

Kanchanaburi

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This province boasts some of the most lush forest and is known as a haven for backpackers. You'll see the start of the infamous Death Railway, which links to Burma/Myanmar, and the bridge over the River Kwai – both are considered part of the province's dark past and are relics that were constructed by prisoners of the Second World War. It's an area considered a must-see by any Thailand visitor. Nearby you can see the Tiger Temple.

 

Shopping

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What vacation is complete without a little shopping. In Thailand, you can shop almost anywhere. In Bangkok there are several famous markets, including the Chatuchak (JJ Mall), the Weekend Market and the Asiatique Night Market on the riverside. In Northern Thailand you can visit the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and the Wualai Walking Street Saturday Market. There are also a variety of shops and local markets that specialize in local crafts, wooden carvings, silverware, silks, pottery and furniture.

 

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

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Known locally as Wat Chaeng, this temple is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It's believed that King Taksin arrived at this temple just as dawn was breaking after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya. He later had the temple renovated and named Wat Chaeng, the Temple of the Dawn. During his reign, Wat Chaeng was the chief temple, enshrining the Emerald Buddha and another important Buddha image known as the Phra Bang. It is considered one of the most stunning and beautiful temples in Bangkok because of its riverside location and because of its unique design, which is very different than any other temple. It's made up of colourfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water. The quietest time to visit is early morning before the crowds come but it is particularly beautiful at night when it is lit up. While it is one of the biggest tourist attractions, it is also an important place of worship for Buddhists so make sure you dress appropriately.

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