Thailand has 2,710 kilometres or 1,694 miles of coastline, on both the Indian
and the Pacific Oceans, including its many offshore islands make
it a favourite tourist destination for water sports, especially diving
and snorkelling. 2 of the major diving
centres are at Pattaya, a 2-3 hour drive
from Bangkok, and Phuket, both of which have easy access
to many offshore islands and coral reefs. Good for reef diving is the Andaman
Sea, and the most popular sites are the renowned Similan
and Surin islands. Ko Samui, Ko Phangan
and Ko Tao in the Gulf of Thailand also pull in
many divers from all over the world, while Ko Chang and the Trat
area are the most recent destinations to have opened up to sports tourism.
The islands off Trang Province and the Burma Banks have become recent diving
areas. Certified diving courses, equipment rental
and live-aboard dive cruises can be obtainable.
Numerous beaches are ideal for windsurfing,
especially Hua Hin,
Jomtien in south of Pattaya, Karon and Kata
on Phuket island, and Chaweng and Lamai
on Koh Samui. The windiest months are from February to April in the Gulf of Thailand while in the Andaman Sea
during September and December. For more details about beaches, see also the Resorts & Excursions section.
In the past few years, sea canoeing and kayaking
have become popular among tourists. North of Phuket, the coastal limestone islands
in Phang Nga Bay are the favourite,
which give travellers the chance to explore the half-submerged cave systems
known as hongs.
Sailing is a good way to reach the islands in Thailand, and Phuket is the principal destination for sailing trips in the Andaman Sea, where the yearly Kings
Cup Regatta is held in December. Sailing cruises
in the Gulf of Thailand
depart from Pattaya. Tourists can hire yachts
with or without a crew. The presence
of big game fish, such as tuna, barracuda, wahoo, swordfish or marlin,
pulls in game fishing lovers, who hire fully crewed boats
from most chief coastal resorts. Travellers can also arrange seasonal inland raft trips on
There are the best trails in the
of Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Travellers will have a chance to visit the
Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet and where
much of the world's opium begins.
for 3 or 4 days through a landscape comprising forested
by hill tribes whose small villages provide
for trekkers. Although guides are available,
tourists should make sure that, apart from English, they speak some
of the hill tribe languages and contact the tribal communities.
Trekkers should also keep in mind
that the area is normally un policed and hold ups and robberies have
There are many temples and meditation
centres specialising in vipassana (insight)
meditation in Thailand. Places to stay along with instruction are commonly
free, but donations are expected. Different meditation techniques
and dress codes apply. Upmarket resorts providing mind, body and
spirit packages are also available, with alternative therapies included
in the package. Larger retreats are for the more serious minded
only. Male and female English speakers are welcome, but the segregation
of the men and women is strictly enforced and many observe a vow of silence.
Thai Kick-Boxing, also known as Muay Thai, is a traditional sport widely seen daily throughout the year at the main stadiums in both Bangkok
and the provinces. Thai boxing matches begin with elaborate ceremonies
and accompanied by lively music. There are more than 60,000 full-time
boxers in Thailand. Foreign visitors may sign up for a traditional "Muay" training camp,
some of which specialises in training western people. There is strong
spiritual and ritualistic dimension to Muay Thai, adding grace to
this otherwise brutal sport.
Horse racing is held every
2 weeks at the Royal Turf Club on Sundays and at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club on Saturdays. Another spectator sport is Takraw, occasionally called
Siamese football, in which a small woven rattan
ball is kicked around by players standing in a circle and performing
spectacular moves. The aim is to keep the ball off the ground, and
to do this players can use any part of their bodies apart from the hands.