From the peaks of the north, overlooking rice paddies and tea plantations embellish a luxuriant jungle from which arise the trumpeting of elephants and the cries of monkeys, to the paradisiacal beaches and translucent abysses of the south, passing by Bangkok, bubbling megalopolis, welcome to realm of phantasmagoria.
A mosaic of breathtaking landscapes. Thailand is stunning. But for those who do not like to summarize tourism for the sole satisfaction of aggregating their Instagram account with insolently paradisiacal photos, the ancient kingdom of Siam, which resisted the voracity of settlers of all stripes, is also steeped in a rich culture , maintained with passion and care by a warm and welcoming Thai people.
The journey begins in Bangkok, a bubbling and dizzying megalopolis where gleaming skyscrapers and dilapidated shacks coexist. A tower of Babel that you walk through while taking the time to admire the opulence of the palaces and the splendor of the temples (starting with Wat Pho and its huge reclining Buddha 46 m long and 15 m high), to smell the perfume of markets with a thousand exotic flavors (opt for that of Chatuchak, teeming and colorful), to soak up the influences that have nourished the centuries-old Thai history (the House of Jim Thompson is a must), to experiment (in Chinatown in particular) a street food smelling of spices and degumming the taste buds…
Before going to recharge the batteries while enjoying a cocktail on the banks of the Chao Phraya, the river that irrigates the city, with a breathtaking view at sunset of the iconic Wat Arun temple.
A decor of azure and emerald
It is then the conquest of the innumerable cultural and religious riches ( read below ) of a Thai north resembling a Garden of Eden. A stopover in Chiang Mai is a must. Authentic Thailand, with its tea plantations, its rice fields, its craftsmen, its elephant reserves, in the verdant and flamboyant setting of a jungle oozing with mystery.
The odyssey ends in the south, in Krabi or Koh Lanta, in any case far from the tumult of Phuket and Pattaya and resorts as cosmopolitan and noisy as a camping-club in Cap d’Agde in the summer. With paradise as a backdrop. A string of rocks. As if pebbles had been thrown from the beach which, after several ricochets, had then immersed themselves in the depths of the Andaman Sea to re-emerge forming a constellation of limestone icebergs, frozen in an azure setting. and emerald. These pebbles are home to secret lagoons and paradisiacal beaches , where you can land in a canoe to swoon in the sun or put on a mask and snorkel to meet wildlife splashing around in the crystal clear waters.
We liked it. The Land of Smiles . Hammered on tourist brochures, the slogan does not lie.
We didn’t like it. Pollution, suffocating in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Mass tourism threatens small paradises. Like Maya Bay, which hosted the filming of the film La Plage , stripped of its corals and closed to the public for two years.
Among the good addresses, note in Chiang Mai the Rachamankha , to savor a fine and rich cuisine from the North nourished by Burmese, Chinese and Laotian influences, where it will be appropriate to enjoy a crispy noodle soup . Lost in the middle of the jungle, the Badboys Valley has to be earned. But it’s a place out of time, with an improbable decor (sourced from France!), and the nine-course menu is just as fanciful! In Koh Lanta, let yourself be stunned by the subtle aromas exhaled in the dishes of Seven Seas, the restaurant of the Pimalai Resort , with, icing on the cake, the prospect of intoxicating yourself with those of a Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé .(Franck de Lestapie, owner of the hotel, has his ties in Gironde). Finally, in Bangkok, dine on the terrace at the Supanniga Eat Room (the tom yam koung is fabulous there), but don’t resist discovering the famous phad thai either (at Baan PhadThai ), a popular street dish based on the clever combination of twenty ingredients !
A panoramic view
With a full stomach, you can then visit Buddha, who often has it too. To nourish you – spiritually this time – with a religion with multiple resources and variations . Among the most beautiful temples in the country (whose population is 95% Buddhist), Wat Phra Singh and the vertiginous Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep , at the top of which you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Chiang Mai conurbation; Wat Chai Watthanaram in Ayuttahaya or Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo in Sukhothai (former capitals of the kingdom); and of course Wat Arun and Wat Pho in Bangkok.
You will inevitably have then panicked the pedometer, and it will be appropriate to offer you a traditional Thai massage . The hotels almost all have a spa, but the street is also full of typical addresses (admittedly not all recommendable!). Our advice: go to a massage school (the famous Wat Pho in Bangkok in particular), where the students practice secular teachings on you, and for cheap.