Why Is Thailand Such A Popular Luxury Destination?
The popularity of Thailand has risen immensely over the last two decades, with yearly tourist arrivals leaping from between 10 and 12 million at the start of the 21st century, to over 32 million in 2016 alone. Thailand has found an audience with almost every type of traveller, but for those with an interest in luxury travel, there are several things that Thailand lays claim to, that make it clear why it has proved such a popular holiday spot for the discerning traveller.
Its incomparable natural beauty:
Regardless of the specific tastes and preferences of the individual luxury traveller, natural aesthetic beauty is often what separates the good destinations from the exceptional - and Thailand falls firmly into the latter category. With its hundreds of beautiful islands, idyllic white-sand beaches, and straight-out-of-a-movie (often literally - see below) scenery, whatever other luxury activities you take part in - they'll be set to some of the best natural sights in the world.
It's little surprise that several of Thailand's islands have been chosen as the filming locations for movies. Productions including Danny Boyle's The Beach, and even the classic Bond flick The Man With The Golden Gun have used Thailand's island locations (Phi Phi Leh Island and Ko Tapu, respectively) for their natural beauty, and this adds an appeal for cineaste luxury travellers.
It's also worth noting that Thailand's natural beauty is comparatively untouched when compared with many other popular destinations. Our modern sensibilities are often inclined towards authenticity, and travellers increasingly want to experience nature, with all of its flora and fauna, as free from human intervention as possible. Thailand, with its many protected national parks, such as Khao Sok, is home to all kinds of hidden gems that luxury visitors increasingly value and expect during a stay.
Its rich culture and history:
It's not just authenticity that luxury travellers are increasingly looking to either, it's the richness of a destination's culture, history, and legacy. Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country (although there is no official state religion), and its many temples and historical places of worship are some of its most recognisable features. Combine this with a diverse and multicultural history, with clear influences from many nations and eras, and Thailand is arguably the perfect place for a culturally immersive luxury stay.
There are approximately 40,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand, and these 'wats' have become some of the nation's most appealing sights to visitors from all over the globe. Iconic temples, such as Wat Arun in Bangkok, have opened their doors to travellers and have significantly contributed to the country's appeal.
Thailand's multicultural origins also have their own unique appeal. With roots originating in South China, combined with later influences from European nations such as Portugal and France, Thailand has rich and diverse history that can be experienced through one of its many cultural festivals.
Whether it's the Water Festival (essentially a country-wide water fight) or the captivating Yi Peng lantern festival in Chiang Mai, these exuberant celebrations have become a highlight of the cultural sightseeing calendar.
Its delicious cuisine:
Food is a part of any travel experience, and with some of the most authentic street food in the world, along with many high-end restaurants that are pushing the limits of modern Thai food, Thailand's cuisine has been a big part of its international luxury appeal.
Street food in Thailand is some of the best in the world, with countless dishes to try from vendors serving quick, low cost meals of the best quality. Each region serves up its own locally-influenced food, but some particular highlights to sample include Pad Thai (with its many variations - Pad Thai Kung, with shrimp, is a great place to start), and Pla Pao: whole fish stuffed with lemongrass, salt-crusted, and grilled.
For those more interested in haute cuisine, the River area of Bangkok (where our luxury city apartment is located) is a particularly noteworthy hotspot. Restaurants such as the excellent Blue Elephant serve refined interpretations of classic Thai cuisine, perfect for those who enjoy authentic haute cooking.
Its many modern luxuries:
While the authentic cultural appeals of Thailand have inevitably been a large part of its popularity, it's worth noting that Thailand isn't all rustic charm and natural beauty - it also offers visitors plenty of modern luxury experiences that have helped secure its position as one of the most popular destinations in the world.
From the very finest spas, such as The Oriental Spa in Bangkok (officially recognised as the best in the world), to modern shopping complexes like the Siam Paragon (the largest mall in Southeast Asia), there's something to be found for all tastes.
Along with the staples of classic luxury, there are also experiences that the whole family can enjoy together. Child-friendly activities are available, such as the now immensely popular Kidzania - which has opened in Bangkok. For a slightly more refined experience, there are also options like the Silom Thai Cooking school - which involves a trip to a market, followed by an afternoon spent crafting an authentic dish under the guidance of a Thai chef.
Along with these daytime luxuries, Thailand's nightlife has also experienced somewhat of a boom in recent years - with many exceptional and exclusive clubs and bars opening their doors to discerning visitors. Whether it's a relaxing, beachside bar for an evening drink, such as the picturesque HQPhuket, or the more unusual but equally indulgent upcoming Chi Ultralounge - a completely faithful relocation of the exceptional Bed Supperclub, which offers visitors some of the best cocktails and company in the city. It's an amalgamation of nightclub, restaurant, art gallery, and theatre, and hosts some of the best DJs in the world.
Ultimately, there really is something about Thailand. Sometimes, mass appeal is synonymous with a lack of authenticity, but Thailand is a shining exception to this rule.