Top Ten Plus One Reasons to Visit Thailand

Here are my top ten reasons to visit Thailand ? the Land of Smiles. 1. The people. Thais are arguably the friendliest people in the world. They are always smiling and maintain a wonderful "mai pen rai" attitude. This translates to "never mind" or "why do it today when I can do it tomorrow".

2. The culture. The main religion in Thailand is Buddhism and approximately 95% of the Thais are loyal Buddhists.

Buddhist monks can seen daily making their rounds and can also be seen at every temple in Thailand. 3. The customs. Visiting Thailand during one of the Thai holidays can make your vacation extra special.

Thai New Year ? Songkran ? is an experience like no other. Floating your Loy Kratong raft will get rid of your anger and allow you to start fresh. 4.

The monarchy. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has ruled Thailand for over 60 years and is highly revered by all Thai people. You will see his portrait everywhere in the country. Do a little research to see why the Thai people hold Rama IX in such high esteem.

5. The food. Hot and spicy sums up most Thai food.

But you can also find sweet or sour, rice and noodles, and excellent seafood. Thailand also has 5-star restaurants that any nationality will love. From street vendors serving soup or fried rice to American, Italian, German, Belgian, Swiss, British, or any other country's restaurants, you can find food to suit any palate. Prices are so low you will order 2 or 3 plates instead of one and still spend less than you do at home 6.

The nightlife. It doesn't matter which city you choose for your holiday, you will be able to find plenty to do at night. From music to bars to massage parlors to dining on a riverboat. You will not want for night activities. 7.

Sports. Thai kickboxing or, Muay Thai, must be experienced in person. The atmosphere, music, gambling, food and people at a real Muay Thai match are unforgettable. Seeing a staged match at a tourist bar area doesn't compare. Soccer or football is second only to kickboxing in fan support.

8. The language. Thai is a tonal language with five tones; high, medium, low, rising and falling. It is very musical and is not difficult to learn. Knowing a few words of Thai goes a long way to making friends in Thailand.

9. The shopping. If you like to barter or haggle for almost everything, you will love Thailand. Clothes, designer knockoffs, gold, rubies, sapphires and more can be had for prices a lot less than you see back home. There seems to be a new market on every street corner and everyone has a special price, just for you. The food markets are a true site to behold.

You can get your fruit, vegetables, meat, spices and everything for a delicious meal. 10. Health care.

Many people go to Thailand to save money on surgery. From dental work to plastic surgery you can get your operation done for about 1/3 of the price and enjoy a vacation at the same time. Medical tourism is extremely popular in Thailand. 11.

Traditional Thai massage. Eighty pound ladies with fingers of steel will turn your body into a limp washrag. For about $10 you can have your body pounded for two hours ridding you of any kinks you came in with. Foot massages are also very popular.

Many men go to Thailand for the "naughty nightlife" but more and more women and families are discovering that there is more to Thailand than bars and bar girls. Have a safe trip and see for yourself why Thailand is called the Land of Smiles.

Larry Westfall gets to Thailand whenever he can and is the author of Pattaya Crazy | Newbie's Guide to Pattaya
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