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Phuket, Thailand

This Captivating Country is Part Urban Jungle, Part Tropical Paradise, All Cultural Adventure

Time is different in Thailand. In the peaceful rural heartland of terraced rice paddies and tall grasses, lined with lush vegetation and punctuated by small villages, time seems to stand still, only kept by the flow of the agricultural calendar. On the beaches – stretches of pristine white powdery sand sandwiched between tropical jungle and brilliant blue water beckoning snorkelers – there is day and night, and the hours in between seem like some sort of blissful gray area. By contrast, in the cities, life races along at the pace of a time-lapsed documentary video leaving light trails from the glittering streets in its wake.

Thailand’s many sides represent character elements that add up to one of the most fascinating and perfectly contradictory destinations in the world. Depending on where one chooses to visit, you may encounter sacred gilded shrines and Buddha monuments dating back centuries, designer-laden megamalls and skyscrapers or the quiet of the countryside. Some things are found universally in Thailand. Among them, adventurous, freshly grown and made on the spot cuisine that will take your inner foodie on the ride of a lifetime. Another signature Thai characteristic found virtually everywhere is warmth, not only in the heat of the Southeast Asian tropics, but in the smiles and hospitality of the people.

Crystal voyages explore a few of Thailand’s most remarkable destinations, each with its own flavor and flair. Here’s a glimpse into the distinct beauty of each.

Wat Chalong Temple, Phuket, Thailand
Wat Chalong Temple, Phuket, Thailand

Phuket. So much can be discovered on Thailand’s largest island, where Chinese shrines mingle with Portuguese-styled shops and buildings along the avenues; Wat Chalong Temple shines as the most ornate and sacred of Phuket’s 38 Buddhist monasteries; and the Seashell Museum houses thousands of rare treasures from the sea, including the extraordinary golden pearl. Wildlife refuges and national parks and ancient monuments juxtapose with the modern heartbeat of Phuket Town and the region’s signature Peranakan cooking offers a taste of local life. But it’s the adventure beyond the shoreline here that truly calls to travelers. The Andaman Sea is a haven for divers and snorkelers and even casual swimmers who just want to cool off in the sun. Phi Phi Beach is a great starting point for underwater activities of all levels, as well as kayaking and canoeing experiences.

Koh Samui Beach, Thailand
Koh Samui Beach, Thailand

Koh Samui. Hold on, not so fast. Life in Koh Samui takes its time. An idyllic locale for pampering mind, body and spirit, with beaches that cater to napping in the shade of coconut trees or the rhythm of lively fishing villages and eateries. The vibe here is one with nature, and nature is at your fingertips in every direction. Invigorating treks through rugged jungle trails reward with jaw-dropping waterfall views, ventures to local farms demonstrate the organic approach to nutrition and food for the soul, and chakra-balancing activities abound. Like Thailand as a whole, Koh Samui has its own flavor, with cuisine focused on the beautiful balance of spices and fresh produce found at the local markets.

Bangkok, Thailand
Arial view of Ratchada Train Night market with street food and clothes in Bangkok, Thailand.

Bangkok. If the very name of the city conjures images of colorful night markets bustling with purveyors of intense flavors, you’re not far off. Street food is woven into the very fabric of Bangkok, and the style, diversity and sheer volume of different cuisines makes this one of the world’s most fascinating culinary destinations. Once your appetite has been beyond satisfied, enjoy the process of walking it off, as Bangkok’s city streets hold more than just a great meal. This fun-spirited city packs its centuries of culture and history into every inch, with gilded shrines and 18th-century homes a block away from cosmopolitan delights. Highly trafficked streets contrast with slow-moving canals that lead to hidden floating markets and golden temple spires share the skyline with neon-lit bars and lounges.

Crystal invites travelers to book now and plan your journey to Thailand with added peace of mind and flexibility as we look ahead to sailing together again.

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