Cover (Photo: Yaya Sperbund's official Instagram account)

A country that embraces diversity, we list down some facts we love about Thailand, the 'Land of Smiles'

Thai superstar Yaya Sperbund is in the country to promote Thailand among Filipinos and her fans. The Crown Princess star is one of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)'s ambassadord tasked to promote its brand and Thailand's destinations. During the press conference held at Dusit Thani Manila, Yaya talked about what makes Thailand stand-out from other South East Asian destinations.

"There is always something new and special to experience in Thailand. I've always described it as a country that's full of life. From the busy streets of Bangkok—which I know a lot of Filipinos love because of the street food and shopping. Thailand also offers to its visitor a different experience when you explore its lush Northern regions or the exotic islands in its Southern parts," Yaya said.

Embracing diversity, Thailand strides as an ideal destination for its visitors beyond its natural beauty, culture, and cuisine. In fact, Thailand embraces and welcomes all visitors as it encourages them to experience its different "shades"—regardless of identity, age, colour, and who they love. With the "Open to the New Shades" tourism campaign, TAT has cultivated experiences that highlight its rich culture, distinct flavours, and unique local experiences, and luxurious recreational offerings. Indeed, there is something in Thailand for every traveller.

"In Thailand, we believe that diversity is amazing. It's one of the traits that make the world colourful and full of love—and this is something that we try to show our visitors. We want them to feel welcomed, loved, and given the freedom to experience the best of what our country has to offer," said Kajorndet Apichartrakul, TAT Director for Singapore and the Philippines.

The country's dedication to enabling all its visitors to enjoy memorable experiences while in Thailand led to the development of its "Go Thai, Be Free" promotion. This goes beyond events, parties, and nightlife to focus on interests that appeal to the LGBTQ community, making it a safe haven for members of the said community.

"This is what makes Thailand special and unique. As Thai people, we have embraced this because this has been embedded in our culture for thousands of years. The appreciation for diversity in Thailand goes across all aspects of life," said Yaya.

To give a taste of what Thailand has to offer, here are five things we love about this amazing country:

1. Phuket: Paradise on Earth

A week-long trip to Thailand is best experienced with a pampered service at Amanpuri. Stay in one of its villas that evoke the architecture of Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam. Hand-loomed silks, fragrant orchids: there’s never any mistaking you’re in Thailand – even when dining on fresh Japanese sashimi at Nama restaurant, sharing an Italian-inspired dish at convivial Arva, or snacking on crispy Mexican tostadas over pisco cocktails in the Latin American bar. Sample coconut-flavoured kanom krok cakes and lemongrass tea by the black-tiled pool, then descend to the beach to snorkel, kayak or jet-ski in the Andaman Sea.

Read also: A Long Weekend in Phuket

2. Thai Cuisine: A Gustatory Experience

Bangkok is a prime destination for food lovers. The abundance of street food, Michelin-starred restaurants, and delectable heritage dishes make up for an unforgettable gastronomic journey. 

Read more: Food Lovers Guide To Bangkok

Wine & Dine: Benjarong Manila Invites Michelin-starred Chef Thanintorn Chantharawan

3. Chiang Mai: Haven of the arts and culture

Capital of the old Kingdom of Lan Na, Chiang Mai has long been regarded as an epicentre of cultural exchange: from Burmese, Chinese, Thai, as well as countless other ethnic groups—including scores of foreigners from Western countries today. Up until today, Chiang Mai champions contemporary art.

Read more: City Art Guide: Chiang Mai

4. Phitsanulok: Sanctuary for the Soul

Phitsanulok is the historic city outside Bangkok, founded more than 600 years ago, where massive temple sites can be found. Top on our list of sights and wonders in Phitsanulok is the Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat. It is a large temple complex known simply as Wat Yai, that houses the Phra Buddha Chinnarat.This spectacular image of Buddha, dating from 1357, is perhaps second in importance only to the famous Emerald Buddha housed in Bangkok’s Grand Palace complex.

Read more: A Passion For Phitsanulok

5. Magical Festivals

Thailand takes pride in its colourful and pompous celebrations, most importantly its water-throwing celebration of Songkran that marks its New Year. Witnessing some of the best Thailand festivals is definitely in every traveller's bucket lists and we would recommend you not to miss the fairy-tale like Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals. Oftentimes misunderstood by many as the same because both coincide with the full moon of the Thai Lunar calendar every November, these two are completely different. Yi Peng is where the night sky lit up with golden hue as lanterns are released into the air. Loi Krathong, on the other hand, is a thanksgiving to the Goddess of Water for good harvest where candles are placed in banana leaf boats and set on fire as they sail down the Ping River. Loi Krathong is celebrated throughout Thailand while Yi Peng happens only in the Northern region.

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