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The tour through this quixotic country begins in Thailand's noisy and vibrant capital, Bangkok, with visits to Wat Po and other famous temples. It continues into the countryside, exploring Kanchanaburi, site of the bridge over the River Kwai; the ancient capitals of Ayuthaya and Sukhothai, and national parks alive with monkeys and elephants. The charming city of Chiang Mai awaits in the northern mountains; from there wilderness treks depart for remote hill-tribe villages. Thailand is famous for its beaches - and you'll find all of the best ones here: Phuket and Koh Samui, as well as many others popular with Thais. Author Phil Macdonald makes sure you see all of the renowned sights, and lesser-known ones as well. Self-guided tours with maps include a riverside walk in Bangkok and a boat trip down the Chao Phraya River . Sidebars reveal tips on how to experience authentic Thailand with a hill-tribe family, meditating with Buddhist monks, and learning to cook Thai dishes. A hefty Travelwise section includes information on how to get there and how to get around, as well as author-picked hotels and restaurants. EVER ALLURING DESTINATION: With its tropical beaches, stunning mountains, and rich history and culture (not to mention some of the world's best cuisine), Thailand continues to draw an abundance of travellers. The number of foreign tourists is expected to increase in 2014 by 3.5 million, up to a total that could top 30 million, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand. EXCITING FEATURES AND SUGGESTIONS: This guide provides a game plan for visitors, with a focus on active experiences that give travellers behind-the-scenes possibilities; insider tips from National Geographic photographers, writers, and experts; not-to-be-missed lists; and a practical introduction. CONTEMPORARY DESIGN AND VITAL CONTENT: Design is simple and open, with multiple access points. Content includes popular walking and driving tours; features on contemporary life, history, and culture; and excursions off the beaten path. PROVIDES INFORMATION NOT AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET: The guide offers the most authentic and meaningful experience for visitors.