The smiley face is the world’s most recognizable symbol of goodwill and happiness, and it was first created by a commercial artist from Massachusetts in 1963. Harvey Ball is also the man who brought us World Smile Day on the first Friday in October each year, a day on which to turn up the corners of our mouth and engage in simple acts of kindness.
This year, World Smile Day falls on the 4th of October and we can’t think of a better place to celebrate this joyous event than in Thailand.
The Country of Smiles
The Kingdom of Thailand (formerly known as Siam) is home to about 68 million people who mostly live in mainland Southeast Asia on the Indochinese peninsula. It’s a country of beautiful white sand beaches, royal palaces, and Buddhist temples that’s unlike anywhere else on earth.
Here are some of the must-see destinations in Thailand that are sure to delight first-time visitors.
Bangkok – for an urban adventure
Thailand’s capital is a world-class city that’s home to about a fifth of the country’s residents. It’s become one of the most popular cities in the world with more visitors than London, Paris or Rome. It’s filled with national museums, temples, royal palaces and galleries but probably best known for its frenetic nightlife and abundant street food.
Chiang Mai – for a cultural experience
This beautiful city is in the far north of Thailand near the border with Myanmar. The main reason people come here is to see Chiang Mai’s amazing wats. There are over 300 of these gorgeous Buddhist temples scattered throughout the city, with the oldest dating back to the 13th century. When you’ve had your fill of culture, you can check out one of the local elephant sanctuaries, explore the huge night bazaar, or head for one of the many national parks that encircle the city.
Nakhon Ratchasima – for a nature break
This is the gateway to Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can see elephants, gibbons, macaques, civets and a huge array of native birds in their natural habitat. There are even campsites within the park where you can pitch a tent and sleep under the stars. Hike to the many waterfalls and catch the spectacular view from the top of Yod Khao Khieo.
Phuket – for some beach time
Phuket is an island off the west coast that’s known for its non-stop partying, particularly among the resorts at Patong. The island has tons of beaches, water sports and nightclubs, but if you’re looking for something a bit more tranquil you can find it here too. Visit the Big Buddha, sink your toes into the pristine white sand at Karon Beach, then head around the coast for more beaches, sun and surf.
Sukhothai – for the history
This region is in the upper central part of the country and home to the 13th century Sukhothai Historical Park. It contains the 14th century ruins of royal palaces, temples and moats that used to be part of what was once the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom. Also worth a visit is the Si Satchanalai Historical Park, located on the banks of the Yom River and filled with more remarkably well preserved temple ruins. It’s further off the beaten trail and you may even find that you have the place to yourself!
With so much to experience in Thailand, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding where you want to go. One thing’s for sure though, you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome in the country of smiles.
Happy World Smile Day, no matter where you’re adventuring this October 4th. We hope you’ll take a moment to embrace the journey and share your joy with those you meet along the way.