The clash of tradition and modernity is most intense in Bangkok, the first stop on almost any itinerary. Within its historic core you'll find resplendent temples, canalside markets and the opulent indulgence of the eighteenth-century Grand Palace, while downtown Bangkok's forest of skyscrapers shelters cutting-edge fashion and decor boutiques and some achingly hip bars and clubs.

After touchdown in Bangkok, much of the package-holiday traffic flows east to Pattaya, the country's first and most congested seaside resort, but for prettier beaches you're far better off venturing slightly further afield, to the islands of Ko Samet and the Ko Chang archipelago, with their squeaky white sand and shorefront bungalows.