Did you know that every year, from Britain alone, more than half a million people travel halfway round the world to holiday in Thailand? Quite impressive. But the astonishing thing is that the vast majority have been several times before. So what draws them back time and again?
The attractions are obvious enough. Firstly, the beaches: soft white sand, bright turquoise waters, astonishing marine life, and a backcloth of swaying palms and dramatic cliffs. Secondly, the cities: colourful temples, bustling markets, funky bars, mouth-watering food-stalls and swish boutiques. Thirdly, the lush hills and rainforests of the north are prime trekking terrain, with hill-tribes, elephant rides and rafting on offer.
These 3 in combination make Thailand a something-for-everyone paradise. But there's more to it than that. Perhaps it's the Thai people - unrushed, helpful, calm and they really can smile. Or meeting other travellers and swopping life-stories en route. And let's not forget the food: achingly fresh fish and prawns, spicy curries, exotic fruit, veggie stir-fries. Plus, of course, in comparison to much of the world it's still ridiculously cheap - though some parts are going upmarket.
Whatever it is, it's certainly addictive. We spent 2 months combing the country from top to bottom in search of the funkiest, friendliest places to stay - a gruelling task, you will agree - and now we can't wait to go back. Join the club!