What's new in Thailand?

Long has Thailand been a backpackers' favourite, but there's something for everyone in this South-East Asian destination – check out these top new things to do

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1. Saddle up in Chiang Mai

Cycling tour specialists Spice Roads have a swag of new two-wheeled tours from the northern city of Chiang Mai for 2012. Their ‘Bike and Raft’ trip combines cross-country biking with whitewater rafting in Mae Taeng, while ‘Bike and Zip’ takes you mountain biking on hidden trails before zipping along the region’s newest and longest zipline. For a slower pace, try a fascinating nocturnal bike tour of Chiang Mai’s temples and markets.

2. Rev up in Isaan

If you don’t fancy driving yourself around the Isaan region, tour operator Smiling Albino is offering two tours through the north-east, taking in the region’s fiery food, unique folk music and Khmer ruins, with overnight stays at unique boutique hotels. The same tour can also be done by motorbike.

3. Go boutique in Bangkok

Designed by acclaimed Bangkok-based architect and designer Bill Bensley, who specialises in eco-friendly architecture that makes use of recycled materials, The Siam boutique hotel is set to open on the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River in spring 2012. The property incorporates an antique Thai wooden house brought to Bangkok by barge from Ayutthaya.

4. Cook with 'Poo'

Vivacious cook and ex-noodle vendor Poo is a one-woman micro-financier, using profits from her Helping Hands Cooking School in Bangkok's Klong Toei slum to support her neighbours’ business projects. Due to overwhelming demand, Poo is opening a big new kitchen in 2012. Book ahead!

5. Eat on your feet, bike with a bite

Bangkok Food Tours has added a new gastronomic tour to its two popular Bangrak and Chinatown foodie walks. On the full-day Bangkok Bites and Bike Tour, a half-day foodie walk is followed by a cycle tour of the markets and historical sites. Afterwards you can soothe your tired feet at a fish spa and enjoy some Thai BBQ.

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