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Thailand proudly proclaims that it is the only state in south-east Asia that wasn't conquered during the European colonial period, as the reforming King Chulalongkorn played off the British in Burma and Malaya (later Malaysia) to the south and the French in what would become Vietnam and Laos to the north.

But it has failed to establish a viable democracy, and in recent years has suffered considerable political unrest. Still, travel is generally safe and it is very popular with travellers, and bloggers, for its beaches, its mountain forests, festivals, temples, and for traditional treatments.

About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.