Where to travel in Thailand
Thailand is distinctively known for its beauty. It comprises bustling modern cities crowded with motorbikes and tuk-tuks, Buddhist temples, lush landscapes dotted with traditional farming villages, ancient ruins, and stunning coastlines peppered with gorgeous beaches and blue lagoons among other interesting sites.
If you are thinking of visiting this beautiful place, here are some exciting locations to give you an unforgettable experience and make your time in Thailand worthwhile.
Read: How to plan a group cruise
- Ko Pha Ngan: Ko Pha Ngan an Island with a mix of rolling hills, lush jungles, and white-sand beaches. It is located near some of the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand, including the iconic Sail Rock site, and contains over 30 different tropical beaches. Although it is still underdeveloped, it still offers plenty of activities for tourists. Ko Pha Ngan is popularly known for hosting the legendary Full Moon Party. Every month on the night of the full moon, Haad Rin Beach transforms into a lively open-air nightclub with live music, potent cocktails, and even fire rope skipping.
- Khao Yai National Park: This is the third largest park in Thailand. It is located in the Sankamphaeng Mountain Range. Despite the high elevation, the park’s landscape is a diverse mix of evergreen rainforests and billowy grasslands. The Park also has several waterfalls hidden inside the tree-lined forests. It holds a powerful waterfall which is 260-feet high. It also has an abundance of wildlife like freshwater crocodiles, Asian black bears, elephants, and tigers.
- Sukhothai: Sukhothai is a small city in northern Thailand. It is a popular tourist site due to the nearby ruins of an ancient city by the same name. Historic Sukhothai was the first capital of Thailand, then Siam, during the 13th century. Many temples, palaces, and monuments from this era can be found in the Sukhothai Historical Park. In the middle of the park is Wat Si Chum pavilion, a Budha temple, which houses a massive 50-foot tall sitting Buddha. It is also known for its sparkling lakes, sunken moats, and manicured gardens.
- Ko Samui: Ko Samui is Thailand’s third-largest island. The island has magnificent beaches and is one of the most popular travel destinations in all of Asia. Ko Samui offers a more convenient travel experience than other islands in Thailand as it boasts an international airport. Ko Samui is more developed than Pha Ngan, though it still has a number of quiet and secluded beaches. Its transportation hub, Na Thon, is full of lively restaurants and bars. The island is known for its coconut carvings and hand-printed batik clothing. Samui also has several important Buddhist temples worth visiting. The center of Ko Samui is a mountainous forest region with several stunning waterfalls, including a 20 meter (65 foot) waterfall that tumbles into a pool perfect for swimming. A well-developed road circles the island, making it easy to explore everything.
- Chiang Rai: At Chiang Rai, you can explore the Golden Triangle, which contains the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. It is often used as a base for exploring the surrounding region. The town itself is quiet during the day when most of its package tourists are out on day trips, but at night the neon lights flash on and souvenir stalls and restaurants spring into action. The city is also home to a few museums that exhibit local heritage, culture, and art. It holds the Saun Mai Ngam Park with its lovely green spaces, trees, and flowers making it a nice place to relax or attend a flower festival at year’s end. Markets and a night bazaar offer food, handicrafts, souvenirs, and free cultural performances. Chiang Rai Beach is popular for picnics and riverboat cruises. The park, Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park offers nature walks and scenic waterfalls. Lion Hill Cave is an interesting cavern surrounded by picturesque scenery, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Various tour companies operating from Chiang Rai guide tourists to nearby hill tribes to experience their culture and traditions.
- Phuket: Phuket is the largest Island and leading tourist center in Thailand. This beautiful island is known for its gorgeous beaches, excellent diving, and an abundance of luxurious spas. Phuket has many attractions like the beaches with their white sands, blue lagoons, and water sports. With resorts, hotels, shops, restaurants, and vibrant nightlife, Patong Beach is the most popular beach. Phang Nga Bay is a memorable place to visit with its beautiful caves, aquatic grottoes, and limestone islands. Phuket has a range of massage tents and spas on the beach making it a place for ultimate relaxation and pampering.
- Khao Sok National Park: It is surrounded by towering limestone mountains and lush tropical forests. Khao Sok National Park contains some of the most spectacular landscapes in Thailand. It dates back 160 million years and is considerably older than the Amazon rainforest. At the heart of the park is Cheow Lan, a sparkling turquoise lake dotted with floating raft houses and colorful long-tail boats. Most notably, the national park is also home to the largest virgin rainforest in Southern Thailand. Visitors exploring the forest will come across cascading waterfalls, hidden caves, and groves of wild fruit trees. Other activities available include ziplining and kayaking and tubing on the Sok River. Besides the picturesque scenery, many people visit Khao Sok for diverse wildlife. Small creatures like Malaysian tapirs, wild boars, and pig-tailed macaques can be seen in the park.
- Pai: Pai is a town that is part of the Mae Hong Son Loop stretching between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son located in the foothills of the mountains. It is popular for its picturesque valley and relaxed atmosphere. Pai is a favored destination among backpackers and tourists wishing to explore the region. Due to Pai’s increasing influx of tourists, the city has increased in tourism facilities with numerous guesthouses, restaurants, souvenir shops, and bars. Pai’s Wednesday Market is a popular attraction, which draws crowds from other villages around the Pail Valley. Many tourists use the city as a base for exploring natural attractions, trekking tours, and visits to the hill tribes of Lisu, Karen, Lahu, and Hmong. Also just outside the city are spas, elephant camps, hot springs, and beautiful waterfalls. Additionally, the Pai River offers tubing and whitewater adventures. You should also visit other interesting sites like the Pai Canyon, the WWII Memorial Bridge, and a Chinese village where tourists can buy teas and view a Ferris wheel powered by humans.
- Railay (or Rai Leh): A small peninsula in south Thailand that is only accessible by boat due to the high limestone cliffs cutting off mainland access. These cliffs attract rock climbers from all over the world, but the area is also a popular attraction in Thailand due to its beautiful beaches and quiet relaxing atmosphere. Almost every patch of buildable land fronting in the eastern and western part of the peninsula has been taken over by bungalow resorts, and development is creeping up into the forest behind. But at least there are no high-rise buildings, and much of the construction is hidden among trees or set amid prettily landscaped gardens.
- Ko Phi Phi Don: Situated off the southeastern coast of Phuket in the Krabi Province is the idyllic Phi Phi Island archipelago. Ko Phi Phi Don has a popular vacation destination famed for its sun-soaked beaches, beautiful limestone cliffs, and laid-back atmosphere. Tonsai Bay and Long Beach attract the most tourists, while secluded beaches like Phak Nam Bay offer a tranquil escape away from the crowds. It’s also possible to hike up to Phi Phi Viewpoint, which boasts dramatic 360-degree views over the entire island. In the middle of the island is the bustling village of Tonsai. Considered the heart of Ko Phi Phi, this charming town is teeming with mouthwatering restaurants and lively beach bars. One mile south of Phi Phi Don is Koh Phi Phi Leh, a sparkling oasis of crystal clear waters and limestone rocks. At the center of the island is Maya Bay, which served as the stunning backdrop for the movie, The Beach.
- Phanom Rung: Phanom Rung is a Hindu shrine complex regarded for its outstanding architecture. Located near the village of Nang Rong, this temple sanctuary was built by the Khmer culture between the 10th and 13th centuries as a dedication to the Hindu god, Shiva. Constructed of sandstone and laterite, Phanom Rung was built to represent Mount Kailash, the sacred home of Shiva. The complex faces east, and four times a year the sun shines through all 15 sanctuary doorways. During these events, the park extends its hours, and locals celebrate the Phanom Rung Festival around the April alignment, with ancient Brahmin ceremonies and modern sound-and-light shows.
- Ayuthaya: Founded in 1350, the city of Ayuthaya (also spelled Ayutthaya) is located in the Chao Phraya River valley in Central Thailand. It sits on an island surrounded by three rivers connecting it to the Gulf of Siam. King U Thong proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom. Once declared the most magnificent city on earth, the ruins of Ayuthaya are now a major attraction for those visiting Thailand. It is the capital of the Thai Kingdom, an impressive sight, with three palaces and more than 400 temples. One of the most popular sites is Wat Phra Mahathat. Here one will find a sandstone Buddha head entwined with the roots of a Bodhi tree. One of the most important images of the seated Buddha can be found at Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit and is a highlight for the Buddhists as well as others visiting the site. Thailand’s largest gilded Buddha, known as Phra Buddha Triratana Nayok, is found at Wat Phanan Choeng. It is a nearly 20 feet (6 meters) tall seated Buddha and is one of the most venerated in Thailand. The modern city is just 80 km (50 miles) north of Bangkok and is easily reached by train, bus, and van.
- Koh Tao: Located off the southeastern shore of Thailand, the tiny 21 square km (13 square miles) island of Tao remained largely uninhabited until the late 1900s and has only recently been developed as a travel destination. With its white sandy beaches, lush green forests and majestic granite rock formations, it’s no wonder that its bare-amenity bungalows are making room for luxury resorts as more visitors become aware of the island’s natural attractions. Koh Tao is best known as premier scuba diving and snorkeling location. With many shallow bays, easy currents and gorgeous coral reefs, many visitors come to Koh Tao to learn how to scuba dive or to upgrade their scuba diving certification. There are multiple diving schools in Mae Hat, the island’s main town, as well as in many other places around the island. Koh Tao’s coral reefs are home to a broad variety of marine life, including butterflyfish, batfish, whale sharks and bull sharks. “Tao” is the Thai word for turtle, and some believe that the island was named for its turtle-like shape. Koh Tao also has several locations where hawksbill and green turtles come to breed every year, although their habitat has been threatened from the island’s increasing popularity as a tourist destination. In recent years, Koh Tao’s diving schools have banded together to help preserve the turtle breeding grounds. Other popular activities on the island include rock climbing, sailing, mountain biking and game fishing. Mae Hat also has several schools that offer courses in Thai cooking and yoga. Sairee Village is the island’s hot spot and has an assortment of restaurants, bars, and clubs.
- Ko Chang: Thailand’s second-largest island, Ko Chang is located off of the country’s southeastern coast near the Cambodian border. The island has everything that travelers want from a tropical vacation, from long stretches of sandy beaches to unspoiled rainforests. There are plenty of activities to pursue on the island too, including scuba diving, kayaking, and jungle trekking. When it comes to lazing on the beach in luxury, White Sand Beach is one of the most popular places to visit on the island. Located on the island’s northwestern corner, it’s the longest beach on Ko Chang. The central section of the soft sandy beach is lined with resorts and hotels. Hat Tha Nam on Ko Chang’s southwest coast attracts travelers looking for fun on a budget. From rustic bungalows to treehouses, visitors can find accommodations here on the cheap and spend the money that they’ve saved on the bars and restaurants popping up along the shoreline. Among the many beaches on Ko Chang, Hat Khlong Phao is one of the most striking. Extreme low and high tides make this picturesque beach a beachcomber’s dream. Located at the north end of the beach is Laem Chaiyachet, a rock formation that’s been fitted out with a pier. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun setting into the Gulf of Thailand. Around 70 percent of Ko Chang is covered by mountainous forests, and taking hikes to view the island’s waterfalls offers visitors a refreshing break from sunbathing in the sand. A short hike from the beach of Khlong Phrao leads visitors to Namtok Khlong Phlu, the island’s largest waterfall. The falls drop in three cascading tiers. Those who climb to the top tier can reward themselves with a dip in a large pool.
- Kanchanaburi: Located in western Thailand and admired for its beautiful scenery and accessibility to national parks and waterfalls, Kanchanaburi is best known for its iron bridge that is linked with the historic Death Railway to Burma in which thousands of Asian laborers and POWS died during its construction under Japanese occupation during WWII. While Kanchanaburi is a thriving city, the main attractions are associated with WWII, chiefly the iron railroad bridge that was portrayed in the Academy Award-winning 1957 film, “Bridge over the River Kwai.” Several museums and war cemeteries all present information about the city and its bridge during the 1940s Japan occupation. The city is also home to many spas and temples of which the Tiger Temple is the most popular. Outside of Kanchanaburi are various national parks, including Erawan and Srinakarind National Parks, all offering beautiful scenery, waterfalls, caves, and visits to tribal villages.
- Bangkok: Thailand’s capital city and by far the largest city in the country, Bangkok, is a buzzing cosmopolis of high rise buildings, magnificent palaces, ancient temples, glittering nightclubs, bustling markets, and streets lined with vendors hawking souvenirs and tantalizing foods. While the city is sometimes described as a concrete jungle jam-packed with noisy traffic and air pollution, Bangkok is not without its natural beauty that is seen in its remaining canals, green spaces, and flowering tropical plants.
Located in Central Thailand, Bangkok is a sprawling city offering something for everyone. The famous tourist street, Khao San Road, is a good place, to begin with, its interesting sites and cheap shopping and nightlife. The city is well known for its myriad of temples such as the sacred Wat Phra Kaew, which contains the Emerald Buddha. Zoos, water parks, and amusement parks all present family fun. Shopping in Bangkok is sensational with numerous shopping malls and markets, including the not-to-be-missed floating markets. Sporting venues host Thai boxing matches. From scores of street vendors to market stalls and a variety of restaurants for every budget and taste, Bangkok offers a fantastic dining experience. The city is also well known for its wild nightlife. A memorable way to experience Bangkok is by a boat ride on the canals.
- Chiang Mai: Surrounded by the mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a flourishing city often used as a base among tourists wishing to explore the lush landscapes, hill tribes, and outdoor adventures of the region. Nevertheless, Chiang Mai itself is a large and culturally important city where historical and modern Thai architecture and traditions coexist. A walk around the historic center bestows views of old city walls and dozens of beautiful ancient temples. However, the most famous of these temples, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, lies outside Chiang Mai on a mountainside overlooking the city. Modern-day Chiang Mai offers handicraft markets, an abundance of massage and spa parlors, botanical gardens, and an elephant nature park where visitors can bathe and feed elephants.
Those seeking to experience the beauty, wildlife, and adventure of the mountainous region will find a large variety of organized tour companies operating out of Chiang Mai that features trekking, mountain biking, ziplining, river rafting, and visits to local hill tribes.