No matter if it is your first time in Thailand or you have been exploring its mountains, beaches and bars for years, this is one of those destinations that always seems new.
The Thailand Authority of Tourism reported an astounding 32 million visitors in 2016, making it a top travel destination. With the vast array of different travel tours and options available, it can be tough to decide which places to visit while in Thailand. To help make your decision easier, we have compiled a guide of the top 10 destinations that are a must-see. (Photo credit: Image by worachatsodsri from unsplash)
Roughly four hours north of Chiang Mai, Pai is a serene town reminiscent of Bali...without the beaches. Here, you can find natural hot springs like Tha Pai, refreshing waterfalls like Mo Paeng, and scenic routes that are perfect for scooter-mounted exploration. (Photo credit: Image by ronnysison from unsplash)
2) Phuket – Old Town
Ask any seasoned traveler about Phuket, and they will probably tell you tales of inebriated Russian tourists, seedy bars and the overall grubbiness that comes with an all-day happy hour. While all of this is true to an extent, what nobody tells you is that nearly all of the debauchery is concentrated in Phuket’s western resort town, Patong.
If you're looking for more culture and less vomit, you can simply take a Tuk-Tuk 45 minutes east to Phuket's Old Town. Recently proclaimed as one of Asia's most picturesque cities by CNN, Old town Phuket is known for its Sino-Portuguese architecture, Sunday market with live music, and abundance of fried bananas. You'll also find plenty of artisanal shops and stores, so you're sure to find something for everyone back home.(Photo credit: Image by good_citizen from unsplash)
3) Koh Phangan
It would be remiss of us to produce a Thai travel guide and not mention Koh Phangan. If you came to Thailand drawn in by tales of world-famous beach parties that go on until the early hours of the morning, we have three words for you: Full. Moon. Party.
Southeast Asia's most riotous party island, Koh Phangan, sees 10,000-30,000 visitors every month! If you're looking to dance the night away, you're in luck! Nearly every night of the week, there's something big going on, whether it's the Full Moon Party, the Jungle Party or the Eden Party. It doesn't matter the time of year, or even the time of day, if you're thirsty, Koh Phangan is the place to be! (Photo credit: Image by etvoilaraissa from unsplash)
Thailand's capital city is infamously chaotic, and you haven't experienced the country if you don't stop there. There are 400 Buddhist temples in Bangkok, many of which are still used daily. We recommend spending the afternoon exploring some of the city's impressive architectural sites, like Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Of course, don't forget to grab a snack from one of the many street vendors along the way. You'll be surprised at how delicious some of the unfamiliar treats can be.
As the sun sets, it's time to explore. Head to Khao San Road, the most popular bar street in Bangkok. Here you can find everything from fried insects on a stick to brutal Thai boxing matches to women doing things with Ping Pong balls you didn't think was possible. (Photo credit: Image by worachatsodsri from unsplash)
5) Chiang Rai
One of Chiang Rai's most famous landmarks is the controversial White Temple. Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat designed it in 1997 as a private art exhibit. It's still under construction, with new additions being added every year. Visitors might be surprised to find that the interior walls are decorated with paintings of Harry Potter, Neo (from The Matrix), Freddy Kreuger and other famous characters. You might love it or hate it, but there's no denying its originality! (Photo credit: Image by scrambledmeghs from unsplash)
6) Ko Tao
If you’ve been dreaming of getting that scuba license since your first glimpse of Thailand’s sparking, translucent water, you’re in luck. Ko Tao has a multitude of dive shops with some of the best PADI and SSI certification prices anywhere in Thailand. What’s more, with Hawksbills and Green Turtles coming here to breed, it’s a truly unique aquatic environment that will leave even the most experienced divers speechless. (Photo credit: Image by inedelchev from unsplash, Image by chingcha from unsplash)
7) Khao Sok
If hiking’s not really your thing, rent a canoe or kayak and coast down the Sok river while still enjoying everything that vast nature preserve has to offer. (Photo credit: Image by robinnoguier from unsplash)
8) Ko Lanta
What’s the only downside of traveling to Thailand? Other people (this is particularly true during Christmas and New Year’s). Being one of the top travel destinations in the world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of Thailand’s biggest tourist destinations are overcrowded. So what’s the move then? How does one get the beach holiday of a lifetime without sharing it with 10,000 other people?
For an experience off-the-beaten trail, set your sights on Ko Lanta. An island located in the province of Krabi, Ko Lanta is famous for its stunning coral reefs, mangroves and rainforests. Now, Ko Lanta isn’t necessarily a secret, it’s just that it’s one of the few places left in Thailand that hasn’t already undergone major renovations in response to tourism. This means…it’s possible to get an entire stretch of beach to yourself! Ko Lanta offers everything that other major islands in Thailand can, with a quarter of the people, making this the perfect hideaway for some peace and quiet. (Photo credit: Image by auror from unsplash)
9) Damnoen Saduak
10) Phi Phi Islands
You know how sometimes you hear about these reputedly great travel destinations and then you get there and it’s just, eh…sort of a flop? Nothing could be further from the truth with the Phi Phi Islands. Arguably the most famous archipelago in all of Thailand, these stunning floating pieces of land even made it to the Hollywood big screen when in 2000 they shot The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Being one of Thailand’s premier attractions, it is going to be crowded (pretty much year round). That said, Phi Phi Don ( the most frequented of the island chain) is well worth the visit. No other island can boast such a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere even with all throngs of other foreigners. It’s not a hidden gem by any stretch of the imagination, but when it comes to the Phi Phi islands it’s enough to simply say – believe the hype. (Photo credit: Image by find_something_pretty_everyday from unsplash)
We hope you've enjoyed visiting this blog and found it helpful. Remember: no matter if you're planning your first trip to Thailand or you've been exploring its mountains, beaches and bars for years, this is one of those destinations that always seems new. From the Grand Palace to the floating markets, there is always something new to see and do in Thailand. Whether you are looking for a place to relax or a place to party, whether you’ve been dreaming of getting that scuba license since your first glimpse of Thailand’s sparking, translucent water, or you're aching to soak in the warmth on a secluded beach on Ko Lanta...don't hesitate...Thailand is the perfect destination for you. Go ahead and book those tickets, pack your bags, and don't forget to include a comfortable travel pillow to keep you rested on those long flights. You won't be disappointed.