With sixteen million foreigners flying into the country each year, Thailand is Asia’s primary travel destination and offers a host of places to visit. Yet despite this vast influx of visitors, Thailand’s cultural integrity remains largely undamaged – a country that adroitly avoided colonization has been able to absorb Western influences while maintaining its own rich heritage. Though the high-rises and neon lights occupy the foreground of the tourist picture, the typical Thai community is still the farming village, and you need not venture far to encounter a more traditional scene of fishing communities, rubber plantations and Buddhist temples. In between the cluttered cities and towns in the rural heartland, which is a mix of rice paddies, tropical forests and squat villages tied to the agricultural clock.
In the north, the forests and fields bump up against toothy blue mountains decorated with silvery waterfalls. In the south, scraggy limestone cliffs poke out of the cultivated landscape like prehistoric skyscrapers. The usually arid northeast emits an emerald hue during the rainy season when tender green rice shoots carpet the landscape. With a long coastline and jungle-topped islands anchored in azure waters, Thailand is a tropical getaway for the hedonist and the hermit, the prince and the pauper. This paradise offers a varied menu: playing in the gentle surf of Ko Lipe, diving with whale sharks off Ko Tao, scaling the sea cliffs of Krabi, kiteboarding in Hua Hin, partying on Ko Phi Phi, recuperating at a health resort on Ko Samui and feasting on the beach wherever sand meets the sea.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Thailand
1. Thailand Islands – One of the most popular things about Thailand and one of the most popular holiday destinations on the planet are definitely the islands off the coast of the country. With their gorgeous scenery and heavenly beaches, these islands are simply the best destination no matter if you are an adventurous type, going on a honeymoon, family vacation, or you just one to visit some great parties. The three main sets of islands in Thailand are Ko Samet and Ko Chang, in the Gulf Ko Samui lie Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao, and in the Andaman Phuket and Ko Phi Phi.
2. Bangkok – The eclectic, dynamic, and vibrant capital of Thailand is Bangkok. The city is a buzzing metropolis of high-rise and cutting-edge modern buildings mixed with ancient temples, magnificent palaces, bustling markets, and endless streets lined with noisy vendors of delicious street food. Despite the fact that some tourists find the city a bit too intimidating as a concrete and overcrowded jungle, Bangkok definitely deserves a visit as a curious and impressive place.
3. Chiang Mai – Surrounded by the rugged mountains of the northern part of Thailand, Chiang Mai is a beautiful city that is one of the best getaways for getting to know the surrounding jaw-dropping nature and scenery. However, Chiang Mai itself has a very big cultural and historical value for the country where historical, traditional, and modern Thai traditions and culture co-exist in a mesmerizing way.
4. Kanchanaburi – Kanchanaburi may be a difficult name to pronounce but definitely one that you should remember. It is best known with the bridge over the River Kwai that is linked with the historic Death Railway to Burma, but the city has much more to offer. Located in western Thailand and admired by many for its breath-taking scenery, Kanchanaburi also offers an easy access to a bunch of beautiful natural parks.
5. Ayuthaya – The city of Ayuthaya was founded back in 1350 and nestled beautifully in the Chao Phraya River valley on an island surrounded by three rivers connecting it to the Gulf of Siam. It was once the capital city of the Siam Kingdom and once declared the most beautiful city in the world and there is no wonder why. Not only the beauty of the surrounding nature but Ayuthaya is an amazing historical site as a whole, housing three palaces and more than 400 temples.
6. Khao Sok National Park – Khao Sok is often considered as the most beautiful wildlife reserve in Thailand and it definitely deserves all the love and appreciation. The national park features jungle forests, limestone karsts, rivers, and lakes in the Surat Thani province of the southern part of Thailand. The reserve is also a home to some of the most amazing wildlife species in Thailand and definitely a recommended destination for adventurous travellers.
7. Railay – Railay is a small peninsula located in the south part of Thailand surrounded by high limestone cliffs which make it accessible only by a boat. The area is a very popular tourist attraction in the country and also all over the world because of its amazing beaches, tranquil atmosphere, and hiking opportunities.
8. Phanom Rung – Located in northeastern Thailand and sitting on an extinct volcano, Phanom Rung is a Hindu shrine complex that is admired by thousands and millions for its unusual and unique beauty, outstanding architecture, and spiritual atmosphere. This temple sanctuary was built somewhere between 10th and 13th centuries as a dedication to the Hindu god Shiva. Phanom Rung is built in a way to represent the sacred home of Shiva.
9. Pai – Located in northern Thailand, Pai used to be a small and quiet village back in the past but nowadays it is a booming and vibrant town noted for its picturesque valley and laidback vibe. Pai is a favourite destination among backpackers and adventurous travellers and offers a few good opportunities for trekking.
10. Chiang Rai – Chiang Rai is the northernmost city in Thailand and serves as a main commercial hub of the Golden Triangle, which contains the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Chiang Rai is often used as a base for exploring the surrounding region but it also deserves attention and love since it is a small but busy and vibrant city where everyone can find something to enjoy.