Top 10 Places to Visit in Thailand
Thailand really is the Land of Smiles and is a country of contrast from the serene Buddhist life to half-naked agogo dancers. You will find the perfect blend of tourists coming from all around the world including backpackers and those searching for the height of luxury. Thailand has so much to offer that you can almost get lost searching for the wood amongst the trees. We have put together this short guide to help you to get the most out of Thailand and visit the ‘must see’ places.
Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok is well worth a visit the next time that you are in Thailand. The park has two very different sides, the lake side where you will find basic floating bungalows and the village side where you can find a range of different activities including trekking and kayaking. The scenery wherever you are in the park is quite simply breath taking and this is complemented by the local wildlife. If you are a nature lover then this is a place that you simply must visit.
You couldn’t go to Thailand without experiencing Bangkok, even if it was just for the day. Bangkok is a bustling metropolis, very different from other areas of the country and in fairness, it does take some getting used to. The temples are fabulous as too are the Royal Palaces so make sure you give yourself plenty of time and have a plan about where you want to visit. We strongly recommend that you take the Skytrain where possible as Bangkok’s roads tend to be quite congested. Don’t forget to try the street food, it is delicious, cheap and cooked fresh in front of you!
Pai has become something of a tourist sucker trap in recent years but it is still well worth the visit. Located in northern Thailand close to Chiang Mai it is an eclectic mix of locals, expats and tourists taking in the stunning countryside which includes rivers, mountains and paddy fields. The main street of this small town turns into a market every night where you can buy street food and homemade nik naks. It has a very laid back vibe which is very welcome after you have experienced the 700 hairpin bends between Chiang Mai and Pai!
This is probably the best beach in the world and the one that is most associated with Thailand when you see images on social media and in travel brochures. The island has no inhabitants and all you can do is relax. Anyone working there travels from the mainland daily so this is in stark contrast to many of the other popular holiday destinations in Thailand.
Chiang Mai is a haven for retired expats who look to enjoy the more relaxed way of life and the far more seasonal weather. Don’t expect the bars to be open until the early hours and indeed you are more likely to be kept awake by brass rather than bass. The old town, which is surrounded by a moat, is somewhere that you must visit. The city has dozens of temples and just a short trip out of the city you can visit Hill Tribes and the elephant sanctuary. The more temperate climate also helps with the vast selection of delicious local foods and the city is something of a capital for Digital Nomads in southeast Asia.
Ko Lanta is more upmarket than the nearby Koh Phi Phi that has become somewhat spoilt in recent years. It perhaps doesn’t have the wow factor of some of the other regularly photographed islands in Thailand but perhaps this adds to its charm. Here you will find beaches, mangrove forests, modern hotels and restaurants and of course the all important tours that will ensure that you don’t miss anything on your visit. Most of the locals were born on the island and many of the restaurants cater mainly for the locals but that doesn’t mean that foreigners aren’t welcome – just you might be the only one!
Chiang Rai lacks the sophistication of Chiang Mai but this is what many people find appealing. The most popular tourist destination is the White Temple which quite rightly ranks up there with Angkor Wat, The Blue Mosque and The Vatican. The city is the gateway for numerous treks and once again you will find an abundance of hill tribes close by. If you are a keen cyclist then there is some fabulous scenery that you can take in.
When you think of full moon parties, the first place that springs to mind is Koh Phangan. However, to just associate the island with hedonist parties does it a great injustice as it has far more to offer than the parties that only take place once a month. There are superb beaches and this island has a certain laid back hippy feel with vegan cafes, meditation retreats and yoga all easily found. The further north you go on this island, the closer you come to ‘typical Thailand’.
The Similan Islands
Situated in the Andaman Sea, the Similan Islands are the perfect places for divers looking to explore the fabulous marine life that can be found there. As they are a National Park, the islands are only accessible by boat between November and May with the government keen to preserve the islands that had become damaged by the large numbers of tourists.
Any Village in Thailand!
The only way you will experience the real Thailand is by visiting a village where tourists and expats are rarely seen. This is ‘normal’ Thai daily life and generally revolves around waking early and going to sleep when the sun goes down. There are several homestays available around the country including in Rayong and Chiang Mai. You will be made to feel very welcome and you will probably pick up the language a lot quicker as very few people will speak English.