Thailand is famous for its breathtaking tropical beaches, stunning royal palaces, awe-inspiring ancient ruins and temples, and world-famous cuisine. This culturally rich country can show you everything from a bustling city, full of tuk-tuks and night markets, to ornate temples tended by orange-clothed monks.
With exciting high-energy cities and serene tropical islands all in one place, it’s no surprise that Thailand is Southeast Asia’s number one tourist destination! As you plan your journey into this summer wonderland, we’ve prepared a list of the most-visited cities for you to consider:
Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, is a buzzing metropolis where you’ll find everything from majestic palaces and temples, to high rises, nightclubs, and colorful markets. Though many travelers choose to skip the city altogether and head straight for the beaches, if you really want to experience Thailand’s culture, this is a must.
Most Famous Temples in Bangkok
Bangkok is without a doubt a cultural center for Thailand. As such, it’s home to some of the country’s most famous temples like: Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), at the Grand Palace; Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn); Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha); Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha); and Wat Saket (Golden Mount Temple).
Nightlife in Bangkok
Once you’ve visited the different temples around Bangkok and are ready to unwind, Bangkok is also a place with plenty to do in the evenings. You can hop over to Yaowarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown) and have some dinner, or visit Khaosan Road for its live music, nightclubs, and food stalls. Bangkok is also famous for its numerous sky bars, be sure to visit one and enjoy the urban scenery.
2. Chiang Mai
Thailand’s “Northern Capital,” Chiang Mai offers a gorgeous blend of nature and culture. Located just 1 hour North of Bangkok by plane, Chiang Mai is a historic city with plenty of beautiful temples (over 500, in fact) to choose from. Unlike Bangkok, here you’ll have a few more options in nature for hiking, rafting, and visiting ethical elephant sanctuaries.
Temples in Chiang Mai
A few of the more famous temples you can choose to visit include: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Suan Dok, and Wat Umong. As well as hundreds of others scattered across the city.
Be a Foodie in Chiang Mai
Indulge in some delicious and genuine Thai food at the Sunday Walking Street near Tha Pae Gate, Saturday Night Walking Street on Wua Lai Road, or the always-available Warorot Market or Chang Klan Road Night Bazaar.
Farther North than Chiang Mai, at the border with Laos and Myanmar, Chiang Rai is home to some unique artistic architecture that’s well-worth the detour. Visit the gleaming White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) and traditional buildings at the Black House (Baan Dam). This province is also fantastic for hiking, trekking, and visiting local hill tribe ethnic groups.
For a contrast of the Northern cities, you can jump down South to Phuket, Thailand’s largest island. Though Phuket is arguably not the island with the nicest beaches, it is an island with the best airport, so your journey to the South is likely to begin here. This city is especially famous for its very affordable 4 and 5-star hotels and resorts, that make for an excellent getaway. Likewise, you’ll be in close proximity to many other famous islands.
Once you’ve arrived to the South, you’ve likely had your fill of temples, palaces, and nature in the Northern cities and are now ready to sit back and enjoy those picture-perfect beaches. Some great options include: Kata Beach, Freedom Beach, Kata Noi Beach, Ya Nui Beach, Surin Beach, Paradise Beach, Nai Harn Beach, Patong and Karon.
Krabi is by far one of Southern Thailand’s most visited provinces, especially due to its proximity to other famed islands. With its astonishing beaches, Krabi town local vibes, limestone cliffs, and overall great atmosphere, Krabi offers a wide variety of exciting experiences.
Phi Phi Islands
One of Krabi’s best features is its proximity to other surrounding islands, like Koh Phi Phi, with its Maya Bay and Phi Phi Viewpoint. Alternatively, you could also visit Koh Lanta, Koh Jum, Koh Rok, Ao Nang, or even Railay for some rock climbing. Regardless of where you choose to go, you’re guaranteed to love the impressive seascape views.
On the West of Thailand, close to the Burmese border, Kanchanaburi offers a contrast between natural beauty and historical wartime attractions. Best known for its Death Railway (Thai-Burma Railway) and Bridge over the River Kwai, this area serves as a reminder of the thousands of Asian Laborers and POWs that died during the railway’s construction, under Japanese occupation during WWII. You’ll find several museums and war cemeteries dedicated to the memory of these wartime casualties.
National Parks Around Kanchanaburi
As well, you can find several national parks around the city that will offer a more light-hearted opportunity to hike and explore. These include: Erawan and Srinakarin National Parks, which offer the full-spectrum of wondrous scenery, waterfalls, and caves.
Getting Around Thailand
Once in Thailand, you’ll probably need to get creative by blending air and ground transportation to make your way around the cities. Nevertheless, it never hurts to find a reliable car company that can provide you with professional local drivers, in case you need a worry-free airport transfer from the airport to your hotel. It’s also refreshing knowing you can book in advance and ensure the vehicle meets your requirements and you have a 24-hour customer service team available to avoid any mishaps along the way.
Best Places to See in Thailand
Overall, Thailand is one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations for good reason, it’s its very own slice of paradise. Whether you’re going there on business, with family, on your own, or with friends, Thailand has something to offer every one of its visitors.
Though we couldn’t name all of the wonderful places you could choose to visit, this article should give you a great idea for where to begin. Let us know in the comments if there’s any place you think we should’ve mentioned or any of your favorite places in Thailand. Safe travels! เดินทางปลอดภัย