Thailand is divided into five regions for tourism purposes: Central, Northern, Northeastern, Eastern, and Southern. The capital city of Bangkok is located in Central Thailand. The North is known for its mountains, wildlife, cultural hotspots, and ethnic minorities. The south is famous for its beaches and islands. Central, Southern, and Northern Thailand see the majority of visitors, while the Northeastern region attracts the least tourists.
There are many reasons to visit Thailand and it’s easy to discover why the nation is nicknamed the Land of Smiles!
Major attractions in Bangkok include the gleaming Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the elevated Wat Saket, Wat Pho, which is home to a large reclining Buddha image, and Wat Arun alongside the river. Fans of shopping will find many modern malls and the huge Chatuchak Weekend Market. Museums, bars, and restaurants are plentiful.
Other highlights of Central Thailand include Kanchanaburi with its nature and war history, the ruin-filled ancient city of Ayutthaya, Lopburi with its large monkey population, the largest Buddha image in Thailand, located in Ang Thong, and the famous floating market of Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi province.
Chiang Mai is commonly referred to as Thailand’s Northern Capital. A cultural hotspot, it boasts more than 500 temples, provides easy access to jungles and mountains, and has a large night market. Neighbouring Chiang Rai offers even more natural encounters, with diverse hill tribes, the beautiful White Temple, and the unusual Black House, too.
Pai is a popular mountain hangout in Mae Hong Son. Sukhothai is a terrific place for history lovers. Lampang boasts a laid-back vibe and heaps of culture.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and it offers something for all. From frenetic parties and beaches buzzing with water sports to luxurious spas, secluded stretches of sands, and diverse shows, everyone can have fun in Phuket. Phuket Town offers a snapshot of the island’s past and visitors can be awed by the free-diving skills of the Moken sea gypsies at Rawai Village. Island-hopping boat trips are popular, and it’s easy to arrange snorkelling and diving excursions.
Krabi is known for its amazing rock climbing, while the island of Koh Phi Phi is a backpacker magnet. Koh Lanta has a more chilled-out vibe. The Trang islands, also along the Andaman coast, are up-and-coming gems, ideal for those who want somewhere less touristy but with good facilities and amenities. For somewhere even more off the beaten track, Ranong has hot springs, unusual natural features, a diverse population, and splendid beaches.
On the Gulf Coast, Koh Tao is known for its terrific diving and snorkelling opportunities, while Koh Pha Ngan attracts party-loving travellers. Koh Samui draws a diverse crowd and is home to gorgeous beaches, golf clubs, spas, and cultural attractions.
In Eastern Thailand, Pattaya is the self-proclaimed City of Sin. It attracts tourists seeking a raucous nightlife and adult entertainment. The island of Koh Lan offers respite from the hedonism. Koh Chang is fringed by sandy beaches and has a jungle interior. Koh Samet is another pleasant island along the Gulf coast. Chanthaburi is known for its roaring gem trade.
Though the Northeastern region is under-explored, there are many fascinating experiences to be enjoyed. Khao Yai National Park is a highlight, with sublime vistas, stunning waterfalls, dense jungle, and wildlife galore. The Khmer-era ruins of Phimai and Phanom Rung are ideal for history lovers. One of the region’s most unusual natural sites is Sam Phan Bok. A stretch of unusual holes along the bed of the Mekong River, it can only be visited in the dry season.
A great place to visit if you’re passing through is a place called “Koh Sok”, it’s so difficult to describe because it really is a place of immense beauty. I’s a national park on a huge lake, you get there by taking a long boat until you reach the “floating bungalows” which you sleep in. They are quite literally small wooden huts floating on the water in the middle of nowhere. Each side of a walk way is attached to a small mountain in the water and the huts sit on top of the walkway. It’s very basic but you don’t need anything more for a few nights just to enjoy the beauty and the peace and tranquility of the place. There is a small restaurant serving rice, vegetables and whatever fish they caught that day (you can quite often see huge fish swimming underneath the restaurant whilst you eat). They also have bathrooms, kayaks that come with the price of staying there- so you can go off exploring. Take a snorkel! The beds are basically mattresses on the floor inside the huts but I slept like a baby whilst I was there- must be something to do with the calmness I’ve never experienced on this level.
Finally, the sunrise/sunsets over the water and mountains is something that is sure to take your breath away. Definitely somewhere to try your best to visit!