Where to go in Thailand Including the Major Cities and Islands

Where to go in Thailand Including the Major Cities and Islands

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Cities

Where to go in Thailand

  • Bangkok — Thailand’s bustling, frenetic capital, known among the Thai as Krung Thep
  • Ayutthaya — a historical city, UNESCO World Heritage Site and old capital of Siam
  • Chiang Mai— de facto capital of Northern Thailand and the heart of Lanna culture
  • Chiang Rai — gateway to the Golden Triangle, ethnic minorities and mountain trekking
  • Chumphon— gateway to the Chumphon Archipelago, Pathio’s unspoilt beaches & Ko Tao Island
  • Kanchanaburi — home of the bridge over the River Kwai and numerous World War II museums
  • Nakhon Ratchasima — largest city of the Isaan region
  • Pattaya — one of the main tourist destinations, known for its nightlife
  • Sukhothai — Thailand’s first capital, with amazing ruins still
  • Surat Thani — home of the Srivijaya Empire, gateway to Ko Samui

Where to go in Thailand

The reclining Buddha at Wat Chedi Luang Chiang Mai.

Where to go in Thailand

Other destinations

  • Ko Chang — once a quiet island, now undergoing major tourism development
  • Ko Lipe — small island in the middle of Tarutao National Park, amazingly unspoiled with great reefs and beaches
  • Ko Pha Ngan — site of the famous Full Moon Party with miles of quiet coastline
  • Ko Samet — the nearest island beach escape from Bangkok
  • Ko Samui — comfortable, nature, and entertainment hippie hangout gone upmarket
  • Ko Tao — known for its diving and nature, easily reached from Chumphon by high speed catamaran
  • Khao Lak — gateway to the Similan Islands, hard hit by the 2004 tsunami, but vibrant once more
  • Khao Sok National Park — one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Thailand
  • Khao Yai National Park — take a night time 4×4 safari spotting deer or visit the spectacular waterfalls
  • Krabi Province — beach and watersports hub in the south, includes Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta
  • Phuket — the original Thai paradise island, now very developed, but still with some beautiful beaches
  • Khon Kaen — in the heart of Esaan (Isan) known for their silk and dinosaur sites.
  • Mae Sot — a thriving multi-cultural border town, with lots of national parks around to explore
  • Mae Sariang — small town life at the Thai Burmese border with trecking and Salween National Park

Where to go in Thailand

Where to go in Thailand. Swing hanging from tree at White Sand Beach Koh Chang

Regions

Thailand can be conveniently divided into five geographic and cultural regions:

Regions of Thailand
Northern Thailand
Chiang Mai, hill tribes, and the Golden Triangle.
Isaan
The great northeast region. Get off the beaten track and discover back country Thailand, mouthwatering food, and some magnificent Khmer ruins.
Central Thailand
Bangkok, lowlands and historic Thailand.
Eastern Thailand
Beaches and islands within easy reach of Bangkok, like Pattaya, Ko Samet and Ko Chang.
Southern Thailand
Lush rainforest, hundreds of km of coastline and countless islands on both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, plus Phuket, Chumphon, Krabi, Ko Samui, Ko Tao and more of Thailand’s famous

Where to go in Thailand

Information

Where to go in Thailand

Where to go in Thailand. Bangkok Wat Pho Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Thailand is the country in Southeast Asia most visited by tourists, and for good reason. You can find almost anything here: thick jungle as green as can be, crystal blue waters that feel more like a warm bath than a swim in the ocean, and food that can curl your nose hairs while dancing across your taste buds. Exotic, yet safe; cheap, yet equipped with every modern amenity you need, there is something for every interest and every price bracket, from beach front backpacker bungalows to some of the best luxury hotels in the world. And despite the heavy flow of tourism, Thailand retains its quintessential Thai-ness, with a culture and history all its own and a carefree people famed for their smiles and their fun-seeking sanuk lifestyle. Many travellers come to Thailand and extend their stay well beyond their original plans and others never find a reason to leave. Whatever your cup of tea, they know how to make it in Thailand.

This is not to say that Thailand doesn’t have its downsides, including the considerable growing pains of an economy where an agricultural labourer is lucky to earn 300 baht per day while the nouveaux riches cruise past in their BMWs. Bangkok, the capital, is notorious for its traffic jams and rampant development has wrecked much of once-beautiful Pattaya and Phuket. In heavily touristed areas, some lowlifes have made scamming tourists into an art form. Immigration queues are often long, giving travellers bad first and last impressions. And (in the extremely rare cases) when tourists are attacked or murdered, there is often little police follow-up.

Climate

 Where to go in Thailand

Where to go in Thailand. Koh Lan Viewpoint

Thailand is largely tropical, so it’s hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F), a degree of relief provided only in the mountains in the far north of Thailand. The careful observer will, however, note three seasons:

  • Cool: From November to the end of February, it doesn’t rain much and temperatures are at their lowest, although you will barely notice the difference in the south and will only need to pack a sweater if hiking in the northern mountains, where temperatures can fall as low as 5°C. This is the most popular time to visit and, especially around Christmas and New Year’s or at Chinese New Year a few weeks later, finding flights and accommodation can be expensive and difficult.
  • Hot: From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F). Pleasant enough when sitting on the beach with a drink in hand, but not the best time of year to go temple-tramping in Bangkok.
  • Rainy: From July to October, although it only really gets under way in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country. This doesn’t mean it rains non-stop, but when it does it pours and flooding is not uncommon.

There are local deviations to these general patterns. In particular, the south-east coast of Thailand (including Ko Samui) has the rains reversed, with the peak season being May-October and the rainy off season in November-February.

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