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Top 10 best places to visit in Thailand

Top 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Thailand

One of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations, Thailand’s reputation for hedonism attracts thousands of backpackers and its natural beauty also attracts an increasing amount of holiday-makers. Thailand is a mystical country that leaves a lifelong impression on anyone who visits. It offers a rich history, smiling locals, some interesting quirks and of course an unforgettable experience! To help you see the best places in the country, here is my choice for the Top 10 best and most beautiful places to visit in Thailand…

Bangkok

Bangkok on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Bangkok is a restless and chaotic metropolis and an essential part of a trip to Thailand. Although not everyone’s cup of tea, the culture-shock inducing capital has some incredible places of interest that you would be foolish to miss. Highlights include the impossibly bejeweled Grand Palace, Wat Arun (one of the oldest and best-known landmarks in Bangkok) and Wat Po which is home to a giant reclining Buddha. Fun-seekers head for the notorious backpacker’s haven the Khao San road, the bazaars, and alleyways of Chinatown and the infamous Patpong Night Market (located in the city’s red-light district).

The Floating Market

floating-market on GlobalGrasshopper.com

The Floating Market (made famous by the James Bond classic “The Man with the Golden Gun”) is located on the Damnoen Saduak Canal in the region of Bangkok. Although now a major tourist attraction, the market is a photogenic place where visitors can get an idea of what trading was like in Thailand before the modernization of the city. It’s also a lot of fun. Buying something here means hailing down a narrow long boat piled high with produce – quite an experience in itself! The region is also filled with lush vineyards, orchards and thriving local businesses which are great to view by canal boat on your journey there.

Chiang Mai

Chiang-Mai on GlobalGrasshopper.com

The spiritual city of Chiang Mai is much quieter than Bangkok but still an essential visit if you want to see one of the most beautiful places to visit in Thailand. Dotted with temples, craft shops, restaurants, and more than a handful of excellent Thai massage and cooking schools, the city has a somehow relaxed and tranquil atmosphere. Many travelers often mention Chiang Mai as their favorite Thai city and once visited it’s easy to see why. It’s located high in the north mountainous region of Thailand which makes it a great base for mountain trekking (organized treks can be arranged very easily here with almost every other shop offering them). Although the treks from Chiang Mai are interesting, they are often a well-worn path and many in-the-know backpackers now head for nearby Pai instead. Pai is a chilled-out small town located near the Myanmar border which has become popular with travelers, artists, and musicians. Head there for less touristy treks and more ‘rustic’ visits to hill-tribes. Here are 50 unique things to do in Chiang Mai.

San Kamphaeng Hot Springs

San Kamphaeng Hot Springs Thailand

San Kamphaeng is a district located 36km from the northern city Chiang Mai. The area is home to the popular and reasonably priced hot springs which are set in a tranquil, 40 acre landscaped park. They are famous for their restorative properties and people come from miles to cure aches and pains and to take a break from the chaos of Bangkok. The deep-source springs reach over 100 degrees centigrade and are naturally high in sulfur. Visit to bath in the mineral-rich waters, camp in the surrounding parkland or to boil some eggs in the hot steaming pools!

The East Coast Islands

The-east-islands on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are islands located on the east side of Thailand which are popular with both vacationers and backpackers. Both islands are easily among the most beautiful places to visit in Thailand and they’re known for their palm tree-lined white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, and laid-back attitudes. Koh Samui is more developed and geared towards holiday-makers and Koh Phangan with its cool cafes and world-famous full moon parties has more of a bohemian feel. Nearby, the rugged island of Koh Tao and the idyllic Koh Nang Yuan (pictured above) are only an inexpensive boat ride away. These two islands are much less touristy due to their more isolated locations and are perfect for those looking for peace and world-class diving.

Mae Hong Son

Mae Hon Song on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Mae Hong Son is the capital of Thailand’s most northwestern province and its close proximity to the Burmese border gives it a very different feel to the rest of the country. Very quiet and isolated, this mountainous city is filled with Burmese style temples and shrouded in an atmospheric mist. Visitors come here for the unique natural scenery, mountain trekking, craft markets and to see the local hill tribe communities – one of which is the famous Karen long neck tribe. The Thanon Thongchai range between Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand is popular for trekking and highlights include the beautiful six-tiered Pha Sua waterfall.

Ayutthaya

Attuya on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Only an hour’s train journey from Bangkok, the ancient city of Ayutthaya should be on every visitor’s itinerary. Once a sacred, important Siamese kingdom it existed from 1351 right up until 1767 when it was raided and sacked by an invading army. Today the ancient city lies in crumbling ruins but the remains of the extraordinary and once towering temples are classed as a UNESCO world heritage site and are hauntingly beautiful. To make the most of this site, allow a full day to explore and of course, don’t forget to pack your camera.

Railay and the Krabi Province

Railay on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Railay and the surrounding coast of the Krabi province (located in the South of Thailand) is a tropical paradise characterised by towering limestone cliffs, turquoise water, and powder white sand. From this area, it’s also easy to take a trip to nearby Phang Nga to see the famous ‘James Bond Rock’. Railay is a beautiful secluded beach – accessible only by boat – which attracts a mixture of in-the-know backpackers, well-heeled tourists, and enthusiastic rock climbers. Surrounded by dense vegetation and mountains, the area is also perfect for trekking. There are many beautiful beaches in Thailand but Railay is unique because it’s completely cut off from the daily grind – here visitors kick back and mostly stay a lot longer than originally planned.

Koh Phi Phi

Koh-Phi-Phi on GlobalGrasshopper.com

The tiny but idyllic west coast island of Koh Phi Phi is seen by many as the ultimate island paradise. Even though the island has now fully recovered from the devastating 2009 tsunami, it has sadly suffered from rapid tourist growth (especially since the release of “The Beach” starring Leo Dicaprio). In spite of this, Koh Phi Phi still manages to retain a relaxed vibe which seems to keep both the backpackers and the vacationers happy. Highlights include climbing a steep viewpoint to watch the sunset and hiring a long tail boat to snorkel in the beautiful surrounding waters.

Hin Daeng

Hin-Daeng on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Adventurous travellers should head for Hin Daeng, located in the Andaman Sea. Literally meaning the Red Rock, this is one of the top diving spots in Thailand – if not the world. Swim amongst underwater pinnacles, swaying carpets of anemone and red soft coral. It’s also teeming with marine-life including huge shoals of fish, round batfish, manta ray, barracuda and if you’re lucky the odd whale shark or two.

It’s almost impossible to squeeze the best of Thailand into a Top 10 list so we also need to give a special mention to the gorgeous beaches of Ko Kood, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Khao Yai National Park, the remote city of Chiang Rai, the luxurious island resort of Phuket, the cultural city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Kanchanaburi (where the Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed) and the blissful Koh Lanta.

Animal lovers should also include a visit to the beautiful Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary located in North Thailand. Started by Katherine Connor, a former UK traveller (and now National Geographic’s traveller of the year) they provide sanctuary to formally abused elephants and welcome both guests and volunteers. Visit to see some of the happiest elephants in Thailand, we promise you won’t regret it!

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Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 40 countries on trips and living in Dublin, South East Asia and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.

74 Comments

  • Avatar

    Bodlagz

    7 February, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Try Kanchanaburi as an alternative, you could spend between 2 – 3 days there. See the Death Railway, bridge over the river kwai, war museum and the war cemetery, it’s a very touching place. The war cemetery is kept in absolutely immaculate condition, it really does bring a tear to your eyes.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Graham

      22 January, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Hi Tiffany, it’s Koh Nang Yuan which is a very small East Coast island 15 minutes from Koh Tao. To get there you can hire a long boat taxi from Koh Tao which will cost around 100 baht one way.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Tiffany

        22 January, 2012 at 12:30 pm

        Thanks Graham! Is there a certain hotel you have to stay at to go there?
        Is this still here in 2012?
        Heading there for my honeymoon in 4 weeks and still planning on where to go.

      • Avatar

        Imran

        8 June, 2012 at 5:46 pm

        bro,

        can u advise me places in thailand to hang out….i m 30 years old guy and going there alone…i m fond of night life, beaches, shopping etc……

  • Avatar

    Ebrahim shah

    21 January, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I’m planning to go to Thailand with my Family on a holiday. Your article really helps a lot. The Kids are so excited. Thank You.

    Reply
  • Avatar

    ivounnerry

    27 November, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I’ve visited Bangkok last September and really I didn’t enjoy it ‘coz I never see the places I love to see esp. the floating market. I hope next month I can visit the top spots there. Now, I need to make a list for our trip..

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Graham

      4 November, 2011 at 8:28 am

      Hi Kewell we don’t have a specific northern Thailand list i’m afraid. Although if you are visiting the North then of course visit Chiang Mai and also add in Pai, the Hot Springs, Mae Hong Son and Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries. Trekking is very popular in the North too and this can be arranged easily from the main cities and towns.

      Reply
  • Avatar

    deepti ahuja

    29 August, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Me and my friend would like to visit Thailand soon…. planning a kind of reunion in Thailand!!!! we are thinking of availing yatra.com packages as my experience with yatra.com has always been great.

    Reply
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      navin

      29 March, 2012 at 4:09 am

      it is better to go without packeage.always good to search places.u can stay thr in village.thailand is so much cheap u hv to serach,so it is more nice places thr other tahn pattaya or phuket

      Reply
  • Avatar

    electricpig

    19 August, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this article, and the images are great. Also helpful for the suggestions of places to visit; I think I’m going to need to extend my trip! 🙂

    Reply

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