Southeast Asia is primarily known as the destination for astounding beaches and less expensive vacations. There was a time that backpackers thronged the countries here, especially Thailand. The Land of Smiles is popular for its cheap accommodations, cheap Thai food, and unbelievable natural scenery and breathtaking beaches. But now that almost everybody in Europe, Australia, and North America knows how insanely affordable it is to travel to a beautiful Asian country, the once-undiscovered gems in the country are teeming with tourists from all over the world. This list is ten of the best places in Thailand that are still worth visiting, crowded or not.
You've never been to Thailand if you haven't set foot in Bangkok. This is a must-see city as it is also the country's capital city, and probably where we'll be landing in Thailand wherever we're coming from. So where should we go once we're in Bangkok?
Take a tour of the city to visit The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Take in the local scene with a walk along Khao San Road or Lumpini Park. Can't get enough of temples, there are more with Wat Traimit, Wat Saket, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho's Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
9 Hua Hin
If you are looking for a different scene other than the usual beach and resort themes in Thailand, Hua Hin is the place for you. This district is one of the nearest beaches from Thailand, just about a 4-hour drive away from the capital city for less than $10. It is said that Hua Hin has maintained it's Thai authenticity, is not drowning with tourists, and still even have local Thai people vacationing in it. Most of the tourists here are retirees, so there are fewer bar scenes and wild parties. The ocean view is as beautiful as any other beautiful beach in Thailand, so if we're shooting for some peace and quiet and authentic Thai food and closer to Bangkok, it’s Hua Hin.
The town of Kanchanaburi is located about 90 miles west of Bangkok. One can get there by train or taxi, but taking a metered taxi is going to cost a lot more (around 1,500 baht). People visit this place for the Death Railway Bridge. If you've watched the 1957 classic war film The Bridge on the River Kwai, it was based on the Death Railway Bridge or the River Kwai Bridge here in Kanchanaburi. Weirdly, the film was not shot here but in Sri Lanka. Don't leave without checking out the Erawan National Park and the historic Hellfire Pass and Memorial Museum.
Phuket is one of the most popular island destinations in Thailand. It is located south, on that trickling-down strip of land that ends at the northern border of Malaysia. With a hefty budget, one can stay in the luxury resorts situated in Phuket, like The Shore At Katathani, Twinpalms Phuket Resort, and COMO Point Yamu. There are also a lot of other accommodations on the island for different types of budgets, small or smaller. Phuket is the starting point for most of the popular tourist spots in Thailand. From here you can go visit the Similan Islands, James Bond Island, Phang Nga Bay, and Phi Phi Islands.
6 Khao Sok National Park
In the southern part of Thailand, just up the island of Phuket, lies three Thai national parks. They're stacked together from top to bottom, the one on top is Si Phangnga National Park and the bottom one is Khlong Phanom National Park. The one right in the middle is perhaps the most popular of all national parks in the country, it's the Khao Sok National Park.
This nature reserve is just overflowing with nature activities and lush scenery that any nature lover would go crazy over. Take any or all the tours: rainforest nature safari, jungle safari, and jungle lake safari, and get your money's worth and more.
5 Khao Lak
Khao Lak is still in the southern part of Thailand, on the western side of Khlong Phanom National Park, and faces the Andaman Sea to the west. Khao Lak is a mountainous area that faces the beach, which makes for great panoramic views and photos. It's a place with beautiful beaches like the Pak Weep Beach, Coconut Beach, and Bang Niang Beach. For some land adventures, visit the Ton Chong Fa Waterfall and the International Tsunami Museum. Take some boat tours to enjoy some virgin beaches and seashores in it's natural, undisturbed state, or hike the Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park for great views of the beaches below.
4 Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is one of the popular cities in Thailand that's far from the sand and the ocean. It is located in the north of the country near Myanmar and Laos, about 435 miles from Bangkok. This city is where people go to swim and bathe, not at the beaches, the culture of Thailand. One can visit a number of amazing temples here, like Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. If we're into animals, there's the famous Chiang Mai Night Safari and the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Don't leave without taking a stroll in the Doi Inthanon National Park, there are also botanical gardens, hill tribes, waterfalls, and countless other activities in this wondrous city.
3 Koh Samui
Thailand has 1,430 islands in its territory, and the second-largest island is Koh Samui. Located on the other side of Thailand's southern island strip, Koh Samui is surrounded by the Gulf of Thailand and is to the south of sister island Ko Pha Ngan. This quiet town knew no one but fishermen and local folk, now it's one of the favorite stops of tourists looking for a great beach vacation. People also hike and climb the Pom Mountain to discover the Tarnim Magic Garden or Secret Buddha Garden, and enjoy the view from Suk Valan or Mountain Grand View.
If we are enjoying Chiang Mai in Thailand and still have time left for another destination, head further north and stop by the town of Pai. This town is much closer to Myanmar and Laos than to Bangkok. Pai is a small piece of heaven in Thailand, and it's a famous backpacker's paradise. There are plenty of grounded activities here, far from resorts and the luxury of a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Enjoying the sunset at Pai Canyon is the main attraction, checking out the Tham Lod Cave, searching for hot springs, frolicking with elephants, and swimming in waterfalls are some of the attractions in Pai.
The last place in this list, and certainly one that's a must-see when traveling to Thailand is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Historic City of Ayutthaya. This ancient city is believed to have been established in 1350. That was over six centuries ago! The city is located less than two hours away from Bangkok, so one would travel no more than 2 hours to get there from the capital. It's only right that this city is protected because the things that are on display are so unbelievable to the eyes and it's just a place thick with culture and history.