Thailand Travel - Destinations
Thailand has dozens of destinations. Each location's appeal to the individual traveler depends on what interests you. We have included a range of locations that balance nightlife, nature, adventure, cultural appreciation and sun worship. To see a bit of what Thailand offers .. click on the names
Chiang Mai is Thailand's largest province and the Kingdom's second largest city. Travel opportunities include nature outings, white-water rafting and birding at Doi Inthanon National Park, which has the highest elevation in Thailand.
Cultural attractions include Wat Doi Suthep and Phu Ping Palace. Travel Chiang Mai in any season, but take a jacket for Dec-Feb. Rainy season is Jun-Oct.
Pai Located north of Chiang Mai City, Pai has become a popular budget and nature destination in recent years.
Chiang Rai is famous for the notorious golden triangle, but has much more to offer the adventurous traveler. It can be colder than Chiang Mai during Dec - Feb. Hill tribe villages are common attractions.
Take some time to enjoy locally grown Oolong tea in the Chinese Community atop Doi Maesalong. Learn a few words of the Mandarin Language and try the black-chicken soup. Chiang Rai is more of “what's around” than what is in the city.
Rainy season is Jun - Oct. And by some quirk of nature cold rain and hail storms often occur during the Songkran holidays.
Nan is off the beaten path, but should not be ignored. You can find some nice rubber-boat rafting on the Nan river.
Worth a few hours (or a day) of serenity is Wat Phra That Chae Haeng, a 14th century icon about 2 km outside town and on a hill with great views around.
Best visited Oct - May. Rainy season is Jun - Oct
Koh Phangan was pretty much a backpacker island until a generation ago. Now, besides the infamous full-moon party on Haad Rin (beach), any number of up-scale resorts have been developed.
Expect nice beaches and a more laid-back vibe than Koh Samui. Best months to visit are Dec - June
Be cautious about boat travel during the monsoons as the sea can get rough. Check the weather.
Koh Samui has become one of the top tourist destinations in Thailand. Chaweng alone has more than 100 resorts and bungalows. Bars and cafes line most of Chaweng and Lamai beaches.
The better beaches are on the north and east sides of Samui Island. Each area has a different personality.
Koh Samui's best weather is Dec - Jun, with Dec - Feb being ideal for most travelers. Samui starts getting hot in Mar, but if you like hot weather, the prices are better.
Ubon Ratchathani has outstanding views of the Mekong River on the cliffs of Pha Taem National Park. Walk the 180 m trail along the base of the cliffs to see the 3,000 year old petrogliphs
Soi Sawan Waterfall cascades above fields of multi-colored wildflowers that bloom from Oct - Nov.
Buriram The Phanom Rung Sanctuary is the most important attraction in Buriram province. Phanom Rung is a 12th century religious sanctuary built during the Khmer empire and dedicated to the God Shiva, the prime Hindu deity.
Phanom Rung is located off Rt 24 about half-way between Nam Rong and Prakhon Chai.
If you like crowds and a festive atmosphere visit during the annual festival the 1st week in April. If you want a peaceful day at the historic park, try a weekday. Hint: April in lower Issan can be HOT!
Cool season is Dec - Feb, rainy season is May - Oct.
Nong Khai, perched on the banks of the Mekong River opposite Vientiane is one gateway to Laos via the first Thai-Lao Friendship bridge. (You can also cross the Mekong by boat).
Nong Khai has an odd and attractive vibe that is hard to define. You may find yourself spending more time there than planned.
Up river from Nong Khai Town the Sri Chiang Mai district and a revered temple on the river bank, Wat Hin Mak Peng. It is a longish ride but a nice experience.
A must see is the rather bizarre temple and sculpture garden at Wat Sala Kaew Ku. Not to be missed.
Loei For one month every year, Loei has the distinction of having the coldest spot in Thailand. Phu Kradueng National Park, with an elevation to 1,200 m, offers chilly weather and spectacular views.
Nature is at its beautiful best in the mountains around. Umphur Chiang Khan is a delightful area where the Mekong river returns to Thailand (after leaving near Wiang Kaen).
Nature attraction in Loei include wildlife sanctuaries, nature parks and enough for days of appreciation.
If you happen to be nearby in late Jun - early July, find out when the Pi Ta Khon (Ghost) Festival is being held in Don Sai District. Completely unique in Thailand.
Udorn / Udon Thani is a major city is Issan and happens to be the location of Ban Chiang, one of the most important archeological sites in Southeast Asia.
Udorn has more western oriented nightlife than most cities in Isan. Western food is readily available as is tasty Issan.
Nakhon Phanom If you wanted to spend a lazy couple of days in an Isan riverfront town, Nakhon Phanom might be the best place to do so .. especially after a slow all-day ride or drive along the Mekong. Nakhon Phanom has a really laid-back atmosphere. Sit for hours drinking a cold beer and looking across ate the jagged hills of Laos (or actually visit Thai Kek).
Take a day and go 50 km south to That Phanom. One of the most important temple in Isan is Phra That Phanom. It is an experience worth the day.
Mukdahan was touted as being the future gateway to Danang, Vietnam. A proposed highway starting at the second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge would cross Laos and run to Vietnam's coastal city. So far, the bridge (built by Japan) only links Mukdahan and Savannakhet.
Visiting Savannakhet is easier now, but they also will not allow tourists on the river ferries because of the bridge.
If you pass on a Laos visit, don't pass on the Indochine Market -- even if you don't want to buy anything.
Sukhothai has what may be the most important historical park in Thailand. If you happen to visit during the full moon in November, by all means take in the Loi Krathong Festival in the Historical Park. Sukhothai is where Loi Krathong began. It will be a memorable and moving experience. Make sure you have plenty of charged camera batteries and image storage.
Best visited Nov - Apr. Sukhothai is a must-see place for a serious culture traveler.
While the main historical park in Sukhothai is worth a full day, the city itself may not be worth your nights. Consider staying staying in Phitsanulok, just 60 km east.
Phitsanulok is a largish city and a transportation hub for bus and rail travel. But Phitsanulok has some interest for travelers. Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat aka Wat Yai is a complex near the Nan River Bridge and the main street through the city. The temple houses Phra Buddha Chinnarat. Besides being a truly beautiful Buddha image, it may be the most respected after the Emerald Buddha.
House boats have been moored along the river for decades. Some have been converted to small floating restaurants. Phitsanulok has much more to offer the traveler. Best visited Nov - Feb. Rainy season is May - Oct
Khon Kaen is Thailand's 4th largest city, but it's not too high on most tourism rosters. That's a real shame because it really it may be the most "Thai" of Thailand's large cities.
Khon Kaen University is the largest (in land area) in Thailand. Bung Kaen Nakhon is a pleasant lake in the city center, great for socializing and people watching.Khon Kaen is also one center of Thailand's silk industry. Chonnabot (17 km south) is famous for mud me silk.
Travel 75 km to Phu Wiang to see dinosaur fossils, return via the lake at Ubolrat Dam.
Khon Kaen has a Lao Embassy for travel visas. Best to visit in the cool season, Nov - Feb.
Kampaeng Phet This little city on the Ping river lives up to it's Name (diamond). A smaller version of the Sukhothai ruins is easily accessible from the city . Actually the setting is much more natural as well. Tour the town and ride through the park on a bicycle -- or rent your wheels at the park.
You may want to spend the night across the river where many small resorts are located. If you need a workout, visit the city river-drive and find a row of public workout machines. People-watching should be on your agenda as Kamphaeng Phet is noted for lovely women.
Visit during the cool season (Nov - Feb).
Korat is considered the gateway to Issan and in many aspects “another largish Thai city with no beaches.” While the city itself is less interesting than what's around, it does have good and fairly-priced hotels, a large shopping mall for people watching or shopping, and some pretty good nightlife.
Top of the list of culture attractions may be the 12th century Khmer Sanctuary at Phimai. The area is 50 km north of Korat town off Rt 2. The site has been restored as a historical park and makes for an interesting day.
Still in Phimai, consider visiting the park st Sai-ngam. A literal “forest” of Banyan trees that may be the largest stand in Southeast Asia. One tree is 350 years old. Stroll around the park and a lake teeming with fish.
Pottery / ceramic lovers should have a drive through Dan Kwian, about 15 km south of Korat town (on the road to Chok Chai). Dozens of shops large & small sell items large & small fashioned from the unique clay of that area.
Silk shoppers may want to head south of Korat on Rt 304 to the area around Pak Thongchai (not to be confused with Pak Chong). Pak Thongchai has dozens of fine silk factories.
Built on a plateau, Korat is a tiny bit less steamy than the lowlands, but the coolness of Nov - Feb is recommended. Rainy season is Jun - Oct.
Kanchanaburi is famous for the WW II Death Railway and Bridge over the Kwae (not kwai) River. Each year a memorial ceremony draws international crowds that pay respect to the thousands who died there of disease, physical abuse & starvation.
You can actually take a ride on the original rails, or walk through Hellfire pass -- where hundreds of POW's slaved 24/7 to cut the rocky pass the for the railroad. Visit the JEATH museum and Kanchanaburi.
Kanchanaburi has any number of resorts along the river and a dozen or more world-class golf courses.The province offers excellent nature adventure such as white-water rafting.
A destination on it's own, Sangklaburi has nature, sights, and more nature.
Kanchanaburi is one of the hottest areas in Central Thailand, so visit Nov - Feb. Expect rain between Jun & Oct
Auyttaya is the soul of Thailand. The thriving city 74 km north of Bangkok surrounds the ruins of Thailand's golden era. Walk amid the reminders of the sacking of Ayuttaya by an invading Burmese army. Send time in one of the museums.
Consider a guided tour of the temples of Ayuttaya from one of the many guides around the railway station. At least 20 sites are worth a visit. Some are old, others are beautiful. All are Thailand.
Have a meal at Pae Krung Kao on the river. I recommend the crispy duck!
For another experience, take a shared van to Ayuttaya then a boat along the Chao Phaya River back to Bangkok.Cool season is nov-Feb. Rainy season is Jun - Oct
Bangkok is everything a major international metropolis can be. And Bangkok has attractions for every type and class of traveler. While not as old as may cities in Thailand, the city has a fair share of cultural attractions.
Accommodations range from the world's best like the the Oriental to sleazy walk-ups on Khao San Road -- and everything in between.
Nightlife of every description is available. The famous areas of Patpong, Nana and Soi Cowboy are just the beginning.
Bangkok is a shoppers paradise with mega-malls that cater to all classes. You can get bargains galore in Pratunam or spend like a high-roller in fashionable boutiques.
Diners can find any cuisine, from fried grasshoppers to European white truffles. And as expected, the most delicious Thai food on the planet.
Worthwhile day trips outside Bangkok include Muang Boran aka The Ancient City and Khao Kaew Open Zoo. Koh Kret is a Mon pottery village on an island in the Chao Phaya river
Because of traffic, skyscrapers, & kilometers of concrete, Bangkok is usually hot. Cooler in Dec - Feb.
Stay away from Bangkok in the middle of the rainy season (Jul - Oct) if at all possible. Miserable traffic jams, flooded streets and sidewalks -- not much fun!
Pattaya has a reputation as an adult playground for libinous men and sailors on shore leave. Actually, Pattaya deserves much of that reputation. But if you are looking for in-your-face nightlife and reasonably-priced accommodations, you will probably love Pattaya.
If a little is better than a lot, Jomtien Beach is just down the road.
For watching the extremes of embarrassing adult behavior, spend some time on Walking Street around midnight.
Because it's on the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya has a slightly more moderate climate. Rainy season is May - Oct.
Koh Chang is Thailand's second-largest island (after Phuket). Just offshore from Trat Province and near Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand, the island is part of an Mu Ko Chang National Park, an area of 650 sq km. The park includes 40+ large and small islands in the Gulf of Thailand ~ 8 km off Trat province.
Koh Chang is mainly about beaches and beach life holidays. Hundreds of a accost range from up-scale resorts to beach bungalows. Beaches vary from noisy to lively to quiet.
Koh chang has some lovely nature areas with lush tropical-rain-forest to waterfalls.
Get there by ferry from Laem Ngop (17 km from Trat town).The islands are cooler, and best visited from Nov - Feb. Rainy season is May - Oct.
The southwestern monsoon is mid May - Oct and creates adverse sea conditions
Hua Hin For many years, Hua Hin was a small fishing village on the west side of the Gulf of Thailand. After H. M. King Rama VII built Klaikangwon (“far from worries”) Palace in the 1920's , the town became a magnet for the rich and famous of Bangkok as it is only a 3-hour drive.
Hua Hin and Cha am (to the north) are often uttered in the same breath, and the resort area now includes Pran Buri and Paknam Pran.
Hua Hin beach is often more highly touted, but Cha am, Khao Takieb and Paknam Pran have, in my opinion, superior beaches.Hua Hin and surrounds have long and short term rentals of all sizes and types.
The area is a semi-arid region of the country so rainfall is normally not much of an issue, but the greatest rainfall will be May - Nov.Coolest season is Nov - Jan/Feb
Koh Samet is a small (3 km x 6km) holiday island off the coast of Rayong, part of Khao Laem Ya–Ko Samet National Park. Highly developed over the years, Koh Samet is popular with Bangkokians during weekends.
“Beach island lifestyle” pretty much sums up a visit to Koh Samet. Beaches are beautiful, the weather is good, beer is cold and seafood is tasty.
Getting there is easy. A bus or minivan from Pattaya or Bangkok, and a boat ride from Ban Phe. Rainy season is Sep-Nov. Coolest months are Dec - Feb
Koh Tao is the scuba diving capitol of the Gulf of Thailand. As a matter of fact, some of the 40 dive resorts on Koh Tao will not book you a room unless you include dive package(s).
Getting to Koh Tao requires a boat / ferry ride. You can fly to Koh Samui the get a speedboat, or take an overnight ferry from Chumphon Town
Rainy season is Jun - Nov. Yes, it doesn't rain under water, but when the Monsoon hits in November conditions are choppy, the rain is continual, and visibility is terrible.
Cool season is pretty much year round, but coolest mid Nov - Feb.
Khaolak has beautiful beaches -- and more beautiful beaches -- and a few touristy things. This stretch of Phangnga coastline has some of the best beaches on the Andaman Sea.
Khaolak has more resorts than you can shake a sandal at. A good many have been rebuilt after the devastation of the 2004 tsunami. Prices range from ~ THB 500 to THB 13,000+
If you get tired of the beach, some nearby jungle trekking is available. Plus a number of scuba diving operators operate out of Khaolak. Actually, a recently-discovered coral reef lies just offshore. Most dive boats depart from the harbor at Thap Lamu to the south.
Cool season is Dec - Feb. Rainy season is May - Dec.
Phuket is an internationally known resort province with a variety of attractions and stunning beaches. A number of islands off Phuket have even better beaches and cleaner water.
The mainland of Phuket has more than 20 named beaches and somewhere around 12 islands. Patong Beach is famous and becoming more infamous by the day. Home to the jet ski scams and outrageous transportation prices and dramas. Yet people still flock to the wide beach where spending the day on a sun lounger is considered an “activity”.
Phuket has Blue Canyon Golf & Country Club where the Johnny Walker Classic is hosted. It is a stunning layout, and any golfer real should beg, borrow, or steal in order to play a round there.
Phuket town is a slice of near normalcy in a province where excesses rule. It's basically a Sino-Portugese settlement that was central to the tin dredging industry.
Scuba dive shops in Phuket offer the best scuba diving in Thailand. Liveaboard diving around Koh Similan has long set the standard. However, the smaller boars have trouble reaching that area during the Monsoon season.
Cool season is Dec - Feb. Rainy season May - November.
Krabi is simply stunning. The beaches are stunning --the islands are stunning -- and the forest of limestone karst sprung from the sea is jaw dropping.
Before you remind us that Krabi doesn't have the variety of beaches of Phuket, consider than Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta are part of Krabi. Koh Phi Phi Ley (smaller of the two islands) is where “The Beach” is located.
Where else can you climb a bolted limestone cpff above a white sand beach and an azure sea? Yes, Railay Bay. You have to walk or go by boat. Lets hope they keep it that way.
Krabi has good scuba diving around the islands southeast of Koh Lanta. Lanta (Koh Lanta Yai) has some really nice beaches, good water and a National Park.
Cool season Nov - Feb. Rainy Season is Apr - Nov
Koh Tarutao is the nearest island off the Coast of Sathun Province. The island group is officially the Butang Group and consists of Koh Tarutao, Koh Lipe, Koh Rawi, Koh Adang and Koh Butang. Koh Lipe is the smallest island in the archipelago and the only legally inhabited island, settled by sea gypsies.
An adventurers' paradise, spread 50 - 100 km offshore in the Andaman deeps (north of Langawai Island, Malaysia). A great area for sailing, beach combing and scuba diving (50+ m deep dive sites). Splendid white sand beaches, green tropical rain-forest -- and king cobras.
Permissions are required for visiting some islands. Restrictions may apply -- and some visitors and boat operators are sure to ignore the restrictions.
The Butang group has 2 seasons. Dry season is Nov- May. Coolest part of the dry season is Nov - Feb. Mar - May is hot and best for diving.
Rainy season is Jun - Oct.