Thailand is one of my favorite South-East Asian countries among the ones I have visited until date – I must say it is favorite country so far. In my website, you will find information of many offbeat as well as popular places of Thailand that you must visit when you are around!
For Thailand, I would really like to tell everyone that Thailand is not about sex tourism, there is much more to explore in Thailand than just Pattaya, which is indeed considered as the sex capital of the world. It has some of the finest beaches with clear turquoise water, world-class diving facilities, lush jungles, amazing architecture of Buddhist temples, amazing food, friendly atmosphere, and cheap prices for transport and tours.
I have been living here since November 2014 and have explored many parts of this amazing country, and still exploring. I have realized that it is an easy country to travel to even if you are backpacking alone or with friends – there are always so many people you get to meet here.
Thailand is traditionally divided into 4 regions: Northern, Central, Eastern (commonly called as Isaan), and Southern Thailand. But according to TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand), it is divided into 5 regions: Northern, North-Eastern (commonly called as Isaan), Central, Eastern, and Southern Thailand.
These regions are furthermore divided into all in all 75 provinces (changwat), which all are named after their capital, and beside the provinces, there are 2 special governed districts – the capital city of Bangkok and the city of Pattaya.
Every region has something to offer to the travelers – there are must-sees and must-dos in each of the regions.
Northern Thailand is a mountainous region, so it is cooler compared to other parts of the country. It is popular for its caves, hilly landscapes, temples of Lanna-style architecture, cultivation of temperate crops including great variety of delicious fruits, etc.
Chiang Mai province has Chiang Mai as the capital city of the north. It is a great place to chill, explore the ancient temples of the old city, and it is also a great place to prepare yourself for hikes and treks to Doi Inthanon National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks of the north. It is also popular for its Songkran festival celebrated at its best here.
Further north of Chiang Mai, there is Chiang Rai province, famous for its white temple and various hill tribes living to the north of the province, close to Mae Sai, the bordertown, where you get to visit the Golden Triangle – the border between Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar.
The most beautiful mountain scenery in the north still lies in Mae Hong Son province with a chance to explore interesting caves and kayak over the rivers full of current. It also has Pai, a beautiful hill station popular for treks and different adventurous activities.
To the east of Chiang Mai, there are ancient provinces like Lampang and Lamphun, which holds the finest temples made of Lanna-style architecture. Other ancient provinces that have mix of Laotian culture due to their proximity to Laos are Phayao and Nan.
Down south, you can experience simpler life of Thai people in provinces like Phrae, Uttaradit, and Phitsanulok. Though Phitsanulok is an important transport hub as it acts as the gateway to the north and north-east of Thailand.
The UNESCO world heritage sites of the ruins of ancient temples at historical parks of Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet are must-not-miss sites. Explore the Burmese lifestyle at Mae Sot, the border town in Tak province, and also do not miss out visiting the largest waterfall of the country in the same province.
There is also another interesting ancient city partially excavated in Phichit province. Phetchabun is popular for its beautiful hill station, Khao Kho. Finally, do not miss out the beautiful Buddhist temples of Nakhon Sawan and Uthai Thani provinces.
North-eastern Thailand is also known as Isaan, named after the Hindu God of death. It is bordered by Laos and Cambodia on its three sides. It is considered to be the poorest region of Thailand and is also a highly underestimated region from tourism point of view. Although, I love many places from Isaan – it has beautiful ancient temples, large lakes, adventurous national parks, riverside resorts, beautiful landscape, delicious Isaan delicacies, and lively festivals to offer.
The mighty Mekong river flows along the border of Cambodia and many provinces of Isaan in Thailand, so it is great to have a relaxing holiday at riverside resorts at Loei. The two border towns of Thailand and Laos are located at the provinces of Nong Khai and Mukdahan, which are also popular for its riverside guesthouses.
The mountain-top temple at Bueang Kan, the significant temple that is believed to contain the breastbone of Buddha at Nakhon Phanom, the biggest natural lake at Sakon Nakhon – also famous for its wax castle festival, mysterious rock formation sites at Chaiyaphum, and million-year-old shell fossil site at Nong Bua Lamphu are worth visiting.
Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Ubon Ratchathani are four provinces in Isaan that have bigger and popular cities than the rest. Udon Thani has the UNESCO world heritage sites of bronze age civilization. Khon Kaen is popular for its royal temples and its murals. Nakhon Ratchasima has Khmer temple complex in it. Ubon Ratchathani is temple city of Isaan, housing few of the beautiful Buddhist temples of the region, and is also popular for the candle festival.
The other small provinces also have something to offer to the tourists. For example, the giant Buddha of Amnat Charoen, the temple made of 1000 glass bottles at Si Saket, the beautiful Buddhist temples at Yasothon – also famous for its rocket festival, Roi Et, Kalasin and Mahasarakham, and the Khmer ruins at Buriram and Surin are also worth visiting.
The capital city of Bangkok with numbers of skyscrapers scattered around the vast expanse of the area with the mighty Chao Phraya river flowing across the heart of the city is the travel hub for many countries in South-East Asia. The beauty of the city lies within the crazy mix of chaos and elegance it has – its frenetic markets, crazy traffic, magnificent golden temples, posh hotels and restaurants, budget dorms and cheap eateries, and also alleys of sex-shows – you will get everything in Bangkok.
To the south and south-west of Bangkok, you should explore the neighboring provinces. For example, you can visit the replica of most of the famous places of Thailand in Samut Prakan, few of the oldest temples at Samut Sakhon, the railway market and the most authentic floating market at Samut Songkhram, the most popular floating market at Ratchaburi.
Further south, you can visit the giant caves and the old royal palace complexes at Phetchaburi and enjoy the city beaches and the cave at Sam Roi Yot National Park at Prachuap Khiri Khan.
To the west of Bangkok, you cannot afford to miss visiting Kanchanaburi province which has its main town located at the confluence of two rivers. It is popular for its most palpable war-time memory sites, the beautiful multicascade waterfalls at Erawan National Park, and caves at Sai Yok National Park. The shrine towns in the provinces of Suphanburi and Nakhon Pathom are also worth visiting.
To the north of Bangkok, you must visit the ruins of temples at the UNESCO world heritage site of Ayutthaya Historical Park at Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. The sunflower farms at Saraburi and Lopburi are worth visiting during the winters.
Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s oldest and most visited reserve that makes Nakhon Nayok popular, but it is also spread over Saraburi, Nakhon Ratchasima (north-eastern region), and Prachinburi (eastern region). There are also other small provinces like Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Ang Thong, Chainat, and Singburi, which are rich in paddy fields and beautiful Buddhist temples.
The most infamous city at the east-coast of Thailand is Pattaya, located in Chonburi province. It is certainly not one of my favorite destinations, because of the crazy sex-market reputation and lusterless beach. But in the same province, you would find beautiful rugged coastlines of Si Racha.
Further east, there are beautiful white sand island like Ko Samet in Rayong, beautiful river village in Chanthaburi, and the prettiest beaches of the east like Koh Chang and Koh Kood in Trat province, close to the border of Cambodia.
You must not miss visiting the largest wat (Buddhist temple) of the world along with two big Ganesha statues in Chachoengsao province. In Prachinburi, there is a wat with a giant Bodhi tree dated 2000 years ago, and there is also Si Mahosot Archaeological Site, the ruins of an ancient city dated 6th century. Sa Kaeo province connects to Cambodia border by Aranyaprathet – its border market and Khmer ruins are worth visiting.
Southern Thailand is mostly famous for its pristine turquoise colored water and white sand beaches rimmed by palm trees. A lazy stay in beachside bungalow, magnificent sunrises and sunsets over the beach, partying over the beach, beachside delicacies – what more can you ask for!
Chumphon is the province which connects to the islands of Gulf of Thailand by ferries. The beautiful islands of the Gulf coast, for example, Koh Tao (famous for its diving sites), Koh Nang Yuan (my second-favorite), Koh Samui (very touristy, not my favorite), and Koh Pha Ngan (popular for its crazy full moon parties), come under the governance of Surat Thani province. Surat Thani also has one of the most beautiful national parks – Khao Sok.
There are other provinces having less touristy beaches, like Nakhon Si Thammarat, which is also considered to be the cultural capital of the south because of its grand temples, Phatthalung – not so popular yet has beautiful bird park, and Songkhla, mostly popular for Hat Yai – transport hub in the south, connecting land transfers to Malaysia.
On the other side, there is Andaman Sea and the lovely beach provinces by the sea are Ranong, Phang Nga – extremely popular for Surin and Similan islands, and also Khao Lak national park, Phuket – the most popular and touristy province of the south, also the gateway to the most famous Phi Phi islands and Maya Bay, and of course Krabi – another popular and beautiful beach province, with beautiful snorkeling sites.
There are less touristy beaches on this side too, like Trang and Satun, but to me, they have the best beaches of the country. Koh Lipe is in Satun, and is my most favorite beach in Thailand – remember I have mentioned Koh Nang Yuan as the second favorite.
Other provinces toward the south-east, like Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat are still having some safety concern, so it is not really popular among tourists, and as I have not experienced them by myself, I would not really recommend visiting those provinces at this point of time.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Thailand?
Thailand has different patterns of weather.
- The north experiences dry season during November-May and wet season during June-October. Temperature is cooler during October-January.
- The west coast of south experiences dry season during November-March and wet season during April-October, while the east coast of south experiences dry season during January-August and wet season during September-December.
Overall, if you come for vacation and plan to explore different regions of Thailand, then the best time would be January-March.
How to Plan Your Thailand Vacation?
Visit my blog posts on Thailand. They will surely help you plan your vacation.
If you are planning for a much-organized, tastefully-curated, stress-free yet exciting vacation, consider booking your holidays at Travel Love Repeat. It is going to be a treat for sure!