Whether you’re a culture vulture, a party animal, a foodie, a sun seeker, a luxury lover, a budget backpacker, or anything in between, Thailand will accommodate you with ease. Over the past few decades it has grown into one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, and it’s easy to see why. Check out these 5 must-visit spots.
Thailand’s action-packed capital is truly a Marmite destination. But regardless of whether you think you’ll love it, or hate it with a passion, it’s a place you need to experience at least once in your life. Bangkok is the spiritual home of street food, and dishes like pad Thai and mango sticky rice will get your taste buds watering. Enjoy sights like the magnificent Grand Palace, visit the vast, colourful markets, and take in the notorious nightlife in a city like no other.
Located in the north of the country, Chiang Mai is often referred to as Thailand’s second city, but if you’re expecting it to be a mini Bangkok then think again. In comparison to the capital it’s absolutely tiny, and you’ll immediately notice a far more laid-back vibe. It’s calm and tranquil and things are done at a much slower pace here. Enjoy walks in the surrounding mountains where you can visit the local tribes that live there, check out the multitude of stunning temples, and chill out in the centre surrounded by the ancient city walls.
The Gulf of Thailand Islands
Thailand’s exotic islands are the biggest draw for many visitors with their palm-fringed, golden sand beaches and warm, tropical waters and those in the Gulf of Thailand are undoubtedly some of the best. Some like Koh Samui are now extremely well developed, with luxury resorts and high-end tourist attractions, but others like Koh Tao are still pretty rustic and less well known. On virtually all of them you’re guaranteed the most sublime sunsets you’ve ever set eyes on, and a laid back, relaxing feel. Island hopping is a great idea if you have a bit of time on your hands and it’s easy to get between many of these islands via short ferry rides.
This national park in central Thailand is home to some of the most exciting wildlife in the country, including a number of endangered species. Tigers, leopards, black bears, gibbons, various snakes, wild boar, macaques, crocodiles, and turtles are just some of the animals you might be lucky enough to spot. The scenery is also incredible, with rolling green mountains stretching out as far as you can see, spectacular waterfalls, and plenty of picturesque walking trails to explore.
Another northern town, Pai is renowned as a backpackers haven with a slightly “hippie” slant. Set in a scenic valley, the views of the surrounding hills are worth the trip alone. Hire a moped and explore the surrounding area and you’ll find the countryside dotted with rice fields and waterfalls, as well as hot springs perfect for a hardcore pampering session. A far cry from the madness of the bigger cities, this is somewhere to kick back and drink in the serenity.
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