Thailand is a collage of animated scenes that comprise bustling modern cities crowded with motorbikes and tuk-tuks, Buddhist temples tended by orange-robed monks, hill tribes selling handicrafts, lush landscapes dotted with traditional farming villages, ancient ruins and stunning coastlines peppered with gorgeous beaches and blue lagoons. Such a captivating portrait explains why Thailand is Southeast Asia’s most popular travel destination. This overview of the best places to visit in Thailand shows where to find the cultural, historic and natural attractions. For an insight in Thailand’s most popular islands & beaches see also this island list. 10 Best Destinations In Thailand (Part 2):
Founded in 1350, the city of Ayuthaya is located in the Chao Phraya River valley in Thailand. It sits on an island surrounded by three rivers connecting it to the Gulf of Siam. King U Thong proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom, the Ayuthaya Kingdom, better known as Siam. Once declared the most magnificent city on earth, Ayuthaya was an impressive site, with three palaces, more than 400 temples and a population that reached nearly 1,000,000. In 1767, the Burmese attacked and conquered Ayuthaya however and the capital was moved to Bangkok. The ruins of Ayuthaya are now a major attraction for those visiting Thailand. It is just 80 km (50 miles) north of Bangkok, and is easily reached by train, boat, bus or van.
Located in western Thailand and admired for its beautiful scenery and accessibility to national parks and waterfalls, Kanchanaburi is best known for the Bridge over the River Kwai that is linked with the historic Death Railway to Burma in which thousands of Asian laborers and POWS died during its construction under Japanese occupation during WWII. Several museums and war cemeteries all present information about the city and its bridge during the 1940s Japan occupation. Outside of Kanchanaburi are several national parks, including Erawan and Srinakarind National Parks, which offer beautiful scenery, waterfalls and caves.
8. Chiang Mai
Surrounded by the mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a flourishing city often used as a base among both backpackers and tourists wishing to explore the lush landscapes, hill tribes and outdoor adventures of the region. Nevertheless, Chiang Mai itself is a large and culturally important city where historical and modern Thai architecture and traditions coexist. A walk around the historic center bestows views of old city walls and dozens of Buddhist temples. However, the most famous of these temples, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, lies outside Chiang Mai on a mountainside overlooking the city.
Thailand’s capital city and by far the largest city in the country, Bangkok, is a buzzing cosmopolis of high rise buildings, magnificent palaces, ancient temples, glittering nightclubs, bustling markets and streets lined with vendors hawking souvenirs and tantalizing foods. While the city is sometimes described as a concrete jungle jam-packed with noisy traffic and air pollution, Bangkok is not without its natural beauty that is seen in its remaining canals, green spaces and flowering tropical plants. The famous tourist street, Khao San Road, is a good place to begin with its cheap shopping, dining and nightlife. Also not to be missed is the sacred Wat Phra Kaew temple, which contains the Emerald Buddha.
10. Thailand Islands
The islands off the coast of Thailand are famous throughout the world for their beautiful beaches, others for their gorgeous scenery and some even claim their fame for the party atmosphere. There are three main sets of islands in Thailand. To the east of Bangkok there are Ko Samet and Ko Chang, in the Gulf Ko Samui lie Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao, and in the Andaman Phuket and Ko Phi Phi. Phuket is the country’s largest and most developed island, connected to the mainland by two bridges. Ko Phi Phi is famous for the movie “The Beach”, while Ko Tao is Thailand’s diving mecca. But there are many, many more beautiful islands to choose from.