Awesome places to visit in Thailand
You can’t go past Thailand for a holiday destination. The people are friendly, the culture is interesting and the food is fantastic. It’s also really, REALLY affordable once you get there. However, I’ve noticed lately a lot of people taking up flight and accommodation packages to one particular area and not really venturing further afield.
Trust me. If you go to Thailand and only see Phuket and/or Bangkok, you are missing out on a whole lot of awesome!
Here are some other great places to visit in Thailand
Kanchanaburi is a welcome relief from the chaos, excitement and not so fresh air of Bangkok. It can be reached by a 2.5 hour picturesque bus trip from Bangkok. Thailand has different classes of buses so for a few extra dollars you can travel quite comfortably in first class. You can also get here by rail.
The area is completely charming with a lot of outdoor type activities. It also has a fascinating yet depressing war history. Japanese forces used Allied prisoners of wars and Asian labourers to build a train route to Myanmar. Many lives were lost in the construction of this ‘death railway‘ and today you can pay your respects at the cemeteries and the WWII memorial. You can also visit this railway as well as the famous ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai‘.
Kanchanaburi is also home to Erewan falls, a stunning seven tiered waterfall that you can swim in. Most people opt to swim at the second level although you can easily walk to all seven levels. You can also raft down rivers, canoe, mountain bike, bird watch, fish or go elephant and jungle trekking.
Chiang Mai is also charming and although busy, is nowhere near as chaotic as Bangkok. It’s located in Northern Thailand and if time is not on your side, a well priced domestic flight will get you there quickly and comfortably. Sleeper trains and buses are also a popular option.
Outdoor activities are popular here such as rafting, trekking and elephant camps. Chiang Mai also has a large yoga and health community.
Hire a scooter and head up the mountain to Doi Suthep, an elaborate and popular temple. Even if you are sick of temples at this point, it’s still worth a visit and coaxing the scooter up the mountain is a lot of fun.
I actually really enjoyed strolling the streets in Chiang Mai. Unlike Bangkok, there is no where near as many people calling out and harassing you to buy things. One of the best things about Chiang Mai is that the night markets actually sell handmade items. Sure, they also sell the usual crap but you can also find genuine items here.
One this I really regret not having time for in Chiang Mai, was to attend a cooking class so that I could recreate what has been some of the best meals in my life back at home.
Fellow travel bloggers over at Two Tall Travellers attended an awesome cooking class at Thai Farm Cooking School. Check out their experience here. It sounds amazing and I will definitely be doing this when I return!
Chiang Rai is by far, my favourite place in Northern Thailand. You can get there by bus from Chiang Mai in around three hours and I highly recommend forking out a few extra dollars for the first class bus. As someone who hates buses with a passion due to travel sickness, I didn’t mind this trip at all.
Chiang Rai is really laid back compared to other cities in Thailand. Hardly anyone harasses you to purchase things and if they do, it’s kind of half hearted. This makes walking the streets really enjoyable!
Chiang Rai is located close to the Golden Triangle and is a great base to explore the remote hill tribe villages. The ‘White Temple‘ or Wat Rong Khun is a major attraction here. It’s one of the most dazzling temples in Thailand and is well worth a visit.
The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is well known for the amount of opium that it once grew. The Ruak River that flows into the Mekong River marks the boundaries of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. I should note that it has been illegal to grow Opium here for quite some time. You can easily visit the Golden Triangle on a tour from Chiang Rai or organise your own private transport.
I wouldn’t say that the Golden Triangle is one of my favourite places to visit in Thailand. However, the area is memorable and I feel that if you are in Northern Thailand you should still pay a visit to the area and check out the surrounds.
When the river is running low (as it was when I visited), the scenery is a little disappointing. There are some cheesy attractions here by the riverside such as a giant golden Buddha and elephant statues which you can pose on in exchange for a donation.
I don’t really enjoy cheesy attractions but I did find these ones amusing to see and enjoyed the nearby temple of Phra That Doi Pu Khao. The Hall of Opium museum is also an interesting visit and I learned (according to a particular exhibit within the museum) that the best way to smoke Opium is with your head on a rock. You learn something new each day!
Krabi is a fantastic alternative to Phuket if you are looking for a stunning beach with a bit more of a laid back atmosphere. It’s approximately 770 km south of Bangkok so you can fly, or if you are already in Phuket you can get there in a couple of hours by road or boat.
Ao Nang Beach is spectacular and a short long tail boat trip will take you to Railay Beach which is somehow even more beautiful. Railay also has a number of unforgettable lagoons and caves to explore.
Historic City of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is a historic city of which the ruins are now a major tourist attraction. It’s located only 50km from Bangkok and you can easily get there by car, boat, train or on a day tour.
Ayutthaya was apparantly once considered one of the worlds most impressive cities and these days, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a must see if you are in Bangkok!
Bangkok, (Thailand’s capital) is both exciting and chaotic. As that I personally have an aversion to large cities, I could not spend a week here. However, it’s fantastic to experience for a few days before heading off to see a much different Thailand. Most international flights into Thailand ensure you end up here.
Make sure you visit the Grand Palace, go on a tuk tuk ride and check out the floating markets. If you are up to some real chaos, visit one of the night markets and barter your way to some bargains. This in itself is a highlight of Bangkok although the novelty wears off fairly quickly!
Phuket is probably the most heard of area in Southern Thailand. You can take an international flight straight here and avoid Bangkok altogether if you wish. Alternatively, a short domestic flight from Bangkok will get you here.
Patong Beach in Phuket is beautiful but it is also really really touristy. The beach is somewhat marred by the many deckchairs and hawkers attempting to sell you things when you really just want some peace and quiet. If this is your thing and you are also after an active bar scene, I think you will absolutely love Phuket.
I certainly did not hate it but I really just wanted some peace and quiet so I found Krabi a lot more enjoyable.
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