Thailand is a destination with a rich cultural heritage, from historical places to amazing beaches, everything seems to feet together. In fact, every year millions of tourists visit this beautiful country. Why? Simple, Thailand got so much to offer; plus is inexpensive. You'll have plenty of options, visiting the many temples, get lost in urban jungles or real jungles, have an ethical experience with elephants or just relax on some of the planet's best beaches. This country should be on high on your bucket list right now. Here are 12 of the best cities to visit in Thailand, straightaway.
Hua Hin, Thailand
Hua Hin, Thailand 200 kilometerss south of Bangkok, on the Gulf of Thailand, is a lively city with many restaurants (cuisines from around the world), markets, high tea, shops, and tailors. It’s a destination where many Thai people travel on holiday.
My favourite attraction is the Buddha on the Beach, in a standing position, with a backdrop of one of the many mountains along the coast and the soft colours of the sand and sea. It is a place where I had three massages while gentle waves crashed against rocks below, there were a cool sea breeze and an occasional monkey running across the tin roof.
We spent eight nights with day trips to two national parks: Kaeng Krachan and Sam Roi Yot (with 300 peaks). There we had a delicious lunch near Pala-U, the site of one of Thailand’s highest, cascading waterfalls that we couldn’t visit due to the heavy rains. To our surprise, we did see a ‘free’ elephant that made up for any disappointment. We were in awe! Another of my other favourites was walking on the beach with the unique Thai fishing boats waiting for the tide to come in or leaving the shore.
A thirty-minute drive from Hua Hin to Pran Buri and we are staying in a resort with views of the sea, a pool, and restaurants with foods grown on the property. How delightful!
We travelled there in July for a family birthday. If I was to travel again I would visit in February as the weather is cooler with sunny days and it’s not school holidays in Australia.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Out of all of all the places we visited in Thailand, Koh Tao was hands down our favourite. There was something about its relaxed vibe that made us feel right at home. Koh Tao is known for its scuba scene, but there are also plenty of other things to keep you busy your entire visit!
The number one thing to do here is to get your dive certification! It is one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified, and it was such an incredible experience. We chose to do a discovery dive with Koh Tao Divers and loved our experience with them! There are also many viewpoints to hike in Koh Tao, our favourites were Jon Suwan, Freedom Beach, and Love Koh Tao. You can also choose to hire a boat to take you to Kuang Yuan to snorkel all day!
When renting a motorbike in Koh Tao, BE CAREFUL! The roads are terrible, and if you wipe out you will definitely get ripped off. Make sure to take pictures before renting your bike in case they try and call you out for scratches and dings you didn’t do. Shane wiped out on his bike on the way to return it and ended up paying around 3000 Bahts to get his passport back.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
When a traveller visits Thailand, you can be sure that they will visit Chiang Mai no matter what. It's one of the top destinations in Thailand for so many reasons. One of the things I really loved about Chiang Mai is how green it is, not far from the city center, you will be by the mountains, surrounded by nature. You can go hiking, eat your way around, play with the elephants or simply visit temples.
Personally, I think the best time to go here is from February to June. I have been in Chiang Mai twice, once between rainy season which was pretty cool but I couldn't do many things as much as I wanted to. While at the beginning of February, the weather is perfect. There are many tourist attractions that you can do, however, I highly suggest you go cliff jumping at the Grand Canyon or walk around the night market to taste the best Thai food you will lever have.
Make sure to pack clothes that can cover your shoulders and knees, both for female and male, especially if you are planning to visit the temples. You should also remember that driving a motorbike in Chiang Mai, if you do not have the right documents is illegal. The local government and police set up a couple of checkpoints, if you get caught, a hefty fine will be waiting for you.
By Vicki Viaja
If you are a fan of beautiful nature you are definitely going to love Pai. Being full of gorgeous landscapes, just taking a scoter and driving around can be an amazing experience. The best time to visit this town is probably between November and February (Outside of the rainy season).
One of the great things to see around Pai is the Pai Canyon. You can climb around a little and enjoy the view. It’s even more beautiful if you get here for the sunset.
Another highlight in Pai for us was the land Split. When visiting you can try a lot of yummy snacks and drinks. The people working there are super nice and happy to tell you their story.
There are also several great waterfalls near Pai. Usually, you can have a little bath at the waterfalls but if you visit during the high season, they might be a little dried out. But don’t worry – You can have a relaxing bath in one of the Pai Hot Springs instead. You can choose between several Hot Springs in the surroundings of Pai. But our favourite is the Hot Springs that still isn't part of any tours. Even though you have to drive a little bit further, they are absolutely worth a visit.
At nighttime, you can find another highlight in Pai: The Pai night market. Here you can not only find a lot of other travellers but also great international and traditional Thai snacks.
By Temples and Treehouses
Sukhothai is different to the other famous Thai cities on this list. That’s because instead of being a buzzy modern Asian city, Sukhothai is an iconic Thai capital of the past. This incredibly ancient city is now made up of the sprawling ruins of temples and monuments, spread over a wide area known as Sukhothai Historic Park -- a designated UNESCO world heritage site. It’s big enough that you definitely need a bicycle (or to rent motorbikes or hire a driver) and at least one full day to see it all.
There is a modern “old town” and a bigger city center surrounding these ancient ruins, but the famous old capital is very much the main event and the reason that most people visit Sukhothai. That said, although there isn’t a huge amount to do in Sukhothai other than visiting the historical park, in my opinion, that’s enough - it’s a truly impressive sight and way less crowded than the bigger and more famous Cambodian temples of Angkor Wat.
The best time to visit is during Thailand’s “dry season” between November and February.
Koh Lanta (Old Town)
By Travel Geekery
You should visit the island of Koh Lanta not only because of its nice Old Town, but the town in itself forms a special part of the island experience that can’t be missed.
Koh Lanta Old Town is basically made up of one main street lined with shops and restaurants. Several of the restaurants spread out even on the piers so you can have a lovely dinner admiring the dark views of the sea.
At the time of our visiting, there was a Chinese festival around a small colourful pagoda, which, too, rested right by the sea. To watch the evening processions while enjoying our dinner was indeed a special sight.
While Koh Lanta Old Town is a regular small Thai town with a post office and everything else you might need, it still feels like a village too. There’s fish drying on a back street here and a big temple hiding there just a few blocks away. There are plenty of local houses and people working their day away, be it by cooking for others or carving things from wood.
I suggest you just walk around and take the atmosphere all in. Perhaps while sipping on a young coconut, which is plentiful all around. If you get a sweet tooth, it’s easy to get a delicious mango with sticky rice.
By The Lost Passport
Sangkhlaburi is one of those destinations in Thailand that really should have a lot more tourists visiting it. However, being over six hours one way from Bangkok, and about three hours further west of Kanchanaburi, it still remains largely untapped.
The city is surrounded by incredible waterfalls, many which are unnamed stops along the side of the road. There are no entrance fees, just park, and shower in the jungle.
The city center is built around a huge lake known formally as Vajiralongkorn Dam. The water now covers up where the old town used to be, only visible by a submerged temple which appears when the water is low. These days the city has a Thai population on the east of the lake, and a Mon ethnicity on the west of the lake. Either side is connected by the longest wooden bridge in the world, also known as the Wooden Mon Bridge.
The best time to visit Sangkhlaburi is between October and March, the cool season. Western Thailand is extremely hot in the summer, one of the hottest places in Southeast Asia. Unless you want to be sweating profusely all day, I suggest avoiding the summer months.
By My Adventures Across The World
Bangkok is the ultimate city to visit in Thailand. The Thai capital has so much to offer to all kinds of visitors, and although it can feel crowded at times, there’s way to get away from people to quieter places, and there’s also ways to experience a bit of local action. There are many things to do in Bangkok, that even a week in the city is not enough. Among the unmissable things to do in Bangkok, there's visiting all the beautiful Buddhist temples. These do get crowded at weekends, so it is a good idea to avoid Saturdays and Sundays and to go early in the morning. Another thing to keep in mind when visiting is that it’s necessary to be dressed appropriately, with covered legs, shoulders, and chest for both men and women.
Another unmissable thing to do in Bangkok is experiencing is an incredible food scene. The best place to do so is Chinatown, where on any given day street food places are thriving with life and customers waiting in line for the best dishes.
Last but not least, the nightlife in the city is a lot of fun, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.
By Constant Traveller
The seaside town of Krabi in Southern Thailand has something for everyone. Getting here by plane or overland routes is a breeze and there are plenty of activities to keep you interested for weeks.
The town itself is too dry for an average tourist’s taste so your best option is to head 40 kilometres inland to Ao Nang, the city that justifies being in Krabi. There are multiple shared vehicles such as tuk-tuks and songthaews to bring you to Ao Nang so no worries on that front.
Here, you can rent a luxury villa for cheap and have massages and swim all day if you prefer. There are professional companies that will take you for day trips to Phi Phi island (yes, the one from The Beach) as well as James Bond island from The Man With The Golden Gun.
There are other island tours as well such as Four Island Tour or Hong island excursion. Take your pick and set off on an adventure for a day! The more adventurous amongst you can also indulge in rock climbing, scuba diving, jungle zip lining and other extreme sports at Ao Nang.
But if you really want to test your stamina, time your 1237 steps ascent to the Tiger Temple in Krabi on your way back. This last stop will give you a commanding view of the entire Krabi province as well as allow you to pay your respects to the resident deity.
One of the original capitals of Siam, Ayutthaya has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. It’s an absolute must-visit the city in Thailand and it’s easy to reach by train or bus from the capital, Bangkok. Ayutthaya held the title of capital between 1350 and 1767, then being ransacked by the Burmese. There were 400 temples here at the height of Ayutthaya’s power.
Now you can explore many of the remaining ruins, in varying states of repair. It’s an easy city to city, flat – so cycling is an option, as too is a tuk-tuk or a tour from Bangkok. The most famous location in Ayutthaya is the famous sandstone Buddha head wrapped in tree roots, which you can find at Wat Phra Mahathat. It’s easy to cycle around the main temples and visit in one of two days or take it easier over a week.
You’ll find the best time to visit between mid-November and April to avoid the high temperatures and humidity. There are plenty of good places to stay in Ayutthaya and good transport options for onward travel. Decent food is plentiful and you’ll want to try one of the local specialities called Roti Sai Mai. This is brightly coloured rice pancakes stuffed with a similarly coloured cotton candy. It’s unique, I promise you that!
By For The Love Of Wanderlust
Kanchanaburi is my very favourite city in Thailand. It’s a quick 2.5-3 hour train ride from Bangkok. Many companies market it as a day trip, but that’s a shame because there are so many wonderful things to see in this town. Kanchanaburi is most well known for the ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’ which is the location of the WW2 bombing. There are other ties to WW2 history here, but the thing that keeps me coming to this gorgeous town is the nature and the culture.
Erawan Waterfalls National Park is just outside of Kanchanaburi, where you can hike to the multi-levelled turquoise waterfalls. Also in this area, you’ll find many, caves to explore, mountain ranges and even a giant rain tree. Believe me, this tree is massive. (They do horseback rides underneath it.)
There are also many cultural sites. Several massive Buddha figures watch over the region from mountaintops. There are small temples tucked in town, cave temples and temples that you have to climb stair after stair to explore. Wat Ban Tham is one of the most unique. You climb up 713 steps and wind through cave temples to get to a stupa that graces the top of a mountain surrounded by prayer flags.
I’ve been in the spring and in the fall and fall was my preference. It was just at the end of rainy season, so the temperature was a bit cooler and the occasional thunderstorm at night has a certain magic to it, especially if you see it over the river. No matter the time of year, you’re sure to enjoy a trip to Kanchanaburi. I would highly recommend spending at least 3-5 days here.
Koh Samui, Thailand
By Digital Travel Guru
Koh Samui is a stunning tropical Island in Thailand, it is a one hour flight from Bangkok. Koh Samui has a very old historical past not many people know about.
The main town in Koh Samui is Nathon, this is the main administrative center on Koh Samui island, which is equivalent to a capital in a city.
Koh Samui being a tropical island, of course, has lots beaches, great nightlife, hundreds of places to eat, night and day markets and fantastic shopping, as well as many other options, such as cultural sights and several islands to visit that are not too far away. However, we will focus on visiting Nathon located on the West coast of Koh Samui.
Nathon is a great place to visit to immerse yourself with the history of Koh Samui, one of the attractions being the old wooden Chinese shop houses, that line the towns main high street. Nathon was where Chinese migrants first settled in and today much of the town still has a lot of Chinese influence. The town is a great place to visit to spend the day in. There are plenty of places on the seafront to enjoy seafood dishes as well as other restaurants serving, authentic tasty Thai and other types of cuisine. If you are looking for accommodation, there are also many choices here to suits all budgets.
Getting to Nathon is very easy, many people arriving by ferry will dock here from the mainland or neighbouring islands. The town has plenty of taxi’s, tuk tuk’s, If you rent a car or motorbike, you can get here in approx 30-40 minutes from the main beach areas of Koh Samui, and the drive down is very scenic and there are lots of places and attractions to stop at on the way down.
Saturday Night Market:
Visit the Saturday evening market, where the road is closed and it is transformed into night markets with stalls, selling souvenirs, food, clothing, and home decor items.
Hi Lad Waterfall:
Hin Lad waterfall is 8-10 minutes from Nathon, it can be reached after walking through the beautiful jungle. This waterfall area is also a monastery and has a temple close by.
This is a beautiful temple that was built in 1862, located in the center of Nathon. The temple is built with striking colours and has two huge lion statues outside the main gate with a pretty garden area.
Wat Chaeng, is located south of Nathon, is it a beautiful temple to visit, and great if you love photography. Many locals come here to give offerings at the temple.
Angthong National Park:
Nathon is where you can catch a boat to visit the stunning Angthong National Marine Park.
If you are looking for cheaper prices souvenirs, clothing, and home decor, head to Nathon. The prices are way cheaper than the commercial tourist areas on the island.
Thailand - The Land of Smiles
Thailand is a country full of history, with an amazing culture, rich food, nice people and fantastic places. Here you have 12 of the best cities to visit in Thailand but, of course, there are so much more places to explore. The country is big, you will have jungles and forests but, also tropical islands with cool diving spots.
It is easy to fall in love with Thailand, there is always something to do for everyone. So, if you are a solo traveller, travel as a couple or even with family, you certainly will find here what you looking for.
We will love to hear from you what is your favourite place in Thailand and why? Just comment down below.
And if you are heading to Thailand and want to stay connected, here you definitely have a great operation system so, just check our article for the best Thai SIM card to buy.
Free Presets Pack for Lightroom!
Get a 50 Lightroom presets pack for free just by subscribing our newsletter.