Destination

Musts-see Thailand: our top 12 destinations

Cindy, notre rédactrice globetrotteur éco-citoyenne
Cindy

Thailand is an extraordinary country full of heavenly places. Explore 12 of the country's must-see destinations.

The North, with a more historic soul. We could speak of deep Thailand, with its cities of another time, its sumptuous temples, its mountains, land of traditional peoples.

Bangkok, the capital city, and its surroundings, just as grandiose. 

The South and its paradisiacal islands, its dream beaches, some of which have even been the setting for films or television programmes.

1) The North

Chiang Mai

It is the 2nd largest city in the country, after Bangkok. Also considered the capital of the north, this city is very lively.

The old town is home to the majority of the city's attractions and temples. It is surrounded by a moat and a surrounding wall.

You will have access to it through one of the four doors, located at the four cardinal points. In addition to the temples, you can discover many bars and markets.

Doi Suthep National Park is located just outside the city. Start climbing the 300 steps to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. The statues of this temple are particularly superb !

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai: The Thai Temple

If you want to spend time with elephants, do so in a sanctuary that takes in abused or abandoned elephants.

You will be able to help the healers, but under no circumstances will you be able to ride on the backs of these emblematic animals. 

You can, for example, go to the Elephant Nature Park or the Happy Elephant Home.

An elephant and her calf at the Elephant Nature Park - Photo: Pawel Dotio - Unsplash

Sukhothai

It is the first capital of Siam. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so!

This historic park, a true open-air archaeological site, is splendid, especially the historic heart. It is one of the most impressive sites in Thailand. It is quite extensive and spread over several areas.

The core area is home to the largest and best preserved temples (such as Wat Mahathat), statues and ponds. In the northern sector thrones the Wat Si Chum temple and its impressive 15-metre high Buddha.

The western zone is a little less interesting, except for Wat Saphan Hin and his standing Buddha.

Mountain Hikes

If you like hiking, Northern Thailand will offer you an incredible experience. Several tours are proposed, of different levels. You will be able to meet traditional peoples and their villages. (A little taste of "Rendezvous in Uncharted Waters"?)

The remains of Wat Si Chum temple with columns and the huge Buddha of 15 m high - Image by Peter Grosse from Pixabay

2) Bangkok and its surroundings

Bangkok

Get ready for a whole different atmosphere than in the north!

Here, life is in full swing. You will be immersed in the heart of a lively city, where modernity and traditions blend.

The first must-see in Bangkok is the Royal Palace and its emerald Buddha. Just next to the palace is the Wat Pho, a temple known for its huge statue of Buddha lying down (45 meters long!). Wat Arun is also worth the detour, and remains in the same neighborhood.

If you're not afraid of crowds, take the time to discover the China Town area. The hustle and bustle will make your head spin, but you will find a thousand and one stalls, and you must also visit one of the city's floating markets. There are several in Bangkok and the experience is worthwhile.

Lying Buddha in gold 45 m long 3/4 view -Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

Kanchanaburi and the Kwai River Bridge

This charming city is located 130 km from Bangkok. It is located on the banks of the Kwai River, famous for the bridge over it. Yet it is the symbol of the city's terrible past during the Second World War.

In addition to visiting the bridge, you can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and swim in the beautiful Erawan waterfalls or take a walk in the Sai Yok National Park. Looking for that little extra unique experience ?

Then book a night in one of the floating hotels in the city !

A young woman with an umbrella walks on the bridge of the river Kwai - Photo by mistermon on Unsplash

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is also an ancient capital of the kingdom of Siam and one of the must-see sites in Thailand. Easily accessible from Bangkok (75km away), it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (And yes, one more!)

The splendour of the temples and monasteries that it shelters plunges us back into the grandeur of this kingdom of a thousand beauties. The main temples are spread over different sites, sometimes remote. It is therefore advisable to go from one to the other by bike or... to take advantage of it to experience the tuk tuk ! (Because you don't leave without having experienced it, we agree!).

One of the best known temples of the site is Wat Mahathat, where we find the head of Buddha in stone, imprisoned in the roots of a tree.

Buddha head entangled in tree roots - Image by unserekleinemaus from Pixabay

Lopburi

If you want to travel around Ayutthaya, make a detour to Lopburi, which is about an hour's drive away.

This town has become the territory of many macaques, which are its main attraction.

Be careful, then, because the monkeys are at home here! The risk of bites is very real, we must not forget that these are wild animals.

Lopburi macaques - Image by Matthew Hulland from Pixabay

3) The South and its heavenly islands

Head south to bask in the sun !

Phuket

It is the largest island in the country. It welcomes mass tourism and allows many activities, diving, climbing, quad biking...

Bars, shops and street kitchens, hotels, nightclubs can be counted in spades.

Some corners are a little quieter and worth the detour, such as Nai Harn Bay and Cape Panwa.

A corner of the market with varied food - Photo by Bao Menglong on Unsplash

Krabi

This province is famous for its karstic formations: cliffs, caves... It is also criss-crossed by heavenly beaches and bordered by numerous islands which are just as many! A dream destination.

Ao Nang is the main seaside resort and has the advantage of being close to the centre. You will find many beaches, each one prettier than the next, and nature lovers will be delighted too.

The province abounds in a rich fauna and flora: national parks (terrestrial and marine), natural sites, hiking.

Two traditional Thai canoes and Krabi Island Rock - Image by Eric Blandin from Pixabay

It should be noted that the famous Maya Bay, beach of the Koh Phi Phi archipelago, has been closed to visitors since June 2018. It is one of the most famous beaches, due to the shooting of the movies "The Beach" (Léoooo are you there??) and "James Bond".

Too many tourists have ended up destroying the coral reefs and the ecosystem of the place. It seems that today the situation is improving but Maya Bay remains closed to visitors to allow the coral reefs to regenerate completely. The closure will apply until at least 2021 and it has already been announced that access to boats and tourists will be significantly more limited when it reopens.

Not everyone likes this closure...

For our part, we applaud the fact that some natural sites are beginning to be closed in order to ensure their survival. (We told you in a previous article about the recent ban on climbing Uluru's rocky dome in Australia).

Koh Phi Phi Archipelago and Maya Bay with its special rocks and turquoise waterPhoto by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Koh Lanta Islands

And yes! It is indeed this island that gave its name to the famous reality show!

Indeed, the very first edition was shot there in 2001.

There are so many magical islands in Thailand that it is difficult to make a choice. Koh Lanta is bordered by beautiful sandy beaches.

If you wish to find yourself a little more quiet, Koh Lanta gives you the opportunity.

As you move away from the harbour, you will see that the crowds on the beaches are getting smaller.

A nice program therefore, for this Thai island!

Koh Lanta with a sunset and 2 holidaymakers - Image by hdi from Pixabay

Koh Tao, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Yao Noi...

It's hard to name them all!

Among the prettiest islands are Koh Tao, Ko Pha Ngan, Similan Islands Marine National Park, Ko Yao Noi and Koh Samui.

You'll understand, if you like islands, you'll have something to enjoy!

View from the sky, the beach of Koh Tao with the turquoise sea - Photo by Max Böttinger on Unsplash

4) Bonus : the unusual - L'Isan

We like to offer you a destination that takes you off the tourist trail.

The Isan is a region less known and less popular with tourists. On the nature side, Khao Yai National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

View from Khao Yai National Park and its dense forest - Photo by Marcin Kaliński on Unsplash

There are so many amazing things to see in Thailand. We hope that this little overview will allow you to select the sites that you think are essential. Don't forget to buy yourself a few massages, take one or the other cooking class, and why not, eat a few insects (for the brave ones!)...

And of course, tell us on our forum about the most incredible experience you've had in Thailand!

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