Thailand has much to offer to the visitor, from cosmopolitan cities with great shopping opportunities to jungles, waterfalls and some the best beaches in Southeast Asia. It would take months to truly explore and understand Thailand, but if you don’t have the luxury of so much time, the best-next choice is to visit the top sites in Thailand. According to experts like Lonely Planet, those top spots include everything from sandy beaches to historical sights.
Thailand’s capital is a cosmopolitan city with both a vibrant nightlife and plenty of culture to keep you entertained during the day. Must-see includes the Grand Palace and Wat Prakeaw (palaces.Thai.net/day/index_gp.htm), a complex of temples built in 1782 by order of the king. The Damnoen Saduak, or Floating Market (floatingmarketbangkok.com), is another interesting attraction. Hundreds of boats scurry by through narrow canals, selling fruits and vegetables just as they did a century ago. Visitors can shop while sitting in their own chauffeured boat or simply take a tour of the surroundings.
2, Hua Hin
Hua Hin is a beachside resort three hours south of Bangkok. The king’s summer palace is here, a testament to the beauty of the place. Hua Hin’s beaches are clean and quiet and several national parks surround the town. The 11-tier Pa La-u Waterfall is one of the most popular day trips from Hua Hin.
3, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a city and province in the north of Thailand. Famous for its jungles and mountains, Chiang Mai is the destination for those who want nature and a relief from the heat of the city. The city is home to many temples, or wats, including the famous Wat Chedi Luang, built in 1402. Jungle treks, which can last from a few hours to several days, also are a big attraction in Chiang Mai. The area around the city is home to the Long Neck Karen hill tribe, a local indigenous group with a tradition of elongating its necks using metal rings. Tours to visit the Karen village are available.
Phuket is Thailand’s most famous beach town, and Phang Nga Bay has some of the best beaches in Thailand. The area also is home to Koh Ping-gan, or “James Bond Island,” where “The Man With the Golden Gun” was filmed. Phuket also is notorious for its active and over-the-top nightlife, which include lots of bars, cabaret shows music and alcohol.
Pattaya has gained a reputation as a “seedy” town over the years, but if you stay away from the bar area you’ll find plenty of things to do and see. The beach in Pattaya is not as impressive as those in the south, but it’s still worth a visit. The town also is home to some distinctive attractions, such as the Bottle Art Museum, the Pattaya Floating Market — the largest floating market in the world — and Mini Siam (minisiam.com), an on-scale recreation of some of Thailand’s most important landmarks.