The Top 5 Cities To Visit in Thailand: Things To Do and Places To Visit

Thailand, a land of captivating beauty, rich culture, and warm hospitality, is a dream destination for travelers seeking a diverse range of experiences.

From the bustling metropolis of Bangkok to the serene temples of Chiang Mai, the idyllic beaches of Phuket, the breathtaking landscapes of Krabi, and the vibrant beach resort city of Pattaya, Thailand offers adventures waiting to be explored. 

In this article, we will take you on a journey through the best cities to visit in Thailand, each with its own unique charm and attractions. 

Railay Beach in Krabi, Thailand
Krabi

Bangkok – Thailand’s Bustling, Cosmopolitan Capital

What are the top attractions in Bangkok?

Some of the top attractions in Bangkok include the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Chatuchak Market, Khao San Road, Jim Thompson House, Lumpini Park, Wat Traimit, and the National Museum. The Grand Palace complex is a must-see, home to Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and other ornate temples, buildings, and statues. Wat Pho is famous for its enormous gilded reclining Buddha. Chatuchak Market offers amazing shopping with over 8,000 stalls selling everything from clothes to decor.

What is the best area to stay in Bangkok?

The best areas to stay in Bangkok are riverside neighborhoods like Silom and Sathorn which put you in the heart of the action. Chidlom and Siam are ideal for shopping sprees at Bangkok’s mega malls. For nightlife, stay in Sukhumvit near the breweries and clubs. For charm, consider staying in old Bangkok in the Rattanakosin area by the Grand Palace.

What are the best things to do in Bangkok?

Top things to do in Bangkok include visiting the Instagram-worthy temples like Wat Pho, Wat Traimit, and Wat Arun, shopping till you drop at Chatuchak, floating down the Chao Phraya River, wandering through Lumpini Park, exploring Chinatown’s markets, going on a street food tour, enjoying a rooftop bar, checking out riverside night markets, cycling around the old town, and experiencing Bangkok’s famed nightlife.

Bangkok's skyline during sunset with the Chao Phraya River reflecting the golden hues of the sky
Bangkok

Chiang Mai – Thailand’s Cultural Hub in the North

Why visit Chiang Mai?

Some top reasons to visit Chiang Mai include its charming old city vibes, hundreds of dazzling temples, proximity to hill tribe villages, jungle trekking and adventure activities, cooking classes and food scene, handicraft shopping, and more relaxed pace compared to Bangkok. The backdrop of misty mountains and valley views is a big draw too.

Top things to see and do in Chiang Mai

Must-see attractions and activities in Chiang Mai include exploring old temples like Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Phan Tao, browsing the bustling night bazaars, visiting Chiang Mai Zoo and Doi Inthanon, going on an ethical elephant encounter, whitewater rafting, hiking through lush rainforest, taking a Thai cooking class, wandering scenic neighborhoods like Nimmanhaemin, and checking out small villages like San Kamphaeng.

Where to stay in Chiang Mai?

The best places to stay in Chiang Mai are inside the old city walls, in trendy Nimmanhaemin, riverside, at the base of Doi Suthep Mountain, or in the quiet residential areas around Chiang Mai University. Consider proximity to attractions like night markets and accessibility when booking your accommodation.

Chiang Mai old town Nimman
Chiang Mai

Phuket – Thailand’s Largest Island with Idyllic Beaches

What makes Phuket a top destination?

Phuket is one of Thailand’s top destinations thanks to its stunning beaches, clear waters, luxury resorts, epic parties, and entertainment scene, the abundance of activities like boating and diving, fascinating cultures from Thai to Portuguese influence, and exotic landscapes like limestone cliffs and rainforests. The island offers the full package for a beach getaway.

Must-see beaches and best places in Phuket

Patong Beach, Kata Noi, Karon, Kamala, Bang Tao, Surin, and Nai Harn are must-visit beaches in Phuket, each with their own vibe from touristy to tranquil. Top attractions include snorkeling day trips to Phi Phi Island, partying in Patong, hiking the viewpoint trails for sunset, seeing Wat Chalong Temple, exploring Phuket Old Town, and enjoying the area’s luxury resorts and dining.

Where to stay in Phuket?

The best places to stay in Phuket are at the beach, whether you want to be amid the action in Patong or somewhere more relaxed like Kata or Karon. Phuket Town offers more local culture while the high-end Laguna area is great for secluded resorts. Choose your base depending on whether you want beachfront views, convenience for sightseeing or a peaceful hideaway.

Krabi – Thailand’s Ultimate Beach Paradise

What makes Krabi special?

Krabi stands out for its striking limestone karst formations rising from lush mangrove forests, surrounded by bright blue sea. The landscape is dotted with hundreds of jungle-covered islands perfect for exploring. Some of Thailand’s dreamiest beaches are tucked away here, along with natural attractions like hot springs and caves. It’s an adventurer’s paradise!

Top beaches, islands, and attractions in Krabi

Must-visit places in Krabi include the exquisite sands of Railay Beach, island-hopping to Koh Lanta, Phra Nang, and Chicken Island, soaking in the Emerald Pool, rock climbing the karsts, sea kayaking through breathtaking scenery, hiking to sacred caves and waterfalls, and enjoying laidback vibes in Krabi Town. The Krabi night market is a top spot for street food too.

Best areas to stay in Krabi

For beaches, stay along Ao Nang or Railay Beach. Krabi Town is convenient for getting around and transportation. Klong Muang is nice and secluded away from big crowds. Many choose to stay right on the islands too. Consider what locations make the most sense for the experiences you want.

A woman walking by the beach in Railey Krabi Thailand

Pattaya – Thailand’s Premier Beach Resort City

Why visit Pattaya?

Reasons to visit Pattaya include its huge bay lined with resorts, huge array of watersports and activities, lively nightlife and entertainment scene, seafood and international dining options, fascinating cultural attractions like temples and the floating market, family-friendly amusements like water parks, and proximity to Bangkok for day trips.

Top things to do in Pattaya

Top attractions in Pattaya include strolling the bustling Beach Road promenade, watching the sunset from a rooftop bar, island hopping to Koh Larn, seeing the Sanctuary of Truth, browsing the floating market, playing on Jomtien Beach, partying on Walking Street, getting pampered at spas, splashing at water parks, and joining excursions to spots like the Elephant Village sanctuary.

Best areas to stay in Pattaya

The best area to stay in Pattaya depends on your interests. Central and North Pattaya puts you near the main beach while Jomtien is more laidback. Choose Naklua for five-star resorts and restaurants. Pratumnak Hill is good for peaceful high-rise hotels with gorgeous views overlooking the shoreline.

Pattaya nightlife

Which City Is the Largest in Thailand?

Bangkok is the largest city in Thailand. Located in central Thailand, Bangkok sits along the Chao Phraya River and has a population of over 8 million people in its metropolitan area. It has been the capital of Thailand since 1782 when the capital was moved there from Thonburi. As the center of government, finance, business, and culture, Bangkok exerts a strong influence over the rest of the country. Some of the most famous attractions in Bangkok include the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, renowned markets like Chatuchak and Asiatique, and the Chao Phraya River which runs through the city. The unique culture, architecture, food, and vibrant nightlife make Bangkok one of the most visited cities in Southeast Asia. Its sheer size and dominance over Thailand means it will likely remain the primate city for the foreseeable future.

What Are Some Best Places to Visit in Thailand?

Some cool places to visit in Thailand include Khao Sok National Park, the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, the Bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, and the Ang Thong National Marine Park in the Gulf of Thailand.

Khao Sok National Park is located in southern Thailand and is known for its extensive rainforests and limestone mountains. Hiking trails wind through the lush jungles where visitors may spot gibbons, monkeys, hornbills, and other wildlife. Towering cliffs and spectacular vistas also make Khao Sok a popular destination for rock climbing.

The Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok is one of the world’s largest outdoor markets, spanning over 27 acres with thousands of vendors. It’s a shopping paradise offering everything from clothes and handicrafts to live animals. Visitors can wander for hours browsing the vast selection of goods in a lively, maze-like atmosphere.

The Bridge over the River Kwai was famously featured in the 1957 film of the same name. It commemorates the battles and suffering of Allied prisoners during World War II who were forced to construct a railway through rugged jungle terrain. The bridge site now serves as a memorial museum detailing the history of the Death Railway.

The Ang Thong National Marine Park consists of 42 limestone islands surrounded by the emerald waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Craggy karst formations jut dramatically from the sea alongside limestone caves filled with beautiful rock formations and wildlife. Kayaking between islands offers a scenic way to observe the park’s natural beauty above and below the waterline.

What Are Some of the Best Beaches in Thailand?

Some of the best beaches in Thailand include Railay Beach in Krabi, Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi, Patong Beach in Phuket, and Lamai Beach in Koh Samui.

Railay Beach in Krabi is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Thailand. It features towering limestone karsts jutting out of the emerald waters and is only accessible by boat. The white sand and calm waters make it a top destination for swimming, snorkeling, and rock climbing across its iconic limestone cliffs.

Maya Bay, located on Koh Phi Phi Leh island, shot to fame after appearing in the movie “The Beach.” Its turquoise waters and surrounding karst cliffs provide beautiful scenic backdrops. However, its popularity has led to significant environmental damage, and the bay is now closed indefinitely for restoration efforts.

Patong Beach on Phuket is Thailand’s most well-developed beach, with plenty of accommodation, dining, shopping, and nightlife options available directly on the sand. Its beaches are powdery soft and perfect for swimming, though the water is usually a bit rougher than other sites.

Lamai Beach on the island of Koh Samui draws visitors with its long crescent of sand flanked by coconut palms. It offers a more low-key vibe than some other beaches, with soft sand, shady trees and calm waters safe for families. Nearby beachfront restaurants are perfect for watching gorgeous sunset views.

Summary of the Top 5 Cities in Thailand

  • Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, and Pattaya are must-see destinations in Thailand, each offering its own unique appeal.
  • Bangkok dazzles with its blend of ancient and modern sights, from the Grand Palace to futuristic malls.
  • Chiang Mai charms with its laidback cultural scene amid lush mountains and temples.
  • Phuket is paradise, with palm-dotted beaches and swimmable seas.
  • Krabi impresses with its trademark karst scenery and idyllic tropical islands.
  • Pattaya promises a vibrant beach holiday with entertainment for all tastes.
  • All of Thailand’s cities showcase the country’s rich culture, warm hospitality, diverse landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine.
  • Use this guide to help narrow down which destinations to prioritize for planning the perfect Thailand vacation.
  • Focus on either the energetic north or the languid southern islands. Or mix it up by starting in Bangkok and working your way south.
  • Get off the beaten path by spending time inland in cities like Chiang Mai or venturing to lesser-known islands.
  • Take advantage of low-season prices during the rainy summer months or high season pleasant weather during winter.
  • Book accommodations well in advance, especially if traveling during peak tourism times around Christmas and New Year’s.
  • Spend time researching locations and top attractions you want to see so you can make the most of your time.
  • Come with an open mind, relaxed attitude, and sense of adventure – that’s the best approach for discovering Thailand’s diverse cities and treasures.

Now that you know the top places to visit, get ready to start planning that dream Thailand getaway! The Land of Smiles awaits you with open arms. Let these cities and insider tips guide you, but don’t forget to venture off the map to make your own discoveries too. Anywhere you choose to go, Thailand is sure to impress. Sawasdee!

FAQs: Top 5 Cities to Visit in Thailand

What makes these cities worth a visit?

These cities offer a variety of tourist attractions, including beautiful beaches, stunning natural landscapes, vibrant city life, and a rich cultural heritage.

What are some other notable cities to visit in Thailand?

Some other notable cities to visit in Thailand are Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Ayutthaya, and Chiang Rai.

What is the best time of year to visit Thailand?

The best time to visit Thailand is during the cool season, which is from November to February when the weather is pleasant and ideal for exploring the cities and outdoor activities.

What are some must-visit places outside the cities in Thailand?

Some must-visit places outside the cities in Thailand include the tranquil countryside of Northern Thailand, the beautiful Khao Yai National Park, and the historical ruins of Ayutthaya.

What is Thai cuisine like?

Thai cuisine is known for its rich and flavorful dishes that combine elements of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty flavors. Popular Thai dishes include Pad Thai, Green Curry, Tom Yum Soup, and Mango Sticky Rice.

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