A survey by the World Tourism Organization declared Thailand to be the 9th most popular tourist destination in the world in 2018, in terms of international arrivals.
It’s certainly easy to see why it is such a popular place to visit and attracts tourists with all sorts of interests and preferences.
From the bustling streets of Bangkok to the remote, sun-soaked islands in the Andaman sea and the picturesque towns and cities in the north, Thailand seemingly has something for everyone to enjoy.
Below are some of the most popular travel destinations in this wonderful country, often affectionately known as ‘The Land of Smiles’.
Thailand’s capital is a fast-paced, bustling city that truly is a treat for the senses.
For most international tourist arrivals in Thailand, Bangkok is the first port of call.
Whilst some may choose to skip the city and head straight to one of Thailand’s many idyllic islands, those who decide to venture into Bangkok and spend a few days in the country’s most populous city are rarely disappointed.
Bangkok offers the perfect mix of new and old. It’s a city that is constantly being redeveloped, with impressive high-rise buildings and modern, luxurious malls constantly being built.
But it also offers so much for those interested in experiencing Thailand’s history and more traditional values.
The Grand Palace and Wat Arun (a stunning temple situated right next to the Chao Phraya River) are just two of the must-see attractions that any first time visitor to Bangkok must add to their itinerary.
Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is the largest of the islands in the Chumphon Archipelago. It’s also the most popular island in this region and typically easier to access than nearby Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, thanks largely to its own dedicated airport and ferry links with the mainland.
There are many reasons why tourists consider visiting Koh Samui when they make their Thailand travel plans. Home to numerous luxury 5-star hotels, it’s considered to be among the most upmarket tourist destinations in the whole of Thailand and a popular choice for family holidays, couples, and also solo travelers.
This beautiful island is also a highly desirable place for those looking to improve their health. Wellness centers, such as the Miskawaan clinic in Koh Samui, provide a unique experience for their guests, promoting relaxation, rejuvenation, and enhancing their overall wellbeing.
Phuket, pronounced ‘poo-ket’, is an incredibly popular tourist destination and also one which has a significantly sized ex-pat community. Nearly all international visitors to Phuket will arrive via Phuket airport, although it can also be accessed overland via the Thao Thepkrasattri Bridge.
Popular areas on the island of Phuket include Patong, Karon, Kata – which are beach resort towns all located on the west side of the island. This is the largest of all the islands in the whole of Thailand (out of a total of 926) and has a huge number of attractions for tourists, catering for all tastes.
Thailand doesn’t only attract those looking for sun-kissed beaches and tranquil blue seas. Chiang Mai, a city located in the north of the country, couldn’t be much further away from a coastline. Yet it remains one of the most popular tourist spots in Thailand, thanks in part to the stunning mountainous landscape which surrounds the city and the number of historical attractions within the area.
Chiang Mai is the fourth most populous city in Thailand, but it is much more relaxed and slow-paced compared with Bangkok. For those looking for a more authentic and traditional Thai experience, away from the beach resorts, Chiang Mai is usually the first place to be considered. In recent years it has also established itself as being an extremely popular destination for long term tourists who work online – also known as digital nomads.
Depending on what you read and who you speak to, Pattaya may come across as a less desirable place to visit, compared with the four other previously mentioned places in this article.
For many, it’s known primarily for its nightlife and the huge number of bars scattered throughout the city, but a lot has been invested in this area over recent years to develop it into a much more family-friendly tourist destination, for both international tourists and locals alike.
Pattaya is probably the closest large tourist spot to Bangkok and therefore attracts many visitors from Thailand’s capital each and every weekend. It’s also an incredibly popular choice amongst international tourists, particularly those from Europe, the USA, India, and China.