Looking for the best places to visit in Thailand?
Thailand, known as the land of the smiles, has been on the travelers’ circuit for many years.
But it’s a big country and there is a lot to explore, so if you’ve got limited time it can be a challenge to decide where to travel in Thailand.
Don’t worry, though, because I’m here to help. I’m Ollie Lindsey, a full time traveler who has explored Thailand extensively, and in this post I will walk you through 17 Thailand destinations I think you can’t miss.
Ok, commercial break over! Let’s explore our 17 top destinations:
17 Best Places to Visit in Thailand
1. Chiang Mai
In my opinion, Chiang Mai is the best of all places to visit in Thailand!
Its unique mix of culture and city vibes, plus amazing restaurants to boot, makes it one of the best places to travel in Thailand!
Leisurely strolling around Old Chiang Mai is one of the main things to do here although there is plenty to keep you entertained with sights and attractions in abundance in and around the city.
Visit the country’s second city and bear witness to the wonderful modern Wats, amazing night markets all surrounded by beautiful countryside that is ripe for day treks!
Plus, Chiang Mai is the perfect place for exploring the many highlights of Northern Thailand.
Where To Stay in Chiang Mai
- Top Choice: We Briza Hotel Chiangmai
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Villa Thapae
- Best Budget Option: Raya Heritage
2. Koh Chang
Perhaps the most underrated of the Thai islands, Ko Chang offers that small island feel but enough space to actually spread out.
Located in the far east of Thailand near the border with Cambodia, Ko Chang’s relative distance from the more famous islands has kept it under-the-radar compared to the more popular islands in Thailand.
But those who travel the 4-5 hour journey from Bangkok will be rewarded with lush tropical forests butting up against white sand beaches that look postcard-perfect.
It’s like stepping back in time to the Thai islands of yore!
Where To Stay in Ko Chang
- Top Choice: Mercure Koh Chang Hideaway
- Best Mid-range Hotel: The Erawan Koh Chan
- Best BudgetOption: Fine Times Resort
The buzzing capital full of old time charm, traditional architecture blended with modern infrastructure and convince.
Try the street food, check out the 7-11s on every corner and no trip to Bangkok is complete without visiting the famous Wat Pho and the Golden Mount.
Throbbing nightlife is easy to find especially along the famous Khao San Road, where bars, restaurants and clubs operate until the wee hours of the morning.
Transportation around Bangkok is reasonably priced, with multiple quick and convenient with options; MRT and BTS train lines, taxis (ensure that they turn the meter on!) as well as tuk tuks and motorbike taxis (haggle hard!)
Bangkok is a popular choice for where to go in Thailand, but it is also a bit polarizing. You’re likely to either love it or hate it.
But it’s a must-see, and also the perfect place for easy access to other Thailand destinations.
Where To Stay in Bangkok
- Top Choice: Rambuttri Village Plaza
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Paragon One Residence
- Best BudgetOption: The Samsen Street Hotel
An ancient city with historical temples dotted in every nook and cranny!
Ayutthaya has some of the best Thailand attractions, the most famous of which is Wat Mahathat with the face of the Buddha carved into a tree!
Quaint little guesthouses and restaurants to suit every taste are available too. Though not as popular with tourists, Ayutthaya is one of my favourite places to visit in Thailand without a doubt.
Note that distances between the sights are huge and not to be underestimated! Hiring a tuk tuk for the day is an option to help get around.
However, if you’d prefer more freedom for a cheaper price, I’d personally recommend hiring a push bike or scooter to get around. Both are available from guesthouses or there is a row of shops directly opposite the railway station.
Accessible by bus, minivan or train from most of the major destinations. From Bangkok, the train is the cheapest (14 Thai Baht p/person) with regular services throughout the day.
From Bangkok, minivans run from 6am-6pm shuttling back and forth (60 Thai Baht p/person) and buses can be booked in advance. Prices vary depending on company and the level of service.
Where To Stay in Ayutthaya
- Top Choice: Baan Thai House
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Siri Guesthouse Phranakhon Si
- Best BudgetOption: Baan Baimai Boutique Room Phra Nakhon Si
Lesser visited than its more famous brother Ayutthaya, this underrated Thailand destination shouldn’t be missed as a main Thailand attraction.
You’ll find yourself surrounded by history much older than the temples in Ayutthaya. Spread out across the town, hiring transport such as push bikes from your accomodation is recommended.
A typical Thai town has developed around the old sights sporting modern Wats, 7-11 convenient stores as well as ample accommodation options and restaurants.
Where To Stay in Sukothai
- Top Choice: Old City Guest House
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Baan Georges Hotel
- Best BudgetOption: Sukhothai Garden
6. Chiang Rai
Not far from Chiang Mai is another one of the many well-known Thailand destinations: Chiang Rai.
Head here for more modern Wats, beautiful countryside, waterfalls and the famous glistening all-white Wat Rong Khun. Trips to this Wat can be arranged with tour agencies or at your hotel/guesthouse.
Add Chiang Rai to your list of places to travel in Thailand!
Where To Stay in Chiang Rai
- Top Choice: Blue Lagoon Hotel
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Norn Nung Len Cafe’&Hostel
- Best BudgetOption: Winter House Chiang Rai
The ultimate backpacker hangout!
Bamboo huts, hippie cafes and restaurants with popular activities such as hiking, mountain biking and rafting available along the river running through the centre.
Further out of town, there are caves ripe for exploration that you can enter to see Buddha statues and more!
To get around and explore further afield and enjoy beautiful rice paddies along quiet country roads as well as outer lying Wats, rental of a push bike or scooter is highly recommended and there are plenty of rental agencies to hire from.
Where To Stay in Pai
- Top Choice: Pai Country Hut
- Best Mid-range Hotel: The Nest House
- Best BudgetOption: Pai Yard Guest House
8. Mae Hong Son
If you’re doing a northern loop, don’t miss another one of the underrated Thailand destinations: Mae Hong Son, the lush mountain province containing Pai (but a lot more than just Pai!).
Close to the Chinese border lies this beautifully kept and friendly Thai town with Wats and trekking options aplenty to enjoy! Transportation, day hikes and longer treks can be arranged through agencies.
Modern Wats, a lovely small village vibe and even hot springs! As places to travel in Thailand go, it’s definitely worthwhile!
Where To Stay in Mae Hong Son
- Top Choice: The Imperial Mae Hong Son Resort
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Fern Resort Mae Hong Son
- Best BudgetOption: Crossroads house
9. Chiang Dao
Peaceful countryside, well-kept Wats and beautiful scenery.
This place doesn’t receive many foreign visitors making it one of the better off-the-beaten-path travel destinations in Thailand.
There is plenty here to keep you busy though with rafting, trekking and visits to hill tribe villages also possible as well as a unique cave temple.
Speak to your hotel/guesthouse about transport to the top choices of the local attractions.
Where To Stay in Chiang Dao
- Top Choice: Chiang Dao Roundhouses
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Huan Chiang Dao Resort
- Best BudgetOption: Chiang Dao Story Camp
10. Koh Tao
Ko Tao is definitely one of the most popular Thai islands and, if you visit during peak season, you may find it a bit crowded.
But, hey, some destinations are popular for a reason right?
And in the case of Ko Tao, the beauty of the beaches and the azure water is definitely worth fighting the crowds to visit.
Ko Tao is a popular places to get PADI accreditation for new divers, so add it to your list of places to visit in Thailand if that’s on your Thailand bucket list!
Where To Stay in Ko Tao
11. Mae Salong (Santikhiri)
Another non-touristy and beautiful destination for travel in Thailand, Mae Salong has a bit of a Chinese feel.
It’s a worthwhile stop on the trail as another of Thailand’s destinations sporting a rare sight of tea plantations in this hilly region.
Cooler air and views of greenery are what make this place a great addition to your ‘places to visit in Thailand’ list!
Where To Stay in Mae Salong (Santikhiri)
- Top Choice: AMA MAESALONG
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Paragon One Residence
- Best BudgetOption: Shin Sane Guest House
12. Prachuap Khiri Khan
Another great opportunity to soak up Thai culture at its best without the crowds, making it one for the list of places to travel in Thailand it has everything quintessentially Thai.
Fantastic stretches of beach, some charming ancient architecture and climbing the ‘mountain’ to reach Wat Thammikaram are all highlights of this lovely quiet area.
Simple accomodation and eateries are available here. Wondering around yourself is perfectly possible and the best way to see the local way of life. Watch out for the monkeys though!
Where To Stay in Prachuap Khiri Khan
- Top Choice: Zea Zide Hotel
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Golden Beach Boutique Resort
- Best BudgetOption: Hadthong Hotel
13. Koh Phangan
The island itself is one of Thailand’s attractions!
Well-known for its monthly Full Moon Party, Ko Phangan is as close to a ‘bucket list’ destination as far as Thailand’s destinations go.
It does however still have little areas of quieter solitude such as the area of Had Salad on the northern tip of the island.
Hiring a scooter is a must if you intend to get ANYWHERE on the island at your own free will. The roads and relatively peaceful but usual driving virulence is required!
Where To Stay in Ko Phangan
Don’t miss Railey when looking at places to travel in Thailand!
Multiple beaches to explore, viewpoints to climb for stunning vistas and even rock climbing for thrill seekers!
Ample accommodation, restaurants and bars to suit every budget, it’s a tough place to beat!
Beach vibes and classic traveler hangouts. Plus perfect sand and clear water, so what more could you ask for?
Be prepared that on some of the islands you might have to walk out to meet the boat or jump off it and walk to the shore in water possibly up to your waist!
Although this is becoming rarer as floating docks are being put in place.
But hey, jumping off a boat and wading to the shore is a rite of passage when traveling the Thai islands!
Where To Stay in Railey
- Top Choice: Railay Bay Resort & Spa
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Sunrise Tropical Resort
- Best BudgetOption: Diamond Cave Resort & Spa
15. Koh Lanta
Looking for cheaper and better quality accommodation whilst seeking peace and quiet on the Thai islands?
Look no further!
Of all of Thailand’s destinations, Ko Lanta is an absolute gem!
The beaches aren’t the best but if you’re seeking the similar Thai beach aura without the full moon parties, you can’t go wrong heading to this lesser known island.
Hiring a scooter a whizzing along the coast, feeling the breeze and stopping at the beaches along the way is the best way to see things and generally get around!
Where To Stay in Ko Lanta
- Top Choice: Laila place
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Mada Lanta Mai Keaw
- Best BudgetOption: Lanta Long Beach Hostel
A charming Thai town with a very strong historical significance.
From Kanchanaburi, sections of the infamous Burma-Thai railway aka: The Death Railway can be seen. The quiet and beautiful river Kwai is also a feature.
Besides from war cemeteries and museums among the Thailand attractions, if you’re seeking a spot of culture there are also famous cave temples that can be seen here too.
Where To Stay in Kanchanaburi
- Top Choice: P.Y. Guest House
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Kanchanaburi City Hotel
- Best BudgetOption: Canaan Guesthouse
17. Khao Sok National Park
Dense greenery meets coastal sands! Here, you’ll find both a place to trek in jungle and relax on the beach!
Unique accommodation is available in every form; bamboo huts or hotels; whatever you fancy!
Be sure to visit both areas when you are here. Take a walk to see the stunning waterfalls, boat trips to famous floating bungalows and have a dip in the clear blue water!
Where To Stay in Khao Sok National Park
- Top Choice: Khaosok Good view Resort
- Best Mid-range Hotel: Montania Lifestyle Hotel
- Best BudgetOption: Khaosok Las Orquideas Resort
Conclusion: Where to Travel in Thailand
So there you have it – our 17 picks for the best places to travel in Thailand in 2020.
There are of course many other amazing Thailand tourist destinations and places to visit in Thailand, but we think this is the best of the bunch.
Before you go be sure to check out these other articles to help you plan your trip to Thailand:
- Bali vs. Thailand: Which Should You Visit?
- How to Find Cheap International Flights in 3 Easy Steps
- 5 Top Travel Neck Pillows Reviewed
And, of course, scroll down and leave us a comment and let us know what you think are the best places to visit in Thailand.
Oh, and if you’re on Pinterest, be sure to pin this post for later here:
About the Guest Author: Ollie Lindsey is one half of the traveling duet behind Ollie and Lynette On the World, a travel blog started by couple to chronicle their adventures around the world.