Every year, millions of foreign visitors pour into the Land of Smiles in search of surf and sunshine. While many only have that image in their minds, some of us love the opportunities for cultural exchange that urban environments provide.
Looking for a great Thailand itinerary that includes the best of its cities in addition to the world-class beaches that everyone and their dog already knows about? This article will spill the beans on the best cities in Thailand.
While many travelers with beaches on the brain immediately dismiss this heavily populated Asian megacity, those with open minds and the patience to endure the gridlock and noise that comes with a visit to Bangkok will be justly rewarded.
Serving as the capital of the Siamese empire after the sacking of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in the 18th century, Bangkok has become cultural centre of the entire country, with notable temples like Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Grand Palace being found within the confines of the Old City.
The more modern parts of this metropolis also contain some of the best shopping in Southeast Asia, from the luxuriousness of Siam Paragon (check out the sports and luxury car dealerships on the 3rd floor), to the down to earth feel of Chatuchak Market (one of the largest outdoor markets on Earth).
If you consider yourself an urbanite, this visit won’t be the last time you visit this place, as BKK has a way of getting under your skin.
2) Chiang Mai
If the hustle and bustle of Bangkok prove to be too much for you, then perhaps Chiang Mai will be more to your liking. Boasting a fraction of the population (1 million) of its much bigger brother (14 million), Chiang Mai has a vibe that is much more laid back, which is a feeling that is only reinforced by the clean air and the lively cafe and music scene that will suck you in within the first few days of your arrival here.
Cultural hounds will be no less impressed with Thailand’s second city, as it contains 300 temples within its limits (a good number of which are easily reachable on foot from hotels near the Old City centre), and three walking markets that will make it impossible to depart without souvenirs for the entire family). Don’t leave without ascending Doi Suthep, which possesses killer views of the city and the Ping Valley below.
3) Hua Hin
Crave the beach, but want all the comforts and conveniences of a full-service city at your fingertips? If this is what you desire, then basing yourself in Hua Hin will be a wise decision indeed. Located two hours south of Bangkok on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand, this small city is the current summer home of the King of Thailand, and once you walk the beaches here, you will find out why this place has hosted the Thai royals since the 1920’s.
In addition to the beach, golf courses, world class spas, and lively night markets make this city an excellent place to spend an extended spell during your trip to Thailand.