Thailand is a collage of animated scenes thatcomprise bustling modern cities crowded with uk-tuks, Buddhist temples tended by orange-robedmonks, hill tribes selling handicrafts, lush landscapes dotted with traditional farmingvillages and stunning coastlines peppered with gorgeous beaches and blue lagoons.
Such a captivating portrait explains why Thailandis Southeast Asia’s most popular travel destination.
Here’s a look at the best places to visitin Thailand.
Chiang Rai The northernmost city in Thailand, ChiangRai serves as the main commercial hub of the Golden Triangle, which contains the bordersof Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.
A busy town offering something for everyone, Chiang Rai is often used as a base for exploring the surrounding region.
The town itself is quiet during the day, whenmost of its package tourists are out on day trips, but at night the neon lights flashon and souvenir stalls and restaurants spring into action.
Pai Once just a quiet village in northern Thailand, Pai is now a booming town that is part of the Mae Hong Son Loop.
Noted for its picturesque valley and relaxedatmosphere, Pai is a favored destination among backpackers wishing to explore the region.
With Pai’s location in the foothills ofthe mountains there are several options for trekking and visiting hill tribes.
Also just outside the city are elephant campsand beautiful waterfalls.
Additionally, the Pai River offers tubingand whitewater adventures.
Phanom Rung Sitting on an extinct volcano in northeasternThailand, Phanom Rung is a Hindu temple regarded for its outstanding architecture.
The temple sanctuary was built by the Khmerbetween the 10th and 13th century as a dedication to the Hindu god, Shiva.
Constructed of sandstone and laterite, PhanomRung was built to represent Mount Kailash, the sacred home of Shiva.
The complex faces east, and four times a yearthe sun shines through all 15 sanctuary doorways.
During these events the park extends its hours, and locals celebrate with ancient ceremonies and modern sound-and-light shows.
Railay Railay is a small peninsula that is only accessibleby boat due to the high limestone cliffs cutting off mainland access.
These cliffs attract rock climbers from allover the world, but the area is also a popular attraction in Thailand due to its beautifulbeaches and quiet relaxing atmosphere.
Accommodation on Railay ranges from inexpensivebungalows popular with backpackers and climbers, to renowned jet-set resorts.
Khao Sok National Park Considered by many to be one of Thailand’smost beautiful wildlife reserves, the Khao Sok National Park covers jungle forests, limestonekarsts, rivers and lakes in the Surat Thani province of southern Thailand.
The reserve is home to some of the most amazingwildlife in Thailand such as Asian elephants, tapirs and gibbons.
There are several trails in the park fromwhich visitors can choose to enjoy trekking through the jungle to spot wildlife, photographbeautiful waterfalls, swim in natural pools and admire stunning vistas.
Ayutthaya Founded in 1350, the city of Ayutthaya sitson an island surrounded by three rivers connecting it to the Gulf of Thailand.
Once declared the most magnificent city onearth, the ancient Siam capital was an impressive site, with three palaces, more than 400 templesand a population that reached nearly 1, 000, 000.
In 1767, the Burmese attacked and conqueredAyutthaya however and the capital was moved to Bangkok.
The ruins are now a major attraction for thosevisiting Thailand.
It is just 50 miles north of Bangkok, andis easily reached by train or boat.
Kanchanaburi Located in western Thailand, Kanchanaburiis best known for the Bridge over the River Kwai that is linked with the historic DeathRailway to Burma in which thousands of Asian laborers and POWS died during World War II.
Several museums and war cemeteries all presentinformation about the city and its bridge during the 1940s Japan occupation.
Outside of Kanchanaburi are several nationalparks, including Erawan National Park, which offers beautiful scenery, waterfalls and caves.
Chiang Mai Surrounded by the mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a flourishing city often used as a base among both backpackers and touristswishing to explore the lush landscapes, hill tribes and outdoor adventures of the region.
Nevertheless, Chiang Mai itself is a largeand culturally important city where historical and modern Thai architecture and traditionscoexist.
A walk around the historic center bestowsviews of old city walls and dozens of Buddhist temples.
However, the most famous of these temples, lies outside Chiang Mai on a mountainside overlooking the city.
Bangkok Thailand’s capital city and by far the largestcity in the country, Bangkok, is a buzzing cosmopolis of high rise buildings, ancienttemples and glittering nightclubs.
While the city is sometimes described as aconcrete jungle jam-packed with noisy traffic and air pollution, Bangkok is not withoutits natural beauty that is seen in its remaining canals, green spaces and flowering tropicalplants.
The famous tourist street, Khao San Road, is a good place to begin with its cheap shopping, dining and nightlife.
Also not to be missed is the sacred Templeof the Emerald Buddha on the grounds of the Grand Palace.
Thai Islands The islands off the coast of Thailand arefamous throughout the world for their beautiful beaches, others for their gorgeous sceneryand some even claim their fame for the party atmosphere.
There are three main sets of islands in Thailand.
To the east of Bangkok there are Ko Sametand Ko Chang.
In the Gulf of Thailand lies the Samui archipelago, while the Andaman Sea is home to Phuket and Ko Phi Phi.
Phuket is the country’s largest and mostdeveloped island, connected to the mainland by two bridges.
Ko Phi Phi is famous for the movie “TheBeach”, while Ko Tao is Thailand’s diving mecca.
But there are many, many more beautiful islandsto choose from.