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Places to visit in Thailand

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by AA99, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. AA99

    AA99 New Member

    For the past one year, I have wanted to take my family to Thailand, and this would be our first international trip. I have been looking at Thailand and the tourist places it has, and there are so many destinations in Thailand, that it is hard to know where to go or what to see.

    I need some help from the members in listing the destinations in Thailand and a list of places to visit at the destinations.
    We have not decided, but we would like to go to different places in Thailand and see the different places, so basically a tour of Thailand. If we do go ahead with the Thailand tour we would take a months holiday, so please don't hold back on providing the information required.
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there and welcome to the forum!

    Thailand is officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand. Formerly, the country was known as Siam. Locally, it is known as Prathet Thai, which could either mean the Land of the Free or the Land of the Thais. It shares borders with four countries, namely: Myanmar to the North and West, Laos to the North and East, Cambodia to the Southeast, and Malaysia to the South. Thailand is the 51st largest country and about 94% of its population are Buddhists. It's also a constitutional monarchy and the royal families are well-respected and revered here.

    So when it comes to tourism, Thailand is visited by over 10 million tourists annually. Although Thailand was one covered by dense forests, only about 1/4 of the country has forestry now. Most of the attractions in Thailand are its sandy beaches and its tropical islands. Its palaces, Buddhist temples and World Heritage Sites are also most visited by tourists. Medical tourism is yet another booming industry in Thailand.

    We can divide Thailand into four regions and from here, we can then list the major tourist destinations in each one of them. Here are the regional divisions of Thailand:
    • Northern Thailand
    • Northeastern Thailand
    • Central Thailand
    • Southern Thailand
    Now, let's list the major towns/cities in each region with their attractions:

    Northern Thailand - This region is characterised by its mountain ranges. It is bounded by the Salween River in the West and Mekong in the East. This region consists of 17 provinces, with each one of them having their own capitals. Here are some of the must-visit places in Northern Thailand:

    1. Chiang Mai - This is the largest city in the Northern region. Chiang Mai means New City, it was named so because it became the capital of the Lan Na Kingdom during 1296. This city is about 700 kms away from Bangkok and it is located in one of the highest parts of the country. Here are some of the best attractions in Chiang Mai:

    • Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep - This temple is located in the Doi Suthep Mountain, hence the name. According to a legend, Sumanathera from the Sukhothai Kingdom had a vision in which he was told to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. He found a bone, believed to have been Buddha's shoulder bone. The bone displayed magical powers, moving, vanishing and glowing. Sumanathera brought the relic to King Dhammaraja but the bone didn't do any of its magical powers. The King Dhammaraja doubted the authenticity of the relic and told Sumanathera to keep it. The King Nu Naone heard of the relic and asked the monk to bring it to him. Once in Lamphun, the relic broke into two pieces, the first piece was enshrined in a temple in Suandok and the other was put at the back of a white elephant. The white elephant was released into the wild where it went to the Doi Suthep Mountain, trumpeted three times and dropped dead. Hence, that is the location where the second relic was enshrined. Inside the temple, there's an idol of the Emerald Buddha and Hindu God Ganesh.
    • Wat Chiang Man - This temple was built by Mangrai in 1297 CE. The oldest structure in the temple is the Chedi Chang Lom or the Elephant Chedi. There are also two wihans on the temple, the Main Wihan and the New Wihan. The temple also has a Ho Trai or a library, which is quite unusual as most temples in Chiang Mai doesn't have one. There's also a lotus pond within the complex, it's one of the two temples in Chiang Mai to have one.
    • Wat Phra Singh - This was constructed under the reign of King Phayu in 1345. Originally, it was a chedi built to house the ashes of his father, King Kham Fu. As time passed by, other structures were added into the complex. In 1367, the statue of Phra Buddha Singh was brought here which is why its name was changed. For a few more years, the complex was abandoned until King Kawila assumed the throne as King of Chiang Mai in 1782 which had the temple renovated. One of the original structures here is the Wihan Lai Kham which housed the Phra Buddha Singh statue. It also has a Ho Trai, with its entrance flanked with lions emerging from the mouths of a Makara, it's one of the most beautiful temple libraries in the country.
    • Wat Chedi Luang - Originally, the location had three temples, namely: Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin. The Wat Chedi Luang was constructed in the 14th century but it was only completed in the 15th century by King Tilokaraj. The Emerald Buddha was placed here during the year 1468 but it was moved in Luang Prabang during 1551. In 1995, a copy of the Emerald Buddha was placed in the reconstructed Eastern niche of the temple which was damaged by an earthquake previously.
    • Wat Suan Dok - This temple was founded by King Kue Na of the Lan Na Dynasty in 1370 CE. Its original name was Wat Buppharam Dok Mai. This is the temple where the first piece of the relic found by Sumanathera was enshrined. The 48 metre high chedi is supposed to be the location where the relic of the Buddha is placed. The complex also has whitewashed mausoleums housing the relics of the royal families of the region.
    • Wat Umong - This is a 700-year old Buddhist temple built in 1297 by King Manglai. The complex is set amidst wooden grounds, with tunnels, a pond, sculptures, library/museum and paintings. It is also famed for its replica of the Ashok Pillar, the original can be found in Vaishali. It consists of four lions and a wheel at the base with an additional larger wheel on top that acts as an umbrella for the lions.
    • Ban Ho Mosque - This mosque was built by the Chin Ho in the 19th century who came from Yunnan. It is one of the biggest mosques in the region and one of the seven mosques in Chiang Mai. The present structures were built much later with an Arabic style of architecture instead of a Chinese style. The mosque allows 20 students to study within the complex each year, for the parents who cannot afford to send them to school.
    • Chiang Mai National Museum - This museum is managed by the Fine Arts Department of Chiang Mai. It is a centre for preserving the education, art and culture of Chiang Mai and the Lan Na Kingdom. It was opened in 1973 by the king and queen of the region. You can learn more about the history of Lan Na Kingdom through this museum.
    • Tribal Museum - This was established in 1965 by the Department of Public Welfare of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Thailand. The museum is a great introduction for learning more about the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. These tribes are the Akha, Karen, Lahu, Lisu, Yao and Hmong. Their cultures and traditions are showcased in different exhibits: housing, fishing, agriculture, religious beliefs and musical instruments.
    • Doi Inthanon National Park - This is about 60 kms from Chiang Mai. It was established in 1972 and is about 800 to 2,565 metres above sea level. Several waterfalls are inside the park, namely: Mae Klang Falls, Wachiratan Falls, Siriphum Falls and Mae Ya Falls. The country's highest mountain, Doi Inthanon, is also located inside the park. Due to its location, it's one of the coldest regions in the country, with temperatures ranging between 10°C to 12°C daily. The park is also home to about 362 species of birds like the green-tailed sunbird, maroon oriole and ashy wood pigeon. There are about 65 mammal species in the park, like wild boars, gibbons and deers.
    • Doi Pui-Doi Suthep National Park - This was formerly known as the Doi Aoy Chang. The Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is located inside the park. The peaks inside it are Thanon Thong Chai Range, Doi Buak Ha and Doi Pui. You can spot mammal species like the Indian muntjac, wild boar, Assam macaque, mainland serow, Asian golden cat, Malayan porcupine and Asian Black Bear. The park is also home to many bird species like the white-crested laughing thrush, blue-throated barbet and great barbet.
    • Doi Pha Daeng National Park - This was formerly known as the Chiang Dao National Park. The highest peak at the park is the Doi Pook Phak Ga, which is about 1,794 metres above sea level. There are also numerous waterfalls in the park, one of which is the Pang Tong Waterfall. The water from the falls originate from an underground channel which then exits through the holes of a cliff forming the waterfalls of Pang Tong. Some of the animals that you can see here are gorals, wild boars, barking deers and langurs.
    • Chiang Mai Zoo - This was the first zoo established in Thailand during the year 1977. The zoo started out as a centre for injured animals taken care of Harold Mason Young, son of an American missionary. After his death, his property was taken over by the government and was opened to the public as a zoo. The zoo has a wide variety of animals and in 2008, the world's largest tunnel aquarium was opened in the zoo. The zoo is home to the only rhinoceros in Thailand. Other animals in the zoo are elephants, koalas, hippos and zebras.
    • Elephant Nature Park - This is a sanctuary and rescue centre founded by Chailert. Originally, the park was named Green Tours and it was owned by Adam Flinn. A small section of the park was managed by Chailert for especially damaged elephants and she named it Elephant Heaven. By then, there were about 34 animals in the park. Now, the Elephant Nature Park has branches in other countries and in other parts of Thailand. In the park, for a nominal fee, you can stay and care for the elephants.
    • Warorot Market - You can find almost all items in this market. There are fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, herbs, condiments, handicrafts, jewelries, cosmetics, clothes, shoes, gadgets and house wares. Items here are very affordable and most are in good quality. They are also open everyday from morning until evening.
    • Sunday Night Market - This market is open only during Sundays from 4:00 pm onwards. You can find authentic Thai handicrafts and items here. There are also shoes, clothes and jewelries sold here. It is best visited at night time when performers like musicians and puppeteers line the area. There are also restaurants, bars and coffee shops within the market that you can dine in.
    • Night Bazaar - You can find this on the East side of the Old Walled City, in Thanon Chang Khlan. It is open from dusk until midnight. You can find various branded items here and various replicas of branded items too. There are also plenty of eateries along the bazaar in case you get hungry.
    2. Chiang Rai - This is the Northernmost part of the region. The region also has borders with Laos and Burma, conveniently called the Golden Triangle. Here are some of the best attractions in Chiang Rai:

    • Wat Rong Khun - This is also known as the White Temple. It was built earlier than the 20th century but by that time, it was already in bad condition and needed some repair. It was Chalermchai Kositpipat, a local artist from Chiang Rai, that renovated the temple and made it look like what it is today. He did so by using his own money and capacities. The area adjacent to the temple is intended to be a center of learning and meditation. The temple is covered with tiny mirror chips and whitewash which makes it glitter from a distance. White depicts the purity of Buddha and the mirrors symbolise dhamma, to teach men to observe their own mind and reflect kindness. The temple complex is far from finished and it's estimated to be completed in 2070 by the disciples of Chalermchai. Photography is also allowed only outside the temple premises.
    • Wat Klang Wieng - This temple is believed to have been built during the 15th century although its present structures were built in the 20th century. You can find it in the intersection of Uttarakit road and Rattanakhet road. Its chedi has sculptures of Buddha and elephants. The viharn has structures of Naga snakes and Singha.
    • Wat Phra Kaew - This was formerly known as Wat Pa Yeah or Wat Pa Yahi, which means Temple in the Golden Bamboo Forest. In 1434, the temple's chedi was struck by lightning, which revealed a Buddha covered with stucco inside. Upon removing the stucco, another Buddha statue made of green semi-precious stone was found. Thus, the temple was named Wat Phra Kaew ever since.
    • King Mengrai the Great Monument - King Mengrai is the founder of the Lan Na Kingdom. His monument can be found in Highway 10, at the heart of the city of Chiang Rai. Originally, the king was the ruler of Nakhon Hiran Ngoen Yang, a small town in Chiang Saen. He successfully conquered the nearby provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.
    • Oub Kham Museum - You can find this near the Den Ha Market in Chiang Rai. The museum gives an insight about the history of the Thai people and the Lan Na Kingdom. One of the most precious items in the museum is the 400-year-old golden throne of Tai Yai royals from the Shan State in Myanmar. You can also find ancient manuscripts, textiles and Buddha images in the museum. There are also items that belonged to Julasak Suriyachai, who is a descendant from the Lanna royal family.
    • The Golden Triangle - This is where Laos, Thailand and Burma meets, hence the name. However, for locals, it's also called the Sop Ruak, as this is where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River. Since the region was a popular opium production centre back then, it gains tourists all over the year. However, opium production is now banned in the region and the country. You can visit the Hall of Opium and House of Opium here though which both highlight the history of opium production in the region.
    • Doi Tung - This mountain is about 1,389 metres above sea level. It offers a panoramic view of both Burma and Thailand from the peak. You can also visit the Wat Phra That Doi Tung which is a Buddhist temple located on top of the hill. The Doi Tung Royal Villa is also located here, this was once the residence of the princess mother, Princess Srinagarindra.
    • Phu Chi Fah - This is a national forest park in Chiang Rai. Its highest point is the Doi Pha Mon, which is about 1,628 metres above sea level. The park is home to several species of mammals like barking deers, wild boars and palm civets. Birds like canaries, pheasants and magpies also reside in the park.
    • Singha Park - This is owned by the Boon Rawd Brewery. Originally, it was a farm used to grow barley for beer. Now though, the farm mostly has estates for tea production as well as fruit orchards. There are still some lands for growing barley although this is used for producing health foods and malted drinks. You can visit the orchards, tea gardens and farms here. Some opt to ride a bicycle while doing so. There's also a mini zoo in the park that you can visit. A tram usually wanders along the park so you can also ride that to explore the premises.

    Northeastern Thailand - This is also known as Isan or Isaan. It is Thailand's largest region, bordered by Cambodia in the Southeast and by the Mekong River in the Northeast. It has 20 provinces, all of which have different districts and capitals. Here are some of the must-visit places in Isan:

    1. Khon Kaen - This is one of the four major cities on Isan. It is about 450 kms from Bangkok. It is a regional centre for education, agriculture and financial institutions. Here are some of the major attractions in the city:

    • Wat Nong Wang - You can find this in the Klangmuang road in Khon Kaen. It's one of the most popular temples in the city. It has about 9 floors showcasing the history, tradition and culture of Buddhism in the region. Each floor also has a balcony with a mosaic of different animals. You can also find paintings around the building. From the top, you can view the city and the Khon Kaen Lake, which is just beside the temple.
    • Phrathat Kham Kaen - This is where the town/city derived its name from which is Khon Kaen, which is depicted on its chedi. It is believed that even before the town was founded, the Phrathat Kham Kaen was already established in the area. It is revered by locals as it is believed that the relics of Buddha can be found here.
    • Khon Kaen National Museum - This museum was built by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1972. Most of the exhibitions here feature historical and archeological artefacts. Some of the items that you view here are ancient utensils, stuccos, marble slabs and bas reliefs. There are also exhibits featuring dinosaur fossils, human skeletal remains and ancient musical instruments.
    • Hong Mun Mang - This is also known as Khon Kaen City Museum. It is nearby the Kaen Nakhon Lake. Hong means a tower for keeping treasures. Hence, the museum keeps all of the precious artefacts belonging to the city of Khon Kaen. It features the history of Khon Kaen and even the modern progresses of the city.
    • Phu Pha Man National Park - This park is about 100 kms from Khon Kaen. You can find various caves, waterfalls and cliffs within it. One of the caves here called the Lai Thaeng Cave features rock paintings that can be traced back to 2,000 years ago. Another cave here, the Klang Khao Cave, has a daily exodus of bats at dusk. Pu Lup is yet another cave in the park, known for its stalagmites and stalactites. The Tat Yai Waterfalls, about 80 metres high, is the highest waterfall in the park.
    2. Udon Thani - This is also one of the four major cities in Isan. It is one of the major urban and commercial centres in the region. It is also the gateway for Laos, Vietnam and China. Here are some of the attractions in the city:

    • Wat Photisomphon - This is a temple complex, with about 20 more temples in its premises. The main temple was built during the reign of King Rama V. The complex was formerly known as the Phra Chao Worawongthoe Krommaluang Chinnawonsiriwat. Later, it was changed to Wat Photisomphon by the Supreme Patriarch Wat Ratchabophitsathitmahasimaram. This was in commemoration of the founder of the temple which was Phraya Sisuriyaratchawaranuwat.
    • What Pa Ban Tat - This is a Theravada Buddhist monastery built by Ajahn Maha Bua. The story goes that Ajahn Maha Bua was at the Huey Sai Village but then his mother fell sick so he had to come back to Udon Thani. With the request of the locals, he resided in the village and also to tend for his mother. A piece of land was gifted to him and that is where he built the Wat Pa Ban Tat. The monastery also houses the relics of Phra Ajahn Sao Kantasilo Mahathera, Mun Bhuridatta Thera and Acariya Sing Khatayakhamo.
    • City Pillar Shrine - This is located in Tung Sri Mueang field in the middle of the city of San Lak Mueang. It was established in 1999 and it is believed that the presiding deity of the city resides here.
    • Phu Prabhat Historical Park - This park was established by the Fine Arts Department in 1991. However, the rock formations here are believed to come from under the sea erosion formed millions of years ago. In some rock formations, you can see prehistoric art paintings. The most clear of which are in the Tham Wua and Tham Khon, the former features oxens and the latter features human figures. These paintings are believed to have been around since 6,000 years ago. You can also find shrines built amongst these rock formations.
    • Ban Chiang Museum - This is located in the Ban Chiang Village, which is believed to be the world's first bronze civilisation. The museum houses artefacts dating as far back as 7,000 years ago. You can see ancient tools, pottery items and household items within the museum.
    • Nong Prajak Park - This is one of the three reservoirs in Udon Thani. A favourite activity here is the feeding of the fishes but you cannot do angling or fishing here though. There are some stalls here selling snacks and drinks. It's best visited during the morning when the climate is a bit cooler. It's a popular area for jogging and walking as well among locals. Nearby this park are the Nong Sim Park and Shalom Phrakait Park which are also worth a visit.

    Central Thailand - This is where Bangkok is located, the most populated city of the country, which is also its capital. The Tenasserim Hills separate the region from Myanmar or Burma from the West. It has 22 provinces, all of which have their own capitals and districts.

    1. Bangkok - This is the capital of the country. It is also the most populated city and is the seat of all branches of the national government. This city is well known for its vibrant city life and cultural landmarks. Here are some of the attractions in the city:

    • Wat Arun - This is a Buddhist temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Originally, the temple located here was known as the Wat Makok. It was renamed as Wat Chaeng by Taksin and was later renamed to Wat Arun, dedicated to the Hindu God, Aruna. The temple was abandoned for a long time until Rama II renovated it again. The temple can be reached through a ferry ride from the Chao Phraya River.
    • Wat Phra Kaew - This is where the Emerald Buddha is located. Originally, the Buddha image was in Chiang Rai but was transferred to Bangkok in 1782 during the reign of Rama I. No one is allowed to touch the statue except for the king, who changes its cloak three times a year, corresponding to the different seasons.
    • Wat Saket - This temple dates back to the Ayutthaya Era. Back then, it was known as Wat Sakae but the name was later changed by King Rama I. There's a steep artificial hill in the compound named the Phu Khao Thong. This artificial hill was a chedi built by King Rama III that collapsed and acquired the appearance of a hill.
    • Wat Benchamabophit - This is also known as the Marble Temple and is probably one of the most beautiful temples in the country. The temple was constructed in 1899 by King Chulalongkorn. The name of the temple can be translated to temple of the fifth king located nearby Dusit Palace. You can find the Sukhothai-style Buddha statue named Phra Buddhajinaraja in the main hall of the temple. Around the assembly hall, there are about 52 statues of Buddha.
    • Wat Pho - This is a Buddhist temple complex, directly to the South of the Grand Palace. Officially, its name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn although it's also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It's first on the list of first-class royal temples. It houses one of the largest collections of images of Buddha in Thailand. There's also a 46 metre long statue of the Reclining Buddha here.
    • Giant Swing - This was constructed in 1784 in front of the Devasathan shrine by King Rama I. Formerly, it was used in an old Brahmin ceremony. It was closed during the reign of Rama II as the swing has been damaged by lightning. It was opened briefly in 1920 but closed again due to fatal accidents. In 2005, major reconstructions were done in the swing and it was dedicated in royal ceremonies during 2007.
    • Grand Palace - This was the residence of the Kings of Siam until 1782. Although the present king does not reside on the palace, it is still used for official events and ceremonies. It was constructed in the year 1782 by King Rama I. After which, several structures were added into the palace complex, most notably by King Rama V. By 1932, after the abolition of the absolute monarchy, all government offices were removed from the palace. The complex has numerous buildings, halls, gardens and courtyards. The Wat Phra Kaew can also be found within the complex. Many of the structures are closed for public viewing but the temple and the museum are open for the public.
    • Jim Thompson House - This was once the residence of Jim Thompson, an American businessmen. He collected various Thai structures and items from the year 1950 to the 1960. He had collected a lot of Southeast Asian art which the public can view from this house. Guided tours are available from the house.
    • Vimanmek Mansion - This was constructed in 1900 and was finished by 1901. King Rama V resided here for five years before the completion of the Amphorn Satharn Villa. In 1982, Queen Sirikit renovated the palace and turned it into a museum showcasing the photographs, items and handicrafts owned by King Rama V.

    Southern Thailand - This is on the Malay Peninsula, consisting of about 14 provinces with different districts and capitals. It is well known for its beaches and rivers.

    1. Phuket - This is the capital of the province with the same name. It has about 30 beaches which is why it's popular amongst foreign tourists. Historically, it was a port entry for Chinese traders to reach Thailand.

    • Bangtao Beach - This is one of the longest beaches in Phuket, with about 6 kms long of shoreline. The famous resort, Laguna Phuket, is also located here. There are plenty of restaurants and other hotels within the shores of the beach. It's probably one of the most commercialised beaches in Phuket. Although if you walk a little bit further, the Northern area has less crowds and commercialism.
    • Kata Beach - This is a favourite beach among families due to its lesser crowds and parties. The sands here are a fine white and powdery. The waters are very calm and serene especially from November to April. There are also plenty of accommodation options nearby the beach.
    • Kamala Beach - This is one of the quieter beaches in Phuket. It is renowned for its luxury villas and most retirees do spend their lifetime here. It is surrounded by forested hills and a fishing village which adds to the serenity of the area.
    • Layan Beach - This beach is surrounded by pine trees and has calm waters. This is also one of the more secluded beaches in the area which is why expats prefer to stay here.
    • Freedom Beach - This has white, powdery sands surrounded by dense forests. Perhaps because of the difficulty reaching it, not many tourists go to this beach. This is why it's one of the best beaches to visit in Phuket. The water here is very shallow and suitable for swimming. There are no water activities here though.
    • Simon Cabaret - This is where the famous ladyboys of Thailand perform. The shows are spectacular along with the costumes. The shows are done in a huge amphitheatre that can accommodate a large audience.
    • Phuket Fantasea - The shows performed here include trapeze artists, elephants and other animals. Aside from the show, it is also a theme park with carnival like games, shopping areas, food outlets and buffet. The main attraction is still the show, which is quite elaborate and extravagant. The ticket for the show and buffet costs 2,200 baht per adult and 2,000 baht per child.

    There you go. There are many more places that you can explore in Thailand but these are the most popular ones. I hope this helps you. Have fun!


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