Thailand, the Land of Smiles 🙂
Thailand is a country that has so much to offer, whether you are a backpacker, a honeymoon couple or a family traveling with kids. After traveling Thailand for 3 months with our 5 and 6 year old, these are our top best places to visit. (Watch video instead)
1) Khao Sok National Park
The beauty of this park speaks for itself. The fact that very little tourists have discovered this park, makes you feel that your are lost in paradise. It is only you and nature within the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world.
Khao Sok National Park is located in Southern Thailand. The combination of gigantic limestone mountains, clear blue freshwater lakes, deep valleys, waterfalls, caves, and a diversity of plants and wildlife, makes this place spectacular. The perfect complete nature package, all in one.
You can spend several days exploring this 738-sq-km national park. Enjoy a boat ride on Thailand’s most magnificent freshwater lake, the stunningly beautiful Cheow Larn Lake. The limestone cliffs shooting up into the air and small little islands will lead you to feel lost in a maze.
Want to spend a night on the lake? Book your stay in one of only a few floating raft houses. Even though these raft houses are very basic, I’m sure it will be an unforgettable experience.
- Buy your boat ticket directly from the National Park. If you don’t have any wheels, you will have to rely on a tour operator in town.
- There is a variety of accommodation available in town according to everyone’s taste and pockets.
- Spend 2-3 days.
- Watch our Khao Sok National Park video for more
Spend some time in Krabi on the west coast of Southern Thailand. Stay in Ao Nang where you will find streets filled with souvenir shops, restaurants and bars.
Our most recommended tour is the 4 island tour which will take you to the islands visible on the horizon from the beach. The four islands are Koh Poda with the very famous rock formation, Koh Gai (Chicken Island) resembling a chicken, Koh Tub and Koh Mor which is connected via a sandbank during low tide.
To make the best out of your tour, book a private long-tail boat and explore the beautiful islands at your own pace. The majestic karst formations are just out of this world not to even mention the astonishing clear blue turquoise waters – perfect for snorkeling.
The final stop is at the beautiful Phra Nang Cave Beach on the Railay peninsula. The fact that this beach is inaccessible by road makes it even more exquisite.
- Negotiate prices from the tour operators in town and shop around. For the best experience, book a private long-tail boat.
- Recommended Budget Accommodation : Krabi Heritage Hotel
- Spend at least 3 days.
- Watch our Krabi video for more
3) Phi Phi Island
When visiting Phuket, make sure to spend some time on Phi Phi Island. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited.
Take a long-tail boat to the very famous Maya Bay, situated on Phi Phi Lee island. This bay was made famous by the movie, The Beach, featuring Leonardo di Caprio, which was filmed there in 2000. It is a very unique small island sheltered by high cliffs where you will get to snorkel at the most breathtaking places.
Explore Phi Phi Island – Stroll around the walkways in Phi Phi town where you will find many shops selling souvenirs and clothing. The island has no roads or transport, so take some comfy footwear to walk around.
Koh Phi Phi has quite a vibrant nightlife, with lots of bars and restaurants to suit every ones taste.
Looking for a party? Visit the northern beach at night and enjoy exquisite fire dance performances with booming music!
- Phi Phi Island is much cheaper than Phuket.
- It is cheaper to book your trip to Maya bay through a travel agent on the island than in Phuket.
- Find out if Maya bay is open to tourists as time has been set out for recovery of the bay.
- Recommended Budget Accommodation : Phi Phi Good View Resort
- Spend at least 3 days.
- Watch our Phi Phi Island video or Koh Phi Phi Lee (Maya Bay) video for more
4) Hong Islands
Visit the 4 superb islands which form part of the Koh Hong group. As you travel by long-tail boat you will be surrounded by surreal rocky outcrops that poke out of the surrounding turquoise Andaman Sea.
Embrace yourself by the beauty that unfolds as you approach the very narrow 10m wide entrance to the Hong Island Lagoon. What makes this experience even more spectacular is the gigantic towering limestone walls that surround you as you enter this lagoon.
The next stop brings you to Lading Island also known as Paradise Island. It was once the place where locals collected the valuable vital ingredient for bird’s nest soup. Relax under the shades of the tree or encounter the tropical waters.
Enjoy the very small beach on Pakbia Island surrounded by a maze of caves eroded into the cliffs by the sea. This is also the perfect spot to just relax under the trees and marvel at the beautiful view.
Koh Nok Island is the perfect spot for lazing on the virgin sands before heading back to shore.
- Check the tides as the lagoon is not accessible during low tide.
- Watch our Hong Island video for more
5) Koh Yao Noi
In need to remove yourself from the crowds of Phuket? Then Koh Yao Noi is the island for you! Whilst unspoilt islands are very hard to find around Thailand, Koh Yao Noi is definitely the most untouched island we have come across.
Koh Yao Noi is significantly smaller than its sister island Koh Yao Yai making it so much easier to explore the island within one day. Rent a scooter or a bicycle and explore the island’s rubber tree plantations, rice paddy fields and mangroves. Take the less traveled route to discover the most beautiful untouched beaches which you will have all to yourself.
If you are looking for parties, then Koh Yao Noi is not the island for you.
It is as if the pace of living on this island is slowed down. Prepare yourself for lying in a hammock with a good book or enjoy a freshly brewed coffee whilst taking in the beauty of the dotted islands in the background.
- Book your ferry ticket at the pier in Krabi or Phuket. Check out the timetables.
- Recommended budget accommodation : Sabai Corner Bungalows
- Spend more than 3 days
- Watch our Koh Yao Noi video for more
6) Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn Temple
Thailand’s best kept secret!! This beautiful temple complex is hidden in the mountains of Lampang Province. It is very easy to miss the small pagoda’s which are dotted over the mountain tops.
This is for adventurous travelers ONLY who is prepared to go off the beaten track. Rent a scooter or a car to get there. Entrance tickets can be purchased on arrival.
Travel further up the mountain in one of the 4×4 taxi’s. It’s quite an adventurous ride, with steep uphills and turns, so hold on tight.
Once you reach the top you will walk about 300m and then take some stairs to climb the remaining 500 meters up. You can’t help but to wonder how all the pieces of the pagoda’s were carried up years ago. This was all done by a local monk and 50 helpers.
It is an easy walk up in the shades of the trees. You will be rewarded with the most breathtaking views from the viewpoints. The fact that we were the only tourists here made this place so much more special.
- Book your accommodation in advance as hotels and B&B’s are hard to find in this area.
- Arrive during daytime. The road signs are in Thai making it quite a challenge if you should get lost.
- Wear comfy shoes for the walk up the mountain.
- Recommended Budget Accommodation : Him Doy Muang Pan Resort
- Spend 1 full day (spend a night and visit the temple early in the morning)
- Watch our Wat Chaloem video for more
Close to the Myanmar border and about 3 hours drive northwest from Chiang Mai you will find this small little town at the foot of the mountains. Welcome to Pai, Thailand!
For amazing views, visit the Pai Canyon –Note! This is NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED! Also NOT suitable for kids! Go early in the morning or share the sunset with other romantics.
Pay Thom’s Elephant Camp a visit where you can spend some time with the gentle giants. Treat these happy elephants with some bananas, bring your own fruit or pay a donation.
From 5pm you can head to the Pai walking street where you will find lots of vendors selling the tastiest foods and some the most extreme foods. If worms and chicken feet are not your thing, you can try out a variety of other dishes.
- The road to Pai is quite a stretch with a lot of hairpin turns – best to travel during daylight.
- Recommended Budget Accommodation : Thom’s Pai Elephant Camp OR Pai My Guest Resort
- Spend 2-3 days.
- Watch our Pai video for more
8) Chiang Mai
Chiang Mia is the largest city in Northern Thailand and attracts many tourists with its charm.
Put these on your Chiang Mai travel list:
Surrounded by ancient city walls with a canal that lines the walls. Roam freely through the streets and visit some of the most astonishing temples. Please note the dress code before visiting the temples.
Nong Buak Hard Public Park
Do some exercise amongst the very well manicured lawns and water features. Not your thing? Then just relax and enjoy a picnic under the shade trees next to the water whilst feeding the birds.
Excellent value for money! Our most favourite was the signature dish of Chiang Mai – Khao Soi. This dish consists of egg noodles in a coconut milk curry soup with tender fall-off-the-bone chicken. It’s topped with crispy deep-fried noodles, cilantro and served with lime wedges, pickled mustard, sliced shallots and chili paste.
Do some shoulder bumping at the Saturday night market? Unfortunately, this market’s popularity made it a very uncomfortable experience. Rather visit the Sunday night market with less visitors. Lots of souvenirs, foods and clothes at dirt cheap prices can be bought here.
Doi Suthep Temple
Situated on a mountain 15km outside of Chiang Mai, you will find this shiny golden temple with the most amazing views. Be prepared for the 309 steps up and be sure to be properly dressed.
This village, set on a hill is home to the Hmong tribe. Browse through the stalls selling traditional crafts and be sure to try the strawberries. It is the sweetest you will ever find!
Chiang Mai Grand Canyon
Have some fun at the Grand canyon waterpark. This is actually the Hang Dong Quarry that has been turned into a very fun tourist attraction. Do some cliff jumping or just relax floating around on the bamboo rafts.
Pha Chor Canyon
Put on some comfy shoes and take a stroll through the shaded trails to this amazing canyon where you will find the 30m high pillars. The Pha Chor Canyon was created after the Ping river changed its course many years ago.
- Book accommodation in Old Town, it is less busy and you are close to food markets and temples.
- Recommended Budget Accommodation : Pai Residence Chiangmai Gate
- Stay at least 5 days.
- Watch our Chiang Mai video for more
The Ayutthaya Kingdom existed in 1351 to 1767. During this time it was the trading capital of Asia boasting with palaces, ceremonies and huge floats of merchant boats from all over the world. It was attacked by the Burmese army who burned the city to the ground and forced the inhabitants to abandon the city.
Today, situated only 80km north of the vibrant city of Bangkok, lies the ruins of a once flourishing city. No words are needed when moving between the fallen walls…
Ayutthaya is an ancient city with lots of historic stories waiting to be discovered. It is such an overwhelming experience roaming between these ruins. There is an indescribable silence which you will only understand once you have visited these sites yourselves.
- Rent a scooter or bicycle to visit all the sites. You can also rely on the the services of a tuk-tuk driver, but you will need to negotiate a good price.
- Recommended Budget Accommodation : The Avail
- Spend at least 3 days to visit all the sites.
- Watch our Ayutthaya video for more.
10) Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is a town in northern Thailand close to the Laos and Myanmar border.
Put these on your Chiang Rai travel list:
1. Clock Tower
A golden clock by day with the most unique architecture, located in the centre of a round about. It is at night that you get a whole new appreciation for this clock tower. At 7pm, 8pm and 9pm you are entertained by a music and light performance. Switching between all the colours of the rainbow while playing the sweetest tunes.
2. WAT RONG KHUN WHITE TEMPLE
This must be the eeriest temple we have visited to date. White – meaning purity, softness and goodness – is such a contradictory name given to this pointy, scary temple with evil monstrous creatures displayed all over. It does have a deeper meaning however.
3. BOON RAWD FARM / SINGHA FARM
The Boon Rawd Farm was once the producer of barley for Singha Beer, but unfortunately no brewery here. You won’t be able to miss the gigantic Singha lion as you approach the farm. Spend some good quality time taking a tour through the tea plantations and orchards. Venture through the park with a bicycle, tram or just take a stroll along the numerous walking trails.
4. WAT HUAY PLAKANG 9 TIER TEMPLE
What Huay Plakang is situated 6km outside of Chiang Rai. This is where you will find the most gigantic Buddha statue situated on a small hill. Inside the statue is an elevator that goes up to the forehead. Here you can have a view to the outside through openings of the eyes. Right next to the Big Buddha is the just as astonishing 9 Tier Temple. This 9-storey pagoda can be climbed to the top for views of the surroundings.
- You will have to travel between these attractions, it is best to have your own wheels.
- Recommended Budget Accommodation : Chiang Rai Hotel
- Spend 2 days
- Watch our Chiang Rai video for more
We hope that this guide will help you to have just as an amazing time as we did!
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