Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin top Thailand destinations for international travellers
Agoda shares the list as it introduces 'Explore Thailand' campaign
Thailand’s borders are now fully open, and travellers from all over the world are heading back in droves to explore its unspoiled beaches and idyllic islands, serene countryside and the bustle of Bangkok city. Agoda has revealed the top searched Thai destinations as it launches its dedicated Explore Thailand campaign offering deals on top accommodation throughout Thailand.
Beach resorts dominate the top seven searches, with Koh Chang, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Phuket completing the top destination list according to Agoda.
Bangkok is a metropolis that combines culture and heritage with skyscrapers, party people and rooftop bars. Nestled in among some of the most well-known hotels in the world, are ancient temples, old markets and local neighbourhoods to explore.
A city that never sleeps, Bangkok has something for everyone. From its food scene, with street vendors serving Thai staples at all hours, to gourmet restaurants, and its diverse shopping experience, the city is full of experiences. Designer brands jostle for attention in Bangkok’s top malls dotted along the Bangkok Train System, while tourists and locals alike flock to markets such as Khlong Ong Ang Walking Street near Chinatown and Chatuchak market. Escape from the toots of the tuk tuks to the Green Lung or newly opened Benjakitti Forest Park and enjoy a slower pace for a while.
Chiang Mai in the north has always been a popular spot for backpackers and locals alike and is growing in recognition from a wider traveller demographic seeking out its temples and slightly cooler climes. There are many majestic temples dotted throughout the city and no visit is complete without a visit to one. Explore Prasat Temple with its Lanna architectural style believed to date back 500 years. While not as famous as other nearby temples, it has interesting and unique features that make this temple worth visiting, such as the entrance panels and pillars that are intricately decorated with carved flower motifs in the Lanna style, and the short tunnel that connects the viharn (a prayer hall) to the chedi (pagoda) behind it.
For something closer to nature, Royal Park Rajapruek has more than 200 acres to explore and features tropical flowers and fauna - a World of Insects, a garden of Rare Plants, an Orchid Garden, and Gardens for the King. It also includes authentic Lanna architecture of Ho Kham Luang Royal Pavilion letting visitors revel in traditional northern architecture. Don’t worry about getting round all of the 200 acres – there is a free tram service, or bicycle rentals for the more active.
Famous Beaches and Islands
Only a few hours’ drive from Bangkok, travellers can explore the Thai Royal family’s favoured destination of Hua Hin of the Gulf of Thailand, famed for its Khao Tao Beach – great for kite surfing, and playing in the waves. Head the other way out of the city for a different beach experience visiting Pattaya, renowned for its party scene and easy access to the city.
Slightly further afield but well worth jumping on a plane for, are family favourites Koh Samui and Phuket, and the island of Koh Chang. Havens for beachcombers and those looking to unwind and relax, these islands are home to some of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches.
Phuket, the biggest of these islands has a number of long white sandy beaches at Surin, Kamala Bay, and Karon Beach. For those willing to get off the beaten track, Freedom Beach is nestled in the valley between Patong and Karon beaches. A jungle trek or boat ride is the only way to access this unspoiled beach. It stretches 300 meters, featuring clear turquoise sea water against a backdrop of colourful green jungle. The beach is an ideal spot for visitors to swim, sunbathe and snorkel. There is also a restaurant serving simple food and drinks.
For a little culture and a spectacular view visit The Big Buddha, a 45m high statue made of white jade marble perches on the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata in Phuket.
On Koh Chang, accessible from Trad, Klong Prao Beach is widely considered as one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Large trees lined along the beach provide shade for beachgoers to lay back and soak up the sun or even have a picnic. The water is shallow for most of the day making it an ideal spot for children to take a dip or anyone who likes to paddle. Although there is no lively shopping street, accommodation and restaurants are easy to find in the northern and southern parts of the beach.
To really get away from it all, Salakphet Mangrove Walkway or known locally as the red bridge stretches through the Salakphet Mangrove Forest. Along the way, branches that have inclined towards each other make a seemingly beautiful arch, shading the walkway. It’s the perfect place to get away from city lights as green hills can be seen in the distance with almost no buildings in sight at all.
Like Phuket, Koh Samui has an abundance of beaches to explore for daytime sunbathing and they also come alive in the evening with beach bars and diners all along Chawang beach Fisherman’s Village Walking Street takes place every Friday on Bhoput Beach. It is one of the biggest markets on the island and it has an array of small stalls and boutique shops that sell delicious food, lovely handicrafts, musical instruments, and unique accessories.
Take a trip on a traditional long-tail boat out to Pig Island, whose official name is Mudsum Island, but the name Pig Island is more commonly used due to the 10 pigs that roam the beach after they were saved by a local bar man.
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