There are many reasons why 30 million tourists visited Thailand in 2018 and while you may have experienced the premier beach resorts and the bustling markets, there’s so much more to Thailand when you get off the tourist trail. It might surprise you to learn that there are no less than 157 national parks in the Royal Kingdom of Thailand and most offer a wide range of accommodation for the traveller, both Thai and foreign.
Here is our top destination list if you want to immerse yourself in a tropical paradise for a few weeks in the Land of Smiles.
- Khao Yai National Park – Khao Yai National Park is only a couple of hours from Bangkok and sits in the Sankhampaeng Mountains at the southwest end of the Khorat Plateau. This is the third largest national park in Thailand at more than 2,000 sq km, which includes seasonal forests and grasslands. The abundant and diverse wildlife, flora and fauna make for a nature lover’s Garden of Eden; more than 300 bird species, 66 mammal species, including the Asian Black Bear and Indian Elephant, while there are stunning waterfalls and guide take you along trails where you can observe a range of wildlife. Search online for luxury resorts, or if you fancy camping, there are full facilities within the park.
- Khao Lak National Park – Combine lush tropical forest with stunning beaches and the idyllic beach resort in Khao Lak for a truly unique experience. The park is located in Phang Nga Province, which lines the Andaman Sea and staying in a top-rated resort means you can explore the natural beauty and sample the local Thai cuisine. The resort would cater for all water sports, with horse riding, jet ski hire and natural walks in the forest and as far as rest and relaxation goes, you’re in the right place.
- Doi Inthanon National Park – Nicknamed ‘the roof of Thailand’ this national park is home to the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon Mountain and the area is 480 sq km, which is small when compared to Khao Yai. Approximately 60km from the northern capital, Chaing Mai, the park has a number of scenic waterfalls, including Mae Klang, Watchiratan and Mae Ya Falls. Elevations range from 800m-2,500m and the fauna and flora are diverse.
- Khao Koh National Park – Khao Koh is located in Petchaburi Province, the park is a combination of mountains and forest and a great place for hiking. Foreigners do have to pay a nominal fee to enter Thai National Parks, which goes towards preservation and upkeep. Here is an informative article on why Thailand is one of the top tourist destinations.
- Koh Chang – Known in Thai as ‘elephant island’ due to the shape, this is still relatively undeveloped island that sits in the Gulf of Thailand about 300km from Bangkok. There are some 5-star resorts on this island, although development is restricted by the Thai government. If you would like to learn more about elephant island, a Google search will bring up a lot of information and you can book your resort online.
- Pranburi – In the province of Prachuabkhirikan, Pranburi is a quiet coastal town 30km south of Hua Hin where there are some superb resorts and beachside bungalows you can rent. Pranburi is scheduled for further development, so perhaps long-term, it will lose some of its charm. There is an overspill of tourists at Hua Hin and this has led to beach resort development as more and more tourists discover the nice beaches at Pranburi.
- Rayong – The Eastern Seaboard is spectacular, especially around Rayong, a coastal town that caters for tourists and with many luxury resorts along the coastline, you can enjoy the natural beauty of Rayong. The best time to visit Rayong is November to January, the Thai winter, when temperatures average 18-25C, but you should make an early booking, as Thais also like to stay in Rayong.
- Koh Samui – Located in the far south of Thailand, Samui Island is very developed and if you are looking for a 5-star resort with great nightlife, this is the place for you. If you had ventured to this tropical island in the 1970s, you would have seen a different world with no signs of tourism and the locals were all fishing. The towns are vibrant in the evening, with bars, restaurants and discos, where you can dance the night away.
Thailand is a unique country, as it was the only South East Asian nation not to be colonised, so it has an undiluted culture that is primarily Buddhist and with more than 30 million tourists in 2018, prior to the pandemic, Thailand obviously has a lot to offer. Use the Internet to help you find the ideal destination, then you can make your booking and prepare for the best holiday ever!