Travel Thailand Destinations – The Kingdom of Thailand is located in the heart of SE Asia, making it a gateway to Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma) and Southern China. Thailand is divided into four main regions…
The North | Central Thailand | Northeast (Isaan) | South
The Kingdom of Thailand is divided in 76 provinces, which are split into districts, sub-districts and villages. Bangkok is the capital and the centre of politics, commerce, industrial and cultural activities. It’s also the seat of Thailand’s revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognised as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, the present king. The King has reigned now for more than half a century, which makes him the longest reigning Thai monarch. Thailand has a rich diversity of cultures and traditions, a proud history, tropical climate and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure for visitors from all over the world.
The Big 4 Thailand Destinations
Useful Information about the 4 main Thailand Destinations in the Kingdom.
The North of Thailand
The North is the birthplace of Thai civilisation and has many archaeological and cultural sites which are worth visiting. The people of the North are famous for their courtesy and hospitality, and the region is also well known for its variety of cultural traditions.
The North of Thailand has 2 distinct areas – The plains of the lower north from the province Nakhon Sawan to Sukhothai, and the mountainous upper-north with borders to Myanmar and Laos. The mountain ranges along the borders are breathtaking, with waterfalls and fast-flowing rivers ideal for white water rafting. This region is also home to many ethnic hill people. The Thai nation had its origins in the North, in city states that were gradually incorporated into the Lanna kingdom centred on Chiang Mai.
Sukhothai became the first capital of Thailand, but the influence of the Lanna states of Laos and Myanmar can be clearly seen in the architecture and cuisine of the North. The nomadic hill people of the region pursued their own course, moving back and forth across frontiers. There are six main tribal groups, Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Mien, Akha and Lisu, each with its own unique customs and clothing. Today, they are settled in villages on the mountainsides, a great attraction for travellers.
Most overseas visitors make for Chiang Mai, the northern capital, as a base for visiting ethnic tribes, soft adventure activities and shopping. Further north still, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son are centres for rafting, trekking and tours of tribal villages. To the south, the Historical Park at Sukhothai is an essential destination for all those wishing to discover more about the history and culture of Thailand.
The North has 3 seasons: Hot from March to May, wet from June to November and cool from December to February. High up in the mountains, cool may often mean also extremely cold, so don’t forget to bring proper cloth when visiting the area in the cool season.
The 17 provinces that comprise the North are: Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai, Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nakhon Sawan, Nan, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phichit, Uthai Thani, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, and Uttaradit.
The South of Thailand
The south, a narrow peninsula, lying between the Andaman Sea on its west side and the Gulf of Thailand on the east. It’s rich of natural resources, the fertility of its soil, the diversity of its people.
The South is made up of 14 provinces from Chumphon, as most northern province all the way down to the Malaysian border, which is 1,200 kilometres from Bangkok. It has a long beautiful coastline on both sides, with sandy beaches and islands and a rugged cent er of mountains and forests.
The east coast on the Gulf of Thailand seems to be more relaxed. Long, wide bays and calm seas. The Andaman Sea coast line tends to be more rugged and exhilarating, with strange limestone rock formations and cliffs.
This part of Thailand is dominated by 2 seasonal monsoons, which means that the climate differs from the rest of Thailand. The southwest monsoon sweeps the west coast of the Andaman Sea from May to October, and the northeast monsoon moves across the Gulf of Thailand form November to February. Due to this conditions you normally will see rain on both coastlines at the same time, which makes the south a all year around travel destination.
Once part of the Buddhist Srivijaya Empire but later came under the rule of Ayutthaya and then Bangkok. Malaysian and Chinese influences have played a large part in the cultural makeup of this region. As further south, as stronger the Malaysian influence, with a dialect akin to Malay, a predominance of Muslim communities and mosques. Rice fields give way to rubber plantations, and Chinese tin mining operations become evidence.
The coastlines and islands are the main attraction for most tourists. Samui island in the Gulf of Thailand has a growing popularity as a laid back holiday spot with good diving nearby on Koh Tao and Koh Pha-Ngan.
The Andaman Sea coast is home the island province of Phuket, Thailand’s number 1 holiday resort island. Something you shouldn’t miss are the fascinating rock formations and islands of the coast at Phang-Nga, Ao Nang Krabi and Trang. These are popular travel destinations for Thailand diving and sailing opportunities.
Mountains, rivers and forests, with many of them being part of a National Park. Which are a great place for safari expeditions on foot, by elephant and in canoes.
The South of Thailand consists of 14 provinces: Chumphon, Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Pattani, Phang-Nga, Phatthalung, Phuket, Ranong, Satun, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Trang and Yala.
26 provinces make up Central and Eastern Thailand, with Bangkok being one of them. It’s Thailand’s heartland, extending from Lop Buri in the north to the Central Plains around the Chao Phraya River, which is known as Thailands rice bowl. Further south, the area embraces the east and west coasts of the northern part of the Gulf of Thailand.
This area is Thailand’s most fertile farming area, with a landscape of rice fields and plantations. Over 1,000 years ago Thai settlers moved down from the north, replacing Mon and Khmer influences and establishing communities at Lop Buri then at Sukhothai, before founding a kingdom that lasted 417 years with Ayutthaya as its capital. When the Burmese destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767, the capital moved down south to Bangkok.
The Central region has a dramatic history, and its heritage of ancient temples, battlefields and ruins and two capitals, Ayutthaya and Bangkok, are a continuing fascination for visitors. The east and west sea coasts at the region’s southern end also draw huge numbers of visitors every year. Bangkok residents spend long weekends enjoying the relaxing seaside atmosphere, while holiday-makers from around the world to discover the delights of the tropical beach life.
On the eastern side, 400 kilometres of coastline extend from Chon Buri to Rayong with some of the finest beaches in Asia. Pattaya, with an enormous range of resorts, hotels and guesthouses, is its centre. If you are seeking a more relaxing experience, travel further down the coast to Rayong or Koh Samet, and the lovely islands of Ko Chang National Park near the Cambodian border.
On the west coast, the resorts of Cha-am and Hua Hin attract international travellers who prefer their more sophisticated yet laid-back atmosphere.
Far from the sea in the northwest of the region is Kanchanaburi, whose forested mountains, waterfalls and caves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries on the border with Myanmar provide some of Thailand’s most enthralling scenery.
The 26 provinces of Central and East Coast are Ang Thong, Bangkok, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chanthaburi, Chon Buri, Kanchanaburi, Lop Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phetchaburi, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Sa Kaeo, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Saraburi, Sing Buri, Suphan Buri and Trat.
North East (Isaan)
The Northeast of Thailand, a vast plateau covering nearly one third of the country, is usually known as Isaan. It extends northwards to the Mekong River which divides Thailand from Laos, and to the south and it ends at the Dong Rek mountain range along the border with Cambodia.
It is known to be an arid region with soil of poor quality, but for tourism, Isan is one of the country’s most intriguing destinations with many Stone Age and Bronze Age dwellings and artifacts, and several significant temples that are a legacy of the great Khmer empire.
The sandstone shrines are popular tourist attractions, particularly the superbly restored sites at the historical parks of Phimai in Nakhon Ratchasima and Phanom Rung in Buri Ram. The great temple complex at Khao Phra Viharn in Si Sa Ket on the border with Cambodian is now accessible to visitors after a long period of isolation.
The Bronze Age settlements at Ban Chiang in the province of Udon Thani provide fascinating evidence of the work of the local potters some 5,000 years ago. The red and white pottery with characteristic “fingerprint” designs are thought to be the first earthenware vessels known to man.
Two of Thailand’s most popular national parks are Khao Yai National Park, Phu Kradung and Phu Rua in Loei. All are located in Isaan. Other major attractions include the villages in Khorat and Khon Kaen where the beautiful local silk is woven by hand.
Isan is a comparatively poor region whose main income is from agriculture, and many of the younger people in the villages migrate to the city. But Isan folk have a distinctive character and dialect and a vigorous culture, with their old traditions still reflected in the many festivals unique to the region. With its strategic position bordering Laos and Cambodia, Isan has in recent years risen to become a useful starting point for adventurous journeys to destinations along the mighty Mekong River. There have been important developments in infrastructure to accommodate what is expected to be a boom in tourism.
Travel in the region has been improved by domestic airlines with regular flights to regional airports; and it is no longer impossible to find luxury accommodation, especially in large provinces of Khon Kaen, Udon Thani Nakhon, Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani.
The Northeast consists of 19 provinces: Amnat Charoen, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Loei, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani and Yasothon.