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Kit Dale / © Culture Trip
Kit Dale / © Culture Trip
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3 Incredible Cities You Have to Visit in Thailand

Picture of Lynn Vo
Updated: 21 March 2018
Three cities in Thailand, three different travel experiences. From Bangkok, to Chiang Mai and Phuket, find out what each region has to offer and the activities to definitely check out when traveling!
Grand Palace-Bangkok-Thailand
Grand Palace | Kit Dale / © Culture Trip

Bangkok

Being one of Southeast Asia’s most popular destinations, and well-known for its beautiful people, Thailand’s culturally giving and kind nature is probably why people love visiting and even making this land their new home. For city-lovers, Bangkok is a must-hit destination. Bangkok lives up to its name as the capital of Thailand. Skyscrapers, public transit, cars exhaust fuming its way down the streets; this is a city that thrives as the heart of Thailand. The diversity of people extrapolates the assorted culture. With Bangkok’s efficient MRT and BTS system, you can explore the whole city.

Terminal 21 is an astonishing and worldly designed shopping center made for all consumers. With each floor serving different regions of the world, one can be shopping for handbags in Paris and then go to the Caribbean for some beachwear in a matter of steps. Not only is this the place to go to for your new wardrobe, but it’s a place to satisfy your cravings for any food. Diverse selection of Thai food and well-known international franchises awaits your growling stomach in their amazing food court.

Alternatively, Chatuchak Weekend Market is a place to spend less of your money. This outdoor marketplace has vendors lining the street selling items from T-shirts to keychains. Souvenir and gift shopping is highly recommended to be done here if you stay for the weekend and remember to keeping small change. This place is overflowing with people, both locals and tourists and is a great place to put your bargaining skills to the test.

Khoa San Road Nightime-Bangkok-Thailand
Khao San Road at Night | Kit Dale / © Culture Trip

Khao San Road is the place to be if you’re a backpacker and fancy some night time fun with snack and booze. Live music ring from bars and pubs aligning with street vendors and people offering some happy times, but also pay attention to your belongings in the crowd. I’d recommend trying crunchy snacks such as fried scorpion or other delectable fried insects. The limbs are probably the best part though, so stay away from the gut. There is an amazing lady that can whip up an instantaneous crepe, her quick toss of the batter and slicing bananas was one of the best performances I watched.

Even with Thailand’s impressive transportation services, your bodies might ache after heavy exploration. The Wat Pho Temple is the original Thai medical and massage school and has trained the best practitioners of massage you can find. Go ahead and indulge yourself. Remember to pay some respects to the Reclining Buddha as well, undoubtedly the largest and most relaxed statue I have ever prayed and bowed to.

A strong influence of Buddhism evidently exists in Thai culture. Wat Pho is just one of many temples that exist. Lay people revere monks and put their palms together and bow their heads when in sight of a monk (known as “wai”). Monks follow the principles of something known as “dhutanga,” a set of 13 ascetic practices.

Golden Bhudda-Bangkok-Thailand
Golden Bhudda at Wat Pho Temple | © Culture Trip

Chiang Mai

Now we leave the city life to venture into a natural reservation where you can actually see clear skies. Chiang Mai is for nature-lovers and those who prefer the calm and slow lifestyle. Here are a few wild attractions that really lets you connect to nature:

Chiang Mai Night Safari is not your typical zoo with observation of caged wildlife. It occurs well after sundown. Exotic animals such as white porcupines and raccoons are like pets you can have sit on your lap. An open bus tour takes you around the whole park to have a close encounter with the animals. For an even closer encounter, lure them in with food. The giraffes will crane those long necks down to you to yank those treats from your hand and the baby hogs will chase after the tour bus squealing for more treats. You can pet and embrace the animals, so long as they let you. It’s as if you are an attraction in the park yourself.

Markets-Chiang Mai-Thailand
A Market in Chiang Mai | © Culture Trip

A place where you probably wouldn’t want to be an attraction though, is the Tiger Kingdom. Here we make our way straight to the wild beast of the jungle. As fierce as they are known to be, the tigers spend about an average 16 hours of sleep per day in order to save their energy for hunting. More like beauty rest because they are breathtakingly gorgeous.

Tigers are pretty cool, but if you want something even more thrilling and unbelievable, you have to see real elephants in Thailand. Elephants are everywhere—tops, pants, bags, coin purses, key chains, on the streets carrying a family, or in an open and free area of land. Elephants are the symbol of Thailand. I visited an elephant sanctuary and this is probably the highlight of my trip. We got to spend the day with elephants, unbound by bars or fences, and learn about the rescue efforts in order to help these majestic creatures escape the awful life of serving humans as entertainment for a money-making franchise. Spend time feeding and interacting with them, and even bathing with them in their muddy bath water. My heart was stolen by their unknowingly amazing spirits and beauty. I highly suggest and recommend travellers spending time with some of Thailand’s grand and magnificent elephants in a more supportive way.

Wat Umong Temple-Chiang Mai-Thailand
Wat Umong Temple | © Culture Trip

Phuket

Phuket is the island for the beach bums and party people, well-known for its high life, party scenes, and relaxation and here are a few places to have some fun:

Take a stroll around Patong Beach and be enlightened by the tranquil of the ocean and the serenity of the lifestyle. Walk some more until the sun sets and find yourself on Bangla Road. The calm level of ambiance from the beach shifts to the flash of neon lights and banging music from clubs and people bombarding you with activities. This stretch of road is where night-clubbers come alive and booze is the staple drink. Take a seat in any bar and, male or female, you will be amazed at the talented pole dancer’s moves. Phuket night-life is vibrant, and this is one of the hippest place to catch all the action.

Ko Phi Phi Island is a beach paradise in Phuket, an alternative destination for those who prefer nature. The water is a brilliant clear color, filled with colorful fish, sea plants and starfishes laying in the ocean sand. From snorkelling to jet skiing or banana boating, a variety of aquatic adventure awaits. For a more relaxed time, simply sunbathing on the white sandy shore of the beach is enough to enjoy how luxurious it is. This is the ideal vacation destination, filled with a happy and surreal energy of paradise.

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Thai boats in Koh Phi Phi | ©pxhere