Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But the geographical beauty isn’t the only thing that draws people in. Many tourists are drawn in by the friendly Thai people who have made Thailand known as the “Land of Smiles”. Along with the hospitable locals, Thailand is also home to some of the most alluring villages, islands, and major cities just waiting to be explored. Before you make your itinerary check out our list of the most beautiful and underrated cities in Thailand you don’t want to miss.
Sukhothai is an impressive small city in Lower Northern Thailand located near the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai, the former capital of Thailand. This city boasts a population of nearly 600,000 which is far less in comparison to Thailand’s largest city, Bangkok (home to more than 8 million people). The Sukhothai Historical Park and the Si Satchanalai Historical Park contain amazing ruins that will take your breath away and transport you back in time. When visiting the ruins, rent a bike to cover more of the historic grounds. Also, be sure to visit the park at sunrise to see the stunning Buddha figures against the backdrop of the rising sun.
Found in western Thailand at the edge of the mountains, the beautiful small river city of Kanchanaburi is worth a visit. Kanchanaburi is best known for the bridge over the River Kwai for the connection with the historic Death Railway to Burma where thousands of prisoners of war and Asian laborers died during the Japanese occupation in World War II. While in town, visit nearby Erawan and Sri Nakarin Dam National Parks to see breathtaking waterfalls and caves. You’ll also want to check out the elephant camps in the area.
Located 535 miles north of Bangkok at the very northern tip of Thailand, is Chiang Rai. This city is often passed over on travelers’ Thai itineraries but is certainly worth a visit. It’s full of remarkable, ancient temples and by the way, be sure to check out Wat Rong Khun. During your stay be sure to explore the Golden Triangle. You may also enjoy rock climbing just north of the city or you can rent a bicycle to explore the city on the ground. Further, on Saturdays and Sundays, you can wander the walking street fairs and visit Kun Korn, a beautiful local waterfall.
Pai was built in a valley north of the bustling, and popular city of Chiang Mai. Keep in mind you will have to endure a very windy road to get here but it is certainly worth the extra trip! This quaint town is surrounded by lush jungle and provides a great home base to explore the beautiful area. Rent a motorcycle and check out Pai Canyon for some breathtaking views. The city is also renowned for its nearby gorges, waterfalls (such as Mo Paeng Waterfall), and hot springs (such as Tha Pai Hot Springs). Downtown you will find many food stalls and shops offering handmade goods.
Krabi is a beach town on the southwest coast that you won’t want to skip. This city features crystal clear waters, pristine sandy beaches, and impressive seaside cliffs. These impressive features attract rock climbers, kayakers, scuba divers, snorkelers, and boaters alike. Nearby waterfalls and temples make for a one-of-a-kind place. Finally, you absolutely must head to nearby Railay Beach (only accessible by boat) to experience the best sunset in the country.
Found along the banks of the Mekong River, the captivating city of Nong Khai will give you a glimpse of life in the northern province of Isaan — a region with a strong cultural identity famed for its friendliness. Take in the river views, head to Phu Phra Bat Historical Park, and check out the ancient and mysterious rock formations. You’ll also want to visit Wat Khaek and Wat Pho Chai to see some impressive temples. Before you visit, see if you can plan to catch one of the famous annual festivals celebrated throughout the year such as the Anou Savari Festival, the Mekong Fireballs, Rocket Festivals, Rowing Festivals, or the Thai New Year.
The beach town of Hua Hin is a favorite weekend destination for resident Bangkokians and is the perfect place to escape the city. If full moon parties are not your thing, get all the sun without the late-night commotion at Hua Hin. The city features 3 miles of white sandy beaches and clear, turquoise waters — perfect if you want to bask in the sun, swim, or scuba dive. You can also enjoy golf, elephant rides, or explore the nearby Budha temples and vibrant night market. This former fishing village is located about 125 miles from Bangkok and should definitely be added to your Thailand itinerary.
Phetchaburi, the capital city of the Phetchaburi Province, is an ancient city found southwest of Bangkok. If you’re into ancient architecture, there are plenty of attractions worth seeing here. You will fall head over heels in love with the skyline of the city that features numerous temples and the former historic Royal Palace. This can be found on the River Phet and close to the Tham Khao Luang Cave that features an archaic Buddhist shrine. There are so many beautiful places waiting to be explored in this city!