Central Thailand is where most people are flying into, with two of the largest airports in Thailand located on the outskirts of Bangkok. Central Thailand is separated from the other parts of Thailand by the Phetchabun mountains to the east, and the Tenasserim Hills to the West Central Thailand was the heartland of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.
Large parts of Thailand have their own dialect (especially the north, north east, and south), but being the old Kingdom of Ayutthaya, the central Thai dialect is considered the official language of Thailand.
Being the capital, Bangkok has by far the most people that any city has in Thailand. It has the most shopping centres, markets, bars, clubs. There are two worlds in this city, as a lot of the citizens do not have the money to attend some of the fancy events that go on. This means that it’s a great place to experience easily different levels of Thai society, from the abundance of night markets to rooftop pool parties.
Around Bangkok and to the north covers the rest of central Thailand. You will be able to find the temple ruins of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, visit the annual “monkey festival” in Lopburi, explore floating markets in Samut Songkhram, and much more.
North East Thailand (Otherwise known as “Isaan”)
The large North Eastern area of Thailand is known to the Thai people as “Isaan” (which translates literally to the North East) and is the rural heartland of Thailand. Once one of the poorest parts of Thailand, Isaan is now Thailand’s fastest growing economies. Isaan is bordered by the Mekong River to the west, Laos to the north and east, and Cambodia to the south.
Mostly flat farmland, Isaan does also have a few notable cities, beautiful landscapes, and it’s own culture and local dialect different from the rest of Thailand. The people of Isaan speak a dialect that is close to that of the Laotian people. Although they have a language and culture between Laos and Central Thai, they distinguish themselves from both, and instead calling themselves Khon Isaan (Isaan People) or Thai Isan.
With a population of close to 400,000 people, the capital of the North East is Khon Kaen. Khon Kaen is one of the four major cities of Isaan and has a the largest university in the North East which also has an international college. The city is the centre for financial institutions, government offices, and education for the region.
The North East of Thailand is often ignored by backpackers, but for someone who loves to experience the off beaten track and get sucked into a culture, it is a very wonderful part of Thailand to visit. Some of the key places to visit in the region are Khon Kaen, Buriram,Nakhon Ratchasima, Udom, Udon Thani, and beautiful Loei.
Just 2 hours drive from Bangkok, and a little over one hour from Suvarnabhumi Airport is the Eastern region of Thailand that contain coastlines, islands, and one of Thailand’s most popular expat and beachfront tourist cities, Pattaya.
Although this area is quite large, most people come here for just a few reasons. The first being Pattaya. 70 years ago, Pattaya was a small fishing town, but after a few visits by American soldiers during the Vietnam war, word started to spread of everyone’s enjoyment there, and it became the beach town alternative to Bangkok. Pattaya boasts the largest beachfront shopping mall in Asia that attracts more than 1 million tourists each year. Pattaya’s harbour also connects the popular island in the region, Koh Lan.
Koh Lan is the largest of the few islands close to Pattaya, and just a 45-minute boat ride from the port. The island attracts 5,000 tourists a day, and it’s a great island escape from Pattaya or Bangkok that’s not too far.
By far the most popular area for tourists in Thailand is the south with it’s exotic beaches and tropical islands. Like the rest of Thailand, there’s an island and beach for everyone.
- If you love the buzzing atmosphere of huge parties and loud sound systems, then the full-moon partieson the beautiful island of Koh Phangan are not to be missed.
- For divers and underwater lovers, Koh Tao is your “not-to-be-missed” island that is famous for being an excellent scuba diving destination.
- Railay Beach is the best place for any rock climbing enthusiasts. Even though water surrounds Railay, it’s not technically an island as it’s only a short boat ride from the mainland. Even so, it has great beaches to relax on, cozy local bars to drink at, and a Muay Thai gym to sweat out your hangover.
The west lies along the border with Myanmar and isn’t explored too much, but that’s not to say it shouldn’t be. The West has gorgeous mountain ranges, luscious national parks, and is home to the beautiful Erawan Waterfalls in Kanchanaburi Province.
Northern Thailand has been part of Thailand officially for less than 300 years. Northern Thailand was once part of the old Lanna Kingdom, and so it has it’s own traditions, dialect, and culture. The North is packed densely with beautiful mountains and landscapes and has a slightly cooler temperature than other places in Thailand. The north is also home to Thailand’s second largest city after Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the once hippie backpacker haven, Pai.