Thailand Beaches, Cities and Islands

A Full Guide To The Top Thai Cities, Beaches and Islands

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Hi! Welcome to Complete City Guides!

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My name is Patrick, I'm originally from Sydney (Australia) but grew up in England (my second home) - and I love exploring cities (and writing about it!)

I work online in marketing, which gives me the opportunity to travel around the world full time.

So while I am away, I keep this blog updated with full travel info. I tend to stay in a city for a few months at a time, to really get to know it - then I write guides on it.

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Exploring The Thailand Monkey City of Lopburi (and how to get there from Bangkok)

Guide to Thailand Beaches and Cities and Where To Go In Thailand

Bangkok is by far the most famous place in Thailand, with Phuket coming in at a close second. However the country is full of islands, cities and places to visit. Here is a full guide to everywhere in Thailand that you will think of going to, including some information about it, how much things cost, and a little map to show you where each location or island is.

This guide actually covers everything except Bangkok.
Read our dedicated Bangkok section to find out about the capital:

Read about Bangkok here

The Islands - The Gulf - Central south

Koh Tao

Koh Tao Island
Koh Tao Island
Where Is Koh Tao on a map
  • A diver's paradise!. Lots of dive sites. It is the second cheapest place in the world to get your scuba certification.
  • It takes 4 days to get your certification
  • You can rent a motorbike to get around the island
  • Very popular with backpackers
  • Lots of westerners here (expats, travellers), Cambodian/Burmese (workers) not many Thais on this island.
  • Food isn't as nice here as mainland Thailand - this applies to most of the islands really though
  • Visit Koh Nang Yuan
    • White sands and beautiful views.
    • It is 3 islands that are connected when the tide is low.
    • Can get very busy
    • Really good for snorkling.
    • Costs 100 baht to enter.
    • Costs 100-150 baht one way for a boat from Koh Tao (takes 15-20 minutes).
    • More info
  • Other activities include hiking in the jungle or checking out the multiple waterfalls on the islands.

Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan Island
Koh Phangan Island
Koh Phangan on a map
  • Home of the Full Moon Party - attracts huge crowds
  • Closest airport: at Surat Thani. One hour bus journey, and then ferry and you will be in Koh Phangan
  • It is a beautiful island, and well worth visiting even if no full moon party is on
  • When the full moon party is on it is full of drunken tourists
  • Lots of partying
  • Accommodation prices go up when it is full moon (or half full moon). You should have accomodation booked before you arrive if you are going there for the Full Moon Party
  • Things to do include snorkeling, exploring the island's waterfalls, zip-lining through the trees.
Full Moon Party
Full Moon Party

Koh Samui

Koh Samui
Koh Samui
Where Is Koh Samui in Thailand on a map
  • Has an airport - so you can easily get here from Bangkok
  • You can also fly to Surat Thani, then get bus and then ferry to Samui. Flying to Surat Thani is cheaper.
  • Very touristy (because of the airport)
  • Expensive accommodation, expensive taxis
  • Second most popular island in Thailand (after Phuket)
  • Although it does have great views, it isn't one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand
  • Has good links to many nearby islands
    • Check out TK Tour Samui for a good example of tours that can be done
  • Has good nightlife
  • Can be romantic
  • Chaweng Beach - Samui's main beach. Touristy. Beautiful beach.
  • Wat Phra Yai / Big Buddha Temple - 12 meter high. Great views
  • Secret Buddha Garden - Take an organised tour (costs around 80 baht), takes 2 hours and you will get some great views
  • An Thong National Park - 28km away, can do a day trip there. Great for hiking, to see beautiful lakes.

The Islands - the Andaman sea


Where Is Phuket on a map
  • Probably the most famous island in Thailand
  • Lots of tourists
  • Has a huge Buddha (see pic)
  • Has an airport (Thailand's second largest one)
  • Great nightlife - wild partying!
  • Has adult entertainment too (Red Light district, sex tourism)
  • Can do scuba, snorkeling, kayaking.
  • Easy links to Phi Phi via boat
  • Food is more expensive here
  • Patong Beach is the main beach. Very busy, very touristy. But there are other beaches with significantly less people
  • Great nightlife at Patong area. Very wild.
  • Phang Nga Bay is where the James Bond film "The Man with the Golden Gun" was set. Known as James Bond island. Day trips can be organsised to Phang Nga Bay. Costs approx 2000-3000 baht.
  • Prom Thep Cape Viewpoint - amazing sunsets
  • Lots of big and amazing waterfalls to see
  • Patong Boxing Stadium - learn how to fight from 500 baht, or watch a match from 1300 baht
  • Soi Dog Foundation - stray cat and dog charity. Take a tour and play with the animals. You can also volunteer there. Closed at weekends. Details.
  • Hat Karon Beach - on west side of the island. White sand beach
Phuket's big Buddha
Phuket's big Buddha

Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi on a map
  • Beautiful looking island - maybe one of the best you will ever see
  • Very popular island for tourists
  • Very good wild nightlife
  • Island was destroyed in 2004 Tsunami, but it has been rebuilt
  • Tiny island - no cars at all! But this also means it can get very crowded!
  • Home of Maya Bay, which was made famous in the film The Beach. Beautiful beach, but it will always be really busy. You can do big organised tours that will take you to many islands (and they will always stop at Maya Bay), but if you want to organise it yourself you can rent a longtail from Phi Phi to Maya Bay. It'll cost you around 1500 Baht. The boat will hold up to 4 people, and will take 3 or 4 hours.
  • Find monkeys on Monkey Beach
  • Scuba shops on this island
  • Make sure you see the "View Point". Fantastic views of the city. Takes 20 minutes to get there. Cost: 30 baht.
  • Lots of rock climbing day tours

Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta
Where Is Koh Lanta on a map
  • Quieter island without as much nightlife as most others
  • Lots of beautiful beaches
  • Closest airport is Krabi. From Krabi it costs 400 baht for a boat here. Costs 700 baht for boat ride from Phuket. Approx 2hrs.
  • Not very crowded and very peaceful
  • Tasty seafood can be found here
  • In march they have the Laanta Lanta Festival
  • See Waterfalls! You can go on an hour long walk to some nice waterfalls
  • There are lots of caves to explore
  • Rent a bike (motorbike or bicycle)
  • Go fishing - do a half day fishing trip

Railay (Beach, near Krabi)

Where Is Railay beach on a map
  • A Beach (not really an Island)
  • Some of the best rock climbing in Thailand

The Islands - The East

Koh Chang

Koh Chang
Koh Chang
Where Is Koh Chang on a map
  • A bit quieter than other places
  • Not as many tourists here
  • Huge island - second largest in Thailand. This helps spread out tourists so it never feels too crowded.
  • Has elephants (but they are rare to see
  • Go kayaking
  • Good links to some nearby islands, including Ko Mak. You can take speed boat tours to nearby islands (cost: 500-900 baht)
  • Can go hiking or trekking in the mountains . You will see lots of waterwalls on this island.
  • Can do half or full day snorkeling trips, cost start at around 500 baht for half day.
  • Lots of scuba diving locations and tours
  • Very tasty food here
  • Nightlife is a lot more chilled out and calmer here. It isn't the wild party place of Phuket

Koh Samet

Koh Samet
Koh Samet
Where Is Koh Samet on a map
  • Closest big city to Bangkok (4-5hrs away)
  • Long and narrow
  • Cheaper than some other islands
  • A chilled out place
  • Nice hiking trails
  • Has one famous temple: Wat Ko Kaew Pitsadan, which has a big buddha statue in it
  • Can also go scuba diving, snorkling etc
  • Watch fire dancing shows at night on the beach

Inland (no islands!) - Up North

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai
Where Is Chiang Mai on a map
  • Very popular destination for backpackers
  • Has an airport with good links to other airports in Thailand
  • Takes 12 hours from Bangkok on the train
  • Second largest city in Thailand after Bangkok
  • Lots of temples to visit
    • Wat Doi Suthep is a famous one - has great views of the area. Apparently contains real remains of the Lord Buddha.
    • You can also find many other temples in the old town area
  • Great nightlife however everywhere shuts at midnight.
  • Buy things at the Night Bazaar. Go shopping and find some bargains. The Night Bazaar is famous, big (around 1km long) and is open every day until around midnight. details. There is also the Warorot Market.
  • Famous for its Elephant Sanctuary. This is one of the most popular and most loved tourist attraction in Thailand. They look after and really care for their elephants. Details
  • Find chatty monks! They love to chat details here
  • Famous for its cooking classes. You can easily find these when here, and people always love their times there. Cost: 800-1000
  • Go in the jungle! Many tours take you into the jungle. Avoid any where you ride on elephants, as this is very cruel (it isn't like just going on a horses back. This causes damage to elephants. They might be big, but they aren't designed to support the weight of people
  • Lots of delicious food can be found here
  • Yi Peng Festival in November


Where Is Pai on a map
  • Close to Chian Mai
  • Can be full of westerners here
  • A more hippy feel
  • Beautiful mountains to explore
  • Fantastic views, great sunsets
  • Explore caves
  • Lots of activities on the Pai river

Isaan (region)

Where Is Issan on a map
  • Isaan is the whole region in the North East.
  • Not many tourists here
  • Feels very rural, and very different than the main cities or islands in Thailand
  • Consists of many cities in this area. If you are thinking of going to this region, then do research about what cities you want to visit.
  • Has the Elephant Nature Foundation.

Inland - West


Where Is Kanchanaburi on a map
  • Near Myanmar border
  • ~4 hour bus journey from Bangkok
  • Home to the River Kwai
  • Home to Erawan Falls - beautiful park (45 min away) with 7 tiered waterfall
  • Has a tiger temple, but these should always be avoided as they drug the tigers and abuse them so they can be around people

Inland - Near Bangkok

There are some places close to Bangkok that are worth visiting. If you want to find out about Bangkok itself, please go to our section on Bangkok.

Read about Bangkok here


Where Is Ayutthaya on a map
  • Thailand's old capital. Dates back to 1350. City was destroyed by Burmese in 1767. Now it is a city of ruins and temples. But obviously there are modern buildings too.
  • Full of amazing ruins to explore
  • People normally do a day tour here, from Bangkok. Most don't sleep here
  • Not much nightlife - people just don't stay here so not many are left at night. Soi Naresuan is where you will find any nightlife.
  • There are lots of temples to see and explore here.
See our full guide to Ayutthaya here


Where Is Lopburi on a map
  • Famous for its monkeys. It is known as the Monkey City
  • Lots of ruins to explore
  • Used to be the ancient capital
  • Many people stop here for a day (or night) on their way between Bangkok and Chiang Mai
  • As well as exploring the ruins and seeing the monkeys, you can see the central market (every day, 6am-5pm), check out the cool Wang Kan Lueang Waterfall.
See our full guide to Lopburi here
March 9th 2022
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Travel Guide to All The Thailand Beaches and Cities That You Will Want To Visit

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About Me

I'm an Australian who has lived in Europe for most of my life. I work online, travelling with my laptop, working online and exploring cities for months at a time.

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