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Where to Stay in Thailand: 13 Incredible Places

Updated September 19, 2023

Where to stay in Thailand? The country is full of incredible options. With some local insight, we created this guide of 13 places to stay in Thailand—from secluded tropical getaways to lively city centers. 

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#1: Bangkok: Thailand’s vibrant, bustling capital 

Bangkok, Thailand's colorful and bustling capital city, draws travelers from all over the world. Here, locals tell us you'll find soaring temples alongside busy, lively streets—wherever you look, something is happening!

It's easy to get overwhelmed in Bangkok, so don't travel blind—our local trip planners suggest cruising through the city’s Nang Loeng market for some tasty fried snacks and seafood, seeing the famed Golden Buddha (Wai Traimit), and diving headfirst into Thailand's wild nightlife.  

Local Tip:

Hail a tuk-tuk while you're in Bangkok! These motorized, three-wheel carts are a fun Thailand experience. But you might want to skip it in heavy traffic. 

#2: Phuket: A tropical Thai treasure

Phuket | nutraveller/Pixabay

Phuket is a tropical, forested island off Thailand’s southern coast, in the Andaman Sea. Known worldwide as a tropical paradise, Phuket is definitely a great place to stay in Thailand for beaches and luxury resorts. But locals tell us it offers way more than just that. 

Get off the beaten path with some local advice! Our trip planners say that in Phuket City, you'll find a colorful blend of Indian, Arabian, and Chinese cultures—that diversity comes out in the city's incredible architecture and cuisine. While in the area, locals suggest visiting an ethical elephant sanctuary in Phuket or having dinner at one of Asia’s best gourmet restaurants.

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#3: Chiang Rai: A trendy city in Thailand’s wild green north 

Chiang Rai is a province in the far north of Thailand, close to the borders of Laos and Myanmar. Locals tell us it's an excellent place to stay in Thailand if you want to see some stunning natural scenery and wildlife. They say that some highlights of Chiang Rai include visiting elephants at an ethical elephant center and exploring the beautiful and intricate Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple).

Downtown Chiang Rai balances nature with a cool urban vibe. Locals say the city is known as a hipster paradise—they tell us you'll find incredible street art, trendy restaurants, and a very cool (and underrated) nightlife scene. Plus, Chiang Rai is safe to visit. Your options will range from staying in a hotel or resort, or rubbing elbows with fellow world travelers at one of the city's many hostels. 

Local Tip:

Chiang Rai is about 11 hours from Bangkok. You can find one-way plane tickets for about $40. 

#4: Chiang Mai: Beautiful temples and stunning scenery

Chiang Mai | Father150 /Pixabay

Not far from Chiang Rai is Chiang Mai. Packed with hundreds of temples, busy street markets, and top-notch restaurants and bars, it's a popular destination for anyone exploring Northern Thailand. 

Locals tell us you'll find tons of activities in the city and nearby. If you're hoping to burn off some of those street food calories, rent a bike and cycle through the expansive rice paddies outside the city center. Or, trek the 306 stairs of the Wat Phra temple. Looking for something more laid back? Get some local advice about where to relax. Our trip planners say that if you want a taste of home, go to Beer Lab, which has dozens of international ales on tap. 

Chiang Rai a great place to stay in Thailand whether you're traveling alone, as a couple, or as a family. 

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#5: Hua Hin: A luxurious coastal retreat

A province along the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin rests between Myanmar and the deep blue sea. Locals tell us that Hua Hin is the place to go if you’re looking for a relaxing, comfortable vacation among luxury resorts and vineyards.

Lounge on the beach, play a round of golf surrounded by misty green mountains, or explore the countryside by tuk-tuk or motorbike. Historically, Hua Hin has been a favorite vacation spot for Thai royalty—so, while you’re there, indulge in the royal life, too.

#6: Koh Chang: A lush tropical island without the crowds

Koh Chang | drquanli/Pixabay

Thailand is full of island destinations, but locals tell us that Koh Chang's stunning biodiversity and wealth of things to do make it a true gem — especially if you're looking for a place to stay in Thailand away from the crowds.

Located near the Gulf of Thailand's eastern coast, Koh Chang is one of Thailand's largest islands—and an up-and-coming travel destination.

Here, locals suggest going on mountainous jungle treks, scuba-diving along the coast, and spending as much time as possible on the beach. 

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Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal

#7: Pai: A backpacker's paradise

Only two hours outside of Chiang Mai, Pai is a charming small town nestled in the green hills and rice paddies of Thailand’s rural north. Once considered to be solidly off the beaten path, Pai is emerging is one of Thailand's top destinations

If you're a backpacker, you'll love staying Pai. The town offers easy proximity to great hikes, hot springs, caves, and waterfalls—and an excellent party scene. It's the kind of place where you could do yoga in the morning, hike during the day, and chill with hostel friends all night long. 

Local Tip:

Try laab—a traditional northern Thai dish of minced meat and herbs

#8: Khao Yai National Park: Camping, hiking, and wildlife

Khao Yai | xiquinhosilva/Flickr

Want to get lost in nature while you’re in Thailand? Locals tel us that Khao Yai National Park is the place to go. As Thailand’s first national park, Khao Yai is an incredible place to see wildlife like elephants, macaques, gibbons, and otters in their natural habitats. Beautiful grasslands, trickling streams, and cascading waterfalls cover the landscape. 

You can get to Khao Yai in a quick day trip from Bangkok, but locals highly recommend spending more than just a day there. There are plenty of hotels and campsites in the area. Can you imagine a more beautiful start to your morning? 

#9: Koh Lipe: A tiny tropical paradise

Koh Lipe is a small island off the coast of southern Thailand—and we mean small. Koh Lipe has a population of less than 1,000. 

Here, locals tell us you'll find three sunny public beaches, one main street, and plenty of high-end resorts and hotels. It’s an ideal place to stay in Thailand while you explore the surrounding Tarutao Archipelago

Relax on the pristine Pattaya Beachgo bar-hopping along the car-free Walking Street, or visit the island's little temple. Locals tell us this is the kind of place where you can press pause on life and get off the beaten path. 

Local Tip:

The beach made famous by Leo DiCaprio in The Beach fell victim to overtourism—and is closed indefinitely

#11: Koh Samui: Resorts, beaches, and jungle trekking

Not interested in the crowds of Phi Phi? Head over to Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island. Locals tell us there are a lot of different accommodation options on Koh Samui, ranging from ritzy resorts to budget hostels. So get personalized recommendations—our trip planners can suggest places to stay and visit based on your travel style. 

Koh Samui has a laid-back and casual vibe (très different from Phi Phi or Phuket). Even so, Koh Samui contains many of the treasures that make Thailand travel so exciting—locals say you'll find Buddhist temples, cozy villages, and tropical jungles, as well as fantastic bars and restaurants on the coast. 

Local Tip:

Take a day trip by boat to Ang Thong National Park, a stunning and mostly untouched island chain not far away.

#12: Krabi: A destination of beauty and adventure

Krabi | libor1/Pixabay

A province on the southwest coast of Thailand, Krabi is close to Phi Phi, as well as Hong and Poda islands—perfect for scuba diving and day trips on a rented speed boat. In the heart of downtown Krabi, locals say you’ll find a vibrant street market with some amazing eats (our trip planners tell us fiery red curry with chicken is a must-try).

Incredible activities abound in Krabi, so get some local advice to know where to start. Our trip planners say that Krabi is home to a treetop jungle gym, as well as a chance to kayak near towering limestone cliffs and hidden lagoons.

#13: Ayutthaya: An ancient city packed with history

Just outside of Bangkok is the ancient city of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO world heritage site and breathtaking travel destination. Once the capital of the Siamese Kingdom, Ayutthaya now features stunning remains of crumbling temples, statues, and ancient palaces. Locals tell us that Ayutthaya is an important site to Thai Buddhist culture, and thus the perfect stop if you’re interested in Buddhism and the history of Thailand. Our trip planners suggest visiting the ancient Wat Phra Si Sanphet monastery while you’re there for an enlightening journey back in time. 

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