July 13, 2024
Thailand’s 5 Most Popular Destinations In 2024 As Tourist Arrivals Shatter Record

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If there is any place in Southeast Asia having a moment – it’s Thailand.

Yes, Vietnam has set records, Malaysia has become trendier, and of course, Bali isn’t going anywhere.

But Thailand has maintained its ‘bucket list’ status through thick and thin offering phenomenal islands, astounding temples, and world-renowned cuisine both street vendor goodies to rooftop fine dining.

Tourist touring Great White Buddha in Chiang Rai

According to Thaiger, over 52 million travelers have flown into in 2024 shattering the previous year’s record over 20 percent.

Come one, come all; Thailand welcomes anyone and everyone. That’s all part of the draw with throngs of digital nomads and solo travelers flock here, but most commendably, it’s a very LGBTQ+ friendly nation.

Thailand is hot right now in more ways than one, but in terms of popularity, these are the 5 most visited destinations in Southeast Asia’s most sought-after country:

5) Hat Yai

Hat Yai. Not exactly a household name, huh?

Golden Buddha of Hat Yai, ThailandGolden Buddha of Hat Yai, Thailand

Well, this Thai treasure set near Malaysia’s border is home to a blend of cultures and cuisines that will have you asking yourself, “why have I never heard of this place before?”.

As Thailand has soared to new heights, it appears more tourists are branching out beyond the big names.

Hat Yai is a melting pot of Thai, Malaysian, and Chinese cultures, but what tourists love most is the incredible food and plentiful shopping.

Yes, this city does have night markets, a must-do. Recent travelers recommend ASEAN Night Bazaar Hatyai for smaller crowds and clearly listed prices.

Khlong Hae Floating MarketKhlong Hae Floating Market

Hat Yai-style fried chicken will have you forgetting about The Colonel back home, while the shopping options may even put cities like Bangkok to shame.

Historic sites to explore may be lacking compared to other destinations, but you won’t go hungry!

4) Phuket

Thailand’s most famous and top-rated island is no surprise to make the cut. Quite the opposite of Bangkok per se, this gorgeous island getaway is just like the postcards.

Lush greenery, breathtaking blue waters, and endless beach vibes to die for, Phuket is the perfect exotic setting for sun and sand.

Sunset over Big Buddha in PhuketSunset over Big Buddha in Phuket

To level up your views of the immaculate scenery, a visit to Phuket without taking a tuk-tuk to Big Buddha perched on a mountaintop for the best photo-ops.

But let’s be honest, Big Buddha is an add-on to an already incredible destination where your focus is strictly the beach.

Phuket has roughly 55 miles of scenic coastline, but Freedom Beach is above all travelers’ favorite. Don’t forget to bring 200 baht with you to enter, according to Agoda.

3) Chiang Rai

Set in the mountainous province sharing the same name, Chiang Rai sometimes finds itself lost in the shadows of bigger names.

Woman posing at Wat Huay Pla Kang - Chiang RaiWoman posing at Wat Huay Pla Kang - Chiang Rai

That’s not the case in 2024 as a top 3 destination in Thailand. But why the sudden spike in popularity?

Well, tourists are realizing Bangkok may be cool and all, but Chiang Rai hits different. Decked in all white, there are few temples more photo-worthy than Wat Rong Khun.

Like many Thai cities, Chiang Rai is brimming with traditional markets, but one thing they can’t compete with is the unique opportunity to visit tribes of local villages, such as the Long Neck Karen Tribe.

Many of whom escaped turmoil in neighboring Myanmar and still practice ancient traditions of wearing long brass coils on their necks.

Unlike ‘Karens’ at home, they won’t ask to speak to the manager. Here, they actually stick their neck out for you.

2) Chiang Mai

Tourist walking up the stairs of Doi Suthep temple in Chiang MaiTourist walking up the stairs of Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai

Not to be confused with Chiang Rai, flip a letter like Vanna White and you have a whole new destination.

While you can say Thailand is a treasure trove of hidden gems, here is a temple trove with over 300 amazing structures to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over.

Most notably, these are the 3 most popular:

  • Wat Phra Singh
  • Wat Chiang Man
  • Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai is also great for up close and personal wildlife encounters, especially with elephants.

Temple in Chiang Mai ThailandTemple in Chiang Mai Thailand

Just make sure you visit a reputable sanctuary since many tourists are unaware you’re not supposed to ride the beloved gentle giants.

Foodies can rejoice knowing there are ample markets to peruse and savor local delicacies. The Saturday Night Walking Street and the Sunday Walking Street are absolute musts!

1) Bangkok

Are we surprised? Bangkok has it all except for nice beaches, but even then it’s a great gateway to Pattaya among other beach getaways.

Bangkok is an urban playground for all ages. Just keep the kids away from the nightlife, unless you want them scarred for life over ping pong games.

Woman looking at Wat Arun Temple, BangkokWoman looking at Wat Arun Temple, Bangkok

Between a wild nightlife scene, eye-popping temples, and captivating food-frenzied markets, it’s no wonder Bangkok is not only the most visited, but also hyped by Agoda too.

The metro system is cheap and super efficient to get around this massive city, but there’s nothing more fun than zooming through the busy streets by tuk tuk.

My favorite place to visit was Chinatown, a far cry from the likes of San Francisco, New York, and Vancouver – it was a whole different beast to tackle, but definitely worth checking out.

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