Thailand is often chosen as one of the most popular vacation spots by tourists and has been named with many titles such as ‘The Land of Smiles,’ ‘Tropical Paradise’, and ‘Foodies and Shoppers’ Heaven.’ Before COVID-19, Thailand hosted 39.8 million tourists in 2019 and was one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia (1). With a very high number of tourists visiting the country every year, one might wonder what makes Thailand attractive to tourists.
Thailand is attractive to tourists for many reasons, from its travel costs, traditions and culture, beaches, mountains, wildlife, religion, and its well-known title as the “Land of Smiles.” With unique cuisine, colorful heritage, and historical background, tourists remain keen on visiting the region.
If you plan to take a trip to Thailand or wonder why the country is so rich in tourism and expense, keep reading. This article will leave you wanting to book that plane ticket!
What Makes Thailand Attractive to Tourists?
1. Travel Costs
Living in Thailand is much cheaper than in other major cities like New York, Singapore, and Seoul. There are a lot of affordable accommodations available in Thailand, ranging from hostels that only cost around $5-6 per night to high-quality 3-stars hotels that range around $50 per night.
There are also luxurious 5-stars hotels that cost about $300 per night. However, they can be inexpensive if you consider the list of facilities they provide: spa treatments, airport services, traditional performances during dinners that serve world-class cuisines, and so on.
The cost of transportation is also cheap in Thailand, with skytrains and metro trains only costing 40-50 Baht per ride and taxi fees usually costing around 70 to 200 Baht for one trip in the city center area. Of course, for those with big budgets to splurge on luxury, Thailand also has luxurious options that cater to every need.
An average trip in Thailand would be fine with a budget between $25-$35 per day if you are backpacking, making Thailand attractive for tourists as it gives more bang for their buck (2).
2. Cultural Heritage
In 2021, Thailand was ranked 7th place for the ‘Best Countries Heritage’ list and was the only Southeast Asian country to make it (3). From the historical Buddha statues in Ayutthaya to the Grand Palace right in the middle of Bangkok city, there are many places one can explore.
UNESCO has appointed six World Heritage Sites in Thailand, and 3 of them, Ban Chiang Archaeological Site, Historic City of Ayutthaya and Historic Town of Sukhothai, and Associated Historic Towns, were for the cultural heritage category (4).
Ancient runes and historical artifacts can also be found when visiting the temples anywhere in the country, as there are more than 40,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand. Each temple is unique and has its own history, as most temples date back to different dynasties.
For those interested in Thailand’s history and architecture style of each era, temples are a must-visit as each temple’s architecture and designs reflect the construction style of the period it was built in (5). Additionally, one does not need to travel far to see these cultural sites as many temples, known as ‘Wat’, can be found in Bangkok city center, especially in the Old Siam area of the town.
Tip for those visiting the Grand Palace and the famous Emerald Buddha –take an MRT train to Sanam Chai station, as it is the nearest station to Grand Palace. It is also the most striking train station you will ever see in Bangkok with its grand and beautiful decorations. Visitors can also take a short tour at the Siam Museum and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles when they are in the area (6).
Also, for those who want to experience Thailand’s cultural heritage in other ways rather than visiting these historical sites, traditional cooking schools are an affordable and fun option for the tourists to get closer to Thai culture via food. You can also book tickets to see live performances of famous Thai drama plays and dances at the theatres too.
3. Beaches and Islands
Thailand is blessed by nature with its exotic beaches and beautiful tropical islands. If one is visiting the southern part of Thailand, many beaches and islands are hailed as some of the most beautiful places in Asia. Beaches like Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Phuket are top-rated among tourists for their sandy beaches, easy access (Pattaya and Hua Hin being only a few hours away from Bangkok city center), and affordable accommodations.
During the peak holiday seasons like the Songkran festival or long holidays and New Year in December, these beaches are packed with tourists and locals.
If sandy beaches are too crowded, then the emerald-colored ocean from the islands in the southern parts of Thailand is worth visiting as well. Famous islands like Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi Don are major tourist attractions known for their sparkling water and golden sands.
Moreover, there are less crowded islands that are just as attractive. Koh Tao is the best spot for scuba diving in Thailand. Most people visit this island to explore the surrounding water as a colorful parade of marine life exists in this place (7).
The island is also one of the top places in the world to learn scuba diving as many dive shops are operating on the island, making it one of the cheapest places also. One can sign up to get the PADI or SSI Open Water certificate that usually takes 4-days to learn. For tourists who are only visiting for a short period, most diving schools have one-day courses where visitors can explore down to 12 meters underwater without needing a certificate (8).
Another island that is worth a visit is Koh Muk, which is famous for the Emerald Cave. This cave can only be accessed from the ocean during the low tide hours. Once entered the cave, one can swim in the cave’s darkness while listening to the crashing sounds of the ocean waves and will eventually see the light on the way to exit the cave.
A beautiful sandy beach surrounded on three sides by towering rocks can be seen (7). As not many tourists have reached this island, it makes nature more evident and lovely as well. Other islands like Koh Yao Yai, Koh Chang, Koh Phayam are also worth the visit, especially if you have time and are looking for a tranquil time, relaxing on the island surrounded by nature (7).
4. Mountain Areas and Wildlife
Beaches and islands are not the only places worth a visit in Thailand. Mountain areas in Thailand are also mesmerizing with their pleasant weather, green hills, and delicious food. Chiang Mai is a popular place in Thailand, both among tourists and locals, due to its colorful nature and the annual flower festival that usually takes place during the first entire weekend of February (9).
Home to ancient Lanna culture, Chiang Mai is a must-visit for those who love hiking as there are many mountains in the region, including ‘Doi Inthanon,’ the highest point in Thailand (10). Also, food and accommodation cost less in Chiang Mai than in big cities like Bangkok, making it an attractive tourist city in Thailand.
Wildlife in Thailand is also one of the country’s attractive points. Khao Yai National Park, one of the places on the World Heritage list by UNESCO, is a must for those who love nature and wildlife. It is the third-largest national park in Thailand and one of the most visited. Khao Yai is also just three hours away from Bangkok when traveling by car.
Many vineyards of the award-winning labels in Thailand and wild-west-styled theme parks on the west side of Khao Yai. On the other hand, the south and eastern parts of Khao Yai offer Wang Nam Kheo’s ozone-rich valleys and Prachinburi’s jungle-clad waterfalls (11). Two other remaining World Heritage sites of Thailand, the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex and Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries, are also must-visit places that make Thailand attractive to tourists (4).
5. Foodies’ and Shopaholics’ Heaven
For those who don’t want to travel around the country and would rather spend time in the city, Thailand is also a haven for foodies and shopaholics. Street foods in Thailand are not only cheap but also very delicious. Food courts and local stalls are also affordable options as they only cost around 50 Baht for one plate of rice and meat dish.
Famous Thai foods like Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Stir-fried Thai basil chicken, Som Tam, and the likes can easily be found in all food courts and street shops, and most of them are very delicious and full of flavors. And when traveling in Thailand, different parts of the country offer you different Thai cuisines. Southern islands with its delicious seafood and northern parts with its famous noodle dishes like Khao Soi and Khanom (12), so make sure to ask the locals for their recommendations!
Also, for coffee lovers out there – Thailand has cozy and instagrammable cafes throughout the whole country. For lazy afternoons or quick coffee breaks during your trip, cafes in Thailand are worth checking out on your journey.
There are also many options for shopper lovers out there. Thailand has everything from big department stores with well-known international brands to local flea markets with handicrafts and traditional clothing. One can easily spend hours inside the big shopping malls, and many of these malls offer discounts many times in a year, especially on the days like 11.11 or 12.12, and the year-ends!
Like the famous Chatuchak market, night and weekend markets also have their charms, especially for the younger people who like hip and trendy things. Shopping malls and local markets also have things tourists can do other than shopping, like getting a traditional Thai foot massage, playing arcade games, getting customized handicrafts, etc. It is not surprising that many tourists come to Thailand with the sole purpose of shopping.
6. Land of Smiles
Thailand is not known as the ‘Land of Smiles’ without reason. Smiling is a big part of Thai culture. Visitors notice that locals are polite, gentle, and smiling most of the time. Thai people are also very kind and willing to help the tourists in need, whether for a direction or translation to other local people.
Thai people also like to take things easy and enjoy life. Rather than rushing things and being stressed out all the time, Thai people want to relax and be carefree (5). They also love celebrating and being in a festive mood, and this is why festivals in Thailand are so much fun, and many tourists come to Thailand to join the local festivals every year.
There are many other reasons why Thailand is so attractive to foreigners, such as the sunny weather, the popularity of Muay Thai, and the nightlife. And it is for sure that for whichever reason you are visiting the country, it is almost guaranteed that Thailand will meet your expectations or even exceed them.
Thailand is a must-visit destination with its beautiful nature, friendly people, delicious cuisines, and rich culture. With control of the pandemic, it is time to prepare for your next dream vacation to Thailand.
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2. Matt, Nomadic. How Much A Holiday In Thailand Costs. Nomadic Matt. [Online] January 5, 2019. https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-much-a-holiday-in-thailand-costs/.
3. TAT Newsroom. Thailand Moves Further Up The ‘Best Countries Heritage’ Top 10 Rankings. TAT News. [Online] September 8, 2021. https://www.tatnews.org/2021/09/thailand-moves-further-up-the-best-countries-heritage-top-10-rankings/ .
4. Thailand, Official Relations (UNESCO/ERI). Properties Inscribed On The World Heritage List. UNESCO. [Online] 2021. https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/th.
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9. Chiang Mai Family Guide. Flower Festival Chiang Mai 2021. Chiang Mai Family Guide. [Online] https://chiangmaifamilyguide.com/flower-festival-chiang-mai/.
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12. Lawrence Ferber. Northern Thailand Food: 9 Dishes Every Visitor Needs To Try . CNN Travel. [Online] October 16, 2018. https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/northern-thailand-food/index.html.