Thailand is one of my favourite worldwide destinations. Whether you’re a serious foodie, an intrepid adventurer or a culture vulture, it’s a country that offers something for every kind of traveller. We’ve explored the country as a young couple in the early nineties, and as a family with young children and now teenagers. So after spending over a year travelling around this beautiful country, where are our favourite places to visit in Thailand?

Here’s my lucky seven…

1. Bangkok

We all love this city and have contemplated living here on several occasions. For me, it’s the world-class street food and the famous temples that offer an oasis of tranquility amidst the buzzing city life.

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2. Taratao National Marine Park

Thailand has more than its fair share of idyllic tropical islands, but my favourite place of all is the Taratao park, which sits in the southern Andaman Sea with uninhabited islands and unrivalled snorkeling and diving.

3. Khao Sok National Park

This gem of a National Park is home to much endangered wildlife, thanks to the political history of the area that protected the wildlife from vociferous poaching during the 70s and 80s. One of the most ancient forests in the world, surrounded by stunning limestone karsts, visitors can go caving and river tubing amidst the waterfalls and gibbon calls. You might even be lucky enough to see footprints from elephants or tigers!

4. Northern road trip from Mae Sot to Mae Hong Son

One of our favourite road trips in South East Asia, starting in the fantastically friendly and colourful border town of Mae Sot. Then following the border road onto Mae Sariang and Mae Hong Son. An ethnically diverse area great for trekking and visiting hill tribes, such as Hmong, Lisu, Karen and Shan. And sampling delicious local food of course. Look out for Burmese salads and Shan tofu.

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5. Sukhothai

This ancient kingdom (meaning Rising of Happiness) is a wonderful place to visit for classic architecture and exploring atmospheric ruins and temples. Consider staying in the nearby town of Phitsanulok, to enjoy fantastic produce and street food in the lively night markets, and watch them make the famous local dish of Flying Vegetables!

6. Hat Yai

I’ve always loved this town, with its mix of old and new Thailand. It’s not famous for anything in particular, but close to the border of Malaysia, the town has grown up around being a centre for transport links and cross border activity. A great place to enjoy authentic early morning food markets and lively hawker night markets.

7. Kho Pha Ngan

What’s great about this Gulf island is that it still hasn’t lost its charm, despite several decades of hosting famous beach parties attracting Full Moon hordes to Haad Rin. You can enjoy some great value accommodation during the off season and the island still boasts a beautiful jungle interior, traditional village life along the north coast, and excellent reefs for snorkelling and diving.

About the author: Jackie Kearney is a chef and food writer, and creator of The Hungry Gecko. Her current book Vegan Street Food is available now from Tampopo, East Street and all major book stores, published by RPS/CICO Books. Learn more about Jackie here or buy her Vegan street food book online at amazon.

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