Most Popular Cities in Thailand

Thailand is a melting pot of culture, adventure, delicious food, beautiful landscapes, and everything else you may want in a country as diverse as it is exciting. The country is made up of many different provinces and cities, each offering their own unique taste of Thai culture.

Whether you’re looking for the hustle and bustle of a major city or maybe the more laid back lifestyle in one of the smaller hubs, all day and all night fun or a day spent at the beach, Thailand has a city for everyone.

Bangkok

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and the most popular city in the whole country. The huge population makes this a city that doesn’t sleep, but the adventures it has to offer are endless. Temples, markets, street food, clubs: there is something to do every minute of the day.

bangkok-thailand

Amongst the many beautiful temples and shrines located all across the city, Bangkok has many parks and green areas that are the perfect place to stop and take in your surroundings.

Bangkok is home to many street markets. These enormous markets have absolutely everything you heart desires. There are many food stalls, clothing shops, jewelry stores, and almost everything else you could think of, plus many surprises.

Bangkok is also home to the Grand Palace, and the world famous temple, Wat Pho. The Grand Palace is the home of Thai Royalty and a tour of the grounds and complex is a must. Wat Pho is a massive Buddhist complex that houses the incredible Reclining Buddha.

Bangkok is also the location to some Muay Thai stadiums. Thousands of locals and tourists flock to the stadium to cheer and watch this ancient and very culturally important martial art. Many foreign fighters also have their matches here.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of the main cities in Northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is home to over 300 Buddhist temples, as well as the most popular Thai New Year celebration, where people from across the country gather to ring in the new year.

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Chiang Mai is also full of culture. With 5 museums to explore, you can discover a lot of the history of the old city as well as the beginning of Chiang Mai and its place in Thai history and how it shaped the area and people around it.

Pattaya

Pattaya, located on the Gulf of Thailand, is about 160km south of the capital city, Bangkok. Known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, bustling nightlife, as well as the famous Walking Street Market.

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On the coast, there are two main beaches that are massive attractions for locals and tourists alike. Pattaya Beach runs parallel to the city center, crossing in front of many markets, restaurants, and bars.

Off the coast of Pattaya, there are near and far islands that you can travel to and around. The near islands are Ko Lan, Ko Sak, and Ko Krok, which are all within 7 kilometers of the beach.

The far islands, Ko Phai, Ko Man Wichai, Ko Hu Chang and Ko Klung Badan, are located further west of the near islands. Once again, these islesare accessible and should definitely be on your must-see list.

Other than the beautiful beaches, Pattaya is known for its nightlife. The Walking Street in Pattaya is one of the most infamous spots in Thailand, but still a must for travelers. The many bars, restaurants and stalls ensure a night of fun and exploration.

Ko Samui

Ko Samui is one of the main beach cities in Thailand. The island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, and is a buzzing metropolis all year round. The warm weather also makes every day a beach day on this tropical paradise.

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In recent years, the tourism industry on Ko Samui has grown enormously, meaning the building of resorts, hotels and bungalows has seen a massive rise, meaning finding somewhere to stay is never hard.

There are many events and festivals that get held in around the city, namely the Buffalo Fighting Festival, which is an almost completely harmless duel between buffaloes, and the Ten Stars Samui Art Party, which brings art and artists from across the country in a massive cultural celebration.

Nakhon Ratchasima

Nakhon Ratchasima is located in central Thailand. It is home to a very large retail sector and is most definitely one of the main shopping hubs of Thailand, possibly even bigger than Bangkok.

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The city is also home to the 80th Birthday Stadium. This football stadium is home to Nakhon Ratchasima FC, a football team that plays in Thailand’s Premier Football league.

The city isn’t on every tourist’s list of sites to see when in Thailand, but the city and its surrounds are incredibly beautiful and should not be missed, even if you are just planning on driving through.

Summary

Thailand is one of the most vibrant and exciting countries in the world,with a long and deep history, many religious monuments and temples, beautiful beaches that stretch for as long as the eye can see, and day and night activities that are non-stop.

Thailand is particularly enjoyable for foreign travelers as the exchange rate is usually always in the favour of visitors, making Thailand an incredibly cheap place to have a holiday. Everything from the hotels to the novelty items are all very affordable.

Each city has a unique identity and their own festivals, traditions, food, and culture. In a perfect world, you would be able to spend time in each and every one of them discovering all the unique intricacies that make them special but visiting just a few on this guide will make for an amazing trip.

The Top 5 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting Coffee Bay

If you are looking to escape the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the city life, Coffee Bay Eastern Cape (also known as ‘Koffiebaai’) might be exactly what you are looking for. Situated in the heart of South Africa’s Wild Coast, it is a true diamond in the rough. It offers unspoiled beaches, various cattle roaming free, vast green fields dotted by colorful huts and rocky cliffs with breathtaking views of the ocean.

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It is the ‘laid back’ traveler’s dream with a relaxed and carefree atmosphere pervading every corner of the small and rural village. The locals are welcoming and friendly, creating an authentically African ‘home-away-from-home’ feeling among newcomers.

So, are you keen to visit Coffee Bay in all its rustic glory? Before you embark on your journey, here are the top 5 things you need to know about Coffee Bay:

1.  How it got its name…

You might wonder why a place that does not grow any coffee was named after the ‘jitter-juice’. Well, it turns out that coffee did actually contribute to the name.

coffee-beans

According to the locals, a cargo ship containing coffee beans was wrecked along the Wild Coast and the coffee beans supposedly washed out on the shores, which led to a few coffee trees starting to grow. Unfortunately, the conditions were not suitable for them to survive, but the name surely did!

2.  Distance From East London to Coffee Bay…

East London and Coffee Bay are separated by a 288 km stretch of tarred road, which takes around 4 hours travelling by car – bearing in mind the prominent potholes and animals crossing the road along the way. Therefore driving at night time can be quite dangerous and is definitely not recommended.

3.  Where To Stay…

From lodges to campsites and backpackers, Coffee Bay offers a handful of rustic accommodation to choose from, catering to a range of budgets and comfort preferences. Here are a few recommendations:

Coffee Shack, Coffee Bay

For those on a tight budget – it is the most popular backpacker and known as ‘the place to party’. Decorated with rustic wooden finishes, as well as colorful furniture and props, Coffee Shack backpackers offers a vibey bar, restaurant with good food, a laid-back communal area along with a fire pit creating a cosy space to mingle and strike up a conversation with the friendly staff and travelers from different places.

There are dorm rooms as well as private rooms to choose from, all fairly comfortable and at very affordable prices. They also offer cheap surf lessons for all guests – a great way to explore the warm waters and decent waves!

Gecko’s B&B

Rated as the top place to stay in Coffee Bay on Tripadvisor, this beautiful B&B is run by husband and wife Rodger and Leoni. They immerse themselves in their business, offering guests a welcoming and memorable experience and great value for money. Gecko’s B&B is situated in a tropical garden setting, perfect for friends and families to enjoy the peace and tranquility.

The rooms are private, en-suite and tastefully decorated with historic and vintage furniture, giving it a very warm and ‘snug’ feel. Full breakfast included: from fresh fruits, cereals and yogurt to bacon and eggs –  you can be sure to start the day on a jam-packed stomach!

Raptors View Bush Lodge

Nuzzled in the mountain between Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall, Raptors View Bush Lodge provides visitors with a tranquil, secluded and true African experience.

Here you guaranteed entertainment as they have a games room, pool table, DSTV and a fully licensed bar. They really do offer you the full package: from affordable accommodation, panoramic sea views, local guides and safe swimming beaches.

There are two fully equipped self-catering cottages as well as a campsite which has electricity and a communal kitchen containing a fridge, gas burner, kettle and toaster. All you have to bring is your tent and sleeping bag!

 4.  Things to Do in Coffee Bay

Coffee Bay is a dream destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers offering a variety of activities including scenic hikes, cliff jumps, kayaking on the river or simply lazing around the vast and unspoiled beaches. The must do’s are:

Coffee Bay Hole in The Wall Hike

Known as one of the most famous landmarks of Coffee Bay, exploring this natural phenomenon is a no-brainer. Hole in The Wall is a big hole in a cliff that stretches over the ocean and where the Mapako River passes through. It is about a 3-hour moderate hike from Coffee Bay, showing off the beautiful landscape of the Wild Coast.

hole-in-the-wall

Pack your picnic bags and, after the hike, spend the day relaxing on the rocks alongside the ocean. Alternatively, you can enjoy an authentic Xhosa lunch at the Chief’s house for a more cultural experience.

Explore the Mapuzi Caves

If you get a kick out of jumping off cliffs, crawling through caves and discovering secret pools, then this one is definitely for you! Enjoy the scenic views on the Mapuzi Cliff edge pathway towards the Bat Cave, bathe in the crystal pools, and get your adrenaline going with some amazing cliff jumps (up to 14m) into the Mapuzi River.

cliff-jump-mapuzi

Mapuzi offers adventure, history and hidden gems. As it is only a short distance from Coffee Bay, there’s no good reason not to explore it.

A Day Trip to Mdumbi

Ocean lovers are in luck as  Mdumbi has been voted as one of South Africa’s most beautiful beaches and is a popular fishing, kayaking and surf spot. About an hour drive from Coffee Bay, Mdumbi consists of lush green hills, Milkwood trees, flat beaches and the Mdumbi River Mouth with fish for days!

kayaking-mdumbi

It is a perfect way to spend a day in a unique and a secluded setting – untouched perfection at its best.

5.  Coffee Bay Weather…

The Transkei weather is favorable throughout the entire year, yet ‘favorable’ is a relative term. You might be looking to avoid large crowds and flocks of tourists, or may appreciate sharing your experience with new friends made on your travels. Here is a breakdown of the different seasons, to help you make your choice:

January-March

Known as the hottest time of year with temperatures up to 36℃ (96,8℉) would make you want to run to the nearest bar to down a cold beer. This is a fantastic time to cool off in the ocean, however  more weather-sensitive tourists may suffer in the extreme heat and high humidity. Therefore not too many crowds.

April-July

This time of year fits the bill just right. Fantastic weather for all, with the average temperature usually between 21 and 28℃ (82,4℉). The famous Sardine Run also happens around June which makes it an ideal time for scuba divers and fishermen to visit.

August-November

A slightly cooler time to visit with the average humidity being 69% and the average temperature around 18℃ (64,4℉). It is probably the most quiet time of year for those looking to exclusively soak up the scenery in a small group.

December

This is the tourist high season with great weather at 28 to 31℃ (82 to 87℉). This time of year is perfect for outdoor activities and with relatively low humidity, it is the most popular time to explore Coffee Bay.

Summary

Coffee Bay is definitely one of the most authentic and exciting places to visit in South Africa with a deeply rooted culture and spectacular surroundings that are well-worth exploring.

So, now that you are all prepped, head over to Coffee Bay and experience this amazing little corner of the Eastern Cape for yourself!

Things To Do In Hallstatt, Austria (For the Winter & Summer)

For anyone looking to discover some of the most beautiful spots in Austria, learn (and look at) some salty Austrian history, explore some exciting slopes and hikes, or just wonder beautiful little village streets – Then you will fall in love with this one.

Hallstatt has gotten its place on UNESCO World Heritage list because of the beautiful scenery. The Austrian Alps and the lake surrounding this tiny village really makes it look like a scene from a fairy-tale.

The sleepy town has stolen many hearts, most notably in China, were an exact replica stands. Nowadays, even beautifully quaint Austrian villages are ‘made in China’.

If you plan on visiting Hallstatt and its Austrian attractions in the near future, or even just have the town on your bucket list – then this summary of the top things to do in Hallstatt in Summer and Winter is for you!

Lake Gosau Austria

austria-lake

The picturesque views definitely draw visitors to the lakeside town of Hallstatt, however once standing at the photo-end of this magical little village, it is definitely the backdrop of the Dachstein Glacier that rises behind the mountain lake which helps cement Lake Gosau in as one of the top travel destinations in the Salzkammergut.

Throughout the year – yes even in winter (if you are brave) – special boat tours of the Hallstatt lake region will feed your curiosity and give you some insight into the power of water this lake holds.

 

Hallstatt Austria Summer


austria-summer-lake-gosau

So, it’s summer time in Austria, it’s warm with temperatures around 25℃, and the lake is looking rather inviting. But with limited time in Hallstatt, where should you start.

What’s on your list of must-see sights and and must-do activities?

It doesn’t really matter if you are planning a day trip or staying over – here are a few of the things I recommend should be at the top of your list:

Hallstatt Salt Mine

With a total of 60 percent salt content, 21 tiers (levels), 65 km of tunnels (22.5 km of which can be used to venture deep down into the core of the mine), the technical details of Hallstatt Salt Mine are impressive all on their own.

The tour is not easily forgotten and starts with a guided tour of the mine (you can also use their free wifi to download your own mobile guide – for all languages!)

Magical light shows that are projected before your eyes in order to share the rich history of the salt mine in a truly unique way – you will be constantly captivated.

This tour will cost you around € 9,00 (one way to the top) or € 30,00 (for an all inclusive experience).

Besides the hilariously fashionable overalls you wear to protect your clothes from the salt inside the mine – one of my favourite experiences inside the mine was definitely the slides (yes, as in playground style!).

You will literally slide down into the deeper levels of the mine.

slide-hallstatt-salt-mine

Another one of the great Hallstatt Austria attractions? The mine is also home to one of the oldest staircases in the world.

Before heading back down the cable car, don’t forget to checkout the Hallstatt Skywalk. 360 meters above the rooftops of Hallstatt and a 12 meter walk out to the point, this is a fantastic photo opportunity.

Hallstatt Austria Hiking: (Glacier Garden and Panorama Trail)

Hallstatt is home to many hiking trails – most of them are fairly easy to find as there are signs that point you in the right direction. There are, however, some hikes which are off the beaten track. These trails, usually overlooked by travelers, are definitely worth discovering.

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A perfect example of such a trail is the unique Glacier Garden at the end of Echern Valley in Hallstatt. This amazing and fairly gradual hike will take your through romantic forests and along soft streams. Set aside about 2-3 hours for this one.

Another fantastic hike is the Panorama trail. This hike starts just behind the cemetery at the Catholic church, and continues a few steps up onto a forest road. From here you will have a wonderful view of the captivating village and the Evangelical church’s very famous tower.

Waldbachstrub Waterfall

Happiness is everywhere in the magical region of Hallstatt, especially in and around the spectacular Waldbachstrub Waterfall.

Masses of water plunge over the edge of a 90m high gorge, roaring thunderously to the Glücksplatz, which literally means place of happiness. Locals and tourists alike refer to this spot as one of the most energizing and unique spots to be explored (by foot, obviously) in Hallstatt.

Rent a boat for the summer

Renting a boat in Hallstatt is a must-do for anybody visiting in the summertime – what an amazing way to admire Hallstatt from the water. Most places along the Hallstatt lake will allow you to take your own drinks with you too, making it a great way to float back and relax.

paddle-lake-hallstatt

An added bonus is that most places will allow you to pay (price varies depending on the boat you choose to rent) when you return, allowing you to really just take everything in and relax.

Swan paddle boats are also an exciting and fun way to explore the lake.

Paddling around in a giant floating swan makes for yet another uniquely Hallstatt photo opportunity.

hire-boat-austria

 

Hallstatt Winter

Naturally, you do miss out on some things in Hallstatt by going in the winter.

That shouldn’t make you cold though – there are so many beauties to be seen in this magical winter wonderland that – yes – only winter can bring about!

The pure white snow perfectly covers the wooden roofs of the little houses. The mountains surround the crisp, glassy lake and the icicles that hang from literally anything (and everything).

Hallstatt in winter is definitely still worth it – and there is no shortage of things to do in Hallstatt in the winter.

lake-hallstatt-winter

Altaussee Salt Mine

Altaussee Salt Mine is an absolute must see during winter, and is the oldest salt mine in the world. Unlike the sat mine in Hallstatt, which is closed during most of the winter, Altaussee  is about 20 out of the city.

Three Happiness Alpine (Seehotel Grüner Baum Hotel)

Giving travelers three main reasons to smile, Seehotel Grüner Baum is a trifecta of happiness. The hotel is located in the best spot in town – right in the center of everything. The traditional interior of the hotel is unique, and the rooms are sure to satisfy a travelers need for comfort (and warmth).

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There is also a restaurant with stunning lake views where you can enjoy some steamy hot chocolate or coffee – whatever your heart fancies.

Then why not head down to the hotels steam room and sauna – winter has never been this cozy.

hotel-sauna-austria

Obertraun Austria

Just 5km from Hallstatt, lies Obertraun, and the very popular Free Ride Arena Krippenstein. This is one of the longest free ski spots in Austria.

The Freesports Arena Krippenstein at the Lake Hallstatt is something for the thrill seekers – whether on skis or boards. The various slopes on offer are sure to get your blood racing.

snowboard-hallstatt-austria

 

In Summary

Be it the summer or the winter – Hallstatt is beautiful and exciting all year round, no matter the season.

Snowy, white Winters may limit you in terms of activities, but it makes up for it with beautiful white backdrops, cozy hideaways and fewer crowds. Summer can become extremely busy.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what time of the year you are planning to visit this beautiful village of Hallstatt. As an all-year round destination, I guarantee it will be a trip to remember.

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