I've been living in Thailand for about 25 years now. The majority has been in Bangkok but also a few years in Pathum Thani. Most of my trips with family or friends were to Pattaya or Hua Hin.
Then I realized there is so much more to see in the country. I also saw all these tweets and social media posts about people wanting to travel the world and visit every country.
That got me thinking...
Why not try and visit every province in Thailand?
That is now one of my long-term travel goals. I don't know how long it will take me, but I will do it eventually.
Now, Thailand has 76 provinces that are spread across 5 regions - Central, West, South, North, North-East, and East. For the general traveler or tourist, a few cities or provinces are among the popular destinations. We know that people love to visit Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi, Trat, Chiang Mai, and a few others.
The thing is, if you look at the map, there is so much more to see and explore. So I got myself one of those scratch maps of Thailand and I started scratching off the places I've been. It soon became my goal to visit all of these provinces in my lifetime.
This map is so useful and fun. Not only can you tick off places you've been, but it also has a list of things to do and eat. You can scratch those off too.
As you can see from my map, I've tried all the food and desserts except for Thai custard with pumpkin. However, when it comes to the provinces, I'm not even halfway there yet!
I have done most of the central and eastern region but a huge cluster in the north-east, north and south are still unexplored. Now here is the thing, there are some provinces that I have driven through. Like when going to Chiang Mai I went through Chai Nat, Uthai Thani, Tak, and Lamphun. While driving to Phuket I've been through several other provinces on the way. But they don't count.
I only count or scratch a province if I have at least stayed there a night or visited 2 attractions (day trip).
Photos from provinces I've been
Let's go from all the way north and make our way to north-east, then the east, followed by central region and finally down south.
1. Chiang Mai
Phrae was an interesting province that I got the opportunity to explore with TAT. Lots of temples and museums here. There are also some national parks as well this interesting "grand canyon" like attraction.
After 2 days in Phrae, we went to its neighboring province - Nan. A lot of temple-hopping here as well. But it is also known for national parks and if you want to experience the slow local life (much like in Phrae).
6-7. Buriram + Surin
8. Nakhon Ratchasima / Nakhon Nayok (Khao Yai)
We visited a very interesting and unique temple in Chachoengsao on the way back from Chonburi once. We took a day trip just so we can say we visited this province.
We were invited to check out and review Verona at Tublan, a resort town in Prachinburi. This at least allowed us to tick off a new province.
We also stayed at another hotel in Kabinburi district of the province - the Serenity Hotel & Spa Onsen. The only regret is not seeing all the natural attractions of this city.
Obviously Chonburi is on the list with countless trips to Pattaya and even Chonburi city/town area.
14. Trat (Koh Chang + Koh Mak)
We live here so yeah.
Although I have no photos, I've been to Koh Kret, which is a small island in the Chao Phraya River in Pak Kret.
Also every time we go to immigration in Chaeng Wattana or concerts at IMPACT, we are basically visiting Nonthaburi. Perhaps we need to explore this province a bit more.
17. Samut Prakan
We visited the Ancient City or Mueang Boran in 2015, which gave us the opportunity to tick Samut Prakan off the list.
Also, every time we go to IKEA or Bangkrachao, we are basically visiting the borders of Bangkok/Samut Prakan.
As far as I can recall, this was the first destination we visited in Thailand as travel bloggers. It's what fueled our passion to explore.
19-20. Saraburi + Angthong
Sorry, no pictures here but I have been here. We probably need to take another short trip for some photos then.
Same here. No photos because I was quite young but maybe my parents have some photos. Or we need to visit again.
22. Nakhon Pathom
We went to Nakhon Pathom in March 2016 to stay at Sampran Riverside, a cultural and ecological resort. However, we were a bit disappointed that they were mishandling the elephants and using them for entertainment.
We also made some time to visit the iconic temple there - Wat Phra Pathom Chedi.
Now I want to go back and check out another iconic temple called Wat Samphran. Update you when I do.
It was a day trip to the beach with friends for some seafood. We forgot to take photos =(
25. Prachuap Khiri Khan
While Hua Hin is a popular city in this province and we have visited many times, I decided to venture further south. We took a four-day road trip and even explored Kui Buri with Take me Tour company for a local experience.
I really enjoyed this province. It has amazing local beaches, a quaint town, beautiful islands, national parks and even a cave temple up a mountain. Glorious!
I've been to Phuket quite a few times - for events mostly though. One of my favorite trips was when I went to Koh Rok.
28. Satun (Koh Lipe)
Thailand Provinces Superlatives
Favorite - hard to say! We love each place for their own amazing reasons.
Most surprising - perhaps Nan. Also Prachuap Khiri Khan. Nakhon Phanom also surprised me.
Weird - Chachoengsao with its unique temple complex
Best parties - definitely Phuket...after Bangkok of course.
Where I would move to - Phuket because it has the city feel but also it's an island with beautiful beaches and islands nearby. It would be a nice transition from Bangkok.
Best local experience - Prachuap Khiri Khan and Nan (went partying with some locals at a pub)
Food heaven - hard to pinpoint any particular province. Each place has amazing, unique food. Chiang Mai and Bangkok are definitely the biggest food havens.
Provinces covered in day trips - Phetchaburi, Chachoengsao, and Surin. These were provinces on the way to or back from a trip so we decided to visit a few attractions there...just so we can say we visited. It's not cheating haha just a gray area. Like a loophole/travel hack.
What's next this year?
In 2020, I plan to visit at least 2 or 3 new provinces. I just completed 2 in January (Phrae and Nan). I hope to visit Yasothon for the Rocket Festival in May and maybe even add on Ubon Ratchathani to go see the grand canyon of Thailand.
Photo by @thaiairways
Then I want to hit another province in the south for some nice islands and beaches. Any suggestions? I'm thinking of either Ranong or Phang Nga or both. Chumpon is another option.
Tell me about your Thailand bucket list?