As one of the world’s most popular vacation and beach destinations, with a vast diversity of naturally beautiful topography easily accessed by a well-developed tourism infrastructure, the question, “Where to stay in Thailand?” opens-up challenging yet delightful dilemmas.
Fortunately, across the kingdom, amazing Thailand delivers an endless supply of accommodations suitable for tastes, including some of the most lavish international brand hotels on the planet, welcoming with legendary Thai hospitality honed over the decades. From jungle camps in the mountainous north and heritage riverside hotels in dynamic Bangkok to flip-flop luxury at southern island hideaways, here’s our recommended best hotels in Thailand.
Vibrant capital Bangkok makes a fantastic start to Thailand travels, a dynamic metropolis repeatedly ranked as the one of the most favorite and exciting cities on the planet. A mesmerizing fusion of Siamese traditions and modernity, Bangkok’s relentless energy, intensity and pulsating street life, may for some, be overwhelming at first (a starter guided tour is recommended), but soon after, it just becomes fascinating or even, addictive.
Simply dive into the world-class shopping, markets, street food and historic sights, from ancient Buddhist temples to the old teak wood residence of American silk tycoon, Jim Thompson.
With the congested traffic and lack of any designated downtown per se, much of Bangkok travels plays out along the Chao Phraya River, where its historic banks are home to many tourists attractions and upscale hotels – with unparalleled riverfront views and instant transportation access, a superb location to stay.
Majestic along the banks of Chao Phraya River since 1876, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is Thailand’s first-ever luxury hotel and the oldest in this prestigious hospitality group. One of the remaining vestiges of 19th century Bangkok, today, this iconic ‘Grand Dame’ provides an opulent urban haven in the heart of Bangkok’s cultural district – a short boat ride to the landmark Grand Palace.
Renowned for its exceptional service, Mandarin Oriental prides itself on a high staff-to-guest ratio and impeccable butlers. With its venerable façade and regal interiors, this legendary five-star exudes an old-world charm, yet has undergone extensive renovations and embraced 21st century technologies. All 331 guest rooms and suites, including Authors Suites, reflect classic Thai elegance and reveal magnificent river or city views. A slew of award-winning F&B venues include the flagship, two-Michelin starred Le Normandie and two authentic Thai restaurants, accessed across the river by private teak boats.
This one-off, heritage-style boutique hotel draws inspiration from Paris’ Musée d’Orsay and seamlessly marries classic Thai influences with art deco aesthetics. The signature touch of this chic, upscale property, allegedly frequented by Thai royalty, is the impressive private collection of antiques and art works displayed in public areas and guest rooms.
Ensconced amid lush gardens beside the Chao Phraya, The Siam is the sole luxury hotel located in Bangkok’s historic Dusit district and the many riverside temples, palaces, markets and monuments are easily accessed onboard the hotel’s complimentary cruise boat (Bangkok’s main shopping and nightspots are however further away). The highlight of the 39 suites and villas is Connie’s Cottage, a century-old, traditional Thai teak house, hand-picked by legendary Jim Thompson for his friend, Connie Mangskau – a unique Bangkok experience. A Siam signature experience is a sunset dinner cruise on a traditional rice barge.
A naturally beautiful, forested island in the spectacular Andaman Sea, off Thailand’s south-western coastline, Phuket is Thailand’s largest islands. And as one of the world’s top beach destinations, this ‘Pearl of the Andaman Sea’ is also its busiest, attracting hordes of vacationers every year.
With a well-developed infrastructure – the international airport is Thailand’s second-busiest after Bangkok, an hour’s flight away – and every Western convenience imaginable, from theme parks to medi-spas, Phuket provides a great all-round vacation spot, especially for first timers and families. The main attraction is the choice of 30-plus, lovely palm-fringed beaches, which accommodate all preferences, from the liveliest, such as Patong the epicentre of Phuket’s nightlife to relatively quieter beaches, such as those in the north.
Most beaches offer a vast range of all-inclusive resorts and water sports activities. Glitzy Phuket also boasts Chinese temples, national parks and a historic Old Town and is a popular gateway for exploring the surrounding world-class diving sites and islands, such as Koh Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay.
Situated on Phuket’s central west coast, along a tranquil peninsula and white sand Pansea Beach, Amanpuri epitomizes the timeless charm of Thai culture in an idyllic natural setting.
The upscale Aman Group’s flagship property, Amanpuri – Sanskrit for ‘Place of Peace’ – is comprised of accommodations designed in traditional Siamese style, secluded amongst tropical gardens and coconut plantations. With a choice of one to nine bedrooms, the sumptuous and ultra-spacious pool villas are perfect for families and groups, with many positioned oceanfront, while the walled garden pavilions are romantically secluded for couples.
This award-winning resort’s stand-outs are an exclusive beach club and holistic wellness sanctuary. On the sunset side of Phuket, don’t miss sundowners at the beachside pool, revealing panoramic bay views. Beyond, Amanpuri’s deluxe fleet of cruisers offer blissful voyages around the surrounding islands.
The north-western shores, where a tranquil bay and casuarina-fringed Nai Yang Beach borders Sirinat National Park, is the surprising home to one of Phuket’s most trend-setting and distinctive five-star resorts.
The Slate not only presents industrial chic design but comes inspired by Phuket’s centuries-old, tin mining heritage. The owner, a descendant of a Southern Thailand tin mining family, collaborated with world-renowned hotel designer Bill Bensley to create a playful, yet singular luxury experience, where modern architecture and contemporary aesthetics fuses with a recurring Thai tin-mining theme throughout – even in the glamorous F&B venues.
Scattered through lush gardens and lagoons, backed by rainforest, the ultra-stylish suites and villas combine whimsical touches with deluxe comforts. Signature accommodations cover the one-of-a-kind, Bensley Suite, a sublime sanctuary of nature and peace. Children are welcome, with a kids club and two-bedroom family pool villa.
Krabi Province is known for its fantastic seascapes and some of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches and spectacular islands – around 150 of them – in the sparkling Andaman Sea. Served by an international airport, Ao Nang and Krabi towns on the mainland or Phuket Island are the main launch-pads by boat, the only way to access these islands. Besides lazing on some of the planet’s finest white sand beaches, Krabi makes a naturally beautiful playground for rock climbing, sea kayaking and snorkeling and diving in marine parks teeming with colorful marine life and corals.
It’s here, you’ll find two of Thailand’s most sought-after destinations: Koh Phi Phi, a mini-archipelago iconic for its incredible limestone karsts and cliffs and Phranang Peninsula, cut-off from the mainland by towering limestone cliffs, a scene of traffic-free, extraordinary natural beauty. Like Koh Phi Phi, Phranang is home to pristine beaches, including world-famous Railay Beach. Both areas are incredibly popular for day trips; if you get the chance to stay overnight on or amongst these islands, count yourself extremely fortunate – but book ahead!
A ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ member, Rayavadee nestles on the tip of stunning Phranang Peninsula, which extends out to Krabi’s National Marine Park. This super-private, luxurious resort is surrounded by jungle-clad limestone cliff formations and dazzling white sand beaches, considered amongst Asia’s most beautiful. To accentuate the five-star exclusivity, guests take a speedboat transfer along the stunning Andaman coastline, before arriving at the private pier.
Camouflaged amongst landscaped tropical gardens and coconut groves, the sumptuous two-storey pavilions and luxurious villas providing guests with unsurpassed comfort. Don’t miss dining a deux in a sensational cave-grotto and gourmet beach picnics and as this peninsula area is renowned for its rich flora and fauna and, pristine reefs, activities such as sea kayaking and snorkeling. Immersed in all this natural beauty, Rayavadee however is also deeply committed to environmental sustainability.
Located northeast of Phuket, Phang Nga Bay is another of the Andaman Sea’s – and Thailand’s – major drawcards and one of Asia’s most incredible natural wonders, an ethereal seascape of iconic limestone karst islands and cliffs jutting out of emerald-green waters.
Sprinkled across a marine national park, the best and only way to explore the bay and generally get around, is by water vessels, from longtail boats and tourist cruisers to speedboats and chartered yachts. Most of the islands are uninhabited but a few are home to accommodations, including the small, unspoilt island of Yao Noi and its larger, even less developed sister island, Koh Yao Yai, located on Phang Nga Bay’s fringes. Both are equidistant to Phuket and Krabi airports, after which, you’ll need a car and boat transfer. Tranquil Koh Yao Noi offers sleepy stilted fishing villages, deserted pristine beaches and proximity to outstanding diving and snorkeling sites.
Secluded amongst tropical flora and mangrove forests on Yao Noi Island’s east coast, idyllic Six Senses offers guests a sense of privacy, endless adventures, nature immersions and exceptional service. Even the 30-minute speedboat transfer, skimming across jaw-dropping Phang Nga Bay, is spectacular in itself.
A signature of the Six Senses ‘barefoot luxe’ brand, this rustic-chic hideaway is environmentally committed and utilizes indigenous and repurposed natural materials in all the resort buildings. Based on local village dwellings, constructed with local teak and palm leaf thatch, the collection of private pool villas harmonize with the naturally wild surrounds. Each villa indulges with a 24-hour personal butler and perched on jungle-clad hillsides, jaw-dropping views of those iconic craggy pinnacles. The acclaimed spa offers authentic Thai-inspired treatments, while children are kept amused with heaps of nature activities.
Over to the east, in the Gulf of Thailand, the nation’s second largest island Koh Samui presents a quintessential tropical island of palm-fringed beaches and rugged interiors smothered in coconut groves and virgin rainforest. Long established on Thailand’s well-trodden tourist trail, with its development of world-class resorts and spas and an international airport, Koh Samui now ranks as one of Southeast Asia’s top vacation destinations – a favorite with couples and families.
First-timers to Thailand will appreciate how tourist-friendly this gorgeous island is, with well-established facilities and infrastructure, easily circumnavigated by car or jeep in under three hours. Choose from the many world-renowned beaches and secluded bays and distractions that cover sunset cruises, water sports, wellness treatments, golfing, yoga retreats, beach parties and more.
Located on Koh Samui’s northwest tip, on Laem Yai Bay, this luxurious beachfront resort offers a tranquil hideaway amid the coconut palms that fully immerses guests in Thailand’s idyllic island life. Sumptuous accommodations with private pools include one to five-bedroom residences, a Siamese home-from-home with al fresco dining pavilions and live-in butler service, ideal for groups of friends or families requiring extra space, while contemporary-style, one-bedroom villas are heavenly for romantic getaways.
The five-star’s upscale restaurants provides memorable dining experiences from sand-in-toes candlelit dinners to lunches on a breezy hilltop. Leisurely pursuits cover spa rituals, snorkeling in nearby Ang Thong Marine National Park, or simply gazing out at the Gulf of Thailand from the private deck.
If you seek to leave the crowds behind, head to Koh Kood (or Koh Kut); despite being Thailand’s fourth largest island, this tropical paradise has remained an untamed island of outstanding natural beauty. Its remote locality, far from Thailand’s tourist trail, may explain: the easternmost island before the Cambodian border and 49 miles off the Thai mainland, with Trat the main launch pad for boats and flights.
Koh Kood boasts some of Thailand’s most gorgeous beaches and ancient forested interiors with the vibrant natural ecology. The few thousand residents are mainly farmers and fishing people and there’s little infrastructure, no nightlife nor banks and just a small range of low-key accommodations. On this blissfully serene island there’s not much to do, except snorkel the crystal-clear waters and pristine reefs, boat around remote islands, laze on palm-tree fringed white sand beaches, jungle trek and watch the sunsets. Perfect.
With its irresistible ‘No news, no shoes’ policy, set on a secluded bay on Koh Kood, award-winning Soneva Kiri offers barefoot luxury for families, couples and nature seekers alike. All, exclusively accessed by flight to the resort’s private airport island, followed by a short speedboat transfer.
This island hideaway presents an unrivalled combination of upscale comforts with low impact, sustainable practices and authentic Thai experiences. Soneva Kiri’s rustic, eco-friendly buildings merge seamlessly into the all-natural environment. Ranging from one to six-bedrooms, the super-spacious pool villas are the ultimate in privacy, each assigned a private butler. Standout facilities include a spectacular treetop dining pod, mangrove stilt restaurant, overwater cinema and kid’s club shaped like a manta ray, while activities run from astronomy classes to after-dark snorkelling.
Up in Thailand’s northern reaches, set in a verdant river valley ringed by forested mountains, and emanating a distinctly provincial town feel, Chiang Mai belies its status as Thailand`s second largest city. Known as the ‘Rose of the North,’ Chiang Mai is the former seat of the ancient Lanna Kingdom and one of Thailand’s most important cultural and religious centers.
The main drawcard of hugely popular Chiang Mai is the central Old City, with its historic walls and moats, Lanna cultural legacies, dozens of stunning Buddhist temples and modern-day boutiques, art galleries and cafés – best explored on foot. The city boasts some of Thailand’s best night bazaars and food scene, with top-notch dining and local street food. Beyond, lush countryside and national parks offer heaps of activities, including trekking, golfing, biking besides visits to sacred Buddhist sites and elephant sanctuaries.
Evoking bygone times and refined elegance, this charming boutique hotel reveals a heritage homestead of rich history and royal connections. A former Borneo Trading Company HQ, today, this stunning teak wood property has been meticulously restored to reflect its 19th century origins, equipped with luxurious modern comforts. Ensconced in landscaped grounds brimming with indigenous plants, guests can enjoy the tranquility of Chiang Mai’s leafy Wat Gate neighborhood, yet close proximity to the historic Old City.
All 30 suites are sumptuous havens designed with a home-style residential concept, complete with large terraces graced with daybeds and rattan rocking chairs. Proud of its high staff-to-guest ratio, 137 Pillars House assigns a dedicated butler to each suite. Soak-up the atmospheric old-world charm in the wood-paneled, Jack Bain Bar.
Encircled by rice paddies and mountain peaks, this Four Seasons resort offers a ‘haven of well-being,’ where guests can unwind and connect with northern Thailand’s nature, while indulged with all the five-star service of this renowned hospitality brand. Nestled amid sprawling grounds, accommodations range from spacious, traditional Lanna-styled pavilions that overlook beautiful Mae Rim Valley to exclusive palatial residences with lavish interiors.
Signature highlights cover a picturesque infinity pool, an acclaimed spa inspired by Siamese wellness rituals and dining venues that serve an elevated take on Northern Thai cuisine – easily mastered at the in-house cooking academy. Children are well-catered for with a kids club and family activities extending to rice planting with local farmers.
The provincial city of Chiang Rai makes a delightful base to explore the wilds of Thailand’s uppermost northeastern region. Founded in the 13th century, riverside Chiang Rai is one of Thailand’s oldest settlements and similar to its sibling, Chiang Mai, was a historic seat of the ancient Lanna Kingdom – today, still retaining a strong cultural heritage.
Although overshadowed by its sister city, Chiang Rai has a more low-key, less touristy feel, yet has its own fair share of attractions (easily be reached on foot or by bicycle) and has evolved into a ‘hipster paradise,’ with a thriving arts and dining scene.
Beyond, naturally beautiful countryside, steamy jungles and mist-shrouded mountains are home to indigenous wildlife and diverse hill tribe communities and further north, the legendary Golden Triangle. Once one of the world’s most prolific opium producers, the Golden Triangle is now a popular tourist destination, mainly to look-out at where two rivers and three countries – Thailand, Myanmar and Laos – converge and for amazing longtail boat river trips.
Secluded within a sprawling compound of pretty gardens, Koi ponds and tended rice fields in Chiang Rai’s rural outskirts, Pak Sak Tong presents the ultimate Thai luxury estate experience. There are just two, all-inclusive villas here, rented out to one party at a time, guaranteeing unrivaled privacy and exclusive estate access. Set across seven acres, the five-bedroom, teak villa Baan Sak Tong (‘Thai Chalet,’) hosts a maximum ten guests, while Khum Sak Tong ( ‘Luxurious Longhouse’), ensconced in 10 acres, features four teak villas for up to 12 guests.
Larger groups can reserve both villa complexes, taking over the entire estate! Guests are indulged with all modern conveniences, solar-heated pools, spa zones and a dedicated team of personalized chefs, butlers and therapists. Pa Sak Tong is neighbors with rarely visited Suan Doc village, home to traditional farmers and hill tribe folk.
North of Chiang Rai, perched on a forested ridge within a remote jungle setting, this rustic-luxe boutique ‘camp’ is ideal for those seeking a more adventurous stay, where breathtaking panoramas across the Golden Triangle can be admired in the height of comfort.
Amid a vast compound of enchanting bamboo forests, indigenous plants and rice paddies, the 40 Thai-inspired deluxe rooms and 15 suites – include six family suites – provide a secluded jungle getaway. Enjoy stunning river views from a daybed on the private balcony, lulled by wild bird song. Outstanding facilities include an award-winning Elephant Camp, a natural habitat for Anantara’s rescued herd, where guests are immersed in unforgettable elephant experiences that include dusk-to-dawn observations from an elevated ‘Jungle Bubble.’
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