Thailand's top tourist destinations by vote

By Andrew Bond

Krabi is a clear favourite in the voting

After a widely publicised nomination process, the Bangkok Post has announced the shortlist in its nine month quest to find Thailand’s top nine destinations as voted by its readers.

More than thirty of Thailand’s favourite destinations are now vying for the final list which will be announced in February 2009, following a six month second round voting process. These finalists were selected by popular vote from scores of nominations made during the last three months. The final nine will be made by a panel of travel specialists based on second round public votes.

As featured on their website 9destinations.com, some of the tourists’ perennial favourites have taken an early lead. Not surprisingly Krabi, with its stunning Karst scenery, is currently tops, claiming more than 10 per cent of all votes. It’s followed closely by a locals’ favourite Kaeng Krachan National Park in Petchaburi, near Hua Hin.

Chiang Mai province’s Doi Inthanon is further back in third place, offering visitors the highest point in Thailand and some wonderful waterfalls. The North claims fourth spot at present too, with the popular bohemian town of Pai.

Koh Turatao, a pristine and seldom crowded island near the southern border comes in fifth in the early voting stages, and then it’s back North again to the remote and pretty mountain clad town of Mae Hong Son. Chiang Mai is weighing in once more at seventh with Doi Chang Dao, a striking massive described as the ‘last tooth of the Himalaya’.

The remaining two are in the Southern Provinces, comprising the popular uninhabited diving islands of the Similan archipelago, and Khao Sok National Park on the mainland between Khao Lak coast and Surat Thani.

Although the order is likely to change over the ensuing months there are some notable early exceptions such as Koh Chang, Doi Suithep temple in Chiang Mai, Samui and Pha Nga Bay. However, with most of the voting coming from within Thailand, particularly among locals, there has been a clear tendency to vote for some of the less touristy or obvious sites, especially getaway parks and natural beauty areas. Although Phuket town has been nominated, it’s crowded beaches have not, and the shortlist contains some names that are little known outside of Thailand, such as; Phu Soi Dao National Park, Phu Hin Rongkla National Park, Wat Phumin and Phanon Rung Historic Park.

Doi Inthanon peak has also reached lofty heights

The full list of short listed candidates for the Bangkok Post/Today’s Thailand 9 Destinations is (in no particular order):

Doi Inthanon National Park – Thailand’s highest peak, in Northern Thailand, with fabulous waterfalls and chilly weather.

Doi Luang Chiang Dao – one of the highest peaks in the country, just north of Chiang Mai with excellent cave systems.

Turatao Marine Park – a pristine and unspoilt Andaman island in Satun Province south of Krabi.

Krabi Sea and Islands – a tourist favourite near Phuket comprising of Phi Phi islands, Railay peninsula and other lovely islands and beaches.

Lam Klong Ngu National Park – cavernous caves and subterranean rivers to explore in the Kanchanaburi region.

Pha Taem National Park – noted for its prehistoric rock paintings and spectacular rainy season waterfalls, near the banks of the Mekhong.

Moo Ko Similan Marine Park – a lovely uninhabited chain of islands offshore from Khao Lak, great for diving.

Kaeng Krachan National Park – dramatic scenery on the Burma border near Hua Hin, a favourite with Bangkokians.

Khao Sok National Park – a tourist favourite midway between Phuket and Samui with striking inland karst topography set around a large reservoir.

Hala-Bala Wildlife Park – a premier bird watching venue in the trouble Southern provinces which has kept tourists away from this one since 2004.

Rattanakosin Isle – the historic section of Bangkok which includes the Grand Palace, Wat Po, National Museum, Temple Mount and many other of the capital’s attractions.

The Grand Palace is an essential inclusion

Khao Yai National Park – one of Asia’s finest and Thailand’s largest and oldest sanctuaries, northeast of Bangkok.

Si Satchanalai Historic Park – understated ruins of the Sukhothai era on the Ping river banks, near Sukhothai.

Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall – a neo Baroque palace in the Dusit neighbourhood of Bangkok popular for official ceremonies.

Wat Phra That Lampang – one of the country’s most important and historic temples in this Northern town.

Mae Hong Son – possibly Thailand’s most remote town, a charming mountain enclave along the inaccessible northwest border.

Pai – also in Mae Hong Son, a popular backpacker destination and lately with Bangkokians looking to go hippie.

Phu Soi Dao National Park – a mist shrouded highland area on the Laos border noted for its wild flowers and waterfalls.

Sukhothai Historic Park – a must on all Thailand tours and a World Heritage site dating from Thailand’s golden era of the past in the 15th C.

Phanom Rung Historic Park – outstanding elevated Khmer ruins in the Northeast entered by 15 celestially planned gates.

Ayutthaya Historic Park – ancient Siam’s great seat of power before falling into ruin, a vast preserved city on an island of the Chao Praya, North of Bangkok.

Amphawa Community – responsible for the popular floating markets on the Klong river in Samut Songkham southeast of Bangkok.

Phu Kham Khao Dinosaur park – as the name suggests, a wonderful theme park for the whole family, on the Korat plateau.

Klong Suan 100 year old market – the floating market to get to if you’d rather not rub shoulders with loads of tourists, in ChaChoengSao province near Suvarnabhumi airport.

Phuket Town – grand old mansions away from the tourist beaches that suggest the original wealth and importance of the city.

Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao – Another Lampang temple on the list, this Burmese styled templed housed the famous Emerald Buddha for centuries. Great for cameras.

Wat Phumin – one of the country’s oldest temples, somewhat understated in the sleepy remote Northern province of Nan – the Thailand of yesteryear.

Phra Kradueng National Park – is in Loei, one of the kingdom’s lesser visited and more remote corners, lofty scenery near the Mekhong Northeast. It’s a gruelling hike to the top.

Phu Hin Rongkla National Park – unusual moonscape highland scenery in Phitsanulok, once the bastion of the Communist insurgency in the seventies.

Ancient City – Bangkok’s best kept secret, a wonderful theme park of Thailand’s most famous sites replicated and packaged into a convenient single day trip.

Find out more or vote at www.9destinations.com

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