Eastern Thailand: Why Travel to this Underrated Region 

Eastern Thailand is a stunning region in The Land of Smiles that is often less explored than the rest of the country. It’s a shame, though, because this is one of the best regions of Thailand!

This area has everything from gorgeous, white sand beaches to lush, forested national parks!

If you are looking for ways to enhance your Thailand itinerary, check out our suggestions for having the best time in the region.

About Eastern Thailand

river running through town in Eastern Thailand at dusk

Eastern Thailand sits directly between the Gulf of Thailand and the Cambodian border, making it an ideal area to add to any trip. In addition, it’s easily accessible from Bangkok, with many cities a quick bus ride away. 

Half of the region is home to some of the world’s most amazing beaches. In contrast, the other half is covered in majestic mountains, perfect for trekking.

Besides, it’s the perfect region to explore on your way to Northern Thailand. You can easily spend one to two weeks enjoying what each province offers. 

Now that we got that info out of the way let’s dive into the areas that make up this fascinating region. 

Trat Province

couple walking hand in hand on pier in Trat, Eastern Thailand

Trat, Thailand, is any beach bum’s dream come true. 

This province is home to more than 40 different islands you could happily spend days on end enjoying. 

  • One of the best things to do in Trat Province is island hop along the Ko Chang archipelago. These islands sit right at the Thai-Cambodia border and are known for their crystal-clear cerulean waters and perfectly powdered beaches. 

The top islands to explore are Ko Chang, Ko Kut, Ko Muk, and Ko Wai. 

  • Visiting the mangroves at Baan Tha Ranae is also great if you want a unique experience. Here you can enjoy the impressive natural surroundings and the native flora and fauna. 
  • Laem Ngop, the black sand beach about 20 minutes outside Trat city, is also worth a trip. 

How to get to Trat

It is an easy but long trip from Bangkok to Trat on a five-and-a-half-hour bus ride.

Trat also has an airport, so it is possible to fly directly from Bangkok for as little as $45 each way. This is an excellent option if you are short on time, as the flight only takes three hours. 

Rayong Province

Buddhist figures on a beach in Rayong, Eastern Thailand

When looking at a map of Thailand, you’ll find Rayong Province south of Bangkok and right along the Gulf of Thailand.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The food in Rayong is amazing. Some of the best things to do are visit the Ban Phe Pier for the country’s most delicious seafood and sample all the fruit on the local fruit farms. 
  • You can’t come to Rayong Province and not spend time on Ko Samet. This island paradise is only a few hours away from Bangkok and is the perfect weekend getaway when you need more vitamin sea.
  • Hat Sai Kaeo is another fantastic sandy destination, with more than 800 meters (~half a mile) of pristine beaches to enjoy.

How to get to Rayong

A standard bus is a great option if you travel from Bangkok to Rayong. Tickets cost a few bucks and will get you to the city of Rayong in about two and a half hours.

It is also possible to go directly from Bangkok to Ko Samet. To do this, you’ll need to take a bus + ferry combo, but it is definitely the fastest way to get to the island. The journey will take four and a half hours. 

Coming from Pattaya? No problem! The bus + ferry combo from Pattaya to Ko Samet is a breeze. The trip will take two and a half hours!

Chonburi (Chon Buri) Province

Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, Thailand

No proper Thailand travel guide would be complete without mentioning a few stops in Chonburi.

  • Pattaya, one of the most divisive cities in Thailand, calls this province home. Love it or hate it, this city has excellent nightlife. 
  • Chonburi is also home to Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, an interesting and beautiful botanical garden. 
  • Or you can also visit the Sanctuary of Truth—an unfinished museum is an impressive wooden temple.
  • While in Chon Buri, visit Buddha Mountain, Ko Kham Underwater Park, and Ko Lan, a wonderful island just off the east coast of the country’s peninsula. 

How to get to Chonburi

The best way to get from Bangkok to Chonburi is by private transfer. The trip will be a bit more expensive, but you’ll get there in an hour and a half and can be dropped off directly at your hotel.

If you are on a tighter budget, head from Bangkok to Pattaya instead. You can get a bus for as little as $5. The trip will take two and a half hours but will be well worth it once you’re enjoying your time in the city. 

Chanthaburi Province

Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. Chanthaburi

Chanthaburi is a charming river town and the capital of the province. It shouldn’t be missed! This city is seriously underrated and not visited nearly enough. Most tourists blow straight through Chanthaburi to get to Ko Samet. 

  • However, you should plan to stop in and enjoy the most beautiful church in Thailand: The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.
  • You can participate in marine conservation at the Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Center.
  • If you’re here for the beaches, check out the lovely, laidback coastline in Chanthaburi province. 

How to get to Chanthaburi

Grab a seat on a standard minivan from Bangkok to Chanthaburi. The ride takes about five hours but is very affordable and definitely worth an overnight stop to enjoy all the charms this area has to offer. 

Other hidden gems in Eastern Thailand

Khao Yai National Park in Eastern Thailand

If you want to connect with nature or have had enough time at the beach, head to northeastern Thailand and explore Khao Yai National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the second largest national park in the country and is only three hours from Bangkok. 

The park is over 80% forested and home to incredible wildlife, including gibbons, civets, clouded leopards, and countless species of birds and insects. 

Khao Yai also has several waterfalls, impressive bat caves, fantastic wildlife and trekking.

Organize a transfer from Bangkok to Khao Yai to make the most of your time inside the national park.

Hopefully, this Eastern Thailand travel guide has inspired you to explore more of the beautiful country and get off the beaten path. 

FAQ

When is the best time to visit Eastern Thailand?

It’s a year-round destination. You could plan a trip to the region during the durian season, from late April to June. Go in May to sample the famous stinky fruit and attend the Durian Festival in Chanthaburi. However, the cool and dry season ranges from November to early April, making these months perfect for lazy days on the beach. 

What is Eastern Thailand known for?

It’s known for its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and jungle. Pattaya, the largest city in the region, is known for its nightlife, but there are plenty of family-friendly areas in the city and around the region. 

How many provinces are in Eastern Thailand?

This region comprises seven provinces, five of which border the Gulf of Thailand. The most popular tourist provinces are Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Trat. You can also visit Chachoengsao, Prachin Buri, and Sa Kaeo provinces, all in the northern part of Eastern Thailand. This is where Khao Yai national park is located.

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