Once one of the world's wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities, Ayuthaya's gilded temples and treasure-laden palaces glittered from kilometres away. Today the dozens of ruins offer a tantalising glimpse into its glorious past. Many sites have been partially restored, so it's easy to imagine how they must have looked in their prime.
Surin Islands Marine National Park
The five gorgeous isles of the Surin Islands Marine National Park sit 60km offshore, 5km from the Thailand–Myanmar marine border. Healthy rainforest, pockets of white-sand beach in sheltered bays and rocky headlands that jut into the ocean characterise these granite-outcrop islands.
Once the domain of backpackers and sea gypsies, Lanta has morphed from a luscious southern Thai backwater into a midrange-to-luxury getaway for mostly-European tourists, who come for the divine miles-long beaches unpolluted by jet skis (though the northern coast is alarmingly eroded) and nearby dive spots of Hin Daeng, Hin Muang and Ko Haa.
Erawan National Park
Famed for its seven-tiered waterfall, Erawan National Park is an extremely popular (ie crowded) place for locals and visitors alike. Erawan waterfall (trail open 8am to 5pm) gets its name as some people think the top level resembles Erawan, the three-headed elephant of Hindu mythology.
Ko Lipe is this decade’s poster child for untamed development in Thailand's islands. Blessed with two wide white-sand beaches separated by jungled hills and within spitting distance of protected coral reefs, seven or eight years ago the island was only spoken about in secretive 'rising star' whispers.