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Ko Chang & Eastern Seaboard

Two islands – Ko Samet and Ko Chang – are the magnets that draw travelers to the eastern seaboard, though the mainland has plenty of its own attractions, particularly the charismatic, old-world charm of Trat and Chanthaburi and the expat enclave of Pattaya.

Ko Samet, the nearest major island to Bangkok, is a flashpacker fave where visitors sip from vodka buckets and admire the fire jugglers or head for the quieter southern coves. Further down the coast is Ko Chang, Thailand's second-largest island. Spend your days here diving, chilling on the west-coast beaches or hiking through dense jungle – then recover in time to experience the island's vibrant party scene.

Fewer travelers make it to Si Racha or Bang Saen, though their seafood restaurants and the latter's long beach make them worth a stopover. Less serene is the raucous resort of Pattaya, with its hedonistic nightlife and family-friendly attractions.

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