Who travels where in Thailand? What is your travel style?

Thailand Regions and Visitor Numbers

Where Tourists Go in Thailand and Why

Thailand is made up of five main regions. Where you travel here can say a lot about who you are.

Whilst statistics can often be numbing and dull, they can also offer interesting insights into almost any subject. Facebook and Cambridge Analytica know this well, as do political campaign leaders. Using certain data that they hold about you, they can predict - with frightening accuracy - a whole lot more about your probable political leanings, religion, tastes, likes and dislikes. So, what might your chosen holiday destination in Thailand say about you?

Thailand regions map

We have made a simple bar chart to illustrate where Thais go on holiday in their home country, and which regions see the highest numbers of foreign or overseas visitors.

Thailand tourism by region and nationality

Based on statistics from the Thai Tourism Development Office.

What Does your Chosen Thailand Destination Say About You?

You have chosen to travel to Bangkok, Phuket, Samui or Chiang Mai.
You like: Chain hotels and restaurants, English language signs, and meeting fellow overseas travelers.
Travel to Bangkok or to the south of the country, and you will see numerous overseas visitors. In places such as Bangkok, Phuket and Samui, the sheer numbers of overseas tourists you will see reflect the importance of international tourism to the Thai economy. Travel to Chiang Mai, and surpassing the number of American or European tourists will be Chinese visitors travelling in large group tours.

You choose to stand out from the crowd and travel to Northeast Thailand
You are looking for: Immersion in Thailand: localized cuisine, and meeting the Thais themselves
The region that really stands out is the Northeast. Domestic Thai visitors are in a huge majority, with their numbers greater than Thai domestic visitors in Bangkok, the South or the North. Overseas visitors, however, are extremely few and far between here, with only around 1% of foreign nationals visiting this comparatively large area of the kingdom. Among the foreign nationals traveling in north east Thailand, a good number are repeat visitors seeking out something different.

The Main Regions of Thailand

  • The main regions of Thailand are generally broken down as follows:
  • 1.) Bangkok
  • 2.) Northern Thailand - including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Pai, Nan and Phrae.
  • 3.) Central Thailand - including Sukhothai, Kanchanaburi, Phitsanuloke, Ayutthaya and Ang Tong
  • 4.) Southern Thailand - including Phuket, Koh Samui, Trang, Krabi,
  • 5.) Northeastern Thailand or Isaan, including Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Nakorn Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai.

Tourist Arrivals in Thailand by Country - 2017 statistics

Thailand recorded 35.38 million visitors to the country - over double the number of visitors recorded 10 years earlier. The main originating country for overseas visitors was, by far, China - a market that boomed after the release in China of "Lost in Thailand", a film shot in Chiang Mai and released in China in 2012.

Neighboring Malaysians take the number two spot, followed by Koreans, Japanese and Russians.

Tourist Spending in Thailand: Where Does the Money Go?

In 2016, Bangkok outstripped both London and New York, with over 21 million arrivals. This figure emphasizes the importance of international tourism to the Thai economy. So, what do tourists spend their money on during a holiday in Thailand?

Whilst a budget backpacker or a student on a gap year may seek out the cheapest accommodation and eat at roadside stalls, older visitors and businessmen may opt instead to enjoy five star luxury hotels and meals in award-winning restaurants. Taken globally though, the tourist dollar in Thailand is spent as follows:

  • Hotels or accommodation: 29%
  • Transport: 27%
  • Shopping: 24%
  • Food and drink: 20%