Found in Southeast Asia, Thailand is known for temples, royal palaces, lush jungles, world-class diving, famous beaches and amazing food. It’s also known as being a cheap place to travel offering a lot for your hard earned bucks! It’s also home to many iconic places seen in a vast array of movies. Now is the time to get inspiration to organise a visit to this interesting country. Here are 19 suggestions of the best places to visit in Thailand to help you plan your own fantastic Thailand holiday.
When planning your holiday to Thailand there are two main areas to consider visiting. The first is mainland Thailand where you will find the capital Bangkok and other notable jungle areas like Chiang Mai. The second area is one of the many islands along its coast. FYI, Koh is Thai for island. If you want to visit an island or two, skip to the second part of this post where you will find plenty of island inspiration.
Without further ado, here are the 19 best places to visit in Thailand.
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Best Places to Visit on Mainland Thailand
Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is where most people arrive in Thailand. A few days at least should be spent here to discover this vibrant city. It is easy to get around however, if it is your first visit I suggest doing to the hop on hop off bus tour of Bangkok first as it will take you to all the tourist spots and provide a commentary about the place. Then you can decide which ones to return to to spend more time. Then purchase a Go City Pass and use the local transport to get around.
Definitely visit and admire The Grand Palace before visiting one of the many unique temples like Wat Arun and Wat Pho and Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, a Buddhist temple in the Dusit District of Bangkok. It is also known as the marble temple, and it was my favourite on my holiday in Bangkok. Other best things to do in Bangkok are to shop till you drop at the Srinagarindra Train Night Market. Eat yummy food on Khaosan Road before enjoying a cocktail at a rooftop bar. And don’t forget to explore the famous Khao San Road.
I found 3 days in Bangkok plenty. I was all templed-out by then!
Contributed by Sharyn from Live Work Play Travel
Doi Inthanon National Park
Wachirathan Waterfall, Doi Inthanon National Park
Northern Thailand is the best place to experience Thailand’s mountain landscape and Doi Inthanon National Park just outside Chiang Mai is one of the most accessible. Home to Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon that towers 2565 metres above sea level, the trip from Chiang Mai will take about 90 minutes.
With natural trails, temples, waterfalls and small villages home to the Karen People the park offers a great range of things to see and do no matter what type of traveller you are. You can either join a tour or make your own way to the park via local transport.
The most famous site in the park is the Twin Pagodas. These two pagodas were built five years apart, the first as a memorial to King Rama 9 and the second for the Queen of Thailand when she turned 5 years old. The pagodas are surrounded by manicured gardens and at most times of the year give fantastic views over the landscape below. For many visitors this is the reason they make the day trip to Doi Inthanon however there is much more to see here if you have time.
Try to take at least one of the nature walks and stop at a couple of waterfalls. Wachirathan waterfall is a must. It’s located along the highway on the road just inside the park and is visible from the car park.
For a great day out remember to check the weather, being the highest point in Thailand it is much cooler up here than in Chiang Mai. It can also be quite wet so pack a rain jacket and wear shoes with some decent grip if you are planning to hike. Bring along some cash for your entry to the pagodas and to buy some souvenirs or food from the locals.
Contributed by Paula from Thailand Awaits
Railay Beach, Krabi
Krabi is definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand. Especially those who are traveling to Thailand for the first time will enjoy this magical Thai destination. This beautiful region is located in the south of Thailand on the Andaman Sea and is easily accessible by flight from Bangkok.
Famous for its fascinating rugged limestone cliffs, dense green jungle, snow-white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and breathtaking islands! The resorts of Ao Nang and picturesque Klong Muang are a particularly good recommendation for a vacation.
During a visit to Krabi, you can visit numerous sights. A highlight for me personally was the peninsula Railay with the world famous Railay Beach and the even more beautiful Phra Nang Beach. Definitely recommended is also a boat trip to the offshore islands such as Koh Hong, Koh Poda and Chicken Island, where there is a chicken head rock.
But that’s not all! If you like, you can go kayaking, explore the mangrove forests, hike to viewpoints, swim in the Emerald Pool or climb the countless steps of the high Tiger Cave Temple. Also nice is a visit to the Elephant Sanctuary Krabi, which is dedicated to the welfare of former elephants
Contributed by Martina from Places of Juma
Discover ruined temples at Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is the former capital of Siam, which was destroyed by the Burmese army. Siam is the former kingdom and country of Thailand. Today, Ayutthaya is a vast area containing ruins of temples, but you will also find active temples there. What made it all famous in the last years, is a stone Buddha head overgrown by tree roots. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of historical buildings worth exploring on a dedicated day trip. Add the Ayutthaya temple ruins (Wat Mahathat) to your bucket list. As well as the oldest temple with the huge golden Buddha (Wat Phanan Choeng) and the active monastery (Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon). It is recommended to get a guide with a transportation option because you will actually get to know more about the history and customs of the area. Besides, Ayutthaya is massive, and the heat is unforgiving, so getting around by car or tuktuk is a huge plus point! A guide will also help you understand and respect religious customs, which can be a bit overwhelming if you are new to Thailand or South-East Asia.
Contributed by Paul from Paulmarina
Loy Krathong Festival
Enjoy the krathongs at the Loy Krathong Festival
For the ultimate bucket list experience in Thailand, visit during the breathtaking Loy Krathong festival.
Loy Krathong is celebrated in November during the full moon of the 12th Thai month. (Meaning it’s on a different date every year.) It’s frequently associated with the worship of Buddha and the water goddess. It’s not necessarily considered a religious festival.
Small krathongs (floating vessels) decorated with flowers, candles and incense are placed on to water after making a wish and or symbolically letting go of negativity and allowing it to float away. The result is thousands of krathongs lit up and floating on rivers and lakes around Thailand.
This festival is celebrated all over the country. For a popular and favorite place of many to celebrate, head to Chiang Mai. Here Loy Krathong is celebrated simultaneously with Yi Peng which includes floating lanterns. You won’t want to miss it!
Enjoy this magical time in beautiful Thailand.
Contributed by Chelsea from Adventures of Chels
Chiang Mai Sunday Night Walking Street Market
Walk around and enjoy Chiang Mai night market
A much-loved Sunday night activity in Chiang Mai Thailand is the Sunday Night Walking Street Market. As dusk settles over Chiang Mai Old City, crowds begin to gather at ThaPae Gate to visit the markets which stretch along Ratchadamnoen Road and beyond.
Here you will find an assortment of stalls selling an interesting selection of Thai handicrafts, jewellery, clothing, and street food. As you browse the stalls you will be surprised by the quality and choice of articles on sale. Many having been produced by skilled artisans and artists. If you are hungry, you are in for a real treat as there is a wide range of local Chiang Mai delicacies to try.
Best of all is the atmosphere, the friendly banter of the street stall owners. The beat of Thai music. Sizzle and rich aroma of delicious Thai cooking. Bright colours of the wares and the golden glow of the lights as they reflect off the Buddhist temples.
Make sure to visit the Sunday Night Walking Street Market on your next trip to Chiang Mai. The market begins around 5pm and finishes around 10pm.
Contributed by Rosalind from Frequent Traveller
Koh Sok National Park
Enjoy crystal clear lakes in Koh Sok National Park
Koh Sok National Park is located in the Surat Thani province of Thailand. It is renowned for its stunning scenery. It features rugged limestone mountains, crystal clear lakes, creeks, and lush jungles all tucked away in an area spanning over 350 square kilometers. This national park is a haven for wildlife including elephants, langurs, and gibbons. The area is also home to some of Thailand’s most iconic birds like the Great Hornbill and White-bellied sea Eagle.
Not only is Koh Sok National Park known for its spectacular views, but it’s also beloved by foodies for its delicious cuisine! Many of the local eateries specialize in Thai dishes like Somtam (papaya salad) and Pad Kra Pao (stir fry with chili and basil). People from around the world come to Koh Sok National Park to take in its lush beauty, spot unique wildlife, enjoy mouth-watering food, and experience true serenity. We loved visiting Koh Sok National Park. You can do a tour for 2 days in Koh Sok National Park where you stay at the lake middle of the park and can explore the best parts of the park
Contributed by Alexander from Travel Your Memories
Bau Tong Sticky Waterfall, Chiang Mai
Bau Tong Sticky Waterfall
One of the best places to visit when you are in Thailand is the Bau Tong Sticky Waterfalls in Chaing Mai. They are not like any other waterfalls you have ever seen in the world. The crystal clear water here flows from a natural spring. Over the years the minerals have coated the limestone rocks and made them sticky. You can climb directly up the cascading water or travel down, either way, your feet will grip the rocks.
To get to Bau Tong you can either day a guided tour or drive the short hour outside of Chiang Mai yourself. Once you arrive in the beautiful there are three different levels to explore. The first one is the most popular and most likely the most crowded as well. You can walk down the wooden stairs to the right to see all the different layers of the falls.
Then take your time playing around and pretending to be spiderman as you climb up the walls. No matter what age you are you will have so much fun. You could spend all day at the Sicky Waterfall park, there is a little market near the falls where you can purchase souvenirs, food, drinks, and even restaurants too. Most people bring picnics to enjoy at one of the many tables around. Plus, it is free to enter making it one of the best things to see in Thailand!
Contributed by Abbey from Trips on Abbey Roads
Elephant Nature Park
Elephants at the Elephant Nature Park
Elephant Nature Park, located close to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, is an absolute must-see for visitors to Thailand. The park is an ethical elephant sanctuary, where you get to witness the majestic creatures in their natural habitat and learn more about global conservation. It’s an absolutely amazing place that should be on the top of your list of things to do whether you’re visiting Chiang Mai with kids or without.
Lek Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation and Elephant Nature Park, has devoted her life to the cause of improving the welfare of Asian elephants. Both in captivity and in the wild, and has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the issue on a global scale. Here, no elephant is ever ridden or mistreated in any way ever again.
You can visit for a half or a full day or you can book an overnight stay (pick this option if you can!). You will have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful park while also gaining insight into the fascinating histories of the elephants. Also watching them play in the mud, and taking a dip in the river.
For the ultimate experience, visitors can join the 1-week volunteer program. During this you get to know the beautiful elephants more personally.
Contributed by Babs from Mums on FlipFlop
Sukhothai Historical Park
Wat Mahathat temple
Located in central Thailand, Sukhothai Historical Park is a must-visit destination for history buffs traveling to the country. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers visitors a look at one of the original Thai capitals – from the 13th century. Get a sense of what life was like in the kingdom of Sukhothai as you wander through the beautifully preserved ruins of ancient temples and palaces.
Sukhothai Historical Park includes five areas, three requiring an entrance fee. The other parts have scattered smaller stupas, temple ruins, and statues that can all be visited free of cost while biking or simply roaming around the area.
Undoubtedly, the most captivating area within Sukhothai Historical Park is its central zone. Note that this part of the park tends to be rather crowded with tourists. One of the most famous sites in the park is the Wat Mahathat temple, a famous stone Buddha head that has become an iconic symbol of the city. The grounds also display a number of notable historic structures, including Wat Sri Sawai and Wat Tra Phang Ngoen.
Outside the park, don’t miss eating a regional favorite, the famed Sukhothai noodles – thin rice noodles served in a flavorful broth with chicken or pork.
Contributed by Catherine from Nomadicated
Bridge over the River Kwai
Just two hours outside bustling Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia’s most relaxing places to visit. Kanchanaburi is beautiful and has some of the country’s best historical and natural sights. The top attraction in Kanchanaburi is the infamous Kwai River Bridge. The steel bridge spanning the Kwai River was a major point in the Burma railway the Japanese tried to build and was the scene of some of the most gruesome events in Asia during World War II.
After walking across the bridge, visit the World War II war cemetery in town. The well-kept cemetery is the final resting place of thousand of POWs who lost their lives while working on the railway line.
To see the area’s natural beauty, rent a scooter and ride out to Erewan Falls National Park. The road goes through verdant landscapes, and it’s just a great drive. Several stunning waterfalls are scattered throughout the national park. You can even swim in them, so remember to bring your trunks.
While it’s possible to visit Kanchanaburi on a day trip from Bangkok, rather spend the night at one of the floating guesthouses on the Kwai River. It’s quite magical.
Contributed by De Wet from Museum of Wander
Temple, Nakhon Lampang
Nakhon Lampang in Thailand is an absolute must-visit destination for any traveler who wants to experience the best of the country and a place that hasn’t lost its character with over-tourism. Situated in Northern Thailand, this city is known for its beautiful temples, stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. It’s also home to some of Thailand’s most iconic monuments and attractions, such as the Lampang Elephant Conservation Center, Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao Temple, and Chae Son National Park.
One of the experiences we enjoyed in Nakhon Lampang was taking a horse cart for a little tour around the town. The cart will take you around the main sites and is a nice way to get your bearings in this lovely town.
If you like to visit Night Markets in Thailand, don’t miss the Kad Kongta Night Market every Saturday and Sunday. Here you can find many street food options and local artisanal products. There are many great restaurants to try including lunch at Khao Mun Kai Ha Yak where you can try the tasty dish of poached chicken and seasoned rice, served with chili sauce and cucumbers. Or Aroy One Baht restaurant with many tasty dishes including their rice for 1 baht!
Contributed by Asha from Hometravelguide
7 Best Islands of Thailand to Visit
Thailand has some 1430 islands, many uninhabited but some with fabulous resorts. Many people who visit Thailand love to visit the islands for water sports like diving and snorkelling and just relaxing on the beaches. You could visit just one island or, you could island hop. There is an extensive boat and ferry system in place that can take you from one island to another. For some inspiration on Thai islands to visit, here are 7 of the best islands to visit.
Snorkeling at Koh Mak
Koh Mak is great for snorkeling
Koh Mak is one of the lesser known and visited island in Thailand. It’s situated in the eastern gulf of Thailand close to the Cambodian border. The island is only about 10 km wide and 5 km long, which is part of its charm.
Around Koh Mak you will find a lot of places to snorkel because the water is crystal clear. One of the first spots to go to is the pier at Coco Cape Resort. You will see fish, coral and even sea urchins. Just hop in via the pier and start swimming.
Another great spot is the beach at Monkey Resort. The only downside is that sometimes there are a lot of sea urchins in the shallow part, which makes it a bit difficult to navigate.
If you want to explore the area around Koh Mak, book a snorkeling tour with BB Divers. They take you to a couple of location off-shore that are just beautiful.
If you want to go snorkeling in Thailand, visit Koh Mak!
Contributed by Rieneke from Boots and Sunshine
The largest Thai Island – Phuket
Phuket is the largest Island in Thailand. For years it’s been one of the most well-known and popular holiday destinations for tourists around the world. Natural sceneries, pristine beaches, and world-class resorts are some of the most important elements that made the island a big draw to not only international visitors but also the locals.
There is no lack of fun things and activities to do in Phuket. Family travelers can enjoy a wonderful time at the pool in resorts, sunbathe, have a walk in the night markets, check out the many water parks for a fun ride and escape the tropical heat. Honeymooners can have a romantic getaway at luxurious and exclusive villas. For active adventurers, hop on a boat tour and head to Phi Phi island, an outlying island with crystal clear sea water that is perfect for diving. Or visit Kata Noi Beach, it is a sandy cove with waves that is a surfer’s paradise. Coral Island is a magnificent Island that features beautiful Coral reefs and visitors can easily spend the whole day swimming and snorkeling in these waters.
Contributed by Kenny from Knycx Journeying
Lying off the east coast of Thailand, Koh Samui is the country’s second largest island. Known for its coconut groves, luxury resorts and spas, it is a must visit for couples, families and adventurers.
One of it’s biggest draws are the beautiful beaches on Koh Samui, each catering for a different type of traveler, but making sure no one is left out. Other must sees include the Big Buddha temple, Fishermans village, and the Samui elephant sanctuary, where you can feed and care for these gentle giants. For dinner, Coco Tam’s beach bar is unmissable, just make sure you stay until 10pm to enjoy the fire show on the sand (dubbed the best in Koh Samui).
One of the best day trips from Koh Samui, would be to visit Ang Thong National Park. It can be reached by ferry, and has plenty of stunning viewpoints, lagoons, snorkelling and kayaking opportunities.
Submitted by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
James Bond Island, Phuket
Iconic James Bond Island
The famous James Bond Island located in Phan Nga Bay – Phuket is an absolute bucket list destination in Thailand. The great thing is that you can visit the island for less than $50 on a day trip!
Leaving on the boat from Phuket you will go past many breathtaking limestone cliffs. Then you arrive at the magical James Bond Island – featured in the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Before the 1974 movie, starring Roger Moore and Christopher Lee literally no international tourists had heard about James Bond Island. Now, it’s popularity has exploded.
The beautiful thin limestone cliff of James Bond Island has a really unusual shape and rises majestically out the sea. It is very slim at the bottom and gets wider towards the top, so its precarious position is so impressive to see.
You don’t go onto James Bond Island. It is a really rocky pinnacle and so its beauty needs to be admired from a small beach opposite it on Koh Ping Ghan. Despite it getting busy during peak seasons, there are plenty spots where you can take great photographs without getting other people in.
Catrina from 24 Hours Layover
Thriving digital nomad scene and yoga community on Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is a small island in the Gulf of Thailand located right next to its bigger ‘sister’ Koh Samui. The island has become famous worldwide for of its wild Full Moon parties. Yet, it’s so much more than that. On Koh Phangan, you’ll find lush nature, perfect beaches, a high number of temples, a thriving digital nomad scene, a yoga community, and all the amenities one may need.
I loved how diverse Koh Phangan was. Every day could be different. You could go hiking to a secluded beach, to waterfalls, or climb a peak. Spend a day on a beach, perfectly happy. Work from one of the many cafés ranging from low key Thai to stylish ‘hipster’ ones. Or you could taste all possible Thai dishes, in local markets and restaurants, as well as cuisine from all over the world.
If needed, you could make your trip low-cost by staying in a simple bungalow on a beach or in a hostel. Yet, if you’d rather go for luxury, you could choose one of the many amazing Koh Phangan resorts.
Contributed by Veronika from Travel Geekery
Koh Kood Island
Pristine beaches at Koh Kood Island, Thailand
Koh Kood is a serene island located in the Gulf of Thailand, approximately 30 km from Trat, which serves as a ferry gateway to the island. You can easily get to Koh Kood from Bangkok, as many companies provide bus and ferry combo trips that take you directly to the hotel in Koh Kood.
Because of its remote location, Koh Kood isn’t affected by mass tourism, so you’ll enjoy nature at its best. I would advise renting a motorbike because this is the best way to explore the island’s treasures: waterfalls, beaches, and many mouthwatering restaurants. The average price to rent a motorbike is around 300 THB per day.
If you fancy visiting waterfalls, the best time to see them is during or shortly after the rainy season (June to mid-October). Otherwise, make sure you visit the scenic 800-meter-long Bang Bao Beach, the paradise-like Ao Tapao Beach, the Ao Yai Fisherman Village, the 500-year-old Makayuk tree, or rent a kayak and explore the mangrove estuaries. If you love diving, there are a few agencies that organize day trips from the island.
Out of many of Koh Kood’s eateries, my favorite place is the Relax House and Restaurant. I won’t lie if I say that they serve the best Thai food on the island. Actually, the place is so popular that you have to reserve a table in advance.
Leslie from Backpackers Thailand
Swim with the fish while diving Koh Tao
Sail Rock is one of the most incredible underwater landmarks in the oceans of SouthEast Asia. Called Hin Bai by locals, it is the tip of a large underwater rock that sticks out a couple of metres above the surface. Underwater Sail Rock is a spectacular reef populated by massive schools of fish and beautiful marine life of all shapes and sizes. There are many good dive schools in Koh Tao that dive here. Strong currents bring a diversity of pelagic fish. Chevron Barracuda and Big eye Trevally, while schooling Longfin Batfish and Giant Groupers also live on the pinnacles. The shark life around Sail Rock is world renowned and divers can see Bull sharks and even enormous whale sharks while exploring this area. This amazing pinnacle is located between the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand. It is often rated as the best spot for Scuba diving in Thailand. This amazing underwater landmark is easy to reach from Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan islands.
Contributed by Campbell from Stingy Nomads
Are You Ready to Plan Your Holiday to Thailand?
After reading these suggestions of places to see and go in Thailand, I’m sure you are just about ready to jump on a plane to one of them! Here are some logistics to help you plan your trip to Thailand.
Logistics of a Thailand Holiday
When is the Best time to visit Thailand
If you are wanting the best weather for your Thailand holiday, when it is the driest and the warmest, then the best time to visit Thailand is between November and early April. Note the temperature can hover in the mid-30 degrees (Celsius), high 80 to 90 degrees (Fahrenheit).
If you don’t mind the ‘monsoon’ or rainy season then you could visit between July and October. But if you like it hot, hot, hot and often humid, then visit from March to June.
Thailand is one of those countries that is quite cheap to travel in. However, If you are on a tight budget the biggest discounts on flights, tours and accommodation is usually during the monsoon season – July through to September.
How to Travel around Thailand
Thailand is one of those countries that is quite cheap to travel around. And there are plenty of options. The fastest option is to fly with major tourist destinations having an airport, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Phuket and Krabi. Bus, trains, tuk tuks, boats and ferries and even renting a car is a good option.
Where to Stay in Thailand
Thailand has loads of accommodation options for the traveler ranging from hostels to splurge hotels with everything else in between. Once you know where you will be visiting, book your accommodation. Booking.com has loads of options – to get pricing and availability go here.
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