From lively cities to charming towns, from wildlife filled national parks to islands, from mountains to beaches, Thailand offers travelers a wide array of places to see. The country is home to beautiful beaches and gorgeous coastlines, ancient ruins, farming villages, hill tribes, Buddhist temples, modern cities, tropical islands, and so much more. So where should you go in this fascinating, diverse country? Here are the ten best places to visit in Thailand.
If you’re looking for somewhere in Thailand full of a wide variety of things to do, then the energetic capital city of Bangkok is the place to go. There’s something for pretty much everyone here. Historic and cultural sites, interesting museums, art galleries, floating markets, rooftop bars, nightclubs, Muay Thai fights, and more. As for food, dining options range from delicious street food to gourmet restaurants.
An ancient city of Thailand Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage city and a must-see destination for any history buffs. Easily accessible from Bangkok, the ruins take visitors back in time to the golden age of Siam. Highlights of the ruins include Wat Yai Chai Mongkorn with its tall stupas surrounded by rows of Buddha statues and Wat Mahatat, famous for its stone head encased within a tree. Taking a boat through the floating market is also a popular thing to do here.
Chiang Mai is a mix of nature and culture, home to hundreds of temples. Outdoor activities in the area include rafting down rivers and hiking to stunning waterfalls. One of the best things to do if you’re a fan of elephants is to visit one of the ethical elephant sanctuaries. There’s also the Chiang Mai Night Zoo that will particularly delight children. Other highlights in Chiang Mai include the night bazaar, a chance to meet the hill tribes, and Doi Inthanon, the highest point in Thailand.
One of the most popular provinces in southern Thailand, Krabi provides opportunities for an array of experiences. On the mainland, Krabi Town offers a great local vibe, while Railay is a paradise for rock climbers. As for the islands, Koh Lanta offers a laid-back atmosphere with mangroves, beach bars,and sandy beaches. Koh Rok and Koh Jum are good if you want to visit some of the less visited, smaller islands gems of Krabi.
Pai in northern Thailand was once a quiet village, but today it’s a booming town popular among tourists and backpackers wanting to explore the region’s picturesque valley. The Wednesday Market draws people for all over the valley, while just outside of town are gorgeous waterfalls, elephant camps, and spas. The nearby Pai River also provides opportunities for whitewater experiences.
There are many sides to Phuket, one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations and largest island. While many people visiting for the first time head to Patong, which is known for its water sports and nightlife, there are beaches here to suit almost anyone. Entertainment in Phuket includes clubs, bars, quite an array of eateries, and the exhilarating and famous Muay Thai fights. The Big Buddha and Wat Chalong are two must-see cultural sights, and Phuket Town has beautiful old buildings to see as well.
Koh Samui is a popular destination in the Thai Gulf that draws everyone from solo travelers and backpackers to families and couples on their honeymoon. The island is surrounded by gorgeous beaches like Mae Nam and Lamai. As one of the best places to visit in Thailand, there are plenty of places to eat, drink, and shop.
Chiang Rai is often overshadowed by Chiang Mai, but it’s certainly worth a visit in its own right. Sharing a border with Laos and Myanmar, you can visit the famous Golden Triangle, where the three countries meet. The area provides excellent opportunities for hiking and encounters with the local hill tribes. Highlights of Chiang Rai also include the Mae Fah Luang Garden (brave the suspension bridge) and one of the most distinctive temples in Thailand, Wat Rong Khun (or also known as the White Temple).
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
The fascinating Khao Sam Yot National Park is home to the largest freshwater marsh in Thailand, along with miles of jungle trails, limestone caves, scenic beaches, and mangrove forests. You may want to plan on more than just a day trip to this sprawling national park. There are a handful of bungalows and a small campground available. A boat ride along the Khao Daeng Canal is a good way to see the mangrove forests. Another site to see is the massive Phraya Nakhon cave, reached via a steep uphill hike.
Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park, surrounded by tropical forests and towering limestone mountains, offers some of the country’s most amazing landscape. In the heart of Khao Sok is Cheow Lan, a turquoise sparkling lake. The most notable feature of the national park, however, is southern Thailand’s largest virgin rainforest. The park also includes wild fruit tree groves, hidden caves, and cascading waterfalls. Along with hiking through Khao Sok, it’s also possible to go tubing or kayaking on the Sok River or even go on a ziplining adventure.