What are the best places to visit in Thailand? With a country full of culture and history, friendly locals and studded palm-tree beaches it’s no secret Thailand is home to some truly spectacular places, making it hard to choose what Thailand cities to visit!
Although the Islands anchored in azure waters are the first images that come to mind for many, Thailand also encompasses juggle-topped forests, diverse mountains and compelling ancient monuments.
Whether it’s the tropical islands, glistening temples, aromatic Thai cuisine or exploring off the beaten track that has got you falling in love with this diverse country there is something to do for everyone! Here are our best places to visit in Thailand!
Best places to visit in Thailand
Bangkok is one of the best places to visit in Thailand. The Thai capital has an incredible range of activities and tourist attractions to offer to any kind of traveller, and although it does feel overwhelmingly crowded at times, there are ways to get away from the crowds to quieter places, as well as ways to experience a bit of local action. I would recommend spending 3 days in Bangkok before heading up north to the quieter Chiang Mai.
There are many things to do in Bangkok. In fact, there are so many that one may easily spend a week or more than and never quite go through all of them. Among the unmissable things to do in the city, there’s visiting all the gorgeous Buddhist temples. Keep in mind that these are some of the most popular attractions in the city, so they get crowded, especially at weekends. Make sure, if possible at all, not to go on Saturdays and Sundays, and either way, try to visit in the early morning. One more thing to keep in mind when visiting the temples is that its appropriate attire is required for both men and women: make sure to cover your shoulders, chest and legs.
Another unmissable thing to do in Bangkok is eating. The food scene is simply incredible here. The best area for foodies is Chinatown, where every single day street food places cook the most mouthwatering dishes. Look for places with a line and that are packed: they are bound to have the best food. In doubt, doing a street food tour is a good way to get acquainted with local specialities. And make sure you check out the best floating market in Bangkok!
Last but not least, make sure to go out at night: nightlife in Bangkok is a lot of fun!! Head to Khao San Road for tasty street food, cheap booze and to good people watch, or Sukhumvit for some glamorous rooftop bars! And check out these best party hostels in Bangkok.
by Claudia Tavani -My Adventures Across The World
Editors Tip: Travelling between Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a good starting point and common route amongst travellers. There are many modes of transport and the North is so different from the rest of the country with a calmer spiritual vibe and many Hill Tribes. From Chiang Mai I recommendation flying into Phuket before discovering the Islands in the South.
Located in the mountainous north of the country, the weather is cooler, the jungle is thick and the laid-back vibe immediately brings a sense of calm (especially after the hustle of Bangkok City). This is the main hub for avid travellers who are exploring the north, digital nomads and a paradise for the foodie or shopaholic!
You can reach Chiang Mai in just an hour from Bangkok or Phuket by plane. Or for the budget traveller, there is the Bangkok to Chiang Mai Train or bus that is always a top pick.
Every Chiang Mai itinerary should include authentic Thai cooking class which is one of my favourite things to do in Thailand. For the nature and animal lover why not volunteer at an ethical elephant sanctuary, Happy Elephant Care is highly recommended! Exploring the markets and hiring a motorbike to venture to the nearby waterfalls are also interesting Thailand tourist attractions!
Despite its relatively small size, Chiang Mai truly has it all. Located 700 km (435 miles) north of Bangkok in a verdant valley on the banks of the Ping River, Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 as the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. I would recommend spending at least 4-5 days here although the last time I visited I stayed for over 6 weeks.
Editors Tip: The TEFL Academy have written at length about teaching English in Thailand as an option you could consider to earn money as you travel.
Most people when choosing where to go in Thailand often visit Chiang Mai but about three hours north of the better known Chiang Mai is the smaller, more laid back town of Chiang Rai. It has recently started to draw attention as one of the best places to visit in Thailand thanks to the stunning White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) just south of Chiang Rai. Not to be outdone, the northern part of the town has now also built its own stunning temple, known as the Blue Temple. Continuing on with the colour theme is the quirky Black House, an open-air art gallery filled with macabre displays, mostly made from bones and horns of animals.
Although the temples are some of the best things to do in Chiang Rai, like any good Thai town, you will also find great street food, right markets and plenty of places to relax with a traditional Thai massage.
While in Chiang Rai try the delicious local noodle dish Khao Soy. It is available in chicken, shrimp and fish versions for just a couple of dollars from Pho Chai on Jedyod Road
For a break from the delicious Thai food, call into Cat ’n’ a Cup cat cafe for some quality downtime with some furry friends. If you are feeling like a sweet treat while there, try the waffle stack – but beware, it’s huge!
by Josie- Josie Wanders
One of the best places to visit in Thailand is the full of nature, Pai! Even though there are many things to see, just driving around on a rented scooter and enjoying the stunning landscapes in the surroundings of this little town was our highlight.
You can find several great waterfalls near Pai which you can visit either by scooter or on a tour. Here you can even have a little bath and get some refreshment on a long hot day. Another option to have a relaxing bath around Pai is the famous Hot Springs. Unfortunately, some of them are overcrowded by tourists but we found one that is still an absolute insider-tip and usually only visited by locals.
Another great attraction of Pai is the Pai Canyon. It is the perfect place to see the sunset and it is super fun climbing around the cliffs. However, if you are afraid of heights this probably won’t become your favourite thing to do in Pai.
After spending the day in the wonderful nature, at night, you should definitely go and check out the night market. You can find everything from International snacks to traditional Thai food. My absolute favourite is the sticky rice with Mango.
by Vicki- Vicki Viaja
Out of 3 years in Southeast Asia I spend 2 of those in Thailand. Phuket was definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand if you looking for sea, city, party and a tropical feel.
The island being almost 50 km long has a variety of beaches, tourist traps, villages and secret coves.
Most tourists stay a couple of days in Phuket and often land up in Patong but there are many more amazing tourist attractions in Phuket!
Near the airport, In the north of the island, you will find the less popular villages and beaches. Nai Yang, one of Phuket’s more quiet areas with the very beautiful Banana Rock Beach is still a well-kept secret. I recommend a night or 2 in the area to get acquainted with what you would expect in Thailand before you head off to the better-known areas of Thailand.
When asking the Thais their favourite place on the island, the answer was mostly a beautiful lookout point call Promthep Cape, a serene lookout point on the tip of the Island. An area is known for its sunsets and riddled with coves, next to the pristine beach of Nai Harn. A 30-minute scooter drive from Patong would get your there and a stop in Kata or one of the many restaurants along the scenic drive is never a bad idea.
As you can see choosing where to stay in Phuket can be overwhelming, this guide on the best places to stay in Phuket will help you navigate no matter what your budget!
Something not to be missed while in Phuket is one of the many markets, the weekend market in the centre of Phuket is great for grabbing souvenirs at incredible prices. Thailand road food market is really great for an evening trip and will offer up some great foodie experiences in Phuket. If you want to explore the more city-like experience of Phuket I would recommend a night in Phuket old town.
Phuket has so much to offer and a couple of days in each of the areas in the best way to spend it! Whatever you do, make sure you don’t stay too long in Patong! Instead, take a day trip to nearby islands like Koh Phi Phi or Phang Nga Bay! Or slow it down with a bit of yoga, check here for the best yoga retreats in Phuket.
by Matt- Travel Tractions Marketing
Now for some Islands…
One of the best places to visit in Thailand is the luxe island of Koh Samui. It has gained popularity with tourist thanks to its many beautiful beaches, miles of lush mountainous rainforest, and 5-star beachfront resort.
There are several different ways to get to Koh Samui. The fastest and easiest is by plane, there are many flights daily from Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Another way is to take a shuttle bus from Phuket to Surat Thani and then take a ferry. This is cheaper a cheaper option (popular among backpackers) but will, of course, take a lot longer!
Although Koh Samui has a much more relaxed vibe compared to the partying neighbours of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan the island still comes alive at night to just be interesting enough. During the days take a day trip to nearby Ang Thong National Park for snorkelling, diving, swimming and kayaking or spend hours getting pampered in one of Koh Samui’s luxurious spas. The Kamalaya retreat is our top pick!
The best time to visit Koh Samui is from December to April. May through October is also okay but there will be a few rainy days. We recommend spending at least 5 days here to truly relax and take in those good vibes Koh Samui has on offer!
Thailand’s islands are the epitome of what a lot of people think of when they think of paradise, and Koh Tao is no exception. But what makes Koh Tao stand out over the rest of the islands is that it is a scuba diving mecca. With some of the lowest prices in the world, some of the best standards of teaching, and plenty of marine life, it has become the destination of choice for those wanting to get certified as scuba divers.
There’s a lot more to Koh Tao than just diving though. The island offers all sorts of both relaxing and active options – from enjoying the incredible sweeping white sands of Sairee Beach, finding a deserted sandy cove for a bit of snorkelling to exploring the island on foot on many of its hiking trails that will take you to some incredible viewpoints. And let’s not forget the nightlife, which is some of the best in Thailand!
We arrived here from neighbouring island Koh Phangan by boat- the ride took around 1.5 hours. We recommend staying at least 4 days here.
by Teresa – Broganabroad.com
Koh Phangan gained worldwide fame for being the party island of Thailand. But, there are other notable things that every traveller must know. Although the weather tends to remain fairly constant year round from April to June, you can avoid the crowds and take advantage of the lower prices.
During the day the island is relaxed, carefree and hippy. So, don’t miss some of the great spots like Amsterdam bar or Top Rock bar. Go for a good breakfast at The Fat Cat and for the best burger at Vintage Burgers. Don’t forget the Night Market for eating local food or shopping. If you like to party, go experience the Full Moon or another option is the Half-Moon, Waterfall party and jungle party. To stay with the vibe check out the best party hostels for the Full Moon Party!
A boat trip to Ang Thong National Park is on the top of the list, go snorkelling and diving. If you want to stay inland, you can go trekking, Phaeng, Thaan Prawet, Than Sadet waterfalls are some of the routes.
Discover the beaches at Koh Phangan! Our favourites include Haad Rin and the northern part of the island. The South West beaches are a little crowded due to the resorts. Haad Khuat aka Bottle Beach, Thong Nai Pan and Haad Yang (totally undeveloped, for a true adventure) are the places for you. In the North West part, Haad Salad (good diving spot), Haad Khom (for laidback vibes) and Haad Mae Haad (for sunset views over Koh Ma) are a few options.
Koh Phangan has a dual personality so, is an opportunity to combine serenity and adrenaline. For a more wellness experience try the Wonderland Healing Center; A Yoga & Vegan Heaven on Koh Phangan.
No short in options really, it’s a curious and unique place that you must go and discover for yourself.
by Sandrina Ferreira- The Wise Travellers
Koh Yao Yai
Everybody has heard of Phuket or Krabi. But not everybody is aware that between these two crowded places lie two wonderful islands, Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai, the latter being far less touristic than its sister. So if you want to avoid the Thailand crowds but not miss out on the stunning views, then choose Koh Yao Yai. Once you leave it and return on the mainland, to either Phuket or Krabi, you will see you get headaches from all the noise and crowds.
The best thing about Koh Yao Yai is that it has plenty of things to offer. You can take advantage of its close location to the beautiful Phang Nga Bay and enjoy a long day trip there. You can also do island hopping among the neighbour Hong archipelago which will spoil your senses. Or you can just rent a bike and discover the island which is filled with palm trees, rubber plantations, green hills, mangrove forests, small villages with friendly and smiling people.
If you want to make sure that you get memories to last an eternity, then you should go for dinner at the Glow Elixir Resort. We usually avoid resorts, but this one has an excellent restaurant facing the west, so you get to enjoy the sunset watching the calm turquoise water.
The best time to visit Koh Yao Yai is between December to April, when there are fewer chances of rain and the level of humidity is at its lowest. However, if you want to make sure you thoroughly enjoy the island, then allow yourself at least 4-5 days on Koh Yao Yai.
by Andra- Our World to Wander
Estimated days: 3-4 days
One of the best places to visit in Thailand is Koh Lipe! A complete paradise island in the Southwest corner of Thailand, and actually, if you continue your trip to the South, you will make your way into Malaysian waters. Koh Lipe is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park and is famous for the Sea Gypsies who occupied the island previously. The beaches of Koh Lipe are some of the best amongst the islands in the Andaman Sea, and this paradise island will be one of the highlights of your trip to Thailand.
It’s a small island, and you will get to explore the main islands in a couple of days. The main accommodations are found on Pattaya Beach and Sunrise Beach, whereas Sunset Beach is much calmer. Our favourite spot is the Northern tip of Sunrise beach, where there’s a sandy strip, the size of which changes according to the tide. Since most people don’t usually walk this long, you get to be almost alone here and swim in the crystal clear waters. There are several agencies that offer snorkelling trips to the surrounding smaller and not inhabited islands. Koh Lipe is much less a party place than other Thai islands in the region, but you will find good restaurants, bars and even some clubs around Walking Street, the only paved street on the island. For us the best time to visit is after the peak season finished, March and April have usually great weather and only a few people.
by Gabor- Surfing the Planet
Estimated days: 3-4 days
Famous for its beaches and for being a tourist hub where tourists stay at the gates of some of the most visited islands of Thailand such as Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh, we tend to underestimate Krabi. And the truth is that if we move away a bit from the main town and visit Krabi Islands you will find its charms.
See below our best of Krabi regions including the beaches of Aonang, Railey and Koh Lanta.
The truth is that, along with Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and the capital Bangkok, in addition to attracting many tourists, Krabi is becoming a digital nomads hub. Whatever reason takes you there, make sure to include it on your Thailand destinations itinerary!
by Inma- A World To Travel
There are so many beautiful beaches in Thailand and speak to anyone and they will have their personal favourite. I recently visited Aonang about a 40 minute drive from Krabi Airport. I wasn’t sure what to expect with it being on the mainland and I had heard it is popular with the backpacker scene so I was a bit concerned it wouldn’t be suitable for the families.
Aonang is a bit quieter than many other parts of Thailand which is why it is one of the best places in Thailand. Most of the action is on the main drag and if you walk to the bottom of the main street you’ll find Aonang Beach. Just on the corner across the road you’ll find a shop front window where you can purchase tickets to various islands not far from Aonang including Railay Beach, Koh Phi Phi, Ko Poda, Koh Lanta Yai, Phang Nga Bay are just a few. We took a day trip to Railay Beach which was only a few dollars and a 10-minute ride on a traditional long boat. The kids were a bit frightened on the long boat as ours was gathering water and we were packed in with no life vests, it was all good in the end though.
There are various restaurant and resorts located along the main street and set back into the hill. Our hotel the Aonang Cliff Beach Resort had an infinity pool nestled into the hill overlooking Aonang Beach. We were there just at the end of the wet season which might be why it was a bit quiet. Alannah had an ear infection and we were about to find an international doctors surgery also in the main street and I was very happy with the care provided. I highly recommend Aonang, for a more authentic Thailand experience and I’m sure you’ll find plenty to fill in at least a week or two.
by Sally- Our 3 Kids v the World
Estimated days: 3-4 days
Railay is such a great place in Thailand for its ultra-scenic beach location that offers a fantastic mix of relaxation and adventure! There are lots of things to do in Railey, the isolated peninsula that is cut off from the rest of Thailand by tall cliffs. Those looming crags provide for some excellent rock climbing, hiking, and even caving!
Yet that cliffy coastline also makes for a postcard-perfect tropical backdrop to simply relax at Railay’s gorgeous beaches. Kayaking, snorkelling, and island hopping are further beachside adventures to be had.
It’s possible to experience the best of Railay within a few quick days. Yet we’d recommend spending a week, if time allows, to fully unwind in this Thai paradise.
A longer visit would allow more time to take in some of the fun bars and local restaurants. We recommend sunset drinks at the tree-house platforms that hang over the Andaman Sea, which you can find at Tew Lay Bar.
For dinner, we suggest bypassing the resort restaurants to instead chow down at the more casual open-air establishments in the middle of Walking Street. They serve up fantastic renditions of the usual Thai favourites at attractive prices.
Yet the beachfront restaurants serve up the local seafood curries right alongside those dazzling iews. After all, it’s Railay’s amazing scenery that truly makes it a special and must-visit place in Thailand.
by John- Roaming Around The World
Estimated days: 3-4 days
Out of all the islands that Thailand has to offer, Ko Lanta is one of my personal favourites and one of the best places to visit in Thailand. If you are like me and wanting somewhere less crowded, less noisy or less expensive than the main backpacker islands in Thailand (Koh Phagan and Koh Phi Phi) then Ko Lanta is the place to be.
The island is big enough to not feel too busy, but with a scooter, you can ride around the whole island in an hour. The fabulous Mu Ko Lanta National Park sits on the Eastern side of the island. It is home to many monkeys and wonderful beaches
The roads are relatively well looked after by Thai standards anyway and many locals provide petrol stops along the way, making the island really scooter friendly. There is also a great variety of local restaurants, but the general vibe is a lot more chill and relaxing compared to the other islands.
As you can see Ko Lanta is one of the best places to visit in Thailand and cannot be missed during your adventures in this incredible country!
by Tasha Amy – Backpackers Wanderlust
Estimated days: 3-4 days
Off the beaten path!
Lopburi is a small but famous town in Thailand, around three hours from Bangkok by train or bus. It’s the site of several historic ruined Khmer temples and shrines. Most famously, this is where you can visit the monkey temple of Phra Prang Sam Yot. It’s a pretty impressive sight, absolutely teeming with monkeys. There’s also a monkey shrine, complete with giant piles of bananas to feed the monkeys. And, in November each year, the town hosts a Monkey Festival and serves banquette tables of food for the monkeys. They’re incredibly tame and not at all afraid of humans — in fact, the monkeys at the Lopburi Monkey Temple can be extremely aggressive, jumping onto tourists and snatching away their belongings. They rule the town, looking down from electricity wires and scampering around the streets in gangs. I actually found them pretty terrifying.
Lopburi is a really interesting place to visit, but apart from all this monkey action, it’s a small town. There’s not a huge number of additional tourist attractions, apart from historic ruins dotted around the city. I’d suggest a 1-day visit, or even a stop-off for a couple of hours on your trip north.
by Marie – Temples and Treehouses
Estimated days: 1-2 days
Don’t miss: Monkey Temple, Wangkanlueang Waterfall
For some people, Kanchanaburi is just a quick day trip from Bangkok with only a few hours on site. However, there is a lot to see around, especially if you are a history buff. In the end, I decided not to go with the flow and I booked a couple of nights in Kanchanaburi to explore the area with no rush. I focused my visit on the River Kwai and the Hellfire Pass, both with a sad story behind.
The River Kwai was part of the “Death Railway”, built by the Japanese army during the Second World War to connect Kanchanaburi (Thailand) with Rangoon in Myanmar. The railway was built by around 61,000 allied prisoners of war (POW) and at least 200,000 Asian forced laborers. It is estimated that a third of the allied prisoners died during the construction of the railway, due to the hard working conditions and tropical diseases.
Hellfire Pass is the portion of the same railway featuring the most challenging location, through the rocks and the jungle. To build the railway in this area the prisoners had to work under very hard conditions, using dynamite and rudimentary tools. Today, Hellfire Pass is a beautiful hike following the old tracks, with a small memorial for the workers who died there.
As mentioned, I spent two days in Kanchanaburi but I wish I had at least one more to explore some parts of the jungle and other sights. Kanchanaburi is very easy to reach from Bangkok: it is only at 2,5 hours drive by public bus.
by Elisa – World in Paris
Estimated days: 2-3 days
Don’t miss: River Kwai, Hellfire Pass
One of the best places to visit in Thailand is Ayutthaya. An off the beaten track destination and a city of majestic temples that is filled with such wonderful history. Walking around the many ruins in Ayutthaya takes one back to its glorious days, but there is still much to do in the city aside from reminiscing about the past.
Ayutthaya is perfect to explore for 2 to 3 days to experience all there are many things to do in Ayutthaya, hear and feel in this forgotten kingdom. A cruise along the river or a bicycle trip along its busy streets give visitors a peek into present-day Ayutthaya while the food is imbued with such rich flavour and culture, it would leave you begging for more. For those with limited time in their hands, a day trip to Ayutthaya can also be a rewarding experience. After all, it is only 2 hours away from Bangkok.
With visits to Wat Mahathat, Wat Chai Wattanaram and other significant temples in Ayutthaya, your eyes will be astounded by beautiful architecture and your body will feel lighter with the rich history of the paths your feet walk on. You might just feel in touch with your spirit as soon as you see the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Going to Ayutthaya is a truly inexplicable experience that you would have to try yourself.
by Ruben- Gamin Traveler
Estimated days: 2-3 days
Don’t miss: Wat Mahathat, Wat Chai Wattanaram, Ayutthaya Historical Park
Chanthaburi is a relatively unknown gem, which nicely breaks up the journey between the bright lights of Bangkok and the chilled out island vibes of Koh Chang (3.5 hours from Bangkok and 2.5 hours from Koh Chang). This is a fantastic option if you are short on time and want to avoid an internal flight or overnight train. Although, this sleepy old gem town nestled on the banks of the River Chanthaburi, and oozing in history, is worthy of a couple of nights stay in its own right.
Spend day one wandering around the narrow streets, gem markets (open weekends), the temples and cathedral (the biggest in South East Asia). On day two, arrange a songthaew to take you to Namtok Phlio National Park for a jungle adventure! Ensure you are all lathered in mossie repellant and pack drinking water. It’s a 20-minute drive to the gates and then 1km loop walk around the river visiting various pools full of large nibbling fish, fed by cascading waterfalls. If you’re brave enough, pop in for a dip with the locals!
by Jenny- Travelynn Family
Estimated days: 2-3 days
Don’t miss: Namtok Phlio National Park, Chao Lao Beach, Noen Nangphaya Viewpoint
Not your regular best place to visit in Thailand and until recently Buriram was always just an obscure and unknown Isaan city. After an unlikely establishment as Thailand’s “City of Sports”, as well as an upsurge in historical and cultural tourism in Thailand’s northeastern (Isaan) region, the city has now become an exciting addition to Thailand’s tourism landscape. And while the rather out-of-place stadiums will be the most popular tourist spot for domestic travellers, there really are some rather fascinating tourist attractions in Buriram city and the wider province, including the ancient Khmer ruins along the border regions with Cambodia.
When deciding where to visit in Thailand, Buriram doesn’t usually come to mind! But the off the tourist trial destination is a great Thailand destination for history and local street food! The most notable here would have to be the Phanomrung Historical Park, which makes up part of the ancient Khmer Highway leading from the better-known temples like Angkor Wat next door in Cambodia. And while these off-the-beaten-path attractions can be tricky to reach, Buriram is the easy entry point for tours, given it is the only major city in this far-flung region if Isaan. Again, as it is a developing destination for international tourism, the cafes and restaurants are still few and far between in the city centre.
Although there is no doubt plenty of top-notch local street food, shophouse restaurants, and Isaan food. But, for the more tourist-friendly restaurants, these are best found in the newly developed tourist areas, including the brand new open-air mall and night market (Buriram Castle) found within the massive stadium area of the city.
by Allan- Live Less Ordinary
Estimated days: 2-3 days
Don’t miss: Phanom Rung Historical Park, Prasat Muang Tam, Khao Kradong Forest Park
So that is a wrap up of the best places to visit in Thailand? What are your favourites? Comment below.
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