The 20 Best Places to Visit in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in the world. There are so many places to visit in Thailand from tropical islands, beautiful temples to amazing rainforests and gorgeous mountains. And don’t get me started on the great food…… Because yes that’s amazing.
Whether you are a first-time backpacker, adventurous solo traveller, on a family trip or honeymooner, Thailand has something for everyone. And we’ve selected the 20 best places to visit in Thailand. Yes, of course, there are more than 20 amazing places to visit in Thailand, but hey…. why not start with these places??
We’ve selected trendy spots in Thailand to the more remote and less-travelled places. This list will give you a bit of everything from beautiful tropical beaches, historical sites to incredible national parks you can visit in Thailand. All to provide you with inspiration on where to go on your next travel adventure in Thailand. Let’s start now!
To make things easier we categorized the places to visit into 3 regions: North Thailand, Bangkok Region and South Thailand.
PLACES TO VISIT IN NORTH THAILAND
This city is a great stop where old meets new. Here you will find elaborate Buddhist temples, such as Doi Suthep, an exciting Night Bazaar to explore and the Old City. Every traveller who has been to Thailand will tell you that Chiang Mai is one of the best places to visit in Thailand!
If you are a foodie, this city will be your perfect fit with all the amazing cuisines of the city. Chiang Mai is a great starting point for your travel trip through Thailand since there are so many amazing places to visit in and around Chiang Mai and great things to do. Travel with ease and book your Chiang Mai tickets in advance.
The surroundings of Chiang Mai are breathtakingly beautiful, so you won’t regret adding it to your itinerary. This vibrant city is the Digital Nomad hotspot of Asia, and it’s located in Northwest Thailand up in the mountains. Getting to Chiang Mai is easy. You can catch the 1-hour flight from Bangkok or hop on the train from Bangkok which will take up more time but is also totally worth the experience.
Useful links Chiang Mai
Floating Lantern Festival
Okay. So this is not a place to visit in Thailand but one of the best experiences you can have in Thailand. Guaranteed you have lighted up a lantern and send it up into the night sky. But you may not have known that in Thailand this is known as the Loi Krathong Festival with thousands of lanterns. It takes place in November in Chiang Mai.
This is a magical event that many try to plan their Thailand or Asia trip around, so they get to take in the spectacular sight of thousands of lanterns lighting up the night sky and thousands of little boats with candles released on the river. This is a-once-in-a-lifetime-experience that you will remember forever. The next festival in 2019 is on the 13th of November and in 2020 on the 1st of November. Make sure to book your flight tickets in advance, because it can get jam-packed in Chiang Mai around this time. Book the cheapest flights with skyscanner.com
Thi Lo Su Waterfall
If you are the type of person who loves to take in the natural beauty of a country, Thi Lo Su Waterfall is one you will definitely want to put on your radar. This waterfall is located in Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, which is up in Northwest Thailand along the Mae Klong River. It is recommended that you take a guided tour from the Village of Umphang. Here you will be able to take in the gorgeous landscape as you hike to the waterfall. Being the largest waterfall in Thailand makes it one of the best places to visit in Thailand. After getting your workout during the hike, you can take a refreshing swim and raft along the river. There is definitely something peaceful being out completely surrounded by nature, especially when it is this breathtaking.
If you are looking for an oddish town, Pai is your stop. Once you visited this cute town, you’ll understand why it’s one of the laid-back places to visit in Thailand. Located in Northern Thailand, it is about a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai or a short flight. This town may be a little quieter, there is still plenty to see including the main street market full of food options and shop vendors. Upon the top of the hill sits the White Buddha waiting for you to explore, and if you want to venture a little outside the city, there is the Thai Pai Hot Springs.
It is a great destination for every traveller and visiting Pai means slowing down completely. This cute town is tucked deep in a valley and is surrounded by endless mountains where you get the chance to really enjoy nature at it’s finest and relax at the same time. A great way to explore the beautiful region is to rent a motorcycle. This will give you total freedom and is the perfect way to connect with the local people of the hill-tribe villages.
Useful links Pai
Elephant Nature Park
I truly love all animals, and when I travel, I never miss a chance to interact with and see some of the beautiful majestic wildlife in that region. In Thailand, there is the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand. It is about a one-hour drive from Chiang Mai and one of the best places in Thailand to visit and encounter my favourite animal: the elephant. This is not a ride on the back of an elephant but a visit to the sanctuary rehabilitation centre. You get to feed, play and learn about these amazing Asian elephants. The work the centre does is inspiring. And like this sanctuary, there are many sanctuaries throughout Thailand where you can volunteer and have the same experience: feeding, playing and really get close to the elephants.
Don’t ride on the Elephants!
Please do not book tours to ride elephants in Thailand. It was something on my bucket list until I learned the horrific story behind it. Spreading awareness is fighting against this massive problem in Thailand. A lot of elephants were mistreated and used for the logging industries in the jungles of Thailand in the past. Since this is prohibited a lot of tourism companies bought the elephants and used them for the tourism industry like offering rides. To be able to get elephants submissive to their owners they have to crush the spirits of the elephant.
That means beatings with sticks, chains or bullhooks, sleep-deprivation, hunger, and thirst to “break” the elephant. If you book a tour to ride an elephant means directly continuing this cycle. Visiting elephant sanctuaries is spending money on elephants in the right way. Giving the rescued elephants a chance on a new and free second life. For me, it really was a dream coming true. Getting so close to my favourite animals and contributing as well.
Up in the mountains of Northern Thailand, you will find a calmer city feel with lots to do in the city of Chiang Rai. It is a stop you won’t want to miss, and that’s why it’s on this list of the best places to visit in Thailand. Some unique offerings this city brings is the famous White Temple, also known as Wat Rong Khun, which is a spectacular site and definitely one of the top places to visit in Thailand. The town itself has a clock tower which is worth a stop by, and Chiang Rai is the perfect place to learn about the Hill Tribe Long Neck Villages and their culture. You can fly into Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport, or you can take the bus from Chiang Mai which will take around 4 hours.
Useful links Chiang Rai
The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is the old centre of the opium trade. This spot is rich with history and one of the places to visit in Thailand that you won’t regret. The Golden Triangle is in Northern Thailand where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. You can make it a day trip from Chiang Rai since it is only about a 1.5-hour drive away. Or you visit The Golden Triangle on your way to Laos or Myanmar. To take in some additional Thai experiences while your here you can take a long tail boat trip on the Mekong River and spend some time in the Hall of Opium Museum. The location also has a beautiful Golden Triangle Park to explore. Definitely a unique spot with it being where three countries meet.
Useful links Golden Triangle
Sukhothai Historical Park
Sukhothai Historical Park is a World Heritage Site. It is about a 7-hour drive North of Bangkok. The biggest attractors here are all the temples you can visit and explore. These temples are some of the most remarkable ruins in Thailand and include some well-known temples such as Wat Si Chum, Wat Sa Si and Wat Mahathat. This is one of the best places to visit in Thailand to enrich your knowledge of Thai heritage and history.
Nestled in the Northern mountains of Thailand you will find a quaint little town called Mae Sariang. It is about a 3-hour drive or bus ride from Chiang Mai. If you are motorbiking the Mae Hong Son Loop, this is a perfect stop on your drive. It’s a calm, peaceful stop but with also plenty to explore and discover. A few unique experiences this town has to offer are the Rice Paddy Fields, beautiful riverside views and the Walking Street Market. Mae Sarian really gives you a traditional Thai small-town feel. It is the perfect escape from the big city and from all the tourist-heavy spots in Thailand. And therefore one of the reasons why we’ve selected Mae Sariang on the list of best 20 places to visit in Thailand.
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The gateway to Thailand and the rest of south-east Asia is the fascinating city of Bangkok. It is the capital of Thailand and the biggest city in the country. The city is located in the southern section of Thailand’s mainland on the Gulf of Thailand. There are two major airports you can fly into when coming to Bangkok, either Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang International Airport.
There is so much to do and explore in Bangkok. Khao San Road is the backpacker and party street of Bangkok. For backpackers it’s excellent, but for other travellers, we advise you to visit Soi Rambuttri behind Khao San Road. It has a more relaxed vibe with plenty of hotels, restaurants, cafes to explore and plenty of places to get a Thai Massage.
For a little bit of shopping and experience the city life, the perfect spot is Siam Paragon. Get cultural by visiting the Bangkok Grand Palace which can get very busy so plan your visit as early in the morning as possible. Or visit the many other temples in Bangkok.
Drink the most expensive cocktails at the Famous Hangover Sky Bar, the Dome at Lebua State Tower or any other great sky bar Bangkok has to offer. Check out the best Sky Bars in Bangkok.
The best way to explore Bangkok is from the river Menam. It’s easy to hop on and off the longtail boats that connects all the major attractions along the river in Bangkok. Take at least 3 days to really enjoy Bangkok. It’s one of the coolest Asian cities in the world and one of the must-visit places while travelling through Thailand. Make things easy and book any type of tour in Bangkok.
Useful links Bangkok
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
I don’t know about you, but when I travel to a new country, I love to take in the culture and take part in experiences unique to that part of the world. If you are like me, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market will not disappoint.
Located Southwest of Bangkok in the Ratchaburi Province, you will find a unique water market experience. It is only about a 1.5-hour car ride from Bangkok. It is a market filled with souvenirs, local foods and clothing. The fun part is that it is all on the water. Sellers at the market supply their boats with their product and are selling the items right on the water. It is a great day trip to take in the local culture!
You didn’t get the full Thailand experience if you haven’t visited a floating market. Right? So put the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market on your list of places to visit in Thailand. And you’ll have an excellent experience to remember.
Here we have a Unesco World Heritage Site about a 2-hour drive North of Bangkok. You can get here very easy with public transportation. If you are in Bangkok, this is a good day trip stop where you can immerse yourself in the historic city of Ayutthaya. This is one of the places in Thailand every history buff needs to visit. At Ayutthaya, you can take in the history of the archaeological ancient temple ruins that are preserved here. Even if you are not a history buff, you will still love being able to take in the rich Thai history found in its old capital Ayutthaya.
See Wat Phra Mahathat with a Buddha’s head entwined in the roots of a banyan tree. Or go to the largest temple of Ayutthaya Wat Phra Si Sanphet also known as The Grand Palace. And for a fantastic view over the city, climb on top of Wat Chaiwattaranaram. This is one of most photogenic Wat’s in Ayutthaya where you can catch a beautiful sunset.
Useful links Ayutthaya
Khao Yai National Park
Another National Park option you will want to consider is Khao Yai National Park. Located Northeast of Bangkok, it is only about a 2-hour drive from the city. Not only is this the third largest National Park in Thailand, but it is also Thailand’s oldest National Park. Some unique stopping points are the Khao Luk Chang Bat Cave and Pha Diew Dai Viewpoint.
In Khao Yai National Park you will be able to see some amazing wildlife. You can easily spot elephant, macaque, barking deer, sambar deer, gibbon, porcupine and civet. And not so easy to spot animals like bears, gaurs, otters, dhole and jackals are also in Khao Yai National Park. In the neighbouring Thap Lan and Pang Sida National Park, they have seen a significant increase in the tiger population although there aren’t any sightings of tigers in Khao Yai National Park to this day. But that can change off course anytime as nature can surprise us.
The Khao Yai National Park is part of Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO. This area covers 5 protected areas from Khao Yai National Park to Cambodian border. So you won’t be disappointed to put this on your list of places to visit in Thailand.
Useful links Khao Yai
There is one word that will have you wanting to visit Lopburi, and that is…. Monkeys! Located North of Bangkok, you can take a 2-hour drive either by car, bus or train and you are in the Lopburi, aka the city of monkeys. This is the oldest inhabited city in Thailand and home to the Monkey Temple. Here you will get to visit the temple, but the best part is getting visited by the Macaque monkeys. They are cute, mischievous little animals that are a blast to watch and hang with. They are quick and will be hanging all over you, so if you love animals this is right up your alley!
Useful links Lopburi
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PLACES TO VISIT IN SOUTH THAILAND
Looking to do as the locals do? You will definitely be able to get in touch with the real Thai culture and immerse yourself in the local way of life with a visit to Hua Hin. This seaside town, located on the Gulf of Thailand is just a 2.5-hour drive south of Bangkok, and one of the top places in Thailand the locals like to visit. Either to get away for the weekend from Bangkok, a small vacation during the holidays or when they want to get married.
Hua Hin is a local fishing village and wonderful beach escape. Here you will not only enjoy the beautiful beaches, but you will find top quality seafood and Thai cuisine. Additional fun activities include Cicada Market, along with Chopstick Hill, Golf Courses and water parks.
You can stop for a day or two in Hua Hin just to relax while you are on your way to the south of Thailand or when you head back to Bangkok. You can catch the train, bus or taxi to Hua Hin from Bangkok or bigger cities in the south of Thailand. So it’s straightforward to reach Hua Hin.
Useful links Hua Hin
Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands are located southeast of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. It takes about an hour boat ride from Phuket to get to these islands off the coast. Locations on these islands are what you typically see when it comes to beautiful beaches in Thailand.
For example, there is the famous spot Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Lei, which has been in movies (The Beach) and is a top-rated tourist destination due to its beautiful landscape. The beaches are beautiful and surrounded by picturesque limestone cliffs. This is also a scuba diver’s paradise where you will be able to see all sorts of sea life such as whale sharks. Because it’s popularity, it still has its beauty but doesn’t have the charm as it had 15 years ago.
Thailand has put travel restrictions on sections of the Phi Phi Islands to help rehabilitate the natural habitat. Depending on when your travel plans are, if the beach you are visiting is off limits, you may still be able to see the beauty of the islands through tours where you can snorkel the waters around the beaches.
The Phi Phi Island has been on many lists of best places to visit in Thailand for the last 20 years. And with the rehabilitation, we hope it can stay one of the most beautiful places to visit in Thailand. If you’re looking for less travelled islands you might want to consider Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe or Koh Jum. These islands are stunning as well and a lot quieter and more peaceful than the Phi Phi Islands.
Useful links Phi Phi Islands
Looking for a little bit of everything during your Thailand trip? Phuket has it all. Nestled down on the southern sliver off the west coast of Thailand sits Phuket, where you will find beach, nightlife, temples and markets to explore. The quickest way to travel to the city is by flying into Phuket International Airport.
For the best beach, check out Phang Nga Bay where you can get your fix of those beautiful limestone cliffs unique to Thailand. You will definitely want to check out some of the ancient temples including Big Buddha. Finally, for a little fun and entertainment, there are the Patong Night Markets and the Fantasea Show. There is a little something for everyone in Phuket.
Useful links Phuket
Khao Sok National Park
Don’t forget to put Khao Sok National Park on your list of places to visit in Thailand. On Thailand’s Southern Sliver just North of Phang-Nga sits Khao Sok National Park. It is about a 3-hour drive from Phuket. This is a great way to get out of the Thai city life and immerse yourself in rainforest, diverse plants and wildlife, and view the beautiful lakes. It is a serene and tranquil escape that allows you to be one with nature. And did you know this park is the oldest rainforest in the world! Well, now you know!
Khao Sok National Park is one of our favourite places to visit in Thailand so make sure you don’t skip this beautiful park. You can go on many different tours that you can book at the entrance of the park, like boat tours or go on 1-day or multiple day jungle hikes. And it’s also easy to explore the park on your own and hire a guide for the day.
And sleeping in Khao Sok National Park is an experience you won’t forget. Yes, it’s more expensive than outside the park but when do you have the chance to sleep in a bungalow on the water? And take a refreshing dive into the green waters of Khao Sok National Park once you wake up in the morning. Well, that doesn’t happen every day so make sure to book your night in the park using the link below!
Useful links Khao Sok National Park
South of Phuket on the Southern sliver of Thailand is Railay. To get to this location, you can fly into Krabi International Airport and take a longtail boat from Krabi to Railay. It may not be the easiest to get to, but it is so worth it.
If you are looking for the perfect relaxing Thailand adventure, look no further. Perfect for every type of traveller, Railay offers the must-see limestone cliffs and gorgeous beaches surrounded by lush jungles. You can visit West Railay Beach, or you can get a little more adventurous and hike the Diamond Cave and go rock climbing. This location is top notch and so incredibly beautiful. You really, really want to put this on your list of places to visit in Thailand.
Useful links Railay
If you are looking for an island escape in Thailand that has it all, Koh Samui is number one! Located off the Eastern Coast of Thailand’s Southern sliver you will find picturesque pal-treed beaches, rainforests and stunning beach resorts. Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island. Not only does it have spectacular beaches you could spend all day at, but there are also coconut groves to explore and the Golden Big Buddha Statue located at Wat Phra Yai Temple. To get to this island escape, you can fly from Bangkok to Surat Thani and take a ferry over to Koh Samui, or you can fly directly into Samui International Airport. That’s how easy it is to get to Koh Samui.
The best part of Koh Samui is that it’s on the east side of Thailand. So you can visit this island all year round. There’s enough to do on the island, and you can easily reach the other well-known islands, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, by ferry.
Useful links Koh Samui
We hope we’ve helped you out with this list of best places to visit in Thailand. Let us know in the comments if you’ve anything to add or if you want to share some of your favourite places to visit in Thailand.