Whether you’re looking for picture-perfect beaches, exotic jungles, lively cities, or something else, there are an endless amount of amazing things to do in Thailand. This ancient country in Southeast Asia is filled with incredible food and art, unique cultures, and warm and friendly people.
Visitors come from around the world to immerse themselves in vast historical sites, famous spicy Thai cuisine, and beautiful beaches with soft sands and turquoise seas. But what are the top places to visit in Thailand, and what should you see?
In such a vibrant and diverse country, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve put together a guide of all the best places to visit and things to do in Thailand for those planning a visit to the Land of Smiles.
You’ll be able to travel by air to most of the major cities, as nowadays the country has a well-developed network of air links both domestically and abroad. However, many visitors find that when visiting Thailand, the best way to travel for the full experience is by train. It may be a little slower, but you can see more of the countryside and the amazing views the country is known for.
If you’re ready for some outdoor adventures, pad Thai, and palm trees, read on to see the best places to visit and top things to do in Thailand. You won’t be disappointed by this wonderful place.
You'll begin your full-day tour with a visit to the Grand Palace. Here, you'll be able to see the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as well as Phra Maha Monthian and other historical remains. After this, you'll also have time to explore Wat Pho, home to one of Thailand's largest Buddhist temples and containing a giant reclining Buddha statue inside. Finally, you'll check out the city's old town on a walking tour through Chinatown and Yaowarat Road (Klong Toey).
This is the most unique Thai cooking class in Phuket where you will learn to cook authentic Thai dishes from scratch. The hands-on training session sheds light on a wide variety of topics, including cooking techniques and ingredients used. Together with the chef, you'll be able to prepare your own dishes that will soon be served at the end of class.
Half-day Bangkok market tour from BKK. Discover the colorful and vibrant markets of Maeklong Railway Market and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, two of Bangkok’s most popular traditional Thai markets. Ride a train to the Maeklong Railway Market, uniquely situated on a working railway track. After free time for shopping, continue to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and cruise around the stalls on a longtail boat. Perfect for travelers who want an authentic experience of local culture and traditions but are short on time!
Show Table of Contents
- Map of Thailand
- Best Places to Visit in Thailand & Things to Do
- 1. Chiang Mai
- 2. Kanchanaburi
- 3. Pai
- 4. Chiang Saen
- 5. Trang
- 6. Ratchaburi
- 7. Koh Phangan
- 8. Mae Hong Son
- 9. Koh Chang
- 10. Ayutthaya
- 11. Hua Hin
- 12. Krabi Town & Province
- 13. Koh Tao
- 14. Sukothai
- 15. Lopburi
- 16. Phetchaburi
- 17. Bangkok
- 18. Khao Sok National Park
- 19. Khao Yai National Park
- 20. Koh Samui
- 21. Phuket
- 22. Chiang Rai
- What part of Thailand should I visit?
- Is Thailand a safe place to visit?
- What is the coolest place in Thailand?
- When is the best time to visit Thailand?
Map of Thailand
Thailand is a sprawling country with a mix of famous islands, rural land, and jungle. You can refer to our map of Thailand to get a better understanding of the various regions and cities to visit.
Best Places to Visit in Thailand & Things to Do
Include some of these top places to visit in Thailand on your itinerary. Almost every square mile of this age-old world will surprise and delight you.
1. Chiang Mai
Let’s start with one of the best cities to visit in Thailand, Chiang Mai. In the mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is an old city founded in 1296 as the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom.
You can still see the moats and walls from this period in the Old City district, along with tons of Buddhist temples. You could spend hours exploring the neighborhood’s narrow lanes, old buildings, and museums.
Include a visit to the famous temples of Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Phan Tao. Also popular is Bo Sang Village, famous for colorful, hand-painted umbrellas of all sizes. Buy one or a few for authentic souvenirs.
Two different hill tribes live in the surrounding mountains. Tourists love the opportunity of a close look into their lesser-known culture. On the way to visit them, look through the beautiful, lush forestland for picturesque waterfalls.
If you can, stop at the Elephant Nature Park to see elephants in their element in a unique setting. This is a rescue center where elephants are rehabilitated, so you can be sure that your visit is ethical.
An excellent hotel in Chiang Mai is the Phor Liang Meun Terracotta Arts Hotel. Close to the city gates and the famous night bazaar of Chiang Mai, this four-star hotel has a restaurant and swimming pool.
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The historic city of Kanchanaburi is known for playing an important part in World War II. It is found in the province of the same name, just west of Bangkok and bordering Myanmar.
The Kanchanaburi Province was geographically important during World War II because of its strategic location between Bangkok and Myanmar, called Burma. The Japanese imperial forces used it as a route to access battle sites on the other side of the border as well as in their attempts to conquer India further ahead.
During the war, Kanchanaburi was an important stop on the terrifyingly-named Death Railway. Beginning in Ban Pong, which allowed further connection to Bangkok, this rail route crossed the River Khwae Yai at the Death Railway Bridge.
Bombs destroyed the original bridge over the river in 1945, which was a major win for the Allied Forces in their attempts to halt the Japanese. A replica stands in its place and attracts visitors from all over the world who are interested in World War II.
The line is called the Death Railway because it was built by hundreds of thousands of forced laborers during the war, and a huge portion of them died during the work. The JEATH War Museum, also known as the World War II Museum, remembers these prisoners of war.
There is more to this West Thailand town than tragic war stories. The Erawan Waterfall is perhaps the most beautiful in the whole country. You can find it in Erawan National Park, along with limestone caves in an expansive rainforest.
You may want to spend the night in this city so as to not drive over two hours back to Bangkok at the end of the day. Natee The Riverfront Hotel Kanchanaburi, with a restaurant and pool, is a superb-rated hotel not far from the bridge and museum.
The adorable small town of Pai is one of the most popular stops in Thailand for its remote countryside feel. The village is in the Mae Hong Soon Province in northern Thailand, which we’ll discuss in its own section later, but Pai deserves its own mention.
Situated on the banks of the Pai River, it’s surrounded by hot springs, forested mountains, and waterfalls. In town, visitors can explore the stalls and shops of Pai Walking Street or find a cafe or bar and simply relax. Besides some amazing Thai food, this region has its own specialties with Chinese and Burmese influences.
Outside of town, a whole world of outdoor adventures awaits with activities like river rafting, hiking, and mountain climbing. If you’re looking for waterfalls, the surrounding mountains are full of them: Mo Pang, Mae Yen, and Pam Bok, are just a few.
If you’re looking to hike, the Pai Canyon just south of town provides sweeping views of the valley at the top of its trails. Adventurers love getting photos on narrow ledges over a sea of green trees below.
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4. Chiang Saen
Want to visit the oldest city in Thailand? With a culture this ancient, its only natural visitors want to see its roots, which can largely be found in Chiang Saen.
Found in the far north of the Chiang Rai Province, Chiang Saen is a sleepy river town on Thailand’s border with Myanmar and Laos. This is where the infamous “Golden Triangle” between the three countries forms.
Unfortunately, this nickname stems from the region’s historical reputation as a major production center of the drug opium. But, there’s no need to worry about this as a danger to your trip. The drug trade here has declined in recent decades, and tourists are safe when visiting.
The more important significance of Chiang Saen is that its location at the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak Rivers makes it a strategic place for the trade that runs along them. Products from Myanmar, Laos, and China find their way into Thailand by way of riverboat here, as do components of their cultures and cuisines as well.
Besides remnants of history beginning in the seventh century, there are also temples to explore, such as Wat Pa Sak and Wat Phra That Pha Ngao. You’ll also want to take a walk along the Mekong River. Be sure to try some delicious Thai food from one of the street vendors.
If you want to enjoy the slow pace of Chiang Saen, it’s easily accessible from Chiang Rai by bus. Bring your passport if you want to hop to the other side of the borders, where a popular attraction is to visit the casinos lining the Mekong.
Now, let’s go to the beach! One of the best things to do in Thailand is explore the islands and mountains of Trang Province.
Trang is surrounded by wild beauty, filled with friendly faces, and known for amazing Thai food. This province is in southern Thailand on the long peninsula shared with Myanmar and Malaysia, on the Andaman Sea side.
During the day, visitors can easily hop to and from the many surrounding islands by renting a boat. All have white sand beaches and warm waters, making for the most relaxing beach escape you can imagine.
Back in Trang city, lots of festivals are held throughout the year. A favorite for visitors is the Trang Cake Festival, where you can try all kinds of delicious cakes with flavors like orange and coffee. But at any time of the year, you can check out their unique blend of Malay, Indian and Indonesian cuisine at the Night Market or Cinta Walking Street.
While your stay in Trang Province will probably be pretty hot, a fun stop on the way to or from the coast is the Kantang Hot Spring Forest Park. It’s free to enter, although donations are accepted, and you can find spa-like facilities among the natural springs. The Hop Inn Trang is a solidly good hotel conveniently located in town with air-conditioning and balconies.
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Ratchaburi is a province and one of the top places to visit in Thailand due to its natural beauty and famous Damneon Saduak floating market. This part of Thailand is located just west of Bangkok, making it an easy day trip or overnight from the capital.
At the famous floating market, vendors hawk food and souvenirs in the khlongs, or canals, from wooden boats. Visiting the floating markets is a fun, touristy thing to do that also feels very authentic.
Other big draws are the hot springs of Bo Khlong and Khao Chon terraced waterfall. Visitors from around the world love the caves and mountains of this scenic province. In fact, it’s a great place to go rock climbing if you are looking for some over-the-top excitement.
If you’re just looking to get to the floating market from Bangkok, you can take a guided tour to Damneon Saduak with door-to-door service, so you don’t have to worry about getting there. But, you just may find that you want to stick around this beautiful province.
7. Koh Phangan
This island in the Gulf of Thailand is one of the best places to visit in Thailand, especially if you like a good party. It’s just north of its more famous counterpart, Koh Samui.
The all-night Full Moon Party is held every month and draws fun-seekers and backpackers to the peninsula of Haad Rin. The white sand beaches on the other end of the island, Hat Khuat and Hat Thian are quieter and more secluded when you need some peace.
Other than the monthly lunar festivities, this tropical paradise has perfect weather and endless natural beauty, which doesn’t end on the turquoise water’s surface. World-class scuba diving is easy to book here, and you can even get certified if you need to.
Koh Phangan has an excellent marketplace in the Thong Sala night market. You’ll find excellent seafood, amazing street food, and other local cuisines here. For a few baht, rent a motorbike or scooter for independent exploring. Or, head to the hills for a gorgeous hike.
We suggest going full-on resort here. Treat yourself to the extra amenities and privacy at any of the beautiful retreats like Baan Manali Resort. If you are just looking for a party and you are staying on Koh Samui, there is actually a speedboat and van transfer service that will take you straight to the action at night.
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8. Mae Hong Son
The province of Mae Hong Son is another of the top places to visit in Thailand because of its scenic mountain ranges and slower pace. The province sits in northwestern Thailand on the border with Burma.
Mostly shrouded in mist, it has an ethereal vibe. Few tourists make it here, but the ones that do come seek peace, quiet, and wild natural beauty.
The best way to get to this remote paradise is by flying from Chiang Mai. You can also take a minibus, but any routes through the mountains are arduous, and you should prepare for a little queasiness because of the switchbacks. Once you’ve reached Mae Hong Son, you’ll be enchanted.
This province is home to most of the routes of the famous Mae Hong Son Loop. Visitors who take on this multi-day excursion track will really get off the beaten path and see a very authentic, exotic Thailand. Mountains, rivers, tiny villages, and amazing food await anyone who embarks on it.
Part of the Mae Hong Son Loop ventures into the neighboring Chiang Mai province, and a small diversion will take you to Doi Inthanon National Park. The hiking trails in this vast preserve will show you some of the most beautiful views in the country from the mountaintops as you pass temples, pagodas, and surreal waterfalls.
If Doi Inthanon National Park is catching your eye, but you don’t have time to make the full loop, you can still reach it from Chiang Mai. There are several guided tours of different hiking levels and durations that can take you straight from the city and back.
The Fern Resort Mae Hong Son is close to the airport with a free shuttle service. This retreat features charming bungalows with air-conditioning and balconies.
9. Koh Chang
One of the best places to visit in Thailand for hiking in unspoiled, rugged beauty is the island of Koh Chang. It’s a large island in the eastern part of the country, close to the Cambodian coastline.
Mu Ko Chang National Park has challenging trails with incredible tiered waterfalls. On Koh Chang’s coast, beaches and little towns beckon backpackers.
Diving and snorkeling the crystal clear waters are popular activities, as is seeing the wildlife on land. Unfortunately, elephant rides are offered, but we don’t recommend them. The animals aren’t usually treated well, and you can’t see anything from them.
The only way onto the island is by ferry, making this an isolated place. Many visitors take the bus, typically from Bangkok or Pattaya, to one of the ports to get to Koh Chang. For lovely air-conditioned guest accommodations with free wifi and a swimming pool, try Koh Chang Paradise Resort & Spa.
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Ayutthaya, just north of Bangkok, is one of the most popular cities in Thailand because of its history as one of the capitals of the Kingdom of Siam. The ruins are now a part of the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This archaeological site holds palaces, temples, and many statues.
The park sits on an island between the three rivers of Menam, Lopburi, and Pasak. You could spend days here learning about the area’s significant history.
The Buddhist temple called Wat Chaiwatthanaram is one of the most visited sites in the park, thanks to its impressive beauty. Its seventeenth-century architectural ruins are actually quite well-preserved, and their spot on the riverside is wonderfully tranquil.
Across the river, Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the most important temple on the site. The Burmese thoroughly plundered it, but hundreds of little Buddha statues were spared. They’re now on display in Bangkok at the National Museum. However, many of Ayutthaya’s Buddhas have been scattered around the world.
Another famous Buddha at Ayutthaya is a statue’s stone head intertwined in the roots of a tree. After its temple was abandoned, potentially after the Burmese invasion, during which they toppled and broke many Buddha statues, the head ended up in a growing tree. The tree has wrapped itself around the head for hundreds of years, creating an iconic scene that’s still sacred.
The best way to see Ayutthaya’s treasures is by renting a bike to travel between the ruins. You can also easily take a tour of the ancient city from Bangkok.
Spending at least one night here is recommended since there’s so much to see. Baan Luang Harn has a superb rating and offers a swimming pool and garden.
11. Hua Hin
The delightful seaside city of Hua Hin is one of the best places to visit in Thailand and was once a summer residence for the Thai royal family. This stretch of coastline is the first you will encounter when crossing from Phetchaburi province to Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Hua Hin is a cosmopolitan resort town with upscale shopping, dining, and championship golf. You will find traditional markets too. This is the ideal retreat for families as it’s laid back with friendly Thai people and easy to get to.
The area was developed largely in the early 1920s when the royal family took an interest in it and had a palace built. The Maruekhathaiyawan Palace is now open to visitors who love to see its Victorian design.
The Hua Hin Train Station is wonderfully Instagrammable because of its unusual Victorian-Thai style. You don’t have to have a ticket to take a souvenir pic.
There is no shortage of markets to find souvenirs and tasty street food. The Cicada Market is where you can find handmade art. The Hua Hin Night Market is vibrant and amazing, with fresh and cheap seafood for sale alongside other wares.
Visitors also like the Plearn Wan Shopping Village done in a vintage 1960s style. There are shops, cafes, and even open-air movies. For big family fun, plan a day at Black Mountain Water Park or the Vana Nava Water Jungle. Cool off with water slides, a wave pool, a kids’ pool, and a lazy river at one or both of these water parks.
For accommodations, the five-star Hua Hin Marriott Resort and Spa is a full-service hotel with all the modern comforts. Hua Hin is no problem to get to. Buses, trains, and mini-vans make frequent trips to and from Bangkok.
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12. Krabi Town & Province
Krabi Town’s laidback vibe makes it one of the top places to visit in Thailand and a wonderful chance to experience typical Thai life. Located in southern Thailand, it lies just across the bay from the tourist resort town of Phuket.
Many visitors pass through Krabi Town on their way to other better-known tourist spots. But for those that stick around, the friends they make and the treasures they see are worth making Krabi Town a true destination.
Tiger Cave Temple is an iconic wonder made of caves nestled in the jungle. Monks still live and worship in this beautiful area. If you can handle the climb, there is a hike up to a limestone tower. At the top are incredible views of the Andaman Sea as well as “the Buddha’s footprint.”
Another Instagrammable attraction is the peaks of the Khao Khanab Nam Mountains. Inside them are caves where many human skeletons have been found–likely ancient people trapped there by floodwaters.
The Krabi Hot Springs is another fantastic place for a dip. Thermal spring water fills natural bathtubs carved out of rock, and its natural mineral salts soothe muscles and are said to cure other ailments. Taking a soak in the rainforest is as relaxing as any bath can get.
Take an evening stroll along the Krabi Riverside to Thara Park to catch cool sea breezes and watch the boat traffic. This is also where you can board a boat for an island hopping tour, which is highly recommended.
The Koh Phi Phi islands are some of the most picturesque and popular to visit from Krabi. One of the most iconic is James Bond Island, famously featured in the 1974 movie. There are plenty of speed boat tours and sunset cruises that can get you to these amazing places.
Compared to the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s big cities, this small metro area with so much to do and see feels like an oasis. If you’re ready to make Krabi a destination, consider the Ingnam Pool Villa, a 4-bedroom house with a pool and free parking centrally located in Krabi Town.
13. Koh Tao
Visiting the island of Koh Tao is one of the best things to do in Thailand list because of its exciting restaurants, nightclubs, and amazing diving. This tiny island is just north of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
This is a popular place to visit for international tourists as well as Thai people. So, it can become crowded on long weekends. The main attractions are definitely the beaches and diving. There are plenty of dive shops around offering excursions, and even beginners can take certain diving tours without prior experience. For those who fall in love with the sport, there are great deals on full scuba certification courses.
The only way to reach the island is by boat, either from Koh Phangan or Chumphon on the mainland. If you just want to get a taste of the island for a day, you can take a snorkel tour from Koh Samui that will get you to the best parts of Koh Tao.
There are many guesthouses and inns available if you’re looking to spend a night or more. Cape Shark Villas, for example, is a full-service resort with a private beach rated highly.
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One of the best cities to visit in Thailand is another quiet, thoughtful place full of history and culture. Sukothai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the central countryside with countless important sites and ruins. From 1238 until 1438, it was the capital of Siam–the very first–and considered the birthplace of Thai culture. The name means the dawn of happiness, and during its kingdom’s reign, it was a place of great prosperity.
Wat Mahathat, a large compound of temples and ancient ruins, is the region’s spiritual center and was once considered the center of the universe. It’s one of the most photographed places in the city, especially with its sitting Buddha behind collapsed columns.
Consider renting a motorbike if you want to see all the temples and statues on this fascinating historical site. The park is not far from the city, but hiring a tuk-tuk is the best way to get there.
Sriwilai Sukhothai is a hotel focused on giving guests a local experience. They offer a spa with a pool, and all guest rooms have a private balcony.
Lopburi is one of the most popular cities in Thailand for tourists due to its famous Macaque monkey population, which is thought to bring good luck. This is another destination just north of Bangkok, making for easy access by road.
Yes, the wild monkeys are mischievous but also kind of cute. Bring a sense of humor, and don’t look as if you have anything good to eat with you. Don’t make the mistake of wearing a necklace unless you plan to gift it to a monkey!
Lopburi is also an ancient city with incredible ruins, a palace, and Khmer-era temples. Vendors sell local delicacies like coconut jelly mushrooms alongside souvenirs. The area is quite fascinating and charming.
The best way to get to Lopburi is to take a van, bus, or train from Bangkok. The train is slower but way more scenic. Once there, you can easily explore the old city zone where the Khmer temples and ruins (and monkeys!) are on foot.
Phetchaburi should be on any culture seeker’s best places to visit in Thailand list as it’s rich in art and lore. This is one of the first provinces on the Malay Peninsula as you venture south from Bangkok.
It offers amazing temples and shrines, interesting markets, and classic wooden shopping centers. One of the city’s highlights is Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, which was once a royal summer residence.
This coastal city is also an ancient one adjacent to Thailand’s largest national park. Kaeng Krachan National Park features a large lake, waterfalls, and tons of wildlife.
Surrounding the city, high in the hills, are many caves with fascinating shrines and statues–including seated and reclining Buddha figures–deep inside them. Nearby, a few uncrowded beaches, each with its own vibe, offer a fun way to spend an afternoon sunbathing or swimming.
One of them, Had Puek Tian beach, does not have swimming, but it does have intriguing statues emerging from the water. It’s great for photography and is an example of how Phetchaburi is an art and culture lover’s paradise.
The capital city of Bangkok definitely makes it onto our top places to visit in Thailand list. It’s a large, modern city filled with ancient shrines and temples.
It’s also famous for teeming with Thai hospitality. Bustling with tourists and residents, Bangkok offers a feast for the senses. Whether you want to eat pad Thai, relax with a real Thai massage, or watch an exciting Muay Thai Fight, you’ll find it all in Bangkok.
Tour the golden temples, float through the markets on the canals, or shop for anything and everything. The Bangkok Grand Palace is a beautiful tourist favorite where the Kings of Siam resided for centuries. The top temples in the capital are the breathtaking Wat Pho, the monumental Wat Arun, and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha – the most sacred in Thailand.
The food in Bangkok is divine as well. Whether from a street stall or a world-class restaurant, you’ll discover flavors found nowhere else on the planet. Even if you are more of a fine dining type of traveler, make it a point to eat street food at least once on your trip.
The city is also known for its nightlife and anything-goes districts. As mentioned, many stadiums and local venues around the city can allow you to see a Muay Thai fight. It’s essentially Thai boxing, and as Thailand’s national sport, it is definitely well-regarded entertainment.
Make the highly rated Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok your home base in the city. It’s a modern high rise with a pool, spa, and several restaurants in a quieter riverside location, just a short ride to the Grand Palace Bangkok and other top attractions.
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18. Khao Sok National Park
Undoubtedly one of the most scenic natural places in Thailand, the vast expanse of Khao Sok National Park is in a remote mountain range along the shores of a massive lake. This national park is a bit north of Krabi and Phuket.
A new road (with a tollgate) provides access to one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets. Towering limestone cliffs, pristine jungle, and amazing wildlife make it a top destination for those looking for an adventure off the beaten path.
The stunning Rafflesia kerrii, one of the world’s largest and fluffiest flower blooms, is only one of the natural wonders waiting in this unusual and beautiful national park in southern Thailand. This parasitic plant can grow up to several feet in diameter and has a pungent smell that attracts insects for pollination.
More than 400 species of birds, including hornbills, woodpeckers, barbets, and kingfishers, are found here, along with monkeys, elephants, gaurs (wild ox), and boars. Some of the best activities in Khao Sok National Park include exploring the jungle by foot or on an elephant, cruising down the river on a bamboo raft, and swimming.
Our top tip, though, is to take a boat tour on the lake no matter what else you do in the park. Between floating villages, traditional fishing boats, and the dramatic cliffs and rock formations that line the banks, you will see sights that look like they came off of a postcard.
The best way to reach Khao Sok National Park is via Takua Pa town. From there, visitors can take a bus to the visitors center of the park. Another option is to take a minibus or taxi directly from Phuk.
19. Khao Yai National Park
If national parks sound like they belong on your list, Khao Yai is an easy one to add to a stay in Bangkok, as it can be reached in under three hours by road. Khao Yai National Park is best known for its wide range of natural habitats and the variety of animal life it supports.
Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s oldest and most-visited national park. The park’s forests comprise many different plant types, including mixed deciduous, evergreen, pine, and teak. It has an abundant population of birds, reptiles, and mammals.
The best time to visit Khao Yai is during the dry season, which lasts from November to April. You’ll still be able to see the rushing waterfalls, along with the wildlife that the park is known for.
Getting to Khao Yai National Park from Bangkok is best done by car or bus. A taxi ride from the capital takes just over two hours. Regular buses are also available but require a transfer in Pak Chong.
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20. Koh Samui
One of Thailand’s most famous tourist islands is Koh Samui. Located just off the coast of the Malay Peninsula, it can be reached by a quick ferry trip or by flight, the latter being the more common choice.
Koh Samui is a bit of a high-end, posh island with plenty of luxurious resorts and villas. If you’re looking for an escape to white sand beaches, tranquil spas and accommodations, and dramatic jungle scenery, this is your Thailand destination.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t adventure to be had in Koh Samui. There are lots of beautiful Buddhist temples that Thailand is known for, with the most famous being Wat Phra Yai or Big Buddha. Its sacred golden statue is around 40 feet tall, and its prominent location makes it easy to spot.
There are also excursions like jeep jungle safaris, sunset cruises, and boat trips to tiny offshore islands where pigs swim in the ocean! If you are looking to see the island on your own, consider renting a car with a driver, as driving in Thailand isn’t for the faint of heart.
As mentioned, this is a luxurious resort island, so you may want to go all-out and stay at a place like Conrad Koh Samui. You can stay in your own villa on the beach with a private pool and enjoy some of the finest dinings on the island at its restaurants.
Well-known in the western world as a Thai paradise where so many tourists come to party like there’s no tomorrow, Phuket is also home to some of Thailand’s best hotels and beaches. It is the other major gateway to the more remote islands of Phang Nga Bay as well.
Phuket is technically an island but a very large one connected by a bridge to the rest of Thailand. It has a major airport that is served by flights from Bangkok as well as many major cities worldwide.
Phuket is a busy and historic place with colorful buildings and mansions on narrow streets. It’s a great stop for souvenir shopping and street food, and it is one of the spots to find the nightlife Phuket is famous for.
Many island hopping boat tours depart from or near Phuket town. It’s one of the departure points to see the Koh Phi Phi Islands and Bamboo Islands, to which you can take a speedboat tour. James Bond Island is also reachable by day trip from here.
If you’ve had enough adventure and you’re ready to lay under a coconut tree on the beach, Mai Khao Beach is a good place to look for a spot. This long stretch of sandy shoreline is also where some of the biggest luxury resorts are found at unbelievably low prices.
There are plenty of beachfront accommodations to choose from, but the Melia Phuket Mai Khao is a great choice. Rooms are luxuriously appointed with modern amenities; every room has a garden terrace.
22. Chiang Rai
Finally, we’re taking you back to northern Thailand for one last surreal place to visit in this beautiful country: the province of Chiang Rai. Bordering the neighboring countries of Laos and Myanmar, this is a very remote part of Thailand, making it all the more interesting.
You might recognize Chiang Rai from the story that caught the world’s attention a few years ago when a youth soccer team got trapped in a flooded cave in the province. They miraculously survived the several-week ordeal and had to be removed by expert scuba divers.
While that’s a bit of a scary story, it has a happy ending, and it’s no reason not to visit this remarkable province. Vast rice paddies cover the countryside below mountains and rainforests, making for wonderfully scenic vistas.
Chiang Rai is also home to Wat Rong Khun, the famous temple also known as the White Temple. Even if you think you’ve seen enough of them while in Thailand, the White Temple is special. It has incredibly intricate architecture is painted white, making for a unique sight.
If you have the more popular Chiang Mai on your itinerary, you can see the Wat Rong Khun temple, Golden Triangle, and Chiang Rai countryside on a guided tour for a day. If you plan to stay longer, the Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort is a luxury full-service property offering incredibly low rates.
What part of Thailand should I visit?
If you aren’t sure where to go, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are good places to start. Stops here are a great way to immerse yourself in Thai culture before potentially venturing to more unknown destinations.
Is Thailand a safe place to visit?
Like any other country you are traveling to, you need to take the right precautions and always be aware of your surroundings in Thailand. Bad people like thieves do exist here, but most visitors find the Thai people some of the warmest and most welcoming in the world.
What is the coolest place in Thailand?
If you’re looking to get off the typical tourist trail, opt for some of the super-exotic things to do in Thailand, such as visiting Mae Hong Son Province or one of the several floating markets around the country. The Thai Burma Railway is another once-in-a-lifetime experience most visitors won’t get to in their travels.
When is the best time to visit Thailand?
Most visitors prefer to visit Thailand during the dry season, which usually runs from November through April.
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Jen is a Pittsburgh-based writer with a background in hospitality and tourism. Her specialties include sales and marketing technology and travel content. When she isn’t on assignment, Jen catches up on her many newsletter subscriptions, watches nocode tutorials, and spends time with her family.