Thailand is a truly magnificent country. I’ve lived in Thailand for over 10 years and still haven’t managed to see all the places on my list.
Known as the ‘Land of Smiles’, Thailand is a fantastic travel destination in Southeast Asia for nomads, couples, families, vacations, retirees and so on. It’s truly got something for everyone.
From the bustling streets of Bangkok where traditional markets rub shoulders with modern malls, to the serene beaches of Phuket and Koh Samui, Thailand offers a diversity that caters to every traveller’s wish list.
If you’re planning a trip or already travelling through this marvellous country, here is a selection of my recommended best places to visit in Thailand;
34 Best Places to Visit in Thailand
Obviously one of the best places to visit in Thailand is its capital!
Bangkok is a city where tradition meets modernity at every corner. Having explored its streets on multiple occasions, I’ve experienced first hand the bustling energy of this city.
From traditional Thai tuk-tuks weaving through the traffic, offering a lively way to navigate the city, historical gems like Wat Arun and Wat Pho, and modern huge skyscrapers like the Mahanakhon building, Bangkok presents a fascinating mix of eras and styles.
Despite the rapid urban development, Bangkok retains its unique character, with skyscrapers and shopping malls sitting alongside traditional wooden houses by the canals. It’s a city that’s constantly evolving, yet firmly rooted in its heritage, making every visit here a journey of new discoveries.
- Grand Palace: A dazzling complex showcasing Thai architecture.
- Chatuchak Weekend Market: Asia’s largest market with diverse goods.
- Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn, an iconic riverside landmark.
Best Activity: Explore the city’s street food scene in places like Chinatown and Khao San Road for an authentic culinary adventure.
Hot Tip: Experience the contrast between the serene Wat Pho and the bustling energy of Sukhumvit Road for a well-rounded Bangkok visit.
2. Chiang Mai
I love Chiang Mai. Hence why it’s so high on my list of the best places to visit in Thailand.
Nestled in northern Thailand, this energetic city is a cultural haven surrounded by lush mountains. Known as the “Rose of the North,” it has a mix of ancient temples, vibrant markets, modern shopping malls, artisanal shops, and a dynamic nomad and backpacker scene.
I love just wondering around the old town, experiencing the street markets, indulging in the local Khao Soi (my favourite Thai dish) and fried ice cream, (yep fried ice cream – gotta be seen to be believed) and doing a bit of cafe hopping.
- Doi Suthep: A sacred mountain housing the stunning Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
- Night Bazaar: A shopper’s paradise with crafts, textiles, and local cuisine.
- Yi Peng Lantern Festival: Takes part during Loi Krathong in November, it a beautiful scene of hundreds of thousands pf lanterns floating in the sky!
Best Activity: Participate in a traditional Thai cooking class to savor the local flavors and bring home culinary skills.
Hot Tip: Visit during the Yi Peng Lantern Festival in November for a magical experience, but book accommodations well in advance.
I’ve lived in Phuket for the bulk of our time here in Thailand. My daughter has been brought up here attending an International School, and I have watched it change significantly from what it was 10 years ago when we first arrived.
As Thailand’s largest island, Phuket is a tropical paradise renowned for its pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife, gorgeous hotels, and diverse water activities.
It is a truly beautiful island with a range of places to visit and things to do such as the buzzing Phuket Old Town, Muay Thai fighting, chilling in the Andaman Ocean and enjoying one of the many beach clubs. However, since Covid, this little island has become extremely busy, without a supporting infrastructure.
This means that the traffic has become intolerable at times, and house prices, hotel prices, car rental prices, food, taxi’s etc have all become very expensive. I’d hazard an educated guess that Phuket is now one of the most expensive places to visit in Thailand.
With that being said, if you’re looking for a beach holiday in Thailand, Phuket is more beautiful with more things to do than places like Koh Samui or Hua Hin for example, so I would certainly recommend a visit! It’s also super easy to jump on a boat from here and see Krabi, Phang Nga Bay, Phi Phi and lots of other surrounding islands.
- Beaches: Pretty much any beach. They’re all beautiful and the water is warm! (most of the time)
- Phi Phi Islands: Jump on a boat for a day trip or overnight stay. Phi Phi is beautiful with iconic limestone formations and crystal-clear waters.
- Big Buddha: A monumental statue offering panoramic views.
Best Activity: Embark on an island-hopping tour to explore the beauty of nearby gems like Phi Phi and James Bond Island.
Hot Tip: Visit later in the dry season to avoid crowds and experience lower prices (March / April). Beware though, it’s pretty hot that time of year.
Ayutthaya just North of Bangkok is definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand if you love to experience the cultural history of a place.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya stands as the historical heart of Thailand, boasting ancient temples and magnificent ruins. The second capital of the Siamese Kingdom, it reached it’s heights during the 14th to 18th centuries and was destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767.
- Majestic Wat Mahathat with the iconic Buddha head entwined in the roots of a banyan tree.
- Grand Ayutthaya Palace, reflects the grandeur of the past.
- Ayutthaya Historical Park, is a sprawling complex with numerous ancient temples.
Best Activity: Explore the Ayutthaya Historical Park, where the Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Si Sanphet showcase the grandeur of the ancient kingdom.
Hot Tip: Read about the history of Thailand and in particular Ayutthaya before you visit so you can get a feel for what it may have been like in the 14th – 18th centuries.
Sukhothai, another UNESCO-listed gem, is celebrated as the birthplace of Thai civilization.
The first capital of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries, the kingdom of Sukhothai laid the groundwork for many aspects of Thai culture, with significant contributions attributed to King Ramkhamhaeng. Recognized as the Thai Nation’s Founding Father, his influence shaped the core elements of what is known today as Thai identity.
The city’s well-preserved historical park showcases the grandeur of the Sukhothai Kingdom, marked by stunning temples, Buddha statues, and peaceful surroundings.
- Sukhothai Historical Park: A vast area dotted with ancient temples and sculptures.
- Ramkhamhaeng National Museum: Offering insights into the region’s history.
Best Activity: Cycle through the Sukhothai Historical Park to absorb the serenity (seriously it’s truly serene), and enjoy the beautifully restored temples, including Wat Si Chum and Wat Mahathat.
Hot Tip: Visit during the Loy Krathong Festival when the park transforms with enchanting candlelit displays, adding a magical touch to the historical ambiance.
6. Krabi Province
Definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand, Krabi Province is quite a large area that encompasses parts of Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi. Quite simply it’s absolutely stunning and well worth a few days visit.
A tropical paradise that balances natural beauty with adventure, you’ll find limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, and lush landscapes. Whether you’re a beach lover or a thrill-seeker, you’ll enjoy stunning islands, vibrant nightlife, and a myriad of outdoor activities, making it an ideal destination if you’re seeking a diverse and picturesque getaway.
- Railay Beach – known for its towering limestone formations (and other things…)
- Phi Phi Islands – offers postcard-perfect beaches and vibrant underwater life.
- Thung Teao Forest Natural Park with the famous Emerald Pool.
Best Activity: Rock climbing on Railay Beach’s limestone cliffs. (Not me personally, but I’ve had some friends do it and they loved it!)
Hot Tip: Explore the lesser-known islands for a more tranquil experience, such as Koh Lanta or Koh Ngai.
Pai, a small town nestled in the lush mountains of Northern Thailand, is a haven for those seeking a laid-back atmosphere and natural beauty. Known for its winding roads perfect for motorbike rides, Pai offers a scenic landscape filled with waterfalls, hot springs, and expansive rice fields.
The town itself, with its array of cafes, street food stalls, and a nightly market, captures a blend of local Thai culture and influences from the many travelers who pass through. Pai’s charm lies in its simplicity and the relaxed pace of life, making it a favorite among backpackers and those looking to unwind away from Thailand’s bustling cities.
- Picturesque landscapes of rice fields and waterfalls.
- Pai Canyon‘s stunning sunset views.
- Charming night markets with local handicrafts and street food.
Best Activity: Explore the Pai Hot Springs for a rejuvenating dip in natural thermal pools surrounded by lush vegetation.
Hot Tip: Rent a motorbike to traverse the scenic Pai Canyon and explore nearby attractions at your own pace.
8. Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi, one of the best places to visit in Thailand, is a popular island paradise in the Andaman Sea. With its postcard-perfect beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and lively atmosphere, this is a not to be missed destination when visiting Thailand. Comprising Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh, this archipelago is a tropical haven that blends natural beauty with a lively atmosphere.
For the youngsters and my daughters age group, there’s lively nightlife and plenty of bars & clubs. For families, there’s plenty of activities to keep the kids amused, particularly snorkelling and looking out for turtles and sharks. And for solo travellers, romantic getaways etc, the scenery is stunning and there’s plenty of accommodation options to choose from, including basic hostels through to luxury hotels.
- Maya Bay, the stunning filming location of “The Beach.” Get a long boat out first thing in the morning to beat the crowds.
- Snorkeling and diving amid vibrant marine life, including turtles & sharks (only small ones).
- Lively nightlife on Phi Phi Don with beach parties and fire shows.
Best Activity: Take a boat tour to explore the surrounding islands, including the iconic Maya Bay, Phi Phi Leh, and Viking Cave.
Hot Tip: For a quieter experience, visit Long Beach on Phi Phi Don, away from the bustling Tonsai Bay.
9. Hua Hin
I haven’t been to Hua Hin for some years, but I do have some nomad friends who recently moved there and they love it!
Situated on the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin couples beautiful beaches with a relaxed seaside atmosphere. As a favored retreat for Thai royalty, it offers a refined escape with pristine beaches, luxury resorts, and a touch of regal history.
The town is famous for its its long, sandy beach, ideal for walks or horseback riding, and golf enthusiasts will find some of Thailand’s best courses here. The night markets offer a taste of local cuisine and crafts, while the historical Hua Hin Railway Station adds a quaint, nostalgic touch.
Despite its growth and popularity as a tourist destination, Hua Hin has maintained a balance between development and preserving its tranquil, family-friendly vibe.
- Hua Hin Beach‘s golden sands and clear waters.
- Maruekhathaiyawan Palace, is a teakwood summer residence of the Thai kings.
- Cicada Night Market, is a vibrant showcase of art, crafts, and live performances.
Best Activity: Tee off at one of Hua Hin’s world-class golf courses, combining scenic views with a challenging game.
Hot Tip: Visit the Hua Hin Railway Station, a picturesque blend of Thai and Victorian architecture, capturing the town’s historical charm.
Kanchanaburi, nestled in western Thailand, is renowned for its historical significance and breathtaking natural beauty. Home to the iconic River Kwai Bridge and the Erawan National Park, this province blends poignant history with lush landscapes, making it a must-visit destination.
I’ve only been on a day trip to visit the infamous Bridge Over the River Kwai, which if you’re staying in or around Bangkok, I highly recommend. However, if you can do a couple of days here, I think you’d discover much more beyond the bridge. Kanchanaburi is steeped in history and natural beauty, with opportunities to explore its national parks, waterfalls, and poignant WWII sites. The slower pace of life here offers a refreshing contrast to Bangkok’s hustle, making it perfect for a deeper, more relaxed exploration.
- River Kwai Bridge: Witness the historic bridge that narrates tales from World War II.
- Erawan National Park: Explore emerald-green ponds and cascading waterfalls in a pristine natural setting.
- Death Railway Museum: Gain insights into the wartime history and the construction of the railway.
Best Activity: Take a poignant train journey on the Death Railway, offering both historical reflection and scenic landscapes.
Hot Tip: Visit Erawan National Park early in the day to enjoy the waterfalls with fewer crowds.
11. Koh Samui
Koh Samui, is an idyllic escape in the Gulf of Thailand. With it’s blue seas, white sandy beaches, and lush greenery, this island is definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand and worth a visit if you’re over this way!
My favourite spots are probably Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village and Lamai Beach. Bophut has a unique character, combining old-world charm with a contemporary twist. The Fisherman’s Village has transformed rustic wooden houses into trendy shops and restaurants, offering a glimpse into Samui’s past, and if you love tut shopping the weekly night market is a fabulous showcase of local crafts and cuisine.
Lamai Beach, on the other hand, is my retreat for tranquility. Less crowded than Chaweng, it offers a more laid-back atmosphere, perfect for days spent lounging on the beach or enjoying the crystal clear waters and soft sand. Koh Samui, is lively enough to never be dull, yet peaceful enough to feel like a true getaway.
- Chaweng Beach: Enjoy powdery white sand and a lively atmosphere. (I already mentioned Lamai above, but no trip to Samui is complete with a visit to Chaweng also)
- Big Buddha Temple: Marvel at the impressive 12-meter golden Buddha statue.
- Ang Thong Marine Park: Embark on island-hopping adventures and snorkeling.
Best Activity: Take a sunset cruise around the island for breathtaking views and a romantic experience.
Hot Tip: Explore the Fisherman’s Village in Bophut for a taste of local culture and cuisine.
12. Chiang Rai
I was so surprised by Chiang Rai. Invited by a friend to stay up there for a couple of nights, the surrounding scenery, incredible temples and general ambience left me telling everyone I meet you must visit Chiang Rai!
Situated in northern Thailand, close to the borders of Laos and Myanmar, Chiang Rai is part of the renowned Golden Triangle, an area steeped in history and natural beauty. This region, once famous for its opium trade, now offers a mix of culture and scenic landscapes. One of the highlights for me was the sprawling tea plantations, where you can witness the art of tea making and enjoy some of the freshest teas amidst stunning green vistas.
Chiang Rai’s temples are a world unto themselves, with the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) being a surreal masterpiece of modern art and spirituality. Equally impressive is the statue of the Goddess of Mercy at Wat Huay Pla Kung, towering over the landscape, offering a truly majestic sight.
Another aspect that made my stay delightful were the quaint cafes along the Kok River, where you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon with a view. The river itself adds to the tranquility of the town, providing a perfect backdrop for those looking to unwind and soak in the local atmosphere. Chiang Rai, with its blend of culture, nature, and tranquility, is an underated hidden gem in Thailand that deserves more attention.
- White Temple (Wat Rong Khun): Admire the surreal architecture and intricate details of this modern masterpiece.
- Golden Triangle: Explore the meeting points of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, rich in history.
- Mae Fah Luang Garden & Doi Tung Tree Top Walk: Beautiful gardens, plus a 300 meters long canopy walk, comprising seven bridges of varying lengths, six resting points and an optional zip line!
Best Activity: Discover the diverse (and a bit strange) art installations at the unconventional Baan Dam (Black House) Museum. Also go and see the Goddess of Mercy, particularly inside. You can ride an elevator to the top and see all the intricate carvings. Incredible!
Hot Tip: Visit Wat Rong Khun early in the morning to avoid the crowds and witness the temple in serene surroundings.
13. Koh Tao
Known as the “Turtle Island,” Koh Tao is a diver’s paradise nestled in the Gulf of Thailand. Its crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs make it one of the best places to visit in Thailand for underwater enthusiasts.
I visited Koh Tao with my family just after Covid, when the island was nearly deserted and had just one bar/restaurant open. I was excited to dive here, but we visited at the wrong time of year and so it was a tad murky, which made it tough to see the triggerfish, which I’m a bit wary of!
The best time for diving in Koh Tao by the way is from March to October, when the waters are calmest and visibility is at its best. This period avoids the monsoon season, ensuring safer and more enjoyable dives.
Fast forward to now, the island has bounced back from its quiet days during the pandemic. It’s again buzzing with energy and its beaches, dive shops, and nightspots are teeming with travelers. Whether you’re here for the underwater wonders or the island vibes Koh Tao offers an idyllic escape from bustling city life.
- World-class diving and snorkeling sites
- Sairee Beach‘s golden sands and lively atmosphere
- Aow Leuk for diverse marine life and coral formations
Best Activity: Explore the underwater world through scuba diving or snorkeling, discovering diverse marine ecosystems and encountering tropical sea life.
Hot Tip: Visit between March and September for the best visibility, and consider completing a diving certification course in one of the island’s reputable dive schools.
14. Nong Khai
Nong Khai, a destination that’s still on my to-visit list, is a a charming town along the Mekong River located in northeastern Thailand.
One of the key highlights of Nong Khai is the Tha Sadet Market, a great spot for picking up souvenirs and experiencing local life. Another significant landmark is the First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, an important connection over the Mekong River between Thailand and Laos, offering splendid views, especially at night.
For those interested in aquatic life, the Nong Khai Aquarium presents an impressive collection of freshwater and saltwater species, including the unique Mekong catfish. In terms of cultural and historical exploration, Wat A-Hong Silabas is a must-visit. This temple is not only architecturally stunning but also holds a rich historical significance, housing a giant catfish of the Mekong and a statue of the goddess of the Mekong River’s navel, idolized for prosperity and love.
With its blend of markets, temples, natural beauty, and a relaxed riverfront, Nong Khai is certainly a place that offers a mix of experiences that cater to different interests, making it a worthwhile addition to any Thailand itinerary.
- Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge offering scenic river views
- Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Park with intricate Buddhist and Hindu sculptures
- Vibrant night markets showcasing local crafts and cuisine
Best Activity: Take a leisurely stroll along the Mekong River promenade, appreciating the serene views and enjoying the vibrant street food.
Hot Tip: Visit during November to witness the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, where the sky is illuminated by thousands of floating lanterns.
Trang, a province in southern Thailand, offers a diverse range of experiences, combining cultural charm and natural beauty. One of the unique features of Trang is its vintage ‘frog head’ tuk-tuks, dating back to the 1950s, which you can hire for city tours. The city is also celebrated for its delicious food, particularly the Chinese pastries from Pia Soi 9 and the renowned Trang breakfast, a delightful array of dim sums and dumplings.
For nature enthusiasts, the Thung Khai Botanical Gardens are a must-visit. The gardens offer a gentle escape with scenic forests, nature trails, and a treetop walk that allows you to explore the canopy at various heights.
An underrated gem, the ideal time to visit Trang is during the low season from May to October, when there’ll be less tourists.
- Emerald Cave on Ko Mook for a mystical swim through a cave
- Tham Morakot Cave with its enchanting stalactite formations
- Less touristy beaches like Hat Yao and Pak Meng
Best Activity: Explore the hidden wonders of Trang’s caves, including the breathtaking Emerald Cave, accessible only by swimming through a narrow passage.
Hot Tip: Avoid the crowds by visiting the islands during the off-peak season (May to October), and indulge in the local seafood delicacies at Trang’s night markets.
16. Koh Pha Ngan
Koh Phangan, an island in the Gulf of Thailand, is one of the best places to visit in Thailand if you love to party! A blend of tranquil beaches it’s known primarily for its Full Moon Parties and attracts travelers from all around the world to its shores, especially Haad Rin Beach.
But there’s much more to Koh Phangan than just parties. The island is home to lush jungles, serene waterfalls like Than Sadet and Phaeng, and numerous temples offering glimpses into Thai culture. The northern and western parts of the island are particularly famous for their quiet, picturesque beaches, such as Mae Haad and Chaloklum, perfect for relaxation and snorkeling.
The island’s interior is mostly unspoiled, with challenging hiking trails leading to stunning viewpoints. Koh Phangan also has a growing wellness and spiritual scene, with numerous yoga and meditation retreats. Despite its party reputation, the island offers a diverse range of experiences, catering to adventure seekers, nature lovers, and those seeking spiritual rejuvenation alike.
We actually visited on route to Koh Tao just after Covid. The island was empty and eerily quiet. The shops and bars at Haad Rin Beach were boarded up with hundreds of boxes of old booze just laying about on shop floors. It was beautiful though and I feel blessed to have been able to explore the island when our only company was sand fleas!
- Full Moon Party on Haad Rin Beach
- Pristine beaches like Bottle Beach and Thong Nai Pan
- Diverse marine life for snorkeling
Best Activity: Immerse yourself in the electrifying atmosphere of the Full Moon Party, a world-renowned beach celebration under the moonlit sky.
Hot Tip: For a tranquil experience, explore the island’s quieter northern beaches, offering serene getaways away from the party scene.
17. Koh Chang
Koh Chang, the “Elephant Island,” is a large and picturesque island in Thailand. The island is known for its stunning beaches, each with a unique atmosphere and array of activities. White Sand Beach is the most popular and developed, with a variety of bars, restaurants, and markets. For a more relaxed vibe, Kai Bae Beach is ideal, popular among families and couples. Backpackers and budget travelers often head to Lonely Beach, known for its lively atmosphere.
The island isn’t just about beaches; Klong Plu Waterfall is a popular natural attraction, accessible throughout the year and ideal for a refreshing dip. For those interested in local culture and cuisine, a visit to Bangbao Fishing Village is a must. Here, you can enjoy fresh seafood right over the water in stilted houses.
For stunning views, Kai Bae Viewpoint is a great spot, offering panoramic vistas of nearby islands. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy Salakphet Mangrove Walkway, a scenic walk through mangroves with abundant flora and fauna. For those seeking a breathtaking sunset, Chai Chet Cape at the northernmost end of Klong Prao Beach is a perfect choice.
Koh Chang also offers opportunities for scuba diving, with several dive sites around the island, including the HTMS Chang shipwreck.
- Lush rainforests and waterfalls
- Snorkeling at Koh Rang National Marine Park
- Klong Plu Waterfall and Than Mayom Waterfall
Best Activity: Embark on a trek through the island’s rainforest, leading to cascading waterfalls and providing a glimpse of diverse wildlife.
Hot Tip: Visit the quieter East Coast for a more laid-back atmosphere, ideal for those seeking a serene escape.
A blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty, Ratchaburi, located in western Thailand, offers a diverse experience. Famous for its Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Ratchaburi is a place where traditional Thai culture thrives. The market is a colorful tableau of boats loaded with fresh produce and local wares, creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Away from the market, Ratchaburi’s landscape is dotted with limestone mountains, offering opportunities for cave exploration, such as at Tham Khao Bin, the province’s largest cave. The Ratchaburi National Museum is another highlight, providing insights into the region’s rich history and culture.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
- Phra Pathom Chedi, the world’s tallest stupa
- The arts and crafts community at Ban Hom Tien
Best Activity: Navigate the bustling waterways of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, a sensory-rich experience of Thai commerce and culture.
Hot Tip: Explore the hidden treasures in Ban Hom Tien, an artisan village where you can witness traditional craftsmanship and purchase unique souvenirs.
19. Mae Hong Son
Tucked away in Thailand’s mountainous northwest, Mae Hong Son is a haven for those seeking serenity and natural beauty. Known for its mist-shrouded valleys and lush landscapes, the province has a tranquil, almost dreamlike quality.
The town of Pai, within Mae Hong Son, as discussed above has become a hotspot for travelers, offering a laid-back atmosphere with its small cafes and riverfront views. The region’s ethnic diversity, including communities like the Long Neck Karen, adds a unique cultural aspect to the area.
One if the best places to visit in Thailand is the Mae Hong Son Road, often referred to as the “Road of a Thousand Bends”. Famed for its serpentine route that winds through the picturesque and mountainous terrain of northern Thailand, this road offers a thrilling journey with more than 1,800 curves, presenting an exhilarating challenge for motorists and bikers alike while unveiling stunning vistas of lush landscapes and traditional hill tribe villages.
Mae Hong Son’s numerous temples, such as Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, provide stunning views and a glimpse into the spiritual side of this enchanting province.
- Pai Canyon for breathtaking views.
- Tham Lod Cave‘s impressive stalactite formations.
- Long-neck Karen hill tribe villages for cultural immersion.
Best Activity: Explore the scenic landscapes on a motorbike tour, winding through the picturesque mountain roads.
Hot Tip: Visit during the Poy Sang Long festival to witness the colorful ordination ceremony of young Shan boys.
20. Ko Lanta
Nestled in the Andaman Sea, Ko Lanta is a tropical paradise known for its relaxed vibe and beautiful beaches. It’s a destination that offers a balance between tranquility and enough amenities to make a stay comfortable.
The island’s long, sandy beaches, like Long Beach, are perfect for sunbathing and offer stunning sunset views. Ko Lanta’s Old Town, a charming mix of Chinese and Thai cultures, presents an interesting contrast with its stilted houses and quaint shops.
It’s a bit of a trek to get to, involving taxi’s, boats, buses and such like, but it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand if you’re looking for some relaxing serenity.
- Klong Dao Beach for sunsets and water activities.
- Mu Ko Lanta National Park‘s lush rainforest and hiking trails.
- Old Town’s charming blend of Chinese and Thai architecture.
Best Activity: Snorkel or dive at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, renowned dive sites with abundant marine life.
Hot Tip: Visit between November and April for the best weather and optimal underwater visibility.
21. Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat)Manoonp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
As the gateway to Thailand’s northeastern region, Nakhon Ratchasima, commonly known as Korat, is a city rich in history and culture. It’s home to several historical sites, including the Khmer ruins of Phimai Historical Park, which showcases the ancient grandeur of the Khmer Empire.
Korat’s city life offers a blend of traditional markets, like the Klang Plaza, and modern amenities. The region is also known for its silk production, with villages around Korat specializing in intricate silk weaving, highlighting the area’s rich cultural heritage.
- Phimai Historical Park showcasing Khmer temple ruins.
- Korat Zoo for family-friendly entertainment.
- Maha Viravong National Museum for cultural insights.
Best Activity: Explore the lively night markets, such as The Mall Korat Night Bazaar, for local delicacies and a vibrant atmosphere.
Hot Tip: Attend the annual Thao Suranari Festival in March, celebrating the revered local heroine with parades and cultural events.
22. Udon Thani
Located in the heart of the Isan region, Udon Thani is a bustling city with a blend of cultural heritage and modern development. The city is known for its vibrant markets, like the bustling Nong Prajak Night Market, offering a taste of local life.
Nearby, the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides insights into the region’s prehistoric past. Udon Thani is also a gateway to the region’s natural attractions, including the picturesque Red Lotus Sea, which blooms vividly during the cooler months.
- Red Lotus Sea: A stunning lake adorned with vibrant pink lotus flowers.
- Archaeological Sites: Ban Chiang offers a glimpse into prehistoric Thailand.
- Local Markets: Experience authentic Thai culture at bustling markets.
Best Activity: Explore the enchanting Red Lotus Sea by taking a serene boat ride during sunrise.
Hot Tip: Visit during December to February for the best view of the Red Lotus Sea in full bloom.
Satun, in Thailand’s far south, is an off-the-beaten-path gem known for its pristine natural beauty. Bordering Malaysia, Satun is culturally diverse and relatively untouched by mass tourism.
The province boasts stunning landscapes, from the limestone cliffs of Tarutao National Marine Park to the idyllic, tranquil beaches of its surrounding islands. Satun is also a geopark, recognized by UNESCO for its significant geological features and abundant wildlife.
- Tarutao National Marine Park: A group of pristine islands with diverse ecosystems.
- Untouched Islands: Experience the serenity of Ko Adang and Ko Lipe.
- Diverse Marine Life: Ideal for snorkeling and exploring vibrant coral reefs.
Best Activity: Snorkel in the crystal-clear waters around Ko Lipe to witness a kaleidoscope of marine life.
Hot Tip: Visit during the dry season (November to April) for optimal beach and water activities.
24. PhetchaburiPreecha.MJ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Phetchaburi, a historic city in central Thailand, is a blend of cultural richness and natural beauty. The city is adorned with ancient temples, like Wat Mahathat Worawihan, showcasing exquisite Thai architecture.
Phetchaburi’s highlight is the Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, a hilltop complex with palaces and temples, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. The nearby Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand’s largest national park, is a haven for nature enthusiasts, with its dense forests and diverse wildlife.
- Khao Luang Cave: A mesmerizing cave adorned with golden Buddha statues.
- Historic Palaces: Explore Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park for royal residences.
- Seaside Resorts: Relax along the Gulf of Thailand’s picturesque coastline.
Best Activity: Wander through the intricate chambers of Khao Luang Cave to witness its awe-inspiring beauty.
Hot Tip: Plan a visit during the cool season (November to February) for pleasant weather and outdoor activities.
25. Phang Nga Bay
I actually think that Phang Nga Bay is one of my favourite places in the world and without doubt is one of the best places to visit in Thailand.
Located in the Andaman Sea near the provinces of Phang Nga and Phuket, it’s a region of remarkable natural beauty, famous for its crystal clear waters, stunning limestone karsts, and a rich variety of wildlife. This bay, covering an area of approximately 400 square kilometers, is dotted with over 40 majestic limestone islands, each varying in shape and size, offering a picturesque backdrop that’s ideal for photography and exploration.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Phang Nga Bay is James Bond Island, known locally as Khao Phing Kan. This island gained international fame after featuring in the 1974 James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”.
But Phang Nga Bay is not just about its stunning vistas; it’s also rich in biodiversity. The bay is a designated Ramsar Site of international ecological significance, home to at least 88 bird species, 82 fish species, 18 reptiles, three amphibians, and 17 mammal species, including the vulnerable dugong and the endangered serow.
When visiting Phang Nga Bay, you can also explore other notable sites like Samet Nangshe Viewpoint for panoramic views, the culturally rich floating village of Koh Panyee, and the serene islands of Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai. Hong Island, another highlight, offers calm waters for kayaking and excellent conditions for snorkeling.
- Limestone karst formations
- James Bond Island and Sea Caves
- Picturesque Phang Nga Bay
- Vibrant floating Muslim village of Ko Panyee
Best Activity: Explore Phang Nga Bay on a long-tail boat or kayak to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery and discover hidden caves and lagoons.
Hot Tip: Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds and witness the bay’s enchanting beauty in tranquil serenity.
26. Railay Beach
Accessible only by boat, Railay Beach in Krabi province is a secluded paradise. Known for its towering limestone cliffs and stunning beaches, Railay offers a perfect escape for beach lovers and rock climbers alike.
The beach area, comprising Railay West and East, and the nearby Phra Nang Beach, is known for its crystal-clear waters and fine white sand. Railay’s atmosphere is very laid-back, (if you know what I mean 😉) with a variety of dining and accommodation options catering to different budgets.
- Pristine beaches
- World-class rock climbing
- Phra Nang Cave Beach
- Viewpoints overlooking Railay
Best Activity: Embark on a rock climbing adventure to experience the thrill and witness unparalleled panoramic views of the Andaman Sea.
Hot Tip: For a quieter experience, consider visiting during the low season, although some facilities may be limited.
27. LampangThanate Tan from Bangkok, Thailand, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Steeped in history, Lampang, in northern Thailand, is known for its horse-drawn carriages and Lanna culture. The city boasts well-preserved temples with intricate wood carvings and Lanna-style architecture, such as Wat Phra That Lampang Luang.
For nature lovers, the nearby Chae Son National Park offers hot springs and scenic waterfalls. Lampang’s Elephant Conservation Center also provides a unique opportunity to learn about these majestic creatures and their conservation.
- Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
- Horse-drawn carriage rides
- Ban Sao Nak, the teakwood house
- Wat Phra Kaeo Don Tao Suchadaram
Best Activity: Take a leisurely horse-drawn carriage ride through Lampang’s streets to absorb the city’s old-world charm and explore its historical sites.
Hot Tip: Visit during the annual Lampang Horse Carriage Procession Festival for an extra dose of cultural immersion.
28. Khao Yai National ParkTontan Travel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
As Thailand’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khao Yai National Park is a nature enthusiast’s paradise. Spanning four provinces, this park is renowned for its diverse wildlife, including elephants, gibbons, and numerous bird species.
The park’s lush landscapes range from tropical forests to grasslands and include stunning waterfalls like Haew Narok and Haew Suwat. Khao Yai is a perfect destination for hiking, wildlife watching, and enjoying the tranquility of nature.
- Diverse Flora and Fauna
- Spectacular Waterfalls (e.g., Haew Narok, Haew Suwat)
- Scenic Hiking Trails
Best Activity: Wildlife spotting amidst the park’s rich biodiversity, including elephants, gibbons, and exotic bird species.
Hot Tip: Embark on a night safari for a chance to witness the park’s nocturnal inhabitants, adding an enchanting dimension to your visit.
29. Hat Yaimohigan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A bustling city in southern Thailand, Hat Yai is a blend of Thai, Chinese, and Malay cultures. Known as a commercial hub, the city offers an array of shopping experiences from modern malls to lively street markets, like the famous Kim Yong Market.
Hat Yai’s vibrant food scene reflects its cultural diversity, with a variety of local and international cuisines. The city also serves as a gateway to nearby attractions, including beautiful islands and national parks.
- Kim Yong Market for Local Flavors
- Wat Hat Yai Nai’s Giant Buddha
- Songkhla Lake’s Floating Restaurants
Best Activity: Exploring the local markets and savoring authentic Thai street food for a taste of the city’s rich culinary heritage.
Hot Tip: Head to the top of Hat Yai Municipal Park for panoramic views of the cityscape, especially enchanting during sunset.
30. Mu Ko Similan National Park
The Similan Islands are where my husband, daughter & I learned to Scuba Dive. We were lucky as they don’t allow beginners to learn there anymore due to the depths, but what a way to get hooked on diving! Not only is it one of the best places to visit in Thailand, it’s one of the best dive spots in the world!
Located in the Andaman Sea and approximately 120 km northwest of Phuket, the Similan Islands form a breathtaking archipelago known for its pristine natural beauty. Comprising 11 islands, they are a dream destination for divers and snorkelers, boasting crystal-clear waters and an abundance of marine life. The islands are famous for their diverse underwater landscapes, including coral reefs and a variety of fish species.
One of the main attractions of the Similan Islands is the opportunity to dive and snorkel in some of the clearest waters in the world, where visibility is incredibly high. You’ll encounter a rich array of marine wildlife, including rare sightings of whale sharks (we haven’t yet unfortunately) and manta rays, especially around March and April. Birdwatchers can also spot several bird species, including some rare ones found in Thailand.
The islands are accessible by boat, with options ranging from day trip dive boats and snorkeling speed boats to liveaboard dive boats for multi-day trips. The ideal time to visit the Similan Islands is from December to April when the waters are clearest, making it the best time for underwater activities.
NB: A maximum of 3,325 people are allowed to enter the national park each day. This restriction helps preserve the delicate ecosystem of the islands. When planning a visit, it’s advisable to book tours that include transportation from hotels for a hassle-free experience. Accommodation options on the islands include tents and bungalows, offering a unique overnight stay experience. However, it’s essential to book these in advance due to their limited availability.
- Rich Coral Gardens
- Exceptional Dive Sites (e.g., Elephant Head Rock)
- Pristine Beaches (e.g., Donald Duck Bay)
Best Activity: Scuba diving or snorkeling to explore the kaleidoscopic underwater landscapes and encounter majestic marine species.
Hot Tip: Visit during the dry season (November to April) for the best visibility and optimal diving conditions in this underwater paradise.
31. Pattaya City
Once a small fishing village, Pattaya City has transformed into a renowned beach resort on Thailand’s eastern Gulf coast. Known for its vibrant nightlife, Pattaya also offers a range of family-friendly attractions, including the Sanctuary of Truth, a temple-like structure entirely made of wood, and the Pattaya Floating Market.
Beware though if bringing a family. Of all the places I recommend visiting in Thailand, Pattaya is the least family friendly of them all.
The city’s beaches, such as Pattaya Beach and Jomtien Beach, are perfect for water sports and relaxation.
- Vibrant Nightlife: Pattaya is famous for its bustling bars, nightclubs, and beach parties.
- Sanctuary of Truth: A stunning wooden temple showcasing traditional Thai craftsmanship.
- Water Activities: Scuba diving, jet-skiing, and parasailing along the pristine beaches.
Best Activity: Experience the lively ambiance by exploring the vibrant Walking Street, filled with shops, restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.
Hot Tip: Visit during the Pattaya International Fireworks Festival for a dazzling display illuminating the night sky.
32. Khao Lak-Lam Ru National ParkSirapa Atikomchakorn, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This national park, located in southern Thailand, is a nature lover’s haven. It features a variety of ecosystems from beaches to rainforests. The park is home to an array of wildlife and offers several trekking trails leading to beautiful waterfalls and scenic viewpoints.
Khao Lak-Lam Ru is also a gateway to the Similan Islands, making it a popular base for divers and snorkelers.
- White Sandy Beaches: Pristine stretches like Bang Niang and Pakarang offer peaceful retreats.
- Jungle Trekking: Explore lush trails leading to hidden waterfalls and scenic viewpoints.
- Tsunami Memorial: Reflect at the symbolic memorial remembering the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Best Activity: Embark on a jungle trek to discover the park’s diverse flora and fauna, or unwind on the tranquil beaches.
Hot Tip: Visit during the dry season (November to April) for optimal trekking conditions and clear skies.
Located in the lower northern region of Thailand, Phitsanulok is a city rich in history and culture. It’s home to one of Thailand’s most revered Buddha images, Phra Buddha Chinnarat, at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat.
The city is also a gateway to the Sukhothai Historical Park. The scenic Nan River adds charm to the city, making it a pleasant stop in the cultural heart of Thailand.
- Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat: A dazzling temple housing the famous Phra Buddha Chinnarat statue.
- Historical Sites: Explore ancient ruins like Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat and Wat Nang Phaya.
- Traditional Markets: Immerse yourself in local culture at bustling markets like Nang Phaya Market.
Best Activity: Witness the mesmerizing evening chanting ceremony at Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat.
Hot Tip: Plan a visit during the annual Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat Festival for vibrant processions and cultural displays.
34. Ko Yao Yai
Situated in the middle of Phang Nga Bay, Ko Yao Yai is a serene island known for its unspoiled beaches and relaxed atmosphere. The island is less developed than some of Thailand’s more famous destinations, offering a glimpse into traditional island life.
Its clear waters are excellent for snorkeling and diving, and the island’s interior, with its rubber plantations and rice paddies, is perfect for leisurely exploration by bike or motorbike.
- Tranquil Beaches: Relax on unspoiled beaches like Loh Pared and Ao Muong.
- Kayaking and Island Hopping: Explore nearby islands and hidden coves by kayak.
- Local Culture: Engage with the island’s friendly local communities and savor authentic Thai cuisine.
Best Activity: Take a boat trip to the iconic Ko Hong for breathtaking scenery and snorkeling opportunities.
Hot Tip: Visit between November and April for ideal weather conditions and calm seas for water activities.
Best Places to Visit in Thailand – Final Thoughts
Having lived in this amazing country for the last few years, I can confidently say that wherever you visit Thailand you will have a wonderful time. Steeped in history and culture, the country is friendly and safe, and despite the monsoon season, has great weather and temperatures all year round.
I love the culture, the people, the food, the beaches, and the lifestyle, and highly recommend one or more of the above destinations to make your bucket list!
For more information on visiting Thailand, check out the following posts;
- I’ve Been Living in Thailand for 10 Years; Here’s What You Need to Know
- The Best Time to Visit Thailand
- Top 10 Thailand Islands to Visit
- Top 10 Very Best Things to Do in Thailand
- 33 Famous Landmarks in Thailand
- Best Thai Food in Thailand
Best Places to Visit in Thailand – FAQ’s
What are the best places to visit in Thailand for first-time visitors?
For first-time visitors, Bangkok is a must-see for its cultural landmarks like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Chiang Mai offers a blend of history and modernity, with its numerous temples and vibrant night markets. Don’t miss Phuket for its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife.
Which Thai locations are ideal for Solo Travellers?
Most places in Thailand suit solo travellers as it’s such a safe country, but the best places to visit in Thailand for solo travellers include Chiang Mai, the backpacker vibe of Bangkok’s Khao San Road, and the scenic beauty of Pai. These places are known for being safe, with friendly locals and plenty of opportunities to meet other travellers.
What are the best family-friendly attractions in Thailand?
The best family friendly attractions in Thailand include Bangkok’s Siam Ocean World, the cultural shows at Phuket’s FantaSea, the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai and snorkeling in Phi Phi.
What is the best part of Thailand to go to?
The “best” part of Thailand to visit depends largely on what you’re looking for in your travel experience. For beach lovers and those looking for vibrant nightlife, the islands in the south like Phuket, Ko Samui, and Krabi offer stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and bustling night scenes. Culture enthusiasts may prefer the northern region, particularly Chiang Mai, known for its rich history, temple-filled cities, and close proximity to traditional hill tribes.
Bangkok, the bustling capital, is a must-visit for those seeking a blend of modernity and tradition, with its lively markets, grand palaces, and diverse culinary scene. For a more laid-back and off-the-beaten-path experience, the northeastern region, known as Isaan, offers a glimpse into rural Thai life, with its unique culture and cuisine. Ultimately, each region of Thailand has its own unique appeal, catering to different interests and travel styles.
When is the best season to travel to Thailand?
The best time to visit Thailand is between November and March when the weather is cool and dry. This period is ideal for exploring diverse landscapes, from bustling cities to tranquil beaches, thanks to clear skies and comfortable temperatures. However, it’s also peak tourist season, so expect higher prices for hotels and flights.
April to June brings hot weather, and the rainy season occurs between June and October, with the south’s east coast experiencing heavy rainfall from October to December. For nomads and budget-conscious travelers, the monsoon season offers lower prices and fewer crowds, despite frequent rain showers.
What is the capital city of Thailand?
The capital city of Thailand is Bangkok. It’s not only the largest city in the country but also a major hub for culture, politics, and commerce in Thailand. Bangkok is known for its vibrant street life, cultural landmarks, and bustling markets, making it a popular destination for tourists from around the world. The city combines modern development with historic architecture and is famous for iconic temples such as Wat Arun, Wat Pho, and the Grand Palace.
What are the best places to visit in Thailand for cultural experiences?
The best places to visit in Thailand for cultural experiences include Bangkok for its temples and markets, Chiang Mai for its historical significance and elephant sanctuaries, and Ayutthaya for its ancient ruins. Each of these locations offers a unique insight into Thailand’s rich history and traditions.
Where should beach lovers go when considering the best places to visit in Thailand?
For beach enthusiasts, the best places to visit in Thailand are Phuket, Krabi, and the Phi Phi Islands. These destinations are renowned for their stunning beaches, clear blue waters, and vibrant marine life, making them perfect for relaxation and water sports.
For adventure seekers, what are the best places to visit in Thailand?
Adventure seekers will find the best places to visit in Thailand are Khao Sok National Park for its dense jungle and wildlife, Railay Beach for rock climbing, and Chiang Rai for trekking in the mountainous terrain. These destinations provide thrilling outdoor activities set against breathtaking landscapes.