Thailand, also known as the Land of Smiles, is a country in Southeast Asia famous for its tropical beaches, ornate temples, and delicious cuisine. With its rich culture, fascinating history, and stunning landscapes, Thailand is a popular destination for travelers worldwide.
In this article, we will explore the 20 best places to visit in Thailand, from bustling cities to serene islands.
1. Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a city in northern Thailand known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural scenery. The city is surrounded by mountains and dotted with ancient temples, making it a popular destination for travelers seeking a more authentic Thai experience. One of the highlights of Chiang Mai is Sunday Night Walking Street, a vibrant market where you can find everything from handmade crafts to delicious street food. The city also offers plenty of opportunities for adventure, with activities like zip-lining, jungle trekking, and white-water rafting available in the surrounding mountains.
Another must-visit attraction in Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep, a temple on a hill overlooking the city. Visitors must climb a staircase of over 300 steps to reach the temple, but the stunning views from the top are well worth the effort. The temple is a beautiful example of Lanna architecture, with intricate carvings and gold-plated pagodas. In addition to its cultural and natural attractions, Chiang Mai has a thriving food scene, with some of the best street food in Thailand. Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s rich history, immerse yourself in nature, or indulge in some delicious food, Chiang Mai is a destination that should not be missed.
Phuket is a beautiful island in southern Thailand, surrounded by crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. It is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand, attracting millions of visitors every year. The island offers a range of activities, from relaxing on the beach to exploring the nearby islands on a day trip. One of the most popular beaches in Phuket is Patong Beach, known for its vibrant nightlife and bustling atmosphere. The beach has bars, restaurants, and shops, making it a great evening.
Aside from its beaches, Phuket also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples and shrines dotted around the island. One of the most iconic temples in Phuket is Wat Chalong, a beautiful Buddhist temple known for its ornate architecture and intricate carvings. The temple is also home to a large statue of the revered monk Luang Pho Chaem, believed to have healing powers. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure, Phuket is a destination that offers something for everyone.
Krabi is a province located on the west coast of southern Thailand, known for its stunning limestone cliffs, pristine beaches, and clear turquoise waters. The province is home to several popular destinations, including the town of Ao Nang, which serves as a gateway to some of Thailand’s most beautiful islands and beaches. One of the most iconic attractions in Krabi is Railay Beach, which is only accessible by boat due to its remote location. The beach is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, making it a favorite spot for rock climbers. It is also a popular destination for kayaking and snorkeling, with crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life.
Aside from its natural beauty, Krabi is also home to several cultural attractions, including the Tiger Cave Temple. The temple is located in a cave on top of a hill, and visitors must climb a staircase of over a thousand steps to reach it. The climb is challenging, but the stunning views from the top are well worth the effort. The temple is home to a large golden Buddha statue and several other shrines, making it an important religious site in southern Thailand. Whether you’re looking to relax on a pristine beach or explore the region’s cultural heritage, Krabi is a destination that should be noticed.
4. Koh Samui
Koh Samui is a tropical island in the Gulf of Thailand, known for its palm-fringed beaches, lush green forests, and luxurious resorts. It is the second-largest island in Thailand and attracts millions of visitors annually. One of the most popular beaches on the island is Chaweng Beach, known for its powdery white sand and clear turquoise waters. The beach has restaurants, bars, and shops, making it a great place to spend a day or evening.
Aside from its beaches, Koh Samui is also home to several cultural and historical attractions, including the Big Buddha Temple. The temple is located on a hilltop overlooking the sea and is home to a giant golden Buddha statue over 12 meters tall. Visitors can climb the staircase to reach the temple and enjoy the island’s stunning views from the top. Koh Samui is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars and clubs offering a range of entertainment options. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure, Koh Samui is a destination that has something for everyone.
Pattaya is a city on the east coast of Thailand, known for its lively atmosphere, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful beaches. It is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting visitors from all over the world. One of the most iconic attractions in Pattaya is Walking Street, a pedestrian street lined with bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. It is a hub of activity, especially at night, and is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife.
Aside from its nightlife, Pattaya is also home to several cultural attractions, including the Sanctuary of Truth. The sanctuary is a stunning wooden temple built entirely from hand-carved teak wood and is a unique example of traditional Thai architecture. Visitors can explore the temple’s intricate carvings and learn about the history and culture of Thailand. Pattaya is also home to several beautiful beaches, including Jomtien Beach and Pattaya Beach, which offer a range of water sports and other activities. Whether you’re looking for excitement or relaxation, Pattaya is a destination that should be noticed.
Ayutthaya is a historical city in central Thailand, known for its rich cultural heritage and ancient temples. It was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most iconic attractions in Ayutthaya is the Ayutthaya Historical Park, home to several ancient temples and ruins, including the Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Visitors can explore the park on foot or by bicycle and marvel at the impressive architecture and intricate carvings.
Aside from its historical sites, Ayutthaya is also known for its delicious food, a fusion of Thai and Chinese cuisines. One of the most popular dishes is the boat noodle soup, a hearty broth made with pork or beef and served with noodles and various toppings. The city also has several floating markets, where visitors can sample a range of street food and shop for local handicrafts. Ayutthaya is a destination that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and cuisine and is a must-visit for anyone interested in exploring the rich heritage of Thailand.
Kanchanaburi is a province in western Thailand known for its beautiful natural scenery and historical landmarks. One of the main attractions in Kanchanaburi is the Bridge over the River Kwai, a popular spot for tourists to take photos and learn about the area’s history. Visitors can also explore the nearby JEATH War Museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits from World War II, as well as the Allied War Cemetery, the final resting place of thousands of Allied soldiers.
Another highlight of Kanchanaburi is the Erawan National Park, home to the stunning Erawan Waterfall. The waterfall comprises seven tiers, each with its natural swimming pool. Visitors can hike to the top of the waterfall, take in the beautiful scenery along the way, and cool off with a refreshing swim in the pools. Kanchanaburi is a destination that offers a unique blend of history and natural beauty and is a great choice for anyone looking to explore the more off-the-beaten-path areas of Thailand.
Sukhothai, located in northern Thailand, is home to the Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai. The park is known for its impressive temples and Buddha statues dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Visitors can explore the park on foot or rent a bike to get around, taking in the stunning architecture and learning about the area’s rich history. Sukhothai is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Thai history and culture.
In addition to the historical park, Sukhothai boasts beautiful natural scenery, including the Ramkhamhaeng National Park. The park is home to several waterfalls, hiking trails, and caves and is a popular spot for camping and outdoor activities. Visitors can also explore the Si Satchanalai Historical Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains the ruins of an ancient city. Sukhothai is a great destination for anyone looking to combine a love of history with a love of the great outdoors.
9. Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is a city in northern Thailand known for its stunning temples and natural beauty. The city is home to the famous White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun, a modern temple designed to resemble a vision of heaven. The temple is adorned with intricate details and features a stunning white facade unlike anything else in Thailand. Chiang Rai is also home to the Black House, or Baan Dam Museum, which is a collection of over 40 buildings that showcase the work of local artists and artisans.
Beyond the temples and museums, Chiang Rai is surrounded by natural beauty, perfect for outdoor activities. Visitors can trek through the mountains, explore the waterfalls, or take a relaxing boat ride down the Kok River. Chiang Rai is also home to several hill tribes, and visitors can learn about their culture and traditions through homestay programs and village tours. Chiang Rai is a destination that combines the best of art, culture, and nature and is a must-visit for anyone traveling to northern Thailand.
10. Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Thailand, just a few hours’ drive from Bangkok. It is one of Thailand’s largest and most popular national parks, with over 2,000 square kilometers of protected land home to an incredible array of wildlife and plants. Visitors to Khao Yai can explore the park’s dense jungles, spot wild elephants and tigers, and take in the stunning waterfalls and vistas the park offers.
One of the highlights of Khao Yai is its hiking trails, which offer a variety of routes for visitors of all skill levels. Some of the most popular trails include the Haew Suwat Waterfall Trail, which takes visitors to a stunning waterfall made famous by the movie “The Beach,” and the Pha Diao Dai Viewpoint Trail offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Whether you’re a nature lover, hiker, or simply looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, Khao Yai National Park is a must-visit destination in Thailand.
11. Koh Tao
Koh Tao, also known as “Turtle Island,” is a small island located in the Gulf of Thailand, near the popular tourist destinations of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Despite its small size, Koh Tao is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, making it a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. The island also offers a variety of other activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, and yoga retreats.
One of the highlights of Koh Tao is its famous diving sites, home to an incredible variety of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sharks, rays, and even whales. The island is also known for its lively nightlife scene, with various bars, restaurants, and beach parties. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Koh Tao is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Thailand.
12. Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is a beautiful island located in the Andaman Sea, off the coast of Krabi province. The island is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere, making it a popular destination for travelers seeking a more peaceful and relaxing vacation. The island offers a range of activities, from snorkeling and scuba diving to kayaking and beach yoga.
One of the highlights of Koh Lanta is its national park, which covers over 150 square kilometers of land and sea. The park is home to various wildlife, including macaques, hornbills, and sea turtles, as well as stunning waterfalls and hiking trails. The island also offers a variety of local restaurants and bars, serving delicious Thai cuisine and refreshing cocktails. Whether you’re looking to explore the island’s natural beauty or relax on the beach, Koh Lanta is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Thailand.
13. Railay Beach
Railay Beach, also known as Rai Leh, is a small peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang Beach. The beach is accessible only by boat due to the high limestone cliffs surrounding it, making for a truly unique and breathtaking experience. Railay Beach is known for its stunning white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and world-class rock climbing opportunities.
In addition to rock climbing, Railay Beach offers a variety of activities, including kayaking, snorkeling, and island hopping. Visitors can also take a short hike to a viewpoint to get panoramic views of the surrounding area. The beach is lined with restaurants and bars, offering a variety of local and international cuisine and refreshing drinks to enjoy while taking in the stunning scenery. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or just looking for a peaceful escape, Railay Beach is a must-visit destination in Thailand.
14. Koh Chang
Koh Chang is the second-largest island in Thailand, located in the Gulf of Thailand near the border of Cambodia. Known for its stunning white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush jungle, Koh Chang offers visitors a unique combination of natural beauty and adventure. The island is home to several waterfalls, hiking trails, and coral reefs, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
In addition to its natural attractions, Koh Chang has a vibrant nightlife scene. Visitors can enjoy a variety of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, offering everything from traditional Thai cuisine to international cuisine and live music. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the island’s natural beauty, or enjoy a night out on the town, Koh Chang has something to offer for everyone.
15. Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands are a group of six islands located in the Andaman Sea, between Phuket and the mainland of Thailand. Known for its stunning beaches, clear waters, and vibrant marine life, the Phi Phi Islands are a popular destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. The islands also offer visitors a variety of other activities, such as hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing.
The most popular island in the group is Phi Phi Don, the only island with accommodations for visitors. The island is known for its lively nightlife scene, with various bars and nightclubs entertaining well into the night. However, despite its popularity, the island still maintains its natural beauty and charm, with no cars or motorbikes allowed on the island and a laid-back island vibe that’s hard to resist.
16. Erawan National Park
Erawan National Park is a beautiful natural reserve in the Kanchanaburi Province of Thailand. The park is famous for its stunning seven-tiered waterfall, named after Erawan, the three-headed elephant from Hindu mythology. The waterfall is a popular destination for tourists who want to swim in the cool, clear waters or hike through the lush forest surrounding the falls. The park is also home to various wildlife, including elephants, gibbons, and macaques, making it a great destination for nature lovers. Visitors can explore the park on foot or hire a guide to take them on a trek through the jungle.
Aside from the waterfall, Erawan National Park is also home to several other natural attractions, including caves, hot springs, and hiking trails. One of the most popular hikes in the park is the trek to Phra That Cave, located at the top of a hill and offers stunning views of the surrounding forest. The cave is home to several Buddha images and is considered a sacred site by locals. Visitors can also soak in the nearby hot springs, which are said to have healing properties and are a great way to relax after a long day of hiking. All in all, Erawan National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to experience the natural beauty of Thailand.
17. Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon National Park is a nature lover’s paradise in Chiang Mai province. It is home to Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand, standing at 2,565 meters. The park boasts verdant forests, waterfalls, and hill tribe villages. It is a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and bird watchers. The park’s rich biodiversity is home to over 380 bird species, including rare species like the Green-tailed Sunbird and the White-browed Shortwing. The park is also home to several waterfalls, including the majestic Mae Ya waterfall, which cascades down a 260-meter drop, making it the highest waterfall. The park’s cool weather and fresh air make it an excellent escape from the heat and hustle of the city, making it an ideal destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
The park is also home to several trekking trails that allow visitors to explore the park’s stunning landscapes and diverse flora and fauna. For instance, the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is a scenic trail that takes visitors through a beautiful cloud forest and offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Another popular trail is the Ang Ka Nature Trail, a boardwalk trail that takes visitors through a beautiful and rare dwarf forest. The park’s stunning landscapes, rich biodiversity, and cultural heritage make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Thailand’s natural beauty.
18. Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son is a remote and mountainous province in northern Thailand that offers visitors a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas. The town of Mae Hong Son, which shares the same name as the province, is a quaint little place home to several ancient temples, bustling markets, and friendly locals. One of the most popular activities for tourists in the area is to trek through the lush green hills and forests surrounding Mae Hong Son and discover hidden villages and waterfalls.
In addition to trekking, Mae Hong Son is also a great place to visit if you’re interested in learning about the culture and traditions of the local hill tribes, such as the Karen, Lisu, and Lahu. Visitors can tour a traditional village and witness firsthand these indigenous groups’ unique customs and ways of life. For those seeking a more relaxed experience, the province is also home to several hot springs and spas where you can indulge in a therapeutic soak in natural mineral waters. With its breathtaking scenery, rich cultural heritage, and tranquil atmosphere, Mae Hong Son is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic and immersive experience in northern Thailand.
Pai is a small town located in the northern part of Thailand’s Chiang Mai province. This charming town has a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful scenery, including lush forests, waterfalls, and mountains. Pai has become increasingly popular with travelers due to its natural beauty and laid-back vibe. One of the best things to do in Pai is to rent a scooter and explore the surrounding countryside. There are many picturesque villages, hot springs, and temples to discover.
In addition to its natural beauty, Pai is also known for its vibrant arts and culture scene. The town has become a hub for artists and musicians, and there are numerous galleries and live music venues to explore. Many unique shops and markets also sell local handicrafts and artisanal products. Pai is a great destination for those looking to relax and immerse themselves in nature and culture.
Phetchaburi is a charming town located on the western coast of Thailand. It is a great destination for those who want to experience a laid-back vibe and learn about the country’s rich history and culture. One of the top attractions in Phetchaburi is the Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, a hilltop palace complex built in the 19th century. Visitors can explore the palace grounds, which feature beautiful gardens, ornate temples, and breathtaking views of the town and the surrounding countryside. Another must-see attraction is Wat Mahathat Worawihan, a Buddhist temple that dates back to the 12th century. The temple is known for its striking architecture and intricate carvings and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
Phetchaburi is also famous for its delicious local cuisine, influenced by the town’s Chinese and Muslim populations. Visitors can sample dishes, including spicy curries, seafood, and sweet desserts. One of the most popular dishes in Phetchaburi is khao chae, a refreshing rice dish traditionally served during the hot summer months. The town is also famous for its sweet treats, including khao lam (sweet sticky rice cooked in bamboo tubes) and Khanom mo kaeng (coconut custard). Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or cuisine, Phetchaburi is worth a visit.
Thailand is a traveler’s paradise with its stunning beaches, breathtaking natural landscapes, fascinating culture, and delicious food. The country offers something for everyone, whether you’re a budget traveler or a luxury seeker. With so many incredible places to choose from, it can be overwhelming to plan your itinerary, but we hope our list of the 20 best places to visit in Thailand has helped you narrow down your options.
No matter where you go in Thailand, you will surely have an unforgettable experience. Whether you want to relax on the beach, explore ancient temples, or try some of the best food in the world, Thailand has it all. So pack your bags, book your tickets, and prepare for a lifetime adventure!
Q: What is the best time to visit Thailand?
Ans: The best time to visit Thailand is between November and February, when the weather is cooler and drier. However, this is also the busiest tourist season, so expect higher prices and larger crowds. If you prefer fewer crowds and lower prices, consider visiting during the shoulder season from March to May or September to October.
Q: Do I need a visa to visit Thailand?
Ans: It depends on your nationality. Citizens of some countries can enter Thailand without a visa for a certain period, while others need to apply for a visa in advance. Check with your country’s Thai embassy or consulate to see if you need a visa.
Q: Is it safe to travel to Thailand?
Ans: Thailand is generally a safe country to travel to, but as with any destination, it’s important to take precautions to avoid theft and stay safe. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid walking alone at night, and be cautious of scams.
Q: What is the currency used in Thailand?
Ans: The currency used in Thailand is Thai baht. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, and credit cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Q: What are some must-try foods in Thailand?
Ans: Thailand is known for its delicious food, including pad Thai, green curry, tom yum soup, and sticky mango rice. Street food is also a big part of the culinary scene in Thailand, so be sure to try local favorites like grilled meats, som tam (papaya salad), and khao soi (curried noodles).