Top 10 Places to Visit in Thailand

By on April 9, 2018

Visiting Thailand is to experience a dizzying array of delights. From the mountains of the north to the tropical beaches of the islands, from the lush jungles to the colourful cities, Thailand is a diverse landscape of supreme beauty. With such choices competing for the top 10 places to visit in Thailand, rest assured that these are the best of the best.

Places to visit in Thailand

Phuket is Thailand’s top destination, boasting pristine beaches and relaxing activities. The island is also in a great location with accessibility to the Phi Phi Islands.

Another great place to visit in Thailand:

1. Phanom Rung

Popular Cities in Thailand

Chiang Mai takes your breath away: located up in northern Thailand’s mountains and hosting a sacred temple, it’s our best Thai city.

Other fantastic cities in Thailand are:

1. Bangkok

2. Pai

Vacation Spots in Thailand

Koh Samui is our top vacation spot. With world-class beaches, fun day trips, cultural highlights and great food, it’s worth the ferry trip to this sliver of paradise.

A close second for the top Thai holidaying spot:

1. Phi Phi Islands

Best Beaches in Thailand

Thailand’s most popular beach, Patong bustles with jet skiers during the day and party-goers at night. It’s also within walking distance of restaurants and shops.

Thailand’s other most beautiful beaches include:

1. Phra Nang Cave Beach

2. Nai Harn Beach

Top 10 Places in Thailand

Phuket

Phuket is Thailand’s top destination, boasting pristine beaches and relaxing activities. The island is also in a great location with accessibility to the Phi Phi Islands.

Main Attractions

You’ll have a tough time deciding whether the days or nights are better in Phuket. Top of the beautiful beaches are bustling Patong beach, as well as Kata Beach and Kata Noi Beach, quieter and pristine which also offer snorkeling and surfing. Paradise Beach hosts the legendary Full Moon parties.

The Big Buddha, a 45m high statue on Nakkerd Hills, is a great lookout with views across the entire island.

Sailing through Ao Phang Nga Bay Marine National Park, the location of the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, is also worthwhile. This is the poster image of Thailand: gigantic cliffs topped with lush greenery which frame islets that seem to float in the teal sea.

Nights are best spent on Bangla Road, a collection of bars, clubs and shows.

Useful Information

Getting to Phuket

  • Phuket is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge.
  • Buses from Bangkok take 12 to 14 hours; hiring a car will be infinitely more comfortable and a leisurely road trip will allow you plenty of photo stops.
  • If you’re in a hurry, take a one hour flight from Bangkok.

Big Buddha

  • To visit the Big Buddha, tourists need to be respectfully dressed. If you’re coming straight from the beach, sarongs are available for free at the entrance.
  • The hike up takes about an hour and scooters with weaker engines often struggle.
  • Opening hours: 8:00-19:30 (get here for a spectacular sunset)

Phanom Rung

Visiting Thailand is to enter an ancient civilisation and there’s nowhere better to experience this rich history than Phanom Rung.

Main Attractions

Phanom Rung’s a religious sanctuary constructed between the 9th and 12th centuries, a site of darkened ruins framed by lush greenery. At its heart is the Temple of Shiva: incredibly, built above a volcano to symbolise the Hindu god’s heavenly home. Accessed by a dramatic staircase, this is a stunning Thai sunrise spot, if you can get here early enough.

The ticket for Phanom Rung is also valid for Muang Tam, a nearby site of an ancient Khmer city with an atmospheric temple many consider more beautiful than Phanom Rung. The area is rustic and uncommercialised, making it one of the best places in Thailand for an authentic experience.

Useful Information

Getting there

  • That same authenticity comes at the price of accessibility. Nang Rong is the nearest town for an overnight visit.
  • It may be worthwhile making the 80km, either way, day trip from the town Surin, more interesting than Nang Rong.
  • Opening hours: 8:00-18:00, daily.

For added value to your trip east, visit Amphoe Na Pho, a village under royal patronage for silk weaving. Picture it as a 360 degree view of the silk industry: here you can observe the worms themselves, watch the weavers, try your hand at the traditional skill and load up on Thai souvenirs.

Bangkok

If you’re wondering where to go in Thailand, start with Bangkok. The Thai capital is also the world’s most visited city; you can’t go wrong with that!

Main Attractions

One of the best places to see in Thailand is the Grand Palace. A complex of glittering palaces and temples, it’s still used by Thai royals for state occasions. One of the highlights of a visit here is Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand’s most sacred site which contains a statue of Buddha known as the Emerald Buddha and carved from jade over 500 years ago.

Ever dreamt of shopping on water? Head to one of the Thai capital’s floating markets. Sometimes called the Venice of the East, Bangkok has a vast network of waterways. The most popular and photogenic floating market is Damnoen Saduak where vendors pile their boats with fresh fruits and cook quick meals for visitors.

A more authentic market to visit is Khlong Lat Mayom, with a laid back atmosphere and delicious Thai food.

Useful Information

Getting around:

Damnoen Saduak

The market is located an hour outside of the city and then it’s a further 20 minutes by longboat to the actual market.

Khlong Lat Mayom

Taking a direct taxi is the easiest. Once there, hop on a boat tour, which usually includes stops at temples or homestays, too, from just 50 Baht.

The Grand Palace

  • A strict dress code is enforced: covered knees, shoulders and feet(socks or closed shoes) and no transparent clothing.
  • Opening hours: 8:30-15:30, daily
  • Entrance fee: 500 Baht

Chiang Mai

Mountainside Chiang Mai’s the place to slow down from the bustle of Bangkok and get down to Thailand’s best local experiences , while also seeing some amazing physical sites.

Main Attractions

Take the steep hike, intended to develop the religious mindset, to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Chiang Mai’s premier temple. The temple contains a relic of Buddha’s shoulder bone. The complex also houses a huge shining monument to the city’s union with Thailand after Burmese rule. Meditation courses are on offer at Doi Suthep Vipassana.

Hike Wat Phra That Doi Suthep on a Saturday so you can reward yourself with generous meals at the Saturday Walking Street Market. The 1km stretch is also the best place to shop up a storm of local items such as silverware and woodwork.

Doi Inthanon National Park is home to the tallest mountain in Thailand, verdant vegetation and refreshing waterfalls. Competing with the summit are two royal memorials. It’s an ideal location for a relaxing afternoon.

Useful Information

Getting there

Located in the mountainous north, Chiang Mai is a long 11-hour bus trip from Bangkok, while flights are 70 minutes. Don’t be put off; this is one city in Thailand you can’t miss.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

  • The temple is outside the city centre, so take a shared taxi for around 50 Baht if you prefer to avoid the climb.
  • Opening hours:6:00-18:00
  • Entrance fee: 30 Baht

Doi Inthanon National Park

  • It’s best to hire a car for the drive out to the park or take one of the offered day tours.
  • Entrance fee: 300 Baht

Pai

Pai, a trendy hipster haven, is surrounded by natural beauty and offers a host of activities to help you kick back.

Main Attractions

No visit to Thailand would be complete without wandering through its countryside.The best waterfalls in the area are Pombak and Mo Paeng. Pombak requires a scooter to reach and is therefore less visited and more idyllic.

From there, you can also visit the Su Thong Pae, a 500m bamboo bridge over the rice fields that dot the area.

Thom’s Elephant Park is where you can meet Thailand’s most iconic animal. As an exciting alternative to rides, you can accompany the elephants on treks through the mountains and play with them in the river. Courses on becoming a mahout, an elephant keeper, are also available.

The Pai Hot Springs Resort is another great destination to unwind.

Back inside the town itself, spend afternoons in the funky coffee shops and end days at the Night Walking Street Market, a collection of stalls selling clothes, food, and souvenirs.

Useful Information

Getting there:

Pai’s 135km from Chiang Mai and the journey takes 3-4 hours by minibus. It’s a scenic route and some tourists even choose to do it on a motorbike.

If you’re coming from Bangkok on public transport, it’s worth stopping in Chiang Mai first as there’s no direct bus between the two Thai cities. It’s a 12-hour drive.

Getting around:

Attractions layout of town, so hire a car or, if you’re feeling a bit more daring, a scooter.

Scooter hire for a day costs around 100 Baht and has become typical of tourists in Thailand.

The Pai Hot Springs Resort

Entrance fee:100 Baht

Koh Samui

Koh Samui abounds with luxury resorts where you can easily stay a week to soak up sun, water and cultural highlights.

Main Attractions

The best beach in Koh Samui is Chaweng Beach, frequented around the clock. Watersports, pedicures, tattoos, swimming and fine dining are just some of the activities possible on this beautiful beach. Lamai beach, the second resort on the island, is more relaxed and just as stunning as Chaweng.

There’s no need to take your feet off the soft sand at Fisherman’s Village Samui where restaurants are right on the beach. On Fridays, the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street Market brings both locals and tourists together for a shopping experience like no other.

Ang Thong Marine National Park contains 42 islands with hidden waterfalls and beautiful beaches. A boat trip around the area is an ideal excursion from Koh Samui, although simple bungalows are available for overnight stays. Hiking, snorkeling and birdwatching are also popular pursuits.

You can catch a glimpse of the 12m high golden Buddha from a distance but it’s well worth coming up close where you can also visit some of Thailand’s ornate temples and shop for lucky charms.

Useful Information

Getting there:

  • It’s a 75 minute flight to Koh Samui from Bangkok.
  • It’s cheaper to take a bus or train to Surat Thani and then board a 90 minute ferry to the island.

Big Buddha Temple

  • Dress conservatively as a sign of respect.
  • Opening hours: all day, daily.

Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi Islands are near Phuket but one of Thailand’s best vacation spots in their own right.

Main Attractions

Maya Bay is the most beautiful beach on these shores and has the seal of approval from Hollywood with The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, filmed here. The calm turquoise waters lap gently at powdery sand while the bay is shielded by vast green cliffs.

On Koh Phi Phi Don, take the short walk up to the Phi Phi View Point which provides an incredible lookout for the H-shaped island.

Diving is another popular activity in the islands. The waters are home to rare white coral, as well as colourful bushes and seaweed growing in a network of underwater caves and arches. Try Koh Bida Nok, one of the smaller islands. At Hin Pae, a ten-minute boat trip from Tonsai Bay, snorkeling is ideal and small sharks are often spotted.

Away from the waters, there’s also rock climbing and cooking classes on offer. Tonsai Tower, 200m high limestone cliff, has different routes and is ideal for beginners through to the experienced.

Useful Information

Getting there and around

A speedboat takes 45 minutes from Phuket. There are six islands in the archipelago, the main one being Koh Phi Phi Don from which you can take boats to the other islands.

Tonsai Tower

Located at Tonsai Beach on Koh Phi Phi Don

Pum’s Cooking School

  • Costs: from 500 Baht
  • Times: courses are run thrice daily

Patong Beach

A beautiful, tropical beach, Patong is the heartline of Phuket. Forget just swimming; here it’s about the activities, both in the water and on the shore.

Main Attractions

Patong is 4km long and its white shores are always busy. The water sports on offer include parasailing and jet skiing. Learn to surf in a controlled environment at Surf House, just off the beach.

Along the beach, strip are countless restaurants serving food from around the world and shops full of souvenirs. At night, music from nearby clubs and bars brings the party to the beach, as well.

Useful Information

Getting there:

Patong Beach is at the heart of Patong Town on Phuket. Phuket is reachable by air or land from Bangkok.

Jetski hire

When selecting your jetski, carefully inspect it and confirm that the shop knows of any minor scratches to avoid being charged for damage afterwards.

Surf House

  • Costs: 1000 Baht per hour

Phra Nang Cave Beach

Phra Nang Cave Beach gets top marks from everyone who visits. With an exotic environment and interesting landmarks, it’s easy to see why.

Main Attractions

The beach is surrounded by magnificent cliffs and in the bay is a rock island which is easily reached by swimming. One of the best beaches in Thailand, Phra Nang has soft white sand and swimming in the clear waters is an unforgettable experience.

In a quiet corner of this beautiful beach is an intriguing attraction: the Phra Nang Cave. It’s a shrine to Shiva where locals devote phallic representations with prayers for children and abundant seafood catches. Stories of how the cave came to be a religious site vary and make for fascinating legends.

Rock climbing the cliffs is one of the popular things to do on this Thai beach. A hike starts in another cave on the beach, leading to a mountainside lagoon.

Useful Information

Getting there:

Phra Nang beach is accessible only by boat from Ao Nang, a mainland town in southern Thailand which costs about 100 Baht.

Ao Nang, in turn, is a 10 ½ hour drive from Bangkok. You can fly to Krabi Town, 20km from Ao Nang.

Real Rocks Climbing

Climbs for all levels are available on Phra Nang Beach.

Nai Harn Beach

Just 20 minutes from Patong, lies its peaceful counterpart: Nai Harn Beach.

Main Attractions

Nai Harn’s pristine white sands and blue waters are enough to excite anyone but it’s the laid-back atmosphere that sets it apart. Fortunately, there are still plenty of eateries on the beach strip and massages are on offer both in shops and on the sand.

The sheltered bay makes an ideal spot for sailing and Promthep Cape, a great viewpoint of Phuket island’s iconic shape, is nearby.

Useful Information

Getting there:

From Phuket Town, taxis and buses are easily found. Motorbikes are also available for hire. It’s a 45-minute journey.

Pink Shrimp Yachting

Day trips to Surin Beach with lunch included are on offer.

These top 10 destinations form an itinerary that can’t be beaten. The best locations to visit in Thailand offer incredible experiences of the country’s historical, cultural and natural wonders. If you bucket list these top 10 places to visit in Thailand, you’re sure to verify that the country really is the Land of Smiles.

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