The epic palm-lined beaches bordering crystal clear coastlines, the glittering ancient temple spires, and the magnificent mountainscapes dotted with ethnic elephant sanctuaries. With so many things to explore and adventures to be had, where should you begin, and which places you shouldn’t miss?
We have summed up the best sights from North, Central to South that embrace all of Thailand’s vibrant culture and beautiful nature.
It is no exaggeration to say that Chiang Mai is the cultural hub of Thailand. This former capital city of Lanna Kingdom is still dotted with numerous iconic Buddhist temples, including the golden Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Located on the Doi Suthep mountain on the western outskirts of Chiang Mai, it is one of the most sacred temples in northern Thailand. The locals come here to worship Buddha, and the visitors come here to admire the seven-headed serpent statues lining the stairs and the splendid Lanna architecture with exquisite details.
Opening hours: 6AM–8PM
Entrance fee: 30 Baht
None would ever leave Chiang Mai without spending some time interacting ethically with the elephants in Elephant Nature Park. This is a great chance for you to make friends with the gentle giants and get involved in creating a better living environment for them.
Opening hours: 7AM–5PM
Entrance fee: Adults: 2500 Baht; Children: 1800 Baht
Wat Rong Khun, or “the White Temple” attracts thousands of tourists each year coming to admire its visually striking design. A mixture of contemporary and classic style, Wat Rong Khun is a masterpiece of Chalermchai Khositpipat, famous Thai visual artist. While the white color is aimed to symbolize the purity of the Buddha, the glasses reflect the Buddha’s wisdom shining over the earth and the universe.
Opening hours: 6AM–8PM
Entrance fee: 50 Baht
In the former capital city of Thailand, lies one of Thailand’s cultural highlights: the Sukhothai Historical Park. Home to countless well-preserved temple ruins from the glorious times, leaving our generation a lot of worthy information to study, the park was recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some must-visit attractions inside the park include Wat MahaThat, Wat Sa Si, Wat Sri Sawai, … As no cars or motorbikes are allowed inside the park, riding a bicycle is the best option to explore all the impressive ruins.
Opening hours: 6:30AM–7:30PM
Entrance fee: The park is divided into 5 zones (The central city, west, east, south, and north) and entrance fee to each zone is 100 Baht (or you can purchase a pass to all zones for 350 Baht)
Lying on a small hill just about 10 kilometers away from the city of Phrae, Wat Phra That Cho Hae is considered as one of the most sacred Buddhist sites dating back from the Sukhothai era. Literally meaning the “temple of the relic wrapped in satin cloth”, Wat Phra That Cho Hae was named after the silk woven from Sip Song Panna used to wrap the 33-meter-tall Chiang Saen-style phra that (pagoda) which enshrines the holy hair relic of the Buddha.
Opening hours: 6AM–7PM
Entrance fee: none
Pai is the sleepy country town hidden in between the valleys of the mountainous region of Mae Hong Son Province. The natural beauty, the peaceful laid-back atmosphere, and the friendliness of the locals add more charm to this Northern Thailand’s hidden gem. It is the place to leave all the stresses from the outer world and reconnect with your inner-self once again.
Wat Arun, also known as The Temple of Dawn, looks like a massive missile rising strikingly on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. As one of the city’s most remarkable attractions, Wat Arun with its architectural splendor has listed itself in most Bangkok visitors’ bucket lists. To catch the most breathtaking view of the temple during sunset, make sure to be at the east bank of the river before sunset.
Open time: 7.30 am to 5.30 pm
Admission fee: 100 Baht
Located just 100 km from Bangkok, Damnoen Saduak is one of the most popular floating markets around Bangkok. Hop onto a long-tailed wooden boat, explore the bustling trading scenes of the locals doing business directly on the river, taste the best local foods, search for unique souvenirs to bring home, and maybe learn how to bargain with the sellers too.
Opening time: 7AM–5PM
Boat fee: 400 Baht per person on a shared boat or 2000 Baht per boat seating six people.
Another unique market experience not to be missed in Bangkok is visiting the Maeklong railway market. All the local stalls and vendors still use the narrow stretch of train track as their market space. As soon as they hear the horn of the coming train, they will move all their stuff away in a blink of an eye and then bring them back when the train has passed. Get your camera ready to take a shot of this funny scene. And don’t forget to try some local treats like fresh tropical fruits or dried snacks.
Opening time: from 6.00 am - 6.00 pm
Entrance fee: free
Once the official residence of the Royal Family since 1782, the Grand Palace is now used for ceremonial purposes only. Spreading over an area of 94.5-hectare, the Palace houses more than 100 buildings with exquisite royal architecture, from the three-tiered roof presenting the royal structures, Buddha images, scriptures, golden stupas, to color porcelain mosaics. Spend some hours of your trip admiring the grandeur of this expansive complex.
Opening time: 8.30AM - 3.30AM
Entrance fee: 500 Baht
Locally known as Koh Tapu, the island became a popular destination for foreign travelers after featuring in the 1974 Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun. The name “James Bond Island” also appeared after that. Located in the Phang Nga Bay and about 25 km northeast of Phuket, the island is also renowned for its unusual limestone rock formations rising marvelously from the azure seas.
Besides roaming on the white sandy beaches of Phuket, don’t forget to pay the Old Phuket Town a visit. Lining both sides of the streets are Sino-Portuguese style shophouses, creating a lively vibe. Expect to encounter some ancient Thai temples, colorful Chinese shrines, museums, some old mansions with impressive design, and some mural paintings along the road.
Koh Phi Phi or Phi Phi Islands are a group of 2 big islands: Koh Phi Phi Don & Koh Phi Phi Le, and other 4 smaller nearby islands. While Phi Phi Don is famous as a great climbing site with Tonsai Tower, Phi Phi Le attracts tourists with its stunning Maya Bay - a bay with crystal clear waters harboring a white sandy beach. The clear water and rich marine life make Koh Phi Phi the perfect snorkeling and diving destination.
Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts should not leave Similan Islands out of their lists. As an archipelago of 11 islands in the Andaman Sea, Similan Islands boasts clear blue water, dramatic rock formations covered by lush forest, colorful coral reefs as well as diverse wildlife species.
Kayaking, rock climbing, cave exploring, snorkeling, hiking, swimming. You will never get bored on the Railay beach. Located on the Railay Peninsula, Railay Beach with its picture-postcard setting, turquoise water, limestone cliffs, and incredible accommodations is a real must on any trip to Krabi.
There are various reasons for visitors to come to Koh Samui: the breathtaking beach scenes, incredible Buddhist temples, tropical jungles with exotic wildlife, stunning waterfalls, and all the exciting excursions this island has to offer. Whether you are looking for ultimate relaxation on a tranquil beach, for some party fun, or for some privacy to reconnect with your family, this island always has something to make your dream vacation come true.