There are many awesome things to do in Thailand. The country has a lot to offer, so… how can you know what places to go, and what experiences to live? We ask some travel bloggers that had traveled to Thailand before which are the best thing to do in Thailand according to their experiences. Find out here come out of the tourist path and other that you just can’t miss on your trip to Thailand.
- 1 Bangkok
- 2 Koh Tao Island
- 3 Ayutthaya
- 4 Chiang Mai
- 5 Koh Lipe
- 6 Koh Lanta
- 7 Hua Hin
- 8 Phuket
- 9 Chiang Rai
Eating and shopping down the infamous Th Khao San
by TraveLynn Family
One of the first things we do whenever we land in Bangkok to explore Thailand is head to the infamous Th Khao San for food and shopping! All travelers find themselves here and one point and it is an absolute must do for anyone venturing to Thailand. You could wile many an hour away along Th Khao San. Indeed, many arrive in the early afternoon to browse the markets (it’s a great place to stock up on T-shirts, sarongs, and skirts, as well as souvenirs) and then find themselves still perched on a plastic chair, tucking into their third pad thai of the day come closing time.
It also makes for some fascinating people-watching and if you’re visiting Bangkok with kids, you’ll find Th Khao San incredibly family friendly; many restaurants have high chairs and all are welcome to young kids. However, step a few streets away from the chaos and you will stumble upon the quintessential side of Bangkok, a collection of ramshackle laneways, shining temples and antique shophouses.
Thonburi Canal Tour Bangkok
by Little City Trips
Bangkok was once known as the ‘Venice of the East’ thanks to its large network of canals during the 18th and 19th Centuries. However many of these canals were filled in to create roads with the growth and urbanization of Bangkok.
One area where many of these khlongs or canals remain intact is Thonburi. Located across the other side of the Chao Praya River from the Grand Place, Thonburi remained an independent province from Bangkok until 1971 and so escaped much of the modernization of the rest of the city.
Thonburi has therefore maintained much of its original rustic charm, and as you cruise the criss-cross of Thonburi canals in your longboat you can admire the old wooden bridges, ramshackle teak buildings, and traditional temples that remain alongside newer developments. It’s a very different side to Bangkok.
Ask your longboat driver to stop off at the Baan Silapin (Artist’s House). Housed in a 200-year old teak house, this artist’s community is a cultural treasure trove. There are traditional puppets to admire, and an upstairs gallery full of art to browse through and you can watch the artists at work.
The highlight here is the traditional puppet show, held every afternoon at 2 pm except Wednesdays. The show is based on the traditional story of Hanuman, and the puppet troupe is really talented and hugely entertaining. Lots of laughs guaranteed!
Wat Phra Kaew & the Grand Palace Bangkok
by Mum on the Move
No visit to Bangkok is complete without a visit to Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. This sprawling complex of intricately decorated temples is home to the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, and the highly revered Emerald Buddha, which is carved from a single block of jade.
No matter how many temples you have visited, you can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer scale and opulence of Wat Phra Kaew and the adjoining Grand Palace. There are glittering gold and jewels all around you and the intricacy of the design of the pagodas, holy buildings and statues are impressive. Having your photo taken with the towering gatekeepers is a Thailand must-do!
Note there is a strict dress code for Wat Phra Kaew. Everybody must have his or her legs and shoulders covered. If you arrive at the temple without proper attire, you will be directed to an office where you can purchase long trousers/t-shirts with sleeves for your visit.
Just a short walk from Wat Phra Kaew is Wat Pho with its giant reclining Buddha. It is also worth visiting if you are in the area.
Experience the Songkran Festival
by Val & Nick (of The Wandering Wheatleys)
The Thai new year’s celebration takes place on April 13th, 14th, and 15th every year. But the way that they celebrate may surprise you. It’s referred to as Songkran and it’s known as the biggest water fight in the world. While much of the country celebrate the holiday, you’ll find the biggest party in the bustling city of Bangkok. Most business people have time off work and many shops and restaurants shut down. Even entire streets close to car traffic and are filled with locals and foreigners alike, armed with water guns and soaking wet.
Beginning around noon each day the streets of Khao San Road and Silom are packed with people. Bars offer ice cold beers and huge buckets of water for refilling water guns. Some people even connect hoses to fire hydrants for a more aggressive (and painful) approach. Tuk-tuks drive passengers around while they spray everyone in sight.
If you venture into either of these areas you’ll find it nearly impossible to stay dry. And if you happen to be just arriving at your hotel or just leaving, be sure to wrap your luggage in plastic because no one is off limits.
The use of chalk is also quite common during Songkran as it originated by Monks to mark blessings. People love to rub it on the faces of strangers for good luck. So on top of being soaking wet, you’ll also be covered in chalk.
It’s one of the most unique and exciting experiences you’ll ever have in Thailand!
Check-Out Soi Rambuttri
by Gumnuts Abroad
Less touristy and hectic than nearby Khao San Road, Soi Rambuttri is a haven for budget travelers and backpackers. Even so, the banyan tree lined lane’s energy attracts a more upmarket crowd. The bars are more artsy and alternative without any of the headache-inducing techno club music you find elsewhere. The leafy street is lined with colorful lanterns and twinkling fairy lights giving it a chilled mellow vibe. Take a stroll along the paved street and soak up the atmosphere. But for something truly original stop and have a beer or a pretty cocktail from the back of a neon-lit retro van. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Thailand.
Seeing Wild Elephants in Khao Yai National Park
One of the most rewarding wildlife experiences that I have lived through is seeing elephants in the wild in Khao Yai National Park. I had many opportunities to go to a sanctuary to see elephants, but I am not totally comfortable with the idea of interacting with animals that should be wild and something I would not want to support, so traveling to Khao Yai was the perfect way to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat.
Khao Yai National Park is a couple of hours by train from Bangkok, and one of the best places in Asia to observe elephants in the wild. Of course, like with anything involving wild animals, there is no guarantee that you will see them, but I was really lucky that while I was with my guide in the middle of the jungle looking for hornbills, we received a message from a ranger letting us know that a family of elephants had been seen bathing in one of the ponds. We run back to the jeep and when we arrived there was a herd of elephants in a clearance, so we could see them clearly from a safe distance. It was a truly magical experience and one that I will never forget.
Take the Train to Kanchanaburi
The railroad from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and beyond was built by Prisoners of War and slave laborers during World War II. In was cut through the virgin jungle into Burma (now Myanmar) to provide a vital supply route for the Japanese. You may know some of this history from the movie “Bridge on the River Kwai”.
While the 100 Baht train ride from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, where you can walk across the bridge that was made famous in the movie is pleasant, this is part of Thailand’s dark history. It was 60 years ago when this happened when the world was at war, but there are many reminders of what took place. It’s possible to walk part of the abandoned railway track, cut by hand, through Hellfire Pass. You should pay respects and remember the 100,000 lives that were lost in the building of this route.
It is a moving and sobering place to visit. The museum at Hellfire Pass and the walk along the abandoned tracks there a reminder to all of the horrors of war. Further museums in Kanchanaburi document the lives and deaths of the prisoners of war. Salute them as you ride the trestles of the Wampo Viaduct back to Bangkok and remember what you see with the words of the memorial at Hellfire Pass “When you go home, tell them of us and say we gave our tomorrow for your today”.
Koh Tao Island
Diving on Koh Tao Island
by Horizon Unknown
Koh Tao is one of Thailand’s most well-known islands due to its amazing and cost-effective diving that is available. Whether you’re a complete novice diver looking for your open water diving certification, like I was, or looking to further your diving experience, the stunning Koh Tao island has something to suit you.
With plenty of companies to choose from, finding the right fit is easy! Dive group sizes vary and each instructor is qualified to handle any issues that arise. A hose on my inflatable vest (BCD) busted around 25 meters deep and my instructor knew exactly what to do! Feeling safe that far under the surface of the water is a must for many divers.
Not only is Koh Tao extremely cheap in comparison to most other dive sites around the world, but it’s also much more cost effective than other destinations in Thailand! But being so cheap doesn’t mean corners are cut with safety, and there is plenty of amazing sights to see in this underwater world.
With plenty of fish, sharks and other marine life to observe, there’s always something more to see under the surface off Koh Tao Island. There’s even a shipwreck sitting at 30 meters deep! – the HTMS Sattakut.
If you have ever thought of giving diving a go, traveling to Koh Tao is an amazing spot to get acquainted with this foreign world.
Lunch boat trip in Ayutthaya
by Gamin Traveler
One of the best things we ever did during our trip to Ayutthaya was to have lunch on a boat in the river. It was such an idyllic experience to eat with a loved one while cruising the river in Ayutthaya. In this trip, we were able to see the Pet Fortress, Wat Phananchoeng, Wat Putthalsawan, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Wat Chai Watthanaram and the Memorial Stupa of Queen Suriyothai.
The cruise also made us appreciate the scenic views and the cool breeze along with the excellent Thai food. We had some coconut soup, spring rolls, and vegetables with rice that were all prepared and served the authentic Thai way. Just imagine eating excellent food and having interesting conversations in a private place while looking out to breathtaking scenery for an hour and a half. You can take so many wonderful photos and keep such beautiful memories when you take a lunch boat trip in Ayutthaya.
Taking a cooking class in Chiang Mai
Thailand has its own very distinct cuisine, and the food is often said to be the highlight of many travelers trip! If you want to learn how to recreate some of those delicious flavors, I highly recommend taking a cooking class. Chiang Mai is a real “foodie” city and offers some great classes. Prices are not expensive, considering that you keep all the food you make! Cooking classes usually include a trip to the local market to pick up the ingredients and maybe a walk around a herb garden. Then it is straight to the kitchen where you get to choose a few different dishes to recreate. You will definitely learn to make a traditional Thai curry by crushing a variety of herbs and spices into a paste, as well as perhaps spring rolls, noodles or Thai deserts.
The cooking schools are accommodating to different diets too and provided me with tofu as I don’t eat meat. At the end of the day, I left with a full stomach, better cooking skills, and new friends! I suggest asking around for recommendations for specific cooking schools off other travelers, as a first-hand experience is always the best way to judge quality.
Mae Hong Son Loop
We all know that Thailand is a pretty touristy country. However, that does not mean that there are no authentic places to explore. The Mae Hong Son Loop is the best example of this.
To complete this route you will only need a motorcycle and clothes for a few days. As a reward, you’ll find off-the-beaten-path villages, colorful markets, beautiful waterfalls and some of the friendliest people in the country.
Although there are several options to complete the loop, the classic route starts and ends in Chiangmai (where there is a wide option of motorcycle rental), passing through Pai, Mae Sariang and the Doi Inthanon National Park. In addition, the regions bordering Myanmar offer top quality trekking trails for the more adventurous!
Cafe hopping in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, unofficial coffee capital of Northern Thailand, has more cafes than you could possibly hope to visit. An afternoon (or maybe a whole day) spent hopping between cute cafes is a great way to experience Chiang Mai beyond the Old City walls.
My favorite neighborhood for cafes (and probably the area with the highest concentration) is Nimman, just west of the Old City. This district is very popular with students and digital nomads alike, who often camp out at cafes and work from their laptops. No one seems to mind if you set up for several hours and use the free Wi-Fi as long as you order a few things from the menu. Not that you’ll have any trouble: cafes in Chiang Mai serve excellent coffee and tea, not to mention fresh fruit smoothies, and most have a generous cake cabinet (Chiang Mai definitely has a bit of a sweet tooth).
Beyond Nimman, you’ll find cafes of all shapes and sizes hidden away in lush gardens and on the grounds of wats, inside luxe hotel lobbies and shopping malls. From ultra-chic to hole-in-the-wall, there’s something for every taste. It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite—but I love Akha Ama, which uses organic coffee beans grown sustainably in Northern Thailand.
Temple hopping in Chiang Mai
by Temples and Treehouses
Chiang Mai in northern Thailand has an incredible walled old town. There are lots of cute winding streets with quirky shops, backpacker bars, and amazing restaurants and street food. But what struck me most about Chiang Mai was the sheer number of beautiful temples that lined the streets.
In the old town, you’ll see a glittering Buddhist temple in almost every direction, and one of the most amazing experiences you can have in Thailand is devoting a couple of hours to pounding the pavements and visiting at least the most famous temples, such as Wat Phra Singh and Wat Phan Tao (“wat” means “temple”). It’s also very well worth the trip to visit the hilltop temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (or Doi Suthep for short), around 10 miles / 15km outside the city.
Don’t forget to be respectful when you visit and cover your shoulders and knees, and take off your shoes when you go inside the temples.
Beach bumming in Koh Lipe
by Tara Lets Anywhere
Koh Lipe is tagged as the “Maldives of Thailand” and lucky are the tourists who find themselves in this small island in the south of Thailand. Unlike the more popular beach destinations in the country, Koh Lipe isn’t that commercialized yet so it’s the perfect place to beach bum!
Koh Lipe has 3 main beaches: Pattaya Beach, Sunrise Beach and Sunset Beach.
- Pattaya Beach is the busiest beach of these since this is where the ferries stop and where the immigration is. Nonetheless, the beach here is still a beautiful shade of green and the sand is white and super soft.
- For us, Sunrise Beach is the best beach for swimming. It has blue water which probably earned Koh Lipe its nickname. There are only a few boats here and it’s an ideal location for relaxing for a whole afternoon.
- Sunset Beach is the place to go to for viewing the sunset. There are towels and seats prepared for sunset viewers and stalls selling refreshing drinks as well.
There are other activities offered in Koh Lipe such as snorkeling and diving. But, given the quality of the beaches, beach bumming tops it all.
Snorkel in Koh Rok
Thailand has always been famous for its picture-perfect beaches and long stretches of pure white sand and crystal clear blue waters however it wasn’t underneath the water that is extraordinary. We recently traveled to Koh Lanta and took the kids on a snorkeling tour to nearby Koh Rok. Koh Rok is an uninhabited island and just off the coast are some spectacular coral reefs with amazing visibility.
The tour took us to 3 different spots where you jump off the back of the boat straight on to the reef and snorkel for about 30 mins at each sight. The kids loved seeing all the Nemo’s a.k.a clown fish, parrot fish, angel fish and the lovely coral formation thriving with marine life right underneath them.
Snorkeling is great for kids and there are all sorts of different ways to keep them safe, my kids can swim well however we like to put them in a life vest while snorkeling, just for peace of mind. There’s a whole other world down there and Thailand is the perfect place to start with the warm waters and abundant opportunities.
Discover Remote Beaches of Koh Lanta on a Scooter
by Travel Geekery
When in Thailand, you must discover the islands too! My favorite is Koh Lanta. The noodle shaped island offers a lot of opportunities for exploration. You don’t need to spend your days lying at the main beach ‘the Long Beach’, which definitely is the longest but also the most boring 🙂
Rent a scooter like every proper traveler to Koh Lanta does and go explore all the beaches along the western shore! The further down south you go, the more beautiful the beaches become. Many of the won’t be seen from the road, and that’s a good sign. You don’t want a road right by a pristine beach!
I encourage you to find your own favorite beach. Mine is the Ao Mai Pai (Bamboo Bay) Beach all the way in the South, just above the National Park located in Koh Lanta’s southern tip. If you like white sand, turquoise clear water, and an occasional palm tree, you might also fall in love with this particular beach. If not, perhaps one of the other small beaches will tickle your fancy – whether it’s Ba Kantiang Bay, Ao Nui Beach or Klong Jark Beach.
High tea in Hua Hin, Thailand
by Cathy Travelling
High tea in Hua Hin wasn’t on my list of things to do in Thailand but with an opportunity to spend time at Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas. I couldn’t resist!
We arrive at a luxurious European style resort built in the 1920s; designed by an Italian architect. We sit under large verandahs that protect you from sun and rain listening to music and take in the view of the immaculate gardens. People sit enjoying the peaceful surrounds and beauty. I order a Pink Flamingo Tea to begin.
The food is delicious with everything in small morsels. I start with salmon sandwiches, panini and sausage rolls. Then delightful sweet treats: scones with jam and cream, cupcakes, cheesecake, tartlets, tiramisu and so much more; finishing with fresh fruit.
A walk through the grounds with beautifully manicured gardens toward Hua Hin Beach. We watch the sky turn from day to night. Afternoon tea is from 3.00 – 6.00pm and we don’t miss a minute of our time at Centara. What a magical experience!
Chalong Bay Distillery
by Once in a Lifetime Journey
Chalong Bay Distillery was started by two French men who wanted to make the most of Phuket’s wealth of sugar cane by creating a rum that would be locally produced using sugar cane grown on the island.
The distillery is a great place to visit for a couple of hours as they offer tours every hour in the afternoon (no need to book just show up) and there is a nice bar which has live music in the evenings during the peak season and also serves some lovely mojitos (and other rum-based drinks) and snacks.
The brief tour is pretty enlightening and tells you more not only about how rum is made but also about the different types of rums and what makes Chalong Bay one unique. Also, their cute bottles and cocktail recipe books make for a lovely souvenir to take home.
If you are keen to make a day out of it they also have cocktail making workshops you need to book in advance and where you will learn to make some of the tropical cocktails that are rum-based.
Visiting a tea plantation in Chiang Rai
Matcha lovers, rejoice! If you are into all things tea, why not visit the exact plantation where those leaves are harvested? Choui Fong Tea Plantation in Mae Chan County is tucked high above the Chiang Rai mountains. Having said that, it may be best to rent a motorbike to get there.
You may think that there’s nothing else up there but tea leaves – that’s not the case. We spent a lovely afternoon by a cafe overlooking the plantation. The view is unbelievably beautiful, especially during sunset. You’ll also love how the cafe remains spacious and cozy even though it is frequented by a lot of tourists.
I suggest that you hang out their rooftop terrace where you could take pictures with the plantation as a backdrop. Their matcha cake and frappe are definitely a must-try. You could also buy goodies to take home, like different types of tea and everything you would need to brew it. (There’s also an ice cream place nearby, by the way!)
You would be allowed to do a worker’s basket and take pictures, but remember to be respectful of the farmers that actually are hard at work.
My most favorite thing about this place though, aside from the unbelievable view, is just breathing in the air which smells like, well, you guessed it – tea!