The kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam is a country situated in the Indochinese peninsula bordered by Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.
A preferred holiday destination among European and Asian travellers alike, this country offers a variety of attractions ranging from historical and holy sites to beach towns infamous for their nightlife.
In addition to its rich and vibrant culture, Thailand offers picturesque destinations attracting millions of tourists annually. Here is a very brief look at some of the best places to visit in Thailand.
1. The Grand Palace
Considered an architectural symbol of the Thai royal family, this is a must-visit attraction for travellers to Thailand. Encompassed with well-maintained green gardens, the palace consists of a large number of complexes and meticulously restored stunning murals.
Constructed in 1782 at the order of King Phutthayotfa Chulalok, this palace served as the centre of the royal government until 1925 and is now used for several royal ceremonies and state functions each year.
Due to several offices still being situated inside the premises, only partial public access has been permitted. The precincts of the palace are divided into two main zones, namely the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Royal residence.
The residence is further divided into three main areas consisting of the outer court, middle court, and inner court.
As the site is a place of religious significance, visitors need to follow strict dress codes where male visitors are expected to wear long pants and shirts. Female visitors are also required to follow a similar dress code avoiding see-through clothes and visible bare shoulders.
Entry tickets to the palace are sold from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm and include entry to Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.
Situated inside the grand palace is the Pavilion of Regalia, another popular tourist attraction displaying royal decorations and coins.
2. Wat Pho
Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is yet another popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, located just a 10-minute walk from the Grand Palace. This temple is mainly famous for its gold-leaf-covered 46-meter-long reclining statue of Lord Buddha.
In addition to being a holy site, Wat Pho is also considered the birthplace of traditional Thai massage where tourists could expect to get a quality traditional massage.
3. Wat Arun
Wat Arun is a stunning ancient temple situated on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River. This Buddhist temple, consisting of colourful spires gently overlooking the waters offers a different architectural style compared to the rest of the attractions around Bangkok.
Despite its name, the temple is renowned for its beautiful sunset views.
Tourists are allowed to climb the central spire and right at the top, they are greeted with views of the winding Chao Phraya River, Grand Palace, and Wat Pho temple.
Visitors are advised to wear appropriate attire as this is a holy site.
4. Chao Phraya River
The is the most prominent river in Thailand flowing a total of 372 kilometres from the central plains through Bangkok into the Gulf of Thailand. Riverboats are a popular means of travel across the various attractions situated around the river.
5. Asiatique: The Riverfront
Asiatique is an open-air mall situated in the city centre, occupying the former docks of the East Asiatic Company on the Chao Phraya River.
This beautiful place could be considered one of the best places to visit in Thailand with its lively open-air night market and historical buildings, including a world war II bomb shelter.
As night dawns, the place is abuzz with street performers, packed restaurants, and souvenir shops.
6. MBK Center
MBK is an eight-story department store situated in Bangkok.
This shopping attraction is popular among locals and tourists alike and is mostly renowned for housing affordable consumer goods compared to the other high-end shopping malls located in the area.
7. Siam Paragon
One of the largest malls in Thailand, Siam Paragon is situated right next to the Siam BTS station.
This mall offers a variety of restaurants with different cuisines, an exhibition hall, the Thai Art Gallery, Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World aquarium, multiple movie theatres, and an opera concert hall.
8. Chathuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is popular among locals as well as tourists alike. This market offers a unique glimpse into the culture of the Thai locals and is considered one of the largest markets in Southeast Asia.
9. Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a place frequented mostly by backpackers visiting Thailand. Renowned as a hub for tourists wanting to travel to other major locations inside Thailand, this place also serves as a marketplace with vendors selling everything from clothes to all kinds of street food.
Known for its outrageous nightlife, Pattaya offers a variety of beach activities ranging from kite-surfing to snorkelling. The most famous beach in the area also referred to as “Pattaya Beach” spans about 4 kilometres with an adjoining palm-lined road.
The northern part of the beach is known for its quiet atmosphere while the rest remains abuzz with busy hotels, floating restaurants, and shops scattered throughout the area.
While in Pattaya, also make sure to visit the walking street and the floating market as both are widely regarded as must-see attractions.
Visitors are advised to be cautious of the common scams in the area which can be easily avoided if known beforehand.
11. Hua Hin Beach
Hua Hin is a destination popular among tourists that prefer isolated and quiet beaches.
Known as the oldest beach resort in central Thailand, one could state this to be an ideal place to take a relaxing evening stroll while enjoying the impending sunset.
Hua Hin beach spans about 4 kilometres and offers a variety of family-friendly activities. Rock formations near the end of the beach give the town the name Hua Hin which means “stone head”.
The combination of a sandy beach and a charming town attracts couples and families looking to relax and unwind.
12. Railay Beach
Also known as Rai Leh, this beautiful beach is only accessible by boat due to being cut off from the mainland by high limestone cliffs. Railay beach is considered to be one of the best places to visit in Thailand with its spectacular views and mesmerizing scenery.
While West Railay is the more popular destination, East Railay is considered to be the arrival point for boats coming in from Krabi. East and West Railay are connected through pathways that go through thick jungle cover.
Tourist activities include boat rides, rock climbing, hiking, scuba diving, and snorkelling among others.
13. Historic City of Ayutthaya
This historic town served as the second capital of Thailand in the past after being founded in 1350. Ayutthaya could be easily considered a favourite amongst Buddhists due to the large number of monasteries located in the area.
However, this place is also popular among history buffs due to its historical relevance. The area boasts of sculptures and art from 14-18th century Thailand with its rich and majestic architecture.
The city was abandoned in 1767 after being attacked and burned to the ground. Just 80 km from Bangkok, Ayutthaya is considered to be one of the best places to visit in Thailand for a day trip.
14. Sukhothai Historical Park
This historical park is considered to be a UNESCO world heritage site in Thailand. Sukhothai Park offers nearly 200 historical ruins within an area of about 70 sq km divided into five separate zones.
Three of the zones require separate admission fees. Due to the sheer size of the park, travellers could be expected to hire bicycles or electric buggies.
15. Pai Canyon
Pai Canyon is an incredibly scenic area with picturesque valley views located in northern Thailand. A popular destination among hikers, the canyon is located 8 kilometres south of Pai town in Mae Hong Son Province.
Entrance to the canyon is free while several stalls are situated at the trailhead. The best time for a hike is before 10 a.m or at the end of the afternoon as the Pai canyon is known for its spectacular sunset views.
Due to a lack of railings and narrow trails, the place is usually considered unsuitable for small children.
16. Wat Rong Khun
Also known as White Temple among tourists, this temple is situated in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand. The property is currently owned by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a well-known Thai visual artist who decided to fund, renovate and open it for tourists in 1997.
The temple is designed using a unique blend of the colour white and glass which symbolizes the purity and wisdom of Lord Buddha. The opening hours of the temple are from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm daily.
17. Ko Samet
Considered one of the most picturesque eastern seaboard islands of Thailand, Ko Samet is situated in the Gulf of Thailand approximately 220km southeast of Bangkok in the Rayong Province.
The boat ride from the mainland is about 10 kilometres. Popular as a weekend getaway for locals as well as tourists, this island is considered to be part of a marine national park.
The island consisting of approximately 13.1 sq. kilometres is named after the Samet trees that grow in abundance. The island offers white sandy beaches complimented by turquoise blue waters making it ideal for snorkelling and other water-based sports.
Walk-ins are not advised since the entire island tends to be booked in advance, especially on the weekends.
18. Burma-Thai Railway
More commonly referred to as the Death railway, this is a 415-km long railway linking Ban Pong in Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma.
Construction was undertaken by the then-Japanese empire from 1940-1944. The Thailand portion of the railway is still used from Bangkok to Nam Tok.
The most notable part of the track consists of a bridge over the River Kwai, more commonly known as the ”Bridge of the River Kwai”.
19. Haad Rin Full Moon Party
This is an all-night beach party taking place every full moon and is particularly famous among western tourists. It is believed to have originated in Hat Rin on the island of Ko Pha-ngan.
20. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Considered the most famous floating market among tourists, it is located 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok. This market has been featured in several Hollywood movies due to its popularity.
21. Khao Yai National Park
Established in 1962 as Thailand’s first national park, Khao Yai is also the country’s third-largest. Situated 180km from Bangkok, it covers a total land area of 2168 sq km.
Encompassed by evergreen forests, grasslands, and mountains, this unique ecosystem is declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. The park is home to a variety of animals ranging from elephants to crocodiles and various exotic birds.
Khao Yai park is also the best place to see some of the rarer and elusive animals that call Thailand home: Asian black bears, dholes, and Rufous-tailed robins are among a few.
Visitors are prohibited from travelling alone inside the park while guided tours are the most popular way of seeing all the park has to offer.
22. Erawan Waterfall
Considered one of the best places to visit in Thailand, this waterfall is the main attraction of Erawan National Park and is particularly famous for its seven-tier structure.
The water here flows through limestone cliffs and erosion over time has resulted in colourful pools and rounded rock formations.
Located in the Tenasserim Hills in Kanchanaburi province 200 kilometres northwest of Bangkok the park also consists of a few caves that are open for visitors to explore.
23. Phang Nga Bay
This bay is located in the Andaman sea (Malacca Strait) between Phuket and the mainland. The area offers unspoiled rivers, caves, and native wildlife.
The gipsy village of Ko Panyee is considered to be a highlight you shouldn’t miss when touring the area by boat.
In terms of activities, sea kayaking and snorkelling could be recommended while if you’re in an adventure mood go explore limestone cliffs and caves scattered throughout the area.
24. Hill Tribe Villages – Chiang Mai
If you wish to delve deeper into local Thai culture and experience authentic village life, look no further than paying a visit to a hill tribe in Chiang Mai.
Make your way through lush countrysides via designated tourist trails, cook a traditional meal together and observe local handicrafts being made by local women.
25. Phi Phi Islands
Located in southern Thailand, this is a group of 6 islands between the large island of Phuket and the Straits of Malacca coast.
The largest island of the group is Ko Phi Phi Don, closely followed by Ko Phi Phi Le. These two islands are mainly frequented by tourists and locals for their beautiful beaches and relaxing atmosphere.
These islands are renowned worldwide for their beauty while Maya Bay from Phi Phi Le has been featured as the setting for “The Beach” movie.
Travel to each of the islands is provided via speedboats or long-tail boats from the town of Krabi.
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