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Discover The Top 10 Best Places To Visit In Thailand 

Kunaram Temple, Koh Samui

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular tropical travel destinations in Southeast Asia that is definitely worth the hype! These top picks for the 10 best places to visit in Thailand range from vibrant cities to serene islands. 

Thailand offers a diverse range of experiences that will captivate any traveler. If you’re traveling on a budget, this inexpensive destination won’t break the bank, allowing you to explore its vibrant landscape for a month or longer.

Whether you’re seeking bustling street markets, ancient temples, or breathtaking natural beauty, this Southeast Asian gem has it all. So, let’s embark on a journey together as I introduce you to the enchanting destinations that make Thailand an unforgettable destination.

Keep reading to discover Thailand’s best vacation spots.

Koh Phi Phi 

Koh Phi Phi is easily my favorite place in Thailand and one of the top places to stay while touring this country. Located off the Andaman Coast, this idyllic archipelago is renowned for its towering limestone cliffs, bright blue water, colorful marine life, and vibrant atmosphere. 

Getting to Koh Phi Phi is easy. The most common way is by ferry from Phuket or Krabi. These ferries run regularly and offer a scenic journey. Depending on the departure point, the trip takes about 1-2 hours, 

Koh Phi Phi

Six islands make up this tropical region, with Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh being the most famous. Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited island best known for Maya Bay, made famous by the movie “The Beach.” 

All the Phi Phi islands have stunning turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and spectacular cliffs. Due to the popularity of Phi Phi, don’t expect an intimate atmosphere on a beach day.

Visitors often enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving here. The crystal-clear waters are teeming with colorful fish and coral reefs. Elevate the relaxation experience with an inexpensive Thai massage if you prefer a beach day. Expect to pay 400 baht or USD 12 for a massage.

Another highlight is the Phi Phi Viewpoint, which offers panoramic views of the island’s unique shape. The hike up is moderately challenging and takes 30 minutes, but it is worth it for the scenery.

For a taste of local culture, visit the Tonsai Village Market. The island’s bustling heart is filled with shops, restaurants, and bars. Here, you can enjoy local Thai cuisine, such as refreshing smoothies, fresh fruit, and meat skewers. My pick, the pork, are the best!

Thai meat skewers
Thai meat sticks

The nightlife on Phi Phi Don – an inhabited island – offers lively beach parties, providing a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment in a picturesque setting. It’s one of the best locations in Thailand for singles.

Koh Samui

Koh Samui should be on your South Thailand itinerary if you want sunbathing, swimming, and stunning scenery. Ang Thong National Marine Park provides the ideal locale to snorkel and kayak.

This enchanting large island in the Gulf of Thailand offers diverse experiences and is set away from most other islands, offering a more exclusive experience. 

It’s accessible by flights from Bangkok, direct ferry services from Surat Thani, and charter speedboats. Expect the journey by ferry to take under 2-1/2 hours.

One of the best things to do in Koh Samui is to spend the day exploring and hopping around famous beaches like Chaweng and Lamai.

This is also an island of culture where you can admire the Big Buddha Temple, enjoy spa days, join cooking classes, and watch some Muay Thai fights. 

Big Buddha Temple, Ko Samui
Big Buddha Temple, Ko Samui

Adventure seekers can trek to Na Muang Waterfalls. These natural wonders are surrounded by lush jungles, offering a refreshing escape. Popular activities for thrill-seekers include zip-lining and ATV tours.

Beyond all this, one of the most famous things about Koh Samui is the lively nightlife. A night out in Chaweng, especially at Fisherman’s Village in Bophut, never disappoints. It hosts a night market with local crafts, street food, and live music.

Koh Samui’s blend of beauty and culture is unmatched. Just note: there is a younger crowd here, especially in Chaweng.

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Phuket

Phuket is Southern Thailand’s largest island and is often included on cruise itineraries from Singapore. It’s an ideal destination to cruise in January for a quick getaway. Cruises typically last three to four days.

This island has just about everything – great nightlife, affordable accommodation, delicious food, and modern infrastructure. Head to Bangla Road in Patong, the center of nightlife with bars, clubs, and shows.

In Phuket, you will find a multicultural crowd of backpackers, family, and luxury travelers all in search of adventure. It is a great place to base yourself for easy access to nearby islands like Krabi and Phi Ph. It is also one of the best places to visit in Thailand to dive and surf! 

Wat Cherngtalay, Phuket
Wat Cherngtalay, Phuket

Alternatively, if you’re into ethical wildlife experience, check out one of the elephant sanctuaries. Here, you can feed the gentle giants and learn what’s being done to protect the species.

Some of the top places to visit in Phuket are: 

  • Patong Beach is vibrant and lively. 
  • Phi Phi Islands – explore beyond Phuket on a boat tour.
  • Old Phuket Town offers colorful colonial architecture and local markets.
  • Kata Noi Beach offers more tranquility.
  • Promthep Cape. Known locally as Laem Promthep, it’s a great place to catch a sunset.
  • Phang Nga Bay is a must-visit to see the limestone cliffs and emerald waters.
  • Wat Chalong is Phuket’s largest Buddhist temple and one of the main attractions.
  • Karon Beach is among the best white sand beaches on the Andaman Sea.
  • Big Buddha is a notable spiritual site.
  • Similan Islands. You can take a day trip to one of its 11 beautiful islands.

If you’re not on a cruise, getting to Phuket is easy. The Phuket International Airport connects with many international destinations. Alternatively, you travel from Bangkok by bus or car, although this journey takes 12 hours. 

Bangkok

Grand Palace, Bangkok
Grand Palace, Bangkok

The thrilling capital of Thailand is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, one of Bangkok’s iconic landmarks. It offers an unforgettable experience for travelers. 

The people who visit Bangkok can be easily divided into two groups: those that love it and those that don’t. Visiting Bangkok for yourself is the only proper way to know if you love it or hate it! 

Like Phuket, Bangkok is a popular destination on an Asia cruise. Cruise passengers can reach Bangkok from Laem Chabang Port, about 125 kilometers away. Transport options include taxis, buses, or pre-arranged tours.

Once in Bangkok, visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. They showcase stunning Thai architecture and the revered Emerald Buddha. Explore Wat Arun, known for its impressive riverside pagoda.

Wat Arun Temple
Wat Arun Temple

Khao San Road provides another top place to visit. This young and exciting area near the Grand Palace is known for its nightlife, where hostels, eateries of all kinds, and bars are full of life.

Travel around Bangkok in a tuk-tuk or use Grab, Thailand’s version of Uber. The tuk-tuk is a unique form of transportation, great for short journeys.

Join in the never-ending joyful frenzy, then cross over the Ratchadamnoen Road and soak in the calm of the canals flowing around the area when tired. The area beyond the Ratchadamnoen is known for good street food and hostels, with less noise than on the Khaosan. 

Another must-do in Bangkok is to take a long boat to admire the beauty of the majestic Chao Phraya. Hop on at Khao San to jump off at the Chinatown area, one of Bangkok’s best places to visit. 

Then, head to the Silom area to visit the commercial center or Lumpini Park, where huge lizards crawl around.

For shopping, head to Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s one of the world’s largest, offering everything from clothes to souvenirs. Take advantage of the street food, including my favorites like Mango Sticky Rice and Pad Thai. Another must-visit are the floating markets, whether you want to buy or not.

Bangkok floating market
Bangkok floating market

When the sun goes down, head to Asiatique, one of the many riverside night markets. Enjoy shopping, dining, and entertainment options here.

What makes Bangkok one of the best spots in Thailand is its amazing religious sites, such as Hinduist Sri Maha Mariamman, Buddhist Temple of Dawn, Chinese Guan Yin Temple, and, of course, many more.

When staying in Bangkok, make a day trip to Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chiang Mai

The northern capital of Thailand has the same youthful and joyous atmosphere as Bangkok but is far calmer and less hectic. 

It’s special because of its rich culture, friendly locals, and beautiful natural surroundings. Chiang Mai’s ancient temples are the main draw, where you can learn about Thai culture. 

Here, you will find some of the country’s most beautiful and famous temples. Noteworthy examples include the famous Wat Rong Khun, Wat Phra Singh, and Doi Suthep Temple. The latter provides aerial views of the city from its mountain perch location.

Wat Rong Khun, characterized by its stark white exterior, looks striking against a bright blue sky.

Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Mai
Wat Rong Khun, also called The White Temple

Unlike busy cities, Chiang Mai has a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for unwinding. You can explore the rice terraces, go hiking, or visit waterfalls. The city is known for traditional arts and crafts; you can even take classes.

Delicious Thai food is everywhere, and you can try it at local markets. Alternatively, you can take classes, which often include a market visit. You’ll learn about local ingredients before cooking traditional Thai dishes that you can replicate at home.

For shoppers, the Night Bazaar is a bustling market where you can find local handicrafts, art, and souvenirs. The Sunday Walking Street, another trendy market, stretches across the Old City. It’s perfect for sampling street food and watching street performers.

Cultural experiences abound in Chiang Mai. You can participate in a traditional Thai festival, like Loi Krathong or Songkran. These vibrant, colorful festivals offer a glimpse into Thai traditions.

BONUS! There are ethical elephant sanctuaries where you can get close to these amazing animals. The Elephant Nature Park rescues and rehabilitates elephants. You can observe these magnificent creatures in a responsible and ethical setting. 

Ko Phangan

Ko Phangan (or Ko Pan Ngan), an island north of Koh Samui, is a must-visit in Thailand for its stunning beaches and vibrant party scene. It’s the country’s fifth-largest island and is reachable by ferry.

It’s famous for the Full Moon Party, a wild beach celebration that draws visitors worldwide. This party happens every month on the full moon at beaches like Haad Rin, but you should be CAREFUL. I have heard of many people getting pickpocketed here.

Haad Rin Beach, Ko Phangan
Haad Rin Beach, Ko Phangan

Beyond the party scene, the island offers a laid-back atmosphere and beautiful landscapes with clear waters and lush jungles. You can relax on beaches, go snorkeling or hiking in the forests. 

If you’re not into partying, select quieter spots like Thong Nai Pan, which offers tranquility. Here, you can sunbathe, swim, or enjoy the scenery.

A visit to Than Sadet-Ko Phangan National Park is a must for nature enthusiasts and more to my liking. This park showcases stunning waterfalls and diverse wildlife. Hiking here offers breathtaking views and a chance to connect with nature.

Like other parts of Thailand, snorkeling and diving are top-notch. If you aren’t certified, companies on the island offer courses for all levels.

The cultural experience continues here with a temple visit to Wat Phu Khao Noi. Explore the island’s night markets for delicious Thai cuisine in the evening.

Ko Phangan is known for its friendly locals, delicious street food, and affordable accommodations. Whether you seek adventure or relaxation, this island has it all, making it a top destination in Thailand.

Ko Tao

The island of Ko Tao is a paradise for travelers for many reasons, but mainly for scuba diving. It’s an excellent place for both beginners and experienced divers. You can also get PADI certified here, one of the island’s popular activities.

Beyond the ocean, you can enjoy pristine nature, known for its large expat community. This is one of the top places for digital nomads in Thailand and a great place to meet like-minded individuals! 

View from John-Suwan, Ko Tao
View from John-Suwan, Ko Tao

The island isn’t just for underwater adventures. Hiking enthusiasts can explore its lush jungles and hills. For example, The hike to John-Suwan’s viewpoint offers breathtaking views. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a sunrise or sunset.

Ko Tao’s beaches provide the perfect recipe for relaxation. Sairee Beach, the longest on the island, encourages sunbathing and swimming. It also has bars and restaurants, making it a social hub.

The great food, cheap accommodation, and untouched nature make it one of the best Thai islands for visitation. But don’t just visit by land; taking a boat tour provides a unique way to seek out hidden coves and beaches.

Hat Yai

Located right at the border with Malaysia, Hat Yai is a unique place to visit in Thailand. One of the most under-visited places in the country, it is known for its unique urban architecture, such as Yellow-Blue Peranakan buildings, yummy street food, and low-cost accommodation. 

It’s the perfect place to enjoy Thailand without the over-tourism ravaging other regions. Head to Hat Yai to uncover the unique untarnished part of Thailand and enjoy its multicultural aura, where the Malay and Thai meet. 

Hat Yai Municipal Park, Thailand
Hat Yai Municipal Park

Hat Yai Municipal Park is a must-visit for a taste of local culture. It features beautiful gardens, statues, and a cable car offering panoramic views. The park also houses the Hat Yai Observatory and the Ice Dome, where ice sculptures are displayed in a chilly setting.

One of Hat Yai’s main attractions is its shopping scene. The city boasts numerous markets; the most famous is Kim Yong Market, known for its variety of goods, from clothes to electronics. 

Food lovers will enjoy the city’s diverse gastronomy offerings. Its famous street food stalls serve delicious Thai fare, such as Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong. Seafood is also a specialty here, with fresh catches available daily.

Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum Goong

Ton Nga Chang Wildlife Sanctuary is a must for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s known for its stunning seven-tiered waterfall and abundant wildlife. Trekking through the jungle offers a chance to see exotic birds and animals.

Hat Yai also hosts several festivals throughout the year. The most notable is the Lantern Festival or Thai Festivals of Lights, where colorful lanterns light up the skies, creating a magical atmosphere.

Krabi

Krabi is a fantastic place with beautiful beaches and tall limestone cliffs. It’s great for beach lovers and adventure seekers. You can relax on stunning beaches like Railay and Ao Nang or try rock climbing on the limestone cliffs. Railay is only accessible by boat, offering a secluded feel.

Beach in Krabi
Beach in Krabi

You’ll find it at the mouth of the Krabi River on Southern Thailand’s west coast. Krabi Town, the main settlement, is a laid-back hub, contrasting Bangkok’s tourist-filled city.

Activities in Krabi vary. Choose from snorkeling, diving, or kayaking through mangroves. Ao Thalane is a prime spot for this, with narrow passageways surrounded by untouched rainforest.

Krabi’s hot springs are another highlight. These thermal springs, located in a forest, offer a natural spa experience with water temperatures around 37C. The Emerald Pool nearby is a picturesque spot for a swim.

For a cultural experience, visit the Tiger Cave Temple, 10 minutes from Krabi. It’s a sacred Buddhist site with a challenging climb. The reward at the top is panoramic views of the region if you dare to attempt the 1260 steps.

Another rewarding hike is the one to Dragon Crest Mountain. It requires more time and a bit further from Krabi, but the views are just as spectacular.

Longtail boats in Krabi
Longtail boats in Krabi

Of course, Krabi is best enjoyed on an iconic longtail boat. Developed in the early 20th century, these popular tourist vessels are declining due to a shortage of local lumber.

Ranong

The seaside city of Ranong is one of the most unknown destinations in Thailand. Whereas most other coastal cities have become tourist hubs, Ranong is a great place to enjoy both the hectic city, splendid sea views, and the original serenity of the Thai way of life. 

Ranong is in southern Thailand, along the Andaman Sea coast. It borders Myanmar, known for its lush landscapes and hot springs. Visit the Raksawarin Hot Springs, perfect for relaxation. 

Explore the mangrove forests at the Ranong Biosphere Reserve for a nature adventure. Experience local culture at the bustling Ranong Market. For breathtaking views, hike up to the Ngao Waterfall. 

The Grass Mountain offers a unique landscape, ideal for photography enthusiasts. Don’t miss the opportunity to island hop to the beautiful islands nearby, like Koh Payam and Koh Chang. These islands are great for snorkeling and beach relaxation. 

salted grilled fish
Thai salted grilled fish

During your stay, try local Thai cuisine in Ranong, known for its fresh seafood and unique flavors. My pick, the salted grilled fish which is always tasty and very fresh.

Ranong is less touristy, offering an authentic Thai experience. Visit during November to May for the best weather and to avoid rainy season.

When’s The Best Time To Visit Thailand?

While you can expect hot weather in Thailand year-round, the best time to visit is from November to February. This peak season period is known as the cooler time with less humidity. 

Average temperatures in Northern Thailand will be lower than the coastal areas, although it will still be hot. For instance, Bangkok experiences 33-34C temperatures no matter which month you visit.

Thailand’s rainy season runs from July to October. During this time, heavy rainfall and occasional flooding occur. In September, Bangkok has an average of 21 rainy days and over 300 millimeters of precipitation.

From March to June, the hot season sees temperatures soar above 30°C. It’s less ideal for those unaccustomed to intense heat and high humidity. If you’re arriving from a colder climate, like me, it can take a few days to acclimate to the weather and time change.

Wrap It Up

For many, a trip to Thailand allows you to emerge yourself in a different culture. Be aware that when visiting temples, there are rules and a dress code. You are required to cover your shoulders and wear clothing which falls below the knee. 

Beyond the major hub of Bangkok in central Thailand, be sure to visit other regions for a contrasting experience. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, in the north, are part of the Golden Triangle, connecting to Laos and Myanmar. This complex mountain range offers stunning landscapes with terraced rice fields.

Are these the best 10 destinations in Thailand? Only your interests will determine that. So, whether you want to see Buddhist temples, explore an ancient city, or prefer an island getaway, you’ll find it all in Thailand.

Images of the best places to visit in Thailand, including temples, and sandy beaches.