Thailand is affectionately known as the “Land of Smiles” – not just because of the friendly, charming people, but because of the smiles worn by the tourists as they enjoy the many things there are to do in this beautiful country. This list, compiled by our Thailand experts, will show you the top 20 things to do on your holiday in Thailand.
For your convenience, it will be compiled in order of things to do in Thailand from the North of the country down to the South.
1. The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai
Elephants are the national animals of Thailand, and the Thai people’s love of them is clear to see – they are even on the crest of the national football team. The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai offers you the chance to learn and play alongside these majestic creatures, safe in the knowledge that you are supporting an ethically sound and sustainable organisation, whose respect and love for these animals shine through. There are several packages available, such as half day, full day and overnight stay, and all offer a chance to interact with the animals, in ways such as feeding them and giving them a mud bath – but be prepared for it to get messy! A perfect way to start your Thailand holiday package.
2. Chiang Mai Walking Street Market
Thailand is known for its bustling markets, with every major city having a walking street where locals flog their wares and tourists leave happy, and barely out of pocket. The walking street market in Chiang Mai is arguably the best of the bunch; every weekend, a throng of people descend upon it, eager to snap up the many bargains, ranging from locally made crafts to designer gear. It’s also a great place to eat, as the locals serve both your favourite traditions Thai foods and fusion twists on Western classics. After all, it wouldn’t be a Thailand holiday with eating delicious pad thai.
3. Visit Pai, Thailand’s hippy nature paradise
Not far from Chiang Mai, in the North of Thailand, lays Pai, an idyllic countryside Thailand flanked by rolling hills and home to several beautiful waterfalls. The serene greenery and laid back nature of Pai has often led to it being dubbed somewhat of a “hippy” town, but don’t be afraid – there’s enough to keep you busy, with many people venturing here to take advantage of the trekking it has to offer. A perfect place to relax before you take the next step on your holiday in Thailand – Bangkok.
Bangkok and surrounding area
4. Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
Bangkok is Thailand’s capital city, and as such, skyscrapers and heavy traffic are a part of everyday life. But you can avoid it, and the best way is undoubtedly a Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise. By eating aboard a boat on the Chao Phraya river, you don’t have to worry about the roads and the busy city, and can instead take advantage of the beautiful views, such as those of the Emerald Temple and the Grand Palace – all while enjoying a wonderful meal.
5. Watch Thai Boxing at Lumpinee Stadium
Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand, and nowhere offers a better place to watch this spectacle than at Lumpinee Stadium. Here you can see the best of the best trade blows for glory and honour. Ringside seats offer the best viewing experience, and if you’re lucky you might even get to see a competitor from your own country fight. Easily accessible on the BTS train, no Thailand holiday is complete without watching this combat sport.
6. Damnoen Floating Markets
Located just an hour outside Bangkok, the Damnoen floating markets offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of ordinary Thai people. Hop aboard a longtail boat and weave alongside the market traders, who are keen to offer you everything from handmade elephant toys to freshly harvested bananas. Alongside the banks of the river, there’s a plethora of different foods to sample, with the mini coconut pancakes a particular delight. It may have become slightly commercialised over time, but the charm is very much still alive here and offers several chances to take some great photographs.
7. Khao San Road
The infamous Khao San Road in Bangkok is synonymous with backpackers, but it has so much more to offer. No trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to this stretch of road, and if offers a chance to unwind and enjoy the bars that fill this street, with many opting to sample “bucket” cocktails. If that’s not to your liking, there’s the chance to pose for pictures eating a bunch of weird an wonderful foods, from scorpions and tarantulas to pad thai made on the street. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it’s definitely fun!
8. Grand Palace and Reclining Buddha
The Grand Palace is one of Thailand’s most visited landmarks – and for good reason. This sprawling palace, built in 1782, offers you the chance to walk among and inside ornate temples and lavish halls, the very places that the former Kings of Siam used to reside. It gets very busy, so we recommend visiting as early as possible. Once finished, you can take the short walk to see the reclining Buddha statue at Wat Pho. This temple is home to a 46m long golden reclining Buddha and is thought to be the birthplace of Thai massage – a must see on your Thailand holiday package.
9. Ayyuthaya Historical Park
Located just outside of Bangkok is Ayyuthaya, a former capital city of Thailand. Here you can find ruins of this great city in the form of beautiful Buddhist statues and temples that were destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century. Fortunately, thanks to attempts by the Thai government in the 1960s, many of these have now been restored, and now offer a glimpse into life in Thailand hundreds of years.
10. Visit Wat Bang Phra
Just 50km from Bangkok is Wat Bang Phra, a famous temple and monastery. Here you can observe the monks going about their daily lives and learn just what a monk does. But it is perhaps more famously known for its tattoos. Wat Bang Phra offers the chance to get a Thai “SakYant” tattoo. These tattoos are administered by a monk in exchange for a modest offering to the temple. They are believed to contain magic powers, and each one is different. Regardless of whether of not you get a tattoo, it is worth visiting this temple on your Thailand holiday in order to further understand the lives of the well-respected monks.
11. Phanom Rung Historical Park
Located in Buriram – famous for its successful football team – Phanom Rung Historical Park is home to a Khmer temple that was originally built in the 10th century in homage to the Hindu god Shiva. Under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, it is reminiscent of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple and is awe-inspiring in its beauty – definitely a place you have to visit.
South Eastern Thailand
12. KohPhangan Full Moon Party
Located in SuratThani province, the full moon party is a legendary party on the beach that occurs every full moon. Each month, thousands of revelers descend upon the shores of KohPhangan to have a good time partying as world famous DJs spin their tunes from the booth. If partying isn’t your thing, KohPhangan and the nearby island of Koh Tao offer numerous other things to do, such as viewpoint hikes and some of the best diving in the region.
13. KohSamui Island
KohSamui is a large island in SuratThani province with its own airport and sprawling Central shopping centre. It offers beautiful beaches, such as Chaweng and Lamai, and various other activities, from ATV riding to paintball and mini golf. At the southern tip of the island lay the famous Hin Ta and HinYai rocks, both in the shape of certain parts of the male and female anatomy. Legend has it that they came to be when an old couple sailed to sea only to wreck their boat. Both ended up drowning, and the two rock formations erupted in memory of them. For its shopping and beaches alone, it’s a must see on your Thailand holiday package.
14. Climb Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi
Tiger Cave Temple is a 1,200-step ascent up a mountain in Krabi province, with the top offering panoramic views of this beautiful part of the country and a statue of the Buddha. It gets its name from the fact that a large tiger used to live in the cave amongst the monks, and indeed tiger paw prints can be seen in the temple. It’s not an easy climb, and you may encounter families of monkeys on the way up, but the view is definitely worth it, and drinking water can be found at the top to quench your thirst.
15. Visit KohLanta, Krabi’s peaceful island
Just a short ferry or van drive from Krabi Town is the island of KohLanta. Unlike its noisy neighbor Koh Phi Phi, KohLanta is a peaceful island home to beautiful beaches a plenty of activities to keep you busy. It also offers you the chance to visit and volunteer at Lanta Animal Welfare. This is a charity dedicated to caring for stray cats and dogs in the region, and their work is much appreciated by expats and locals alike. The national park also offers a chance explore and be at one with nature.
16. Take in the Illumanorah Show in Krabi Town
A truly unforgettable experience, the Illuomanorah show in Krabi Town is a real must-see on your Thailand holiday package. Enjoy the buffet, sit back and relax, as the skilled actors and dancers entertain you through the medium of the menorah dance – a style that is unique to the south of Thailand – and there’s even a chance for you to join in at the end!
17. Railay Beach
No trip to Krabi is complete without visiting Railay Beach. Beset on three side by mountains, the only way to reach this idyllic beach is to take a boat from either Krabi Town or nearby Ao Nang. Railay offers emerald coloured water for you to swim in, white sandy beaches to relax on and some of the best rock climbing in Thailand, not to mention several bars and restaurants to enjoy. A short climb over the rocks, or around them in the sea, also offers the opportunity to visit Tonsai beach, another gorgeous beach on the Andaman coast of Thailand. To fully appreciate the beauty of this place, we recommend climbing up the Railay viewpoint for the best views of Railay.
18. Enchanting Phang Nga Bay
Also on the Andaman Sea side of Thailand, and not far from Phuket, is the wondrous PhangNga Bay. Here you can find beautiful beaches and the famous James Bond Island, named as such as it was featured in a James Bond movie. To truly get the most out of your visit to PhangNga Bay, you should hire a kayak. From the kayak, you can gain access to many caves and grottoes that have formed naturally in the sea, and from these places you can truly appreciate the majesty of the area.
19. Diving in the Similan Islands
Located east of PhangNga are the Similan Islands, home to the undisputed best diving in Thailand. Consisting of nine main islands and two more distant ones, the Similan Islands are diving hotspots, with the clear waters home to many schools of fish, beautiful corals and enchanting rock formations.
20. Visit Phuket, where there’s something for everyone
Phuket is perhaps the most well known city in Southern Thailand, and each year millions of tourists flock to it to enjoy the many bars and beaches it has to offer. Bangla Road, situated next to the popular Patong beach, has some of the finest clubs and bars in Thailand, as well as several places to eat. If you’re looking for quieter, more tranquil beaches, look no further than Freedom Beach and Surin Beach. Their clear waters and laid-back vibe offers a welcome escape from the hedonism of Patong, and further prove that there’s something for everyone in Phuket.