What to see and do in Thailand

Everything you need to know to travel to Thailand in one place. Discover what to see in Thailand and what experiences to live, from the north to the wonderful beaches of the south.

Are you wondering what to see in Thailand and what activities are the most recommended? Thailand offers different types of cities depending on the type of trip you are imagining. There are many places to see in Thailand and they are very worthwhile!

In the north you will find cities with an important cultural legacy, such as Chiang Mai/ Chiang Rai or Nan. In the center you can visit Bangkok, its capital, and other cities such as Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, which were once capitals of the kingdom. The south, on the other hand, stands out for the wonderful beaches of Thailand.

Have you been wanting more? Keep reading! Below we delve into what to see in Thailand and what to do in each city or area. And, if you feel like it, ask our advisers for more information through our trips to Thailand.

Index of contents

Northern Thailand (Golden Triangle)

If you travel to the north of Thailand you cannot miss two of its most representative cities: Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Do you want to go into detail about what to see in Thailand, in the northern part of the country? Below we delve into the most prominent cities in the north.

Chiang Mai

The cultural epicenter of Thailand

Chiang Mai is the largest city in the area and also the one that attracts the most tourists. It stands out for its temples and its cultural legacy, but it is also very popular with travelers for its natural environment and high mountains.

The cultural epicenter of Thailand
The cultural epicenter of Thailand

On your list of essential things to see in Thailand, you cannot miss a visit to the city of Chiang Mai, since it is one of the most outstanding cities in the country where you can immerse yourself in Thai culture and its past.

What to see in Chiang Mai?

  • Doi Suthep Temple: This temple is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. From there you can see beautiful views of the city of Chiang Mai.
  • What Phra Singh Temple: This temple houses the Phra Singh Buddha, an important statue of Buddha. It is a temple highly revered by the locals.
  • Wat Chedi Luang Temple: it is located in the heart of the city. It stands out for its Pillar of the City and its golden reclining Buddha.
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai

What to do in Chiang Mai?

Try the best cuisine of Chiang Mai in its night markets

At the Sunday Walking Street Market you can try Khantoke food, typical of northern Thailand. On Sunday evenings this street market is filled with hundreds of merchants with local products.

Get a massage at the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution

Thailand stands out for the quality of its massages, and in Chiang Mai you will have the opportunity to relax with one of the best and most curious massage places in the city: the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution, a prison where inmates offer massages to tourists.

Practice Trekking

Chiang Mai’s natural environment makes it an ideal place for trekking. You can practice it, for example, doing a route through the sacred mountains of Doi Suthep or Doi Pui.

Get in touch with the elephants

Chiang Mai is a destination known for elephants. There are elephant sanctuaries, such as the Kanta Elephant Sanctuary, where they take care of these animals and guarantee them a decent life. An excursion that you can do is to go to this sanctuary and be in contact with the elephants, feeding them or bathing them and see how they live in the middle of nature.

Get in touch with the elephants
Get in touch with the elephants

Do you want to know more about Chiang Mai? Here you have our Guide to Chiang Mai , with all the information you need to visit the city

Chiang Rai

A less touristy city that stands out for its White Temple

Chiang Rai is, of the cities located in the north of Thailand, the largest. It is not as touristy as Chiang Mai and is home to one of the most famous temples in the country: the White Temple, with a completely groundbreaking aesthetic with the most traditional aesthetic of Thai temples.

White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

If you would like to know what things to see in Thailand to discover picturesque and original places, a visit to Chiang Rai and its White Temple should definitely be on your list.

What to see in Chiang Rai?

  • White Temple (Wat Rong Khun): one of the most appreciated temples in Thailand by travelers. It is a contemporary temple that began to be built in 1997. It stands out for being created entirely with white materials and with a different and original aesthetic.
  • Black Temple: This temple is a museum of the artist Thawan Duchanee. It stands out for its more than 40 black buildings.
  • Wat Phra Kaew Temple: one of the oldest in the city. It is a temple created entirely in wood.
  • Wat Phra Singh Temple: Lanna-style temple located near the town hall. In it you can see a replica of a statue of Buddha, the Phra Buddha Sihing.
  • The Clock Tower: it is a tower located in the heart of the city of Chiang Rai, so it is a meeting place for locals. At night, the way it is illuminated makes it more beautiful.

What to do in Chiang Rai?

Enjoy nature in Doi Khun National Park

If you like nature and want to get away from the city, you can take a trip to Doi Khun Park. This park has the longest railway tunnel in Thailand at 1,352 meters.

Take a trip to the Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle or Sop Roak is the border where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. The area is a natural environment surrounded by mountains where the Mekong River and the Roak River meet, where you can navigate.

Go shopping in its main markets

Different markets are organized in the city center such as the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar or the Saturday Night Walking Street where you can try the local cuisine or buy typical Chiang Rai products.

Navigate the Kok River

A different experience is rafting down the Kok River and enjoying the natural environment of the area. We also recommend watching the sunrise from the river.

If you want more information about what to see and do in Chiang Rai, discover our Guide to Chiang Rai

Central Thailand

Central Thailand is known for its capital, Bangkok. Even so, if you travel through the center of the country there are other cities that are worth visiting such as Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Lopburi, Phitsanulok or Kanchanaburi.

Below we explain what to see in Thailand, specifically in the downtown area, where there are some cities as prominent as the country’s capital itself.

Bangkok

The capital of the country and the most cosmopolitan city

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is a city that satisfies both those looking for a modern and cosmopolitan city and those looking to get lost in ancient temples and discover the history of the city. Bangkok is one of the places to see in Thailand that will allow you to experience a city of contrasts.

Bangkok
Bangkok

What to see in Bangkok?

  • Royal Palace or Grand Palace: it is a complex of more than 200,000 square meters located in the center of Bangkok, next to the Chao Phraya River. It is made up of different temples and gardens. Some of them are the Wat Arun and Wat Phra Kaew temples.
  • Wat Pho Temple: It is next to the Royal Palace. Its main interest lies in a 46 meter long figure of the reclining Buddha.
  • Wat Benchamabophit Temple: This temple is also known as the Marble Temple, as it is built with Italian Carrara marble. The ashes of King Rama V are buried there.

What to do in Bangkok?

Browse your channels

Bangkok is also known as the Venice of the East, so you can’t miss a tour of its canals or klongs. From the canal you will be able to see beautiful views of the city and contemplate its monuments from a different perspective.

Be surprised by the floating market of Klong Damnoen Saduak

Floating market of Klong Damnoen Saduak
Floating market of Klong Damnoen Saduak

100 km from Bangkok there is a peculiar floating market. In the mornings, the greengrocers and greengrocers of the area sell their products in the canals. You can also buy handicrafts and souvenirs.

Admire the curious train market

The Train Market
The Train Market

Another curious market is the Train Market, located on an active train track. The funny thing is to see that when the train approaches, the vendors move the products away from the track so that it can pass.

Exit Khao San Road

If a street is characteristic for its atmosphere, this is Khao San Street. Located in the historic center of Bangkok, this street is full of bars, restaurants, shops… At night you can go out for a drink here.

Visit Patpong Night Market

In the Silom area, at night, a market is installed where you can buy all kinds of products, such as clothes, food and souvenirs. It is a busy bazaar where you can also see shows for adults.

you are interested in delving deeper into Bangkok, do not miss our Guide to Bangkok: what to see and what to do

Ayutthaya

The ancient capital of the kingdom of Siam known for its ruins

Ayutthaya is located 85 km from Bangkok. Its Historical Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In this place you can see the ruins of what were temples and palaces of the city that was the capital of the kingdom for three centuries.

Ayutthaya National Park

This Park is the emblem of the city. In it you can see ruins of temples and palaces. We recommend you take a bike ride to enjoy the Park at your leisure. The most recommended visits are:

Ayutthaya National Park
Ayutthaya National Park
  • Wat Phra Si Sanphet: It is the largest and best preserved temple in the complex.
  • Wat Mahathat: is a famous Buddha figure entwined in the branches of a tree.
  • Wat Chaiwatthanaram: This temple is further away from the historic center of the Park. It is made up of five main pagodas, four small ones and a tower.
  • Wat Lokayasutharam: in this temple you can see a reclining Buddha 37 meters long and 8 meters high; the largest in Ayutthaya.

Would you like to delve deeper into Ayutthaya? We explain everything you need to know in our Ayutthaya Guide

Kanchanaburi

A quiet town that remembers the suffering of thousands of people during World War II

Kanchanaburi is a destination marked by its historical past, since it was a very important point during World War II. The most recognized landmark in the city is the Bridge over the River Kwai. Apart from the cultural and historical points, we also recommend you to discover the natural attractions that surround it, such as the popular Erawan waterfalls.

What to see in Kanchanaburi?

The Bridge on the River Kwai

It is the main tourist attraction in this area. This bridge was built by Japanese prisoners during World War II and is today a symbol of the importance of this area during the war. The bridge was bombed by the allies and today what you can see is a replica of the original.

The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai

What to do in Kanchanaburi?

Take a ride on the Death Train

It is not a dangerous train, which could be deduced from its name. Not much less! Its name comes from World War II, when the railway line was built by 60,000 allied prisoners who worked in inhumane conditions. During the tour you can enjoy the landscapes of the area and cross the bridge over the River Kwai.

Tour the Hellfire Pass or Corte del Infierno railway section

Hellfire Pass is a cut in the mountain that was also made during the war. The workers were forced to work day and night without rest. It is estimated that 700 people lost their lives in the construction of this section. If you like to know the past of the destinations you travel to, you cannot miss this place.

Take an excursion to the Erawan waterfalls

These waterfalls are located in the Erawan National Park, 75 kilometers from Kanchanaburi. There you will find a 2-kilometer walking tour in which you will see up to 7 waterfalls, the last one being the most impressive. If you feel like it, you can also bathe in the waters of the waterfalls.

Erawan Waterfalls
Erawan Waterfalls

Would you like to know more about Kanchanaburi? Find more information in our Kanchanaburi Guide

Lopburi

The city of monkeys

Lopburi is also known as the City of Monkeys. And it is that these animals live in the city with total freedom and coexist with the locals without any problem. On your visit to Lopburi you will have the opportunity to see them everywhere.

What to see in Lopburi?

  • Phra Prang Sam Yot: It is one of the most recognized temples, built more than 800 years ago in the Khmer style. The complex is made up of three towers as a symbol of Vishnu, Siva and Brahma – the Hindu trinity. Hundreds of monkeys live at ease in this temple. They are not dangerous at all, but sometimes they can even take your food or some object that you have in your hands.
  • San Phra Kan: it is a small complex formed by stupas of different styles. There are also many monkeys and in the northern area there is a place to feed them.
  • Old Royal Palace: It is a complex made up of several Khmer-style prangs. The oldest is about 800 years old.

The monkey festival

It is a festival that takes place the last week of November. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Lopburi. During the festival the monkeys take center stage while tourists and locals present them with monuments made from fruits.

Do you want more information about Lopburi? We recommend our Lopburi Guide

Phitsanulok

The most important Buddhist pilgrimage center in Thailand

The city of Phitsanulok has an important historical legacy. There you can visit temples of great relevance, such as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat or Wat Ratchaburana. Phitsanulok was a point of great interest during the golden years of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok

What to see in Phitsanulok?

Wat Phra Putthachinarat temple

If you feel like entering the most spiritual part of the city, you can do so in this temple, where you can leave an offering to the monks. If you visit it at dawn, you may be able to experience the pilgrims’ prayers first-hand. This temple contains a remarkable image of Buddha. The price to enter is 40 Bahts (€1).

What to do in Phitsanulok?

Dine at the Phitsanulok Night Bazaar

In this market you can taste the best local food. It is full of takeaway food stalls. There are also shops with other types of products, such as handicrafts or clothing.

Are you interested in this city? You can’t miss our  Phitsanulok Guide

Sukhothai

The ancient capital of the kingdom

Sukhothai was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom for 200 years until it was absorbed into the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century. So this city was once the capital of Thailand. Today, however, the most important thing that remains are the ruins of the temples and palaces in its National Park.

Sukhothai
Sukhothai

Sukhothai National Park

Sukhothai National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is 12 km from the city center. The park is divided into zones and we recommend renting a bicycle to tour it. The central area of ​​the Park, the main one, is where you can see the main temples in ruins:

  • Monument to King Ramkhamhaeng
  • Royal Palace and Wat Mahathat
  • Traphang Ngon Wat (Silver Monastery)
  • Traphang Wat tanga (“Golden Lake in the monastery”)
  • Saint Ta Pha Daeng
  • Wat Si Sawai (also known as “Wat Sri Svāya”)
  • Ramkhamhaeng National Museum

If you want more information about what to see and do in Sukhothai, discover our Guide to Sukhothai

The south of Thailand and its beaches

The south of Thailand is famous for its beaches and islands. The beaches are divided between those of the Andaman Sea, to the west of the country, and those of the Gulf of Thailand, to the east.

There are beaches for all tastes, from the liveliest to the quietest and most virgin.

Next, we review to discover what to do in Thailand and its beaches. We leave you with the most outstanding beaches!

Phuket

An island with ideal beaches for travelers looking for fun

Phuket is one of the most popular destinations among travelers who want to spend a few days on the Thai beaches. It offers a perfect balance between the tranquility of its beaches and the possibility of enjoying a lively nightlife. In Phuket you will also find exclusive beaches and the possibility of practicing water sports. The most prominent are:

  • Patong Beach: with a lot of nightlife
  • Karon Beach: quieter than Patong but with plenty of entertainment options
  • Kata Beach: ideal if you like to surf
  • Panwa Beach: one of the most exclusive and quiet in Phuket
Phuket Beaches
Phuket Beaches

Have you been wanting to know more about Phuket? Find out everything you need to know in our Phuket Guide

Phi Phi

The most paradisiacal beaches although with a lot of tourism

On the beaches of the Phi Phi Islands you can enjoy a photographic environment, with the typical images of Thai beaches with white sand and turquoise water. It is a place where many travelers go to see, among others, Maya Bay, the beach where Leonardo DiCaprio shot the movie The Beach. The islands that you can visit on Phi Phi are:

  • Koh Phi Phi Don
  • Koh Phi Phi Leh
  • Bamboo Island
  • Mosquito Island (only its surroundings, access to the island is currently not allowed)
The Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands

Krabi

Very popular beaches with options without crowds

Krabi is a province in the south of Thailand that offers beaches with good options to spend a few days of disconnection and total relaxation. The waters of Krabi are calm and the environment is very beautiful. The most outstanding beaches are:

  • Ao Nang: a long beach with many leisure options
  • Railay Bay Beaches: Some really lovely and quieter beaches
  • Tubkaek: where luxury and exclusivity rule
  • Klong Muang: a beach without crowds
Krabi Beach
Krabi Beach

Koh Samui

The largest island in the Gulf of Thailand

On the island of Koh Samui you will find a perfect place both to rest and to practice water sports, such as snorkeling, diving or kayaking. Some of its beaches are very lively and have a wide range of restaurants, while if you prefer relaxation, you will also find secluded beaches that are perfect for disconnecting from the routine. The most outstanding beaches are:

  • Nathon beach
  • Laem Yai Beach
  • Mae Nam Beach
  • bophut beach
  • Bang Rak Beach
  • Choeng Mon Beach
  • Chaweng Beach
  • lamai beach
Koh Samui Beach
Koh Samui Beach

Traveling to Thailand can be an unforgettable journey. Now that you know what to see and what to do in Thailand, and if you are thinking of visiting this wonderful country in Southeast Asia, we advise you to take a look at our Thailand itineraries:

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