long-tailed boat on Bundhaya beach Koh LIPE Thailand
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35 Best Places to Visit in Thailand

Known for its fabulous food, ancient temples, beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and much more, one could spend years exploring all that is Thailand. If you are thinking about making Thailand your next travel destination but don’t know what places to visit, you have come to the right spot. Below is a list of the best places to visit in Thailand that will help you pick the ideal location in the land of smiles.

We divided this list into five regions, so if you already know what region you are heading to, you can simply click on the region below and it will take you to the best places to visit there.

Northern Thailand | Northeastern Thailand | Eastern Thailand | Central Thailand | Southern Thailand

So without further ado, here are our choices of the best places to visit in Thailand.

Northern Thailand

Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai

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As conked out backpackers gently slumber in their beds, the sun gently begins to rise from the mountains and the monks mindfully make their way through the streets of Chiang Mai. There’s something magical in the waters here. We’re talking much more than the moat surrounding the crumbling old city walls. With around 300 temples in this one city dating back as far as 1296, one cannot help but feel a higher energy pulsating through this bustling ancient northern Thai beauty.

Everyone’s purpose for visiting Chiang Mai is different…and generously granted. Adventurers come here for riveting motorbike rides that they can take from here, twisting and turning through the lush green mountains along the Mae Hong Son Loop. Others come here to eat until their heart’s content. Chiang Mai is renowned for amazing vegetarian and vegan restaurants. If one wishes to dine in a different restaurant every day for the length of their stay; Chiang Mai lets you do just that. Hikers make their way up to the highest point of the city on Doi Suthep – A magical temple within itself, but also the perfect spot for a bird’s eye view.

If you’re looking for a powerful experience while in Chiang Mai, then you shouldn’t leave without getting a Sak Yant Tattoo. For this you’ll want to skip the typical tattoo shop and make sure yours is done by a monk or an ajarn so you get the full meaning and blessing. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that you’ll never forget.

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Two pagoda on the top in an Inthanon mountain, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
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Doi Inthanon National Park

Grab your camera and binoculars because you’re heading to the highest point in Thailand. Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand, rises 2,565 meters above sea level and is located in Chiang Mai in Doi Inthanon National Park. The park itself is covered with beautiful, lush rain, mixed, and pine forests, and it has many highlights for the nature lovers. Obviously the summit will reward you with some of the best views you’ll ever see, and you can also enjoy waterfalls, hiking trails, and two chedis. You’ll find several waterfalls throughout the park, most of them are easily accessible, and one even has a campsite. The nature trails and gardens remain a fan favorite, and the park is even growing in popularity with birdwatchers. The two chedis, Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Naphapholphumisiri, were built by the Royal Thai Air Force to pay tribute to the 60th birthdays of the king and queen, and are gorgeous places to stop and take some photos. With everything Doi Inthanon has to offer, you’ll never want to come down off of this mountaintop.

Chiang Dao in Thailand
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Chiang Dao

Recommended by Darren & Shelley from Finding Beyond

Chiang Dao is just a 90-minute motorbike or easy bus journey from Chiang Mai, so it’s perfect for long day trips from there, or even better, spending a few days in the area to really explore the region. There are so many things to do in Chiang Dao – climb Thailand’s third highest peak, walk the numerous lush nature trails, take 500 steps through the jungle up to Wat Tham Pha Plong, navigate cave tunnels, relax in natural hot springs and cool down under a cascade of waterfalls.

Chiang Dao is one of the best places to visit in Thailand for those who love the outdoors and prefer fewer tourists than the crowds found in nearby Chiang Mai and Pai. For now, Chiang Dao is a peaceful rural town with a spectacular back drop of beautiful limestone mountains.

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Mae Hong Son in Thailand
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Mae Sariang & Mae Hong Son

Recommended by Miguel from Travelsauro

If you want to get off the beaten path and experience the real Thailand, the northern cities of Mae Sariang and Mae Hong Son are some of the best places to visit in Thailand. These two cities, located in the Mae Hong Son province, are home to a rich culture, great food and lively markets. The nearby mountains offer a wide range of activities, including hiking to local hill tribes, exploring caves and visiting waterfalls. While Mae Hong Son receives a few foreign tourists a day, Mae Sariang is virtually unknown to most travelers.

The best way to explore this beautiful region is by renting a bike and riding at your own pace. The Mae Hong Son Loop, with 600 km of roads and more than 4000 curves, is an epic journey that will take you through traditional villages, wild forests and unforgettable landscapes. You can complete it in four or five days, but you should seriously consider staying a few extra days to get the most out of this beautiful province.

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Best Things to Do in Pai Thailand Featured Image

Pai

Recommended by Stu & Eloise from Am I Nearly There Yet?

Pai is a lovely, but contentious destination in northern Thailand. Yes, it’s packed with wheatgrass juice bars, veggie restaurants and little hip cafes, but for the wild backpackers there are some rowdy bars that proudly sell whiskey buckets.

Some may be happy to know that all that’s at the superficial level. If you dive a bit deeper, hire a bike or rent a scooter, and get out and explore Pai’s surroundings, you’ll be treated to some of the best that Thailand offers in terms of scenery.

If hill walks, unspoiled waterfalls, unguided trekking and general chilled vibes are your thing, get yourself to Pai, binge out in the town if you have to, then get out there and explore your surroundings!

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White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Chiang Rai

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If you’re into offbeat adventures, nature, great local food and culture, then Chiang Rai deserves at least a couple of days in your Thailand plans. Of course there are beautiful Buddhist temples to visit, but if you’re feeling templed-out, the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) will be a welcome shock to your system. It is by far the quirkiest, most unique temple in Thailand. Built in 1997 and designed in the style of a Buddhist temple, it is actually a privately owned work of art with contemporary and religious symbolism at every turn.

Another unexpected architectural masterpiece is the Black House, which is actually a series of buildings housing a collection of artwork, skulls and animal skins. It was built by Chiang Rai born Thai artist Thawan Duchanee to represent the darkness in humanity.

You can explore both of these incredible, bizarre places, then head out into nature to visit waterfalls, go trekking and enjoy unspoiled jungle. If you want to gain deeper insight into the indigenous communities in Thailand, check out the Hill Tribe Museum.

Chiang Rai is also a great base to further explore northern Thailand and places like the Golden Triangle, where the illicit opium trade between Myanmar, Laos and Thailand went down.

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View of a sculpture of the sitting Buddha on ruins of the temple Wat Chana Songkram. Historical park of the Sukhothai city, Thailand
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Sukhothai Historical Park

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UNESCO World Heritage Site Sukhothai Historical Park covers the ruins of Sukhothai, the former capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom. Located a 7-hour bus ride from Bangkok, Sukhothai is a must-see historical site when you travel to Thailand.

The best way to explore this huge historical site (it covers around 70 km2) is by renting a bicycle. Biking around the peripheral sites of Sukhothai will transport you back in time to the golden era of Thailand as you visit seemingly untouched ruins.

The park itself is made up not only of the ruins of royal palaces, but also of moats, city gates, and Buddhist temples. With the ruins divided into five zones, the best-conserved part is the Central Zone where ruins are situated in a really picturesque environment between small lakes, bridges and islands.

In terms of the temples, Wat Mahathat is the main (and probably the most spectacular) temple with several giant Buddha figures in it. With so much history and so many picturesque sites, Sukhothai Historical Park should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Northeastern Thailand

hanom Rung in Thailand
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Phanom Rung Historical Park

Step into another world at Phanom Rung Historical Park. In the Isaan region of Thailand you will find a dormant volcano. On the rim of that volcano you will find one of the most significant and magnificent Khmer temples in all of Thailand. Phanom Rung will be unmistakeable as the long processional walkway and stone stairs provide an exquisite introduction to the main sanctuary. Within the complex you will find additional towers, several ponds, and two libraries that housed sacred Hindu scriptures.

A truly mystical experience awaits if you visit during their annual festival. Once a year a phenomenon occurs where the sun shines through all 15 doors of the temple. In addition to this rare sight, for the festival you can enjoy a traditional northeastern Thai or Isaan-style dinner as well as cultural performances and presentations.

Temple in Thailand is named Phra-Mahathat-Kaen-Nakhon, Khon Kaen province, Thailand.
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Khon Kaen

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Khon Kaen, in the Isaan region, is often overlooked by travellers, but the fact that so few tourists come here only contributes to its special feeling.

On the face of it, Khon Kaen is a city just like many others in Thailand. It has the usual plethora of temples, but one in particular stands out. The Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon Temple stands a breathtaking, gold-glittering 9 storeys high. The ground floor is generally a bustling hive of activity, but as you climb the stairs which wind upwards, peacefulness descends.

Each floor is an assault on your senses with ceilings, walls and the wooden window shutters painted with bright scenes to educate and remind people of the Buddhist teachings. Trinkets and amulets are on display throughout and orange-robed monks walk silently up and down the many steps.

Tiny strings of bells tinkle gently in the breeze under the eaves and from each floor, more and more of the lake below comes into your view as you ascend. Once you arrive at the top of the golden tower you have the whole Kaen Nakhon Lake spread before you.

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Chiang Khan in Thailand
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Chiang Khan

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Chiang Khan in the northeastern region of the Loei Province of Thailand feels like going back to an easier, rural and less-traveled path in this country. Filled with beautiful countryside, the gorgeous Mekong River and colorful communities like Chiang Khan, it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand if you want something unique and far away from all the tourists. Chiang Khan and the Loei Province are definitely off the beaten path but worth visiting if you want to experience the real Thailand and friendly Thai hospitality.

Popular places to visit in this region include the Mekong River and taking a nice cruise on the famous river, the old sections of Chiang Khan including a visit to the temple area, the night market at Chiang Khan, Phu Ruea National Park with views of the entire province, and Tai Dam Village – an authentic Laotian village. You’ll also want to make sure you take a drive up to the top of Phu Tok Mountain for stunning views of the entire region.

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Eastern Thailand

Koh Kut Island, Trat Province, Thailand
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Koh Kut

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Despite its accessibility from Bangkok, Koh Kut (also spelled Koh Kood) is free of the crowds and overdevelopment that plague some of Thailand’s more popular islands. Koh Kood doesn’t really have too much going on, and it’s definitely a more rustic experience, but that’s part of its charm and why it’s one of the best places to visit in Thailand.

Not surprisingly given the relative lack of nightlife, Koh Kood attracts a more reserved crowd and is popular with couples and families. You can easily fill your days there going from your bungalow to the beach, getting a massage, maybe doing some snorkeling or kayaking, and catching the sunset at one of many restaurants that overlook the water.

To venture further, rent a motorcycle and head to one of the island’s waterfalls, the fishing village at the south end, or its famed giant Makka tree. On the other hand, the northwest corner of Koh Kood is home to Soneva Kiri, a resort so exclusive its guests arrive via private plane from Bangkok and so isolated it’s as if nobody else on the island is aware of it. If your nightly budget for accommodations is in the $1,500 range, you’ll probably love it!

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Ao Nuan Beach on the island of Koh Samet in Thailand
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Koh Samet

Only 200 kilometers from Bangkok you’ll find the ideal holiday getaway for tourists and locals alike. One reason you’ll love Koh Samet is because it gets significantly less rainfall than the rest of eastern Thailand, so you can spend more time on any of the 16 beaches. The southern beaches tend to be more secluded, but if you’re coming to party then you need to make your way to the northern beaches like Hat Sai Kaew & Ao Hin Khok where parties, barbecues, and fire-juggling shows are nightly happenings.

Along with the bustling nightlife, delicious cuisine and fun watersports also make the island a hit with everyone lucky enough to discover it. There are plenty of accommodation options for every budget, ranging from bungalows to upscale resorts, just make sure you book in advance as accommodations tend to sell out on the weekends. Even though it is the closest island to Bangkok, part of the beauty of Koh Samet is that it still retains its jungle interior and the island remains wonderfully underdeveloped. If you’re looking for a gorgeous place to relax and recharge, then Koh Samet is where you need to be.

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Beautiful landscape of White sand beach' in Koh Chang, Thailand
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Koh Chang

Also known as “Elephant Island”, Koh Chang is the second largest Thai island. Since it’s mostly covered in rainforest, Koh Chang is one of the best places to visit in Thailand for anyone who loves jungle trekking, wildlife, and stunning waterfalls. When you’re ready to head toward the water, the sweeping bays, coral reefs, and cozy beach cabins are sure to impress.

Even though it’s a large island, it’s not nearly as popular as places like Phuket or Koh Samui, so you can enjoy the white sandy beaches without the huge crowds. For the most privacy, you’ll want to visit anywhere between late May and late October. This is when you’ll find the rainforest the most lush and full of life. In addition to rainforest, Koh Chang is also a mountainous island great for the adventurous hiker. The rugged character of Koh Chang makes the island a favorite of everyone who visits.

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Chalerm Burapha Chonlathit Highway look from Noen Nangphaya View Point , Chanthaburi province, Thailand
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Chanthaburi

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Chanthaburi sits to the east of Thailand, about four hours south of Bangkok and next to Cambodia. It’s not a location that tops many travellers’ list, simply because most don’t know of it.

Chanthaburi is however a true gem waiting to be discovered. Gemstones indeed do the sparkling here with a huge gem market taking placing every weekend attracting gem hunters eager to trade from across the globe.

The waterfront in Chanthaburi’s Old Town is a peaceful paradise for travellers who wish to truly unwind, with a tasteful mix of Chinese, French and Vietnamese influenced architecture. Chanthaburi is the real Thai experience with most water-side eateries only offering local Thai cuisine.

Most rent a scooter when coming here, as due to small numbers of tourists there isn’t much drive for public transport. If you brave the scooter, take yourself along the scenic coastline to Chalerm Burapha Chonlathit.

Beaches are never far when in Thailand, and Ao Krathing gives you a feel for what a secluded beach (apart from a few monkeys) in Thailand is like. If you happen to make it to Chanthaburi in time for the Durian Festival, you will get to experience what a true tropical cultural fruit festival is like (you may just smell it before you see it).

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Central Thailand

The Golden Grand Palace of Bangkok in Thailand
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Bangkok

Recommended by Claudia from My Adventures Across the World

Bangkok is by far one of the best places to visit in Thailand. It’s a great hub from where to hop on budget flights to the rest of Southeast Asia, and a city that won’t fail to surprise visitors. Magnificent floating markets, canals, palaces and temples decorate the capital city, and there’s no shortage of things to do.

Wat Pho (aka the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), the Grand Palace and Wat Arun are considered the holiest sites in the city and should definitely not be missed.

If there’s one more thing that should not be missed when in the Thai capital, it’s the incredible food. Top end restaurants or street food, Bangkok has something for every taste and budget.

In fact one of the best things to do in Bangkok is going on a street food tour. A tour that goes all over Chinatown and that combines some interesting sights with gorging on delicious food, is a great way to learn more about the history, culture and way of life of this incredible city – not to mention, to eat some of the best Thai dishes. It’s also a good introduction to Southeast Asia street food culture, as it teaches you how to pick the best places to eat.

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Lopburi in Thailand
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Lopburi

Recommended by Jon from Jon Is Traveling

Lopburi, a historic former Thai capital close to Bangkok, has two main things going for it. Firstly, it’s full of ruins, including ancient temples and dwellings spread throughout the centre of town. Secondly, the centre of town is also full of monkeys who entertain (and harass) tourists and locals alike. Their main hangout is the “Monkey Temple”, a short walk from the train station. Don’t bring any food if you don’t want to be a target for the hungry monkeys! Some people like to let the monkeys climb all over them, but others think they don’t look particularly clean or healthy, so you can visit and decide for yourself :). Monkeys are always interesting to watch, and when you throw in some ancient temples you have one of Thailand’s most unique places. You can see most of Lopburi’s highlights in a day, but it’s worth staying a night or two so you can explore the temples before the tours from Bangkok arrive.

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Ayutthaya in Thailand

Ayutthaya

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Ayutthaya is an important historic site in Thailand, and one that should be on everyone’s Thailand itinerary! Ayutthaya was the kingdom of Thailand from 1350 to 1767. Some of the previously majestic temples are barely more than a pile of rocks, others are either still standing or (being) restored. Many temples are still in use, so be respectful when visiting these sites! Cover up, take off your shoes when entering a temple and don’t point your toes towards a Buddha statue.

While there are many temples in the complex, some that you’ll definitely want to check out are Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Si Sanphet.

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Coconut palm and white sand on the beach,Hua Hin beach Thailand.
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Hua Hin

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Located about two hours south of Bangkok but still on the coastline is the perfect place in Thailand, Hua Hin. Hua Hin is one of the oldest beach cities in all of Thailand. Not only is this family-friendly town beautiful, but it’s also quite secluded. It’s the perfect place to go snorkeling and fishing without the crowds.

Hua Hin also has many different kind of beaches. Quiet white sand beaches, beaches lined with restaurants, and even a pine tree-lined beach, so no matter your preference there is a beach for you. Aside from the beaches, you can also find several temples in Hua Hin as well as Kaeng Krachan, the largest national park in Thailand.

But don’t leave this beautiful city without enjoying the nightlife and food. Like any other city in Thailand, Hua Hin has an awesome night market and nightlife street. The city is also home to a trendy Oceanside Beach Club that takes you on a culinary journey and serves amazing cocktails.

Last but not least is Monsoon Valley Vineyard. These vineyards are just outside of the city and are set in a scenic mountain valley. You can go bike riding, and enjoy delicious Thai wine and the beautiful picturesque Salsa Wine Bar & Bistro while there.

If you want to get out of busy Bangkok or the crowded beaches of Phuket, taking a trip to Hua Hin will highlight your list of the best places to visit in Thailand.

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Traditional floating market in Damnoen Saduak near Bangkok. Thailand
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Amphawa Floating Market

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Amphawa is home to one of Thailand’s best floating markets. Unlike touristy Damnoen Saduak morning market, the Amphawa market opens in the late afternoon and continues long into the evening. Locals and Bangkok residents mingle with a scattering of tourists, walking the waterways, taking boat cruises and enjoying some of the freshest seafood Thailand has to offer. Specialities include huge jumbo prawns cooked to order and incredible little fish cakes with a chili-laced dressing to die for.

Amphawa is a couple of hours south of Bangkok and it’s entirely possible to visit from your hostel or hotel in Bangkok on a day trip, you could even visit Damnoen Saduak in the morning and Amphawa in the late afternoon. If you have more time, we recommend you spend a few days in Amphawa to enjoy the beautiful, unspoiled farmlands and waterways of the area.

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Maeklong Railway Market
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Maeklong Railway Market

Recommended by Elaine & Dave from The Whole World is a Playground

About 90 minutes outside of Bangkok, Maeklong Railway Market is one of the best places to visit in Thailand for both the crazy umbrella happenings and its unique insight into local market life. When the market is in full swing, stalls filled with flowers, fish, vegetables, meats and spices line the narrow market as locals weave their way through picking up supplies.

A railway track lines the narrow path between the stalls and six times daily the Banlaem/Maeklong train passes through the market. As the train approaches a warning siren sounds to indicate its imminent arrival and this is followed by an instant rush by the stallholders to raise their awnings and make some room for the passing train!

The market instantly transforms to an open-air market and comes to a standstill. The train passes through almost in slow motion, its undercarriage nearly touching the goods which still remain on the edges of the track and its horn constantly honking at the overly eager tourists who persist in standing in its path.

As soon as it passes, the umbrellas are pulled down and it is back to business as usual until the next departure! It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that you should definitely have on your Thailand itinerary.

Thai Train on River Kwai Bridge of Kanchanaburi, Thailand
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Kanchanaburi

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If you want to get a little off the beaten track in Thailand, look no further than Kanchanaburi. It’s only 2-3 hours from Bangkok and easily accessible by bus or train. Whilst some choose to take a long day trip, there’s plenty to do in the area, so it’s worth lingering at least a couple of days.

Kanchanaburi is most well-known for its links to the Second World War – specifically as the location of the River Kwai Bridge. Built by British, US and Dutch POWs under the supervision of the Japanese, the bridge is a testament to the hard work and awful conditions these soldiers were subjected to. Today you can see the remains of the old wooden bridge as well as the ‘Hellfire Pass’, a stretch of rock that had to be dug out by hand to build the railway. There are several interesting museums where you can learn more about the history of the railway, as well as a well-maintained war cemetery.

Aside from its more bloody recent history, Kanchanaburi is also home to some beautiful national parks and stunning Thai landscapes. Erawan Falls is one not to miss – a seven-tiered fall surrounded by limestone mountains in the jungle. Not too far away at Sri Nakarin you can bathe in hot springs and spot native Thai wildlife, including super cute slow lorises.

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Beautiful Erawan waterfall located Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand
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Erawan National Park

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Erawan, named after the three-headed elephant in Hindu mythology, is one of Thailand’s most famous national parks. Located in the west of the country, approximately three hours drive from Bangkok, the park has many wonders for those seeking a fun-filled day.

There are a few short trails for the hiking fans, and those with an adventurous soul can explore any of the four caves dotted around the park, including Mi Cave, which translates as ‘Bear Cave’.

However, without a doubt the jewel in the park is the amazing seven-tiered waterfall, which cascades down through the lush forest gushing over limestone rocks through beautiful, emerald pools and small ponds abundant with life.

While lower tiers are swarming with picnic-makers and young families, further up the crowds fade as the challenge to reach the highest tier deters all but the most physically fit and daring.

Reaching the summit takes a bit of a scramble on the wet rocks, but it is there that you can see the rock face at the top that resembles the elephant’s head from which the park’s name is inspired.

Group of Wild Elephant walking on the field in nature at Khaoyai national park,Thailand
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Khao Yai National Park

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Just a few hours north of the colorful chaos of Bangkok, and yet seemingly a whole world away, is where you’ll find Thailand’s original national park. Khao Yai is green, mountainous and full of easily spotted wildlife, making it the perfect place to escape from the madness of the capital for a day or two.

It’s so big that it really needs to be explored by car, but if you can’t drive or don’t want to hire one, then hitchhiking is also extremely popular. There will be loads of park rangers who will happily let you jump in the back of their pickups and lots of the visiting Thai’s will let you catch a ride if they have space. Some may even invite you to share their lunchtime picnic!

You’ll witness some truly spectacular views across the park’s surrounding valleys which stretch out as far as you can see. Expect to spot plenty of wild gibbons, macaques, deer, and if you’re lucky, a herd of elephants or one of the extremely rare tigers that still hang out here. Oh, and Khao Yai is also where Leonardo DiCaprio’s legendary waterfall jump scene in The Beach was filmed.

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Southern Thailand

View point of Nang Yuan island of Koh Tao island Thailand
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Koh Tao

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Koh Tao, also known as Turtle Island, is a small island off of Thailand’s east coast neighboring the party island of Koh Pha Ngan. It’s a quieter and more mature island where you can find a spot to yourself at one of the many sandy coves. But what draws most people to Koh Tao is its diving, as it is one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified. Dive shops are tucked in between restaurants with twinkling lights and bars along Sairee Beach, the island’s main beach.

Koh Tao has an irresistible charm with excellent nightlife, plenty of Thai and international restaurants and stunning lookouts. Just off the coast by only a short taxi boat is Koh Nang Yuan, the only three islands in the world to be connected by sand. From here you can easily get to the lookout to see the sand connect the islands and Koh Tao itself. Koh Tao is a tropical paradise that’s easy to get to with a laid-back feel that entices visitors to always stay for longer than planned.

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Crystal Bay on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand
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Koh Samui

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Whilst Koh Samui has all the usual tourist things you would expect from Thailand, many visitors still love the great laid-back, hippy-like vibe Koh Samui has going on. By day you will find travelers hanging out at the beach, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the warm sea water. Once the sun sets, everybody heads to one of the beachside restaurants to enjoy a few drinks whilst listening to some cool tunes.

Feeling adventures? Hire a local longtail boat and visit nearby islands and even deserted beaches like Koh Taen or take a day trip around the island with your own driver or on a motorbike. Koh Samui is a great place to kick back and relax with your favorite drink while making unforgettable memories.

South Chaweng or the quieter Lamai are great places to stay on Koh Samui. You will find all sorts of accommodation here from budget hostels, private villas and 5-star resorts.

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Sunset on Koh Phangan in Thailand
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Koh Pha Ngan

Recommended by Adam & Gabby from Local Nomads

Koh Pha Ngan is the Thai island notoriously known for Full Moon Parties and drunken backpackers. However, the true magic of this “crystal island” lies far out from Haad Rin, the epicenter of the party scene.

On the northwestern side of the island you’ll find a laid-back paradise where hippie vibes, consciousness, and yoga reign. It is an understatement that this island is a dream for vegans, hikers, and motorbike adventurers with its energizing raw cacao desserts, exquisite waterfall trails and dynamic mountain terrains.

As you venture north, the beaches become quieter and more pristine. Haad Son, Haad Salad and Malibu Beach are great for families and couples.

Take a day to explore the beaches on the east coast of the island, and don’t forget to stop into a street food market for a dragon fruit & coconut milk smoothie and the most delicious Pad Kra-Prao-Moo for miles.

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Top view of Similan Island National Park on Andaman sea in Thailand.
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Similan Islands

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The Similan Islands are a collection of 11 islands off the west coast of southern Thailand. For the explorers and divers who love wildlife and remote places, the Similan Islands top the list of the best places to visit in Thailand. Truly white sand beaches with crystal clear water and incredible viewpoints, these islands used to be coral reefs in the past and are millions of years old. The largest island, Koh Similan, is the tourist highlight of these islands as it’s considered one of the top dive spots in Thailand.

The islands can get busy during the 6 months of the year they are open, so it may be best for you to camp overnight. At around 3pm all the day-tourists leave and there are only a handful of campers left on these paradise islands. Because the islands are so far from the mainland, there is little light pollution. The sky at night is absolutely breathtaking and sometimes you can even see the whole Milky Way stretching across the sky! If you decide to arrange a camping trip from Khao Lak, they will take you by speedboat as part of a snorkeling tour, drop you on the island and pick you up the next afternoon.

The islands are also becoming an increasingly popular destination for sailing, and with something to do for everyone, you won’t want to miss this destination while you’re in Thailand.

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Gorgeous Laem Sing Beach in Phuket, Thailand
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Phuket

Recommended by Craig from Vagabond Disposition

Although Phuket is most infamously known for being an over-the-top touristy destination, there is so much more to see beyond the pool deck! Phuket is home to some truly unique culture, incredibly beautiful beaches, authentic cuisine, and superb underwater views. The entire island can be easily explored by motorbike, giving you the freedom to discover all that Phuket has to offer at your own pace.

You will find one of the best viewpoints in all of Phuket on the way up to the Big Buddha. The Big Buddha is an incredible 45-meter high man-made shrine of Burmese jade marble overlooking the towns of Chalong, Kata Beach, and Karon Beach, and is most definitely the main highlight of the island!

As for beaches, all of Phuket’s southern shores are worth a visit, though for some truly extraordinary snorkeling, head to Ao Sane beach at the very bottom of the island. Tour boats are not allowed to stop here and as a result, the corals are abundant and the fish are very plentiful and untamed.

For tasty Thai food and endless shopping, check out the Naka Weekend Market nearby Phuket town. Rows upon rows of hawker stalls offer up delectable Thai snacks at cheap prices, and several long aisles of shops squeezed together are full of low-price goods for the avid collector.

Hop on a motorbike and discover all that Phuket has to offer for yourself!

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rowboat on a tropical beach in Koh Lanta Thailand
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Koh Lanta

While Koh Lanta is truly a hidden gem in Thailand, it won’t be for long. Not only is it a great place for all of your favorite watersports, but the friendly locals, multi-colored sunsets, white-sand beaches, and secluded nature reserves are sure to solidify its spot on your list of best places to visit in Thailand.

Known for its beautiful scenery, the best way for you to get around and see the island is by motorbike. As you explore you’ll find there’s no shortage of cafes, bars, and restaurants that serve delectable seafood. Koh Lanta is a tiny piece of heaven you won’t want to miss.

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Koh Libong in Thailand
Raymond Walsh / manonthelam.com

Koh Libong

Recommended by Raymond from Man on the Lam

Koh Libong is the type of place most travelers doing the SE Asia circuit never quite make it to. The mostly Muslim population on this island makes its living fishing, not catering to tourists, so there are only a handful of hotels and guesthouses ranging from budget to mid-range. The accommodations do share one thing in common though – they’re all directly on the beach. Travelers who do make the trek will be rewarded with crowd-free beaches, a laid-back vibe, and perhaps even the monitor lizards who are known to roam the island. 

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Beautiful sea at tropical island, Koh Lipe, Andaman sea, Thailand
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Koh Lipe

This tiny island you’ve never heard of is about to shoot up to the top of your list of the best places to visit in Thailand. With no cars on the island, it can easily be covered by foot. Koh Lipe is home to four main beaches, one facing in each direction. Start your day at Sunrise Beach and end your day at Sunset Beach. Pattaya Beach and Karma Beach are your two other amazing options.

From basic accommodations to resorts, more than 60 guesthouses have opened their doors to visitors. One of the best things about Koh Lipe is the nearby nature reserve. Not only will you be surrounded by uninhabited islands, but you can explore Tarutao National Marine Park just off the coast. It may be small in size, but Koh Lipe has all of the daytime watersports your heart desires while the nightlife comes alive once the sun sets. This hidden gem won’t be hidden for much longer, so we suggest you book your ticket ASAP!

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Birdeye view of Ratchaprapha dam Khao sok national park at suratthani,Thailand
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Khao Sok National Park

Adventure collides with nature to create perfection at Khao Sok National Park. Get excited to explore the largest area of virgin forest in Thailand and experience part of the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world (yes, it’s even older than the Amazon rainforest). Not only is it super diverse when it comes to the wildlife and plants, but you can also conveniently access it from nearby places like Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, and Khao Lak.

There are so many great reasons to visit Khao Sok National Park that we’ll only have time to mention a few. The rest of them you will have to discover on your visit. Wildlife watchers should definitely have Khao Sok National Park at the top of their list of the best places to visit in Thailand as it is home to elephants, sun bears, gaurs, and many other wild animals. You can even explore a bat cave if you’d like. Waterfalls abound, and adventurous travelers can walk through up to three feet of water as you explore Cave Underwater, a cave that stretches 400 meters as water flows between both ends. There is also the always popular Cheow Lan Lake where you absolutely must see the luxury tents and floating raft houses. Scenery and nature are at their finest in Khao Sok National Park, and you’ll surely regret it if you pass by without a visit.

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Phra nang cave beach in Krabi,Thailand
Kittichai / shutterstock.com

Railay

Recommended by John & Heather from Roaming Around the World

Railay is firmly planted as one of the best places to visit in Thailand. This beautiful beach surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs is what Thailand dreams are made of. It’s a tropical paradise that’s a fantastic value holiday destination in Thailand full of awesome activities to pursue.

The looming cliffs cut off Railay from the mainland, which makes the peninsula completely car-free. The only way to get to Railay is by boat, and the main mode of transportation here is by your own two feet. This all helps Railay to maintain a simple and natural atmosphere in such incredible surroundings. Don’t be surprised to see monkeys while walking around the network of footpaths. They’re everywhere!

Once you get to the picturesque beach, it’s easy to plop down on that gorgeous sand and relax the days away. But instead, you should explore all that Railay offers! There are challenging hiking trails, caves to investigate, fantastic rock climbing routes, a hidden lagoon to discover, and tidal tunnels you can kayak through! Yet perhaps one of the best things to do is go island hopping in a longtail boat to remote locations dotting the Andaman Sea.

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Beautiful Tonsai beach in Krabi province, Thailand
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Tonsai

Recommended by Nina from Where in the World is Nina?

Even though it’s just a spec on the map, Tonsai is truly heaven for hippies. This spot is often thought of as an island because you can only access it by boat but it is, in fact, on the mainland. Its massive karst backdrop prevents it from being accessed by a road and that’s one reason why it’s such a haven. There is no cars that pollute this paradise, only a handful of hotels and guesthouses, a few bars and eateries, and one long beach. All of the bars are funky and exude hippy vibes, and you may even find some hallucinogens there.

The karsts serve well for the large rock climbing community as one of the most epic places to get high (pun-ny?), and the beach is for all to enjoy and to seek relief from the tropical heat. If this is your kind of scene, then Tonsai is definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand.

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long-tailed boat on Bundhaya beach Koh LIPE Thailand
RAYphotographer / shutterstock.com

Ko Phi Phi

Recommended by Sonal & Sandro from Drifter Planet

Koh Phi Phi is perhaps one of the most famous islands of Thailand, mainly because of the blockbuster movie – the Beach. Koh Phi Phi is not one single island, but a group of 6 islands where Koh Phi Phi Don is the biggest, and that’s the only island where you can stay overnight.

The location of the legendary beach is actually Maya Bay, which is on the smaller Phi Phi Leh island. Because of the popularity of the movie, Maya Bay is usually full of boats and tourists from 10 am to 4 pm, however, you can enjoy the island to yourself if you find a boat to bring you here as early as 7 am.

Apart from Maya Bay, there is a lot to do on this group of islands. There is a spectacular viewpoint on Phi Phi Don which can only be reached by hiking. You can also visit the smaller islands in this group – Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island. Only a 90-minute ferry ride from Phuket or Krabi, picturesque Koh Phi Phi is truly a perfect paradise for your time in Thailand.

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If there are any places you think we missed on our list of best places to visit in Thailand, feel free to let us know in the comments below!

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The Author

Ben

Ben is a professional web designer and the man behind the scenes of Road Affair. He has been traveling around the world with his partner in crime, Jazzy, since 2012.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for including our contribution! I’m hoping to return to Thailand next year, and there are so many places to explore still. I’ve never even heard of Koh Libong – will definitely be checking it out!

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