Updated: Feb 17
The kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam is a country situated in the Indochinese peninsula bordered by Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. A preferred holiday destination among European and Asian travelers alike, this country offers a variety of attractions ranging from historical and holy sites to beach towns infamous for their nightlife. In addition to its rich and vibrant culture, Thailand offers picturesque destinations attracting millions of tourists annually. Here is a very brief look at some of the must-see attractions in Thailand.
Considered as an architectural symbol of the Thai royal family, this is a must-see attraction for travelers to Thailand. Encompassed with well-maintained green gardens, the palace consists of a large number of complexes and meticulously restored stunning murals. Constructed in 1782 at the order of King Phutthayotfa Chulalok, this palace served as the center of the royal government until 1925 and is now used for several royal ceremonies and state functions each year.
Due to several offices still being situated inside the premises, only partial public-access has been permitted. The precincts of the palace are divided into two main zones, namely the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Royal residence. The residence is further divided into three main areas consisting of an outer court, middle court, and inner court. As the site is a place of religious significance, visitors need to follow strict dress codes where male visitors are expected to wear long pants and shirts. Female visitors are also required to follow a similar dress code avoiding see-through clothes and visible bare shoulders etc.
Entry tickets to the palace are sold from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm and includes entry to Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall. Situated inside the grand palace is the Pavilion of Regalia, another popular tourist attraction displaying royal decorations and coins.
Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is yet another popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, located just a 10-minute walk from the Grand Palace. This temple is mainly famous for its gold-leaf covered 46-meter long reclining statue of Lord Buddha.
In addition to being a holy site, Wat Pho is also considered the birthplace of traditional Thai massage where tourists could expect to get a quality traditional massage.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun is a stunning temple situated on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple, consisting of colorful spires gently overlooking the waters offers a different architectural style compared to the rest of the attractions around Bangkok. Despite its name, the temple is renowned for its beautiful sunset views. Tourists are allowed to climb the central spire and right at the top, they are greeted with views of the winding Chao Phraya River, Grand Palace, and Wat Pho temple. Visitors are advised to wear appropriate attire as this is a holy site.
Chao Phraya River
The is the most prominent river in Thailand flowing a total of 372 kilometers from the central plains through Bangkok into the Gulf of Thailand. Riverboats are a popular means of travel across the various attractions situated around the river.
Asiatique: The Riverfront
Photo Credits: Chee Hong
This is an open-air mall situated in the city center, occupying the former docks of the East Asiatic Company on the Chao Phraya River. This mall operates as an open-air night market and consists of a few historical buildings including a world war II bomb shelter. As night dawns, the place is abuzz with street performers, packed restaurants, and souvenir shops.
Photo Credits: Wpcpey
MBK is an eight-story department store situated in Bangkok. This shopping attraction is popular among locals and tourists alike and mostly renowned for housing affordable consumer goods compared to the other high-end shopping malls located in the area.
Photo Credits: Mark Fischer
One of the largest malls in Thailand, Siam Paragon is situated right next to the Siam BTS station. This mall offers a variety of restaurants with different cuisines, an exhibition hall, the Thai Art Gallery, Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World aquarium, multiple movie theaters, and an opera concert hall.
Chathuchak Weekend Market
Photo Credits: JJ Harrison
Chatuchak is a popular weekend market among locals as well as tourists alike. This market offers a unique glimpse into the culture of the Thai locals and is considered one of the largest markets in Asia.
Khao San Road
Photo Credits: Robert Brands
Khao San Road is a place frequented mostly by backpackers visiting Thailand. Renowned as a hub for tourists wanting to travel to other major locations inside Thailand, this place also serves as a marketplace with vendors selling everything from clothes to all kinds of street food.
Known for its outrageous nightlife, Pattaya offers a variety of beach activities ranging from kite-surfing to snorkeling. The most famous beach in the area also referred to as “Pattaya Beach” spans about 4 kilometers with an adjoining palm-lined road. The northern part of the beach is known for its quiet atmosphere while the rest remains abuzz with busy hotels, floating restaurants, and shops scattered throughout the area. While in Pattaya, also make sure to visit the walking street and the floating market as both are widely regarded as must-see attractions. Visitors are advised to be cautious of the common scams in the area which can be easily avoided if known beforehand.
Hua Hin Beach
Hua Hin is a destination popular among tourists that prefer isolated and quiet beaches. One could state this to be an ideal place to take a relaxing evening stroll while enjoying the impending sunset. The main beach spans about 4 kilometers and offers a variety of family-friendly activities. The rock formations near the end of the beach give the town the name Hua Hin which means “stone head”. The combination of a sandy beach and a charming town attracts couples and families looking to relax and unwind.
Also known as Rai Leh, this destination is only accessible by boat due to being cut off from the mainland by high limestone cliffs. Railay beach is considered to be one of the best beaches in the world with its spectacular views and beautiful scenery. While West Railay is the more popular destination, East Railay is considered to be the arrival point for boats coming in from Krabi. East and West Railay are connected through pathways that go through thick jungle cover. Tourist activities include boat-rides, rock-climbing, hiking, scuba diving, and snorkeling among others.
Historic City of Ayutthaya
This historic town served as the second capital of Thailand in the past after being founded in 1350. Ayutthaya could be easily considered as a must-visit destination for any Buddhist due to the large number of monasteries located in the area. However, this place is also popular among people of other faiths and history buffs due to the historical relevance. The area boasts of sculptures and art from 14-18th century Thailand with its rich and majestic architecture. The city was abandoned in 1767 after being attacked and burned to the ground.
Sukhothai Historical Park
This historical park is considered to be a UNESCO world heritage site in Thailand. Sukhothai Park offers nearly 200 historical ruins within an area of about 70 sq km divided into five separate zones. Three of the zones require separate admission fees. Due to the sheer size of the park, travelers could be expected to hire bicycles or electric buggies.
Pai Canyon is an incredibly scenic area with picturesque valley views. A popular destination among hikers, the canyon is located 8 kilometers south of Pai town in Mae Hong Son Province. Entrance to the canyon is free while several stalls are situated at the trailhead. The best time for a hike is before 10 a.m or at the end of the afternoon as the Pai canyon is known for its spectacular sunset views. Due to a lack of railings and narrow trails, the place is usually considered unsuitable for small children.
Wat Rong Khun
Also known as White Temple among tourists, this temple is situated in the Chiang Rai Province of Thailand. The property is currently owned by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a well-known Thai visual artist who decided to fund, renovate and open it for tourists in 1997. The temple is designed using a unique blend of the color white and glass which symbolizes the purity and wisdom of Lord Buddha. Opening hours of the temple are from 6.30 am to 6.00 pm daily.
Considered one of the most picturesque eastern seaboard islands of Thailand, Ko Samet is situated in the Gulf of Thailand approximately 220km southeast of Bangkok in the Rayong Province. The boat ride from the mainland is about 10 kilometers.
Popular as a weekend getaway for locals as well as tourists, this island is considered to be part of a marine national park. The island consisting of approximately 13.1 square kilometers is named after the Samet trees that grow in abundance. The island offers white sandy beaches complimented by turquoise blue waters making it ideal for snorkeling and other water-based sports. Walk-ins are not advised since the entire island tends to be booked in advance especially on the weekends.
More commonly referred to as the death railway, this is a 415-km long railway linking Ban Pong in Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma. Construction was undertaken by the then Japanese empire from 1940-1944. The Thailand portion of the railway is still used from Bangkok to Nam Tok.
Haad Rin Full Moon Party
Photo Credits: Per Meistrup
This is an all-night beach party taking place every fool moon and particularly famous among western tourists. It is believed to have originated in Hat Rin on the island of Ko Pha-ngan.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Considered the most famous floating market among tourists, it is located 100 kilometers southwest of Bangkok. This market has been featured in several Hollywood movies due to its popularity.
Khao Yai National Park
Established in 1962 as Thailand’s first national park, Khao Yai is also the country's third-largest. Situated 180km from Bangkok it covers a total land area of 2168 sq km. Encompassed by evergreen forests, grasslands, and mountains, this unique eco-system is also declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The park is home to a variety of animals ranging from elephants to crocodiles and various exotic birds. Khao Yai park is also the best place to see some of the rarer and elusive animals that call Thailand home: Asian black bear, dhole, and Rufous-tailed robins are among a few. Visitors are prohibited from traveling alone inside the park while guided tours are the most popular way of seeing all the park has to offer.
This waterfall is considered to be the main attraction of Erawan National Park and particularly famous for its seven-tier structure. The water here flows through limestone cliffs and erosion over time has resulted in colorful pools and rounded rock formations. Located in the Tenasserim Hills in Kanchanaburi province 200 kilometers northwest of Bangkok the park also consists of a few caves that are open for visitors to explore.
Phang Nga Bay
This bay is located in the Strait of Malacca between Phuket and the mainland. The area offers unspoiled rivers, caves, and native wildlife. The gypsy village of Ko Panyee is considered to be a highlight you shouldn't miss when touring the area by boat. In terms of activities, sea kayaking and snorkeling could be recommended while if you're in an adventure mood go explore limestone cliffs and caves scattered throughout the area.
Phi Phi Islands
A group of 6 islands between the large island of Phuket and the Straits of Malacca coast. The largest and most populated island of the group is Ko Phi Phi Don and the second-largest island is known as Ko Phi Phi Le. These two islands are mainly frequented by tourists and locals for their beautiful beaches and relaxing atmosphere. Travel to each of the islands is provided via speedboats or long-tail boats from the town of Krabi. These islands are renowned worldwide for their beauty while Maya Bay from Phi Phi Le has been featured as the setting for The Beach hollywood movie.