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Beyond Bangkok: 17 Best Places to Visit in Thailand

Beyond Bangkok: 17 Best Places to Visit in Thailand

Are you planning a trip to Thailand and having trouble deciding where to go? We get it. There are so many amazing places to visit in Thailand that it can be hard to narrow it down to a one—or two-week itinerary.

We’ve spent over four years traveling and living in Thailand, so we know a thing or two about this amazing country. We’ve visited all the tourist spots and more. Thailand is one of our favorite Asian countries, and it is a place we call our second home.

Venture beyond Bangkok’s vibrant capital and discover the enchanting cities and towns that showcase Thailand’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, from charming historical towns to lively Thai islands.

We’ve put together this list of the best places to visit in Thailand to help you plan the perfect trip. Are you looking to go island hopping and visit some of the best islands, or visit Northern Thailand and experience more nature and Thai culture?

Quick Answer: Best Places in Thailand

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Best Places to Visit in Thailand

Golden sunset over the city of Bangkok viewed from a rooftop Sky Bar

1. Bangkok

Almost all trips to Thailand start in the capital of Thailand, Bangkok. Bangkok is a city you either love it or hate it. We LOVE Bangkok. It is our favorite big city in the world.

The food, the temples, the sky bars, the luxury hotels, the noise, the smells, the sounds, the traffic, the shopping, the chaos—all of it makes for a great few days. A few of our top places to visit are Wat Pho Temple, a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River, people-watching on Khaosan Road, happy hour at a Skybar for sunset, Chinatown, and more.

We always like to hire a private guide for the day, and it is super affordable. This is the BEST way to see Bangkok. A private guide will take you to a list of attractions you pick. Get a true glimpse into Thai culture in this one-on-one experience. We booked this private Bangkok tour online.

When it comes to visiting Thailand (Siam), Bangkok is a must-see destination. Known for its bustling street markets, ornate temples, and vibrant nightlife, Bangkok offers a unique blend of traditional culture and modern attractions.

From exploring the historic Grand Palace to shopping at the iconic Chatuchak Weekend Market, there is no shortage of things to do in Bangkok.

One of our favorite things to do is eat; everywhere you go, there is delicious street food in Bangkok. Before going, make sure to read our What to Eat in Bangkok travel guide, which will explain different Thai foods to try and the best places to eat in Bangkok.

Sunrise Beach of Koh Lipe - Best beach in Koh Lipe

2. Koh Lipe

The #1 best place to visit in Thailand is Koh Lipe. There is no other island in Thailand that will compare. If you’re looking for gorgeous turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches, this is your place.

If you are looking for that perfect relaxing beach vacation, add Koh Lipe to your Thailand itinerary. We suggest staying on Sunrise Beach, where a beachfront room at a 3-star hotel will cost you $125+ during the high season. Click here to check rates. They have the best hotel options & prices in Thailand.

Koh Lipe doesn’t typically get overcrowded because it isn’t the easiest island to get to. The only way to Koh Lipe is by boat, and the nearest airport is 1.5-2 hours from the Pak Bara pier. Don’t let this discourage you. It’s worth the trip. Click here to book Koh Lipe ferry tickets.

The island is small enough that you can walk everywhere. There are motorcycle taxis but no other vehicles on the island. More reasons to love Koh Lipe: you can get an hour massage on the beach for $12 USD an hour, rent a private boat to explore the nearby islands for the day for $50, and make sure to get a bowl of the Penang curry.

Drone photo of an expedition cruise El Nido to Coron - Tao Cruises

3. Koh Tao

Koh Tao is a picturesque island in Thailand known for its stunning beaches, vibrant marine life, and world-class diving opportunities. Whether you’re an experienced diver or just looking to relax on the sandy shores, Koh Tao has something for everyone.

Don’t miss out on exploring the underwater world with a diving excursion, where you can swim alongside colorful coral reefs and exotic fish. If diving isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the crystal-clear waters by snorkeling or simply lounging on the beach. Ko Tao is truly a tropical paradise waiting to be explored.

If you want to visit some of the best islands in Thailand, take a ferry to Ko Samui or Koh Phangan.

If you have heard of the full moon party in Thailand, it is happening over on the nearby island of Koh Phangan. Different travelers like different things. If a loud party island isn’t your thing, make sure to avoid Ko Phangan during the full moon or head to one of the Koh Phangan beaches.

sunrise at Lamai beach one of the best beaches in Thailand.

4. Koh Samui

There’s more to Koh Samui than being Thailand’s second-largest island. It’s also one of the best places to visit in Thailand for families with kids who are looking for a beach vacation. If you are traveling with kids or an extended family, it’s one of the most popular places in Thailand to rent a house for a longer period of time.

Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui’s sandy beaches and tropical atmosphere attract backpackers, families, honeymooners, and everyone in between. Whether you’re hitting up the beaches or partying late into the evening, the activities in Koh Samui are endless.

The island is also filled with stunning cultural landmarks, including the impressive 12-meter tall golden Buddha. You should also visit the Secret Buddha Garden, which is located deep inside a lush, green forest.

When the sun sets, head to Chaweng Beach. You’ll find plenty of lively bars, restaurants, and clubs that sell cheap drinks and mouth-watering dishes. If you’re looking for fun and entertainment, then you’ll be happy to know that the parties don’t stop until the early hours of the morning.

Couple standing on the beach in Maya Bay - Koh Phi Phi Leh - Top tourist attractions in Thailand

5. Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi is a stunning island in the Andaman Sea known for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant marine life, and picturesque beaches. There is no airport on Koh Phi Phi. You have to take a ferry to Phuket from Phuket, Krabi, or Koh Lanta.

Ko Phi Phi was the first island in Thailand we visited. When planning our honeymoon in Thailand, a trip to the famous Maya Bay was a must. Many travelers want to visit the famous Maya Bay, made famous by the movie “The Beach,” or snorkel in the turquoise waters to discover colorful coral reefs.

For those seeking adventure, hiking to the top of Phi Phi Viewpoint offers panoramic views of the island and surrounding ocean. With its laid-back atmosphere and breathtaking natural beauty, Koh Phi Phi is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Thailand.

Railay Beach Thailand large exposed rock face white sand beach and tropical waters make for a perfect honeymoon destination

6. Krabi

You could easily spend several weeks or months exploring Krabi alone. This southwestern region of Thailand is enormous, with dozens of sights, attractions, and tourist attractions.

No visit to Krabi would be complete without seeing the city center, Krabi Town. You can kayak, shop, and get massages right there on Ao Nang Beach, Krabi Town’s largest waterfront beach. Two other beautiful beaches only accessible by boat to visit are Railay Beach and Tonsai Beach.

Krabi is also home to dozens of tropical islands (200 to be exact). You can rent a long-tail boat and spend the day island hopping, or you can choose your favorites and relax for a long weekend at a beachside resort or bungalow.

Ang Thong Marine Park View

7. Ang Thong National Marine Park

Thailand is home to some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world, and Ang Thong National Marine Park is no exception. This tropical archipelago is comprised of 42 islands and is home to white-sand beaches, jagged limestone rocks, and cascading waterfalls.

If you’re coming from Samui, there are only a few islands within boating distance. Koh Wua Ta Lap and Koh Mae are two of the most popular destinations for travelers who have limited time to spend in Ang Thong National Marine Park.

Besides the scenic views and pristine beaches, Ang Thong National Marine Park is also flooded with exotic wildlife. It’s not hard to spot long-tailed monkeys, sea turtles, eagles, and even otters during your time in the park.

Since the area is protected by the government, access is strictly regulated.  You must book a pre-arranged tour by an official government-approved boat. We highly suggest booking in advance. This is the Ang Thong National Marine Park Tour we booked.

Panvaree Resort Overwater Villas in Thailand on Khao Sok Lake

8. Khao Sok Lake

Khao Sok Lake, located in southern Thailand, is a hidden gem in Thailand for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Surrounded by lush rainforest and limestone cliffs, this picturesque lake offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

There are a ton of unique things to do at Khao Sok Lake, such as kayaking, hiking, and wildlife spotting. We enjoyed going out on a private boat tour of Khao Sok National Park. We spent the entire day cruising around the lake.

Some of the most unique hotels in Bangkok are here. Stay in an overwater bungalow in Thailand or a floating bubble. The floating bungalows provide a unique way to experience the beauty of the lake, with stunning sunrise and sunset views.

For those looking to truly immerse themselves in nature, Khao Sok Lake is a must-visit destination in Thailand. If you are staying in Krabi and want to visit Khao Sok Lake, you can take this day tour from Krabi.

Hannah standing in front of a temple in Chiang Mai with her new Sak Yant Tattoo

9. Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, known as the cultural capital of Thailand, is one of the best places to visit in Thailand for those looking to immerse themselves in the rich history and traditions of the country.

For those open to tattoos and a unique Thailand souvenir, consider getting a Sak Yant tattoo in Chiang Mai as we did. Getting a tattoo by a monk that you didn’t pick, and you don’t know what it is or where on your body he’ll put it. Now that is awesome and super unique!

From exploring ancient temples in Chiang Mai like Wat Phra That Doi Suthep to wandering through the bustling night markets filled with local handicrafts and delicious street food, there is no shortage of things to do in Chiang Mai to enjoy in this vibrant city.

Take advantage of Chiang Mai’s proximity to lush jungles and mountains, with tons of outdoor activities like trekking, zip-lining, and even visiting rescue elephant sanctuaries. You could spend your whole time in Chiang Mai or take a day trip to nearby Chiang Dao Valley or Chiang Mai.

With its laid-back atmosphere and welcoming locals, Chiang Mai is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler looking for an authentic Thai experience.

It left such a last impression we kept coming back! Chiang Mai is extra special to us, as we called it home on and off for four years. Chiang Mai is a big city with all the big city amenities. There is a large expat community in Chiang Mai; Chiang Mai is safe, and there is an abundance of tasty Thai food and Western restaurants, too; it is super affordable, and the list of why we love Chiang Mai could go on and on.

Sunset over the white temple in Chiang Rai Thailand is a great destination for honeymooners

10. Chiang Rai

When planning a trip to Thailand, consider including Chiang Rai on your itinerary. This charming city in the northern part of the country is a hidden gem known for its stunning temples, lush landscapes, and rich cultural heritage.

One of the must-see attractions in Chiang Rai is the famous White Temple, a unique and intricate masterpiece that is unlike any other temple in Thailand. You can also visit the colorful Blue Temple and the mystical Black House, which showcases a collection of dark and unconventional art pieces.

For nature lovers, this small group tour to the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet, offers breathtaking views of the Mekong River and lush green hills is a must. Chiang Rai offers a blend of culture, history, and natural beauty that will leave you mesmerized.

If you are staying in Chiang Mai, you can easily take a day trip to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai on a tour like this. There are also tons of buses to Chiang Rai, or you can rent a car and drive like we did.

Have you ever seen luxury hotels in Thailand with an elephant park on the property? The most famous and ethical elephant hotel in Thailand is the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, 90 minutes outside of Chiang Rai.

Pai Canyon Thailand view with the sunsetting

11. Pai

The infamous drive to Pai from Chiang Mai has 762 curves. Yes, you read that right 762! All those curves are worth it. The drive from Chiang Mai to Pai takes about 2 to 3 hours. In the past, you could fly to Pai from Chiang Mai on a small plane, but currently, it doesn’t appear you can, and those flights were often canceled.

As you wind your way through the valleys and mountains of northern Thailand, you’ll come across Pai, a relaxed backpacker town located on the banks of the Pai River.

During your visit to Pai, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Pai Canyon. There are plenty of hiking trails and dirt paths that take you through lush jungles and rolling hills. The sunrises and sunsets from the top of the canyon also boast some of the best views in all of Thailand.

For something more adventurous, head to Mo Paeng Waterfalls, the ideal setting for jungle hiking and swimming. Another option is to go tubing or whitewater rafting down the river. Several shop owners and operators along the river provide rentals and tours.

If you’d rather spend the time relaxing, you can also visit the tranquil Tha Pai Hot Springs. It’s one of the most popular activities in Pai!

view point at Doi Inthanon National Park in Northern Thailand

12. Doi Inthanon National Park

As one of the most picturesque natural reserves in Thailand, Doi Inthanon National Park is a sprawling region full of natural wonders. Nicknamed “the roof of Thailand,” Doi Inthanon is a great day trip from Chiang Mai that is under two hours away.

The park is known for being part of the Himalayan Mountain range. It’s also home to Doi Inthanon Peak, the highest mountain in the country.

There are also several waterfalls throughout the park, including the cascading Sirithan Waterfall. The park is also filled with wildlife, from wild boars and deer to blackbirds and rose finches. We recommend this day tour from Chiang Mai or this tour that visits Toi Inthanon and an Elephant Sanctuary.

Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park Thailand Place to Visit

13. Ayutthaya

The historic city of Ayutthaya is considered one of Thailand’s most prosperous. Founded in 1238, It is known for its ancient temples and ruins. Although the Burmese destroyed it in the mid-1700s, it remains one of the best examples of Thai history and architecture.

Most visitors come to Ayutthaya to see the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the center of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. This archeological site is filled with stone temples, giant towers, and historic monasteries.

Some of the best things to see in Ayutthaya are the Phet Fortress, Phra Chedi Suriyothai, and Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit. You can also visit three royal palaces – the Grand Palace, Chantharakasem Palace, and Wang Lang Palace.

Try to be there for sunrise at Ayutthaya for the gorgeous reflections in the pond. It makes for great photos. If you have ever been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, it reminds me of this.

view looking over a lilly pad covered lagoon on to a Buddha statue in the Acient Thai city of Sukhothai - Top Attractions in Thailand

14. Sukhothai

As the Kingdom’s capital during the 13th and 14th centuries, Sukhothai is a rare glimpse into Thailand’s ancient past. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ruins of Sukhothai city have over 20 temples and countless monuments and shrines. Sukhothai sits on an island surrounded by the Pa Sak, Chao Phraya, and Lopburi Rivers.

The most impressive thing to see in Sukhothai is Wat Mahathat, an old temple which contains a beautiful Buddha statue. The architecture and art in Sukhothai have also left their mark on Thai culture. Known for its distinct brick and carved stucco look, Sukhothai’s design has influenced many other temples around the world.

waterfall in Erawan National Park in Thailand

15. Erawan National Park

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Thailand, but none are more beautiful or powerful than the Erawan Falls. Named after the three-headed elephant in Hinduism, Erawan Falls is a majestic seven-tiered waterfall full of emerald green waters and white rapids.

As you make your way through the park, you can stop by the different levels of the pools for a quick, refreshing dip. With the lush jungle as your backdrop, there’s nothing more relaxing than the sound of cascading water.

Erawan National Park is also home to four caves. Once you enter the cave, you’ll be surrounded by dramatic limestone stalactites and stalagmites. Ta Duang Cave is worth visiting for the rock paintings and sculptures tucked inside the cave.

Khao Yai National Park Thailand waterfall

16. Khao Yai National Park

The third largest national park in Thailand is Khao Yai National Park. This vast and biodiverse park is located just a few hours from Bangkok, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Khao Yai is full of lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife and offers visitors a chance to explore the beauty of Thailand’s natural landscapes. Different travelers like different things, if you like hiking, bird-watching, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors, Khao Yai National Park has it all.

Huay Mae Kamin Waterfall in Sriagarindra Dam National Park in Thailand

17. Kanchanaburi

Nestled in western Thailand, Kanchanaburi is a picturesque destination known for its lush landscapes, historic sites, and outdoor activities. One of the most famous attractions in the area is the Bridge over the River Kwai, a World War II landmark that draws in history enthusiasts from around the world.

Visit the Huay Mae Kamin Waterfall, a gorgeous seven-tier waterfall in Sriagarindra Dam National Park, one of the best waterfalls in Thailand. Embark on a scenic train ride through the countryside on the Death Railway. With its mix of cultural heritage and natural beauty, Kanchanaburi offers a truly unforgettable experience for travelers looking to delve into Thailand’s rich history and scenic wonders.

To top off your trip, stay in one of the many unique River Kwai overwater bungalows. They are way more affordable than you think. This overwater bungalow in Kanchanaburi is on our bucket list.

Sunrise Beach of Koh Lipe - Best beach in Koh Lipe


Thailand is a beautiful country with an abundance of beautiful places to explore. From the Thai capital of Bangkok to the serene beaches and islands and the cultural Buddhist temples of Chiang Mai, there is something for everyone.

The key to experiencing the best of Thailand is to do your research and plan accordingly. So, whether you’re a foodie, an adventurer, or a culture enthusiast, Thailand has it all. As the saying goes, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

So, pack your bags and experience the wonders of Thailand for yourself. As one of the top tourist destinations in the world, it’s no wonder why people keep coming back for more. Who knows, you may end up like us and end up moving to Thailand.

As you embark on your journey, remember to keep an open mind and embrace all that Thailand has to offer. As one of the most visited countries in the world, Thailand truly has something for everyone. So, don’t just read about it. Go and experience it for yourself.

Go and create your own unforgettable memories in the Land of Smiles.

What is your favorite place in Thailand? The beaches, Central Thailand, Northern Thailand, or Bangkok? Do you know of a hidden gem in Thailand? Leave a comment below!