We’ve spent over a year living and traveling in Thailand, so you could say we know a thing or two about the country. We often get asked where the best places in Thailand are and what the best things to do in Thailand are.
There’s a lot to see and do, which is why we love Thailand so much. We always recommend spending two weeks in Thailand, as you will have enough time to visit some of the Thai islands, Bangkok, and Northern Thailand.
Thailand is a dream destination for many, and when it comes time to plan your itinerary, you’ll realize there are so many things to do in Thailand and amazing destinations.
No matter where you end up spending your time in Thailand, you’ll have an amazing vacation. We’ve compiled this list of some of the must-do & see things in Thailand and some insider Thailand travel tips, too.
Below is a short list of tours in Thailand that we have personally taken and recommend to all of our friends visiting, especially for the first time.
These top three tours cover a lot of ground in a short period of time and really help you get a taste of Thailand.
#1 – Night Tuk Tuk Tour of Bangkok
This great tour of Bangkok packs several “must-dos” into one fun night of food, culture, and sights aboard a quintessential & colorful Tuk Tuk!
#2 – Private Guide to Bangkok & Nearby
Short on time? 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.
#3 – Street Food Tour
You can’t visit Thailand and not try the delicious street food. A local guide will bring you to the best spots & help you dive into Thai food culture! Book this one early in your trip!
*If you’ve just landed in Bangkok, this is our favorite Bangkok hotel and where we stay. It is in a great location, near the BTS subway station, so that you can explore and see the best of Bangkok easily on your own or on a Bangkok tour.
1. Go Island Hopping in Thailand
There are over 300 islands in Thailand, so you should plan on visiting a few. Start by picking the #1 Thai island on your bucket list, then plan on island hopping from there.
If you need some help deciding which island is for you, here are the best islands in Thailand. If you love white sand beaches, off the beaten track small islands, or the more popular tourist destinations in Thailand, we cover them all.
Exploring the gorgeous islands is one of the best things to do in Thailand if you ask us. We love just renting a longtail boat for the day, finding our own private island, and claiming one of the beautiful beaches as ours for the day.
The most popular islands in Thailand are Phuket, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Samui, Koh Lanta, and Krabi.
Our favorite place in Thailand is Koh Lipe. Sunrise Beach is one of our favorite beaches in the world!
2. Ride A Tuk Tuk
Riding a tuk-tuk in Thailand is a must and a blast. Tuk tuks are more common than taxis and typically cheaper depending on your negotiating skills. Always set a price before hopping in and starting your trip.
If it’s your first time in Bangkok, we highly recommend this Bangkok by night tuk-tuk tour. It is our favorite tour in Bangkok. It is like a little taste of the best of Bangkok and a great experience.
This tour visits a ton of Bangkok’s attractions, including Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Bangkok Old City, the Giant Swing, Chinatown, Flower Market in Bangkok, drives by the Grand Palace all lit up at night, and even skips the line at the #1 Pad Thai place in Bangkok.
Ever since our first trip to Thailand back in 2012, we have gone on this tour on our first night in Bangkok. It is a great way to stay up and check out a few of the most famous attractions in the city.
It is a good welcome back to the land of smiles and chaos that is Bangkok, which we love. You can cover so much ground on this tour and go to many of the best things to do in Bangkok. It is worth every penny.
3. Take A Street Food Tour
If you are unsure what to eat in Thailand, the best way to try Thai food is to take a street food tour. Here, you get to sample several authentic Thai foods at affordable prices and have a local guide to explain Thai cuisine, what everything is, and what’s in it.
We think the street food in Bangkok is the best place to do this. Here is the street food tour in Bangkok we took.
If you’re spending two weeks in Thailand, try to do a street food tour on the first few days of your trip. This will help you learn about Thai cuisine and culture early on in the trip and help you find tasty food in Thailand throughout.
Make sure to read our street food safety article before hitting the streets.
4. Elephant Nature Park
Whatever you do, don’t ride elephants in Thailand or visit any elephant “sanctuaries” without doing your research. We have listed a few places in Thailand where you can visit elephants ethically.
The most legit place we have found is Elephant Nature Park, located outside of Chiang Mai, which rescues and rehabilitates elephants. You can even spend the night in the park. If seeing elephants is a top attraction for you, a few days in Chiang Mai will be needed.
Watch this video on Elephant Tourism, and you won’t want to visit these places. Warning: the video is graphic. Here are some happy videos from Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai to see what you can expect.
5. Visit A Floating Market
Jump in a boat, and you’ll feel like you’re on the canals in Venice. Well, “same same but different.” We advise skipping lunch before visiting the Damnoen Saduak floating market. The market is full of fresh produce, fresh fruit, cooked foods, and local souvenirs.
There are several floating markets in Bangkok, but the most famous one is the Damnoen Saduak floating market, which is located 60 miles outside of the city. We suggest this tour which includes the floating market and the Maeklong Railway Market.
Private tours include a full Bangkok highlights tour and the Damnoen Saduak floating market for around $150 per person. Click here for details.
The best floating market in Bangkok is Khlong Lat Mayom, which you can go to on this private Bangkok tour.
6. Khao Sok National Park
For those looking for outdoor adventures and natural beauty, head to Khao Sok National Park for great hiking, canoeing, and rafting.
The National Park is over 160 million years old. The rainforest is said to be older and more diverse than the Amazon rainforest.
You can even stay in overwater bungalows on Khao Sok Lake. This is one of the most unique places to stay in Thailand.
There are several overwater bungalows in Thailand. Most are in Khao Sok Lake or River Kwai Kanchanaburi. However, there are a few overwater bungalows in Koh Lanta and Ko Tao.
7. Visit The Grand Palace
Hands down, the number one thing to see in Bangkok is the Grand Palace. The detail and architecture are stunning. Give yourself at least 2 hours to walk the royal palace grounds.
I suggest always having something like this in your bag to throw over your shoulders. Both men & women need to cover their knees and shoulders
Throughout Thailand, shoulders will be required to be covered when entering Buddhist temples. Make sure to read our best temples in Bangkok article for more information.
BEWARE, there are numerous ticket scams at the Grand Palace. We highly suggest hiring a private guide in Bangkok for the day.
This way, you can spend as much time or as little time at the palace before moving on to the next attraction in Bangkok. If you ask us, this is the best way to explore Bangkok. We hired this private guide in Bangkok on three occasions.
If you are looking for a lesser-visited temple in Bangkok, consider going to Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho, or Wat Arun.
8. Get A Sak Yant Tattoo
Get a souvenir in Thailand that will last a lifetime. A Sak Yant tattoo is a traditional Thai tattoo done by a Buddhist monk with a metal rod (not a tattoo gun). Yes, we got a Sak Yant tattoo. The above photo is us and the Buddhist Munk who gave us our Sak Yant tattoo in Chiang Mai.
The tattoos are said to be blessed with magical powers. The monk typically decides what you need protection for, and your tattoo is based on this. It is one of my favorite souvenirs and reminds me of all the time I spent in the country.
This is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Thailand.
9. Take A Thai Cooking Class
Learn how to cook all your favorite Thai dishes. Most Thai cooking classes start off at one of the local markets, so you can easily learn what goes into the dishes, and hopefully, you can then spot it at your local grocery store.
You can take Thai cooking classes all over the country. However, we wouldn’t suggest taking one in Bangkok. The ONLY reason why is that there are so many things to do in Bangkok, and you can easily take a cooking class in another city.
In our Chiang Mai cooking class, we got to pick which dishes we wanted to cook, and we now have a new appreciation for curry. Curry paste takes a lot of time and elbow grease to make. Learn to cook Khao Soi, the famous Thai dish in Northern Thailand and Laos.
10. Watch a Muay Thai Fight
Watch an infamous Muay Thai fight, which is Thailand’s national sport. Muay Thai or Thai boxing is a full-contact sport known as “the art of eight limbs” because fighters use their fists, elbows, knees, and shins.
Almost all major cities in Thailand will have a ring; however, the best fights are in Bangkok. The best place to watch a Muay Thai fight in Bangkok is Lumpinee Stadium. You can even take Muay Thai lessons for really cheap.
11. Visit The White Temple in Chiang Rai
Located in Northern Thailand, in the city of Chiang Rai, is the picture-perfect White Temple. Wat Rong Khun has famously been nicknamed the White Temple for obvious reasons.
The temple was purchased by a local artist who spent 40 million baht (over $1 million USD) restoring the temple.
If you are staying in Chiang Mai, you can take a day trip easily. We suggest this tour from Chiang Mai to Chaing Rai, which also visits the Golden Triangle. At the Golden Triangle, you can see Laos and Myanmar.
12. Get A Thai Massage
This right here is one of the best things to do on a rainy day, but something you should get at least once a day. I should have started this Thailand travel guide with getting a massage daily!
A Thai massage isn’t your relaxing massage with oils. If you’ve never had a Thai massage, you may be in for a shock, but in a good way if you ask us. We love a good Thai massage!
A traditional Thai massage starts with putting on an odd pair of pajamas. There is a lot of hitting & smacking. The masseuse may walk on your back, and they for sure will crack it, but when it’s all over, you’ll feel ten times better.
If a Thai Massage sounds a little too intense for you, opt for a foot massage or relaxing oil massage. I switch it up. Usually, if I am on one of the beaches, I will get a relaxing massage.
A Thai massage is often the cheapest massage you can get in Thailand, about $6-10 an hour on average. Don’t forget to tip. Here is our tipping in Thailand guide for suggested tips.
On our last trip to Thailand, we each got Thai massages every day over the course of two weeks. There were also several foot massages mixed in there too.
We got over 20 massages each in Thailand! Money well spent if you ask us.
13. Watch Sunset At A Sky Bar in Bangkok
Sunsets on the beach are awesome, but watching the sunset from Bangkok Sky Bar is even better. There are tons of Sky Bars in Bangkok, but our favorite is Red Sky Bangkok. They don’t have a strict dress code, and they have happy hour 5-7 p.m. with two-for-one drinks.
It is one of the best things to do in Bangkok at the end of the day. We like to visit new to us rooftop bars in Bangkok. Leave a comment below with your favorite Bangkok sky bar.
NOTE: If you go to Lebu State Tower Sky Bar (the one for Hangover 2), be prepared to pay. Our friends just went $300+ USD for four people, no jeans or flip-flops, and the average drink is $20 USD.
14. Hike Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint
For the best views of the island, hike up to the Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint. The best time to go is early in the morning to beat the afternoon heat and don’t forget to bring water.
It’s a workout, but the view of the Andaman Sea is worth it. If you are an early riser or have jet lag, it is one of the best things to do in Phi Phi.
15. Eat Pad Thai
If you’ve ever had Thai food back at home, odds are it was Pad Thai, but eating authentic, fresh Pad Thai will blow you away. Some of the best Pad Thai we’ve ever had was on the streets of Bangkok.
Make sure to find a vendor that is making it fresh. For less than $2, you’ll have an authentic-as-it-gets meal.
16. Ladyboy Show
Walking around Thailand, you’ll notice the very large ladyboy population. One of the best places to see the best of the best is at the Chiang Mai Ladyboy Show, which is nightly in the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. This isn’t a ping-pong bar but rather a show put on by entertainers.
We’ve been to the Chiang Mai Ladyboyshow three times now and go every time we are in Chiang Mai. For 200 baht, you get a drink and about a 90-minute show with some amazing ladyboys. They put many women to shame with their bodies & looks.
Another great ladyboy show is the Simon Cabaret show in Phuket. The show is super entertaining, and the ladies are gorgeous. You can book tickets online here.
Related Article: Top Things to do in Chiang Mai
17. Visit “The Beach”
Watching the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Beach,” which is actually Maya Bay, has been on our bucket list forever. When planning our Thailand honeymoon itinerary, this was the #1 thing on it.
If you ask us now after visiting several times, there are better places to visit in Thailand. Don’t get us wrong, it is gorgeous, but you must go early before it is crowded.
There are tons of things to do in Koh Phi Phi, but getting out on a longtail boat to explore the nearby islands and amazing beaches is our favorite. This small cluster of islands has many stunning beaches and shallow lagoons surrounded by beautiful limestone cliffs.
We recommend booking this private longtail boat for the day. That way, you can go to whatever islands you want and spend as much time there as you please.
This is one of the amazing things to do in Southern Thailand. That way, you are on your schedule doing what you want to do. Explore the Andaman Sea and Phang Nga Bay on your own time.
We highly suggest renting a private boat from Koh Phi Phi and going really early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The place gets packed with large tours coming and going all day.
18. Party On Khaosan Road
Whether you’re a party person or a people watcher, Khao San Road is always a blast. The popular book “The Beach” said Khaosan Road was “the center of the backpacking universe.” This is an accurate description. This is the epicenter for all backpackers in Southeast Asia.
It’s a great place to meet other travelers, get a cheap Thai massage, eat street food, get a little tipsy, and buy cheap T-shirts/elephant pants.
Every time we’re in Bangkok, we spend one night out on Khaosan Road. We always grab a few Chang beers from 7-Eleven, get a $7-an-hour foot massage on the street, and watch all the madness walk by.
19. Visit Thailand’s Crazy Market, The Train Market
The Maeklong Train Market is like no other market in Thailand. A train literally comes through the market.
You will know when it’s come as the vendors will start taking their goods off the tracks and taking down their awnings, and the train will sometimes go right over some of their goods.
It’s just as crazy to watch how fast the market sets back up and is back in business. When you are planning your visit, make sure to confirm what time the train passes through. Be prepared to wait for a little as the train doesn’t always run on time.
20. Rock Climbing in Krabi
For those looking for adventurous things to do in Krabi, go rock climbing up the giant limestone pillars at Railay Beach in Krabi. Rock climbers from around the world flock to Railay Beach.
If you have never rock climbed before, there are beginner tours that teach you the ropes. Book online.
Related Article: Adventurous things to do in Koh Lanta
21. Go Diving in Thailand
Explore the underwater world. Some of the best diving in the world is in the Thai islands. Almost every island in Thailand will have a dive shop.
Before diving, ask about the coral reefs, possible wreck dives, or what you can expect to see.
22. Eat A Scorpion
Now, this isn’t for everyone, but where else in the world can you eat a crispy fried scorpion? It definitely is one of the most unique things to do in Thailand.
If the scorpion is a little much for you, consider the crickets or the ant salad. Eating bugs in Thailand is totally normal on Khao San Road.
Adam has eaten the entire bug cart twice. Here is our Facebook live video to prove it. Adam does NOT recommend eating the water beetle. On our second trip to Thailand, he made the mistake of eating one. Never again, he says.
23. Try Durian Fruit
Durian fruit has been nicknamed the stinkiest fruit in the world, and for a good reason. You’ll often see signs inside buildings, hotels, and taxis that have a spiky root with an X, which means NO DURIAN FRUIT ALLOWED.
If you open up a durian fruit in a closed space, it will stink the entire place out. You can try durian fresh, dried, or even durian ice cream, but to us, it always tastes bad.
Adam describes it as tasting like old onions inside dirty socks. Make sure to have something to wash it down with.
24. Stay In An Overwater Bungalow
You don’t have to travel to Tahiti or the Maldives to stay in an overwater bungalow.
There are several places in Thailand with overwater bungalows, and the floating houses on the River Kwai are at the top of our bucket list.
25. Drink A Thai Iced Coffee
This overly sweet concoction is addicting. Usually, for 25 baht, you can get a Thai iced coffee. I don’t even want to know how many calories are in this thing. All I know is it fuels my day.
26. Visit the Temples in Chiang Mai
There are over 300 temples in Chiang Mai. If you’re staying in the Old City, you can’t walk too far without passing another temple.
The most famous temple in Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep, up on the top of Doi Suthep Mountain. We’ve lived in Chiang Mai on and off for two years and have only scratched the surface of seeing all the temples and attractions in the country.
Chiang Mai is another popular destination in Thailand that most travel guides consider to be one of the top places to visit. It has a small-town feel, but yet it is one of the biggest cities in Thailand.
If you enjoy visiting temples in Southeast Asia, a trip to Chiang Mai is a must, as is going to Angkor Wat. If temples aren’t your thing, I wouldn’t make the trip to Northern Thailand and instead stay down south and explore the islands Ko Samui, Ko Lanta, Ko Phangan, or Similan Islands.
27. Visit Sukhothai
Sukhothai was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th century. Visit the resorted temples and monuments, which are Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Sukhothai is one of Thailand’s best ancient temple complexes and is definitely worth a visit while traveling in Thailand.
People often ask what is better, Ayutthaya or Sukhothai. They are both amazing, but you can easily visit Ayutthaya from Bangkok.
We recommend this Ayutthaya Temples and river cruise from Bangkok.
28. Explore A Night Market
Night markets can be found in almost all cities in Thailand. It’s a great place to grab dinner, go shopping, listen to music, and much more.
The Chiang Mai night markets are some of the best night markets in Thailand. There is a night market in Chiang Mai that is open every night just outside of the old city.
The best Chiang Mai night market is either the Saturday Night Market or the Sunday Night Market. We suggest getting to the Saturday & Sunday night markets at 6 p.m. If you go later in the night, it gets super busy, and the streets are packed. Make sure to bring cash.
Another option is this Evening Night Tour to Chiang Mai Temples & Night Market. Going with a local guide is great because they will know the ins and outs of the market, where the best things are to eat and buy, and they can help negotiate prices for you.
29. Do Nothing In Koh Lipe
Every vacation needs a day or two of nothing, and the perfect place for that is Koh Lipe, our favorite island in Thailand.
Think white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, $10 beach massages, cheap drinks, epic sunsets, and the best curry in the world with a view.
All of this is found on Sunrise Beach in Koh Lipe. The photo above of the longtail boats on Sunrise Beach is one of my favorites of all of our travels.
If you want photos like this of the Thai islands, make sure to bring a travel drone. There are several travel drones on the market that are easy to travel with.
30. Drink A Bucket
You don’t order a drink in Thailand. You order a THAI BUCKET.
Pick your favorite alcohol, Samsong whiskey, and maybe coke, and pour them into the bucket with ice. That’s the typical way drinks are served, especially on the party islands.
If you’re into parties, make sure to see when the full moon party on Koh Phangan is. If you happen to miss the full moon, there are half-moon parties at Koh Phangan. There is always a party in Koh Phangan.
31. Visit Big Buddha in Phuket
Almost anywhere in Southern Phuket, you should be able to spot the Bid Buddha, which stands 147 feet tall and made out of white marble.
The views of Phuket from the Big Buddha are worth the drive alone. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Phuket.
32. Have A Coffee At The Themed Cafe
Skip Starbucks and seek out one of Thailand’s many unique themed cafes. There are cat cafes in almost all major cities, but Bangkok’s cafe scene is out of this world.
Some of the most popular ones are the Unicorn Cafe, where you can rent unicorn onesies, and the setting is pastel fairyland, or head to True Love @Neverland to hang out with some of the cutest huskies.
33. Visit Kanchanaburi & Bridge Over The River Kwai
The biggest draw to Kanchanaburi is the Bridge Over the River Kwai. Explore Erwan National Park and make time to hike at Erwan Falls.
34. Get Soaked at Songkran
Celebrate the Thai New Year and partake in the world’s largest squirt gun fit. This is one of the coolest things to do in Thailand, literally. This happens every April 13-15th, with the best place to celebrate Songkran being Chiang Mai.
No one is safe walking on the streets. You will get a bucket of water dumped over your head by a sweet Thai grandma. It’s a crazy, fun festival. We’ve been twice.
35. Eat a Ham and cheese Toasty at 7-Eleven
If you happen to be suffering from a Changover (below), OR you need a quick snack, head to a 7-Eleven. You are never more than a block or two away from one in Thailand. In the refrigerated section, they have sandwiches they heat up in their little magical toaster.
The ham & cheese croissants are the best ones. Just say to the cashier, “Make Hot.” Don’t laugh. We are serious.
We remember people telling us about the toasties when we first visited Thailand, and we thought they were joking…but after living there for a year, we can confirm they are legit.
What Not To Do In Thailand
Don’t Disrespect the Thai culture
In general, Thai people are more than welcoming and warm. However, there are a few things that just aren’t ok while visiting Thailand.
- Don’t wear inappropriate clothing to a Buddhist temple (cover your shoulders and past your knees).
- Follow all of the posted rules of any temple you visit in the country.
- Be on your best behavior when visiting temples. These are special places for Thai people.
- Always ask permission to photograph anyone.
- Keep any negative things you may think about the government, and especially the royal family, to yourself. Talking about this with Thai people is a no-no.
- Overall, be gracious and talk to people calmly (even annoying taxi drivers)
- Don’t forget to tip.
- and countless other commonsense things, but basically, don’t be a douche
Don’t get a ‘Chang Over’
You probably won’t plan on doing this in Thailand, but you most likely will do it in Thailand. Well, technically, this should be on the NOT things to do in Thailand list. If you drink too many Chang beers, you will have a ‘Chang-over.’ It’s a safer bet to drink Leo or Sinha beers in Thailand.
Please Don’t Ride Elephants in Thailand
It looks like good fun, but this is not positive tourism. Terrible things are done to these animals to train them to carry you around on their backs. This type of animal tourism is something that needs to be phased out ASAP in Thailand. Please don’t support elephant tourism and ride an elephant in Thailand.
Instead, visit a qualified elephant sanctuary (do your research; there are bad ones of these, too). Here, you’ll be able to interact with elephants that have had a rough life, and you’ll leave Thailand feeling a little bit better about it all.
Now that we have shown you the best of Thailand and all the attractions it has to offer, when are you going?
Leave a comment below with your favorite island, where you think the best beaches are, and anything else you think we missed that could make this travel guide better!
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Have you been to Thailand and thought we forgot something on this list of amazing things to do in Thailand article? If so, just leave a comment below.