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 are the best places in Thailand and what are the best things to do in Thailand? Well, 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’ll be able to see the 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 put together this list of some of the must-do & see things in Thailand.
Covid 19 Thailand Travel Update (April 2022): Thailand is now open to vaccinated visitors with just a 1-day quarantine with the country’s test and go program which restarted on Feb 1st, 2022. After the quick quarantine and RT-PCR test, you are able to explore all of the attractions and destinations in Thailand! Unvaccinated visitors are required to quarantine for 10 days.
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in Bangkok check prices on Booking.com, we’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.
1. Go Island Hopping in Thailand
There are over 300 islands in Thailand 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 where to go, here are the best islands in Thailand.
If you ask one of the most amazing things to do in Thailand is out exploring their gorgeous islands. We love just renting a longtail boat for the day and finding our own private island. Our favorite island is Koh Lipe!
2. Get A Sak Yant Tattoo
Get a souvenir that will last a lifetime. A Sak Yant tattoo is a traditional Thai tattoo done by a monk with a metal rod (not a tattoo gun). 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.
This is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Thailand.
However, you can tell the monk what you would like protection for if you prefer. You can get a clean and safe Sak Yant tattoo in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ayutthaya, and Sukhothai with this company. This is the company we used when getting our Sak Yant tattoos in Chiang Mai.
3. Ride A Tuk Tuk
Riding a tuk-tuk in Thailand is a must and a blast. They are more common than taxis and typically cheaper depending on your negotiating skills. Always set a price before hopping in.
If it’s your first time in Bangkok we highly recommend this Bangkok by night tuk-tuk tour. It hit a ton of Bangkok’s attractions and even skipped the line at the #1 Pad Thai place in Bangkok.
4. 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.
5. Take A Street Food Tour
The best way to try Thai cuisine is to take a street food tour. You’ll get to sample everything at affordable prices and have a local guide to explain what everything is and what’s in it. We think the street food in Bangkok is the best place to do this.
If you’re spending two weeks in Thailand, try and do a street food tour the first few days of your trip. This will help you learn about the food and culture early on in the trip and help you find tasty food throughout. Make sure to read our street food safety article before hitting the streets.
6. 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 coming, the market is full of fresh fruit and cooked foods as well as local souvenirs.
There are several floating markets in Bangkok but the most famous one Damnoen Saduak floating market is located 60 miles outside of the city. There are private tours that do a full Bangkok highlights tour ad Damnoen Saduak floating market for around $100, click here for details. The best floating market in Bangkok is Khlong Lat Mayom.
7. Visit The White Temple in Chiang Rai
Located in Northern Thailand in 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.
8. 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 leave 2 hours to walk the grounds. Remember both men & women need to cover their knees and shoulders. Make sure to read our best temples in Bangkok article for more information.
9. 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.
10. Get A Thai Massage
Thai massages aren’t your relaxing massages 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.
The 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. Thai massages are often the cheapest massages you can in Thailand about $6-10 an hour on average.
11. 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 pm with two for one drinks.
NOTE: If you go to Lebu State Tower Sky Bar (the one for Hangover 2) be prepared to pay, our friends just went $300 for 4 people, no jeans or flip-flops, and the average drink is $20 USD.
12. Take A Thai Cooking Class
Learn how to cook all your favorite Thai dishes. Most Thai cooking classes start off at the market so you can easily learn what goes into the dishes and hopefully, you can then spot it at your local grocery store.
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.
13. Chiang Mai 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 cities night market. This isn’t a ping-pong bar but rather a show but 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 ladyboy, they put many women to shame with their bodies & looks.
Related Article: Top Things to do in Chiang Mai
14. Eat A Scorpion
Now, this isn’t for everyone but where else in the world can you eat a crispy fried scorpion? 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.
15. Visit “The Beach”
Watching the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio “The Beach” which is actually Maya Bay has been our bucket list forever. When planning our Thailand honeymoon itinerary this was the #1 thing on it.
Update: Currently “The Beach” is closed for environmental reconstruction due to the number of visitors over the past decade. The Thai Government has not released information on when it will reopen.
However, this shouldn’t stop you from visiting Koh Phi Phi and surrounding islands. This small cluster of islands has many stunning beaches and shallow lagoons surrounded by beautiful limestone cliffs. The local boat operators have shifted their day trips to avoid Maya Bay and instead bring visitors to other stunning places instead.
If you do, we highly suggest renting a private longtail 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.
16. Party On Khaosan Road
Rather you’re a party 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 massage, eat street food, get a little tipsy, and buy cheap T-shirts/elephant pants. Every time we’re in Bangkok we spend a night out on Khaosan Road grab a few Chang beers and get a $7 an hour foot massage on the street and watch all the madness walk by.
17. Go Diving
Explore the underwater world, some of the best diving in the world is in the Thai islands. Almost every island will have a dive shop. Our favorite place to dive is Stonehenge off of Koh Lipe. The most popular place for diving in Thailand is Koh Tao.
18. Elephant Nature Park
Whatever you do, don’t ride elephants in Thailand or visit any elephant “sanctuaries” without doing your research. Watch this video on Elephant Tourism and you won’t want to visit these places.
The only 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. Here are some happy videos from Elephant Nature Park to give you a look at what you could expect.
19. Try Durian Fruit
Durian fruit has been nicknamed the stinkiest fruit in the world and for 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 it fresh, dried, or even durian ice cream but to us, it always tastes bad like old onions inside dirty socks. Make sure to have something to wash it down with.
20. 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, the floating houses on the River Kwai are at the top of our bucket list.
21. Drink A Thai Iced Coffee
This overly sweet concoction is addicting. Usually, for 20 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.
22. 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 Sutep up on the top of Doi Suthep Mountain. We’ve lived in Chiang Mai on and off for 2 years and have only scratched the surface of seeing all the temples.
23. 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.
24. Visit Sukhothai
Sukhothai was the capital of Thailand in the 13th century. Visit the resorted temples and monuments which are a Unesco World Heritage Site. Sukhothai is one of Thailand’s best ancient temple complexes and is definitely worth a visit while traveling in Thailand.
25. Explore A Night Market
Night markets can be found in almost all cities in Thailand. It’s a great place to grab dinner, shopping, listen to music, and much more. The night markets in Chiang Mai are some of the best there is one every night just outside of the old city, Saturday Night Market, and a Sunday Night Market.
We suggest getting to the Saturday & Sunday night markets at 6 pm. If you go later in the night it gets super busy and the streets are packed. Make sure to bring cash.
26. 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 place 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. 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.
27. Drink A Bucket
You don’t order a drink in Thailand you order a THAI BUCKET. Pick your favorite alcohol, Samsong whiskey maybe, and coke and pour it 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.
28. Hike Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint
For the best views of the island hike up to the Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint. Go early in the morning to beat the afternoon heat and don’t forget water, it’s a workout but worth it.
29. Khao Sok Lake National Park
For those looking for outdoor adventures head to Khao Sok Lake National Park for great hiking, canoeing, and rafting. The National Park is over 160 million years and 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.
30. 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 to the Erwan Falls.
31. 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.
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.
32. Rock Climb At Railay Beach
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 the world flock to Railay Beach. If you never rock climbed before there are beginner tours to teach you the ropes, book online for only $37.
Related Article: Adventurous things to do in Koh Lanta
33. Visit Big Buddha
Almost anywhere in Southern Phuket, you should be able to spot the Bid Buddha that stands 147 feet tall. tall made out of white marble. The views from the Big Buddha are worth the drive alone.
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 & 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 sandwichs 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 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 temple (cover your shoulders and past your knees)
- Follow all of the posted rules of any temple you visit
- Be on your best behavior when visiting temples, these are special places to Thai people
- Always ask permission be photographing 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
- Avoid Public Displays of Affection while in Thailand, it’s not appreciated here
- Overall be gracious and talk to people calmly (even annoying taxi drivers)
- 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 you 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 your 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 rides, 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.
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Have you been to Thailand and think we forgot something on this list of things to do in Thailand article? If so, just leave a comment below we’d love to hear from you!This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure