12 Best Places To Visit In Thailand Right Now [Plan Your Thailand Destinations Itinerary]

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best places to visit in thailand

What Are The Best Areas To Visit In Thailand?

Looking for the best places to visit in Thailand? Thailand offers everything from vibrant, bustling cities, to peaceful islands. Here’s a quick guide to the top 12 destinations you shouldn’t miss if you are planning to travel to Thailand with locations across both Northern Thailand and Southern Thailand.


Fancy swapping the backpack for a towel and swim shorts? Discover the best Thailand islands with our blog now.


Key Takeaways

tourists at a thai temple
  • Thailand offers diverse destinations from vibrant cities like Bangkok to tranquil island retreats such as Koh Samui, each with unique cultural and natural attractions.


  • Phuket and Koh Phi Phi are perfect for beach lovers and adventurers, featuring white sand beaches, water sports, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful natural scenery.


  • Historical sites such as Ayutthaya and Sukhothai provide a glimpse into Thailand’s rich heritage, while national parks like Khao Yai offer thrilling wildlife and nature experiences.

What Are The Best Places To Visit In Thailand?

thai tourist looking at map

Have you ever dreamed of wandering through bustling markets under the shadow of grand temples, or perhaps escaping to an island where luxury and nature intertwine? Thailand offers this and so much more.


Throughout this article, we will offer you some guidance so you can plan and write your travel itinerary.


It’s a place where each destination tells a unique story, a narrative rich with history, flavoured with exquisite cuisine, and adorned with landscapes that defy imagination. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a curious first-time backpacker, Thailand’s top destinations cater to every taste and beckons with experiences to last a lifetime.


If you are a British citizen, you won’t need a Thailand travel visa unless you are visiting for more than 30 days. So make sure you sort this out before travelling as well as ensuring you pack the right clothes for Thailand and bring the right equipment from travelling across the Land of Smiles!


Bangkok, the nation’s pulsating heart, stands as a jumping-off point to a multitude of Thailand destinations, while the northern charm of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai echoes the ancient Lanna Kingdom’s glory.


Southern Thailand’s famed beaches and islands, like those in Krabi and Phuket, promise azure waters and postcard-perfect sunsets. And let’s not forget Hua Hin, a coastal retreat beloved for its royal heritage and tranquil beaches.


As we journey through the 12 best places to visit in Thailand, prepare to be captivated by the country’s stunning islands, spellbinding diversity and warmth. Some of the best places to visit in Thailand include:


  1. Bangkok
  2. Chiang Mai
  3. Phuket
  4. Koh Samui
  5. Ayutthaya
  6. Railay Beach
  7. Khao Yai National Park
  8. Koh Phi Phi
  9. Kanchanaburi
  10. Krabi
  11. Sukhothai
  12. Koh Tao

Bangkok: The Vibrant Capital City

bangkok sky view at night

Bangkok is a city that never sleeps, where the aromas of street food mingle with the incense of ancient temples. As the capital city, it’s not just a gateway to Thailand’s wonders but a destination in its own right.


Here, towering skyscrapers stand guard over historic city landmarks like the Grand Palace and the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. Embrace the chaos of Chatuchak Weekend Market or drift through the floating markets, where commerce is conducted on the waterways that once earned Bangkok the nickname ‘Venice of the East’.


The city’s role as a hub allows explorers to delve into the nearby historic city of Ayutthaya or journey to the scenic Kanchanaburi, revealing layers of Thai culture and history. And when the sun sets, Bangkok’s nightlife awakens – from rooftop bars to street-side vendors, each offering a taste of the city’s never-ending energy.


Bangkok is not just a stopover; it’s a vibrant part of the Thai experience, a bustling city that encapsulates the spirit of Southeast Asia.


There are so many great places to stay and visit in Bangkok. If you are wondering where to stay in Bangkok, read our blog.

Chiang Mai: Northern Thailand's Cultural Hub

chiang mai temple

Ascending to the cooler climes of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai awaits as a sanctuary of cultural heritage. This northern capital is renowned for its ancient temples, like the mesmerising Wat Phra Singh and the historic Wat Chedi Luang.


Wander through the night markets, where the scent of sizzling street food fills the air and local artisans showcase their crafts. Chiang Mai’s laid-back atmosphere is a canvas for adventure seekers and culture enthusiasts alike, offering trekking paths and the opportunity to visit ethical elephant sanctuaries.


Chiang Mai’s charm lies not only in its historical landmarks but also in its capacity to serve as a jumping-off point to other northern delights, including the tranquil town of Chiang Rai and the natural wonders of the Golden Triangle.


Embrace the unique Northern Thai cuisine, with its rich curries and bold flavours, a testament to the region’s diverse cultural influences. As the cool breeze whispers through the temple spires, one can’t help but feel a deep connection to the soul of this Northern city in Thailand.

Phuket: Thailand's Largest Island

phuket kamala beach

Venture southward to the Andaman Sea and discover Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, where white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters are just the beginning of the story. Patong Beach, a hub of entertainment and beauty, beckons with its lively nightlife and array of water activities.


The island’s Old Town, with its Sino-Portuguese architecture, offers a serene contrast to the bustling beach scene, inviting visitors to stroll through history.


Phuket is more than just a beach destination; it’s an island escape with a plethora of activities. From island hopping to elephant nature parks and cookery schools, there’s something for every traveller.


While it may be known for its resort-lined shores, Phuket still surprises with its affordability and variety of tourist attractions, making it an ideal destination for both luxury seekers and budget travellers. Some popular activities in Phuket include:


  • Island hopping
  • Visiting elephant nature parks
  • Taking cooking classes
  • Exploring the Old Town
  • Relaxing on the beautiful beaches
  • Trying out water sports like snorkelling and diving
  • Enjoying the vibrant nightlife

With so much to do and see, Phuket offers a diverse and exciting vacation experience.

Koh Samui: Luxury Island Escape

koh samui chaweng beach

For those seeking a blend of luxury and natural beauty, Koh Samui offers:


  • Powdery white beaches
  • Clear blue waters
  • Premier luxury resorts
  • Spa treatments
  • Fine dining under the stars

This peaceful getaway promises indulgence and serenity, providing an idyllic setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.


Explorers will find joy in day trips to the stunning Ang Thong National Marine Park and the breathtaking Phang Nga Bay, where emerald waters and lush islands await.

Accommodations range from the grandeur of the Four Seasons Resort with its elegant pool villas to the discreet charm of the Tongsai Bay Resort, cascading down a hillside to a private beach.


Koh Samui encapsulates the essence of a luxury island escape, blending exclusivity with the allure of Thai island life, while nearby Koh Lipe offers a more laid-back experience.

Ayutthaya: Ancient Ruins and History

ayutthaya temple

Journey through time to Ayutthaya, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the flourishing capital of the Siamese Kingdom. Here, you will find:


  • Towering prang and grand monasteries that stand as testaments to the city’s former glory
  • Art and architecture influenced by a tapestry of global cultures
  • Ruins strategically located on an island at the confluence of three rivers, speaking of a past where diplomacy and commerce thrived.

As you walk amidst the historical park’s grid of ancient roads, canals, and moats, it’s easy to imagine the grandeur that once was. Ayutthaya’s history is not just about its rise to prominence but also its resilience after being razed by the Burmese army in 1767. Today, it stands as a proud reminder of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage, inviting visitors to explore its storied past.

Railay Beach: Rock Climbing Paradise

railay beach

Nestled amidst Krabi Province’s stunning limestone cliffs, Railay Beach is an adventurer’s paradise, accessible only by boat and famed for its world-class rock climbing. With over 700 climbing routes, the cliffs offer challenges for both beginners and seasoned climbers, all while boasting breathtaking views of the Andaman Sea. Beyond climbing, Railay offers a myriad of activities from kayaking to exploring its coral reefs and walking paths.


Railay is not just for thrill-seekers; its white sand beaches like Railay West and Phra Nang Beach provide perfect spots for relaxation and sunbathing. Whether you’re scaling the cliffs or basking in the sun, Railay Beach epitomizes the beauty of Thailand’s Andaman Sea coastline, offering a unique blend of excitement and tranquillity.

Khao Yai National Park: Wildlife and Nature

khao yai waterfall

Just a few hours’ drive from the capital city lies Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s oldest and most-visited national park. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s a sanctuary for wildlife enthusiasts, home to diverse ecosystems and species like:


  • elephants
  • gibbons
  • exotic birds
  • the gaur
  • the fighting giant stag beetle

The park, one of many beautiful national parks, features 30 miles of hiking trails that guide visitors through thick jungle and past serene waterfalls, offering chances to spot these rare animals.


Khao Yai’s varied activities, from horse rides to vineyard visits, cater to all types of travellers seeking an escape into nature.


The park’s ample wildlife observation opportunities, whether from nature trails or the comfort of a car, make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and families alike, just like the nearby Khao Sok National Park and the serene Koh Yao Noi National Park.

Koh Phi Phi: Party and Natural Beauty

koh phi phi maya bay

The islands of Koh Phi Phi are a symphony of natural beauty and lively entertainment, renowned for their stunning coral reefs and electrifying nightlife. Phi Phi Don, the only inhabited island of the group, is a hotspot for those looking to dance the night away under the stars.


Nearby, Koh Phi Phi Leh steals the spotlight with its famed Maya Bay, a paradise reborn, and Shark Point, a snorkelling haven teeming with marine life.


Visitors can also interact with the playful inhabitants of Monkey Beach, adding a whimsical touch to the island’s allure. Whether it’s diving into the vibrant party scene or immersing in the island’s natural splendour, Koh Phi Phi offers an unforgettable blend of excitement and serenity.

Kanchanaburi: Historical and Natural Attractions

Kanchanaburi temple

Kanchanaburi, a province rich with historical and natural attractions, offers a poignant glimpse into Thailand’s World War II history at sites like the Bridge over the River Kwai.


The tragic legacy of the ‘Death Railway’ and the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum remind us of the sacrifices made by Allied prisoners of war. Yet, Kanchanaburi is also a place of natural beauty, with the Erawan National Park and its seven-tiered waterfall providing a serene backdrop for reflection and exploration.


Adventurers can enjoy river rafting on the Khwae Noi River or unwind in the unique experience of floating glamping tents, offering both excitement and relaxation. Kanchanaburi embodies a harmonious blend of history and nature, inviting travellers to connect with Thailand’s past and its timeless landscapes.

Krabi: Stunning Coastlines and Islands

krabi temple

Krabi, with its beautiful islands, dramatic limestone cliffs and pristine western coast, is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Some of the highlights include:


  • The stalagmite-filled Phra Nang Cave Beach
  • The idyllic islands accessible from Ao Nang
  • The province is a haven for climbers, hikers, and kayakers
  • The Andaman Sea provides a playground for water sports enthusiasts

Krabi offers unparalleled opportunities for adventure and relaxation.


The lesser-known paradise of Koh Lanta, with its tranquil vibe and long sandy beaches, beckons families and couples seeking a quieter island experience. Whether it’s island hopping or simply soaking up the sun on one of Krabi’s stunning beaches, this region is a highlight among Thailand’s destinations.

Sukhothai: Birthplace of Thai Civilization

sukhothai temple

Sukhothai, the birthplace of Thai civilization, is a window into the country’s storied past. The Sukhothai Historical Park’s vast collection of approximately 190 ancient sites and temple ruins, including the grand Wat Mahathat, offers an immersive experience of Thailand’s golden age. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sukhothai Historical Park invites visitors to marvel at the intricate stonework and serene Buddha statues that dot the landscape.


Accessible by various means, the best time to visit Sukhothai is during the cooler months of November to February, when the beauty of the historical park can be fully appreciated. A journey through Sukhothai is not just a tour of ancient ruins but a pilgrimage to the heart of Thai culture and history.

Koh Tao: Diving Haven

koh tao

Koh Tao, affectionately known as ‘Turtle Island,’ is a diver’s paradise, boasting some of the best underwater sites in Thailand. The island’s east coast is dotted with dive spots like Tanote Bay and Hin Wong Pinnacle, while the west coast’s White Rock is a night dive favourite, all offering encounters with majestic sea turtles and vibrant coral reefs.


For snorkelers, Shark Bay is a sanctuary where the beauty of the marine world is within arm’s reach.

The island’s intimate connection with sea turtles, serving as a breeding ground for Hawksbill and Green turtles, adds a layer of enchantment to the diving experience. Koh Tao’s stunning beaches and clear waters provide a peaceful getaway for those looking to explore the depths and the wonders of the Andaman Sea.


chinatown in bangkok

From the bustling streets of Bangkok to the tranquil ruins of Ayutthaya, the lush jungles of Khao Yai to the coral-rich waters of Koh Tao, Thailand offers a mosaic of experiences for every traveller. Each destination we’ve journeyed through holds a piece of Thailand’s soul, a fragment of a story that’s as old as the temples of Sukhothai and as vibrant as the nightlife of Koh Phi Phi.


Thailand’s allure lies in its ability to blend history, culture, adventure, and relaxation into a rich tapestry that captivates the heart and ignites the wanderlust within.


As we conclude this exploration of Thailand’s best places to visit, it’s clear that whether you’re seeking the luxury of Koh Samui’s resorts, the adventure of Railay’s cliffs, or the serenity of Krabi’s beaches, the Land of Smiles has something special in store.


So pack your bags, bring your curiosity, and prepare for an adventure that will leave you with memories as colourful and diverse as Thailand itself. The only question that remains is, which destination will you choose to visit first?

Frequently Asked Questions About The Best Places To Visit In Thailand

floating market

What is the best time to visit Thailand’s beaches?


The best time to visit Thailand’s beaches is during the cool and dry season between November and February when the weather is most favorable for beach activities and water sports. Enjoy your visit!


Are there ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand?


Yes, there are ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, such as the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, that prioritize the well-being of elephants. You can visit these sanctuaries to experience the gentle giants up close and support their rescue and rehabilitation efforts.


Can I visit the historical sites of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai in one trip?


Yes, it is possible to visit the historical sites of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai in one day trip or by including them in a longer trip around Thailand. Both sites are accessible from Bangkok by car or public transport.


Is Thailand suitable for adventure travellers?


Yes, Thailand is definitely suitable for adventure travellers with its various activities like rock climbing, wildlife trekking, and scuba diving, offering an abundance of adventure opportunities.


What are some must-try local foods in Thailand?


You must try Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, Som Tam, and Massaman Curry to experience the diverse and flavorful Thai cuisine. Each region in Thailand offers unique and delicious dishes for you to explore.

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Luke Iles

Luke is a leading travel writer within the travel niche and is also a co-founder of HandL Blogs one of the UK’s leading travel blogging websites. Luke has a love of all things travel.

Initially becoming friends with his other co-founder, Harry, at the age of four years old, they let their love for travel evolve, making it their mission to visit every country in the world!

Today they want to share their passion and experiences of travelling across the globe with written blogs on topics that are most important to them. From travel, cooking, fitness and tech blogs!

Whether that be trying new food in a new country and sharing it in a cooking blog; visiting a new gym in a certain city and reviewing it in a fitness blog or learning about the newest tech within the travel industry.

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 Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to HandL Blogs at no cost to you if you decide to purchase through these links. These are products we have personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

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