Thailand is the number one tourist location in South East Asia, and it is easy to see why. Best known for its breath-taking beaches, its stunning temples and the modern urban sprawl that is Bangkok, it is a country where getting bored is just not an option.
From the moment you step of the plane to the time you leave you will be surrounded by some of the friendliest, down to earth and genuine people that you could want to meet. It’s easy to see why Thailand is often called the ‘Land of Smiles’.
The problem for any visitor to Thailand is narrowing down your list of things to do, there are countless attractions and hot spots I could put on this list but I narrowed it down to the top 25 things to do in Thailand:
1. Visit the Grand Palace
Set in the heart of Bangkok this is probably the most famous attraction there is. For 150 years the palace was home to the king, his court, and the entire government of Thailand as well as the Royal Mint. With an area of 218,400 sq. meters there is so much to see and do, you will not be disappointed. In 1782 huge walls were built around the palace and offices to make it the attraction it is today, please note that a strict dress code is in place at the palace so you will need to dress in appropriate clothing or entry will be refused.
3. Have a Thai Massage
Thai massages are famous the world over, the style of massage is unique as it stretches your body as well as working on your bodies pressure points. The whole experience will leave you feeling invigorated and balanced. Every small town and city is guaranteed to have many massage parlors and the prices are very cheap compared to what you would pay back home.
4. Visit The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
There are several floating markets in Thailand but this one is the biggest and most famous, it is huge! There are boats everywhere going up and down the canals selling all sorts of foods and fruits. A visit to this market will give you a real insight into how things were many years ago. For those who love to take photos the narrow canals and small wooden stilt houses are sure to give you countless opportunities.
The market is situated about 100km outside of Bangkok but it is well worth the traveling time.
5. Spend an Evening in Nana Plaza (Soi 4)
No trip to Bangkok could be complete without taking a trip to Nana, the main road that runs through Bangkok is called Sukhumvit road and when you get to Soi 4 you have arrived at a place you do not want to miss. Nana Plaza is rumored to be the largest sex complex in the world, full of gogo bars and seductive girls you are guaranteed to have an interesting night.
Take a seat at any of various bars in the Plaza and just sit back and watch the girls apply their trade to many visiting tourists.
6. Climb the Sathorn Unique Tower
Situated in the heart of Bangkok is a humongous abandoned skyscraper known as the ‘Sathorn Unique’ it was being built during the late nineties but due to the global financial crisis the building was never completed. This is not an official tourist attraction but a small payment to the security guards at the bottom will ensure you are allowed access. Not one for the faint hearted the 49 stories provide a difficult climb but one that offers some of the most breath taking views of Bangkok from the top. Thai people believe the tower to be haunted and as you climb you way up you might just see why.
7. Take a trip to Koh Phi Phi
Shooting to fame after the Leonardo DiCaprio classic ‘The Beach’ as well as appearing in James Bond. Koh Phi Phi is a stunning island situated in the province of Krabi, this island is a must visit on any trip to Thailand. After visiting this staggeringly beautiful island no beach will ever feel as beautiful. The island has no roads so you will have to do a fair amount of walking but with everything happening between the two main beaches you will never be far from the hive of activity.
8. Visit a Ping Pong Show
If you have already been to Nana Plaza and watched the ladies at work there then the next part of your trip is surely to a ping pong show, famed throughout the world for the unique experience it brings, you must not give it a miss. Various ladies will entertain you on stage by putting objects inside them before using their pelvic muscles to shoot the objects into cups. Although ping pong balls are the most iconic objects the ladies have also been known to use, candles, darts, chopsticks and even razor blades.
9. Drive Like a Local
Traveling by scooter is hugely popular, a vast majority of the locals do it and nearly all of the tourists. It is an experience that you will not want to miss out on. At times it can appear as though there are no laws on the road and it is every man (or woman) for themselves. It can be an awful lot of fun weaving in and out of the traffic whilst you explore places you would never venture on foot. Just remember to keep your wits about you at all times and to expect the unexpected.
10. Eat Street Food
Thailand is home to many different kinds of street food and every street in every city will have various different stalls selling their wares. From Pad Thai to Som Tam (papaya salad) to grilled meats it is all available at any time of the day. Thai’s rarely cook at home as the cost of eating out is so low compared to cooking at home, when looking for a food stall to eat at a good choice is to follow the locals to see where they are eating.
11. Have a Water Fight During Songkran
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year, it is celebrated each year in April across the entire country and runs from the 13th to the 15th, water is traditionally sprinkled throughout the festival as it is believed it will wash away your bad luck and sins. These days things have changed a little and huge water fights tend to break out bringing entire cities to a standstill, with many businesses closing for the entire duration. Where ever you are in the country during this time of the year prepare for a soaking as there is no escaping the party.
12. Visit Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park was the first national park to be established in Thailand and is the third largest in the country. Covering an area of 2,168 square kilometers it is a huge site to visit. The park comprises of rain forests as well as grasslands which all adds up to the large number of animals you can see. There are an estimated 300 species of birds in the park as well as bears, elephants, deer’s, gibbons and macaques. There are a couple of waterfalls in the park which are well worth a visit as well and are easily accessible by car.
13. Take a Trip to Wat Arun
Thailand is home to over 31,000 Buddhist temples, this particular temple Wat Arun is named after Aruna, the God of Dawn. The temple sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is one of the most stunning sites you can see. The tower is 79 meters tall and has been covered in colorful porcelain and ceramic tiles making for a mesmerizing sight. When you come to the entrance of the temple you will see a pair of mythical giants that are said to guard the temple.
14. Visit Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
During the day the Chang Klan Road is just an ordinary road in Chiang Mai, full of tourists, shops, guest houses and Tuk Tuk drivers, but at night a transformation takes place. From dusk until midnight hundreds of stall holders line the 1km stretch of road and turn the area into a shopper’s paradise. Everything is for sale including various different designer products (mainly fake,) you are expected to barter with the street sellers for whatever you choose to buy which all adds to the fun of the Bazaar. It does not matter what the weather is like or what day of the year you choose the market will always be open.
15. Go to a Full Moon Party
Legend has it that a group of tourists realized one day that the most beautiful view of the full moon was from the beach of Koh Phangan so they decided to hold a party. From that day on it became an institution. Today up to 30,000 revelers travel to the beaches of Koh Phangan to celebrate every full moon with a party. The parties are a riot of color, music and nonstop drinking that seems to last forever. When you need to take a break from the dancing you can take a rest in one of the surrounding bars or go for a swim in the warm Gulf of Thailand.
16. Visit Phang Nga Bay
Whilst visiting Phuket you must visit Phang Nga Bay, the bay houses in the region of 40 small islands that come straight out of the calm sea. There are so many caves, mangroves and lagoons to visit whilst you are here that you will never have enough time to see everything. The sea in this area is very quiet and the bay by its natural design is protected from many of the elements during the monsoon season meaning there is never a bad time to go. The best way to see as much as you can is to go with a local Thai tourist guide who will be able to point out the things you do not want to miss.
17. Go to Doi Suthep
Situated 12km outside of Chiang Mai, Doi Suthep is a mountain that stands at over 5400 feet. The reason most people travel to Doi Suthep is to see two things, firstly the view over all of Chiang Mai which is staggering and worth the journey on its own, but also to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which is a temple dating back to the 13th century. At the temple there is a large white elephant shrine which has a whole story about it which you can learn about whilst at the temple. There are many steps to climb on the mountain as well as the opportunity to take a tram, expect to spend a whole day on the mountain checking out the various things to see.
18. Visit Railay Beach
Railay beach is situated in the south of Thailand in Krabi, it is not accessible by traveling through the mainland as the huge limestone cliffs cut it off from society. The only way to get there is to get a boat. The stunning beaches will relax you like no other, there is not a single car here as there are no roads to drive on so it will just be you, your guests, beautiful white sand and the other relaxed tourists. If you are into rock climbing this is the place to be with some of the best instructors in Thailand plying their trade here. Your evenings can be spent in the quiet beach bars enjoying a few romantic drinks whilst watching the sunset. If you are looking for a party this is not the place to come.
19. Go Diving off The Coast of Koh Lanta
Situated in the Andaman Sea, Koh Lanta is a beautiful island only 20km’s in length. There are 17 dive shops on the island and some of the most beautiful diving in the world is to be had in the sea surrounding the island. Famous dive sites are Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, these are considered to be the best in the area
20. Take Part in The Loi Krathong Festival
Celebrated across the country the Loi Krathong festival is an annual event that happens on the night of the twelfth lunar month. A Krathong is like a small floating basket in the shape of a lotus with a candle in it. The festival celebrates the Goddess of water for all the water that she has supplied over the last year. Thousands of krathongs are lit and left to float away on the rivers and canals, a truly breath taking sight. The festival is full of color and in some cities you will see whole areas turned in processions with dancing and much color.
21. Visit Pai
Situated just down from the border with Myanmar is the small town of Pai, historically it was a small town inhabited by the Shan people, now it makes its money from the tourism trade. There are plenty of cheap places to stay and you are guaranteed a relaxing time when you visit. A romantic town that was made famous by appearing in a couple of famous Thai movies (The Letter and Ruk Jung.) Every year more tourists visit that the year before so there has never been a better time to visit than now.
22. Take a Trip To The City of Ayutthaya
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya needs to be on your Thailand to-do list. Originally the capital of Thailand the city was founded in 1350 when King U Thong relocated to the city to escape an outbreak of smallpox. However in 1767 the Burmese army marched on the city and destroyed nearly every part of it. The kingdom collapsed and was never the same again. The ruins of the city are preserved in the historical park and are certainly worth a visit when in the country.
23. Take the Thai-Burma Railway
Also known as the Death Railway due to the 300,000 people that died during its construction. The Thai-Burma railway was built between 1942 and 1943 to transport Japanese troops to Burma, the troops were then supposed to attack the British in India. Built by prisoners and Asian laborers the line stretches for 415km with perhaps the most famous part of the line being where the track goes over the bridge on the river Kwwae (kwai)
24. Drink From a Coconut
All over Thailand you will come across coconut sellers, standing by the side of the road with their simple stall, chopping board and cleaver. For just a few baht you can order one and watch as they cut deep into the flesh at the top of the coconut and cut out a piece in the shape of a square. A straw is added the square (now the lid) is replaced and you are ready to drink the cool milk inside. Absolutely delicious on a boiling hot day, fewer things will quench your thirst as much as this. When you have finished drinking the milk if you have a spoon you can scrape out the insides to enjoy the white flesh part that remains.
25. Visit Erawan Falls
Situated within the Erawan National Park the Erawan Falls are a group of seven waterfalls (the drop from the top waterfall to the bottom one is over 1500m) each having its own distinctive character. The water plunges over lime stone cliffs and into beautiful plunge pools, this has led to the landscape being sculpted by the water and it is truly beautiful. You can spend a whole day in the park trekking from one waterfall to the next, stopping to take a swim in the pools where the water gathers to cool yourself down.