Top 20 Attractions in Thailand
Thailand is a country that is rich in culture and beauty. So sometimes trying to decide where you want to go and what you want to see while in Thailand can be time-consuming and difficult.
Based on our own experience and the experiences of our customers, here are some of our favorite attractions across Thailand, from Bangkok all the way to the beaches of Phuket.
- In Bangkok, the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew are stunning places and to visit them helps understand Thai history and culture.
- Also, while in Bangkok, many travelers like to see the Jim Thompson House to learn more about Thai architecture an art.
- If you are interested in the ruins of the capitals of ancient kingdoms, you can visit Ayutthaya Historical Park or Sukhothai Historical Park.
- Like history and WWII? The Death Railway and Bridge over the River Kwai are great ways to see famous historical sites.
- Our favorite attractions near Chiang Mai include the Elephant Nature Park, Doi Inthanon, and the Golden Triangle.
- Want to hit the beach? Check out Bophut in Koh Samui and Bangtao in Phuket.
1. Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace was the home of the kings of Siam for over 150 years. Today, the building is not used as much by the Thai royal family, but the importance of the area still remains. The architecture of the Grand Palace is enchanting and it is a must-see when you are in Thailand.
Within the precincts of the Grand Palace is Wat Phra Kaew which is commonly known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Famous throughout Asia for its spiritual importance, this temple is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists who want to see the famous Buddha statue that was carved from a single block of jade.
2. Wat Arun in Bangkok
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is an iconic landmark of Bangkok.
Its splendid 79-meter-high (259 ft) central spire with 4 smaller spires around it can be often seen in pictures of Thailand and tourist brochures. Inlaid with a variety of colorful ceramic plates, glass, and shells, these spires look magnificent, especially on a sunny day.
From the top of the central spire, you can see the winding Chao Phraya River spread below and the Grand Palace and Wat Pho opposite you.
3. Wat Pho in Bangkok
Located close to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is popular among tourists as it is less crowded and showcases the Buddhist culture of Thailand.
Wat Pho has many reasons to be well-renowned: it is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok; it houses one of the largest Reclining Buddhas in the world; and possesses more than a thousand figures and paintings of the Buddha.
Beyond all doubt, the biggest highlight of Wat Pho is the enormous Reclining Buddha, which spans a length of 45 m (150 ft) and a width of 15 m (50 ft). Covered in gold leaf, it is truly a resplendent sight.
4. Jim Thompson House in Bangkok
Jim Thompson House
The Jim Thompson House is a famous spot for Bangkok visitors because it excellently showcases traditional Thai architecture and home design. Built by Jim Thompson, the American CIA agent turned silk trader who mysteriously disappeared in the 1960s, the house is just as mysterious as it is beautiful.
A museum now, the house itself consists of six teak Thai-styled buildings and is full of ancient Asian objects from Thailand, China, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Walking through the house, visitors will be able to see paintings, sculptures, and other rare items, which were part of Jim Thompson's personal collection.
5. Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya Historical Park is located near Bangkok and is what remains of the capital city of the ancient Ayutthaya Kingdom which existed from 1351 to 1767.
During the existence of the Kingdom, many grand and historically important temples were built in Ayutthaya. Today, this area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, due to its cultural and historical importance.
The Ayutthaya Historical Park covers a 3 sq km (1 sq mi) area full of impressive ruins of temples and palaces. The best way to see the park is to take a tour or rent a bike in order to see as many of the famous temples as possible.
Some of our personal favorite sites in the park include Wat Phra Si Sapphet, Wat Mongkhon Bophit, and Viharn Phra Mongkol Bophit, where the largest bronze Buddha statue is located.
6. Sukhothai Historical Park
Sukhothai Historical Park
Sukhothai used to be the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries and is located in Northern Thailand.
The park includes the remains of 21 different historical sites inside the city walls. However, a lot of the most impressive and large ruins are located outside the city walls.
The park is quite a large place and it is best to explore it by bicycle or car. One of the great things about Sukhothai Park is that, although it is popular with tourists, because it covers such a large area, it is still comparatively quiet and peaceful.
7. The White Temple in Chiang Rai
The White Temple
The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai is one of the most remarkable and stunning temples in Thailand. As its name implies, it is an all-white temple.
When sunlight shines on the fragments of mirrors that decorate the walls of the temple, it appears pure and solemn, a work of art in itself.
Chalermchai Kositpipat, the designer of the White Temple, states that white represents purity and the glittering mirrors symbolize wisdom.
If you are planning a trip to Thailand, you must pay a visit to the temple to view its charms for yourself.
8. Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai
Wat Chedi Luang
“Chedi Luang” means “big pagoda” in Thai. The temple got its name for the large, square, Lana-style pagoda located in its center. Along with Wat Phra Singh, it is among the most exalted temples in Chiang Mai.
Originally 98 m (321 ft) high, the pagoda was once the tallest building in north Thailand. But after a massive earthquake, the Thai–Burma War, and lightning strikes, only the 42-meter-high (137 ft) tower base and ground floor remain. Yet, it is still the tallest building in Chiang Mai Old City.
Although the tower is in ruins, when you stand in front of it, you can still sense its majesty and solemnity and cannot help but wonder about the time when it was first built.
9. Death Railway and the Bridge over the River Kwai
The Siam-Burma Railway (also known as Death Railway) is a 415-kilometer (258-mile) stretch of railroad that runs between Thailand and Myanmar.
This railway was built by the Japanese Army during WWII and became notorious due to it being built by the forced labor of British, Australian, Dutch, and American prisoners of war.
During the construction of the railway, more than 16,000 prisoners died of various sicknesses and malnourishment.
The railway passes through a small town in Thailand called Kanchanaburi which has a war museum and is also the location of the real Bridge over the River Kwai.
Although the true bridge looks much different than the one in the movie and goes by a different name, many people visit the site to see the inspiration behind the famous story.
10. The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
The Elephant Nature Park is becoming well-known to travelers throughout the world and there is good reason why.
Unlike other elephant parks that force breeding, use bullhooks, or allow guests to ride the elephants, the Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary for elephants who were mistreated or abused in the past.
Here the elephants live peaceful happy lives and have ethical interaction with park visitors.
The focus of the park is to give travelers the incredible experience of interacting with these wonderful and gentle giants by caring for them. Visitors can choose from half-day or overnight visits, during which they can feed, bathe, and hike with the elephants.
11. Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai
Doi Inthanon is Thailand's highest peak, sitting at 2,565 meters (8,415 feet) above sea level and it is one of the country's hidden treasures.
Due to its altitude, the mountain area and surrounding national park have much cooler weather than other places in Thailand, and so it is a great break from the sweltering heat of Chiang Mai.
The beauty of Doi Inthanon park is undeniable, with lush green forests, beautiful rivers, and picturesque waterfalls which can all be seen on the many trails through the 482 sq km (299 sq mi) of the park.
This park is also home to some unique and disappearing Northern Hilltribes of Thailand, who are trying to resettle the area and maintain their traditional culture.
12. The Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai
Located northeast of Chiang Rai, the Golden Triangle is known for its views of the surrounding rolling hills and also as the place where the countries of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos all meet.
Standing on the Thai side of the borders, visitors can see all three countries, the mighty Mekong River, hills dotted with small villages, and the beautiful hilltop temples in the distance.
There are plenty of ways that visitors can experience this area of Thailand, including taking a boat ride to get close to all three nations, visiting the large golden Buddha located in the nearby Wat Phra That Pu Khao, and visitors can also take a peek at the nearby House of Opium Museum.
13. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Longtail boats loaded with fruit and vegetables shuttle through narrow canals with tropical trees on either side. Peddlers wearing straw hats shout to sell their wares. The floating market is one of the most iconic features of Thailand.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located in southwest Bangkok, about a 1½ -hour drive from the city. Yellow bananas, fresh mangoes, juicy cut coconuts, colorful flowers, hot noodles, and smiling vendors greet you. Their hawking amid the bustling crowds makes the market come alive.
14. The Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya
The Sanctuary of Truth is an all-wooden structure located on a quiet beach in Pattaya. From a distance, it looks like a majestic sailboat. Exquisite and complex woodcarvings cover the walls of the temple.
A privately constructed structure, the founder employed Thailand’s skilled craftsmen to build the edifice over 30 years; even now, it is still under construction.
The original intention of the founder was to preserve the wooden crafts and carving arts of Thailand and express his religious beliefs and Oriental philosophy.
Further Reading: Top 10 Things to Do in Pattaya
15. Bophut in Koh Samui
Bophut is one of the few remaining places on Koh Samui that still has some of the island's original Chinese culture and atmosphere. The Bophut area even still has an authentic and well-preserved Fisherman's Village, located in the middle section of the beach.
While other fisherman’s villages on the island have been turned into tourist traps, Bophut has managed to maintain the original charm of their village, with streets lined by old wooden Chinese shop-houses.
Besides the draw of an authentic island experience, Bophuts 2-kilometer (1-mile) long white-sand beach that is fringed by palm trees is the perfect place to relax. The calm waters of the area also make for great water sports.
16. Bangtao in Phuket
Bangtao has something for every beachgoer, from luxury resorts and villas to more mid-range options. Bangtao beach is the second largest beach in Phuket, over 8-kilometers long. It has plenty of space for large resorts but also plenty of natural scenery.
During the high season, the waters near Bangtao are calm and perfect for swimming as well as watersports. The waters near the northern end of the beach are often rougher and offer a good opportunity for surfers.
17. Similan Islands National Park
The Similan Archipelago, which comprises nine islands, was designated a national park in 1982. It is popular with scuba-diving enthusiasts because of its unique corals, colorful fish, soft beaches, high underwater visibility, and a water temperature of 28°C (82°F).
18. Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is located in the northeast of Bangkok, about a 3-hour drive from the city. Spread across 2,170 sq km (840 sq miles) of rainforest, grasslands, mountains, and waterfalls, the park is perfect for spotting wildlife, breathing in the fresh air, and hiking.
The cool temperature, excellent air quality, fascinating scenery, and many activities attract locals and visitors who come here to discover a land of idyllic beauty.
19. Chiang Mai Old City
Chiang Mai Old City
Chiang Mai Old City was the center of the Lanna Kingdom (a kingdom that once controlled northern Thailand) in ages past. The kingdom collapsed in 1556 and only the old city survived. Now it forms part of the cultural heritage of Thailand.
Chiang Mai Old City is shaped like a square and surrounded by walls and moats. Tha Phae Gate, the most famous landmark there, is the starting point for a night-market tour.
20. Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park is located in southern Thailand, a 3-hour drive from Phuket. The landscape is full of exotic plants as well as tropical hardwood trees and wildlife.
The evergreen jungles in the park are thought to be the oldest rainforest on earth, estimated to be more than 1.6 million years old.
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