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Home Travel Guide Thailand Travel Guide 11 Best Places to Visit in Thailand 2023

11 Best Places to Visit in Thailand

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Known as the “Kingdom of Smiles”, Thailand is a dream vacation destination for many, with epic tropical scenery, gorgeous Buddhist culture, enchanting island customs, ancient ruins, diverse cuisine, and exciting entertainment to satisfy every imagination of Southeast Asia.

There are so many places to visit in Thailand that travelers face a tricky question: Where to start? Before planning your trip to Thailand, you have a geographical decision whether to go north, south, or both. The north of Thailand is rich in culture, historical sites and national parks, while the south is blessed with a beautiful coastline with soft beaches & blue lagoons, and colorful coral reefs.

Below is our list of the best places to visit in Thailand to help you plan a trip to southeast Asia’s most popular destination.

Central Thailand

1. Bangkok - Thailand's Capital

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Enjoying the reputations of the “City of Angels” and the “Buddhist Capital”, Bangkok is usually the place where the journey through Thailand begins. A fast-paced, bustling city of nearly 12 million people, it is known around the world for its vibrant street life and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Every desire for enjoyment will be fulfilled here, from shopping sprees to fine food. Bangkok is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Thailand for young adults.

It is also the gateway to some of the country’s most extravagant temples and palaces. Some must-see buildings include the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Wat Trimitr. In addition, you have the opportunity to take a long tail boat ride across the Chao Phraya River to visit floating markets and get a glimpse of the daily life of locals.

Bangkok boasts a lot of highlights and you can spend 2-3 days exploring this wonderful city.

Northern Thailand

2. Chiang Mai

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Surrounded by part of the Himalayan mountains, Chiang Mai, the former capital of Thailand, is the country’s best destination to experience its profound cultural history and venture into the lush rainforest.

A walk around the 700-year-old city can take you to hundreds of temples of varying styles. Yet the most famous temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, sits on a hillside on the outskirts of Chiang Mai overlooking the city. Outside the city, visitors can also find many hill tribes, such as the Meo Hill and Karen tribes, where visitors can get an insight into their history and lifestyle.

Modern Chiang Mai is Thailand’s famous handicraft center, where you can find paper umbrellas, silverware, lacquer ware, jewelry, wood carvings, characteristic furniture and other exquisite objects. The abundant spa, botanical gardens, and Elephant nature parks are among the best places to visit in Thailand with family.

3. Ayutthaya

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Ayutthaya is a historic city of Thailand that served as the capital of Thailand from 1350 to 1767. This ancient capital has a glorious history of more than 400 years, where the essence of Buddhism has reached its zenith and is deeply rooted in Thai culture. It is said to have housed a large number of valuable palaces and more than 2,000 gilded minaret-style temples.

But the invasion of the Burmese army in 1767 destroyed most of the magnificent buildings. Still, there are a few reliquary towers and monasteries standing to welcome visitors. Today, visitors can see the only remaining precious relics in Ayutthaya Historical Park, which is listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Some of the famous temples that are worth visiting in this park include Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, and Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon.

4. Kanchanaburi

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Kanchanaburi, which borders Myanmar in the west, is famous for the River Kwai Bridge and the “Death Railway” built during World War II. Part of the railway linking Thailand and Burma, this impressive railway was built using forced labor provided by allied POWs. Thousands of prisoners of war, mainly from Britain, Australia, and the Netherlands, died during the construction of the railway.

Today, tourists can take a train to witness the quiet scenery on the railway. The most famous spot on the railway is the bridge over the River Kwai, which was depicted in the Oscar-winning film The Bridge on the River Kwai. In Kanchanaburi, you can also visit the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and JEATH War Museum, where you can learn more about this heart-wrenching history. Outside Kanchanaburi, there are a great number of national parks, all with beautiful natural landscapes including caves, waterfalls, and tribal villages.

5. Chiang Rai

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Chiang Rai is the northernmost city in Thailand, located at the junction of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Like most cities in northern Thailand, Chiang Rai is a tourist magnet for its temples. Wat Rong Khun, or White Temple, built in 1997, tops the list of all temples in Chiang Mai. From a distance, the temple appears to be made of porcelain, but closer you realize that the illusion is created by white paint and glass sequins.

The city has many museums showcasing local heritage, culture, and art. During the day, the town is quiet, but at night, neon lights flicker and souvenir stalls and restaurants come to life. Chiang Rai is also known for its trekking in Lam Nam Kok National Park. Trails lead through dense forests to stunning waterfalls and mountaintop tribal villages.

6. Sukhothai

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Sukhothai is not only the first capital of Siam (the old name of Thailand) but also the cradle of Thai civilization. The town is famous for the Sukhothai National Historical Park, with numerous 13th-century temples, palaces, stupas, and monuments. The park is also dotted with gleaming lakes, manicured gardens, and sunken moats. There, visitors can cycle around these well-preserved ancient buildings and get a glimpse into the past glory of the Sukhothai kingdom. The National Historical Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991.

Southern Thailand

7. Pattaya

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Originally a sparsely populated fishing village, Pattaya is now one of southeast Asia’s hottest seascape resorts. Pattaya is a two-hour drive from Bangkok along Sukhumvit Highway. Pattaya beach, 40 kilometers long, is a good seaside swimming pool with sunny skies and green waters. Visitors can experience new and exciting sea recreational activities such as surfing.

At the southern end of the beach, Koh Larn (Coral Island) offers transparent long-tailed boats for visitors to admire the colorful coral wonders and tropical fish under the sea. With crescent-like sandy beaches embracing azure crystal clear waters, Pattaya is one of the best places to visit in Thailand for couples. 

Besides the beach, Tiffany’s Show is the most famous in Pattaya. It is the first true ladyboy show in Southeast Asia, showcasing the world’s customs, especially the Oriental colors.

8. Koh Samui

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Thailand’s third-largest island, Koh Samui, located in the Gulf of Thailand, retains its original flavor because it has not been overly developed. Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s most popular holiday destinations, attracting everyone from backpackers to families and honeymooners.

Scattered here are mountain rainforests, pristine beaches, and numerous coconut groves against the backdrop of stunning sunsets. Visitors can visit many temples and enjoy a variety of relaxing hot springs. The archipelago near Koh Samui is a quick ferry ride away and is a famous diving destination. Go snorkeling, canoeing, sailing, and enjoy the wonderful scenery of the sea and the sky with your beloveds on Koh Samui.

9. Phuket

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Phuket is known as a “pearl” of the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean for its wide and beautiful beaches, spotless white sand and emerald water. It is the largest island in Thailand, and most visitors flock to Patong Beach or Phuket Town, which are the two centers of the whole island, one featuring island scenery and the other featuring ancient architecture.

Coral Island is a fairly well-known destination in the vicinity, named for its colorful coral reefs, and is a paradise for divers and water parachute enthusiasts.

Phang Nga Bay, the most beautiful place in Phuket, is endowed with marvelous stalactite caves and countless grotesque rocks and sea caves. The bay is full of precious viviparous mangroves, and there are channels between the mangroves and small fishing villages, which can be viewed from boats.

10. Krabi

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Krabi is a paradise of the tropical peninsula, with more than 30 outlying islands dotted like jewels in the blue Andaman Sea. Krabi is home to many beautiful limestone islets and national parks, the most famous of which is Phi Phi Don, where the film The Beach was filmed. Phi Phi Island is a sun-drenched place with soft white sand beaches, azure blue waters, and stunning natural caves. Snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, and bird watching are popular here. With its steep limestone cliffs, Krabi is an ideal place for rock climbing, with more than 500 climbing routes, allowing you to push yourself to the limit.

11. Khao Sok National Park

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Home to a 1.6 million-year-old rainforest ecosystem, Kao Sok National Park offers some of the most spectacular views of floating Karst peaks in Thailand. Steep limestone mountains rise from huge emerald lakes. Rushing waterfalls and rivers pour down into cool pools.

There is a huge artificial lake in the park for you to enjoy the scenery by long-tailed boat. Spend a night at the floating raft houses and wake up early to experience the misty scenery. In addition to the natural scenery, you have the opportunity to encounter a variety of animal species, including Malaysian tapirs, wild boars, gibbons, Asian elephants, and tigers. This is one of the best places to visit in Thailand with friends.

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