Last Updated March 19, 2021 3/19/2021

13 Best Things to Do in Thailand

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Thailand is one of the most popular travel destinations in Southeast Asia, and with everything it has to offer including rich culture, tasty food, and world-class entertainment, it is easy to see why people are so enthralled. Visitors will find stunning beaches, vibrant temples, and a long list of culturally diverse cities to explore. To top it all off, the “Land of Smiles” has some of the friendliest people in the world who are ready to show visitors just how special Thailand really is. While there are endless activities to choose from, here is a snapshot of some of the top things to do in Thailand.

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Go Island-Hopping
Koh Samui, Thailand

Go Island-Hopping

What Is It? The top activity in Thailand is to go island hopping

Why Do It? With over 1,430 tropical islands to choose from in the south, sun-seekers are spoiled for choice with gorgeous beaches. From the famous Koh Phi Phi to Ko Samui, and Ko Chang to Ko Tao, there are so many islands that visitors are able to find the perfect island retreat that suits their needs. 

Good to Know: Whichever island you choose, you’re sure to see lush greenery and turquoise waters, perfect for long days filled with water activities and relaxation.

Visit a Buddhist Temple
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Visit a Buddhist Temple

What Is It? Intricate in design and architecture, temples in Thailand are all impressive in their own right.

Why Do It? One simply cannot go to Thailand without visiting a Buddhist temple, adds it offers a unique cultural experience you can’t get anywhere else. 

Good to Know: Two of the most popular temples in Thailand, however, are The Grand Palace in Bangkok and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. The Grand Palace was the former Royal Residence for 150 years, while Doi Suthep is a golden masterpiece of art that sits on top of a mountain.

Explore Underwater Marine Life
Koh Tao

Explore Underwater Marine Life

What Is It? It’s no surprise that Thailand has some of the best diving spots in the world.

Why Do It? Koh Lanta and Koh Tao are two of the most popular, where visitors will find dozens of affordable and internationally accredited SCUBA training that can certify those who are interested in 3 days. 

Good to Know: Once you’ve got the certification, dive down and see the abundance of Thailand’s colorful and diverse marine life.

Visit an Elephant Sanctuary
Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai

Visit an Elephant Sanctuary

What Is It? Visiting an elephant sanctuary is a must when visiting Thailand, as it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Why Do It? The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is one of the best, as the owner “Lek,” is an award-winning conservationist that is dedicated to rescuing injured and mistreated elephants. 

Good to Know: Instead of riding the elephants, visitors are able to get up close and personal and interact with these gentle giants in an expansive prairie, while you observe their vibrant personalities, feed them fruit, and then bathe them.

Taste Exotic Fruit at a Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak

Taste Exotic Fruit at a Floating Market

What Is It? Visitors will find several floating markets in Thailand, but the Damnoen Saduak floating market in Bangkok is the most popular. 

Why Do It? At this top attraction, visitors will find an overwhelming amount of fresh fruit and vegetables piled high on Thailand’s version of a floating kitchen. 

Good to Know: Formerly known as the “Venice of the East,” the extensive network of waterways gives visitors a peek into how things were done many years ago.

Spot Wildlife at Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park

Spot Wildlife at Khao Yai National Park

What Is It? The first National Park to be established in Thailand and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khao Yai National Park is so large that it spreads over four provinces. 

Why Do It? With a lush mountainous landscape and stunning waterfalls, this park is rich in diversity. 

Good to Know: Visitors can explore rainforests and grasslands filled with over 300 species of birds and 67 species of mammals that include bears, elephants, deer, and gibbons.

Explore the Laid-Back Town of Pai
Pai, Thailand

Explore the Laid-Back Town of Pai

What Is It? Located close to the border of Thailand and Myanmar to the north, Pai is a wonderfully quiet town to visit. 

Why Do It? Known for having lush greenery and laid-back hippie vibes, visitors love to visit Pai for relaxation and to soak in the unspoiled nature.

Good to Know: Air-conditioned mini vans take three hours from Chiang Mai to Pai, but beware, the roads are windy! 

Taste Flavorful Street Food
street vendor in Phuket, Thailand food market

Taste Flavorful Street Food

What Is It? It’s hard to avoid the mass amounts of food vendors around Thailand, and with so many options foodies are truly spoiled for choice in mouthwatering cuisine.

Why Do It? From Som Tam (papaya salad) to Pad Thai to various types of grilled meats, Thailand has perfected the art of street food. 

Good to Know: Visitors can even find tasty coffee, tea, fruit smoothies, and fresh coconut water sold at these tiny vendors.

Learn How to Cook Thai Cuisine
Thai cooking class

Learn How to Cook Thai Cuisine

What Is It? One of the best souvenirs you can give to yourself from Thailand is learning how to cook some of the mouthwatering dishes you’ll eat while you’re there.

Why Do It? Impress your friends and family with your new culinary skills, as joining a cooking class is usually the highlight of any trip to Thailand. 

Good to Know: A typical half-day course includes a visit to the market to purchase all the fresh ingredients, then expert chefs will assist even the most novice of cooks in preparing a handful of authentic Thai dishes.

Re-Energize with a Thai Massage
Thai massage

Re-Energize with a Thai Massage

What Is It? World-famous for their unique style, Thai massages are unlike any other around the world. 

Why Do It? These masters of pressure points will stretch and bend your body parts, leaving you feeling refreshed and invigorated like never before.

Good to Know: Expect to be pulled and stretched like a pretzel, as Thai massages aren’t known for being gentle. 

Shop at Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar
Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai

Shop at Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar

What Is It? Come rain or shine, visitors can watch the streets of Chiang Mai come alive on the one-mile stretch of Chang Klan Road at the daily Night Bazaar. 

Why Do It? Visitors will find hundreds of stallholders selling anything from clothing to artwork to various types of souvenirs and tasty treats. 

Good to Know: Bargaining is the norm here, so try your best to haggle for what you want in this vibrant shoppers’ paradise.

Attend a Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan
Full Moon Party

Attend a Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan

What Is It? World-renowned and legendary, those looking for the party scene will find the famous full moon parties in full force on Koh Phangan. 

Why Do It? Revelers will find a giant island-style party with a dizzying array of color, music, and fruity drinks right on the beach that goes well into the wee hours of the morning.

Good to Know: Check the calendar, because full moon parties are specific to, as you might have already guessed, the full moon. 

Join a Monk Chat
Monk Chat

Join a Monk Chat

What Is It? One of the most beloved groups of people you’ll find in Thailand, visitors are often intrigued even by a monk’s presence.

Why Do It? Many of these monks, however, want to practice and improve their English, so they offer scheduled Monk Chats where visitors can have an interesting cultural exchange. 

Good to Know: Mutually beneficial, these monks can provide visitors education on the local customs and traditions firsthand.

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