Thailand, a Southeast Asian country comprised of 76 provinces inhabited by over 68 million people. This country is known for its beautiful beaches, pretty palaces and magnificent temples; it’s no wonder this is the most visited destination in all of the world.
If you’re a first-time traveller to Thailand, it will be difficult to cover everything. However, you can join us as we uncover the hidden gems of some of the best cities in Thailand and be sure to add them to your “to do list” whilst travelling there.
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January is one of the best times of the year to visit Thailand, due to its infrequent rainfall and vast amount of sunshine. Truth be told, there is no activity or attraction you cannot visit, just be sure to plan your trip as far in advance as you can, as it is the busiest and more costly time of year.
See the Floating Markets in Bangkok
If I had to mention a few of the best things to do in Thailand, my first suggestion would be to see a floating market in Bangkok. Although there are many, the most popular is the Damnoen Suduak market.
This market specifically is best due to its variety of boats selling an array of food and fruits. It is quite busy, so ensure you arrive early in the morning, especially considering January is the busiest season.
You cannot miss out on the spectacle of colours and the experience of a floating market.
Travel to Buddha Hell – Wang Saen Suk
Personally, I have never considered that Buddhists believed in a hell. However, Thailand never shies away from the strange and obscure.
In a village not far from Bangkok, take a glimpse into the Buddhist underworld. I warn you, it is incredibly graphic.
It is believed that guilty souls who abandoned their religious beliefs were sent to hell to be punished and prepared for a new life. The stone sculptures showcase torturous and grotesque punishments that are both unattractive, yet interesting.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is one of the most exhilarating events in Thailand. Although it falls between January and February, I’m going to mention it here.
The best place to attend the Chinese New Year is in Bangkok, where streets come alive with festivity and celebration. Chinese communities take this time to pray to their Gods and to pay respects to their ancestors.
If you are in Thailand for the Chinese new year, be sure to see the Dragon Dance Parade and learn more about the myths and legends behind the traditions you see today.
By February, tourists levels start to decrease. The weather is still great with lots of sunshine and minimal rainfall, and accommodation and flight expenses begin to decrease. If you find yourself travelling Thailand this time of year, be sure to find the beach.
The Emerald Pool
This is definitely a popular attraction, so it is best to visit in February when peak season has dwindled. These sorts of attractions are always best enjoyed in solitude.
The emerald pool and blue lagoon are part of a nature reserve of which the waters stream from thermal hot springs underground. It really is a wonderful experience and it goes to show how beautiful of a country Thailand really is.
Take a look online for a few packages that allow a tour guide to take you, as it is quite a distance outside of the town of Krabi. You will also need to walk to the pools, so definitely best to have someone lead the way. Some tours offer a free lunch afterwards as well!
Patong is definitely one of the most popular beach resorts in Phuket. Its beach is lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. It also includes Bangla Road, which is well known for its colourful architecture and bustling nightlife.
This is definitely not a place to take your children. However, if you are with a group of friends or your partner, add a cabaret show to your to-do list, or enjoy a few drinks in one of the many bars.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
We’ve spoken about how Thailand boasts rich and exotic culture and colour; the Chiang Mai flower festival is no different. For a duration of three days, tourists and locals gather to observe one of the most incredible displays that one cannot experience anywhere else.
With displays of dancers in magnificent costumes, performing traditional dances on flower floats, this is a ‘must see’ kind of experience! It is also interesting to know that the floats are designed with flowers that are only found in Chiang Mai.
Escape the city and venture to one of the most incredible waterfalls Thailand has to offer. The nature reserve is named after the three-headed elephant in Hindu mythology, and it is said that the top of the waterfall resembles the elephants head.
Located in Kanchanaburi province, the Erawan National park hosts this waterfall, which is surrounded by emerald green pools and vast forestry. It makes for a wonderful place to relax and listen to the falling water
As the months go on, so the heat increases. If you find yourself visiting Thailand in March, I will quickly advise you to perhaps move south to escape the heat and move towards the water.
Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi islands are a network of islands that have become the most well known Thai attractions. Truthfully, I don’t think there is one person who hasn’t seen a picture or seen them in a movie.
Boasting incredible beauty, the Phi Phi islands are essentially undeveloped and uninhabited. If you go to Thailand without visiting, you haven’t had the full Thai experience.
If you’re looking for a peaceful experience, surrounded by beautiful waters to escape the summer heat, there is no better place.
Take a ride on the Pyongyang Zipline and Jungle Coaster
If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, find your way to the Chiang Mai Zipline and Jungle coaster. Fly across the Chiang Mai forest and enjoy a 360-degree view of its beauty, or hop on the jungle roller coaster for a quick shot of adrenaline.
The park also offers beautiful accommodation and a buffet. This is a great attraction for families and groups of friends.
Experience a Blue Elephant Tour
Despite the many stories we’ve heard about the unethical way in which elephants are treated in Thailand, the Blue Elephant tour has received rave reviews.
Also located in Chiang Mai, you are offered the opportunity to feed, walk and play amongst the Elephants, although you are not allowed to ride them.
You will also be taken through the Chiang Mai forest with a professional guide who will teach you about these friendly giants and their way of life.
Take a look at Buddha Mountain
South of Thailand, in the city of Pattaya, you can view the largest Buddha image engraved against Khao Chi Chan. The image was designed to commemorate the King of Thailand’s golden jubilee. It was lasered into the solitary limestone and then filled with gold, creating a beautiful piece of art.
This really is quite a sight to see and it makes for a great picture. So, if you find yourself in Pattaya, be sure to make your way to Buddha mountain.
Reaching highs of almost 40-Degrees Celsius, April is by far the hottest time of the year in Thailand. The best areas to find yourself in is Koh Samui or Phuket, where rain is more frequent and the heat is less prominent. The tourist season is also essentially at its end.
Look out for the Secret Buddha Garden
If you enjoy a bit of culture, you should definitely visit the Secret Buddha Garden. Located in Koh Samui, the garden is a private park of sculptures on one of the highest peaks in the area.
The statues represent animals, humans and deities in various poses that were created by a fruit farmer. Each statue holds with them unique, Buddhist folklore stories and mythology, so perhaps it would be best to organise a tour guide for the full educational experience.
Attend the Songkran Water Festival
Although I suggested avoiding these areas, Chiang Mai and Bangkok are the best places to celebrate the Thai new year. At least you won’t suffer too much in the heat, considering the amount of water you will be flooded with.
The word “Songkran” means transformation and change. There are various traditions that are followed during this time of year, so if you wish to participate, ensure you familiarise yourself with them.
The water festival is one of the most popular events in Thailand and provides a great way to have good fun during your travels and to fully immerse yourself in the Thai culture.
While Thailand is still relatively humid and warm, it is still a pretty wet month. If you’re travelling the city in May, it might be best to stay indoors. Here are the some of the best attractions and activities you can find during this time of year.
Visit the Royal Barges Museum
The Royal Barges Museum, located in Bangkok, was established in 1972. It was originally a dry dock for barges, managed by the Royal Thai Navy. After WWII, a few of the boats had to be repaired and restored, creating this beautiful museum, which today, has become a national heritage site that so many visit.
The barges and boats are crafted with exquisite detail and colour. They are a clear representation of the stock standard designs one will see all over Thailand.
Get a Traditional Thai massage in Chiang Mai
There are many reasons that people travel; often it is for business, perhaps to visit family and friends. However, people mostly travel because they need a break from the concrete jungle. What better way to do so than to literally escape to the jungle.
Take yourself for the ultimate treat and experience an authentic Thai massage. Escape the rain and enjoy an hour-long full body massage at one of the many massage parlours one can find in Thailand.
If you’re in Koh Samui, you’re in the right place for this kind of thing. Take a look online for some of the best massage parlours in Koh Samui.
Take a cooking class
Take a break from walking the streets and delve into genuine, local Thai cuisine. This is a fun activity for people of all ages and is a great way to immerse oneself in the local culture.
Learn how to create Pad Thai, red and green curries, as well as fried rice and noodles!
The Best Thai Cooking School lives up to its name. Located on a beautiful farm in Chiang Mai, this cooking school grows and harvests its own ingredients for locals and tourists to use while learning how to create local cuisine. It has quickly become one of the most sought-after cooking schools in the area.
You could also try the Sompong Cooking School, located in Bangkok. Learn and create healthy, colourful Thai dishes from qualified chefs and take your impressive new skills home with you to impress your friends and family.
The weather in Thailand in June is almost identical to that of May. Temperatures may rise, however, with it being amidst the monsoon season, it is still best to try keep activities indoors.
Grand Palace – Bangkok
The spiritual heart of Thailand, the Grand Palace is known as Bangkok’s most famous landmark.
The palace is a complex of buildings, developed to incredible standards of architecture, boasting intricate detail and an array of colour. You cannot leave Thailand without visiting the greatest of all temples. Learn about the vast and rich history of the palace as well as that of those who lived there.
Pay careful attention to the dress code, as there are very strict guidelines. You are expected to cover your entire body, so be sure to wear long pants and shirts with sleeves. Visitors are not allowed to bare their shoulders or feet. If you are incorrectly dressed, there is a booth that will provide you with extra garments, however, they do charge.
The Aquarium in Phuket is the perfect way to spend a relaxing few hours away from the rain. While it is the best idea to entertain your children, it is also suitable for groups or couples.
Although not large, there are many tanks of various sizes that are home to an array of sea creatures both big and small, beautiful and weird. The aquarium also features the ever-popular tunnel, a favourite amongst visitors.
Walking through the tunnel, you are able to surround yourself with a fully panoramic view of the larger, more fascinating marine life that inhabits this giant tank and feel as if you are inside it. Hence its popularity.
During the month of July, Thailand sees less sun and the temperature stagnates between 26-33 degrees celsius. Generally, it is typically best to avoid areas like Bangkok, due to the humidity of the area, however, it only sees, on average, 17 days of rain.
Ghost Tower – Sathorn Unique Tower
The Sathorn Unique Tower, also known as the “Ghost Tower”, is an incomplete skyscraper located in Bangkok. It was designed to become a 49 storey luxury apartment building, however, it has today settled as a representation of the financial crisis that hit Thailand in 1997, which is the reason the construction was brought to its end.
21 years later, this building of ruin and neglect has become a playground to graffiti artists, stray dogs and the homeless. Unfortunately, despite the buildings name, there are no ghosts to be found.
It is also a very popular site for travellers and explorers due to its spine-chilling appearance and the obvious curiosity of humankind. One must admit, however, that once you reach the top floor, the view of Bangkok city is one like no other.
Trickeye Museum – Phuket
The Trickeye Museum is an exhibition space featuring over 100 unique, 4D oil paintings. These paintings are all designed to be life-sized murals, which allow visitors to immerse themselves in, and to interact with their life-like nature.
The paintings really are a “trick of the eye”, with their purpose being to stimulate creativity, which is pretty self-explanatory if you were to see the paintings yourself.
It makes for a full day of fun for any person of any age. Take the opportunity to have fun and create amazing picture moments to take home with you, and to laugh at forever.
Sanctuary of Truth – Pattaya
The Sanctuary of Truth is a religious temple constructed entirely of wood. It is then furnished with sculptures of Buddhist and Hindu designs.
The purpose of the temple is to reflect ancient beliefs and knowledge, as well as to guide visitors to better understand the common goal of life and this universe.
This temple is one of the most magnificent you will find, not only in Thailand, but in the entire world. It is carved entirely of wood right to its finest detail. I spent a lot of time trying to string the best words together to describe how immaculate it really is; to no avail.
It is clear to see the time and effort that was put into the temple’s development, and it is only scheduled for completion in 2050! This is a must-see while in Thailand. If you don’t make your way to Pattaya, you are sure to leave regretting, having missed this gorgeous attraction.
Eat Street food in Bangkok
Now, I know I have spoken mostly about Thailand attractions and things to see. However, while in Bangkok, one must eat street food!
It’s interesting to know that Thailand’s main cities are all known for something. Bangkok is best known for its food and has been for years. It even scores as some of the best street food in the world.
Everywhere you go, there are people, and there is food. I feel it is imperative for any traveller to experience everything there is to offer about the country they are visiting. From the culture to the landscape, to its history and its food.
Now, you don’t necessarily only have to try street food in July, but I must mention to do it sometime. It is a necessity to try the weird and wonderful, authentic Thai dishes right off the roadside. Here are a few of the more popular street foods you will find in Bangkok:
Pork Trotters / Khao Kha Moo – Braised pigs feet served with rice
Pad Thai – Stir-fried rice noodles, tofu, egg and peanuts. Both spicy and sour.
Grilled pork sticks / Moo ping
Fried bugs – (we all knew this was coming) Locusts, crickets, cockroaches and more.
Go to a cinema
If you’re looking to take a break from the incessant walking and explorations of Thailand. Spend a few hours at the Siam Paragon cinema, which hosts an IMAX and 4D theatre with 10 different special effects.
Across the road, you will find the Scala Theatre, which has never changed since its establishment. This makes for a unique movie experience as guests are able to enjoy a vintage style, cinematic adventure.
Big Buddha – Phuket
While this is a relatively young landmark, and not necessarily the most popular, if you are in the area, it would be worthwhile to appreciate the magnificence of such a large religious site.
The Buddha is scaled to 25 metres wide and 45 metres high, constructed entirely of concrete and layered with white marble.
If you’re standing in the town of Phuket, it is easily visible and hence, is able to offer a spectacular view of the city from the viewpoint itself. It is said that around 1000 people visit the landmark on a good day to make donations or to write on the marble bricks.
While visiting the landmark, one can enjoy the peace away from the city with the additional sounds of cultural background music. It is important to remember that this is a religious site, and you must wear the correct attire.
Wat Rong Khun – White Temple
The White Temple is a contemporary art exhibit created to resemble a Buddhist temple. Located in Chiang Rai, this landmark has become the most visited in the area and is a must-see for locals and tourists alike.
It is a completely white structure with additional pieces of glass to create a shimmer effect.
The temple was created by a local designer who has dedicated his life to completing the structure. He also aims to turn the area around the temple into an educational learning and meditation centre.
The most astounding thing about this temple is how every part of its structure has a symbolic meaning. For instance, The bridge across the lake symbolises rebirth, while the white theme symbolises purity and the glass pieces; Buddha’s teachings and wisdom.
Fantasea Theme Park
We all know that Thailand is one of exotic culture, colour and tradition. It is a must to see the Fantasea Theme park. Using acrobatics, illusions and aerial shows, paired with incredible special effects where performers showcase the rich heritage of Thailand.
The theme park also includes carnival rides and games, as well as one of the best buffets in Phuket.
As we reach October, Thailand experiences fewer days of rain. The best areas to find yourself in during this period would be Chiang Mai, which experiences the least amount of rain.
Visit Doi Inthanon National Park – Chiang Mai
Also known as “the roof of Thailand”, you can find this national park in Chiang Mai. It is part of the Himalayan mountain range and due to its high altitude, the park experiences high humidity and cool weather all year round.
Within the park are various viewpoints, waterfalls and walking trails. If you are a view hunter, this is the perfect place to experience some of the best views Thailand has to offer. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and find peace in the calm.
Visit the Klong Thom Hot Springs
Imagine yourself in a bathtub surrounded by natural forestry; that is exactly what you will find at the Klong Thom Hot Springs. Located in Krabi, rain is infrequent at this time of year, so you can take yourself for a therapeutic spa day right in the midst of nature.
This smooth rock brings water in through hot springs located in volcanic chambers. Submerge yourself in the warm, cascading water and enjoy the benefits of its natural mineral salts, which are said to cure various health issues like sciatica.
This water also cascades into a cool stream that visitors can swim in. The emerald pool, as previously mentioned, isn’t too far from these hot springs. For only 200 baht, you can gain yourself access to the nature reserve as well.
Tiffany’s Cabaret Show
This extravagant show takes place at the Grand Theatre, located in Pattaya. It features a group of transgender performers, wearing the most exquisite and bright attire that is nothing far from over the top.
Three times an evening, visitors can come and enjoy an hour-long show filled with colour, light, music and various cultural dances, as well as an ever-exciting burlesque performance.
Anybody can come and enjoy the show and it is most definitely something any tourist should make sure they cover before heading home.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – Chiang Mai
This elephant sanctuary was established through the collaboration of Karen hill tribes and Chiang Mai locals who shared concerns about the welfare of elephants in Thailand.
It is aimed to be an ethical and sustainable sanctuary where elephants are well taken care of. Visitors are not permitted to ride them and there are never displays of tricks. You will be taken by a guide who can teach you about the sanctuary itself as well as the elephants they take care of.
This is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Thailand. Take a walk alongside these friendly giants and bask in the experience of a lifetime; with an opportunity to swim, feed and play with the elephants.
Angthong National Marine Park
Located in Koh Samui, the Angthong Marine Park is a beautiful archipelago of islands. It hosts various limestone mountains, waterfalls and forests to explore.
Take part in activities such as snorkelling or kayaking to escape the summer heat or relax on the white sand beaches.
Take a day trip or book a bungalow to stay overnight. Although this becomes an increasingly popular attraction, it still remains a pristine and protected, picture-perfect paradise.
Discover Chiang Mai’s Grand Canyon
Any tourists favourite discovery; one that seems relatively unknown to this day. Well, in case you haven’t heard yet, Thailand has its very own version of the Grand Canyon.
Located in Chiang Mai, you can visit this beautiful, natural canyon. Also known as Hang Dong Canyon, visitors can relax upon the rocks and enjoy the view or take a swim in the gorgeous waters.
Take a picnic basket with some local beer and snacks and take the day to bask in the summer sun. Perhaps you will meet other tourists who could share a few of the other hidden treasures Thailand has to offer.
Floating Lantern Festival – Loi Krathong
Probably one of the most jaw-dropping experiences in Thailand would be the Loi Krathong festival. If you find yourself travelling Thailand at the right time in November, your number one “to-do” has to be this.
The date changes depending on the evening of the full moon; this year the festival will fall on the 23rd November (2018).
Loi meaning “float” and Krathong meaning ‘small container’, the Floating Lantern festival is a Buddhist purification ceremony that is symbolic of one’s willingness to let go of hatred and anger, as well as to say goodbye to the past and welcome the future.
During the ceremony, lotus-shaped baskets are either released into the rivers or in the air to ignite the dark sky with an endless swarm of floating lanterns. The best places to celebrate this ceremony are in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where locals go all out, involving fireworks and shows of traditional dances.
Discover one of the most beautiful artificial islands Thailand has on offer. Known as Bangkok’s green lung, Bang Krachao is a great way to stray away from the busy streets as the tourist season begins to pick up again.
Bang Krachao is Bangkok’s best-kept secret, hosting nothing but coconuts, jungle, small villages and Buddhist temples.
Take a bicycle tour through this beautiful island amidst the noise of Bangkok and enjoy the peace and tranquillity.
Upside Down House – Baan Teelanka
If you’re looking to play with your senses, there is no better attraction to visit than that of Baan Teelanka. Located in Phuket, this upside down house is a must see!
There are three main attractions to see, that being the inverted house, a garden maze and an escape room game. It might take a while to adjust to your scenery, but once you have, it becomes an incredible experience.
The house is beautifully designed and hosts three separate floors as well as an attic. This is the perfect activity for families and groups of friends and makes for many great photo opportunities that you can take to confuse your friends and family back home.
Dragon Temple – Wat Samphran
Wat Samphran, located west of Bangkok, is registered as a Buddhist temple. It is, however, recognised for its dragon temple, featuring a 17 storey, cylindrical building, encircled by a giant dragon.
The interior of the Dragon contains a staircase that takes visitors to the top. However, the staircase has deteriorated and has never really been restored, so the building is closed to the public. Despite its deterioration, it is easy to agree that this attraction is one that pushes the boundaries of Thai architecture, as it is a site like no other.
Add this attraction to your to-do list! It only takes a quick visit and it makes for a great picture.
Kayaking in Krabi
For an activity such as this, we suggest avoiding group tours that you can book online. Instead, find yourself a small Kayak rental company in Krabi and float through the beautiful waters on a more personal excursion.
Start at Ao Nang Beach and travel towards Railay Beach. This journey offers a lot more experience, with the ability to see the multitude of limestone mountains right up close and enjoy the vast distance of Thai water.
Should you get hungry, which is more than likely to happen, Ao Phra Nang Beach usually has a few boat vendors selling food.
A personal excursion like this offers better opportunity to enjoy the excursion at your own pace. Make sure to take lots of water and sunblock.
No matter what time of year you may find yourself in this amazing country, there is always something to do. Come rain or shine, Thailand is consistent in boasting its rich heritage and incredible landmarks.