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Best places to visit in Thailand


Best places to visit in Thailand: Bangkok
No trip to Thailand is complete without stopping in its capital city. Bangkok is huge and very well-developed, though it has a nice mix of modern high rises with traditional old cultural areas.

Located in the Chao Phraya River delta, Bangkok is packed with things to do for travelers of all budgets. It is also a super convenient starting place for a trip around Thailand, as most affordable international flights will fly into Bangkok.

The public transportation network from here is affordable and easy to use, so you can easily take an overnight bus up north to Chiang Mai after, or catch a quick flight down to the islands. Either way, Bangkok can fit nicely into any Thailand travel itinerary.

Bangkok’s Old City is the best place for backpackers to stay. This is where the unique history and culture is, and it is easy to get around on foot. Outside the Old City, Bangkok becomes very metropolitan and it can be overwhelming trying to get around.

The Old City is full of world renown Buddhist temples, including Wat Bowonniwet, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Wat Saket which is located on top of a hill known as Golden Mountain.

One of Bangkok’s best attractions is the Grand Palace, built in 1782 and full of many different temple halls and buildings. Every surface in the Grand Palace is covered with jewels, vibrant colors, and sparkling materials so it is a captivating sight to see.

Khao San Road is a popular tourist street in the middle of the Old Town. Visit the nightly market and taste some local street food, or head to one of the many bars, clubs, restaurants, cabarets, and comedy clubs for some local entertainment.

Take a riverboat tour along the Chao Phraya River to visit the local floating markets, or take a day trip to the rustic old pagodas of Ayutthaya, Thailand’s former capital city. Get a Thai massage, where the local masseuses twist your body into weird positions in order to release tension, strengthen the muscles and improve blood flow.

There is plenty to do in Bangkok to occupy you at the start of your trip, and it is definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand.

Make sure to check out Worldpackers work exchange and volunteer programs in Bangkok!

2. Chiang Mai

Best places to visit in Thailand: Chiang Mai
This is the second largest city in Thailand, located in the north of the country. Packed with culture and surrounded by lush forest, Chiang Mai has so many things to do for all types of travelers.

The Old City is where most of the tourist attractions are. This historical part of town is surrounded by a moat with four gates on every corner that connect the Old City to the more modern parts of Chiang Mai.

In the Old City, there are so many fun things to do. You can watch a ladyboy cabaret in the Night Bazaar, take a Thai cooking class, or stroll through the Saturday and Sunday night markets. Watch a Muay Thai Boxing Match, or indulge in the nightlife.

There are over 300 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai, with Wat Phra Singh in the Old City being the most popular one. Another amazing temple to visit is Wat Phra Doi Suthep, a hilltop temple with golden pagodas and a spectacular lookout point located about 45 minutes outside the city.

With so much nature around the city, there are plenty of attractions just outside Chiang Mai that make for amazing day trips. Head to the Bua Tong Waterfall, also known as the “Sticky Waterfall”, where the rocks are covered in sticky mineral deposits so there is enough friction to climb up the waterfall like spiderman.

Or visit Doi Inthanon National Park, a place full of unique Buddhist architecture and stunning landscaped gardens. There are also lots of waterfalls and hiking trails in the surrounding forest here, so this makes for a beautiful day trip away from the city.

You could also visit an Elephant Sanctuary to observe the giant majestic creatures up close. Do your research beforehand though and make sure you only visit elephant sanctuaries that are humane. That means you should never visit a place that lets you ride elephants.

Elephants don’t have the same spinal structure as horses or camels; they are not physically made to be ridden. Only visit places that let you watch the animals behave naturally. Two reputable elephant sanctuaries near Chiang Mai are Elephant Nature Park and Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

Make sure to check out Worldpackers work exchange and volunteer programs in Chiang Mai!

3. Pai

Best places to visit in Thailand: Pai
Pai is a small city in northern Thailand that many travelers venture to after visiting Chiang Mai. It is only 135 km away from Chiang Mai, but you have to drive along an insanely windy road to get there.

Once you arrive, be prepared to relax and get to know other backpackers because Pai has sort of become known as a hippie mecca of northern Thailand. Travelers love Pai because of its rich natural beauty and its chilled out culture. There are lots of cheap backpacker hostels and outdoorsy things to do.

Spend a day swimming in waterfalls like the Mo Paeng Waterfalls or the Pambok Waterfall. Take a day trip to the Pai Canyon or Tham Lod Caves. Soak your body in naturally warm water at the Sai Ngam hot springs or the Tha Pai hot springs.

Go hiking in the wilderness, visit local temples, and explore the landscape on a scooter. In the quaint town center, stroll through the night market and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.

Pai is a great place to spend quality time with nature, relax and unwind, and meet lots of fellow travelers. So if you have the time to head up here after Chiang Mai, do it!


Best places to visit in Thailand: Phuket
This is Thailand’s largest island, and it is roughly the same size as Singapore. So there are plenty of tourist attractions and white sand beaches to keep you occupied here for a few days or a few weeks!

Because Phuket is so big, you may want to rent a car or a scooter here to see everything. Taxi rides can add up if you keep traveling all over the island, or you can just pick an area and explore that one area thoroughly.

Most of the best beaches and touristy areas are on the west side of the island. The beaches are more beautiful and the landscape is more rugged so there are more viewpoints and hiking opportunities. The east side of the island is more flat and populated with just locals. But to venture out to other islands, you’ll need to come to this side of the island to Rassada Pier for the ferries and speed boats.

The northwest of the island is pretty quiet, but it has lots of uncrowded, beautiful beaches like Nai Yang Beach and Mai Khao Beach. The airport is also up here, so if you want to stay within walking distance of the airport there are plenty of accommodation options.

The central-west of the island is probably the most popular place to stay for beach dwellers and people who like to party. Patong Beach and the surrounding neighborhood is full of tourists and fun bars, clubs, and street markets.

Just south of Patong Beach is Karon Beach and Kata Beach, both of which are gorgeous and relaxing but still have fun stuff to do. You can hike to various viewpoints and visit the Big Buddha atop a hill.

Phuket Town is another great place to visit in Phuket. It is a cultural center with lots of museums and cool architecture. Located in the southeast area of the island, it is a bit far from the beach but still full of viewpoints, temples and shrines, and street markets.

6. Koh Phi Phi

Best places to visit in Thailand: Koh Phi Phi
Of all the Thai islands, this is probably the most popular among tourists. But it is also maybe the most naturally beautiful, so it makes sense why everyone flocks here.

You can go snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and exploring. Book a boat tour to the other islands of Koh Phi Phi so you can witness their thriving nature either by kayak or by boat.

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