Things to do in Thailand

Check out these unmissable sights in Thailand

There’s never a dull moment in Thailand. With its white-sand beaches, crazy Full Moon parties and historic temples, there’s good reason as to why Thailand tops the list of many bucket-list destinations and is a firm favourite on the backpacking route. Whether you want to dance the night away or spend the best part of a day hiking, you won’t be stuck for things to do in Thailand.

  1. Find a bargain at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
  2. Take of tour of the Bridge on the River Kwai: Kanchanaburi
  3. Get into deep water at Ko Rok
  4. Go green at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park: Gulf of Thailand
  5. Sunbathe on Hat Kuat: Ko Phangan
  6. Admire great architecture at Wat Chalong: Phuket
  7. Travel back in time at Ancient City: Samut Prakan

Thailand is commonly divided into four regions: the Central Plain, of which Bangkok is a part; the north, including Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai; the northeast, home to three of Thailand’s biggest cities, and bordering Laos and Cambodia; and the south, extending from Chumphon down to the Malaysian border. Each region has its own interesting culture and spectacular appeal.

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1. Find a bargain at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

This is one of Chiang Mai’s best-known tourist attractions, covering several blocks of Thanon Chang Khlan between Thanon Tha Phae and Thanon Sri Dornchai. Every day, at about 4pm, hundreds of vendors begin lining the street with their huge steel carts; woodcarvings, inexpensive silk clothing, hill-tribe inspired home accessories are just some of the items you can buy here, with colourfully clad traders from northern hill-tribes usually there.

Best for: Picking up a bargain.

While you’re there: Eat at one of the restaurants down nearby side-streets.

2. Take of tour of the Bridge on the River Kwai: Kanchanaburi

To see Thailand's haunting memorial to the Prisoner of Wars who died during World War II, this is one of the most poignant things to do in Thailand (it’s also known as Khwae Yai). West of Bangkok, the bridge itself was built between 1942 and 1943, where thousands died during its construction, and the tragic saga was represented in the 1957 film of the same name. You can reach it by boat or road from Kanchanaburi, and can walk across the bridge. Today, most of the old railway tracks have been removed, but some remnants of the track can be seen at Hellfire Pass; the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum has several exhibits and a film about the railway.

Best for: Visiting a World War II site of memorial and reflection.

While you’re there: Three trains run daily from the bridge.

3. Get into deep water at Ko Rok

A visit to Koh Rok is definitely one of the best things to do in Thailand. Some of the country’s best snorkelling spots can be found in the waters off Koh Lanta - and Koh Rok, about 47 km (29miles) south of Koh Lanta certainly takes pride of place. It’s easily the country’s best spot for snorkelling, with excellent visibility, colourful corals and different types of reef fish to be found in shallow waters - or if you want to take a slower pace, you can just chill out on its powdery white-sand beaches, instead.

Best for: Exploring the sealife.

While you’re there: 20 km (12miles) away are the twin peaks of Hin Daeng and Hung Muang, one of the world’s top 10 dive sites.

4. Go green at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park: Gulf of Thailand

About 63km (39miles) south of Hua Hin, in the Northern Gulf Coast, sits Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. It translates as ‘three hundred mountain peaks’ and it’s not hard to see why, with its dramatic limestone pinnacles jutting up from the park’s mangrove swamps. Carved from the rugged coastline, the 98-sq-km park has beaches, marshes, lagoons, forests, caves and offshore islands. Need more tempting? The wildlife includes migratory birds that gather on the marsh and mudflats, crab-eating macaques and a rare breed of mountain goat-antelope.

Best for: Finding where the wild things are.

While you’re there: Sometimes, pods of dolphins swim along the park’s shores.

5. Sunbathe on Hat Kuat: Ko Phangan

It’s easy to see why this lovely north-coast beach on Koh Phangan gets so many repeat visitors. You can reach there on a decent road from Thong Sala up to Ao Chalok Lam, then take a boat. It’s one of the island’s best bays, with sunbathe-inducing white sands backed by steep hills. Looking at cheap holidays to Thailand? This area has a great number of budget-friendly options, as do many other islands in the country.

Best for: Soaking up the rays.

While you’re there: Get snap-happy with your camera, as the views are mesmerizing.

6. Admire great architecture at Wat Chalong: Phuket

Those thinking about what to do in Thailand that involves a deep-dive into heritage and a marvel at the architecture won’t be disappointed at Wat Chalong. In Phuket’s Ao Chalong lay this very important temple - the city’s largest and most important Buddhist temple, in fact - that’s popular with both Thais and foreigners. Today, you’ll see many Thais visiting the temple to pay homage to the two statues that honour the monks. You can admire the stacked red roof and white exterior before heading inside to check out the ornate interior.

Best for: Learning about Buddhist culture.

While you’re there: The nearby pier is the departure point for dive expeditions and boat trips.

7. Travel back in time at Ancient City: Samut Prakan

See Thailand in a nutshell in Samut Prakan’s Ancient City. Replicas of the country’s most famous sights - some full-size, some scaled down - are strewn around this open-air park. It’s one of Bangkok’s best-value (and surprisingly under-visited) tourist attractions. The Phiman Mongkut Pavilion, a three-storey colonial-style mansion, now functions as the Narai National Museum, displaying bronze statues, Chinese porcelain and shadow-play puppets amongst many other interesting artefacts.

Best for: A snapshot of Thailand.

While you’re there: The Suttha Sawan Pavilion is nestled in the gardens and ponds.

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