The Kingdom of Thailand, located in Southeast Asia, is known for its lovely sandy beaches and tropical climate. Of late, apart from Bangkok and Phuket, a lot of places in Thailand are getting lots of attention. And it is a good thing for people who love to travel and visit places. Probably due to low-cost airlines, more ease of travelling with regards to visa formalities, good currency rates, and low in-country costs, more and more people are heading to Thailand. Raring to go? There are many interesting places to convince you to pack your bags for Thailand! Here are 29 excellent things to enjoy in the Land of Smiles:
1. Grand Palace, Bangkok
As the name suggests, the Grand Palace in Bangkok is one of the major tourist attractions in the city. No visit to Thailand / Bangkok is complete without a visit to this palace. It has been the official home of the Thai Royal Family for more than a century. Inside, you also have the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew. On a general note, wat means temple in Thai.
You also can find Royal Reception Halls; any ceremony that is connected to anyone in the royal family, be it a birth or a death related event, is conducted at the Grand Palace.
The palace is open every day from 8.30 am to 3.30pm. Please note that if there is a state function taking place, the palace will remain closed. The entry fee is 500 THB per person (approximately 14.20 USD). The ticket includes entry to the palace and the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall. Do ensure that you are dressed conservatively (no shorts, tank tops, sheer clothing etc), or you will be refused admission.
2. Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The design of the temple is stunning and makes it one of the most alluring temples in Bangkok. It is opposite the popular Wat Pho (famous for its reclining Buddha). All you need to do is to take a shuttle “cruise” from Wat Pho to reach Wat Arun for as little as 3 THB (approximately 0.10 USD) and then pay the entry fee of 100 THB (approximately 3 USD). The temple is open from 8.30 am and it closes at 5.30 pm every day. The sunset is a must see from this temple and it looks beautiful at night, after the lights go on!
3. Cruise on the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok
The Chao Phraya River is a major river that runs through Bangkok. There are a few major bridges that are built across the river, including the Rama VI railroad bridge, the Rama VIII bridge, the Rama IX bridge, and also the Mega Bridge. A cruise down this river at night, having dinner with your loved ones / family is one of the best things to do in Bangkok. There are several providers for the cruise; you could choose to take a private boat for a dinner cruise or take the boats with a few other people onboard and also watch some performances while relishing Thai food. Otherwise, if you’re trying to maintain a strict budget, you could hop on the shuttle boat / river ferry from one end of the river to the other!
4. Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok
Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the most popular places for shopping in Bangkok. There are more than 8,000 stalls in this market, selling pretty much anything and everything you could imagine. Clothes, curios, knick-knacks, footwear, hats, jewellery, handicrafts, furniture, ceramics, art, antiques, books, even pets … the list goes on! And not to forget food! You must try the coconut ice cream and other local delicacies here, they’re amazing! This is an experience you must have when in Bangkok.
5. Dusit Zoo, Bangkok
Dusit Zoo is an animal park with a zoo, museum, animal hospital, and various activities such as a small sightseeing train. It houses a huge number and variety of species, including rare white Bengal tigers. There are a lot of facilities inside the zoo in terms of rest and recreation, food and drinks etc. There is a man-made lake at the centre of the zoo and lots of trees for good shade around the zoo. The entry fee to the zoo is 100 THB (approximately 3 USD) and it is open from 8 am until 6 pm.
6. National Museum of Royal Barges, Bangkok
The royal barges are a matter of pride and cultural heritage for Thailand. A museum conserves the traditions and customs, making information available for people from all over the world.
Each barge was carved out of teak and had gold and tiny bits of shimmering glass, adding to the beauty of the barge. The royal barges were partially damaged due to bombings or fire. The museum is doing a great job in conservation and restoration of these beauties. The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. The barges may not be available for viewing during the months of November and December as they prepare for the Royal Barge ceremony in December. An entry fee of 100 THB (approximately 2.80 USD) applies, and there is an additional charge of 100 THB (approximately 2.80 USD) if you want to take photos or videos.
7. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
There are as many as 5 different floating markets in Bangkok, but the most popular among foreign tourists is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in nearby Ratchaburi Province, about 1.5 hours away from Bangkok. It gets pretty crowded, but it’s a great place for photo opportunities. You can find some nice souvenirs and tasty food, although the prices are often higher than at other places.
A popular city in Thailand, Pattaya is fairly close to Bangkok and very popular among tourists and expats. Pattaya is a beach destination and you could go to this place to chill out if you are not heading to any other beaches in Thailand. Water sports, nightlife, shopping … you name it, you have it all in Pattaya! It is, however, most famous for the sex tourism industry, with plenty of beer bars, go-go bars, strip joints, nightclubs, and massage parlours.
Ayutthaya is a city in Thailand that is located about 80 kilometres (49.7 miles) from Bangkok. It was once the capital of Siam, and the ruins of the city can be seen at Ayutthaya Historical Park. The historic city of Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At this site you will find lots of Buddhist temples, statues, and monasteries. There is also a charming floating market, an elephant camp, and a low-key night scene. Ayutthaya is named after Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama from the Ramayana period.
Located in Central Thailand, Lopburi is a former ancient Siamese capital city. Home to some interesting Khmer-style ruins, which show a different architectural style to many of the temples you may have seen around Thailand, the town is most famous for the many wild monkeys that run through the streets. Head to Phra Prang Sam Yot, also known as the Monkey Temple, to get up close to the macaques. Admission is 30 THB (approximately 0.85 USD).
11. Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi
Featuring in a movie about WWII, the “Bridge over the River Kwai” is a must-do for anyone interested in war history. It is also a beautiful bridge in its own right. You can take the bus or the train ride to the bridge, but it is more appropriate to take the train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and also the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai using the Death Railway itself. The fare is about THB 100 (approximately 3 USD) each way. After this, you can also visit the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre to learn more, along with the JEATH Museum, the Konya Cutting, the War Cemetery, and Hellfire Pass.
12. Sai Yok National Park, Kanchanaburi
Sai Yok National Park is located in Kanchanaburi Province. You will find mountains, caves, and waterfalls, and it is a very interesting place to visit for nature-lovers. The River Kwai runs through this national park and you can also find historical war remains here. The national park is famous for teak, along with a wide range of animal species like barking deer, sambar deer, gibbon, and Malayan porcupine to name a few.
13. Erawan National Park, Kanchanaburi
The Erawan Waterfalls are considered to be some of the loveliest waterfalls in Thailand. There are different levels and some levels are ideal for swimming. A visit to this national park can be clubbed with a trip to the Bridge on River Kwai! The national park also has interesting caves, lots of wildlife, and walking trails.
Nearby, you can visit an elephant camp if you wish. There are a lot of other activities that you can do with a trip to the national park for a complete day tour. There are regular bus services to the waterfalls from the main town of Kanchanaburi, costing as little as 40 THB (approximately 1.20 USD) per person. The national park is open for visitors from 7 am to 4.30 pm every day, all through the year. The entry fee is 300 THB (approximately 9 USD) for foreigners.
14. Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is formed by the intersection of 3 countries: Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Here, the Mekong River meets the Ruak River. The 2 rivers form a natural boundary between the 3 countries. There are several guided tours available, or you could also go on a bus by yourself. You can go on a boat ride to an island called Don Sao, part of Laos. Don’t worry though - a visa is not needed for this island. Take a picture at the gate where it says “Golden Triangle” and do not forget the large golden Buddha statue near the gate too.
15. Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai
Whilst there are many elephant camps around Thailand, most do not operate in an ethical manner. Although many people may dream of riding an elephant when in Thailand, most quickly change their minds when they learn how the elephants are “trained” as babies so as to be docile as adults. Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is a rehabilitation and education centre that houses rescued elephants. Visitors can learn all about elephants, including how they live and grow in their natural habitat and the problems that they face in the wild.
Whilst there are opportunities to get up close and personal with the graceful creatures, do note that riding is not carried out here. Instead, the camp seeks to promote awareness and respect in an ethical manner.
16. Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai
Referred to as the “Roof of Thailand”, this national park is located in Chiang Mai Province. The park is at an altitude and the highest peak is Doi Inthanon, at 2,565 metres (8,415 feet) above sea level. Due to its high altitude, the temperatures are around 10 - 12 degrees Celsius (50 - 54 degrees Fahrenheit) on average. The summit of Doi Inthanon and the views from there are the attractions of this park. Aside from this, there are waterfalls and trails and bird watching. The best time for bird watching is from February to April when the winter migration occurs. This is also the breeding period for birds. A limestone cave is also an important attraction of this park.
17. Chiang Mai Night Safari
This is a nocturnal zoo located in Chiang Mai Province. This is the second night safari in the world after Singapore Night Safari, and it’s an awesome way to see a different side to the animal kingdom. You can explore the Savanna Safari Zone, Predator Prowl Zone, and the Jaguar Trail Zone. There is certainly an interesting lineup of activities. You can also learn how the animals are taken care of at “Behind the Zoo”. The zoo is open from 11 am to 10 pm, and the day and night safari cost about 800 THB (approximately 22.70 USD) each.
18. Wat Lok Moli, Chiang Mai
This is a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai Province. The temple was built and maintained by the Mengrai dynasty, and the ashes of royal family members are kept here. The sculptures and construction of this temple are interesting.
19. Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai
Popularly known as the “White Temple”, this unconventional and stunning Buddhist temple is located in Chiang Rai Province. This temple is privately owned and open to the public all year round. Admission is free, although donations are gratefully received.
20. Koh Phi Phi
Ko Phi Phi is an archipelago off the coast of Krabi Province. Snorkelling in the crystal clear waters around the islands is popular, and visiting Koh Phi Phi is a must-do for all those who love to enjoy their time on the beach. Some of the best snorkelling spots include Hin Klang, Maya Bay, Loh Sama, and Bamboo Island. Scuba diving is also possible. Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest of the islands and is the only island to have permanent residents..
21. Koh Samet
Koh Samet is an island on the eastern coast of Thailand. It is in the Gulf of Thailand off the coast of Rayong Province, about 220 kilometres (137 miles) southeast of Bangkok. It is one of the driest places in Thailand, and receives less rainfall than many other places in the country. You can visit the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park, head to the beaches, visit other islands like Ko Kruai, or go on a boat trip around the island itself. There are plenty of hotels and food choices for every budget so enjoy!
22. Wat Khunaram, Koh Samui
This is a very intriguing sight, and something that will make you curious to visit the island of Koh Samui. Apart from the beaches and the famous Big Buddha, pay a visit to Wat Khunaram. It is home to a mummified monk! Luang Poe Daeng was mummified in 1973 after his death while meditating. His body is kept in a glass casket for public display. There is a rumour that the monk is still alive and that is why his body doesn’t decay! The temple is open daily during daylight hours and admission is free, although donations are gratefully received.
23. Bungee jumping, Koh Samui
Koh Samui has plenty of activities to do, and the bungee jumping activity is said to be an awesome experience for all those who are looking for adventure on a beach vacation. The prices are reasonable, and you can have a fantastic and thrilling experience to really shake up your holiday. Head to Koh Samui and feel the rush!
24. Koh Tao
Koh Tao is one of the most popular Thai islands for exploring the deep blue sea. Offering snorkelling and diving, you’ll find plenty of places to become PADI qualified (dive qualification), arrange diving trips, rent snorkelling gear, and book boat trips with inclusive snorkelling. Although it is not the best place in the country for seeing marine life (that honour goes to the rather remote Similan Islands), it is the easiest place to get to where great sightings are all but guaranteed. The islands also has a good infrastructure for visitors.
25. Celebrate Songkran
The traditional Thai New Year is called Songkran and it falls in the month of April every year. It was traditionally celebrated by sprinkling water on each other, but it has evolved into a massive water fight! The water symbolically represented the cleansing and purification of any sins committed over the past year, enabling one to start on a new note with good luck and fortunes. If you are heading to Thailand during Thai New Year, make it a point to have fun with the locals!
26. Traditional Thai massage
Thai massage is popular all over the world for the relaxing feeling at the end of the session. You can enjoy a good massage, be it full body massage or just foot reflexology to soothe those tired feet! In Thailand, there are massage parlours in every nook and corner of the country, and prices can vary widely. Some of the best places in Bangkok are Health Land at Asoke 1, Ruen Nuad at Silom, and Zen Tara Massage and Spa on Petchaburi Road.
27. Mango with sticky rice
Mango with sticky rice is one of the most popular desserts / local delicacies of Thailand. Thai mangoes are always available, and they are sweet and delicious! Sticky rice is glutinous rice that is cooked in coconut milk. You will like the combination of a moderately tasting rice and sweet mangoes. One of the best desserts anyone would have tasted, you can find this dish anywhere in Thailand. Just head to the streets!
28. Thai cooking lessons
Take Thai cooking lessons anywhere in Thailand. Bangkok is famous for these lessons, and for some visitors it is an important part of their itinerary. You should certainly include this in your plans if you love food, love cooking, and, most importantly, would love to learn more about the Thai-style of cooking! Silom Thai Cooking School is one of the best places to learn the art. Do give it a try!
29. Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a combat sport from Thailand. It is a very popular sport and regular Muay Thai matches are held, where prizes can go up to huge amounts. Jean Claude van Damme had actually taken this sport to a higher level by displaying it in his films. If you are interested in watching this sport, or even learn a stroke or two, you can.
Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok is one of the oldest and most venerable places for the sport. Matches are hosted on Monday, Wednesday,Thursday every week from 6.30 pm to 11 pm and also on Sundays. Make sure to get your tickets beforehand as it is always a full house! Tickets can cost anywhere between 1,000 to 2,000 THB (approximately 28 to 57 USD) for different seating areas (3rd class / 2nd class / ringside).
So, what are you waiting for??
With this interesting itinerary packed with interesting activities ranging from food and adventure to history and culture, a trip to Thailand is going to be something that you will cherish for the rest of your life. So, pack and go!
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