10 of the best things to do in Thailand

UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites and local homestay experiences. Thai cookery courses and action-packed adventures. Island explorations and indulgent spa treatments. It seems there are endless options for things to do in Thailand!

One day, you can be cruising down the Chao Phraya River, sailing past some of the country’s best-loved visitor attractions, including the magnificent Grand Palace. Next, you might decide to explore the underwater paradises of some of the best dive sites in the world. And, if you time your trip just right, you might find yourself visiting during one of Thailand’s unique festivals, like Songkran or Loi Krathong.

No matter what you are searching for, the ‘Land of Smiles’ delivers experiences like nowhere else in the world. Here are 10 of the best things to do in Thailand on your next trip.

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See Thailand’s most famous historical sites

One of the best things to do in Thailand is to visit the country’s most recognised architectural landmark. This is, of course, the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The compound, which includes the Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo is located in the heart of the city. With beautiful halls and the famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha, there’s no better way place to start your discovery of Thai culture.

The best things to do in Thailand Temple Hopping
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace in Bangkok ©Tourism Authority of Thailand

Alongside the Grand Palace, there are many historical sites throughout Thailand to explore. In particular, the country’s historical parks should not be missed. For example, Sukhothai Historical Park, Si Satchanalai Historical Park and Ayutthaya Historical Park are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here, ruins of royal palaces, Buddhist temples and city gates wait to be discovered.

Learn how to eat (and cook!) like a Thai

Of all the things to do in Thailand, experiencing real Thai food culture should top every list. Thai people not only have a passion for food but also love to share their cuisine with visitors. Local food, particularly the country’s world-famous street food, has always been a part of the Thai way of life. When visiting Thailand, why not hop on a culinary adventure? Discover the joys of eating like a Thai by trying a variety of street foods. One of the best places to experience this is the much-loved Yaowarat Road. As Thailand’s Chinatown, it often rates as the number one place for street food in Bangkok.

Thai Mango Sticky Rice
No trip to Thailand would be complete without trying mango sticky rice ©Tourism Authority of Thailand

In addition, there are several highly regarded culinary schools throughout Thailand. Here, cooking lessons are offered by some of the major hotels and top chefs. These provide a unique insight into the art of Thai cuisine. This allows visitors to take home some new skills and flavours to impress their friends at home.

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Blissful spa experiences

Thailand is one of the leading spa destinations for both health-conscious travellers and those simply seeking relaxation. In addition, Thai spa practitioners are known for their profound knowledge of natural methods and ingredients for health and wellness. All of which makes a visit to a Thai spa one of the unmissable things to do in Thailand.

Things to do in Thailand spa experiences
Relax at the Chon Buri Spa in Pattaya ©Tourism Authority of Thailand

Indulged by Beauty Spa and Thai Massage Spas in Thailand are two well-respected examples. Each offers a comprehensive array of revitalising treatments and therapeutic programmes. Both also offer the key ingredient that makes spa experiences in Thailand so special. We’re talking about the world-famous Thai hospitality, of course!  

Plunge into some of the world’s most famous dive sites

One of the top things to do in Thailand is to experience the country’s underwater marine life at some of the best dive sites in the world. With clear turquoise waters, magnificent coral reefs and an exceptional diversity of marine life, Thailand is frequently referred to as a ‘diver’s heaven’.

Diving in Thailand
Thailand is home to some of the best dive sites in the world © Tourism Authority of Thailand

Thanks to its array of coasts, Thailand has year-round diving possibilities. The Gulf of Thailand, on the east coast of the Southern Peninsula, has calm and warm water. It is suitable for diving trips from April until October. Meanwhile, the west coast enjoys great weather and diving conditions from November to the end of April.

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Explore the beaches and islands of the Andaman Coast

There’s more than one reason that the Andaman Sea continues to attract travellers from every corner of the world each year. The west coast of Thailand is a tropical paradise. There are countless fabulous beaches – each with its own particular charm.

Whether you are looking for tranquillity and privacy, or an active vacation with many outdoor and underwater activities, the Andaman Coast has it all. Phuket provides visitors with numerous leisure activities and water sports at famous beaches.

Krabi Thailand
Discover the magical scenery of Krabi © Tourism Authority of Thailand

These include Hat Patong, Hat Kamala, and Hat Kata. Meanwhile, in Krabi, there are countless islands and beaches with golden sands at such places as Hat Noppharat Thara-Muko Phi Phi National Park and Muko Lanta National Park.

The shimmering sands and glittering waves of Muko Similan Marine National Park, Khao Lak, and Muko Surin Marine National Park in Phang-nga province are also great spots for visitors to enjoy relaxing amidst the sea, sand, and sun.

Explore the Gulf of Thailand

If you’re looking for more relaxed things to do in Thailand, head for The Gulf. Located on the country’s east coast, attracts travellers who prefer a more relaxed atmosphere. In addition, the area’s beauty is unrivalled. Sparkling blue seas, colourful corals, and gleaming white sands make the beaches and bays on the Gulf of Thailand like nowhere else in the world.

Just a few hours from Bangkok is Pattaya. This seaside town is where visitors can spend endless hours enjoying exciting water sports and recreational activities. For those who prefer a quieter place, drive down to Hua Hin. This resort town can be found in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Here, you can discover the true bliss of a tranquil getaway. Enjoy some quiet time with a stroll along the beach, or enjoy kite-boarding and horse riding.

Surat Thani Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park
Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park on the Gulf of Thailand © Tourism Authority of Thailand

In addition to the beaches, there are also several world-famous islands scattered around the Gulf of Thailand. Ko Samui is a renowned tropical paradise. Here, visitors can enjoy a frenzy of activities on the beach, with options for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike.

Meanwhile, just 30 minutes north of Ko Samui, is Ko Pha-ngan. Here, visitors can choose to laze on a picture-perfect beach. Or, for the more adventurous, there’s also a range of wet and wild adventure activities and water sports.

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Experience the adventurous side of Thailand

Thailand is also home to an array of exciting and adventurous activities, set amidst magical natural surroundings. Visitors can trek numerous trails and enjoy a variety of extreme sports. Activities such as white-water rafting, mountain biking and rock-climbing.

Hiking in Thailand
Hike the Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthanon National © Tourism Authority of Thailand

The highest point of Thailand – Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai Province – is a great place for visitors to enjoy soft-adventure activities. You can even spend the night camping on the mountain, waking in the morning to a magical sea of fog.

Meanwhile, in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Khao Yai National Park and Kaeng Krachan National Park, visitors can enjoy bird-watching, trekking, camping and visiting spectacular waterfalls.

See Bangkok’s best sites on a Chao Phraya River cruise

On both sides of the legendary Chao Phraya River are some of Bangkok’s most magnificent attractions. One of the best ways to admire these wonderful landmarks is by taking a cruise along the river.

Wat Arun Things to do in Thailand
Wat Arun on the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok © Tourism Authority of Thailand

Amongst the sights to see on the banks are the compound of Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo. Cruisers can also spot Wat Pho, Wat Arun, as well as various churches, mosques, royal residences and five-star hotels. There are several piers along the river. These enable visitors to hop on and off and take a stroll around the historical areas of Bangkok.

Live Like a Thai: Experience a homestay with community-based tourism

Generally, the Thai way of life revolves around time-honoured cultural heritage and established traditions. But the country also has a wealth of diversity. To explain, each region is known for its distinctive way of life, depending on cultural influences, locations, and natural resources. And to get a real taste of Thailand, community-based tourism is a wonderful way to experience the country.

Community based tourism Thailand
Ban Jabo Village in Thailand © Tourism Authority of Thailand

For this reason, there are homestay accommodations scattered all over the country. Here, visitors are invited to enjoy living in a Thai house with a Thai family. As a result, guests have the chance to explore a local lifestyle through hands-on activities.

Time your trip to attend a Thai festival

The Thai people love to have fun and enjoy celebrating special occasions. Traditional Thai festivals reflect Thai culture and the Thai way of life. For this reason, many are marked permanently on the tourist calendar for visitors to experience the wonders of Thainess. Two of the most famous are the Songkran and Loi Krathong festivals.

Festivals in Thailand
A family at Wat Pratu Pong during Songkarn Festival © Tourism Authority of Thailand

Songkran Festival is the traditional Thai New Year celebrated from the 13th-15th of April. Of course, Songkran would not be complete without its world-famous water-throwing sessions.

On the night of the year’s 12th full moon (which usually falls in November) the waterways of Thailand come ablaze with colours and shimmering spectacles. This is when the Thai people celebrate Loi Krathong Festival. Therefore, timing your trip to coincide with one of these traditional festivals is highly recommended.

This article was produced in partnership with The Tourism Authority of Thailand. amazingthailand.com.au

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