Thailand was made for adventure seekers, foodies, luxury snobs, and adventurers. From the rolling hills of the north to the clear turquoise water of the islands, there are tons of beautiful places in Thailand to explore.
For Pad Thai connoisseurs, it seems a trip to the Land of Smiles is on the cards. Well, I couldn’t recommend visiting a Southeast Asian country more.
There are few things worse than a tourist trap and an inauthentic atmosphere. But worry not; I’m here to save you from your backpacker nightmares with a varied list featuring everything from the most popular areas to hidden gems.
Within a well-planned vacation, you could lounge around on the screensaver-like beaches, admire the intricate workmanship in ancient temples, and taste the globally famous cuisine at its source.
Continue reading for the cream of the crop of the most beautiful places in Thailand.
- 1. Similan Islands
- 2. Floating Markets of Bangkok
- 3. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
- 4. Doi Inthanon National Park
- 5. Maya Bay
- 6. Koh Lipe
- 7. Phang Nga Bay
- 8. The Grand Palace, Bangkok
- 9. Hua Hin
- 10. Doi Suthep
- 11. Khao Yai National Park
- 12. Doi Chiang Dao
- 13. Phu Chi Fa
- 14. Khao Sok National Park
- 15. Koh Tao
- 16. Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai
- 17. Sam Phan Bok
- 18. Koh Samui
- 19. Kong Lan (Pai Canyon)
- 20. Emerald Lake, Lampang
- 21. Thi Lo Su Waterfall
- 22. Old Town Ko Lanta
- 23. Hin Klang Coral Reef
- How to See Beautiful Places in Thailand
- FAQs About Beautiful Places in Thailand
- Final Thoughts on Beautiful Places in Thailand
1. Similan Islands
Opening our list with a paradisiacal island destination seems only appropriate, right?
With crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, and incredible marine life set against a dense jungle backdrop, the Similan Islands rank high on the list of favored destinations for backpackers in Thailand.
The Andaman Sea archipelago houses some tropical reef gems and picture-perfect islands. What sets these islands apart from the rest, you ask? Well, they are protected as a national marine park to allow marine life to flourish without too much human intervention – neat, right?
As a marine park, the Similan Islands are a dream destination for snorkelers and divers in particular. Sure, the beaches are exquisite, but they just scratch the surface of the Similan Islands – quite literally.
The waters are teeming with colorful fish and coral plants, creating a breathtaking experience for anyone willing to dive beyond the surface. Keep a lookout for turtles or even a passing manta ray.
Back on dry land, take a hike to the iconic Sailing Boat Rock. This unique balancing rock formation is the landmark of the islands and is one of the best spots to visit in Thailand for uninterrupted 360-degree island views.
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2. Floating Markets of Bangkok
I don’t know about you, but often the most beautiful scenes in a foreign country are of local markets packed with fresh, fragrant fruit and colorful vegetables.
I’ve visited markets just about everywhere I go to get a taste of the local way of life, while also admiring the unique fruits and vegetables that grow in different climates and regions.
What’s more beautiful than a local produce market? A FLOATING local produce market! You heard right; Thailand’s capital city’s markets are quite literally floating on long boats, lining the sides of the city’s many rivers and canals.
There are a few floating markets to visit, including The Damnoen Floating Market, Amphawa Floating Market, and Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market.
Some have latched onto the tourism scene, but others are entirely authentic. Watch as the colorful waterfront comes to life with flower sellers, local craftsmen, and fruit and vegetable growers gathering to sell off their fresh produce from their skinny longboats.
You’re in for a treat as you discover Bangkok’s hidden gems and explore all the nooks and crannies of the local markets! Come hungry. You will no doubt be enticed to try some local delicacies from the street food vendors.
3. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
Simply called Ayutthaya for short, this ancient city is one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Thailand and also one of the most beautiful, showcasing a time of craftsmanship, dedication to religious deities, and simple living.
The city was once the centerpiece of the country, serving as the Kingdom of Siam’s (now Thailand) capital city from 1350 CE to the 18th century.
Fun fact: the city was also influential in the planning and urban design of the current capital city, Bangkok.
What was once a center of global diplomacy and commerce for the country is now an archaeological ruin. Throughout the abandoned city, you can visit the remains of reliquary towers and Buddhist monasteries, each one more impressive than the next.
It is easy to reach from Bangkok, and visitors can physically enter and explore the temples, some of which are totally in ruins.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are a few sites worth ticking off here. Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Wat Mahathat are two of the best spots to soak up some of Thailand’s influential history.
4. Doi Inthanon National Park
If you’re traveling to Chiang Mai, I wouldn’t recommend anything more than visiting Doi Inthanon National Park! Sure, it might be one of the country’s more touristy parks, but this isn’t without good reason.
Just 45 miles south of Chiang Mai, Inthanon is a mountain paradise that should be on any nature lover’s bucket list. The park is arguably best known for housing Thailand’s highest peaks, but it’s also a natural wonderland for nature enthusiasts and activity devotees.
The park has it all: exceptional mountains with nature trails to explore, gorgeous cloud forests with hidden waterfalls to find, and a couple of magnificent pagodas dedicated to the Thai royal family.
One of the best hikes follows a trail to the two pagodas, Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri, which sit close to the peak of the mountain.
If hiking isn’t for you (no judgment here!), you can even drive a scooter along the winding roads to this peak. To put it simply, Doi Inthanon is one of the top ten places to visit in Thailand.
Most visitors stay in the old city for easy access to transportation and plenty of options for where to stay, eat, and party. You can find lots of Chiang Mai’s awesome Airbnbs in this area, which are overall very affordable.
5. Maya Bay
While by no means a hidden gem, Maya Bay is an exceptional beach and easily one of the top ten best places to visit in Thailand if you happen to visit the Ko Phi Phi Islands.
True, these islands are some of the most famous in Thailand, but if you time your trip well, you could be lounging on the gorgeous white sands with just a few other tourists to share it with.
The island, in general, offers a huge variety of activities that make it the perfect setting for a family getaway, a party trip with friends, or even a romantic holiday. Boat tours, water sports, snorkeling, diving, or partying the night away – you name it.
But I’m here to talk about Maya Bay, one of the island’s most secluded and picturesque beaches. Sheltered by a hundred-meter-high cliff that rises from the white sand, the bay consists of three small beaches.
You might even recognize the beach from the movie starring Leo DiCaprio, The Beach. Unfortunately, the beach and reefs took a serious environmental knock from too many tourists and were closed for rehabilitation in 2022.
While there’s a lot that we can do when it comes to traveling responsibly, reducing your plastic consumption is one of the easiest and most impactful things you can do.
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6. Koh Lipe
In my humble attempt to provide you with beautiful places in Thailand that aren’t overcrowded with busy tourist traps, I proudly present to you, Koh Lipe. Home to gorgeous sandy beaches, clear (and clean) water, and kaleidoscopic coral reefs, this place stands out among the best tropical islands to explore.
Attracting a crowd more interested in yoga, healthy eating, and meditation than the cheap drinks and flickering lights of the full moon parties Thai beaches are known for, Koh Lipe is a treat for a relaxing beach trip.
It can be tricky to get to this small island, but this is exactly what makes it so appealing. It is also a part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, which means that beaches are kept cleaner than most and coral reefs are protected.
Backpackers flock here from all over the world for the epic scuba diving opportunities and the legendary chill on offer. There are plenty of affordable Koh Lipe hostels, so shop around and find your favorite.
Head to Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach for the calmest waters. In fact, this island might have some of the best beaches in the country – and we don’t say that lightly in a country famed for its world-class beaches!
7. Phang Nga Bay
Surprise, surprise, we’ve landed on another gorgeous coastal paradise made famous by a Hollywood movie. Phang Nga Bay, just off the coast of Phuket, is one of those places you thought only existed in your dreams.
Composed of more than forty islands in Southern Thailand, the emerald-green water is dotted with tropical fish, swimming between limestone karsh towers rising from the sea in an almost impossible fashion.
The entire region is scattered with startling rock formations, sunken caverns, and caves, making it an exceptional place to explore by kayak. Make sure you have the best lightweight kayak for your adventure. Kayaking allows you to get right up close and personal with the rocks while cruising over coral reefs without damaging them.
The dramatic landscape of clear water, white sand beaches, and tall islands attracted the attention of James Bond producers, who filmed The Man With The Golden Gun in the region. Today, locals simply refer to this iconic island as James Bond Island, although its real name is Khao Phing Kan.
Now protected as a Tai National Park, wildlife and marine life thrive in the region. Keep an eye out for monkeys, fruit bats, lizards, fiddler crabs, and chestnut-bellied malkoha birds (to name a few).
8. The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Culture vultures, this one’s for you!
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is arguably one of the most striking architectural complexes in the country and I expected nothing less from the former home of the Kings of Siam, am I right?
The complex is the spiritual hot seat of the Thai kingdom and still houses the Thai War Ministry, a bunch of state departments, and the national Mint.
I can’t quite put the temple into words. Built in 1782, the palace showcases an astonishing collection of shimmering gold spires, ornate carvings, detailed etchings, artwork, and statues paying tribute to the colorful heritage of the country.
Not to mention, it is also home to Thailand’s famous Emerald Buddha. Protected behind the walls of Wat Phra Kaew, this Buddha is meticulously carved out of a single block of jade.
While there, check out the Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn (the Royal Pantheon) and the Phra Siratana Chedi (the Golden Stupa); It’s hard to believe the intricate details in these buildings were created by hand.
I would even go so far as to say this beautiful place in Thailand is the country’s equivalent of the Vatican.
9. Hua Hin
Experience the charm and beauty of coastal Thailand, just without the crowds. Often overlooked by foreign tourists, the Hua Hin beach community is more popular with expats and locals than tourists. It’s famous for its long stretch of powdery beaches, clean city, and exceptional seafood scene.
The perfect balance between sea and city, Hua Hin is one of the best spots for backpackers in Southeast Asia. Take advantage of the clean and empty beaches and spend some time lapping up the sunshine and swimming in the calm water.
If adventure is calling your name, there are plenty of watersport companies along the beachfront where you can rent jetskis, stand-up paddle boards, or snorkeling equipment.
Heck, you can even horseback ride along the shoreline, however, it’s important to be extremely careful when choosing to engage in animal tourism as a traveler.
One of the most exciting things in this laid-back city is the Cicada Market, an open-air shopping space packed with clothing, crafts, and street food.
For a touch of history, the Hua Hin Railway has your back. One of the oldest stations in Thailand, the gorgeous red and white building is the perfect example of historical Thailand.
10. Doi Suthep
Next, head north to Thailand’s mountainous region. With a more temperate climate and an entirely different landscape from the southern islands, this setting is absolutely worth the trek for anyone who appreciates more than just a peaceful beach.
The mountain reaches an elevation of 5500 feet and is one of two twin granite peaks. There are incredible hiking trails around the mountain, winding through the cloud forest landscapes.
Other than the gorgeous scenery, the main attraction in the park is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, arguably one of the most sacred temples in northern Thailand.
The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first stupa was built and legend says it was built to enshrine a bone that was part of the Buddha’s shoulder. Since then, it has been expanded and revamped into the shimmering complex you see today.
All in all, it is an incredible piece of architecture showcasing skilled Thai craftsmanship and artisanal talents.
You’ll have to clamber your way up three hundred and six steps up the serpent-inspired staircase – a climb that is said to enrich your spirit. Sign me up! (Although chances are you’ll just feel it enriching your thighs.)
11. Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai is Thailand’s first national park, the third-largest in the country and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s mainly known for its population of wild Asiatic elephants and white-handed gibbons. Along with these majestic giants and nifty monkeys, the park is packed with forests, waterfalls, and incredible views.
12. Doi Chiang Dao
Towering over the town of Chiang Dao, Doi Chiang Dao is the country’s third-tallest mountain and easily one of the most beautiful places in Thailand.
Explore an astounding network of caves and tunnels, which tunnel as far as six miles under the mountain itself. Not one for the claustrophobics!
13. Phu Chi Fa
Nature lovers: prepare to be amazed because Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is literally one of Thailand’s best mountain regions.
Its name translates to ‘the mountain that points to the sky’, which gives a good idea of the incredible sunrises and sunsets you can witness from its peaks and summits.
14. Khao Sok National Park
With limestone mountains and a crystal clear lake blanketed by the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, Khao Sok National Park is a nature enthusiast’s dreamscape.
Perfect for a slow-paced adventure, there are plenty of overnight guided tours that will show you the top hikes and kayak spots.
15. Koh Tao
As far as islands go, this one is pretty spectacular. The Gulf of Thailand island shows off its white beaches and sandbanks to those who visit.
While this certainly isn’t a hidden gem, there are some secluded beaches on the island ideal for snorkeling and diving.
16. Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai
Among the 76 Thai provinces, visiting Chiang Rai is definitely one of my most cherished experiences.
Thailand’s northernmost province is home to the Mae Chan District, which is known for its tea plantations and lush forests. For the spa-seekers among us, there are even hot springs here.
17. Sam Phan Bok
One of the most otherworldly and unique places to visit in Thailand, Sam Phan Bok is basically a series of three thousand holes at Ban Song Khon.
The phenomenon was created by rapids flowing under the Mekong River, which eroded the surface of the ground. Talk about out-of-this-world landscapes!
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18. Koh Samui
Truth be told, there are few beaches as beautiful as those on Koh Samui.
Sure, the island can be busy at times, but its idyllic palm tree-lined beaches, calm waters, and charming local villages make up for the crowds. For a bit of peace, head to Samrong Beach and Thongson Bay.
19. Kong Lan (Pai Canyon)
The Canyon might just be one of the most unique natural landmarks in Thailand. I recommend visiting for a short sunset hike to witness the geological magic of the canyon.
The canyon was created after years of erosion, eventually creating long and narrow slabs of sandstone with a 98-foot drop to either side.
20. Emerald Lake, Lampang
Thailand’s answer to the cenotes of Central America, Emerald Lake, is a mysterious sinkhole in the middle of the jungle.
The clear water is considered holy to locals, who visit to make offerings each year. I reckon the local catfish also consider the place quite spectacular. Best of all, it’s totally off the beaten tourist track.
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21. Thi Lo Su Waterfall
Located in the Um Phang Wildlife Sanctuary, Thi Lo Su is a limestone waterfall that cascades an astounding 984 feet down various terraces and rocks.
Against the emerald green jungle backdrop, it’s the poster child of perfect waterfalls and, no question, one of the most beautiful places in Thailand.
22. Old Town Ko Lanta
While spending time on the beaches of Ko Lanta is an absolute must, I recommend visiting the Old Town on the East Coast for a taste of old-school Thailand.
The small village was once the island’s main trading port, and it looks and feels as if it did a hundred years ago.
23. Hin Klang Coral Reef
Considered one of Thailand’s best snorkeling spots, Hin Klang Coral Reef is located about a mile offshore of Laem Tong Beach.
It’s essentially an underwater mountain of coral, packed with fish of every color and an incredibly biodiverse marine landscape.
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How to See Beautiful Places in Thailand
Navigating Thailand’s beautiful places is key to your trip! Flying is a fast and super affordable option, with a return flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket costing around $70. Catching a bus might take a lot longer, but the views will make you forget about the time.
Once you’re in a specific area, renting a motorcycle is the most affordable and convenient (although potentially dangerous) way to get around.
Make sure you’re a confident driver before hitting the uneven dirt roads. Renting a motorbike for one day adds up to around $4 to $6. What a steal!
With efficient public transport, inner-city travel is easy-peasy. You’ll struggle to spend more than $5 per day traveling within Bangkok on buses, ferries, and the metro.
FAQs About Beautiful Places in Thailand
I can talk all day about these glorious places in Thailand. Here are some common questions:
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Final Thoughts on Beautiful Places in Thailand
Whether you’re dreaming of relaxing on a dazzling beach, journeying through the rainforests, taking advantage of the affordable massages on every street corner, or dining your heart out in front of an ancient temple, there’s a spot in Thailand to quench every thirst.
But remember, this is just a taste of the beautiful places in Thailand. I could spend days running through the most naturally magnificent and culturally significant landmarks in the country.
Personally, I couldn’t get enough of traveling Bangkok and think it’s a great kickoff for an exciting adventure trip. If you’re into nature, definitely head to Lampang or Thi Lo Su Waterfall, they’re incredible too.
I guarantee that adding a few of these places to your itinerary is bound to supercharge your vacation. At the very least, you’ll leave with a full SD card on your camera.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!