With just one visit to Thailand, you’ll see why it is one of the most wonderful places to go backpacking! Not only will you begin to understand why Thailand has received the nickname “The Land of Smiles”, but you’ll also learn of some of the best places to visit in Thailand.
The truth is, Thailand is a must see place if you’re a digital nomad, an avid backpacker, a casual traveller, or just the curious spiritual type. There’s a lot of weird and wonderful places to travel to in Thailand!
You could get a fish massage where a tank full of fish nibble the dead skin off your feet… There are hotels where you might be told to ask the permission of ghosts before you can go inside…
Finally, Thailand will feed you strange foods, introduce you to wonderful people, and leave you believing in the nickname, “The Land of Smiles”. Here is my top list of the top 10 places to visit in Thailand. Also, you should eat pad thai.
The 10 Best Places to Visit in Thailand
In no particular order except the order that my brain thought of them in. These are my personal must go places in Thailand (and my must have experiences).
If you have some different ones (Thailand’s a big place), you could comment below. Or write your own list. Or send a letter to your local representative. It doesn’t matter; let’s get the ball rolling!
#1 – Wat Rong Khun: The White Temple
A must visit place in Thailand’s north
- A must see place in Thailand for incredible architecture.
The White Temple of Northern Thailand is definitely a must go place in Thailand! A nine-building complex, it looks like a large ice castle. Parts of it, such as the fish-filled pools, are beautiful. Some sections are stranger, including the truly bizarre statues.
There are areas that are just plain nightmarish. You need only see the centre of the temple, where dozens and dozens of white hands reach up from the ground, to see what I mean!
If you’re making a list of must-see destinations in Thailand, this is considered one of the biggest tourist attractions. I first encountered it while making the slow boat journey from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang (in Laos) and knew I just had to return for a deeper exploration.
#2 – Thailand’s Hell Temples
Not necessarily a must go place in Thailand for everyone…
- One of Thailand’s places to visit for lovers of the macabre.
Would it surprise you that one of the best places to visit in Thailand is one not all travellers have the stomach for? Hell temples are like gruesome museums where you can see what Naraka, a kind of purgatory, looks like. However, be careful of coming here with kids or after you’ve had lunch!
Most of the exhibits include gallons of red paint and in some cases, moving parts. It’s a lot like a game in an arcade. First, you put in a coin; second, parts begin to move.
However, with a hell temple… you might find yourself regretting doing so! It might not be a top place to visit in Thailand for everyone but it definitely is one of the more far-out things to do in Thailand.
#3 – Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Thailand’s biggest floating market and a must see (and eat… mainly eat).
- A unique place to go in Thailand and the kickass spread ain’t bad either!
Why is the Damnoen Saduak one of the must eats in Thailand? It is the most popular floating market in the country! Floating markets are one of the top places to go in in Thailand for a mean feed in a unique setting. They are also one of the best ways to experience Thai culture and cuisine.
Coconut pancakes, fresh fruit, noodle bowls… all kinds of assorted delicacies! However, you’ll want to make sure to arrive at the market by 7 am. By 9 am, the traffic jam of small boats is crazy enough to keep you trapped for hours! Definitely one of THE things to do in Thailand.
#4 – Dance at a Full Moon Party
C’mon. Don’t act so surprised. You knew it’d be on here.
- The quintessential backpacking Thailand experience and a must do. How you feel about that statement is up to you.
When it comes to the question of “when to visit Thailand”, the answer is always “during the full moon!” The full moon brings up to 30,000 people to the island of Koh Phangan (one of the most beautiful Thailand islands) for a huge party.
- There is music.
- There is dancing and drinking.
- …Actually, forget about three.
- Finally, there are endless DJ’s and even fire-dancers!
The party goes so late, many people don’t book accommodation on the island at all. They take a ferry to Koh Phangan, party all night and then ferry back the next day. The theme of a full moon party is neon.
The skin of the partiers is painted in neon. Drinks are served in small neon buckets with a handful of straws. Plus, if you stay late enough, you might even get the chance to try out the flaming jump rope. However, this might take several buckets of booze first.
So if you’re still wondering about all the places to see in Thailand, dunk your head in some booze and forget you ever cared about the culture in the first place! Although, full disclosure, the full moon party is loud, crowded, and expensive… there are lots of much cooler and lesser-known parties out there though, so keep an eye out!
#5 – Tonsai Beach
The destination in Thailand for climbing and deep-water soloing.
- Thailand’s place to go for rock climbing and expensive pad thai.
Tonsai is a climber’s bubble same as the Parvati Valley is a stoner’s bubble. Backpackers go here to climb, smoke Thailand’s shitty weed on the beach, and drink some excellent mushie shakes. It’s fair to say that it’s a must visit place in Thailand for climbers.
Deepwater soloing is similar to bouldering but with one vital difference. You’re over the water and you have no ropes. You fall; you die. Jokes! You get wet.
Maybe once upon a time, Tonsai was a hidden gem for experienced climbers but now it’s a total bubble. Many backpackers with zero experience in climbing visit this place in Thailand to get shown the ropes (boom) and see if climbing is their jam.
Last time I was there, there were a few resorts with more being built so I’d suggest hurrying up if you want to catch it before its essence is truly gone. All things aside, the landscape is truly mesmerising.
#6 – Wachiratarn Waterfall
Waterfall abseiling at one of Thailand’s top tourist attraction.
- Weren’t you listening? Waterfall abseiling! The place to visit in Thailand to experience waterfall abseiling!
Water abseiling is absolutely one of the most kickass things to do in Thailand! If you didn’t know, regular abseiling merely means to rappel down a rock wall. How is waterfall abseiling different? You guessed it!
First, you rappel over the cliff edge. Next, you lower yourself to the ground while also getting pummelled in the face by a waterfall! Tom Cruise eat your heart out!
The Wachiratarn Waterfall inside the Doi Inthanon National Park is 985 feet from top to bottom and is one of the best natural attractions in Thailand. In fact, its astounding height makes it a highlight of Thailand and a great place to visit to get your feet wet.
#7 – The Water War of Songkran
The best spot in Thailand for a Southeast Asian variant of a water balloon fight.
- The best place to go in Thailand to get wet. Oi! Get your mind out of the gutter.
Festivals are a Thailand highlight for many travellers and Songkran is arguably the coolest and one of the most amazing ones in Thailand! Each year on April 13, 14, and 15, Thailand acknowledges the Thai New Year with the Songkran Festival.
During this time, businesses close and the people who don’t want to participate – nicknamed “Sulking Hermits” – will stock up food and lock the doors to their homes. Those who fly overseas and avoid the event altogether are called the “Smart Dudes”. Finally, the people outside during Songkran are the “Wild Wet Fans”.
Buckets, bowls, water guns: all of these are weapons during the festival. In fact, these are even used on cops! Don’t worry: they’re long used to it. However, before you throw in as a Wild Wet Fan, you should know the rules of Songkran.
#8 – Cabbages and Condoms
One of the attractions of Thailand sells… condoms? …And cabbages?
- The place to visit in Thailand to… buy condoms? And cabbage. Don’t forget the cabbage.
The Cabbages and Condoms restaurant does more than selling cabbages and condoms. With the motto “The food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy” the restaurant is endeavouring to do more than just serve great food or sell condom-themed keychains.
In fact, they’re trying to make the point that purchasing condoms should be totally normal! Furthermore, it should be so normal that you take cabbages and condoms home together. How could this not be one of Thailand’s awesome (yet uniquely Thailand) highlights if not one of the most exciting things to do in Thailand?
Maybe this is actually the best place in Thailand to go to get wet.
#9 – Mahawangchang Elephant Camp
A must visit place in Thailand to bathe with elephants.
- An elephant sanctuary and Thailand tourist attraction.
There’s never a lack of exciting things to do in Thailand! At the Mahawangchang Elephant Camp, you not only get to ride one of these magnificent animals. You also get to take a bath with them!
While you’re swimming in circles around the wet elephant or trying to ride its slippery back, your guide will be taking pictures with your camera or cell phone. He’ll snap dozens or hundreds of photos of you and your elephant having a good time.
You could also volunteer in one of these camps. Definitely, the best way to visit Thailand, don’t you think?
#10 – Lopburi
Goddamn glasses-stealing cheeky lovable bastard.
- A must visit in Thailand if you enjoy bargaining with monkeys to return your stuff.
One of the best places to visit in Thailand is Lopburi… but protect your wallet! Prang Sam Yod, a shrine in Lopburi, is the home to sneaky, photogenic monkeys. These monkeys steal bags, jewellery, purses and most of all, hats.
Also, the monkeys bring a lot of tourism to the city making it one of the points of interest in Thailand thanks to these little devils. Thai locals are so appreciative of this tourism, once a year in November, they bring the monkeys an entire meal. It’s messy, but these cuties deserve it… kind of.
#11 – The Museum of Death
Look death in the face… literally.
- Thailand, wtf?
What is there to do in Bangkok? Bangkok is an awesome city and there is so much cool shit to see. The Museum of Death is a must-see destination on many Thailand bucket-lists! (Just don’t eat before you go!) The point of the exhibits, while gruesome, is to teach a lesson.
You get to see the liver of a real alcoholic to steer you clear of alcoholism. You might improve your diet after seeing the inside of a heart that had had high cholesterol. This is one highlight of Thailand your camera and stomach won’t soon forget! Definitely one of the top places in Bangkok to spend some time at.
#12 – Wat Pho Temple
For giant Buddhas and excellent massages!
- A gentle reminder not to take selfies with the Buddha statues. It’s disrespectful.
When it comes to Thailand’s top attractions, almost everyone already knows that the Grand Palace is one of the biggest. However, you may not know about the temple practically next door! Inside Wat Pho is the biggest Buddha statue in all of Thailand.
At 46 meters end-to-end, this statue is truly a behemoth! If you’d like a cool Thailand thing to do that isn’t a photo-op, you could always get a massage. Wat Pho is both a temple and a massage school!
Still a bit sore after passing out at the Full Moon Party? Well then, the monks of Wat Pho can take care of that for you! One of the best Buddhist places to visit in Thailand.
#13 -Ko Phi Phi
Some of Thailand’s most beautiful islands to visit.
- Turtles, sharks, Nemo, Dory… all kinds of wonderful seas beasties!
It’s true that, while they might be pronounced similarly, Ko Phi Phi and covfefe are two very different things! One of the most beautiful islands in Thailand, coming to Koh Phi Phi most likely means you love the water. Those who come here to dive and snorkel get to see leopard sharks, turtles, and seahorses.
With the growing popularity of free-diving (diving with a single breath), there’s still the opportunity to see amazingly clear waters and calm bays. Definitely one of the must see places in Thailand.
Get insured before hitting up all the awesome things to see in Thailand!
It’s weird, it’s wonderful, and, sometimes, it can be harsh. Thailand is beautiful but considering your doing things like going to HELL temples, climbing WITHOUT ropes, and abseiling DOWN WATERFALLS, it pays to get insurance. I mean, at least you’ll be having safe sex courtesy of Cabbage and Condoms!
Shoutout from Will – The OG Broke Backpacker: Have fun on your backpacking adventure, but please do get insurance – take it from someone who has racked up tens of thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.
As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be travelling – so be sure to get your backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure! Travelling without insurance would be fucking stupid. We – at The Broke Backpacker – highly recommend World Nomads. Check out our review on why it’s the best.
Find out why we recommend World Nomads; check out our World Nomads Insurance review.
Is it Time to Visit Thailand’s Top Places?
So, there you have it! Finding the best places to visit in Thailand won’t be a problem. Actually, it’s deciding where NOT to go that’s the problem! The truth is, the best way to create your own list of the best places to go in Thailand is to get out there and find them.
The Land of Smiles is waiting.
As you just read, there’s some pretty kooky shit there! A whole other world: weird and wonderful.
Plus, I really can’t stress enough just how good the pad thai is. Well then… on your bike! Uhh… tuk-tuk.
Updated: October 2019 by Ziggy Samuels at Zigz Writes Things.
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