In case you haven’t read anything about Thailand yet, it is an incredible and diverse county filled with giving people, delicious food and jaw-dropping views which makes for absolutely incredible things to do in Thailand. There is a reason why it’s called the Land of Smiles and trust me you’ll smile as soon as you get there too.
From the mountains in the north to the islands in the south and the must-see Bangkok and history in the middle, Thailand is bound to have something for everyone. So before you start planning your Thailand holiday use this as your ultimate list for your Thailand inspiration (we’ll get to practical details later).
But where to start? What to see in Thailand? What to do in Thailand? Have no fear dear reader, I’ve got all types of travelers covered from those adventurous souls, foodies, history lovers and beachgoers.
What's in this article
- 1 Thailand Essentials
- 1.1 Must do in Thailand
- 1.2 What to do in Thailand for Adventure
- 1.3 Fun Things to do in Thailand
- 1.4 Unique Things to do in Thailand
- 1.5 Best Things to do in Thailand in the Water
- 1.6 Top Things to do in Thailand that Involve Food
- 1.7 What to See in Thailand: Temples & Museums
- 1.8 Volunteering to do in Thailand
- 1.9 Travel Insurance Thailand
- 1.10 Heading to Thailand? You’ll love these posts
Must do in Thailand
Get a Thai Massage
One of the best things to do in Thailand is getting an amazing Thai massage. The hardest part is deciding to go for a traditional Thai body massage or a reflexology foot massage. After a long day of sightseeing, it is bliss to have your feet massaged for an hour. If you opt for a Thai massage, your body will be passively positioned into yoga-like poses. You will leave the massage shop feeling like a million dollars, but it will only cost you 300 B ($7 USD).
Suggested by 5 Lost Together
Khao San Road in Bangkok
Like moths to a flame, travellers tend to find themselves drawn to the bright lights of Khao San Road. This bustling street makes for some fascinating people-watching and certainly packs a lot into a few hundred metres: colourful hippy stalls, lively bars, food-vendors serving fried scorpion, cheap backpacker hostels. Step a few streets away and you will stumble upon the quintessential side of Bangkok, a collection of ramshackle laneways, shining temples and antique shophouses.
Suggested by TraveLynn Family
The Old City in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is where you’ll find Thailand’s cultural heart and relics of its proud history. The city was founded in 1296 and draws visitors from across the world to experience its hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples that are dotted all around the streets. The Old City, surrounded by a moat and pieces of the original wall, is where you’ll find the highest concentration of temples.
Suggested by Christine Knight
Relax at a Yoga Retreat
Yoga retreats are popping up all over Thailand and in a place so beautiful I understand why you’d want to practice yoga by the water on an island. Many studios offer drop-in classes as well. But a full retreat will ground you, spoil you and is easy to indulge in with affordable prices.
What to do in Thailand for Adventure
Rock Climbing on Tonsai and Railay
When you set foot on either Tonsai or Railay Beach, you’ll be blown away by the beauty. But to get some truly incredible views of these beaches, you’ll have to get up high and the only way to do that in this area, is by rock climbing! Regardless if you have been rock climbing or not, you should totally try it. The adrenaline and these views are an intoxicating mix! The Krabi area is known to be one of the most epic places to go rock climbing in the world.
Suggested by Where in the World is Nina
Visit Freedom Beach Viewpoint for Stunning Views of Koh Tao
There are few places in the world that I consider as beautiful as the views from Freedom Beach viewpoint. I may be slightly biased because Koh Tao is my favourite place in the world but this place is still off the radar of a lot of tourists and so you have high chances of getting this incredible view to yourself. With so many places to see in Thailand I recommend that Koh Tao be added to your list.
READ MORE: The Best Things to do in Koh Tao
Tab Kak Hang Nak Hike
This is one of the best hikes in Thailand and although Krabi is an island hopping destination the Tab Kak Hang Nak hike is an incredible activity away from the beaches. The views from the top are simply fantastic but to get there is not an easy task. Prepare for a tough and sweaty hike as there are even parts you have to climb a little. The start of the hike is a 45-minutes scooter drive North from Ao Nang.
Suggested by Traveltomtom
Explore Mae Sa Valley
Just outside of central Chiang Mai lies the beautiful Mae Sa Valley. It is a nature lover’s paradise with pristine rainforest reserves, stunning waterfalls and bubbling hot springs. Adventure seekers can take in all that the rugged jungle area has to offer from hikes to MTB trails along rice fields to whitewater rafting long the Maetaeng River. Once you’ve beat the rapids, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most delicious Thai cuisine.
Suggested by Singapore n Beyond
Pai Canyon in Pai
Whether you take the Mae Hong Son motorbike ride or shuttle that will take you through 762 bends, getting to Pai is a must when visiting Thailand. The biggest attraction, Pai Canyon, should not be missed while here as one of the top activities to do in Thailand. The beautiful nature and epic views will blow you away. If you’re up for a bit of adventure (and even some danger) you’ll brave the walks along the narrow ridges stretching like veins over this massive canyon.
Suggested by Together to Wherever
READ MORE: 32 Tips for Backpacking Thailand
Cliff Jumping in Chiang Mai
A great way to escape the hot Asian sun while in Thailand is a visit to the Grand Canyon. Not to be mistaken with the Grand Canyon in the USA, Chiang Mai’s Grand Canyon is an old quarry filled with water that you can swim in and if you’re feeling brave enough, there are a couple of cliffs to jump from. The biggest jump is about 14 metres and is a lot of fun to jump off. Are you brave enough?
Suggested by The Curious Explorers
Motorbike Through the Mountains Surrounding Chiang Mai
If you can’t do the Mae Hong Son motorbike loop we highly recommend renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai to remove yourself from the city and get a view of the gorgeous mountain terrain nearby. The entire drive is breathtaking taking you through jungles and forests with amazing vistas and viewpoints to stop at along the way. Not only is this experience incredibly peaceful but it’s a great way to cool off on a hot humid day.
Suggested by Bobo and Chichi
Caves and Trekking in Chiang Dao
Chiang Dao is a 90-minute drive north of Chiang Mai. Chiang Dao attractions include caves, Buddhist monasteries, hill tribe community’s, hot springs, waterfalls and the spectacular mountain scenery of Doi Chiang Dao mountain.
Highlights are the Chiang Dao caves, subterranean passages that can be explored by lantern and the trek through the mist shrouded mountain to the spire of the golden pagoda at Wat Tham Pha Plong monastery.
Suggested by Frequent Traveller
Visit Mu Ko Lanta National Park, Ko Lanta
With so many cool things to do in Thailand, Ko Lanta has many. Mu Ko Lanta National Park is located on the southern point of the island. Hire a scooter and pay for an entry ticket costing 200 baht. Then fly down the steep hill and you will find yourself on beautiful beaches. Park up your motorbike and get ready to explore the wildlife and old lighthouse!
Suggested by Backpackers Wanderlust
READ MORE: 32 Tips for Backpacking Thailand
Flight of the Gibbon in Chiang Mai
This awesome ziplining experience consists of 30 platforms, 18 zip lines and 2 places where you have to abseil into the abyss. Just kidding, but it is a long way down!
The longest zip line is 800 meters, soaring over the green canopy and dense jungle. You’ll feel like you’re flying!
Suggested by Phenomenal Globe
Mae Hong Son Loop Road Trip from Chiang Mai
The Mae Hong Son Loop is an epic road trip and is perfect for any adventure travel lover in Thailand. It can be quite flexible with your schedule but you should take at least 4 or 5 days to properly enjoy it. Rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai and drive westward to Mae Hong Son stopping in remote villages, rice fields and caves whenever you fancy. Make sure you spend a night in the hippie capital, Pai and try to get lost often to enjoy this journey the most!
Suggested by Live, Travel, Teach
Fun Things to do in Thailand
Play with Elephants at a Sanctuary in Chiang Mai
If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience in Thailand, it’s hard to go wrong with a visit to an elephant sanctuary! You’ll absolutely adore spending a whole day feeding and playing with elephants–they are darling
and quite mischievous. Playing with them will be one of the most amazing things to do in Thailand!
While the Elephant Rescue Center in Chiang Mai is well known, there are many less-known elephant sanctuaries in the area doing wonderful work as well–a visit to the Hug Elephant Sanctuary is a great experience.
Suggested by Our Escape Clause
Lady Boy Show in Chiang Mai
This is the best thing to do in Thailand when it comes to nightly entertainment.The Lady Boy Cabaret is a must-see for anyone visiting Chiang Mai Thailand. It’s fun, it’s sassy, and you never know what will happen. The show happens every night at the Anusarn Market in the Night Bazaar at 9:30pm. Tickets cost 350 baht and include one drink (there is also a happy hour at the halfway mark of the show). Go early to ensure you get tickets, and a good seat!
Suggested by Eat Sleep Breathe Travel
READ MORE: 8 Bucket List Things to do in Chiang Mai
Unique Things to do in Thailand
Take the Slow Boat from Thailand to Laos
This way of travel from Thailand into Laos is totally relaxed, cheaper and a great way to meet new friends. Though it’s not time efficient it will provide you with scenic views along the Mekong River and a cool story to tell friends!
Get a Massage by an Ex-Prisoner
Thai massages are a must in Thailand. The best ones are given by current and ex-prisoners. Yes, I mean prisoners as in jail. In Chiang Mai, there’s a training program to help ladies who’ve been convicted of a crime learn a marketable skill and re-enter society with a job and a little money in their pocket. You might be wondering which is better, a massage by current or ex-prisoners? Current prisoners have less flexibility, as you’ll need to book through the warden. Ex-prisoners can typically take walk-ins right away. Either way, this Thai massage makes you feel amazing on the inside and out!
Suggested by The Globetrotting Teacher
Get a Sak Yank Tattoo
Songkran in Thailand is the world’s biggest water fight. Songkran started as a very significant Buddhist event held in Thailand in April every year to celebrate the Thai New Year. Songkran occurs all over Thailand with the biggest and best in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It is full on mayhem as locals and visitors throw water at one another.
Suggested by Short Holidays and Getaways
Explore the Hellfire Pass on the Death Railway
The Hellfire trail covers a small portion of the Death Railway that connected Thailand with Burma. 4 km from the Railway there is a walking memorial and trail. The Hellfire Pass is the highlight of the trail and the whole hike is incredible! To fully understand the importance of the trail you can visit the Hellfire museum at the beginning of the trail.
Suggested by Couple RTW
Indulge at a Fish Spa
Walk the streets of any major city in Thailand and you’ll find the famous fish spas that are everywhere from the sides of the streets or in shopping malls. For a fee, you can dip your toes or submerge your feet into fish tanks and have the fish take gentle bites at your feet. They are eating the dead skin off of your feet, basically exfoliating for you! I wouldn’t attempt it if you’re ticklish though!
There are so many places to visit in Thailand and things to see in Thailand that when you visit Thailand you won’t be able to do them all. Above are just some of the best things to do in Thailand and I hope you get to try as many as possible because each and every adventure, sight and dish is worth a try in this truly amazing country.
Watch a Movie in a VIP Bangkok Theatre
VIP movie theaters in Bangkok take movie-going to a whole new luxurious level. For about the price of a normal ticket in New York City, you get pre-movie lounge access, cushy recliner seats, and a blanket to snuggle in. But the best part? During the movie, if you run out of popcorn or soda all you have to do is push a button – and a waiter comes to offer a refill. Definitely show up in time for the previews!
Suggested by The Wayfarer’s Book
Best Things to do in Thailand in the Water
Thailand has some of the best beaches and coral for snorkelling. Koh Lipe is one of the best Thai islands where you can snorkel right by the beach. It’s full of tropical fish, in particular, Nemo the clownfish. Just 10 minutes away by tail boat is Koh Adang which is much larger and more remote than Koh Lipe. Koh Adang is surrounded by many healthy coral, which is perfect for snorkeling.
Suggested by Nomadic Boys
Hire a Private Longtail Boat for a Krabi Four Island Tour
If you’re in the resort town of Ao Nang (Krabi) with a few mates then grab some snorkel gear, some beers and hire your own private long tail boat to explore the nearby Four Islands. It’s so much better than jumping on a scheduled tour as you’re in control of what order you visit the islands and how long you stop for. Fun guaranteed!
Suggested by Fit Travels
John Gray’s Sea Canoe Experience from Phuket
This all-day sea caving experience around Phang Na Bay, leaving from Phuket, is unmissable! Although the boat that takes you out to the bay is large, this tour still feels personalized. You will have a guide to canoe you through the tidal caves as this requires skill, but you get a chance to paddle later. This tour is pricey but meals are included, it takes 10 hours and finishes with the most exciting cave of all: a phosphorescent plankton cave!
Suggest by downbubble
READ MORE: 10 Best Tours in Phuket You Can’t Miss
Try The Challenge Phangan on Koh Phangan
This epic watercourse is bound to challenge you and make for an unreal day. From monkey bars to rolling barrels and plenty of other obstacles in between, this course is the perfect way to cool off in Thailand’s heat.
Day Trip to Koh Rok Island from Koh Lanta
From Koh Lanta try an unforgettable experience, a snorkelling trip to Koh Rok. The day trip included 3 different drop dead gorgeous snorkelling spots and a buffet lunch provided on Koh Rok Island. The island is pristine and undeveloped and what they all must have been like before they were developed.
Suggested by Our3KidsvtheWorld
Top Things to do in Thailand that Involve Food
Floating Market in Bangkok
Pictures of the exotic floating markets were what lured me to Bangkok. Damnoen Saduak, located about 100 km away, is probably the most popular one. Near the floating market, into a longtail boat, and pass traditional houses where locals live. At the market, Thai vendors in bamboo hats will sell all sorts of goods from canoes as they paddle. Sadly, they won’t be around for much longer as the markets are disappearing.
Suggested by Africa and Beyond
READ MORE: What to do in Bangkok
Eat Mango Sticky Rice
This is a well-known dessert in Thailand that is a must-try but be sure to leave some room for it after a meal because it is very filling. It is exactly as the name says, sticky rice is served with mango and coconut milk and is eaten with a spoon or fork. Get ready to dig into this sweet treat!
Try Pad See Ew
One the absolute must-dos when in Thailand is eating Thai food like Pad See Ew, a delightful stir-fry with broad rice noodles, chicken, egg and greens seasoned with sweet soy sauce that is a classic lunch dish for many locals. Though not as famous as Pad Thai, Pad See Ew comes with a unique flavour that is due to the fact the ingredients get browned which allows the sauce to caramelize. Go for it!
Suggested by Travellers Archive
Tea tasting in Mae Salong
In the province of Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand, is a little town named Mae Salong. With a strong Chinese influence, this place produces some pretty amazing green tea and oolong tea, as well as some great food widely influenced by Yunnanese cuisine. Once you get in town go to the tea manufacturer “101” to try out some of their products and enjoy the breathtaking views of the tea plantations that cover the hills.
Suggested by The Orient Excess
Eat a Bug
Bugs, worms and some larger insects are eaten as snacks in Thailand. If you’re lucky you’ll find some that come with a dipping sauce. Everything from bamboo worms to crickets, grasshoppers and even scorpions are eaten. Try one if you dare but most of the time they aren’t as bad as you’d expect as they’re usually quite seasoned.
Moo Dad Deaw
Everyone knows about famous dishes like pad thai and green curry but have you ever tried Moo Dad Deaw? It’s one of the best Thai dishes! Moo Dad Deaw is strips of seasoned pork meat that has been sun-dried before being either grilled or deep fried. The grilled version is so good. It’s usually served with a dipping sauce and sometimes sticky rice. Make sure to try this during your visit. It’s also fun to say!
Suggested by Foodie Flashpacker
One of the best meals one can eat in Northern Thailand is khao soi. It’s a combination of boiled egg noodles and deep-fried crispy egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, ground chilies, and protein (often chicken) in a curry-like sauce infused with coconut milk. The regional dish can be found just about anywhere in the north and can be altered to fit travelers’ dietary needs. Trust me: you’ll be dreaming about it for years to come!
Suggested by Willful and Wildhearted
Have a Cocktail on a Rooftop Bar in Bangkok
From attending pool parties to watching sunsets or dining at restaurants, enjoying a rooftop bar in Bangkok is certainly one of the best things to do in Thailand. Vertigo and Moon Bar, at the Banyan Tree Hotel provides an awesome view of the sunset, has a very nice atmosphere and good service.
Other good rooftop bars are Park Society & HI So at So-Sofitel, the Octave Rooftop Bar at the Marriot Hotel, Three Sixty at the Millennium Hilton Bangkok and the Sky Bar at the Lebua Hotel. But pay attention to dress code, service and prices because some places are picky and drinks can be really expensive.
Suggested by 7 Continents 1 Passport
What to See in Thailand: Temples & Museums
Thailand’s old capital Ayutthaya, founded in 1350, was once one of Asia’s grandest cities until it was overrun by Burmese forces in 1767. The UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts many treasures: its giant Buddha’s draped in bright orange sashes are an incredible sight as is the iconic Buddha head nestled in tree roots. Ayutthaya and its treasures are an easy and popular day trip from Bangkok.
Suggested by The Whole World is a Playground
Wat Sri Soda in Chiang Mai
In the morning, visit the Wat Sri Soda novice monk school to give alms to the monks. It is a fascinating spectacle, and visitors are welcome to participate along with the locals. Appropriate items to present are available to purchase at roadside stands.
Suggested by Travels With Carole
See the Mummy Monk on Koh Samui
On Koh Samui, you can visit the tomb of a ‘Mummy Monk’. The temple of Wat Khunaram, near Lamai Beach, houses the undecomposed remains of Phra Kru Samathakittikhun (1894 – 1973), who died while he was meditating. Over 40 years after his death, his body is still remarkably well preserved and – according to his wishes – remains on display in its seated position, to inspire future generations to follow the Buddhist teachings.
Suggested by Backpacking Bella
The two hour long train ride on the death railway between Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok is less about the scenery (although it’s beautiful) and more about the history behind it. The railway was built by POWs and Southeast Asian civilians during World War II and is notorious for the amount of lives lost during it’s construction. Visit the Kanchanaburi Railway Centre first to understand the enormous hardship endured by those forced to work on it.
Suggested by Migrating Miss
READ MORE: 10 Best Tours in Bangkok You Need to Try
Bang Pa-In Palace
The Bang Pa-In Palace, also known as “Summer Palace”, is located 20km north from Ayutthaya (11 minutes by train). The original complex was built in 1632 by the will of King Prasat Thong and it was used by the Ayutthaya’s kings until the city was destroyed by the Burmese. The architecture is a mixture of French Neoclassic, Victorian Gothic, Chinese and Thai traditional. All these styles together give great elegance and charm to the complex.
Suggested by As Far as You Can
Ancient Siam Museum in Bangkok
Ancient Siam Museum is the world’s biggest outdoor museum that features 200+ replicas and remnants of Thailand’s most historical sites.
Suggest by Travel with Maria
Volunteering to do in Thailand
Volunteering with Animals in Need on Koh Phangan
An unusual, yet rewarding thing to do on the island of Ko Phangan is volunteering at PACS, a clinic and shelter for stray animals. Help feeding the creatures in need, assist the charismatic boss Por with collecting injured animals, or just stick around and play with the cats and dogs. Drop in for a day at least, or several days if you can. Find Por and her impressive project PACS in the jungle near the main road connecting the coasts.
Suggested by Life is a Trip
Give Back with Conserve Natural Forests
This non-profit organization is based in Pai and is still relatively unknown. They prioritize reforestation but also have a side project that focuses on elephant reproduction where they save elephants from harmful jobs. The difference here is that the elephants roam free and while visiting the magnificent animals you also get the chance to plant a tree and help make a difference.
READ MORE: The Best Things to do in Pai
Travel Insurance Thailand
- Picking travel insurance is an essential part of planning a trip for everyone, including your trip to Thailand
- If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel
- World Nomads is an affordable option that I personally recommend
- I’ve made 2 claims with World Nomads for doctors appointments and antibiotics in the Philippines and Australia
- No idea where to start? Check out my travel insurance guide to help you pick the best option for you
Heading to Thailand? You’ll love these posts
- Thailand Trip Planning Resources
- How to Create a Backpacking Budget for a Southeast Asia Trip