Explore your world
Courtesy of Kelly Iverson
Courtesy of Kelly Iverson

The 10 Best Things to See and Do in Thailand

Picture of Kelly Iverson
Updated: 28 April 2017

The Land of Smiles is home to some of the top destinations and attractions in the world. From the picturesque southern islands to the pulsing capital, the country is simply teeming with ways in which visitors can entertain themselves. Here, the 10 best things to see and do in Thailand.

Island Hop

Thailand’s immense coastline is graced with hundreds of islands for visitors to choose from on both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. All of these cater to the unique spectrum of tourists that visit the Land of Smiles. Party animals should head to Koh Phangan, where the infamous full moon party is held. Those hoping for a quiet, secluded getaway might instead opt for the island of Koh Kraden or Koh Yao Noi. Many of these islands are a quick ferry or longtail boat ride away from one another, making it both affordable and easy to hop from one island to the next.

Go Diving

While there is certainly plenty to see and do on land, some of Thailand’s most noteworthy sights are found under the sea. From shipwrecks to vertical walls of coral and more, there are enough amazing dive sites in Thailand to keep even the most avid of underwater explorer occupied. The diving in Thailand is some of the cheapest in the world so visitors are not going to break the bank exploring the country’s coasts.

Eat the Street Food

There are many myths surrounding the street food in Thailand. Many avoid eating it altogether in fear they will get sick. Others presume all the food here is incredibly spicy, and this is not always the case. Visitors should not let any of these dissuade them from not trying street food at least once during their travels. In addition to being cheap, the food is also delicious, with a wide range of options available. Pork skewers with sticky rice, fresh papaya salad, curry rice, an abundance of desserts: prepare your appetite for the many delectable options lining streets across Thailand.

Visit the Temples

Every province in Thailand is equipped with a handful of temples or two. From the remote corners of Issan to the bustling city of Bangkok, visitors will have one too many temples to choose from to explore. Not only are these structures absolutely stunning, they are also a way in which visitors can learn a bit more about local Thai culture. Over 95 percent of Thais practice Theravada Buddhism and come to these temples to worship. Others are chock full of visitors information, such as Wat Pho, otherwise known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

Party in Bangkok

According to Forbes, Bangkok is one of the most visited cities in the world. Though there is something for everyone in the capital, certainly its main draw is the legendary nightlife. Three red light districts can be found across the city. Dance clubs are frequented by international DJs almost nightly. One of the most epic gay clubs in all of Asia is found in the City of Angels. Whatever gets visitors out after dark, the capital is sure to have something for all tastes.

Drink at a Rooftop Bar

The Hangover Part III certainly put Bangkok’s rooftop bars on the travel itinerary map. It seems as though this is one of the top things to do on everyone’s trip, and for good reason. Visiting one of the rooftop bars in Bangkok is a great way for travelers to get a grasp of how sprawling the city is, as it accommodates over eight million people. In addition to luxurious rooftop bars like Lebua, which was featured in the film, there are also less frequented bars that have affordable food and drinks, like River Vibe in Talad Noi.

Get a Massage

Traditional Thai massages date back some 2,500 years ago during the time of the Buddha. During one of these massages, a massage therapist utilizes every part of their body, including knees, elbows, and even feet. Though this is the cheapest and most popular massage, parlors and spas across Thailand have an abundance of massages and treatments to choose from. Prices fluctuate regionally but expect to pay as little as ฿150 for an hour massage in some places.

See a Fire Show

Fire shows are a common sight on the many stretches of beaches across Thailand. Islands like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Samet are known for epic performances, with upwards of 20 people taking part in one show. The performers use a number of different items to put on the fire show, including balls on either side of a rope, a jump rope, two large sticks, and more, all of which have been set ablaze. These are exhilarating and impressive, and the shows are best viewed with an alcohol-laden bucket in hand.

Cruise the Chao Phraya River

There are many ways visitors can explore the city, but none are as authentic and interesting as seeing the city on the river. The Chao Phraya River and the surrounding canals are teeming with interesting finds, and one of the only ways to see and discover these hidden gems is via boat. Known as the artery of the city as well as the River of Kings, this river acts as a tourist attraction to some and a way of life for others.

Noteworthy attractions like Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, can be found on the river. Other lesser-known but just as interesting finds, like the Artist’s House, can be found along one of the many khlongs branching out from this major waterway. Visitors can go on a romantic dinner cruise, hop on the tourist express boat for the day, or venture in a long-tail boat down one of the smaller waterways. Regardless of what visitors choose, they should take to these murky waters at least once during their time in Thailand.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

The markets and malls in Thailand are the two major places in which visitors will want to do the majority of their shopping. Bangkok is equipped with luxury malls filled with designer brands, while cities across the country have open-air shopping markets filled with handcrafted souvenirs, home decor, clothing, secondhand goods, counterfeit goods, and more.