Thailand is a heady mix of temples and shrines, crowded street and flower markets, noisy tuk-tuks, glorious beaches and lush green landscapes. Whether you have a few days or several months in the kingdom, you won’t run out of things to see and do.
You can ride an elephant, party all night on a beach when there’s a full moon, visit incredible temple ruins or trek among the hills bordering Myanmar. You can “shop ‘til you drop”, learn how to cook ever- popular Thai dishes, experience an authentic Thai massage and visit a monastery. Or you can simply find a spot on the golden sand and wait until you’re hot enough for a dip in azure waters.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is one of the must-see attractions in Bangkok. Construction was started in 1782, when the capital of Siam was moved to Bangkok. The palace grounds are home to temples and royal halls. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) houses a piece of bone or hair believed to have come from Buddha himself. The temple also contains The Emerald Buddha - one of the oldest and most famous statues of Buddha in the world.
The ruins of Ayutthaya are located 76 kilometres north of Bangkok. Once the capital city, Ayutthaya offers a glimpse of the glory of ancient Thailand. The city was plundered, burned and ultimately abandoned during the Siamese-Burmese Wars. One of the highlights of Ayutthaya is the iconic Buddha's Head – entrapped in the roots of a banyan tree – at Wat Mahathat.
Wat Rong Khun
Contemporary Wat Rong Khunn, or “The White Temple”, in Chiang Rai Province, is a famous artwork built in the style of a Buddhist temple.
Wat Arun, known locally as Wat Chaeng, is a temple on the bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. The architecture differs from that of many other temples in Bangkok; the temple's spire is over 75 metres high and is decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain.
The Bangkok National Museum
The Bangkok National Museum is located in the former grounds of Wang Na Palace and houses the largest collection of Thai art and artefacts in the country. The museum houses puppets, ceramics, clothing, woodcarvings, precious stones, masks and musical instruments from across South-east Asia.
Beaches and Islands
Ko Tao, which translates as “Turtle Island”, is a small island off the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand. It is one of the most popular diving spots in the world. The reefs are fairly easy to navigate and divers can see coral, turtles, small fish and barracudas.
Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay, located 95 kilometres from the island of Phuket, is one of the most scenic spots in Thailand. The area boasts caves and grottoes – accessible only by sea kayak. The most famous island in the area is Ko Phing Kan.
Ko Lanta is one of the most beautiful and pristine islands in Thailand. Bamboo Beach is a particularly popular beach on the island – favoured for swimming and sunbathing – but the island has many breath- taking beaches on both its western and southern coasts.
Khao Yai, Thailand's first national park is three hours’ drive from Bangkok. The park covers rainforest and grasslands and is home to around 300 residents and migratory birds. Other wildlife includes elephants, bears, deer, otters, crested lizards and gibbons.
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is located a few kilometres from Chiang Mai city. The park is popular for its caves, waterfalls and wildlife. Doi Suthep-Pui boasts nearly 2000 species of ferns and flowering plants, and almost 300 species of birds. The park is also home to wild boar, Asian golden cats, Malayan porcupines and Asian black bears.
The main attraction of the park, however, is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple built on a mountain. A total of 309 steps lead from the base of the temple to the pagodas.
The site offers great views of the city of Chiang Mai.
Floating Markets: Damnoen Saduak
Damnoen Saduak is the most popular floating market in Thailand with tourists, and is located 80 kilometres from Bangkok. Rent a boat and explore this famous floating market where vendors sell fresh tropical fruit, Thai food and souvenirs straight out of their boats.