Wat Phra Singh at latern festivalWat Arun at twilight

Best places to visit in Thailand: top 12 destinations

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Best places to visit in Thailand

Located at the center of the Southeast Asian “Indochinese” peninsula, the thrilling country of Thailand is composed of 77 different provinces. Bangkok, the largest city as well as the capital, is a political, commercial and cultural center of Thailand and is the most visited city in the entire world by international tourists. Thailand is also one of the biggest Buddhist countries in the world, accounting for 94.5% of the country’s religious preferences. If you’re looking for a plethora of historical, natural and cultural sights to fill your time or just want to find a perfect beach to laze away your days, Thailand is the perfect choice for you. Join in interesting cultural celebrations like Songkran, the raucous spectacle occurring throughout the entire country, or release glowing lanterns into the sky in Chiang Mai’s Yi Peng Festival. Those looking for adventure will definitely find it in treks to diverse ethnic minority groups living in the deeply forested mountains while cultural experiences such as attending Thai cooking classes, Buddhist meditation courses, and luxurious spa treatments are around every corner.

1. Bangkok

Bangkok at twilight - Thailand

Every year, Bangkok draws the largest number of tourists to international destinations in the world because of its multifaceted sights, dynamic nightlife, glittering Royal Palace and temples, as well as several top-notch museums. In addition, there is such a wide variety of shopping and dining opportunities one could never get bored. Among the cities in Southeast Asia, Bangkok is one of the most impressive destinations because of its unique combination of traditional and modern features. In addition to futuristic skyscrapers and the bustling transportation, Bangkok still retains many of its traditional buildings like temples and floating markets which bear the bold imagery of the past. Bangkok is also extremely well known for its diversity in cuisine, amusement parks, and shopping malls. You can easily find many shopping centers and local markets selling high-quality silk, gems, bronze, furniture and countless handicrafts. Many tourists enjoy visiting the city between the 13th-15th of April as the wild celebrations for Thai New Year (Songkran), are underway. Join in the city-wide water-fight with locals and foreigners alike in the time-honoured tradition of washing all the bad luck of the previous year away.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Bangkok.

Recommended length of stay

Bangkok is a big city, and it’s possible to spend a month here without seeing all it has to offer. However, if you’d like to see the highlights of Bangkok before moving to Thailand’s other destinations, 2 to 3 days should be enough.
Plan to stay for 5 to 7 days in the capital for an in-depth experience. With a week in Bangkok, you’ll be able to see the city’s must-see sites, taste the fantastic food, and enjoy the lively nightlife.

If you have limited time in Bangkok on the way to somewhere else and want to quickly see the best of Bangkok, 1 or 2 night is enough to have fun. 

Time to visit

Bangkok always has something for you, no matter what time you arrive:

  • For sightseeing: November to March next year: dry, cool, beaches are at its finest.
  • For shopping: Mid-June through mid-August when you can find a very good discount from 10% to even 80% for various products.

Accommodation

It’s easy to find accommodation for any budget in Bangkok, with affordable guesthouses and hostels not exceeding more than US$20 per night. On the other hand, a night in the luxurious Mandarin Oriental or the Siam goes for at least US$500 per night. Each area of the city has its own attitude, so visitors can choose their accommodation based on their interests, such as staying in Sukhumvit, Chatuchak, or Pratunam for those who love to shop while many historical sites are situated along the Phra Nakorn area of Rattanakosin Island. Make sure to reserve your accommodation from 30-60 days in advance to take advantage of the best promotions on offer.

Food

Bangkok is a paradise for foodie travelers. There is an abundance of things to eat everywhere. Many street food dishes that are worldwide famous can be found at any corner. Along with street food, there are restaurants of all levels that serve both Thai dishes and an extensive range of international cuisine. 

Thailand holiday destinations
what to eat in Thailand

Transport options

Skytrain (BTS), Airport Rail Link (ARL), Subway (MRT), taxis, motorcycle taxi, subway, tuk-tuk, buses, Grab, boats.

BTS and MRT are the swiftest way to get to the main shopping and business areas at a low cost ($4/one-day pass for BTS and $0.5 – $1.5/journey for MRT). Taxis appear on virtually every corner at almost any time, with the price of about $1/km. Or else, Grabs are also good choices due to their popularity and low cost. Express boats can be used if you want to explore historical attractions at the riverside. Although tuk-tuks are slowly disappearing, it is still worth trying at least once.

How to get to Bangkok

Air
Bangkok has two airports, which are 30km away from Bangkok center. Suvarnabhumi Airport is where you arrive if you fly from Europe or North America. Don Muang Airport is a hub for low-cost carriers which mainly serve domestic and regional flights.
Train
Hualamphong Station is the best-know station in Bangkok, where many trains from various provinces arrive at Hualamphong at.
Bus
Bus is an affordable option to get to Bangkok from other regions in Thailand. Some of the most popular bus routes are Chiang Mai – Bangkok, Krabi – Bangkok, Phuket – Bangkok.

Best places to go near Bangkok

Chiang Mai
Chiang Rai
Sukhothai
Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi
Phuket
Koh Samui
Krabi
Phi Phi islands
Koh Tao

2. Chiang Mai

Wat Phra Singh - Chiang Mai - Thailand

Nestled in valleys surrounded by the mountains of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a must-visit destination in the Kingdom of Thailand. Just an hour’s flight from Bangkok, Chiang Mai is worlds away from the sprawl and hectic lifestyle of its modern sister. Since it was once the stronghold and capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is well-known for its cultural attractions such as sacred temples and pagodas, most notably, the holy Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The best time to visit this “northern rose” is between November to February, when a variety of flowers bloom and the days are warm and evenings cool with no rain. It is also the time when one of the most iconic festivals in all of Southeast Asia occur on the full moon night in November. Watch as hundreds of lanterns are released into the night sky during the Yi Peng and Loi Krathong Festivals. Chiang Mai is also an excellent place to join in educational activities like yoga and massage classes as well as religious studies and cooking classes. Many travellers use Chiang Mai as a base to explore the many ethnic minority villages found in the hills and surrounding countryside.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Chiang Mai.

Recommended length of stay

To fully explore Chiang Mai without feeling rushed, five days is the perfect amount of time.
If you don’t have much time, consider a two-day stay. You can spend the first day with the Elephants, then use your second day with the Monks, Temples and hill-tribe village.

Time to visit

November until mid-February is the dry season with comfortable weather. You can also catch the fantastic lantern festival in November. Arrive in April if you want to join the Songkran festival – one of Thailand’s most famous and most celebrated festivals. This time is summer, so be prepared for the heat.

Accommodation

Chiang Mai has a variety of hotels suitable for different budgets spread through 3 highly recommended areas—the old city center, Ping River, and around the Night Bazaar. Opt for the Ping River if you are looking for exclusive resorts and hotels with picturesque sceneries while the old city center is perfect in terms of reasonable prices and central location to visit all of the major tourist attractions. The Night Bazaar is always bursting with energy so it’s the perfect place for those looking to let their hair down and have some drinks while browsing the many stalls on hand.

Food

Chiang Mai isn’t a place you can look for fancy dining, but the street food is great and cheap. Even the best restaurants are highly affordable. Chiang Mai offers good food at malls, markets, shacks, and restaurants.
Western food in Chiang Mai is expensive compared to local food, and it is not easy to find a good western restaurant here.

Khao Soi

 

Transport options

Songthaews, taxis, tuk-tuk, motorcycles, Grab.

Songthaews, also called Red Taxi, do not have a fixed itinerary and cost from $0.7 to $2 depending on your destination. Taxis in Chiang Mai are not common, just waiting at the airport, bus and railway station, hotels. Grabs are also limited, and you have to wait a quite long time for the Grab arrival. Tuk-tuk’s rate starts at $2 for a short trip and $3 to $5 baht for longer distance. It’s an amazing experience to rent a scooter to explore Chiang Mai. Daily rental can cost about $3.

How to get to Chiang Mai

Bangkok – Chiang Mai: 700km
Air
Chiang Mai International Airport serves domestic and international flights to Chiang Mai. The primary domestic route is from Bangkok, while there are international flights from Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and China.
Train
The rail line connecting Bangkok and Chiang Mai has departures every day. The traveling time is from 11 hours to 15 hours.
Bus
This is the cheapest option to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. It takes about 10 to 12 hours. Traveling by bus is cheaper and faster compared to a train.

Best places to go near Chiang Mai

Chiang Rai
Sukhothai
Pai
Bangkok
Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi

3. Krabi

Krabi - Thailand

Located in Southern Thailand, Krabi is home to various beaches and about 200 captivating tropical islands, including the world-famous Phi Phi Islands, which successfully depicted in the movie “The Beach”.
The lush green of tropical plants takes over limestone karsts. This place possesses plenty of pristine beaches with clean sand, emerald green water, coral reefs, and diverse marine creatures.
You can explore Krabi by scuba diving, swimming, rock climbing, or just taking a leisurely walk around the town. Remember to try Thai specialties and seafood to get a deeper experience of Thai culinary.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Krabi.

Recommended length of stay

Spend at least 3 days or 5 days in case of unable to revisit.

Time to visit

The climate of Krabi is tropical with an average temperature of 32°C and the daily temperature rarely drops below 25°C.
The dry season (December – April) is also the best time in the year to discover Krabi.
The rainy season runs from May to November with the highest rainfall in September.

Accommodation

There are thousands of accommodation establishments, from affordable to high-end, mostly cluster in the central coastal area and Western Ao Nang.

  • Budget motels: around US$10. 
  • Two-star hotels: US$10 – US$30. 
  • 4-star hotels have a wide range of prices: US$25 – nearly US$1000.
  • 5-star hotels and resorts: at least US$100.

Food

There are about 1,000 restaurants in Krabi, with Thai restaurants accounting for almost 50%, and nearly 20% are seafood restaurants. Thai specialties in Krabi, especially fresh seafood, are highly praised by tourists. Some of its popular cuisines are influenced by Malaysian and Chinese food. The locals do a great job of adjusting and creating their own particular flavors by using Thai herbs, spices, and more. Pad Thai, Noodle soup, Som Tam – Gai Yang, Moo Ping, and Khao Niao, Seafood BBQ, Kanom jeen, Khao Mok Kai, Khao Man Kai are must-try Thai foods.

Transport

Taxi, songthaew, tuk-tuk, motorbike taxis, samlor, bus

A 4-seater car which costs you US$0.8/km (under 50 km), is the best way to get around. For longer distances (over 50 km), the taxi rate is US$0.5/km. For short distances, besides taxis, you can choose Songthaew, Tuk-tuk, Motorbike taxis, or Samlor. A bus is available at a cheap price, about a quarter of a 4-seater car rental expenses. The interprovincial bus station located in the center of Krabi Town, where you can find many daily buses to Phuket, Ao Nang, Bangkok, Surat Thani, etc. Islands around Krabi are usually reached by ferry, long-tail boat, and speedboat.

How to get to Krabi

Krabi International Airport stretches its arms to Bangkok and other main tourist destinations in the country. To get here, it takes almost 1.5 hours to fly from Bangkok and about 3 hours to travel by bus from Phuket.

Best places to go near Krabi

Phuket
Ko Samui
Ko Phi Phi
Bangkok
Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi

4. Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai - Thailand

Located in the hills of Northern Thailand, by the borders of Laos and Myanmar, the city of Chiang Rai has a diversity of mesmerizing natural landscape, unique ethnic minorities, an impressive collection of temples. Wat Rong Khun (also known as White Temple), the city’s most reputed Buddhist temple, represents an elaborate architectural style. Try to experience the market and enjoy the local cuisine to get closer to the local lifestyle. With a distance of 800km from Bangkok, it takes you about 10 hours to drive or 1 hour to take a flight.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Chiang Rai.

Recommended length of stay

2-3 days or 5 days for a complete getaway.

Accommodation

Luxurious accommodations seem to not dominant here since tourists pick Chiang Rai as a place to experience the virtual culture and natural beauty.

  • 2-3 star hotels: US$20 – US$30/night
  • 4-star hotels: US$50 – US$100/night
  • 5-star hotels: over US$100/night
  • And you need to pay more than US$2000 per night for a stay in Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort Camp & Resort

Food

More than 400 restaurants are ranging from European restaurants to Thai restaurants. Inheriting from Laos and Myanmar cuisine, food in Chiang Rai is distinguished from that of the Central (Bangkok). Khao Soi Gai Nong, Nam Prik Ong, Sai Ua, Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiao, Nam Prik Noom, Larb Muang Moo, Gaeng Hung Lay, Gaeng Kae Gai, Joi Yor Sod are local specialties.

Kao Ka Moo

Transport options

The taxi rate is about USD 0.4/km, while a 4-seat car price is around USD 50/day. Taking a bus is highly recommended for long-distance trips; however, traveling by Tuk Tuk or Samlor is more economical for short journeys.

How to get to Chiang Rai

Taking a direct 1-hour flight from Bangkok is the easiest way to get to Chiang Rai. Traveling by bus can be much more economical but expect to spend about 11 – 14 hours. You can also fly to Chiang Mai and then drive to Chiang Rai (more than 3 hours for 190km)

If you aim at heading to southern beaches after visiting Chiang Rai, you should follow this route: fly from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, take the road from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai and then fly from Chiang Mai to the south. 

Best places to go near Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai
Phitsanulok
Sukhothai
Bangkok
Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi

5. Phuket

Phuket beach - Thailand

Thanks to its magnificent nature, friendly hospitality, and excellent facilities for tourism, Phuket is one of the world’s premier resorts in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s biggest island is full of beaches fringed with palm trees, fresh seafood, rich sports entertainment, and of course, all-year-round sunshine. Phuket has two main seasons, the wet season from May to October and the dry season from November to April. The best months to visit are between November and February when the beaches are at their best and the sea at its warmest. Phuket is also the gateway to magnificent diving and snorkeling opportunities in the heavenly Similan Islands as well as kayaking and island hopping in the exotic Phang Nga Bay. Don’t forget to check out the island’s most famous monument, a statue of the heroines Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Sisunthon who regained the island in 1785 after repelling Burmese invaders.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Phuket.

Recommended length of stay

As a pricier destination in Thailand, the budget will affect significantly how long you stay here. A couple of nights give you enough time to hit the major beaches.

If you’re interested in off-the-beach attractions, spend at least 5 to 7 days. Staying for one week allows you to explore lesser-visited areas. On the northeast coast, you can catch a ferry or boat to visit Phang Nga Bay. Heading east to discover Phuket’s Old Town and Ko Siray. 

Time to visit

November to April: Considered the best time to visit Phuket with pleasant weather and calm sea. But the price is high due to the flux of tourists coming here. 
May to October: Monsoon season with rain and strong wave. If you love surfing, then this time is perfect for you.

Accommodation

Phuket is one of the most ideal beach destinations in all of Thailand. With excellent facilities for tourists, there are so many wonderful hotels, resorts, and guesthouses to choose from. The busiest area of Phuket, Patong, is filled with tons of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants situated on Bangla Road and open ‘till late. If you’re a couple looking for romance or a family, you may enjoy Kamala and Karon Beaches in the south or Khao Lak and Bangtao in the north. Keep in mind most resorts here are averaging around US$150 per night, while guesthouses and homestays offer affordable stays starting at US$40 per night.

Food

If you love food, you will probably love Phuket. Phuket is especially famous for its fresh and affordable seafood, which can be found at any beach town. Going further into the Old Town, you’ll experience a fusion cuisine with a variety of dishes.

Homok

Transport options

Songthaews, taxis, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, motorcycle taxis, boats, Grab, Phuket smart buses.

Songthaews and taxies or Grab taxis are popular and have a lower price than other types of transportation. Fares of Songthaews range from $0.4 to $1.5; those of taxis are set at $1.7 for the first two kilometers and $0.2 per additional kilometer. Tuk-tuks in Phuket are more expensive than those anywhere else in Thailand, costing up to $3.5 per short trip. If you desire to explore this island by yourself, renting a motorbike is a wonderful choice, but also risky. Daily motorbike rental is about $8. Besides local buses, Phuket smart buses, launched in 2018, are also worth a try, costing from $1.5 to $6 depending on your destination. Longtail boats are perfect for getting small islands and inaccessible beaches with the prices range from $30 to $65 per round trip.

How to get to Phuket

Air
Phuket International Airport is one of the busiest airports in Thailand, with many domestic flights from/to Bangkok, Pattaya, Ko Samui, and Chiang Mai. You can also find regular flights that link Phuket with Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, and several cities in Europe.
Bus
You can easily find buses from other regions like Bangkok, Krabi, Phang Na and Surat Thani that arrive at the central bus station in Phuket Town. The buses offer basic air-con, or bathroom and more legroom with extra bath.

Best places to go near Phuket

Krabi
Koh Phi Phi
Koh Samui
Bangkok
Ayutthaya
Koh Tao

6. Koh Samui

Koh Samui beach - Thailand

In the 1970s, Koh Samui Island was empty, with only a few bungalows and tourists visiting. But in the early 1990s, the number of tourists traveling to the island increased rapidly which boosted its tourism industry vigorously. Koh Samui now ranks second after Phuket in terms of the number of tourists visiting each year, and with its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters harbouring colourful coral reefs sparkling in the sunshine, it’s not hard to see why. Take a few days to explore the impressive Angthong Marine Park, a picturesque archipelago of 42 pristine islands, and when you tire of the beach, journey inland to gaze at beautiful waterfalls like Na Muang I and II.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Koh Samui.

Recommended length of stay

A 4-day itinerary is enough to cover the best sights of the island. The majority of travelers prefer to stay in Koh Samui for four days. Spending a week here if you want to discover its abundant cultural attractions, besides palm tree, and edged beaches.

Time to visit

January to March is the ideal time for island hopping in Koh Samui with dry great beach weather. This time Koh Samui also welcome flux of tourists so beaches will be crowded.

Accommodation

Koh Samui is very popular with honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic stay away from it all. The majority of hotels and resorts have their own swimming pools with ocean views and stunning beaches, such as Banyan Tree Koh Samui being a typical example. Some hotels are also located within the mountains showcasing breathtaking views of the island and sea, like the Ritz-Carlton. In addition to these top properties, Koh Samui also has cute guesthouses and boutique stays for those looking to save money in this gorgeous destination.

Food

From hole-in-the-wall restaurants, coffee shops to internationally-acclaimed restaurants with fantastic beach dinner, every taste is catered to in Koh Samui.
Samui is known to have the best coconuts in Thailand, so why don’t you add this fresh fruit to your daily menu. Being an island, seafood is fresh because local fishermen go catching every day.

Massaman curry

Transport options

Songthaews, Grab, NaviGo, taxis, motorcycles, motorcycle taxis, private cars, bicycles.

The cheapest method of moving around Koh Samui is by songthaews which cost about $1.5. The problem is there are no predetermined routes and their prices depend on the distance you travel. Taxis in Koh Samui are uniformly yellow and maroon, but make sure to ask the driver to set the meter before you go. Compared to Grab, NaviGo, a ride-sharing app, is much more popular and cheaper, even 30% cheaper than taxis. Car and motorcycle rentals are also common. A daily motorbike rental costs $7 – $8 and the daily car price is about $30 depending on the type of car you hire.

How to get to Koh Samui

Air
The most convenient way to get to Koh Samui is by taking a 1-hour flight from Bangkok. There are also many flights to this beautiful island from Thailand’s major destinations, including Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya, and Phuket.
Train or bus + ferry
Get a train or bus to Surat Thani from where you need to catch a ferry to Koh Samui. If you’re traveling from a nearby island, there are ferry from Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao to Koh Samui.

Best places to go near Koh Samui

Phuket
Krabi
Phi Phi islands
Bangkok
Ayutthaya
Koh Tao

7. Koh Tao

Koh Tao - Thailand

Koh Tao means “Turtle Island” in the Thai language. And, as the name suggests, the island is full of sea turtles in the surrounding turquoise seas. It’s also believed that the name may be derived from the shape of the island resembling that of a sea turtle. The fatigue of the long journey to Koh Tao seems to vanish on the spot when visitors catch a glimpse of the poetic beauty of Ao Ma Muang and Ao Hin Wong, two famous beaches on the island. This small island in the Gulf of Thailand belongs to the Surat Thani province and is an ideal stepping stone for those wishing to visit Koh Phangan and Koh Samui to the east. Koh Tao is one of the top places to scuba dive in all of Southeast Asia and welcomes millions of visitors every year.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Koh Tao.

Recommended length of stay

If your priority is diving, snorkeling and enjoying beautiful beaches, spend at least 3 full days (discounting your arrival and departure day). If you want to experience something beyond the beaches, like hiking, looking out for wildlife, stay for a week.

Time to visit

July to September: The best time for diving in Koh Tao with warm weather and great visibility. The island during this time is busier so you’d better book accommodation in advance.
February to May: If you don’t mind the heat, February to May is also a good time to visit Koh Tao. The skies are clear, sunny all day. Whale Shark is common in this period.

Accommodation

Accommodation in Koh Tao tends to be higher than other parts of Thailand due to its small size and popularity with scuba divers. It is advised to reserve accommodation well in advance as if you show up without, you may wander the island for a long time with no place to sleep! Particularly, if visitors plan to take a scuba diving course on the island, then most of the centers here have their own resorts that offer discounts or are included in the package when you book ahead.

Food

Experience traditional food with unique seafood twists in Koh Tao, most importantly, Kaeng Khiao Waan, a green curry made from coconut milk and a variety of herbs and vegetables. The green color comes from the use of fresh green chilies while fish is used as the main protein source.

Other curries to try include Massaman and Panang curry, slow-cooked Arabic-inspired dished with steamed mustard greens, pickles, sweet-sour chili sauce, raw garlic, fresh bird’s eye chilies, juicy chicken and boiled eggs, served with steamed rice.

Transport options

Walking, bicycles, motorcycles, Songthaews, taxis, longtail boats.

Generally, getting around Koh Tao requires carefulness whether you are walking or driving because there are not many concrete roads. Walking and cycling are great ways to indulge in the beauty of this island, but also more challenging due to some certain hilly paths. Motorbike rental rates start at $5/day for a manual, and from $5 to $7 for an automatic. While Songthaews can be found anywhere during a day, taxis are only available in the main road that runs through the middle of the island. Otherwise, jumping on a traditional longtail boat to visit hidden bays is also an amazing experience, with the price is around $50/day.

How to get to Koh Tao

Air + ferry
There is no airport in Koh Tao, so if you are planning to fly, book a flight to Koh Samui or Surat Thani. Then catch a ferry to reach the island.
Bus/train + ferry
From Bangkok, catch a bus or train to Chumphon, then do a boat journey to Koh tao. From nearby island to Koh Tao There are daily ferries to Koh Tao, depart from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Book the ticket at least one day in advance to secure your slot.

Best places to go near Koh Tao

Koh Samui
Krabi
Phi Phi islands
Phu Ket
Bangkok
Ayutthaya

8. Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Historical Park - Thailand

Built by King U-Thong in 1350, Ayutthaya represents 400 years of the golden past of the Kingdom of Siam. It remained the capital of Thailand until 1767 when the neighbouring Burmese invaded and destroyed the entire city. Nowadays, visitors can still admire the splendour of these historic ruins which are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on a day-trip from Bangkok, which is only 76 km away. Make sure to inspect Wat Phra Mahathat and Wat Chaiwattaranaram during your time in Ayutthaya.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Ayutthaya.

Recommended length of stay

The most popular itinerary is an Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok as it’s located just 85 km north of Thailand’s capital. But if you are interested in ancient temples and indigenous culture, one day is not enough. Manage to spend two nights here. You will have more time to visit the fascinating temples and catch the Ayutthaya river cruise.

Time to visit

Ayutthaya is generally hot and humid year-round.
November to January: the perfect time to travel to with less chance of rainfall and the temperature remains in the thirties.
Late March and April: the temperature can reach up to 45°C (113°F). From June to September: the stormy and also off-peak season of the year.

Accommodation

Most visitors to Ayutthaya do so on a day-trip or on their way to other destinations like Erawan National Park, Phitsanulok, and Sukhothai. However, there are plenty of accommodation options here at reasonable prices between US$4-50. The luxurious Sala Ayutthaya along the Chao Phraya River starts at US$200 per night with an opulent swimming pool, art gallery, and riverside dining room overlooking the impressive Wat Phutthaisawan.

Food

Although Ayutthaya is not renowned for its dining scene, the city has enough food options to keep travelers satisfied. Affordable western food like pasta, pizza, and steak are available at the backpacker strip around Naresuan Soi 1; While the night market is a good place to enjoy local fare. If you want to taste Ayutthaya’s signature food – the giant freshwater river prawns, head to the riverside area along U-Thong Road.

Mu daeng thai food

Mu daeng

Boat noodles thai food

Krung Kao boat noodles

Transport options

Tuk-tuks, taxis, motorcycles, motorcycles, bicycles, boats.

Unlike other destinations, tuk-tuks in Ayutthaya are more popular than taxis, with the price is about $7/hour per after haggling. There are numerous places renting bikes and motorbikes. Daily bike rental costs about $1.5 and the motorbike one is about $5. Besides that, taking a boat is a quite pleasant way to contemplate the beauty of temples and sightseeing. A boat trip per hour costs from $17 to $20.

How to get to Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is more than 80km north of Bangkok, so the easiest way to get to Ayutthaya is from this bustling capital city.
Bus
As of 2016, the regular city bus between Ayutthaya and Bangkok no longer exists. Now you need to book minivan instead, which takes about 2 hours (or longer during peak hour). Train Trains to Ayutthaya, departing from Hualamphong Station every hour or so, takes you about 80 to 150 minutes (depending on the type of train).
Boat
There are no public boats to Ayutthaya. You still can book a river cruise, which will most likely include pickup, drop off, and meals.

Best places to go near Ayutthaya

Bangkok
Sukhothai
Chiang Mai
Chiang Rai
Koh Samui
Krabi
Phuket
Phi Phi islands

9. Phi Phi islands

Maya Bay - Thailand

Phi Phi is an archipelago of 6 islands in Southern Thailand’s Krabi province. This paradise was first noticed when it was used in the Hollywood Blockbuster movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo Dicaprio in 2000. With emerald green water, dramatic cliffs, tropical sandy beaches, Phi Phi is an ideal tourist attraction when traveling to Thailand between November to April. Enjoy days sunning on the beach, snorkeling in the water, or hiking through the hills for incredible panoramic views of the sparkling Andaman Sea, tropical jungles, and outrageously beautiful sunsets. One of the easiest ways to get around Phi Phi is by longtail boat – use this for exploring the area as well as when you want to visit Krabi main-land or Phuket.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Koh Phi Phi.

Recommended length of stay

If it’s your first time in Phi Phi, four nights could be a good choice.

In case you are on a short trip or have another beach destination on the itinerary, two nights in Phi Phi island are enough

Time to visit

November to January: light wind, clear days, cool at night. Due to the pleasant weather, this time is also the peak tourist season.
March to mid-May: hottest months with average temperatures over 35c and rising humidity.
Mid-May to October: It’s the rainy season in Phi Phi when you can get days of heavy rainfall. However, traveling this time is cost-effective. You can enjoy the island with less tourists and a low accommodation price.

Accommodation

Accommodation choices are quite plentiful here with a wide range of hotels, resorts, villas, and bungalows at affordable prices of no more than US$100 per day. Stay in wooden houses along the hillside of Laem Hin Beach and find yourself surrounded by fruit orchards with a panoramic view of Tonsai Bay and Phi Phi Kae Island. Or sink your toes in the sand at the luxurious Zeavola Resort and Spa.

Food

Most of the restaurants lie in Phi Phi center, in Tonsai Bay area. Dining is not the highlight of a trip to Koh Phi Phi, but don’t worry, you still can find some good Thai restaurants. If you want to try something else other than Thai, there are some fabulous restaurants with international flavors.

Khao Mok Gai

Transport options

Walking, long-tail boats.

There is no wheeled transport like buses, taxis in Phi Phi Island. Walking around the island is the ideal choice. Long-tail boats are perfect to travel between islands and beaches, costing about $5 per person for a short trip. If you are in a group of 4-5, you can pay about $15 each for a full-day trip on a private boat.

How to get there

Air
Fly to either Phuket or Krabi, then grab a ferry to Koh Phi Phi.
Boat
There are daily departures from Krabi, Phuket, Ko Lanta, Ao Nang to Koh Phi Phi. The frequency and ticket price may vary upon the travel season.

Best places to go near Koh Phi Phi

Phuket
Krabi
Koh Samui
Bangkok
Koh Tao
Ayutthaya

10. Sukhothai

Sukhothai Historical Park - Thailand

The first capital of the Kingdom of Siam, Sukhothai was a great civilization existing between the 13th and 14th centuries. Its name roughly translates to “the dawn of happiness”, and indeed this small area 427 km north of Bangkok has influenced many forms of art and ancient traditions, and is one of the reasons why Buddhism became so closely associated with Thai culture. Nowadays, a new city has sprung up and is coincidentally referred to as New Sukhothai while the ruins of the first Thai capital are found in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Sukhothai. Less visited than its contemporary counterpart Ayutthaya, Sukhothai is an excellent addition to any trip to Thailand, especially used as a stopover between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Sukhothai.

Recommended length of stay

If you come to Sukhothai to only see the ruins at the historical park, which is the most famous attractions here, one day is enough.

If you are a temple addict, consider staying here for three days. Ancient temples and buildings, statues in unique style will not disappoint you.

Time to visit

The period from November to February is the favourable time to travel to Sukhothai as the weather is mostly dry and cool with little rain. From May to July: it is blazing hot, uncomfortable to get around. Between July and October: there is heavy and constant rain which traditionally reaches peak levels in August and September.

Accommodation

Sukhothai has many accommodation options including motels, homestays, luxurious resorts, and traditional bungalows. Expect to pay between US$20 – US$50 per night no matter where you choose to stay, as most visitors to the region are just passing through on their way to Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Phitsanulok, or Chiang Mai.

Food

Along the road to the historical park, you will see a string of local food stalls and tourist-oriented food establishments. Rember to try the Sukhothai-style noodle, which is a mouth-watering plate of rice noodles with crispy pork, herbs in a slightly sweet broth.

Khanom dak nga

Transport options

Songthaews, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, bicycles.

Songthaews run between New Sukhothai and Sukhothai Historical Park with the fare of $1 – $2/30 minutes. Another suitable way to get around the historical park is by bicycle. Bikes can be hired at shops outside the park entrance for $1 for 5 hours. Motorbikes (from $7/day) can be rented at many guesthouses in New Sukhothai. Tuk-tuks are also available around here, costing about $20 for a trip to the Old City (15 km out of town).

How to get to Sukhothai

Bangkok – Sukhothai: 427km
Chiang Mai – Sukhothai: 307km
Chiang Rai – Sukhothai: 410km
Air
There are direct flights from Bangkok to Sukhothai Airport every day, which take you about 1.5 hours.
Train
Catch a train from Bangkok to Phitsanulok (7 hours). From Phitsanulok train station, take a local bus or tuk-tuk to Sukhothai (1 hour).
Bus
Tourists can easily find daily buses connecting Sukhothai with Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai. The traveling time is 7, 5, and 9 hours respectively.

Best places to go near Sukhothai

Chiang Mai
Chiang Rai
Pai
Bangkok
Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi

11. Similan Islands

Similan islands - Thailand

Koh Similan, one of the best-known island groups in the Andaman Sea, in Phang Nga province, southern Thailand, is also a strictly preserved national marine park. The lush green of tropical plants covers the entire 11 islands. The islands are home to pristine beaches with clean and fine sand, clear turquoise water that filled with a plethora of marine creatures, spectacular coral reefs. It’s no wonder Similan is heaven for diving lovers and explorers alike.
However, the daily number of visitors to the Similan islands has now been capped at 3,850. The park is annually closed for five months, from May 16 to October 14, to rehabilitate the marine ecosystem. Travelers are allowed to stay overnight only on Ko Paed (Island no.8 – the largest one) and Koh Miang (Island no.4)

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Similan Islands.


Recommended length of stay

Once you step on the island, you will have the feeling that a 2-3 day trip is not enough. And if you are a sea lover, leaving here is a difficult decision to make.

Time to visit

Similan Islands national park is only opened to the public from October 15 to May 15. In the dry season (December – April), you can comfortably discover the islands with March being the best time for diving. While the rainy season (May – Nov) with the highest rainfall in September, is not the ideal time to travel here.

Accommodation

Overnight tour boat, diving liveaboard, bungalow and tents which the park management board provides are types of accommodation for tourists in Similan Islands. There are only 25 bungalows, which cost about US$70. There are 40 tents each can lodge 2-3 people. The rental fee is about US$20 per night. Boats that provide overnight service often sell a full package of services, including dining and scuba diving, lasting from 1 night to 3 nights.

Food

You do not have many dining options in the Similan Islands. If you stay on the main island, there is a restaurant to try local dishes. In case you spend the night on board, they all have food service for you.

Transport options

There is no means of transportation on the islands except for several picturesque trails for visitors to take a leisurely walk and contemplate the tranquil and captivating natural scenery here. Speedboat is the major vehicle to move between islands.

How to get to Similan Islands

There are two easiest ways to reach Similan islands, both require you to take a flight to Phuket first. From Phuket, you can drive to Khao Lak (180km – 2 hours) then take a speedboat (67 km – 1 hour), or you can take a speed-boat direct from Phuket to Similan Islands (more than 100 km – 2 hours).

Best places to go near Similan Islands

Bangkok
Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi
Sukhothai
Phuket
Koh Samui
Krabi
Phi Phi islands

12. Koh Lipe

koh lipe - Thailand

Situated in the southernmost part of Thailand, near the Malaysian border, Koh Lipe is one of the islands that make up Tarutao Marine National Park.
This triangle-shaped island has three main beaches (Pattaya, Sunrise, and Sunset) on three sides. Except for Sunset, all the beaches in Koh Lipe are blessed with clear turquoise water and fine white sand.
Snorkeling, watching corals and sea creatures are the best ways to explore the beauty of Lipe.

Things to do

Click attraction icon on the map for the best things to do in Koh Lipe.


Recommended length of stay

Spend at least 2-3 days or 5 days to visit almost all the destinations on this charming island.

Time to visit

The peak season lasts from December to April, while the time between May and November witnesses the dim performance of tourism activity here.
September and October mark the highest rainfall.

Accommodation

More than 150 lodging properties are currently in operation on the island.
Motels and 2-star hotels: US$20 – US$50.
3-star hotels: US$30 – US$70.
4-star hotels: at least US$100.

Food

There are about 100 restaurants on the island serving tasty and affordable Thai, American, Spanish, Italian cuisine, etc. The food here, especially seafood, is recognized by plenty of demanding diners.

Transport

Koh Lipe is a very small island, so just rent a long tail boat or speedboat you can conquer the whole island and reach incredible scuba diving spots.

How to get to Koh Lipe

Option 1: Fly to Hat Yai airport, take a car from Hat Yai to Pak Bara pier (2 hours for 123 km) then take a speedboat.
Option 2: Fly to Langkawi airport (Malaysia) and catch a speedboat from Langkawi to Koh Lipe (1 hour for 50km)

Best places to go near Koh Lipe

Phuket
Phi Phi islands

Krabi
Ko Adang

Itineraries

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Thailand travel FAQs

Learn all you need to know before taking a trip to Thailand’s impressive collection of colourful modern cities, ancient temples, and marvelous beaches and islands.

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