Thailand is a vibrant and exotic country that offers an unforgettable experience to all who visit. If you’re looking for an adventure of a lifetime, you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, I’ll be sharing my ultimate Thailand bucket list with you, featuring the very best things to do and see in this beautiful country.
From exploring ancient temples and bustling cities to lounging on pristine beaches and savoring the delicious street food, I’ve got you covered.
Table of Contents
Thailand Bucket List
Without further ado, let’s jump straight to the good stuff. Here’s the best things to do in Thailand…
1. Explore the Grand Palace in Bangkok
Did you really think I was gonna write an ultimate Thailand bucket list and not start it with the iconic Grand Palace?
The Grand Palace, which sits right in the heart of Bangkok, is actually a complex of buildings that was the residence of the Kings of Thailand for almost 150 years.
Whilst nobody lives there anymore, it’s still widely known for its stunning architecture, intricate details and rich history.
The complex is home to several important structures including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which houses a sacred statue of the Buddha made of green jade.
If you’re interested in visiting the Grand Palace, it’s open every day from 8:30am to 3:30pm. Be sure to dress appropriately as all visitors are required to cover their shoulders and knees.
To learn more about the palace, I’d recommend joining this guided tour where your expert guide can tell you everything there is to know about the palace.
It also includes a tour of some of Bangkok’s other famous temples like Wat Pho and Wat Traimit.
2. Go snorkeling on the Similan Islands
The Similan Islands are one of the best and most famous snorkeling spots in Thailand and for good reason.
Firstly, the water here is crystal clear so you’ll have no trouble seeing all the vibrant marine life swimming around you.
And another thing is that the Similan Islands is one of the best places to swim with turtles in Thailand. You’ll get the chance to meet these gentle creatures out in their natural habitat.
The islands are actually home to a wide variety of tropical fish, colorful coral, whale sharks and manta rays too.
If you want to experience snorkeling on the Similan Islands for yourself, you’ll need to take a boat tour.
I’d recommend joining this full day snorkeling tour from Phuket as it includes everything you’ll need including hotel pick-up/drop-off, lunch, your snorkeling gear and an expert guide.
3. Visit A Sky Bar In Bangkok
Have you ever been to a sky bar in Bangkok? They’re pretty famous for their stunning views and fancy cocktails.
One of the most popular ones is the Sky Bar at the Lebua State Tower, which you might recognize from the movie ‘The Hangover Part II’.
The Sky Bar is located on the 63rd floor of the Lebua State Tower and is one of the highest rooftop bars in the world.
It’s also known for its iconic dome-shaped bar and the fact that it’s open-air, giving you a 360-degree view of the city.
When I visited Red Sky Bar recently, I was simply blown away by the views! It really makes you feel like a movie star while you’re sipping on your cocktail up in the clouds.
4. Relax and unwind on Koh Lipe
In a nutshell, Koh Kipe is basically the Maldives of Thailand. It’s a small island in Thailand that’s famous for its crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches.
Here’s what the island looks like:
It’s also part of the Tarutao National Marine Park which is home to a diverse range of marine life making Koh Lipe a great place for snorkeling.
If you want to visit Koh Lipe, you’ll need to take a ferry from either Phuket or Krabi. There are also direct flights from Bangkok to Hat Yai, which is about a three-hour drive/ferry ride from the island.
Once you’re on the island, you can enjoy activities like snorkeling, scuba diving and relaxing on the beach. You can join onto a snorkeling tour like this one.
And if you’re looking for a party scene, there are plenty of beach bars and nightclubs to keep you entertained.
5. Explore the White Temple in Chiang Rai
The White Temple, also known as Wat Rong Khun, is famous for its stunning white exterior that’s covered in intricate carvings and glittering mosaics.
You can learn a bit more about the temple in this video:
It was designed by a Thai artist named Chalermchai Kositpipat who started building it in 1997. Works are still ongoing and aren’t expected to be complete until 2070.
He built the temple as an offering to Lord Buddha and he believes it will give him immortal life.
Did you know that the white color of the temple represents the purity of Buddha, while the glass symbolizes his wisdom and the mirrors represent his teachings?
To visit, you can take a tuk-tuk or a taxi from Chiang Rai city center. I’d recommend joining a Chiang Rai temples tour if you have the time as you’ll learn so much about the area.
This one is really highly rated and features small group sizes. You’ll see several other temples in the area alongside the impressive White Temple.
6. Explore Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is a gorgeous bay located in southern Thailand that’s famous for its dramatic limestone cliffs and crystal-clear waters.
Take a quick tour of the bay by watching the video below:
One of the most famous attractions in the bay is James Bond Island, which was featured in the 1974 movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’.
There’s so much to see here including hidden lagoons, sea caves and even floating villages.
Fun fact: The limestone cliffs in Phang Nga Bay were formed over 100 million years ago by ancient coral reefs that were pushed up from the sea floor!
To visit for yourself, you can take a boat tour from Phuket or Krabi. This tour from Phuket is really highly rated and will take you on a boat tour around the bay giving you a chance to see and stop at all of the best parts.
Just be prepared for crowds during peak season as this place is one of the most famous bays in the whole of Thailand.
7. Explore the Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon National Park near Chiang Mai is one of the most famous national parks in Thailand, and for good reason, as it looks like a real life fairytale!
You can take a quick tour of the park in the video below:
Doi Inthanon is named after the highest mountain in Thailand which stands at 2,565 meters tall.
It’s a popular spot for nature lovers with beautiful waterfalls, trekking trails and an abundance of wildlife to discover.
The park is actually home to several hill tribes, including the Karen and Hmong people, who have their own unique customs and traditions.
If you’re planning to visit, there are plenty of options for exploring the park including hiking, birdwatching and camping.
I’d recommend booking a guided tour like this one to make the most of your time. It’s a small group tour that includes lunch, an expert guide and transport all over the park to see the best bits.
As it is a large park, you’ll need some form of transport to get around. Try to avoid January to March as this is burning season in Chiang Mai.
8. Explore the ruins of Ayutthaya
This ancient city close to Bangkok was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam from the 14th to the 18th century. It’s famous for its stunning ruins and historic temples.
Ayutthaya was actually burned down by the Burmese in the late 1700s which is why it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of incredible ruins to explore.
You can see the remains of the old palace, several ancient temples and even a giant Buddha head engulfed by tree roots!
To get there, it’s an easy day trip from Bangkok by bus or train. I’d personally recommend joining a guided tour from Bangkok as it makes getting there super easy.
Having an expert guide is also a plus as there’s so much history to the place that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise!
9. See the Red Lotus Lake
Another thing that should definitely make it onto your Thailand bucket list is the Red Lotus Lake in Udon Thani.
This stunning natural wonder is famous for its breathtaking views of the water covered with vibrant pink lotus flowers.
Take a look at it in the video below:
Not only that, but you can also spot various species of birds, such as egrets, herons and cormorants, that make their home around the lake.
Once you get to the lake you can take a boat ride through the flowers or take a bike ride around the shores to explore the lake and its surroundings.
If you want to visit the Red Lotus Lake, the best time to go is between December and February when the flowers are in bloom. Don’t go at other times of year as there will be nothing to see.
You should also visit in the early morning between sunrise and noon as this is when the lotus flowers bloom and open up. The entire lake will turn into a sea of bright pink flowers.
10. Explore the Ang Thong Marine Park
Ang Thong Marine Park is a group of 42 small islands close to Koh Samui & Koh Tao that are famous for their crystal clear waters and stunning limestone cliffs.
It’s a popular spot for snorkeling, kayaking and hiking, with plenty of marine life and hidden coves to explore.
One interesting fact is that the park was actually the inspiration for the book ‘The Beach’ by Alex Garland, which was later turned into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Another fun fact is that the islands are home to a rare species of sea turtle called the hawksbill turtle. It’s one of the best places to see turtles near Koh Tao.
To visit the park, you can book a day trip from Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao, or stay overnight in one of the park’s bungalows or tents.
This guided tour from Koh Samui is one of the most popular as it gives you the chance to see the islands at sunset.
It’s a full day small-group tour that includes a snorkeling activity, food, all your transport and an expert guide.
11. Take a swim in Erawan Falls
Erawan Falls really is one of Thailand’s hidden gems that few people know about. It’s a seven-tiered waterfall located in the Erawan National Park just a few hours from Bangkok.
The falls are famous for their turquoise blue waters and the lush green surroundings. Each tier has its own unique charm and it’s a popular spot for swimming, picnicking and hiking.
Fun fact: The waterfall is named after Erawan, a three-headed white elephant from Hindu mythology.
To visit the falls, you can take a day trip from Bangkok. The park is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a swimsuit if you plan on taking a dip.
Oh, and don’t forget your camera! The falls are definitely Instagram-worthy so bring along your best Thailand Instagram captions.
12. Spend a night in a riverside cabin at Khao Sok National Park
The Khao Sok National Park is famous for its stunning natural beauty and interesting nature.
The park covers an area of over 700 square kilometers, making it one of the largest national parks in Thailand.
You can take a quick tour of the park in the video below:
Khao Sok National Park is home to the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, and its wildlife includes tigers, elephants, gibbons and more.
There are also limestone cliffs, waterfalls and rivers to explore. Today, visitors can enjoy a range of activities, such as hiking, canoeing and jungle trekking.
The best way to experience the park is to stay overnight in a riverside cabin. Khao Sok Riverside Cottages are one of the most popular options.
These cabins are typically built on stilts above the river and provide an authentic and unforgettable experience that really allows you to connect with nature.
If you’d prefer to visit the park on a day trip then you can join a guided tour like this one that includes swimming, kayaking and a hike to a secret cave.
13. Take a bike ride around Bang Krachao
Bang Krachao is one of Bangkok’s hidden gems that few tourists ever bother visiting.
It’s a man-made island located along the Chao Phraya River commonly referred to as the ‘Green Lung of Bangkok’ because it’s one of the last remaining areas of lush greenery in the city.
Bang Krachao is famous for its floating market where you can find all sorts of delicious Thai food and souvenirs.
It’s also home to the Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park which is a great place to get lost in nature. It’s best exploring by bicycle.
If you’re interested in visiting Bang Krachao, you can take a ferry from one of the piers at Chong Nonsi, Bang Na or Khlong Toei.
Once you’re there, you can rent a bike or take a guided tour to explore the island.
It’s a great way to escape the chaos of Bangkok and experience a more peaceful side of Thailand.
14. Catch sunrise at Mount Phu Chi Fah
Another thing that should definitely make it onto your Thailand bucket list is a hike up to Mount Phu Chi Fah which sits right on the border with Laos.
Here’s what the sunrise looks like from the top of the mountain:
The mountain, which sits at an altitude of 1,450m, is known for its breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
On a clear day, you can even see the border between Thailand and Laos from the top of the mountain.
If you want to visit Mount Phu Chi Fah, the best time to go is from November to February when the weather is cool and the skies are clear.
The best time to visit is at sunrise as the mountains below are surrounded by mist. It looks super magical and, trust me, it’s worth waking up early for.
It’s a pretty easy hike that is suitable for most people and only takes 20 – 30 minutes to reach the summit.
15. Get lost in Chinatown
One place that you’ve just gotta check out in Bangkok is Chinatown!
It’s a total sensory overload but in the best possible way. This neighborhood is famous for its vibrant markets, delicious street food and historic landmarks.
It’s also the largest Chinatown in the world and has been a hub for Thai-Chinese culture for over 200 years.
If you want to visit, I’d recommend going in the evening when the markets are in full swing.
Bring your appetite because you’ll want to try everything from fried noodles to dim sum to exotic fruits. You can even join a street food tour like this one if you want to try as much as possible.
When I visited Chinatown recently, I couldn’t believe how busy it was! I saw so many crazy things for sale on street food stalls like millipedes, tarantulas, centipedes and scorpions.
16. Head up to the viewpoint on Koh Nang Yuan
If you haven’t heard of Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand then you’re in for a real treat!
This stunning little island sits just off the coast of Koh Tao and it’s pretty famous for its picturesque beaches and crystal-clear waters.
It’s actually made up of three tiny islands that are connected by a sandbar so you can easily walk from one to the other at low tide.
Fun fact: Koh Nang Yuan is actually a private island that’s owned by a resort but anyone can visit (you don’t need to stay at the resort).
There’s great snorkeling and diving around the island and you can even take a hike up to the viewpoint for some amazing views of the surrounding islands.
To get there, you’ll need to take a boat from the nearby island of Koh Tao. The easiest way to see the island is by joining a day tour from Koh Tao.
This one includes a snorkeling activity, lunch, a visit to 5 different nearby islands and underwater photos of you so you can remember the trip forever.
17. Visit the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
Wat Pho is a massive temple complex in Bangkok that’s famous for its giant reclining Buddha statue. Seriously, this thing is huge – it’s over 46 meters long and covered in gold leaf.
But that’s not all there is to see at Wat Pho. The temple complex is also home to over a thousand other Buddha statues as well as beautiful gardens and intricate architecture.
Fun fact: Wat Pho is actually one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, dating back to the 16th century.
To visit you can take a boat along the Chao Phraya River to the nearby Tha Tien pier. From there, it’s just a short walk to the temple complex.
You can also visit Wat Pho on a guided tour to learn more about it. This half day private Bangkok tour will take you all over the city showing you the best sights.
18. Climb to the top of the Golden Mount
The Golden Mount, also known as Wat Saket, is a really cool temple that’s perched on top of a man-made hill in the heart of Bangkok.
It’s famous for its stunning golden chedi (stupa) and panoramic views of the city.
Visiting this place isn’t for the faint hearted as you will have to trek up 320 stairs to reach the top.
I did it recently and found the climb to be fine as there’s plenty of resting stops along the way.
You’ll definitely be rewarded for your efforts as, when you reach the top, you’ll get impressive 360º views of Bangkok.
You’ll get to visit the Golden Mount as part of this private Bangkok city tour.
I’d really recommend climbing the Golden Mount if you have time as it’s really stunning and allows you to explore more of Thai history and culture.
19. Explore Pai Canyon
Pai Canyon should definitely make it onto your Thailand itinerary as it’s famous for its breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and its unique hiking trails.
It’s made up of a collection of narrow ridges and rock formations making it a great spot for thrill-seekers looking for an adventurous trek with a bit of a challenge.
The trek itself is moderate in difficulty and takes around 2.5 hours to complete. Sunset is one of the best times to visit as the views are just magical.
You can hike the trails on your own or take a guided tour to make the most of your experience. Just be sure to wear proper shoes and bring plenty of water!
20. Go beach hopping on Koh Samet
Koh Samet is one of Thailand’s lesser known islands meaning it’s much quieter than some of the more famous ones like Koh Samui.
Just like most Thai islands, it’s famous for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. It’s super laid back and calm.
Koh Samet is actually one of the closest Thai islands to Bangkok. You can easily get from Bangkok to Koh Samet by bus & ferry in just 3.5 hours.
Once you arrive, you can enjoy the beaches, go snorkeling, scuba diving or even take a hike across the island.
I actually visited Koh Samet recently and my favorite thing to do was explore some of the lesser known beaches on the south of the island.
As this area was more remote and secluded, I came across several perfect white sandy beaches that were completely empty so I had them to myself!
21. See the waterfalls at Nam Tok Thilawsu
Nam Tok Thilawsu is a breathtaking waterfall that’s famous for its beauty and stunning scenery.
The waterfall is around 200 meters high and is surrounded by lush greenery and mountains, making it a popular spot for hiking and trekking enthusiasts.
To visit Nam Tok Thilawsu, you can book a tour or rent a motorbike and make the journey yourself.
The route to the waterfall can be quite challenging but the stunning views along the way are definitely worth it!
22. See a floating market in Bangkok
Another must-do activity in Bangkok is to see a floating market for yourself! These markets are famous for their colorful boats which line the river selling goods.
You can see one of these markets for yourself in the video below:
The floating markets have a rich history dating back to the 19th century when canals were the main mode of transportation in Bangkok.
They were a hub for locals to trade goods and produce and they still serve that purpose today.
One of the most famous floating markets is Damnoen Saduak, located about 93 km outside of Bangkok.
At this market, you can buy everything from fresh produce and souvenirs to delicious street food from vendors in traditional boats.
Damnoen Saduak is a bit out of town so I’d recommend booking a tour like this one. It includes all your transport from Bangkok, a ride in a traditional Thai boat and an expert guide.
23. Ride in a longtail boat
No trip to Thailand is complete without riding in a traditional longtail boat.
Longtail boats are a traditional type of boat used in Thailand for transportation and fishing.
Today, longtail boats are also popular with tourists as the drivers now offer to take visitors on scenic tours of Thailand’s waterways, bays and lagoons.
One thing I will say though is that the boats can be quite noisy and bumpy but it’s all part of the adventure!
You can take a longtail boat in many places across Thailand but one of the best places is in Krabi as it gives you the chance to explore the limestone cliffs and hidden lagoons.
You can book onto a longtail boat tour from Krabi where you’ll be able to explore Phang Nga Bay in its entirety.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post on the absolute best things to do in Thailand. You should definitely add as many of these as you can to your Thailand bucket list!
Thailand actually offers a 60-day visa to most tourists which would be ideal to fully explore the country in its entirety. This is the visa I used when I visited Thailand recently.