Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia. Known for its idyllic beaches, it also offers many cultural attractions, such as temples and ancient cities, and unspoiled nature amidst dense jungles and natural parks.
The hardest thing then is choose what to do in Thailand, especially if it is the first time you decide to undertake this unique experience.
The country is very extensive and to create the travel itinerary in Thailand you will need to make a selection of the main destinations, according to your preferences and according to the chosen period.
In this definitive guide we see what are the main attractions, where to go in Thailand and how to draw up a travel itinerary.
What to do and see in Thailand
Usually it is the starting point for a traveling trip to Thailand, do not miss a visit to the immense and hectic Bangkok.
The capital of Thailand is one of the most fascinating cities in Asia, rich in culture, with Buddhist temples, imperial palaces and several museums.
Among the things to see are: the Grand Royal Palace, Wat Pho famous for the statue of the reclining Buddha of about 46 meters in length, Wat Arun, Phra Kaew Temple, Mahathat Temple, Wat Trimit temple.
But Bangkok is not just history and culture, the city is also famous for its buzzing nightlife and shopping.
Much loved by tourists are the characteristic floating markets and night markets, among these one of the most fun is that of Pat Pong, the red light district.
Around Bangkok there are several attractions to visit, such as Ayutthaya the ancient capital of Thailand, the palace complex Bang Pa In and Khao Yai National Park.
Although the city is very large, 3 days are enough to visit it, but the important thing is to choose the right area to sleep in Bangkok, so I recommend you also read the article: Where to Stay In Bangkok: Visit Bangkok
Just one hour from Bangkok (about 70 km) are the ruins of the ancient Thai capital, Ayutthaya, one of the most visited UNESCO heritage sites in Thailand.
Ayutthaya has been the capital of Siam for over 400 years, within the site there are numerous temples.
You can visit the ancient ruins on a day trip from Bangkok, or even better by updating for a night or two near the ruins, to experience the magical atmosphere that reigns in Ayutthaya in complete relaxation.
There are several guesthouses surrounded by nature, for example a good structure is Baan Tye Wang Guesthouse, also provides bicycles to reach the ancient capital.
Sukhothai is another ancient capital of Thailand, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the north of the country and for this reason Ayutthaya is often preferred, which is closer to Bangkok.
However, if you have a few more days available during your trip to Thailand and you are passionate about ancient history, I recommend a visit to Sukhothai, a wonderful place with a magical atmosphere.
The park is home to around 200 ruins and is easy to cycle around in half a day.
Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is the oldest in Thailand, the third largest in the country, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.
Khao Yai park is an unforgettable place, one of the best attractions to go to in Thailand if you are a nature lover, populated by different animal species, with waterfalls and breathtaking landscapes within the rainforest.
Khao Yai is located in the eastern part of the country 200 km from Bangkok, from where they organize tours with departure and return in the day.
Among the things to see in Thailand there is certainly the northern area, in partcolare Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, ideal for lovers of nature and ancient temples.
Northern Thailand is a unique place full of ancient history and breathtaking views.
If you plan to visit Northern Thailand obligatory stop is the city of Chiang Mai, the second largest city in the country, full of ancient temples (more than 300) and the starting point for various excursions into nature, including waterfalls, rice fields and traditional villages.
Among the many religious sites not to be missed is the Wat Chiang Man and Wat Phra Singh.
A valid alternative to the more touristic Chiang Mai is Chang Rai, starting point for the famous golden triangle and ideal for trekking and adventure enthusiasts who can reach the various tribal villages.
Do not miss the White Temple and Baan Dam Museum (Black House).
The north can be reached from Bangkok with a flight of about 1 hour or by train or bus, perhaps making several stops such as: Ayutthaya, Lopburi and Sukhothai.
The Sea of Thailand
After cultural visits and jungle trekking you can treat yourself to a well-deserved rest on a postcard-perfect tropical beach.
Depending on the period chosen for yours trip to Thailand you will have to decide between the Andaman side or the Gulf of Thailand, or as we did, challenge the climate forecasts and visit both areas.
Southern Thailand: Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea is part of the Indian Ocean, is located west of the Thai coast, south of Burma and is rich in islands and islets.
Among the most popular destinations to include in your travel itinerary are: Phucket, Phi Phi Island e Krabi.
A wonderful island, still little exploited by mass tourism is Koh Lipe, is part of the Tarutao Marine Park and one of the most spectacular sea destinations in Thailand.
The Andaman Sea is rich in marine life and particularly suitable for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts.
The best time to visit the beautiful islands of southern Thailand is between December and March during the dry season. We actually went to Phi Phi Island in August and found 3 days of sunshine.
Find more information in these articles:
- Phuket Island: where to stay in Phuket
- Phi Phi Island Practical Guide: Where to Stay and What to Do
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Siam is made up of some of Thailand's most spectacular islands. Among these there are three in particular that are competing for tourists from all over the world: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Ko Samui is known for its long beaches with classy resorts, Koh Phangan is famous for the Full Moon Party and is the perfect place for young partygoers, Koh Tao is ideal for those seeking peace and relaxation and for lovers of diving.
While the islands of the Andaman Sea are subject to the monsoon from May to October, the islands of the Gulf of Thailand are affected by the eastern monsoon between November and December, when the rains are most intense. The period to avoid is from mid-October to the end of December
If you plan to go to Thailand when it is summer with us, Koh Samui & company are the islands for you.
Find more information in these articles:
- Where to Stay in Koh Samui
- Where to Stay on Koh Tao
Koh Chang archipelago
Among the most authentic destinations to go to in Thailand is the Koh Chang archipelago, which in addition to the homonymous island also hosts the beautiful islands of Koh Mak, Koh Kood, Koh Wai and the Koh Rang Marine Nature Park.
The archipelago is still little traveled by tourists and is located in the Gulf of Thailand about 300 km south-east of Bangkok and only 6 km from the coast of the province of Trat.
The best time to go to Koh Chang is between December and May, avoid August which is the wettest month.
Thailand Travel Itinerary
Now that we've seen some of the top things to see and do in Thailand, you just need to plan your travel itinerary.
To make it easier for you, I have created a classic itinerary of about 3 weeks, which you can modify according to your preferences, the time available and the period chosen.
- Bangkok: 4 nights - discover the Thai capital and its surroundings
- Ayutthaya: You can visit the ancient capital in a day starting from Bangkok
- Chiang Mai: 3 nights - Visit the largest city in the north, its temples and spend a few days trekking in the jungle.
- Chiang Rai: 2 nights - From Chiang Mai you can continue to Chiang Rai, perfect for visiting the golden triangle
- Phuket o Krabi: 2 nights - from Chiang Mai you can continue to a location in the Andaman Sea (preferably from December to March).
- Phi Phi Island: 3 nights - from Phuket or Krabi it is possible to reach Phi Phi Island for a day trip or better if for a few days.
- Gulf of Thailand: 7 nights - Recommended stop especially in the summer months, perfect for visiting the islands of the gulf: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Start with the Best Guide to Explore Thailand
Tips, practical information, itineraries, ideas and maps to organize a trip to Thailand
Don't leave without Lonely Planet!
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