15 Places You Must See in Thailand

Thailand has so many unique destinations that it could take you years to see them all. From its hundreds of islands to its metropolitan capital city, Thailand caters to all types of travelers and budgets.


On our recent trip to Thailand, we spent four weeks exploring national parks, ancient ruins, pristine islands, and modern cities. Here is our list of the top 15 places we think you should not skip out on your next Thai adventure.

Ayutthaya Historical Park


Ayutthaya is a fascinating historical park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. At just a one-hour drive from Bangkok, it makes for an easy and refreshing day trip out of the city. Ayutthaya was the second capital of Siam (Thailand) for 417 years from 1350 to 1767 until its destruction by the Burmese.

Bonus Tip: For all of the first time travelers to Thailand, we recommend using Bookaway Thailand.

In their attack, Burmese forces burned the city to the ground and destroyed sacred shrines, chedis, and Buddha statues. The structures that managed to survive the fire were buried beneath the ground for hundreds of years.


Nowadays, much of Ayutthaya has been unearthed and its ruins form an archaeological park. Visitors can walk around the ruins with relative freedom to see magnificent temples, palaces, and Buddha statues. The park is home to several striking buildings.

Among them are Wat Phra Ram Temple, Wat Chaiwatthanaram monastery, and Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Once you’ve finished touring the grounds, don’t miss the overgrown Buddha head behind Mahathat Temple. This unique relic has become a major tourist attraction and the iconic image of Ayutthaya.

Bangkok’s Grand Palace


After the destruction of Ayutthaya, the capital of Siam was established along the Chao Praya River in Bangkok. The Grand Palace complex was built for the new capital; a 218,000-square-meter walled city comprised of royal residences, throne halls, government offices, Buddhist temples, and priceless works of art.

Visitors should reserve a minimum of three hours to explore the site. Several striking buildings emerge as one walks around the vast complex. The upper terrace (pictured above) features a large golden chedi, a miniature version of Ankor Wat, and the Royal Pantheon that contains statues of past rulers of the Chakri dynasty.

Check out our article: Top 10 Things to See and Do in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok's Grand Palace

Among the Grand Palace’s other buildings is the exquisite Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha. As with all Buddhist places of worship, proper dress is required and the Grand Palace is the most strictly enforced site in the country. Ladies should cover their shoulders, men must also wear shirts with sleeves, and no short skirts, shorts, or tight pants are permitted. Admission is 400 THB per person. The Grand Palace in Bangkok is one of the must-do things to do in Thailand. To get a great sense of everything there is to see and do, we highly recommend you visit HolidayMe to plan your Thailand adventure.

Buy your tour tickets for the Grand Palace today!

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market


Thailand’s markets are exciting, lively and a significant part of the local culture. Experiencing the flurry and sensations of a floating market from a long-tail boat is a memorable way to spend a morning. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is about an hour and a half drive from Bangkok. Although it has become quite the tourist attraction, it is a completely functional marketplace with food, souvenirs, clothing, and fresh produce. If you don’t want to visit with a group, your hotel can help hire you a private driver/ taxi to take you both ways (approximately $60 USD but prices can vary). Plan to depart at 6 or 6:30 a.m. and eat breakfast at the market. Vendors sell noodle bowls, coconut pancakes, spring rolls, fresh fruit, and stir-fried dishes, which you can eat on the boat as you see the market.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

This particular market fills up quickly with tourists by mid-morning, so it is important to arrive early to avoid the boat traffic. The price for a one-hour long boat tour will run you another $60 USD. The tour usually includes several stops at souvenir stalls and a coconut processing plant. If you are not interested in any of these (truthfully, I did not enjoy them) and wish to just go to the market, tell the agent at the dock and work out an arrangement. The boat captains generally don’t speak English. Don’t forget your camera and bring cash for your purchases.

See also
10 Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

NOTE: There are several multi-day Thailand tours available that include Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok, and many other locations around the country.

Chiang Mai Sunday Night Walking Street


Chiang Mai is known as the “Rose of the North.” Expats from all over the world are seduced by Chiang Mai’s laid back culture, beautiful Buddhist temples, plentiful restaurants, and spirited nightlife. Even if you don’t plan on moving here, you should definitely check out Chiang Mai’s bustling shopping culture. Every evening, the city hosts its night bazaar – a favorite among bargain shoppers.

Check out 10 Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

You can browse the clothing, street food stalls, DVDs, jewelry, Thai silk, accessories, and shoes along Chang Khlan Road, east of the old side of the walled city. The scene is pretty much the same every night, with locals and tourists turning up for some delicious street food and people watching. But the best night of shopping in Chiang Mai is the Sunday Night Market, or “Walking Street.”

Chiang Mai Sunday Night Walking Street

This market is the largest one of the week and stretches one kilometer down Ratchadamnoen Road. Unlike the regular nightly bazaar, the Sunday market has more arts and crafts for sale. Thais from neighboring villages come to sell their handmade items. Lanterns, wooden boxes, masks, paintings, and string lights are just some of the things you will see. The Sunday Market also brings local musicians and street performers. Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Walking Street last from 4 p.m. to midnight. Remember to bring cash and don’t be afraid to negotiate with the vendors.

Elephant Nature Park


When in Chiang Mai, a day at the Elephant Nature Park is an exciting and unforgettable eco-tour for animal lovers. Elephant Nature Park is a rescue and rehabilitation center for abused, elderly, and injured Asian Elephants. What began as a personal quest for Sangduen “Lek” Chailert in 1992 has blossomed into one the world’s most respected elephant sanctuaries. Lek and her team of caretakers, vets, groundskeepers, and volunteers are devoted to ensuring that each rescue elephant lives out the rest of its life in peace and health at the Elephant Nature Park. The herd, currently made up of 30 members, is free to wander the park, bathe and feed at their leisure, as well as interact with park guests.

Elephant Nature Park

Visitors will learn about the plight of the Asian Elephant in street begging and logging industry, have the opportunity to observe their natural behavior, feed them, and bathe them in the river. All proceeds from admission go towards feeding the elephants (each one consumes nearly 100 pounds of fresh produce each day!) and general upkeep of the park. This is a fantastic day trip to take with the family or a group of friends. After listening to their stories and witnessing their individual personalities, visitors will come away with a newfound respect for the species, and beautiful memories and photographs. For prices and details about day visits to the park, click HERE.

Tiger Kingdom


Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai provides the rare opportunity to come eye-to-eye with some of nature’s most impressive predators, tigers! Tiger Kingdom is a short half-hour drive from Chiang Mai’s city center to the town of Mae Rim. The center allows guests to interact with tigers of all ages and sizes (from three months to adults). All the tigers that live here were born in captivity. They are fed twice daily and spend the day playing with their keepers and amongst themselves.

Tiger Kingdom

Since they are hand-raised, the tigers do not pose a threat to visitors. To dispel a few myths about Tiger Kingdom: these tigers are NOT drugged, no tranquilizers or sedatives. They are bright-eyed, active, healthy, and could inflict a fair amount of damage to anyone if they so desired. With that said, guests are escorted through the park at all times. A day spent with the tigers in Tiger Kingdom is something you won’t forget. Fifteen minutes at each tiger enclosure will run you about $60 USD.

See also
An Unforgettable Night at KU DÉ TA Bangkok

Bo Sang Umbrella Village


Just a 30-minute drive east of Chiang Mai town is Bo Sang, a village that specializes in handmade bamboo parasols, or umbrellas. The “Umbrella Village,” as it is nicknamed, gives visitors the opportunity to see the entire process and purchase whatever designs they like. It is free to watch while the local women cut, sand, arrange, and paint these colorful parasols.

Bo Sang Umbrella Village

If you do decide to buy, you’ll be saving money by purchasing directly from the source (approximately $55 USD for a large umbrella plus the base and sea shipping). International shipping rates are generally posted in front of the stores and major credit cards are accepted.

Chiang Rai White Temple


Wat Rong Khun, or the “White Temple,” is a visually striking, ornate Buddhist temple located a 20-minute drive south of Chiang Rai. Conceptualized and built by Thai artist, Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple has become a highlight on many Thailand itineraries.

Check out 5 Things to Do in Chiang Rai, Thailand 

The White Temple’s design does not match the traditional styles of other Buddhist temples throughout Thailand, and that was the artist’s intention. Chalermchai has created a surreal representation of what he sees are obstacles to the path of enlightenment.

Chiang Rai White Temple

He chose white instead of the typical gold to symbolize the Buddha’s pure nature. His use of mirror fragments in the mosaics represent wisdom. From beginning to end, the White Temple is both a thought provoking art piece and impressive place of worship. Around the temple you will find coffee shops, souvenir stores, and restaurants. Admission to the temple is 30 THB.

Book a city and temple tour of Chiang Rai here!

Long Neck Hill Tribe Villages


The hill tribe villages of Thailand are known for their colorful dress, handmade crafts, and unique customs. The hill tribes that live in the outskirts of Chiang Rai include the Akha, Lahu, Palong, Lu Mien Yao, and the Karen “Long Neck” people. You can see them all in one place a short drive away from Chiang Rai’s city center. With one admission ticket, visitors can walk through the villages and meet the members of the tribe. The women of the Karen Long Neck Tribe have the most striking appearance – many wear the brass coils wrapped around their necks. These coils can weigh up to 30 pounds!


Visiting the hill tribes can be an awkward experience for many, including myself. You are essentially paying to walk around and take pictures of strangers. Each village will try to sell you their crafts, and although there is no obligation to buy, you will probably feel pressured. It was a strange, exotic, and unique experience but it may not be for everyone. I felt like my ticket supported their community, so I am going to say it was worth it. Plus, the ladies were very willing to pose for photographs.

Golden Triangle


The Golden Triangle Park is an area about 45 minutes north of Chiang Rai where the Mekong River separates Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. For many years this was a major opium production region, but the crop has since been eradicated from the area. Stop by the Golden Triangle monument (pictured), then head to the Hall of Opium Museum down the road. The museum was commissioned by the Thai royal family in their efforts to educate the public on the history of the opium industry and its effects on opium users.

Golden Triangle_Thailand

It is one of the most elaborate museums in the country and contains several exhibits, film clips, photographs, pipes, tools, and information. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is 300 THB per person. There are several local restaurants along the main road between the monument and the Hall of Opium Museum, most of which have river views.

Khao Yai National Park


At 300 square kilometers, Khao Yai National Park is the third largest national park in Thailand. It is also the country’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most visitors come for the day or long weekend to get a nice break from busy, noisy Bangkok. Khao Yai is home to several plant and animal species, but the three main attractions of the park are Asian elephants, white-handed gibbons (pictured), and the giant hornbill.

See also
Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, or Lopburi: Which Ancient Thai Ruins Should You See?

Khao Yai is one of the few remaining places where Asian elephants still roam free, and where the gibbons are protected from poachers. Gibbons are unfortunately susceptible because throughout Thailand because baby gibbons are used to get money from tourists who wish to have their pictures taken with them. Oftentimes poachers will need to kill the babies’ entire families before they can get to them.

Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai has 50 kilometers of hiking trails, most of which require minimal physical fitness, and a two-way paved road running through it, making it easy for self-guided visits. If you wish to learn more about the park’s plants and animals, as well as have a better chance at spotting them, we recommend a half-day tour with a local guide. Green Leaf Tours provides inexpensive, educational tours and the guides are expert animal spotters. Khao Yai boasts a visitor center, restrooms, campgrounds, and a large dining pavilion with local foods. Other park inhabitants include macaques (always roaming around the picnic tables), water monitor lizards, sambar deer, and pythons. Khai Yai is a 2.5-hour drive from Bangkok. There are dozens of hotels and restaurants just outside the park along the main road.

Koh Lanta Island


Koh Lanta is one of the most pristine islands in Thailand, and an especially attractive destination for beach lovers. Compared to the crowded beaches and mass tourism of Phuket and Samui, Koh Lanta offers rustic charm and a laid back atmosphere. Koh Lanta’s finest beaches can be found along its western and southern coasts.

Bamboo Beach (pictured) is particularly serene. Located at the southern end of Koh Lanta, this 500-meter-long beach is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and lounging. It has crystal-clear water and a beautiful lush forest backdrop. Bamboo Beach has three boutique-style resorts, so it’s never overcrowded. WATCH VIDEO: The Best Stay in Koh Lanta: Lalaanta Hideaway

Koh Lanta Island

Other attractions around Koh Lanta include Lanta Old Town and Koh Lanta National Park (also has a beautiful sandy beach). Long Beach is also a popular beach for its swimming, sunbathing, and many restaurants. A word on transportation: When you arrive to Koh Lanta you will notice many tourists on scooters. The locals will tell you they are ideal for getting around the island, but I have to disagree. The island has many steep hills, secluded beaches, and unpaved side roads. If you want to see the main attractions, do yourself a favor and rent a car (approximately $30 USD per day). I saw tourists pushing their scooters up hill on many occasions.

Monkey Temples of Lopburi


For an experience slightly off the beaten tourist trail, spend a morning exploring the temples of Lopburi. The town is located 150 kilometers northeast of Bangkok and is known for its many ancient ruins, most of which are have not been restored. Unlike the historical parks of Ayutthaya and Sukothai, the ruins of Lopburi are more spread out and will require more effort to see them all. The temples draw visitors, however, Lopburi’s resident monkeys are the main reason people stop here. The town is literally overrun with hundreds of feisty, rambunctious crab-eating macaques. Most of them are concentrated around the two main temples – Phra Prang Sam Yot and Phra Kaan Shrine (across the street from one another).

Monkey Temples of Lopburi

The macaques are everywhere! Dangling from the light poles, crossing the street, scaling the temple walls, and constantly on the lookout for scraps of food. The monkeys are fed regularly at Phra Kaan, which is where many like to hang around. Across the street at Phra Prang Sam Yot, the monkeys have more space to play and bully tourists out of their snacks. You can’t leave anything on the ground that you wouldn’t want a monkey to grab. Locals will try to sell you juice and food to feed to the monkeys, but I would not recommend this. If you’ve got food, pandemonium will ensue, and these monkeys are not scared to jump on people’s shoulders or snatch food right out of your hand. The best thing to do is come an admire the monkeys… from a distance. WATCH VIDEO: Exploring the Monkey Temple of Lopburi

See also
5 Things to Do in Chiang Rai

Boat Tour of Phang Nga Bay


If you find yourself in Phuket, it would be a shame not to experience the fascinating Phang Nga Bay. Infamous since the release of films such as Roger Moore’s “The Man with the Golden Gun” and Leonardo Di Caprio’s “The Beach,” the bay is known for its unusual limestone rock formations, emerald waters, and ideal year-round swimming conditions.

Phang Nga Bay is located between Phuket and the Malay peninsula of southern Thailand. Sailing around will reveal dramatic limestone islands, lush cliffs, secluded beaches, lagoons, and hidden coves. Most sailing tours include canoeing, snorkeling, swimming, and lunch as part of their itinerary.

Boat Tour of Phang Nga Bay

We like Captain Mark’s Alternative Tours because they include a stop to the Koh Panyi fishing village for an interesting walking tour and delicious seafood lunch. A day sailing in Phang Nga Bay is an absolute must for anyone’s first Thai Vacation.

One of the best ways to experience the beautiful Andaman islands is on an Phi Phi island boat tour. The islands are a short boat ride away from the neighbouring isle of Phuket. Ko Phi Phi first rose to fame and became a popular holiday destination after being used as the film set of Leonardo Decaprio’s (2000) hit movie “The Beach”.

The islands are only reachable by boat. But due to the high number of tourists flocking to the islands each day, the best way to avoid crowds is to charter your own private Thai longtail boat. In doing so, it will add exclusivity to your day, and allow for a custom experience tailored to your liking.

Sukhothai Historical Park


Located about five hours north of Bangkok, Sukhothai was the first ancient capital of the Kingdom of Siam from 1238 to 1438. The Sukhothai Historical Park is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a magnificent place to explore by bicycle, car, or walking tour. Within the park there are several imposing structures. These include Wat Mahatat, the park’s largest temple (pictured), the unusual three-pillared Wat Si Sawai temple, and Pra Achana Buddha at Wat Si Chun. WATCH VIDEO: Where to Stay in Sukhothai, Thailand: Le Charme Hotel

Sukhothai Historical Park

These are by no means the only ones, but these three stand out and are quite impressive. Sukothai Historical Park requires a full day to explore. If you have the time and a rental car, visit the nearby Si Satchanalai Historical Park. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you’ll find more temples, Buddha statues, and striking chedis.

Don’t forget to check out JetSet LifeStyle Blog.

There are many fantastic Thailand Tour Packages available for every lifestyle and budget. Here are the top 10 tours I recommend in Thailand:

  • Bangkok: Full-Day Floating Market and Bike Tour 
  • From Bangkok: Ayutthaya Tour with Return River Cruise
  • From Bangkok: Khao Yai National Park Full-Day Tour
  • Chiang Mai: Full-Day Elephant Park Visit with Lunch 
  • Chiang Mai: Half-Day Doi Suthep & Meo Hill Tribe Visit
  • 3-Day Guided Golden Triangle Tour and Hill Tribes
  • City and Temples in Chiang Rai Half-Day Tour
  • From Phuket: Full-Day Andaman Islands Speedboat Tour
  • Full-Day Snorkeling Tour to Ko Rok by Speedboat from Koh Lanta
  • From Bangkok: Northern Thailand 5-Day Sightseeing Tour

NOTE: Whenever you travel, I suggest you purchase travel insurance to protect yourself in case any emergency situations come up. In my opinion, AXA Travel Insurance is the very best because it covers a wide array of issues. Buy your AXA Travel Insurance protection plan here!

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Have you been to Thailand? Leave us a comment below with recommendations about places you must see in Thailand!

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  1. Hi David,
    Hope you are doing well, I am from Malaysia and planning to be in Thailand in coming July for 10 days. I wanted to start my tour from Bangkok and End up at Karabi, so by road I can be back to Malaysia. Need your expert advise how to execute this to cover maximum places. With your above mention comments it seems it is difficult to cover entire places in this short time but you might have some idea to cover out of best places … Thanks in advance

  2. Hi David great web site.
    We are thinking of going to Thailand for Christmas ,
    3 nights Bangkok
    4nights Chiangmai Mai ,see the elephants and tigers
    7 nights koh Sami , what advise would you give us

  3. I want to visit Thai and around in May 2016 with my wife. Give me a gist of places and approximate expenditure in Indian rupees.How to get visa in India?

  4. Hello David,

    Thank you ever so much for the list of places one can visit in Thailand. It makes for a fantastic read. I have never been to Thailand but am now thinking about spending 20+ days in Thailand and visiting each place that is there to see.
    I live in India and wish to fly to BKK and visit places to her south in the beginning. Then I’d take a flight to the northernmost airport and work my way towards BKK, staying at each place for a night or so. I have looked up hostels and made a tentative list of places that I might stay at.
    Is there anything else that I need to take care of — have read about travel insurance, vaccinations, (although there are few which need to be taken as early as 3 months prior to arrival in Thailand) etc.
    Out of the places you’ve suggested, I am interested in visiting almost every site.

    Thank you once again 🙂


  5. Hi David,

    thanks for the post just see in right time , we are two best friends and planning to visit Thailand ( from 3rd March to 11th March ) is it good time to visit and any suggestion where we can enjoy these days ( like to do some boys stuff 😉 )

  6. HI David,

    Hope your well! could you please let know how many days would a leisure trip to Thailand be need to visit all the 15 must visit places needed ?


    • I spent about a month but if you want to see the majority of these place I would suggest a minimum of 10-14 days.

  7. Hey David thanks for the info how worried should I be about tourism in June if I were to visit Phuket, Phi Phi Islands etc? Thx

    • Hi Fritz, June is a low season month for Thailand because of the wet weather. Though you may get some rainy days, you won’t have the crowds of November-April. Also, the hotel rates are better in June 🙂 Enjoy!!

  8. Hi,
    I’m planning to be in Thailand sometime April/May, staying a 5 minute drive away from Koh Samui International Airport and Chaweng beach. Who could I contact about arranging a tour and/ or excursion. Seems as though the wonderful places you mention are not close by. Would love to experience the culture, wildlife etc. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Michelle, unfortunately I didn’t visit Koh Samui and I can’t recommend a tour/ excursion company there. I would definitely speak to your hotel for their recommendations – just specify if you want private or group tours. Hope the trip is amazing! 🙂

      • Hi David,

        Thank you for the quick response. Is there a way to see most or all the 15 places you’ve been to through somethings organized already?

  9. Hi David !
    We are planning to visit Thailand & Bangkok such as a really incredible destination. and your blog it very help fully and great !! thanks for sharing…

  10. Hi David, you’ve shared amazing places to visit. In fact, Thailand is a country which is replete with culture and scenic beauty, that’s why it is a popular tourist destination in the world. Wonderful post!

  11. Hi David,

    I am planning to Travel Thailand in March month alongwith my husband & 11 yr old son, is it a good time to travel during that month(due to weather) , Also which place you will suggest to visit in Thailand Bangkok, Phuket, Pataya or any other places. Thanks in Advance

  12. I loved visiting the elephant nature park Chiang Mai. Where else would you get to be that close to elephants, get to feed them, play with them in the river etc.? I wish I did the volunteer option of being there a whole week but I didn’t have enough time. I wish I could tell everyone to go there rather than booking one of the elephant rides.

  13. This is what i need when i go to thailand…. I’m making a plan to go to thailand… and i see your website…. thanks for making this…. making me easier for me to make my plan….

  14. Hi David,

    Great Blog. im planning a Thailand trip of 6 days from jan22nd -28th along with my wife. Could you please help me in planning the itinerary. what places should i visit . This is the first time am visiting and i have no idea of the places over there. Your help wis greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

    • Hi Born,
      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. As you can see above, there are dozens of suggestions from other readers and myself. I have no idea where you’ll be flying into, but for 6 days I would do Bangkok, Chiang Mai and maybe some of their surrounding day trips. Have a wonderful trip!

      • Thank you so much David. Iam planning for 3 days bangkok, 2 days chiangmai and a day in Phuket. Will that be good or should i prefer other places?

  15. Hi David,
    Many thanks for this very useful list of attractions and destinations. It helped us a lot, as we are planning a trip to Thailand.
    Can you tell us something about how safe it is to travel within the country and also in the Northern part? Do you have any good tips what we should and should not do? We will travel as a couple.
    Thank you so much!

    • It is very safe! People in Thailand are extremely friendly. Where will you be going in the north?

  16. Thanks for the wonderful list, i would definitely try to visit all of them.

  17. Hey David!

    Thank you so much for posting this article! It very informative! I am extremely nervous about traveling to Thailand for 2 weeks by myself. I arrive in Bangkok the 27th and dont leave until 11th. Is that plenty of time? Anything else you recommend?

  18. Hi David! I am planning a trip to Thailand in June- rainy, I know. We will be spending about 5 days each in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. I am very interested in the culture, religion, and history of Thailand. Do you have any recommended reading for before I go? I am so excited to follow your other recommendations for the trip! This blog is so helpful!

    • thank you Jessica! We hope you fall in love with Thailand as much as we did!

  19. Wow! David, this is a great list. You have put Thailand on the tourism map with this job. Thanks for sharing.

  20. I’ve done them all. Great list David.

  21. Hi David,
    You blog is really informative and updated. Thanks for sharing information. I am planning to travel in 2nd week of December (5 days Phuket/ Krabi) and wanted to do snorkeling. Can you suggest some good snorkeling places with clear waters and also the operators if you have info. I have heard with huge inflow of tourist in places like Phi-Phi, Phang Bay water has deteriorated and is not as good it use to be.

    Also I have to catch flight from Phuket Airport at noon from resort in Krabi. Can you suggest some budget mode of transport. Thanks

    • Thank you for writing. If you have to get from Krabi to Phuket airport you will have to take a boat and it then a taxi. It will take some time as it is not close. I would suggest changing your flight to Krabi airport if not it will take you many hours and cost a lot.

  22. Hi David, my fiance and I are heading to Thailand for our honeymoon in March for 3 weeks. Where and what would you suggest we see/go/do? We are 100% open to suggestions & guidance. We are after some relaxation on the beaches- but also love exploring & seeing all the culture has to offer.
    Much appreciated in advance.

  23. Hey David,
    My girlfriend and I are all set to go to Thailand from Dec 25-Jan 5. We have heard that Bangkok is overrated and to focus our time elsewhere. Our itinerary is Bangkok (1day), Pattay (3days), Phuket (4 days), and then fly back to bangkok and spend the rest of our time there. I can really use your input on fixing our itinerary. It seems like Chiang Mia is a great place to see as well, and nothing is set in stone yet except the flight. We want something relaxing, a little bit of the culture and city, and some of the best sites to see. Looking forward to your input.

    • Bangkok is not overrated, its really an amazing city and its huge! I think Pattay 3 days is good, are you flying to Phuket from their? 4 days in Phuket is good but please understand that it is a big island so getting around isn’t easy especially if you don’t rent a car. Chiangmai is another beautiful place with a lot to see and do 3-4 days at least. But personally if you have never been to Bangkok I would suggest at least 4 days. Please email me if you have any more questions!

  24. Hi David
    Me and my husband planing to go to Thailand end of this month for 2 weeks but I cannot decide how to book and where to go?.
    We r thinking to go Bangkok for 2 nights afterwards Thomas cook recommend us to go to khao lak for a beach holiday and stay rest of our holiday in there but We don’t wanna stay just in the hotel we want to see around as well.
    Can you please give us some information or suggestions how we should divide the time for things?
    As you know it s not very easy to fly any time Thailand when we go there we don’t wanna miss anything.
    Thank you so much

    • Hey thanks for writing me. I would suggest 3-4 days in Bangkok. I would say 3-4 days max in Khao Lak because that is a beach/resort town and you won’t see that much of cultural and historical stuff. The other 4 days you should go up to Chiang Mai and possible see one of the ancient cities (Sukhothai or Ayutthaya). From Khao Lak you should go down and see Phuket but that takes time possibly 2-4 days because its not right next door you have to take a boat or drive.

  25. Hello David,
    It will be my first time in Asia. 3 days in Bangkok, probably 1 day in Phuket and 1 day in Maya bay. Chiang may might also be an option. trying to figure it all out as I only have 7 days. 5 in Thailand and was thinking about 2 in Singapore or Bali or maybe Vietnam or Cambodia just to have a feel of it. I would love to experience the local lifestyle(restaurants mainly), versus areas with too many tourists. What do you think? In Bangkok, where is the best area to stay at to be in the middle of everything with public transportation.
    Thank you

    • Hi Claude, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I think your itinerary is pretty well rounded and I would also suggest Bangkok and Chiang Mai as great cities to base yourself out of if you only have a week. I haven’t been to Bali, Cambodia or Vietnam yet but I know you need plenty of time in those countries to really explore them. Singapore out of all of them is the smallest and easiest to tackle – the city itself has so much to see, do and eat! So if you have only 2 extra days Singapore might make the most sense. Also the airport there – Changi – flies direct to many int’l destinations. In Bangkok I stayed at the Ma Du Zi Boutique Hotel, which was near the Asok Skytrain Station. Anywhere you decide to stay, I highly recommend being near a BTS Skytrain Station so that you can easily access other parts of the city without having to take taxis. There is also a subway in Bangkok known as the MRT which is also quite useful and inexpensive to get around. Check out this article to give you some ideas: https://davidsbeenhere.com/2015/10/14/top-10-things-to-see-and-do-in-bangkok-thailand/

      Enjoy your Asia trip to the fullest!!! I hope I was able to help.

  26. Hi David,

    Lovely post! I’m travelling to Thailand with my husband from Dec 24 through Jan 3 2016. We’d like to see the main tourist attractions. We like partying a bit, but we also like our quiet and prefer something more romantic beach side and possibly avoid any over crowded destination. I’m clueless about planning this trip! I heard that Maya Bay has overnight trips that are pretty good. Can you please advise how I should split the 10 days that we have? Bangkok (4 days) – Ko Phi Phi/Ko Samui (3 days) – Koh Lanta (3 days). Are all the islands similar? Do you have a better suggestion for places to visit? I’d like to plan in such a way that I get to spend the new years on a beach. Open to suggestions! Also, what’s the best way to commute between places?

    Thanks a ton in advance for your guidance 🙂

    • Hey 4 days in Bangkok is perfect, but if you want to do Ko Phi Phi and Samui they are are not close to each other. It would be best to do Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Koh Lanta in those 6 days. Getting from Bangkok to the islands is a direct flight to Phuket or Koh Lanta. If you want to go to Samui it would be a flight from Bangkok. Please let me know what you think.

  27. Dear David,
    We are planning to visit Thailand & Vietnam in December with our 3 kids aged, 16yr boy,11yr girl and 6yr boy,please can you guide us to plan our itinery for 2 weeks which would cater the needs for kids activities as well as for adults or what other place would you suggest along with Thailand.

      • thanks

  28. hi, i just wanna thank for this guide. I used it for my homework. Interesting decriptions, photos… just love it. It’s very good that in the world are still people with a such pasion as you .( hope i’ll get an A ;))

  29. Hi David,

    I am planning on traveling from January 1-January 18 to Thailand with my boyfriend. I have been to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket before. I definitely want to do Bangkok and Chiang Mai again but I wanted to try out a different beach. Any recommendations? Also, I was thinking of traveling either to Myanmar or Cambodia and Vietnam. Any suggestions? Also, what are your thoughts of Pai, I was thinking of maybe adding this to our trip. Thank you so much

    • Hi Mariana,

      Yes I recommend going to Phuket but if you want a more relaxing (less touristic) experience then I suggest you go to Koh Lanta. There are so many islands and I suggest you look into different options. All three of those countries look amazing but unfortunately I have not been. I heard great things of Pai but I know it is a few hours drive from Chiang Mai and I didn’t have the time when I was there. Let me know if you need more help.

  30. Need advise please! I am traveling to Thailand with 3 friends in February, we will spend 5 days in Chiang Mai during Flower Festival and then we plan to take a train to Bangkok and spend about 8 days in that area. We want to make one or 2 stops along the way for maybe a day each. Can you suggest what are the places we shouldnt miss? Thanks!!!! And what Class of train service do you suggest?

    • Hi Lorenia,

      Thats great! Ok I suggest stopping in Sukhothai and in Ayutthaya. Each one deserves at least 24 hours. Let me know what you think.



      • Sounds great! We arrive in Bangkok, stay for 3 days just booked 5 days in Chiang May and we will play it by ear from there… we will make the stops you suggest and stay one or two days at each place and finish our trip in Bangkok. Thank you for the suggestion.

        What “class” of train do you suggest for the trip from CM south to these places?

  31. Need advise please!

  32. Hi David,

    Thank you for your post. It has been so helpful!

    I just booked a 12 day trip to Thailand. The plan is to spend 5 days in Bangkok, 3 days in Chiang Mai and 4 days in Phuket/Ko Phi Phi. As my time is limited, I’d like to fly between each destination. Is this a good idea? The flights seem pretty inexpensive and quick. Should I be nervous about small planes (rough flights), time spent in airports, delayed flights, etc? Also, will I have a problem toting a small suitcase around with me?

    Thank you,


    • Hi Nicole,

      Thank you for writing me. The best way to do this is to fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via AirAsia. From there Chiang Mai to Phuket via AirAsia. From Phuket to Ko Phi Phi its about a 30-45 minute boat ride. I would say to add one day or two to the islands but if you can’t it should be fine. Also try to take night or morning flights if they are available. Check the here for flight times on your specific dates: http://www.airasia.com/ot/en/where-we-fly/route-map.page

      Thanks again for reaching out!

  33. Hi David,

    I have booked my stay in Phuket for 8 days. Do we have Dolphin parks & Safari zoo’s in Phuket? If no. How difficult\easy is to commute to Banghkok from Phuket, probably for a day to visit the Zoo..Tiger park\Dolphin ride?

    Do we have frequent buses\boats, considering the cost? Much appreciate your responses

    Thank you

    Cijoy Joseph

    • Hello David,
      I am taking my two teenagers to Thailand in late June after they graduate. I was told its an affordable trip. I was planning 3 days in Bangkok, 3 days in Chiang Mai for the Patara elephant farm since my daughter is CRAZY about them, and 3 days in Phukat to enjoy some beach fun….scuba diving, snorkling etc. I am looking at package deals, $1500 ea with airfare, but concerned I might end up in area’s that are far from the main area or dangerous areas. Im a single Mom saving every penny to make this happen. Is there a certain area I should make sure I am staying near in these 3 places or rather area’s to make sure we stay away from? Do you know how I can get pricing and book at Patara Elephant farm. I’ve emailed but no response. And finally, what are the MUST SEE places that are worth the cost.
      Thank you David

      • Hi Julie,

        Sorry for the late response. For Bangkok, I would recommend staying in these central areas (Bang Rak, Lumphini, and Pathum Wan) also to get around use the MRT. For Chiang Mai try to stay inside the walled city. For Phuket we stayed at Davina Guest Homes https://davidsbeenhere.com/2014/07/04/video-private-side-phuket-thailand-davina-beach-homes/ on the south side of the island away from all the craziness of Patong Beach. The island is huge to get around the best way is a car, if you rent scooters it would take all day to get around.

        Bangkok – Here are my suggestions: https://davidsbeenhere.com/2015/10/14/top-10-things-to-see-and-do-in-bangkok-thailand/

        Chiang Mai – Tiger Kingdom, Elephant Nature Park, Old Town, Bo Sang (Umbrella Village), Doi Suthep, Koi Khro Road for epic foot massage, Sunday Night Market, Warorol Market and Wat Chedi Luang. Besides that eat lots of food!

        Phuket – Big White Buddha, Phuket Town, Phang Nga Bay and Wat Chalong

        • this hotel is way over budget I cannot affort paying $250 cad per night do you know other worthed quality /price places to stay in Phuket

  34. Hi! I will be traveling to Thailand next year. I am traveling with a friend and we want to see maybe Cambodia and Vietnam as well. Our trip is for 2 weeks. What else d you recommend outside of Thailand? Do you think Cambodia and Vietnam are a good idea? Thanks for any help!

    • Hey I would recommend dedicating the full two weeks to Thailand. You need at least four full days in Bangkok, three in Chiang Mai and another week in the islands. Cambodia needs between 7 – 10 days, Vietnam is a huge country which would need 20-25 days. Remember you have to travel from place to place and the major destinations are not close to each other.

      • Hi there,
        Do you recommend any tour operator who could take us to all the above places listed above by you .

      • This is super helpful to know. Thank you!

  35. Do you think I should get some kind of a tourist guide in Bangkok and Phuket or is it olay to travel by myself useing Taxis and busses to go there and all?

    • Hi Sitab, Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. It really depends. Bangkok, for instance, has a Sky train, metro, and river boat transport systems so if you don’t mind walking a bit to and from the stations, it’s pretty easy to get around without taxis or renting a car. Here’s an article we published about what to see in Bangkok: https://davidsbeenhere.com/2014/09/25/top-10-things-see-bangkok-thailand/

      Phuket is quite different. I opted to rent a car with excellent 4 wheel drive (you will need it since the roads can be steep and winding) which worked out well since I was there for about 5 days. I was able to see a lot more than just beaches. I came across this information from the Frommer’s website about getting aroud in Phuket…. Hope this helps! Have a great trip.

      By Songtaew (Covered pick-up trucks)

      The local bus terminal is in front of the Central Market, on Ranong Road, in Phuket Town. Fares to the most popular beaches range from 20B to 30B. Songtaews leave when full, usually every 30 minutes, and they run from 7am to 6pm between Phuket Town and the main beaches on the west coast.

      By Tuk-Tuk

      Within Phuket Town, tuk-tuks charge 100B to 200B even for the shortest trips, but they can get away with it because there’s no alternative for short hops. They provide the most convenient way to get to the bus station or to Phuket Town’s restaurants.

      In the busy west-coast beaches, tuk-tuks and small Daihatsu minitrucks roll around town honking at any tourist on foot, especially in Patong. It is the only way to travel between beaches. Bargain hard and beware that these guys will try to eke every baht out of you. Expect to pay about 600B from town to the airport, 500B from town to Patong Beach, and 200B from Patong Beach to Karon Beach. At night, you’ll have to pay through the nose, usually double the normal day rates. In early 2007, the beach and main roads began using one-way traffic, and transport prices have been rising further due to the longer distance.

      By Motorcycle Taxi

      Motorcycle taxi drivers, identifiable by colored vests, make short trips within Phuket Town or along Patong Beach for fees as steep as 100B. Don’t let them talk you into anything but short in-town rides, unless you’re looking for a death-defying F1-style race along the switchback highways between beaches.

      By Car

      You should be extremely cautious when driving yourself around Phuket. Roads between the main beaches in the west and connecting with Phuket Town across the center of the island are dangerously steep and winding, with more than a few hairpin turns and lots of unpredictable traffic. Having said that, renting a vehicle here makes much more sense than in, say, Ko Samui or Ko Chang, and road surfaces are generally in good condition. As in other parts of the kingdom, drivers pass aggressively, even on blind curves, and self-driving visitors should be defensive and alert at all times.

      Avis (tel. 07635-1243) and Hertz (tel. 07632-8545) have counters at the Phuket airport.. Plan on spending around 1,400B per day for the cheapest four-door sedan. Budget (tel. 07620-5396 at the airport, 07629-2309 in Patong) charges similar rates. All international renters have sound insurance coverage available, which is highly recommended.

      Inexpensive (but notoriously unsafe) Suzuki Caribbeans can be rented from almost all travel agents and from hotels at the beach areas. Prices start at 800B per day. Independent agents hang around under umbrellas along Patong Beach and offer great bargains, if you negotiate, but don’t count on them having an insurance policy.

      By Motorcycle

      Also along the Patong strip, the same car-rental guys will offer cheap bike rental. A 100cc Honda scooter goes for 150B to 200B per day, while a 400cc Honda Shadow chopper will set you back at least 600B per day. Significant discounts can be negotiated, if you plan to rent for a longer time. Wear your helmet, as police enforce fines of 500B for going without, and practice caution while driving.

    • Hi and thanks for leaving the suggestion for our other readers.

  36. Hello David,
    Question, I may only be in Thailand for 3 full days for the first time. What would you do in those three days and how many cities can one see in that amount of time? By the way, love the videos and suggestions

  37. 12days I spending tai land what are the best places to enjoyful

  38. Hi David,

    Would it be a terrible idea to travel to Bangkok and Phuket around Oct 17 to Oct 30?

    Will the weather ruin the trip?

    Should I postpone till early November?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

  39. Thank You for this post. I really was looking for something like this. I wish there were other posts like this for the other countries I plan to visit in SE Asia.

    • You can go see Angkor Wat Temple and other prasats in Cambodia

    • Hi Monica, thank you for commenting. Yes I know. What other locations will you be visiting in SE Asia?

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