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The 20 Best Things to Do in Thailand for First Timers

Island of Koh Chang

Thailand is a beautiful and diverse country to visit. It boasts stunning coastlines, vibrant cities, magnificent mountains, historical landmarks, pretty islands, and unique culture. Therefore, it is a fascinating destination to choose for a vacation. No matter what your interests, you will find plenty of activities to enjoy during your visit to this amazing country. The hardest part of planning the itinerary for your trip will be deciding which activities and attractions to include. To help you get the most out of your visit to this country, here are the 20 best things to do in Thailand for first-timers.


20. Hike to the Nam Tok Thilawsu Waterfall

The Nam Tok Thilawsu Waterfall is the largest waterfall in Thailand as it is 200 meters high and up to 400 meters wide, says Lonely Planet. It is located in the Um Phang Wildlife Sanctuary, and it is a very impressive sight. Although it is only a short hike to the top of the waterfall, some people may find it challenging due to the inclination and the rugged terrain. Make sure you have something sturdy on your feet, as sandals are not suitable to hike to the summit of the waterfall. This is one of the attractions where it is recommended that you take along your camera.

Prasat Phanom Rung

19. Admire the Views from Prasat Phanom Rung

There are many elevated places in Thailand where you can enjoy impressive views, but one of the best places is at Prasat Phanom Rung. This is the summit of a spent volcano in the Phanom Rung Historical Park. The views from this spot are nothing short of spectacular. The sanctuary is in an elevated spot that is 200 meters above the paddy field, and you can see as far as the Dongrek Mountains. Don’t forget to take along your camera to capture the views from this beautiful spot.

Erawan National Park

18. Wonder at the Beauty of Erawan National Park

If you enjoy spending time outdoors when you are away from home, one of the nicest places to visit in Thailand is the Erawan National Park. This large park features seven tiers of waterfalls tumbling through the forest and splashing into the green pools below. It is possible to swim in the pools, but visitors are warned that the monkeys are known to snatch people’s belongings and the waters are home to species of fish that nibble. You can also take a guided tour through the park with a ranger. As you walk through the park, you will see many caves, although some of them are closed to the public.

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

17. See Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

Located in the Lampang province, the Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is an ancient Buddhist temple compound. There are several interesting structures within this compound, but arguably the most beautiful of these is the Wihan Luang. This is an open-sided wooden Lanna temple that dates back to 1476. Some of the features of this structure include Jakata murals on wooden panels and a triple-tiered wooden roof.

Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham

16. Dine at Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham

You will no doubt eat at multiple restaurants during your trip to Thailand, but you should try to eat at Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham if you visit Chiang Mai. Established more than 80 years ago, this is one of Chiang Mai’s most established and best-loved restaurants. Its claim to fame is that it was the creator of khao soi, which is the city’s specialty dish made. It is a coconut milk-based red curry egg noodle soup. If this doesn’t tickle your taste buds, there are plenty of other options on the menu.


15. Go Rock Climbing in Krabi

Those who enjoy physical activities should consider visiting Krabi, as there are multiple activities you can enjoy at this coastal location, with both water-based and land-based activities available. Krabi is known for its magnificent white sand beaches and its limestone cliffs. Therefore, one of the most popular activities to enjoy in this area is rock climbing. If you are a rock climbing novice, it is possible to book lessons with a qualified instructor who will teach you the basics of rock climbing safely.


14. Drink a Cocktail at the SkyBar

Relaxing with a cocktail is something that most people enjoy while on vacation. To make the simple act of having a drink an exciting experience, you should head to the SkyBar. This is the highest open-air bar in the world, as it sits on the 63rd floor of the State Tower in Bangkok. Drinkers can enjoy 360-degree views over Bangkok, and the views are particularly spectacular when the city is lit up at night.

Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra

13. See a Performance by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra

Music lovers should try to catch a performance by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra during their visit. The orchestra performs classical, contemporary, and traditional Thai works. The best place to catch a performance is at Prince Mahidol Hall in Salaya. This is one of the most advanced concert halls in Thailand, and the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra put on 70 concerts a year at this venue. If you want to see a performance by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra during your visit to Thailand, you should check the performance dates and book tickets in advance.

Phimai Historical Park

12. Explore the Historical Ruins at Phimai Historical Park

When visiting Issan in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, one of the most popular attractions is to visit the Phimai Historical Park. This is one of the oldest and largest Khmer temple complexes in Thailand, and it dates back to the 12th century. Many of the structures are now archaeological ruins, so it is a fascinating place to visit if you are interested in history, archaeology, or architecture. A short walk from the site of the ruins, there is a small museum. This displays some of the most valuable items from the temples.

Island of Koh Chang

11. Visit the Island of Koh Chang

If you want to enjoy a peaceful experience, then you should spend some time on Koh Chong. This is one of the moderately-sized Thai islands, and it is much quieter than some of the busier tourist areas. Those traveling around Thailand should consider staying in one of the luxury boutique hotels on the island so they can enjoy some rest and relaxation.

Floating Market

10. Shop at a Floating Market

No matter where you are in the world, it is always interesting to take a stroll around the markets. You can try some of the local produce, buy some handcrafted souvenirs to commemorate your trip, and watch the local people going about their daily business. Therefore, it is a good way of absorbing yourself in the local culture. When you visit Thailand, you can enjoy a unique market experience, as there are floating markets. Although there are many floating markets, one of the most famous is the Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi. The sellers sit in their vessels on the water trading to people on the banks. These markets are colorful, bustling with activity, and full of amazing smells from the produce.

Wat Phumin

9. See the Murals at Wat Phumin

Wat Phumin is the most celebrated temple in Nan. Not only is it known for its stunning architecture, but it is also famous for its exquisite murals. These murals were created by a Thai Lu artist called Thit Buapan in the 19th-century. The temple was constructed in 1596, and it features an ornate altar.

Sukhothai Historical Park

8. Go to Sukhothai Historical Park

A World Heritage Site, Sukhothai Historical Park is one of the most impressive places to visit anywhere in Thailand. Within the park, there are the remains of 21 historical sites, so there is plenty to see during a visit. The ruins are divided into five zones, and it is important to note that there are separate admission fees for each of the zones. There are also four large ponds within the old walls of this park.

Jim Thompson House Museum

7. Take a Tour of the Jim Thompson House Museum

Lonely Planet recommends taking a tour of the Jim Thompson House Museum during your visit to Thailand. Jim Thompson was a silk entrepreneur and an art collector who was originally from Delaware. It is possible to take a tour of his former home, which is surrounded by jungle.

Similan Islands Marine Park

6. Explore the Similan Islands Marine Park

Just offshore from Phang-Nga Province, the Similan Islands Marine Park consists of a cluster of granite islands that are topped with rainforest. This marine park is one of the most popular spots for divers in Thailand as there are coral reefs below the surface. Sailing is also a popular activity, and visitors can take boat trips between the islands. There are ranger stations on two of the islands, including Ko Miang which also has an activity center and a visitor center.

MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum

5. Visit the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum

For art lovers, one of the best things to do in Thailand is to visit the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. This small museum exhibits art by contemporary artists from Thailand and from other parts of Asia. There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions on display. There are also events hosted at this venue throughout the year. You will find the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai.

Elephant Nature Park

4. Walk with the Elephants at Elephant Nature Park

The elephant is the national animal of Thailand, so Thai people have a lot of love for this animal. In many countries across the world, the only chance you will have to see these magnificent animals is by visiting a zoo. In Thailand, you can have an up-close and personal experience with the elephants when you visit Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, say Time Out. Elephant Nature Park is a rescue and rehabilitation center where the elephants have a second chance at life.

Oldest Temple Complex in Bangkok

3. See the Oldest Temple Complex in Bangkok

It is likely that you will want to see some temples during your visit to Thailand as they are an important part of religion and culture in this country. They are also interesting places to visit if you are interested in architecture. One of the best to visit is Wat Pho, which is the oldest and the largest Buddhist temple complex in Bangkok. It is located in the historic district of the city, and it has some interesting features. These include more than a thousand stupas and the largest collection of Buddhist images in Thailand.

FIrst National Park

2. Visit Thailand’s First National Park

Khao Yai National Park was the first national park in Thailand. Established in 1962, this park covers 722 square miles includes grassland savannahs, mountainous terrain, hidden waterfalls, and UNESCO-protected forests. There is something for everyone to enjoy at this park as there are multiple hiking trails of varying difficulty, wine tastings at vineyards, and a bat cave that is home to more than three thousand bats. One of the best activities to enjoy in the national park is a wildlife safari, as this will allow you to see animals such as gibbons and elephants in their natural habitat.

The Grand Palace

1. See the Wonder of The Grand Palace

According to Wanderlust, the best thing to do in Thailand is to see the wonder of The Grand Palace. It is the most famous landmark and attraction in Thailand, and the gold-tipped series of buildings are more than 200 years old. Located in Bangkok, The Grand Palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam, which later became Thailand, since 1782. Within the palace complex is the Wat Phra Kaew temple, which is also worth viewing. As this attraction is so popular, it is important to note that it can get very busy.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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