Best Places in Thailand to Visit in 2024

Oct 29, 2023 | 0 comments

It’s not surprising that Thailand is a popular travel destination worldwide and a well-known tourism hub in Southeast Asia. Thailand offers a wide range of attractions, including historical sites, beautiful beaches, lively markets, and stunning Buddhist temples. With so many options to choose from, planning a trip to Thailand can be overwhelming. To make it easier for you, here’s our list of recommended places in Thailand to visit in 2023.

Best Places in Thailand to Visit in 2023

1. The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace

If you’re visiting Bangkok, you absolutely have to see the amazing Grand Palace. It’s the city’s most famous landmark and a top tourist spot worldwide, attracting around eight million visitors every year! From 1782 to 1925, the Grand Palace served as the official home of the Kings of Siam and later Thailand. It was where the royal court and government were based.

Today, parts of the Grand Palace are open to the public. It remains the spiritual center of Thailand and hosts royal ceremonies and official events. The palace complex is breathtaking, with over 100 stunning buildings including royal halls, temples, and pavilions surrounded by beautiful gardens and courtyards.

The highlight is the incredible Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Emerald Buddha Temple. It’s the most sacred Buddhist site in Thailand and houses a highly revered Emerald Buddha statue carved from a single piece of jade, which is over 700 years old. When the Grand Palace is illuminated at night, it’s truly enchanting.

2. Bangkok’s Floating Markets

Bangkok's Floating Markets

One of Bangkok’s main attractions is its many floating markets. While they may not be as vital to the local economy as they once were, they still provide a delightful glimpse into traditional Thai life, back when Bangkok was called the ‘Venice of the East.’ The floating markets are also a fun place to shop, eat, and interact with locals. They give you the opportunity to explore the network of canals and communities built on stilts.

It’s best to visit the floating markets on a guided tour early in the morning. Most of them are located outside the city center. You can hop on a longtail boat and glide alongside vibrant wooden boats filled with various goods, including tropical fruits. You can even enjoy delicious Thai snacks from floating kitchens. It’s a fantastic experience for photography enthusiasts. Damnoen Saduak is the most popular and lively floating market, located southwest of Bangkok in Ratchaburi. For a more authentic local vibe, you can head to the Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram or the lesser-known and smaller Taling Chan, which is just seven miles from downtown Bangkok.

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3. Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay, located in the Andaman Sea, is one of Thailand’s top tourist attractions. It’s a unique natural wonder that is similar to Vietnam’s Halong Bay. What makes Phang Nga Bay special are the tall cliffs and limestone islands that rise out of the beautiful emerald-green water. These islands have interesting shapes and are uninhabited, revealing hidden caves, coves, and grottoes.

The bay is protected by a marine national park and has calm, shallow waters with clear conditions. It’s perfect for boating, and the best way to enjoy the stunning scenery is on a leisurely day trip on a traditional longtail boat, speedboat, or chartered yacht. You can glide through the bay, surrounded by limestone cliffs, and see the famous Koh Ta-pu, also known as “James Bond Island,” because it was featured in a James Bond movie called “The Man with the Golden Gun.”

For the more adventurous, sea kayaking is a great option. You can paddle deep into hidden collapsed caves called “hongs” that are open to the sky.

4. Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

For those interested in history, Ayutthaya offers a captivating glimpse into the glorious past of an ancient Siamese Kingdom that dates back to the 14th century. As the second capital of Old Siam, Ayutthaya was a thriving hub of regional trade, where art and culture thrived. At its height in the early 18th century, it was one of the largest cities in the world, with an estimated population of one million.

Unfortunately, the city was destroyed by the invading Burmese army in 1767, leading to the collapse of the Kingdom. Today, Ayutthaya is part of a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Historical Park. The park is situated on an island surrounded by three rivers and deep moats, and it ranks as one of Thailand’s must-visit archaeological gems and one of Asia’s most impressive ruins of a city.

Visitors can step back in time and explore the crumbling yet beautifully restored Buddhist temples, statues, royal palaces, monasteries, towers, and chedis. These structures showcase a diverse range of architectural styles. Some of the stunning highlights include a 39-foot-long reclining Buddha and an iconic Buddha head entwined with tree roots. Many people choose to take a boat from Bangkok, which is about an hour’s drive to the south, making it a popular day trip with a pleasant river journey.

5. Chiang Mai Night Markets

Chiang Mai Night Markets

Chiang Mai is known for its vibrant night markets, which are a major attraction and a must-do experience in Thailand. These markets offer a more unique shopping experience compared to other parts of the country. Many stalls specialize in authentic handicrafts, silverware, traditional clothing, and souvenirs made by local hill tribes, showcasing the distinctiveness of the northern region. Additionally, you have the opportunity to try delicious and affordable northern Thai delicacies, some of the best in the country, while immersing yourself in the lively and festive atmosphere.

Chiang Mai is home to a variety of night markets located throughout the city. The most famous one is the Sunday Walking Street, which takes place on Sunday evenings and runs through a pedestrianized street in the Old City. Here, you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling a wide range of items, from hand-dyed textiles to essential oils and street food. There are even makeshift bars and massage areas!

Another well-known night market is the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, which is one of the oldest and most popular in Thailand. For a smaller and less crowded alternative, you can visit the Saturday Wualai Walking Street Market. Regardless of which market you choose, make sure to engage in friendly bargaining to get a good deal.

6. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, located in the northern mountains of Thailand, is a popular tourist destination for many reasons. One of the must-visit attractions in the city is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This temple sits on top of Doi Suthep Mountain, which is a prominent feature on Chiang Mai’s skyline.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is not only a significant landmark in the city and a beautiful representation of the ancient Lanna kingdom, but it is also one of Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist sites, holding immense historical and spiritual importance. That’s why many visitors, including devoted pilgrims, come to see this awe-inspiring temple. To reach the temple, you need to climb about 300 steep steps to the summit of Doi Suthep Mountain. Alternatively, you can take the easier option of a cable car.

Once you reach the top, you can admire the intricately decorated temple. It is topped with a tall, golden Chedi (a type of Buddhist monument) that stands 79 feet tall and shines brightly in the sunlight. You can also enjoy panoramic views of the countryside and Chiang Mai spread out below.

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7. Sukhothai Old City

Sukhothai Old City

Sukhothai Old City is an ancient capital located in north-central Thailand, near the present-day city with the same name. It was the first capital of the Siamese Kingdom and played a significant role in the development of Thai art, architecture, and language. During its peak in the 13th and 14th centuries, Sukhothai was even a rival to the powerful Khmer Angkor empire.

Although it is a historically important site in Thailand, Sukhothai receives fewer visitors compared to the more famous Ayutthaya. However, it is definitely worth a visit and can be explored at a leisurely pace by bicycle. The city is encompassed by a magnificent World Heritage Historical Park and fortified walls, and it is filled with ancient ruins, including a royal palace, Buddhist temples, stupas, statues, and monuments. These structures are interspersed with water features, adding to the charm of the place.

One of the must-see temples is Wat Mahathat, which was built to house sacred Buddha relics and is considered the spiritual center of the Sukhothai Kingdom. It features nine massive stupas and two towering Buddha images that are truly impressive.

8. Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai National Park

Thailand has many beautiful national parks, but one you should definitely visit is Khao Yai National Park. It’s not just because it’s relatively close to Bangkok. Khao Yai was the first official national park in Thailand and is now the third largest. It’s a stunning World Heritage Site and one of the largest monsoon forests in Asia that remains intact. It covers four provinces in central Thailand and offers a variety of landscapes, including mountains, lakes, rainforests, grasslands, and a diverse range of wildlife and birds. You can spot animals like black bears and hornbills, as well as thousands of plant species.

The park has over 30 miles of hiking trails, some of which lead to breathtaking waterfalls like the famous Haew Narok falls. It’s a haven for nature and adventure lovers, and you can even camp overnight at lodges and campsites. However, the main attraction is the large population of Asian elephants. This is a rare opportunity to see these revered creatures in the wild, in their natural habitat.

9. Beaches

Beaches

Thailand is famous for its beautiful beaches, and that’s one of the main reasons why many people visit the country. With over 5,000 miles of coastline and numerous tropical islands, Thailand offers an abundance of stunning beaches. These beaches are often considered some of the best in the world, with powdery white sands, swaying palm trees, and clear turquoise waters teeming with colorful fish and coral.

There are so many incredible beaches in Thailand that it’s impossible to list them all. Different beaches cater to different types of visitors, from families to honeymooners, so the choice can be subjective. Generally, the most breathtaking beaches are found in the southern part of Thailand, particularly in two popular tourist areas on the east and west coasts.

On the west coast and the Andaman Sea, Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is renowned as one of the world’s top beach destinations. It boasts at least 30 gorgeous beaches to choose from. Nearby Krabi is another fantastic tropical getaway, with stunning beaches like Railay Beach and Koh Phi Phi’s Maya Bay, which is famous worldwide.

On the east coast and the Gulf of Thailand, three sensational islands—Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao—have been attracting travelers for years with their beautiful beaches surrounded by lush jungles.

10. Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi

In the western part of Thailand, Kanchanaburi is well-known for its historical significance related to the “Bridge over the River Kwai” and the Thai-Burmese “Death Railway” built during World War II by Allied Prisoners of War. This railway connected Burma to Thailand and was of great importance to the Japanese. It earned the name “Death Railway” because thousands of men died in extremely harsh conditions while building it.

Despite its chilling history, Kanchanaburi’s structures are an important part of any Thailand itinerary. The bridge still stands today, although most of the railway line has been abandoned, with only a portion still in operation. You can walk across the bridge or take a local train from Kanchanaburi over the River Kwai to Nam Tok. Interestingly, this slow two-hour train ride is one of Thailand’s most scenic and popular journeys, but its haunting history adds a special dimension.

When visiting Kanchanaburi, don’t miss the World War II historic sites and excellent museums that commemorate the tragic events that took place here. Some notable sites include the Thailand-Burma Railway Center, the World War II Museum, and the JEATH War Museum. Afterward, you can take a walk through the well-maintained Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, the final resting place of nearly 7,000 Allied Prisoners of War.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, Thailand truly offers a diverse and captivating array of attractions for travelers in 2023. Whether you’re seeking historical and cultural experiences, relaxing beach getaways, or thrilling adventures in nature, Thailand has something for everyone. From the natural wonders of Khao Yai National Park and Phang Nga Bay to the iconic beaches of Phuket and the historical significance of Kanchanaburi, each destination presents its own unique charm and allure. With this list, now you are familiar with the best places in Thailand to visit in 2023. By exploring these top attractions in Thailand, you’ll be able to create unforgettable memories and immerse yourself in the rich and vibrant culture of this remarkable country.

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