Thailand’s white and turquoise beaches, golden Buddhist temples, bloody history and marketplace culture are loved by both end of the travel budget scale. Some visitors just swing though the country on a beeline to the coast, while some take months meandering though; either way Bangkok, nearby beaches and the islands are some of the best things to do in Thailand.
Most visitors to Thailand fly into Bangkok. Bangkok has a reputation for a lot of different things, but most visitors will want to see the temples, eat and shop in the markets and make time to tour the city in a canal, and these are some of the best things to do in Thailand. Unless you’re a fan of your local red light district you might want to swap a trip to the seedy, now touristy, red light district in favour of some cheap pampering elsewhere.
Top things to do in Thailand: Bangkok, includes visits to the Wat Phra Kaew: the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, who is actually made of jade or jasper, the Temple of the Standing Buddha, Wat Traimit: and Wat Benchamabophit: also called the Marble Temple, made all of white, polished Italian marble and both one of Bangkok’s most beautiful and most popular temples. The Grand Palace, the ornate European building with the Thai style roof made famous by ‘The King and I’, and home to Thailand’s parliament since the 18th Century, and the Vimanmek Mansion Museum, a national museum, the world’s largest teak building and a good place to come to see classical Thai dancing, Thai folk dance and martial arts demonstrations, are two of more of the best things to do in Thailand.
Go shopping, of the best things to do in Thailand, another thing people travel to Bangkok for, at Talat Kao Market for Chinese specialities, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, for a truly unique veggie shopping experience, or for everything else at Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the world’s largest markets with around 15,000 stalls. And if you’re not a shopper, maybe duck off to see some Muay Thai boxing at Rajadamnern Stadium.
Another of the best things to do in Thailand is to visit some of the islands, of which Thailand has hundreds, but the two most visited groups are Ko Tao, Ko Samui and co. in the Gulf of Thailand near the Ang Thong Marine Park and Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lipe and co. in the Andaman Sea near Phuket and the Phang Nga Bay, out of which James Bond Island – the one used in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ – sticks like a dagger – seeing it is definitely one of the best things to do in Thailand.
The islands sprinkled round the Gulf of Thailand are fringed with coconut groves and white beaches, and warm, footprint-less, sandy coves; many of them have lush interiors, especially those of the Ang Thong Archipelago, or interesting limestone formations. Ko Samui is probably the most idyllically famous, but Ko Tao is supposed to be the new Ko Samui – more ‘The Beach’, than ‘The Beach’ beach, and is popular with divers and those on more modest budgets. Most visitors to these islands come for some resort and relaxation time – another one of the best things to do in Thailand.
On the other side of Thailand, the Andaman Sea Islands are the ones that look like giant limestone daggers with a sprinkling of bright green alfalfa jungle on top, plunging deep into sandy bottomed, turquoise seas, in dispersed with sandier islands totally ringed with perfect tropical beaches. Hundreds of islands make up this group, loved by divers snorkellers, paddlers, sailors and people who appreciate luxury resorts or just really lovely beaches.