The 25 best places to visit in Thailand

 

North west of the capital, Bangkok, close to the border with Myanmar is the 550 square kilometre (212 square mile) Erawan National Park, named after the parks most famous feature, the seven tiered Erawan Falls, a waterfall named after the three headed elephant from Hindu mythology.

25. Erawan National Park

 

In the extreme north of the country, south east of Chiang Rai, close to the border with Laos is the relatively small 12.5 square kilometre (5 square mile) Phu Langka Forest Park, a protected area of the Phi Lag Ka mountain range within the Thai Highlands. The biggest attraction of the forest park can be seen during the early morning when the mist moves its way through the valley, a phenomenon that has become known as the 'sea fog'.

24. Phu Langka Forest Park

 

Built in the 13th century, to the south of the northern city of Chiang Mai is the large Lanna style Buddhist temple of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, one of the finest examples on Lanna architecture in Thailand. Reputedly holding within it a strand of the Buddha's hair, it has become one of the most sacred temples in the country. Having undergone restoration work to return it to its former glory, and with a stupa that reaches an amazing 40 metres (131 ft) in height, it certainly is one of the finest temples in Thailand.

23. Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

 

Built in 1963 just south of the capital, Bangkok, is a 200 acre museum park known as Ancient Siam. The park features 116 famous Thai historical monuments, some built as life sized replicas of existing or former sites, some scaled down. The grounds, which correspond roughly to the shape of the kingdom, have the monuments more or less laid out in the correct places geographically. Outstanding works include the former Grand Palace of Ayutthaya, Phimai Sanctuary and Wat Khao Phra Viharn, three of many wonderful structures in what is the largest outdoor museum in the world. 

22. Ancient Siam

 

South west of the capital, Bangkok, at the north western end of the Gulf Of Thailand is the Khao Luang Cave, regarded to be the largest and most beautiful cave in Phetchaburi. Among the stalactites are a few wats and a Buddha image cast in the mid 19th century, under the command of King Rama V, all wonderfully lit by the natural hole in the cave ceiling.

21. Khao Luang Cave

 

North east of the capital, Bangkok, is the 300 square kilometre (115 square mile) Khao Yai National Park, encompassing tropical forests and jungle covered mountains. Its proximity to the capital and the large amount of wildlife on offer have made Khao Yai National Park one of the most easily accessible and frequently visited protected areas in Thailand. One of the areas most notable features is the Heo Suwat waterfall, made famous having appeared in the Hollywood film, The Beach.

20. Khao Yai National Park

 

North west of the capital, Bangkok, close to the border with Myanmar is the 894 square kilmometre (345 square mile) Mae Wong National Park, encompassing the rugged and hilly terrain of the Dawna Mountain Range. Within the park sits the Khao Mo Ko Chu Mountain, with an elevation of 1,964 metres (6,443 ft) above sea level it is one of the highest points in Thailand. This vast area of jungle, rugged mountains and wonderful nature has become a favourite among hikers.

19. Mae Wong National Park

 

In the north of the country, between Chiang Mai and the capital, Bangkok, is the Sukhothai Historical Park, protecting the ruins of the 13th and 14th century capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom. The ancient city walls form a 2 kilometre by 1.6 kilometre rectangle. Inside are the remains of 26 temples that include the royal palace, the largest temple being the 12th century Wat Mahathat, meaning Temple of The Great Relic. With an array of ancient Buddha figures, palace buildings and ruined temples, the Sukhothai Historical Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

18. Sukhothai Historical Park

 

To the north west of the capital, Bangkok, close to the border with Myanmar is the 1,236 square kilometre (477 square mile) Thong Pha Phum National Park, part of Thailand's Western Forest Complex protected area. Mountainous and hilly, the park has become a favourite among hikers and trekkers, especially those that wish to cross the 1,249 metre (4,098 ft) high Khao Chang Phueak, the parks highest point. Another favourite among visitors is the Khao Khat viewpoint, offering wonderful panoramic views over the park.

17. Thong Pha Phum National Park

 

Dating from the 10th to 13th centuries, to the east of the capital, Bangkok, close to the border with Cambodia is the Phanom Rung Historical Park, encompassing a Hindu Khmer temple complex set at the rim of an extinct volcano. Officially opened as an attraction in 1988, the site is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The design of the temples, like many of the temples within neighbouring Cambodia symbolises Mount Kailash, his heavenly home.

16. Phanom Rung Historical Park

 

Still under construction in the city of Pattaya, south east from the capital, Bangkok, is the Sanctuary Of Truth, a religious building made entirely from wood, filled with sculptures based on the traditional Buddhist and Hindu motifs. Set to be completed in the year 2050, the style of the sanctuary is based on Thai architecture from the Ayutthayan period, representing images from Buddhism and Hinduism as well as mythologies from Cambodia, China, India and Thailand. Despite being completely modern, its impressive look and detailed carvings make for a fantastic sight.

15. Sanctuary Of Truth

 

In the southern peninsula of the country, north of the island of Phuket is the  beautiful 739 square kilometre (285 square mile) Khao Sok National Park, covering the largest area of virgin forest in southern Thailand, a remnant of rain forest older and more diverse than the Amazon. Centred around the Cheow Lan Lake, the park is traversed by a limestone mountain range that has formed many amazing karst formations. With sandstone rocks rising up to 600 metres (1,968 ft) above the water level, Khao Sok National Park has been compared to Halong Bay in Vietnam.

14. Khao Sok National Park

 

Completed and opened in 1997 in the extreme north of the country, in the city of Chiang Rai, is one of the most unique and recognisable temples in Thailand, the Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple. With the original temple in a bad state of repair, a local artist took it upon himself to rebuild it completely white, signifying the purity of Buddha. Having suffered significant damage in the 2014 earthquake, it was decided that the temple would be demolished. With a last minute inspection from engineering teams, it was deemed that the buildings structural integrity had remained intact, with the artist later confirming he would cancel the demolition and restore it to its former beauty. With works ongoing, the Wat Rong Khun is expected to be completely restored by 2070.

13. Wat Rong Khun

 

West of the northern city of Chiang Mai is the 482 square kilometre (186 square mile) area of protected land, Doi Inthanon National Park, named after the mountain, Doi Inthanon, nicknamed the 'roof of Thailand', it is the countries highest peak standing 2,565 metres (8,415 ft) above sea level.

Pictured is the Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri, two chedis near the summit of Doi Inthanon. The first stands 60 metres (197 ft) high and was constructed in 1987 for the 60th birthday of King Rama 9th. The second one stands 55 metres (180 ft) high and was built in 1992 for is wife's 60th birthday. With surrounding landscape flower gardens and tranquil ponds, it makes for a fantastic sight above the clouds.

12. Doi Inthanon

 

Off the south western coast of the Thai Peninsula, in the Andaman Sea, is one of the most famous island groups in the world, the Phi Phi Islands. Protected within the Hat Nopparat Thara-Ko Phi Phi National Park, the landscape is one of limestone mountains, cliffs, caves, long sandy beaches and offshore coral reefs. Undoubtedly beautiful, the islands came to prominence after the film, The Beach, and still today attracts millions of tourists from across the globe, making this perfect serene landscape extremely overcrowded at times.

11. Phi Phi Islands

 

Dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, in the east of the country, north of the border with Cambodia, marking the northern end of the Ancient Khmer Highway leading from Angkor is the Phimai Historical Park, one of the largest Khmer temple complexes in Thailand. Having much in common with Cambodia's Angkor Wat, Phimai is an example of classical Khmer architecture, and marks one of the most important cities of the empire.

10. Phimai Historical Park

 

In the extreme north of the country, east from the city of Chiang Rai on the border with Laos is the Phu Chi Fa National Forest Park, encompassing the north eastern end of the Phi Pan Nam mountain range within the Thai Highlands. Named after the 1,442 metre (4,731 ft) mountain of the same name, the site attracts many visitors who come purely to see the panoramic view over the surrounding mountains and valleys. The view is particularly special at dawn when the fog surrounds the hills, a natural phenomenon that has come to be known as the 'sea of mist'.

9. Phu Chi Fa National Forest Park

 

West of the capital, Bangkok, close to the border with Myanmar is the town of Kanchanaburi, birthplace of the Buddhist monk Phrabhavanaviriyakhun, and home to the famous Bridge over the River Kwai, built by prisoners of war during World War II. Forced into hard labour by the Japanese, around 90,000 civilian labourers and more than 12,000 allied prisoners died. In the town there is a memorial, two museums and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, built to commemorate the men who died constructing the Burma Railway.

8. Kanchanaburi

 

South east of the capital, Bangkok, straddling the Gulf Of Thailand on the Thai Peninsula is the 98 square kilometre (38 square mile) Khao Sam Roy Yot National Park, a protected area that covers mountains, freshwater marshland, caves, and offshore coral reefs. The parks biggest attarction is the enormous Phrya Nakhon Cave, one of the largest caves in South East Asia. Accessible by boat or trekking across the Tian Mountain, the large cave is lit by a natural opening in the roof. Within the cave is the Khuha Kharuehat Pavilion, an historic site that was built in 1890 AD after a visit from the then King Chulalongkorn, otherwise known as Rama V.

7. Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

 

Just north of the capital, Bangkok, dating from the 13th century onwards is the Ayutthaya Historical Park, displaying the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya, the capital of Thailand until 1767 AD when it was destroyed by the Burmese army. With so many wonderful temple ruins from one of the most powerful kingdoms ever witnessed in the region, part of the Ayutthaya Historical Park complex has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6. Ayutthaya Historical Park

 

Founded in 1269 AD as the capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom, within the mountainous region of northern Thailand is the countries second city, Chiang Mai, meaning new city. Home to over 300 Buddhist temples, a wealth of ancient landmarks spanning a 700 year history and a market to rival anything in South East Asia, Chiang Mai has long been a favourite city for travellers visiting the region.

5. Chiang Mai

 

In the far south west of the country, south of Krabi, pushing out into the Andaman Sea is the Railay Peninsula, home to some of the most picturesque coastal landscapes in Thailand. With access cut off from mainland due to high limestone cliffs, the peninsula is only accessible by boat. Despite this, being a well trodden tourist destination the beaches can often become overcrowded, though they remain among some of the most beautiful in South East Asia. Surrounded by high cliffs, the areas away from the beaches is well known for the amazing viewpoints, with one of most celebrated being known as the Railay Viewpoint. The hike takes a relatively short 30 minutes, but does require a certain level of fitness, no fear of heights and the ability to lift your own weight without any footholds. Once up there visitors will get a fantastic panorama of the beaches, the high cliffs and the pristine blue sea, certainly one of the single finest views in the country.

Pictured from the Railay Viewpoint.

4. Railay

 

North of the capital city, Bangkok, completed in 2008 after 18 years of construction is the Great Buddha Of Thailand, sometimes known as the Big Buddha Of Thailand, among many other names. Standing a whopping 92 metres (300 ft) tall it is the tallest statue in Thailand, the second tallest in South East Asia after Myanmar's Laykyun Setkyar, and as of 2017 the seventh tallest statue in the world.

3. Great Buddha

Straddling the Gulf Of Thailand between the countries bulk and its peninsula, the former capital of Siam remains the countries modern day capital, Bangkok, the most populated city in the country and one of the most visited locations on the planet. With historical attractions that include royal palaces, temples, giant statues and museums, the city also offers modern entertainment in shopping experiences and an exciting night life.

With so much on offer, click here for the Must See Places In Bangkok...

2. Bangkok

 

In the south west of the country, just north of Phuket is the Ao Phang Nga National Park, a 400 square kilometre (150 square mile)​ area of the Andaman Sea protecting the largest area of native mangrove forest in the country. Studded with sheer limestone islands, the landscape is considered the most picturesque in Thailand. The area was made famous when the small island of Khao Phing Kan appeared in the movie, The Man With The Golden Gun, making it better known as 'James Bond Island', one of the most iconic and well known landmarks in Thailand. Unfortunately the extreme number of tourists is having a major impact on the natural flora and fauna, with plans in place to reduce the number of visitors and allow nature to recuperate.

1. Ao Phang Nga National Park

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