Thailand is one of the best places to visit for any traveler who may be exploring Southeast Asia for the first time. It is a country with very friendly people, it’s relatively easy to get around, has a mix of lush tropics and city areas, and has beautiful wats or temples everywhere. You’ll be able to stretch your dollar here, with 60-minute Thai massages at 350 ฿, which is about $10 USD! It’s hard not to like Thai food, as flavors are well balanced with fresh greens, spices, savory sauces, and more. Domestic flights are also reasonable– I flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for $57 (one way), Chiang Mai to Phuket for $75 (one way) and Phuket to Bangkok for $65 (one way). Read on for my guide on things to do while you are in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
Things to do in Thailand
- Feel the wind in your hair and pulse of the city by riding in a tuk-tuk.
- Work out those knots you never knew you had by getting a foot, oil, or Thai massage.
- Awaken your inner chef by taking a Thai cooking class.
- Admire the remarkable handiwork and unique qualities of each wat (temple).
- Fall in love with mango sticky rice. Once that happens, learn to make room in your heart for durian sticky rice.
- Visit an elephant sanctuary and be sure to read up on understanding mistreatment of the animals. Don’t be that person. Read to understand why you should not ride an elephant.
- Break a sweat and live out your Thai boxing fantasies through a class.
Valuable resource for your back pocket: 8 Things to Know Before Going to Thailand
Things to do in Bangkok
- Snap away with ample photo opportunities at one of the many floating markets in or around Bangkok.
- Get absorbed in the maze of chaos and noise on Yaowarat Road, also known as Bangkok’s Chinatown.
- Dance all of your cares away at Onyx or one of the many nightclubs in RCA (Royal City Avenue).
- Take a ride on the Chao Phraya Express boat and stop in the Thonburi district to explore temples, museums, and mini floating markets. Hop back on the boat and northwards to the last stop at the Nonthaburi Market to wander in a local market free from tourists.
- Experience a real-life foodie wonderland by eating in one of the most magnificent food courts I have ever laid eyes on — Eathai in the Sukhumvit area.
- Let the big city dissolve away by visiting the ko ratanakosin (the old quarters). You’ll also find the Grand Palace and Wat Pho here.
- Check out one of the world’s largest markets at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Interestingly enough, this is also notorious for illegal animal trading.
- Find yourself with extra time for a day trip? Visit the floating markets of Amphawa just outside of Bangkok.
- A small emerald Buddha with a big story at Wat Phra Kaew.
- Let the cool night sky wash over you on one of the many rooftop bars in Bangkok.
Valuable resource for your back pocket: Neighborhoods in Bangkok
Things to do in Chiang Mai
- Inhale a bowl of Khao Soi (traditional cut noodles) as soon as you arrive. Why? You’re going to want more throughout your time in Chiang Mai, so it’s better to start early.
- Get the twinkle and charm of Chiang Mai by staying in the old city.
- Visit the food vendors at the North Gate and order a plate (or two) of stewed pork and egg from the cowboy hat lady (also visited by Anthony Bourdain).
- For a completely immersive experience, make some time to go on a one night or multi-day trek.
- Witness standing history at Wat Chedi Luang, chat with a monk or get a sai sin sacred white thread bracelet for protection during your travels.
- Gape in awe at the golden Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
- Contemplate the things that you need versus want at the Talat Warorot — the oldest public market in the city.
- Sway to one of the best live music venues I’ve ever been to at the North Gate Jazz Co-Op.
- Take your taste buds on a journey with grilled chicken paired with nam jim jaew dipping sauce at SP Chicken.
A valuable resource for your back pocket: How to use the songthaews (red trucks) to get around Chiang Mai on the cheap.
Things to do in Phuket
- Take a full day excursion or even opt to stay overnight at one of the nearby islands: Phi Phi, Krabi, James Bond, and more.
- Get your tan on at one of the many beautiful beaches in Phuket! Karon Beach is a little quieter with more shade and Kata is a lively place to be.
- Lay back in a hammock and devour baskets of mangosteens or longans on the beach.
- Rent a motorbike and cruise around town.
- For the climbers and daredevils, try deep water soloing at Tonsai beach in Krabi.
- Explore limestone formations at Phang Nga Bay.
- Canoe Cave Explorer Phang Nga Bay Tour from Phuket
- Go for a night out on Bangla Road in Patong.
A valuable resource for your back pocket: Understand the ins and outs of the crazy expensive taxi prices in Phuket so you aren’t shocked upon arrival.
There’s more than enough to do in Thailand ranging from spicy foods to try, trekking off the beaten path, to visiting the most exquisite ancient temples. Prepare for your next adventure in Thailand with my packing list. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below.
Keep track of all the things you’ll want to do in Thailand! PIN THIS post so you don’t forget.