We have a confession: we LOVE Thailand! With its epic tropical scenery, world famous cuisine, incredible architecture, out-of-this world beaches and the warmest of welcomes, Thailand delivers on every level. It’s not difficult to see why it’s one of the most visited countries in the world, drawing in visitors from across the globe ranging from backpackers to those with a bigger budget looking for a luxury getaway.

We are firm believers that a multi-centre holiday is the best way to truly get to know a country and Thailand makes it super easy to combine a city, the rainforest, and the beach all into one trip.

It’s been challenging to narrow down our ‘Thailand Top 10’ as there is so much to see and do in this wonderful country, but here goes…

1. Explore Bangkok’s sights

Bangkok is a bustling city with an inimitable chaotic charm. Despite its super modern skyscrapers, the city’s culture is still strongly rooted in the traditional values of Thailand and one of the most visible aspects of this is the traditional architecture, being home to numerous temples and shrines. Wat Pho (pictured above), also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of the city’s most popular for tourists, containing a massive gold-plated Reclining Buddha statue and beautiful wall murals. Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, is another must-see, with its iconic spire rising up over the Chao Phraya River. The Grand Palace is home to some truly breath-taking architecture, with a collection of impressive buildings from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to the Royal Chapel.

The city’s Chatuchak Weekend Market is a sight to be seen, with over 8,000 stalls selling everything from antiques to clothing and food. For a shopping experience that’s a little bit more chilled, head to the riverbanks and experience the smells, sights and sounds of Bangkok’s floating markets, where locals set out their small boats and sell everything from local handicrafts to fruit and veg. The most popular market is the Damnoen Saduak, which is just outside the city but well worth the visit.

2. Enjoy an ethical Elephant Experience

If you visit Thailand, an absolute must-do experience is to visit an ethical elephant sanctuary. These parks focus on helping rescued elephants and importantly don’t offer rides or harm the elephants to perform tricks for humans. One of the most magical elephant experiences is the Elephant Nature Park in the North of Thailand, just 60 km outside of Chiang Mai. This park is the pioneer of elephant rescue centres and visitors can spend hours observing these majestic animals, helping at feeding time and getting involved in other activities. If you’re not planning on including a visit to the North within your Thailand itinerary, its sister park is based in Phuket and is the first ethical sanctuary in this area.

3. Soak up the history of Ayuthaya

Located about 80 miles north of Thailand, Ayuthaya was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, and a rich trading port until it was invaded and left to ruins. In 1992 it became a world heritage site and is now home to dozens of historic residences, palaces, and temples, many of them sufficiently well-preserved to give visitors the chance to feel like they have stepped back in time. Just some of the historic highlights of this man-made wonder include Wat Kudi Da, a Buddhist temple dating back to 1711 and the imposing Phra Chedi Sisuriyothai, a golden-topped memorial to one of Thailand’s most-celebrated queens.

4. Visit Chiang Mai and Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand, makes a wonderful stop on a multi-centre Thai holiday. Being a major city, it is still buzzy, but offers much less hustle and bustle (and slightly less traffic!) than Bangkok plus nature is never far away as the city is surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills. There are over 300 temples to visit, including Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang plus a plethora of fascinating streets to explore, but one of our favourite things to do in Chiang Mai is to simply wander around the night markets, where you’ll find everything from handmade crafts to the most amazing street food stalls. Sample the local delicious cuisine such as khao soi (a noodle curry) and Gaeng hang lay (a Burmese-style curry).

Locals say you haven’t truly experienced Chiang Mai until you’ve been to Doi Suthep, located just outside of the city. This spectacular temple is draped in gold and majestically perched on top of Mount Doi Suthep. Perhaps even more impressive than the temple complex is the magnificent view of Chiang Mai at the summit which will truly take your breath away.

5. Bask in the beauty of the Islands

It is no secret that Thailand is home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world, which are found around its coast in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. The islands offer pristine beaches and sparkling blue waters that are warm all year-round, with great visibility: providing perfect conditions for snorkelling and diving. Adding at least one island to your multi-centre Thailand itinerary is non-negotiable if you are a beach lover.

Koh Samui is the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand and one of the most popular island destinations in the country. It’s known for its white sandy beaches, lush jungle and scenic waterfalls and is home to some luxurious beachfront hotels where you can truly relax, drink in the wonderful sunsets, and enjoy the Thai hospitality. Chaweng Beach is the island’s main hub, but to escape the crowds, head to Maenam or Lip Noi Beaches. Just 30 minutes north of Koh Samui, Kho Phangan is famed for its full-moon parties that take place on its beaches once a month. The island offers a laid-back, spiritual vibe that has traditionally attracted backpackers but now also offers a good selection of peaceful luxury resorts for the more discerning traveller. Also, if you’re in this region, take a day trip to the unique Koh Nang Yuan. This formation of three tiny islands connected by a sandbank is simply picture-perfect.

Also in the Gulf of Thailand is the small island of Koh Tao which is often regarded as one of the best places in Thailand for diving and snorkelling with its clear blue waters and a huge range of marine life. Paddleboarding and kayaking are also popular activities for exploring the island’s waters.

Koh Phi Phi is a group of six islands in the Andaman Sea, located in between Phuket and Krabi with simply stunning picture-perfect scenery. Whilst tourism has made Phi Phi slightly overcrowded, to experience a more peaceful dose of paradise, head to the less known and less crowded islands of Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi.

Closer to the mainland near Krabi is the island of Koh Lanta, with jaw dropping beaches and a laid-back feel: perfect for those looking for a peaceful beach escape. Snorkellers and divers will love to explore the colourful coral reefs off the island’s coast.

Whilst there isn’t a great deal of accommodation on the Similan islands, you can also take a boat trip here to see some of the most stunning coral reefs in the world.

6. Rejuvenate with a Thai Massage

For the ultimate holiday rejuvenation experience, treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage. Thai massage is an ancient healing practice that has been used for thousands of years, and you will find therapists offering massages in spas, hotels and even on the beach. One of the unique features of Thai massage is the use of pressure points which sees the therapist using their hands, elbows and even feet to apply pressure to specific points on the body to release tension, reduce stress and increase circulation to help restore balance to your body and mind. It may not be the kind of massage you’re experienced in the UK, but trust us, give it a try and you’ll come away feeling refreshed and revitalised.

7. Indulge in Thai Street food and cooking classes

Thailand is a foodie’s paradise, with the street food scene being one of the major draws of the country. Simple one-dish stalls are dotted around almost every street and offer exceptional quality at a very affordable price. Street food is so ingrained in the Thai culture that many Thais, particularly in big cities such as Bangkok, don’t have their own kitchen – they simply rely on the delicious and cheap street food to feed them and their families. One of the most popular street foods in Thailand is Pad Thai, a stir-fried noodle dish with vegetables, peanuts, and a spicy sauce. Another must-try is Som tum, a spicy papaya salad that’s a refreshing contrast and ideal in the heat of the day. Each region has its own local speciality though, so it’s good ask the locals what you should sample when you arrive – or ask a Tuk Tuk driver to take you to their favourite street vendor!

For those who want to take their love of Thai food to the next level, taking a cookery class in Thailand is the perfect way to learn more about the country’s cuisine. Often offered as a half-day or full-day experience, a cookery class is the perfect opportunity to learn about the local ingredients and learn some of the staple dishes. Top tip: don’t eat before you arrive as you will get the chance to sample all of the dishes that you make – and even take some home in a doggy bag!

8. Take an ethical visit to the Northern hill tribes

The Northern hill tribes are a group of seven different tribes who live in isolation in the northern regions of Thailand. Each tribe has its own culture, language and tradition and is renowned for their vibrant handicrafts and textiles. They offer a warm welcome to visitors and are keen to demonstrate their cultures, traditions, and their fascinating off-grid lifestyles. Visiting a tribe can be a unique and enriching experience both for you and also the people living in these remote villages but of course, it’s important to do this in an ethical way and both parties should benefit from the experience. It’s important therefore to seek out a reputable travel guide who can guide you through your visit to ensure that your visit is positively approached. You can also support the tribe’s local businesses by buying some of their local handmade crafts to take home as souvenirs. The Karen tribe are the largest hill tribe of around a million population and live in various locations near to Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai. For a fully immersive experience, you could stay overnight at a hill tribe homestay where you would cook and enjoy meals together with your host family and experience a day-in-the life of a hill tribe.

9. Cross the Bridge at the River Kwai

About 2 hours west of Bangkok is the riverside city of Kanchanaburi, home to the infamous metal bridge that crosses the river Kwai, a must-visit for any history enthusiasts. This bridge was instrumental in the Japanese occupation of Burma (now Myanmar) in 1943 during WWII and it was designed to link up a direct railway line from Thailand to Burma to help and support the Japanese forces. Kanchanaburi itself is now a place of memorial where you can cross the bridge, either by foot or on a tourist train, and visit the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and the three war museums, including the JEATH war museum.

10. Visit Thailand’s national parks

Thailand boasts more than 100 national parks and offers a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the country’s unspoiled wilderness and wildlife. About two and a half hours north of Bangkok, Khao Yai is Thailand’s third-largest park and a World Heritage UNESCO site. Visitors here are treated with a vast of options from viewing a wide variety of birds, mammals, and some spectacular waterfalls. Haew Narok is the highest waterfall in the park (and a great place for spotting elephants). If bats are your thing, make your way to the park’s Bat Cave before sunset where you will witness the spectacular mass exodus of these nocturnal creatures flying into the night. In southern Thailand, Khao Sok National Park showcases incredible limestone mountains with the stunning emerald-green Cheow Lan Lake in the centre. Surrounding the lake are lush green rainforests, spectacular waterfalls, and hidden caves, all waiting to be explored. Other spectacular parks to add to your bucket list include Ang Thong National Park, which is a marine park east of Koh Samui, Kui Buri where you can take a safari experience to catch sight of the plentiful wild elephants and gaur and nearby Kaho Sam Roi Yot, which is home to impressive caves.

Michelle Porter Senior Travel Consultant

Michelle started with us here at eShores in early 2015, but has worked in travel most of her working life. Michelle has a wealth of knowledge from across the globe, so no destination is unknown to her. Although she does love booking trips to Asia, Australia and New Zealand, after falling in love with the region when she lived there.

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