A Fun Thailand Bucket List - 31 Must-Do Activities
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There are many diverse, beautiful, and affordable countries to visit in Asia. Thailand is definitely one country to check out and is consistently ranked as one of the most-visited countries in Southeast Asia.
It is a country full of diversity and a lot of stunning places to explore, ranging from beaches and national parks to markets and historical landmarks. It is one of my favorite countries to visit, and I've returned several times over many years.
The travel tips and suggestions below include some of the most popular activities in Thailand (in no particular order), so consider this your ultimate Thailand bucket list! Continue reading to learn more.
Bucket List Things to Do in Thailand
- Visit the Blue Temple
- Explore Doi Inthanon National Park
- Hike in Khao Yai National Park
- Discover the Grand Palace
- Appreciate the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
- Explore Khaosan Road
- Visit Wat Mahathat
- Scuba dive or snorkel in Ko Tao
- Relax in Ko Samet
- Watch a traditional Thai boxing match
- Explore Phang Nga Bay
- Discover Koh Poda
- Ride a tuk-tuk at least once
- Be amazed by the Big Buddha Phuket
- Trek through Erawan National Park
- Visit the floating markets
- Hang out at Railay Beach
- Wander around Wat Arun
- Visit the White Temple
- Take a Thai cooking class in Bangkok or Chiang Mai
- Spend time on Koh Phi Phi Island
- Enjoy the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum
- Get inspired at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
- Help animals at the Elephant Nature Park
- Shop at MBK Center
- Visit Phimai Historical Park
- Explore Khao Sok National Park
- Enjoy a Thai massage
- Attend a Thai festival
- Sample Thai dishes
- Experience a Full Moon Party at Ko Pha Ngan
Thailand Activities Map
A map of Thailand. Use the map to explore all the activities.
Visit the Blue Temple
The Blue Temple is a well-known temple located in Chiang Rai. The temple is officially known as Wat Rong Suea Ten, meaning "the Temple of the Dancing Tiger." It was reconstructed in 2016.
The architect in charge of the redesign is Putha Kabkaew, an apprentice of Chalermchai Kositpipat, the architect behind the White Temple. Due to this, you will notice some similarities between the White Temple and the Blue Temple.
The temple got its name from the interior and exterior, which are predominately blue. Other temple features include beautiful murals, intricate carvings, and multiple statues of Buddha and deities.
The Blue Temple is not as crowded with tourists as other famous temples are. However, this trend is likely to change as more tourists become aware of the temple and its beauty.
Explore Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon National Park is located on the highest mountain in Thailand, Mount Inthanon. The park covers a total area of 1005 square kilometers. It was initially called Doi Luang National Park, but its name was changed to commemorate King Inthawichayanon.
This well-known national park is home to over 350 species of birds, plants, and trees. You will also spot a few waterfalls around the park. You can easily spend the whole day in this tranquil oasis by doing a day trip from Chiang Mai!
There are many things for you to do and see in the park once you get here. One of the most popular activities here is enjoying the spectacular views from the mountain's highest point. If you enjoy hiking, the park offers several walking trails as well.
Another attraction in the park is the Twin Chedis, which are dedicated to King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. The Chedis enhance the park's beauty, making your visit more memorable.
Hike in Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is one of the best destinations near Bangkok. This park provides a serene green environment for visitors to relax in and take a break from the bustle of central Bangkok.
Khao Yai National Park opened in 1962, making it the oldest national park in Thailand. It is additionally a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the third-largest national park in the country, covering an area of 2,168 square kilometers.
The park is home to various wildlife and features vast jungle areas. Khao Yai National Park is the perfect destination for those wanting to hike. It is recommended to do so with a guide due to the potentially dangerous wildlife that roams free in the park.
Discover the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is the most famous tourist attraction in Thailand's capital city, Bangkok. The palace was constructed in 1782 and covers an area of over 200,000 square meters. It was previously the Thai king's official residence and housed the government and the Royal Court's administrative seat.
The Grand Palace's unique architecture, a mixture of Thai and European design elements, is one of the main things to admire while here. A visit to this ancient palace will additionally offer insight into Thailand's history and its monarchy.
The palace complex features multiple other attractions, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is home to an emerald Buddha from the 14th century.
Appreciate the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
This temple is also known locally as Wat Phra Kaew or Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram. It is a Buddhist temple, and as the name suggests, Wat Phra Kaew is home to the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Phra Kaew was established in 1784 and is found on the same grounds as the famous Grand Palace. The ancient temple's unique architectural style reflects the history and designs of over two centuries ago.
The Buddha is not made of emerald but rather green jadeite, giving it a distinct and captivating appearance. The statue is clothed in gold attire, and its garments are changed by the Thai king in a ceremony that marks the changing of seasons a few times a year.
Explore Khaosan Road
Bangkok is known as one of the best places to stay in Thailand due to its many cultural sites and happening areas. Although Khaosan Road is relatively small, it's popular among backpackers and is one of the busiest places in Bangkok and Thailand.
In the past, this location was used as a rice market, but it became home to a more diverse range of stalls over time. Along with market stalls, the street also features lots of bars and restaurants. Most of these are affordable and stay open until late.
Besides exploring the stalls, bars, and restaurants on Khaosan Road, you can visit Bangkok's National Gallery, which is located near the street. The National Gallery is one of the few museums in the country, so it is well worth visiting.
Visit Wat Mahathat
The Temple of the Great Relic, locally known as Wat Phra Mahathat, is an ancient temple located in Ayutthaya. Built in 1374, Wat Mahathat used to be the residence of the Supreme Patriarch.
It was also used to host many royal celebrations. Today, the temple is one of Thailand's most significant places where you can learn about Buddhism and meditation. It is easy to do a day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok.
The ancient temple is known for housing a sandstone Buddha head sculpture tangled in the roots of a Bodhi tree. The Buddha head is linked with several stories, and while visiting, you will be able to learn some of these stories.
Scuba dive or snorkel in Ko Tao
You cannot travel to Thailand without visiting one of its beautiful islands. Ko Tao (also known as Koh Tao) is a great one to check out and is one of the country's most-visited islands.
The island has several water-related activities available for visitors, the most popular being scuba diving and snorkeling. Ko Tao has more than 25 diving sites to explore, with many needing a boat to reach.
If you are new to scuba diving, you have nothing to worry about because the island has multiple diving schools. The waters here are usually calm, making your new journey into scuba diving easy and fun.
Ko Tao is also one of the few places in the world where you can get your scuba diving certificate for a low fee. This results from the high level of competition between diving schools on the island.
The island also has a lot of perfect white sand beaches and stunning turquoise water. So, even if you just want to relax on the beach, Ko Tao is the ideal location to do so!
Relax in Ko Samet
Ko Samet, also known as Koh Samet, is another note-worthy island in Thailand. It is a decently sized island close to Bangkok, making it easier to access from the capital.
Ko Samet is one of Thailand's best places to visit to relax and try some fun activities. The island is a perfect weekend destination, offering tons of beaches, restaurants, and bars.
Just like on many islands, there are a vast array of water-related activities at your disposal, including diving and snorkelling. If you do not like water activities, you can hang out on the beach and at island bars and restaurants.
Watch a traditional Thai boxing match
Thai boxing is also called Muay Thai, and it is one of the most popular sports in the country. Scores of people from across the world head to Thailand to train in Muay Thai for professional and personal reasons.
Therefore, you will find some great places to watch a Muay Thai fight when in Thailand. One such place is the well-known Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok. You can book tickets for a Thai boxing match at this stadium here.
Explore Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay, also known as the Phang Nga National Park, is a stunning place to travel, especially by boat. The area features beautiful secluded beaches, lagoons, caves, and other scenic places to explore.
Phang Nga Bay is notably home to some famous islands, which includes "James Bond Island" (local name - Ko Tapu Island) and the Similan Islands. Ko Tapu Island was featured in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun and is a popular day trip to do on a boat.
If you are looking for the prime time beach holiday weather, the best time to visit this area is between November and February. Do note that this time will also be the busiest and most expensive.
Discover Koh Poda
Koh Poda is one of the most popular islands in Krabi. It is about eight kilometres from Ao Nang and part of the Poda Group Islands, with Koh Poda being the largest of them all.
The island is easily accessible via a short longtail boat ride from places like Ao Nang, Railay, and other locations. Even though Koh Poda is the biggest among the four islands, it is small enough to walk around and explore solely on foot. You could also join an island hopping tour from one of the previously mentioned locations.
When you arrive on the Island of Koh Poda, you will be met with beautiful white sand beaches and a stunning turquoise ocean. This island is the perfect place to relax and take a break from the world's troubles!
Ride a tuk-tuk at least once
With Uber being affordable and available throughout the country, you might not want to take a tuk-tuk. But you can't come to Thailand and not take a tuk-tuk - that would be like going to India and not riding a rickshaw!
Riding a tuk-tuk at least once is definitely a must-do activity in Thailand. Be aware that tuk-tuk drivers can and do often drive quite quickly. But with that said, in my experience, I've never been in an accident!
Be amazed by the Big Buddha Phuket
The Big Buddha Phuket, whose official name is Ming Mongkol Buddha, is located atop Nakkerd Hill. It is 148 feet tall, and construction of the Big Buddha began in 2004.
This famous Asian landmark is dedicated to the King of Thailand, His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej. Next to the Big Buddha, you will find a smaller Buddha statue dedicated to Queen Sirikit. The monument attracts millions of tourists annually, and guided tours of the attraction are available.
Once at the top of this attraction, you can also take in the stunning views from Nakkerd Hill, which includes the Andaman Sea and the surrounding lush greenery of Phuket.
Trek through Erawan National Park
Erawan National Park was founded in 1975 and was the 12th national park established in Thailand. It is located in the west of Thailand, in Kanchanaburi Province.
The park covers an area of about 550 square kilometers. Erawan National Park is notably home to one of the most visited waterfalls in the country, the beautiful seven-tiered Erawan Falls.
The park also has multiple hiking trails, caves, and lakes to explore. The nearby cave, Phra That Cave, is only eight kilometres from Erawan Waterfall. Day trips to Erawan Falls from Bangkok are possible.
Visit the floating markets
The atmosphere of these markets is unique, and they will surely impress you! There are many floating markets, meaning that access to at least one market will be easy no matter where you are staying.
Some of the popular floating markets are Amphawa Floating Market, Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Along with taking in the exciting atmosphere, you can shop for souvenirs and try Thai dishes from street food stalls.
Hang out at Railay Beach
Railay Beach is located between Ao Nang and Krabi. You can only travel to Railay Beach by longtail boat as it is cut off from the mainland due to the surrounding limestone cliffs.
During your time here, you can relax on the sandy beaches, swim or kayak, rock climb, and take in the breathtaking views surrounding the beach. Railay Beach is also the perfect romantic spot for couples, and as such, is one of the best places to stay in Krabi.
You can spend a night or two here if you want to enjoy more time in this part of Thailand. Even though it may be crowded with visitors at times, it is a must-visit when in Thailand.
Wander around Wat Arun
Wat Arun Ratchawararam means "Temple of Dawn" in Thai. It was named after the Indian god of dawn Aruna. Locals also refer to the temple as Wat Chaeng.
This temple is one of the most beautiful in Thailand, making it a must-visit. It is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and was constructed in the 17th century. You can find it included on many of the walking tours in Bangkok.
The temple's architecture is exceptional. You will get to view intricate carvings and stone statues in varying colors. Even though it is called the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is also a fantastic place to watch the sunset.
Visit the White Temple
The White Temple, popularly known as Wat Rong Khun, is a must-visit temple in Thailand. It is a Buddhist temple that was built between 1997 and 2008 as a project of Chalermchai Kositpipat.
Along with being an active Buddhist temple, Wat Rong Khun also features an impressive art museum. The temple is located in Chiang Rai and attracts many visitors to the town. It can also be visited as a day trip from Chiang Mai!
Some of the attractions to look out for when visiting the temple include the Gate of Heaven, the Bridge of the Cycle of Rebirth, and the Golden Building.
Take a Thai cooking class in Bangkok or Chiang Mai
One of my favourite experiences in Thailand to date was the cooking class I took in Chiang Mai many years ago (2015, to be exact)! So, I can't remember the exact company I took the class with, but there are several popular options on offer, like this Chiang Mai Thai cooking class.
Taking a Thai cooking class is an immersive and enriching experience that goes beyond just learning recipes. It offers a hands-on opportunity to grasp the intricacies of Thai culinary techniques, discover the vibrant array of spices, and understand the cultural significance behind each dish.
Engaging with local chefs provides insight into traditional flavors, ensuring an authentic culinary journey. Moreover, the acquired skills prepare you to recreate your favourite Thai dishes once at home, further reminding you of your epic Thailand trip for many years to come!
Spend time on Koh Phi Phi Island
Koh Phi Phi, or the Koh Phi Phi Islands, is a famous location that grew in popularity when it was featured in one of Leonardo DiCaprio's hit movies, "The Beach." The scenery in the area is incredible, with amazing views from every angle.
The price of services here, such as bars and restaurants, is slightly more expensive than on other islands, but it is worth it to enjoy this magical oasis. As for accommodation, you can get an air-conditioned bungalow for less than 50 USD, with a dorm room at about half that.
Enjoy the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum
The MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, as the name suggests, is a contemporary art museum located in Chiang Mai. It was opened in 2016 and showcases contemporary artworks by both renowned and upcoming artists from around Thailand.
The museum's architecture is itself a noteworthy aspect. The design was led by the main architect, Singh Intrachooto, who combined modern aesthetics with elements of traditional architecture.
Contemporary art is still growing a base of artists in Thailand since it only reached the country during the 1980s. Thus, the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, in part, uses its exhibits to educate more people about contemporary art.
Get inspired at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, also known as BACC, opened in 2008. It is a must on any Bangkok itinerary! Designed by the firm Robert G. Boughey and Associates, the structure features a distinctive, futuristic design with a multi-layered facade.
BACC is one of the few contemporary art centers in Thailand. It offers a wide range of modern art, music, theatre, design, and film exhibits. The center has items from Bangkok and the country at large.
The noteworthy building additionally hosts a range of events annually. Be sure to check out their website during your visit to see what events are on.
Help animals at the Elephant Nature Park
The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai serves as a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants and other Thai animals. It was established formally in 2003 by Saengduean Lek Chailer after she witnessed the abuse of elephants by the tourism industry.
The park has strict guidelines against elephant rides and bathing them, but you can go on walks with the elephants and feed them with food supplied by park staff.
Along with visiting for the day, you can volunteer at the park. As a volunteer, you can stay here for up to two weeks. During this time, you will interact closely with the elephants and assist the staff in their activities.
All proceeds from your ticket purchase go towards the running of the park and related conservation efforts, making this a fun and ethical activity where proceeds go towards saving Thailand's elephants!
Shop at MBK Center
The MBK Center (Mah Boon Krong Center) is a sizeable eight-story mall in Bangkok that attracts thousands of shoppers daily. It is a must-visit place in Thailand, especially for people who love shopping!
This famous Thai landmark is filled with over 2,000 shops, giving you a large variety of options. This includes fashion stores, those selling tech and gadgets, souvenir shops, and many restaurants.
The Mah Boon Krong Center is also home to a vast selection of affordable stores with very cost-friendly products for sale. It is the perfect place to pick up some gifts for friends and family back home, along with shopping for yourself.
Visit Phimai Historical Park
Phimai Historical Park is an ancient temple dating back to the 10th century. It is a Buddhist temple, but its design also features many Hindu deities.
Despite being a popular tourist spot, Phimai Historical Park is a place in Thailand with fewer crowds than other tourist attractions. This allows you to have a relaxing as well as educative and fun visit here.
One of the main attractions at the temple is the Naga Bridge. It is believed that the bridge acts as a connection between the human world and the spiritual world.
Another attraction is the main gopura or gate, which represents Mount Meru, the gods' home. There are also several smaller temples in Phimai Historical Park to explore.
Explore Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park is one of the must-visit places in Thailand. The park is very extensive, covering up to 739 kilometers. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of the world's oldest rainforests (even older than the Amazon Rainforest)!
The park is home to various wildlife species as well, including elephants and tapirs. You will also discover jungle hiking trails surrounded by striking views of untouched nature.
Additionally, be sure to visit Cheow Lan Lake, where you can swim and kayak. The park also features multiple hotels and eco-resorts, allowing you to stay in accommodation surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna.
Enjoy a Thai massage
Thai massages are considered an ancient therapy that is more than 2,500 years old. It is still a massage modality used today around the world due to its effectiveness in relaxing people and reducing muscle tension.
When traveling around Thailand, you might end up exhausted and achy from all the heat and walking around you'll be doing. As such, getting a Thai massage would be a welcomed exercise!
There are many small local massage parlors dotted all across the country. Or, you can visit a spa or resort offering Thai massages as one of their services. Wherever you go, just make sure to pick a well-reviewed and reputable spot so you don't open yourself up to injuries!
Attend a Thai festival
Thailand hosts several unique festivals each year. Attending a unique Thai festival is a great way to interact with the locals. There are lots of options available depending on when you are travelling to the country.
All the festivals are organized according to the Lunar Calendar, so the dates change annually. Some popular Thai festivals to attend include Songkran (The Water Festival), Loy Krathong (The Festival of Lights and Lanterns), and Yi Peng (The Lantern Festival - northern Thailand).
Although many people travel to Thailand to visit its beautiful islands, consider attending a festival to experience Thai culture. These festivals give you the chance to dance, drink, and entertain yourself with different but fun activities.
Sample Thai dishes
While you may have had Thai food in your home country, Thai food from Thailand will be notably different and likely more delicious! Most Thai cuisine combines local produce, spices, and herbs that produce complex flavors many people will enjoy.
Fish dishes are very popular in Thailand, but meat and vegetarian options are also readily available. Some of the dishes you must try include Tom Yum Goong (Thai Spicy Shrimp Soup), Phat Thai/Pad Thai (Thai Stir Fry Noodles), Thai Green Curry, and Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup).
One of the best ways to try as many authentic Thai dishes as possible is by doing a food walking tour, like this small group Bangkok street food tour.
Experience a Full Moon Party at Ko Pha Ngan
The Full Moon Party is a world-renowned all-night beach party held on Ko Pha Ngan Island. It is often included in many people's Thailand itineraries. The party takes place each month on the night of the full moon. Do check dates, though, as it is occasionally moved to the day before or after the full moon due to local holidays.
Travellers come from all over the world to enjoy this crazy party. The beach is lined with bar stalls selling a range of fun drinks and blasting dance music.
Partygoers are also encouraged to paint themselves with glow-in-the-dark paint. Fire dancers and displays are on show, too, adding to the wild and festive atmosphere.
Due to the party's popularity, purchasing tickets and reserving accommodation in advance is recommended. Many also arrive early for pre-party festivities, and it is recommended to have accommodation the day after the party as you will likely need to sleep in late!
Thailand is an incredible country that features on a vast number of travellers' lists of must-visit locations. It is home to stunning islands and national parks, as well as bustling and atmospheric cities.
Hopefully, this guide of 30+ Thailand bucket list activities will help you plan your Thailand trip and keep you busy while here. Even if you can only cross off a few of the items above, you are sure to have a unique and memorable trip!
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