Travel - Destinations
By: - at September 28, 2013

Top 15 Interesting Places to Visit in Thailand

Aerial View Of Bangkok, Thailand
Aerial View Of Bangkok

Formerly known as Siam, Thailand is a beautiful country located in Southeast Asia.  From the cultural hub of Bangkok to its outlying cities, it's full of exciting activities to do and places to visit. This beautiful Asian country has an incredible amount to offer and has long been considered an exotic get away. Thailand has distinct seasons that can be cool, hot, or rainy depending on the time of year you visit. There is always something to do every time of the year in this captivating country and itís a guarantee youíll find something for every interest. In fact, many tourists who visit end up staying longer than planned because they enjoyed their stay and the culture so much.

15)  Railay Beach
Accessible only by boat, this exclusive island beach is secluded from the mainland. It's located between Ao Nang and Krabi beach. The tiny islet forms a peninsula that is cut off by limestone cliffs, making this an ideal location for any rock climbing enthusiasts. Being set away from the rest of the country makes this relaxing private getaway one of the great places to visit for any traveler. There is a great variety of lodging available and visiting Railay Beach is financially feasible for almost everyone. Depending on your budget, you can find anything from cheap bungalows to The Rayavadee, a luxurious renowned resort. Visit the east side of the beach for cheaper lodging prices as well as for their boardwalk that has an array of bars and delicious restaurants serving up authentic cuisine. Top your day off on the east side by following the trail that leads to Tonsai and pay a visit to the Diamond Cave. Be sure to visit the west side too because thatís where the prime part of the beach is located. On the west side you can enjoy the crystal clear waters by renting a longboat then kick back on the beach afterwards with a cool drink.

Railay Beach Krabi Thailand

14)  Grand Palace
Located in the scenic heart of Bangkok, the Grand Palace is an architectural marvel and the gem of Thailand.

The Grand Palace in Thailand

This political cornerstone is a top tourist destination and for a good reason. Occasional lavish processions and festivals center on the palace year round, making it a landmark of Thailand that is still in use. Originally built in 1782, the Grand Palace has been added onto over the years to make it even bigger and more beautiful. Instead of being a single building, the Grand Palace is a cluster of small buildings that form a unit. There is so much to do in the palace, like:  touring around the ornate open-air courtyards, exploring the palace gardens, wandering the great many halls, checking out the pavilions, admiring the throne hall with its beautiful sculptures of various gods as well as ornamental pillars and visiting the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is actually a chapel with a number of cloisters lining its walls.  Inside the walls of the Grand Palace are a series of buildings that all reflect different time periods and showing off classical Thai architecture, it is worth the time to trek around the whole palace.

13)  Siam Park City
After a fun day of history at the Grand Palace, treat yourself to Siam Park City as your next attraction. Located in the Khan Na Yao district in Bangkok, this amusement park is relaxing fun for the entire family. Itís been open for over 35 years now, originally as a way to bring fun to the community and that still holds true. Siam Park City sees over two million happy customers each year and has some of the biggest rides in the area. The risk-takers and thrill seekers should check out the vortex, this signature ride sends you screaming through five tight loops over 765 meters of track. This is one of the largest looping coasters in the world and is a must for the roller coaster fanatic. Topspin is a great ride for the adrenaline lover who loves water, it flings you up into the air and out of fountains at top speed. This ride isnít the only way to get wet at the park because there is also a section that is a water park. Surf in the worldís largest wave pool, the Talay Krung Thep, that has waterfalls and sparkling rock pools for your enjoyment. A good way to end the day is by winding down at the spa club, where you can experience an authentic Thai massage.

Siam City Park Bangkok, Thailand
By Apichyy min, via Wikimedia Commons

12)  Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
This attraction is located in the Grand Palace and is known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as mentioned previously. This is an ideal stop for anyone interested in art history, religion, architecture or someone who just wants to learn as much as they can about the history of Bangkok. It is considered to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in the country and is located at the very heart of Bangkokís historical core. The centermost building of the temple houses is the Emerald Buddha that is surrounded by an elaborate ornamented case where people come to pray from all over the world. If you visit in the spring you can experience Chakri Day at the temple, where you can see the king as well as the glamorous over-the-top outfits worn at important Thai ceremonies. Step out onto the portico and take in the traditional Thai architecture.  Tour the pagodas, where one houses the ashes of the Buddha. Wat Phra Kaew also houses a gorgeous library with hand-carved mother-of-pearl doors, inside are extensive bookcases with Buddhist scrolls and depictions of Chakri kings as well as mythical nagas. Make sure not to leave without getting a good look at the nine towers on the east side of the temple, they are all decorated with glazed tiles of different colors that are meant to represent the colors of the planets.

The Emerald Buddha Temple Wat Phra Kaew Thailand

Inside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Inside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Emerald Buddha inside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Emerald Buddha
By Gremel Madolora, via Wikimedia Commons

11)  Ko Samet
Less exclusive and easier to access than Railay Beach, Ko Samet is a great place to go for vacationers looking to gain insight into the local culture. This scenic stretch of beaches on the Gulf of Thailand is a popular travel destination for foreigners and those wanting to enjoy a few days away from Bangkok. Itís a great place to go year-round and has fewer rainy days than the other provinces in Thailand, so you wonít get rained out of your beach vacation. Opposite of Railay, most of the swimming beaches are located on the east side and are small enough to feel homey but large enough to allow for plenty of beachgoers. The most popular beach is Hat Sai Kaeo, also known as the Crystal Sand Beach. During the night itís a hot spot for partygoers with amazing drinks and fire shows. The daytime activities are just as great because you can jet ski, windsurf, swim, or just lay out and get some sun. Visitors also enjoy looking at the bizarre population of short-legged dogs that roam about. If you really want a taste of what it's like to be a local then swing by Ao Karang and enjoy the traditional atmosphere as you sit down to great seafood dish prepared by skilled Thai chefs.

Ko Samet Thailand
By BjÝrn Erik Pedersen, via Wikimedia Commons

10)  Chiang Mai Zoo
For more family fun look no further than the Chiang Mai Zoo in Northern Thailand. The place began as a nature sanctuary run by U.S. native Harold Mason Young, he looked after ailing animals and got an audience with the natives for his large collection. After Youngís death in the 1970ís, the sanctuary was reborn as a full-blown zoo and the first in Thailand. It began in 1974 with 200 different species and is currently at over 400 and still growing. It has recently added two large aquariums, one that is a tunnel for visitors to go through and the other is a marine aquarium. Species at the zoo include all the family favorites, such as:  hippos, giraffes, lions, pandas and the only rhinoceros in Thailand. As of 2006, the zoo has added a new attraction called the Chiang Mai Night Safari that features three different zones. Lead your family through a night of fun-filled animal antics with species like black bears, wildebeests, white tigers, and monkeys. Go through the Savanna Safari Zone and feel like you were transported to Africa, scout over 30 different types of grassland animals. See the carnivorous animals in the Predator Prowl Zone, which features 200 different species. See over 50 species of small animals in the flower gardens of the Jaguar trail and enjoy the scenic walk around the Swan Lake.

Panda Exhibit
Chiang Mai Zoo Panda Exhibit
By KayEss, via Wikimedia Commons

9)  Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
This Theravada Buddhist temple is on top of the Doi Suthep Mountain and is a jewel in the province of Chiang Mai. From the temple you can get a great view of Chiang Mai, making it a prime photo location. This is an interesting location to take a tour because the origins of the temple itself are a legend and the truth isnít known. Youíll hear a few stories that vary in nature but the actual structure was built in the 14th century. Over the years it has been added onto to make it larger and more regal, though it was very secluded until the first road to it was built in 1935. When visiting this temple you must remember to be respectful because it is considered a very sacred location to the Thai people. Appropriate dress is required and the temple is accessible either by taking a tram for a small fee or climbing over 300 stairs for free. The temple shares its influence with both Hinduist and Buddhist because it has statues of both Buddha and the Hindu god Ganesh. A truly beautiful location, this temple is a great place to unwind and breathe in the fresh air while hearing about Thai legends.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Thailand

Gold face of Buddha statue

8)  Sanctuary of Truth
If youíre not wanting to take a hike up a mountain, the Sanctuary of Truth may be more your speed. This beautiful temple is located in Pattaya and is carved entirely of wood, which makes it stand out against a culture whose architecture is primarily decorated with glazed tiles. The building takes its influence from both Buddhist and Hindu motifs, where the details complement each other nicely. The templeís art collection is very impressive as well, hosting a large number of contemporary visionary art pieces that feature religion and religious themes. Aside from the contemporary art, the temple boasts a small but beautiful collection of art from the time it was built. There are a great number of elegant sculptures, also made entirely of wood. Most notable are the four large scale statues depicting the Buddhist and Hindu religions as well as the mythologies of India, China, Cambodia, and Thailand. This temple is more for those who enjoy soul searching because its purpose is to invoke a great understanding in its visitors.

Thailand, Pattaya, Sanctuary of Truth Temple

7)  Rajamangala Stadium
For the sports fans, Rajamangala Stadium is a must. Situated in busy Bangkok, itís the national stadium of Thailand and home to Thailandís national football team. It was first used for the Asian Games in 1998 and the stadium has been a host to many big sport events since then, including the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. This stadium still resembles a traditional stadium but is very unique because the stands of the Rajamangala rise and fall, almost like the entire thing has been stretched out of proportion. The seats vary in price, the cheapest are on the east side and the spots are uncovered. The west sideís seats are covered and more expensive, therefore less popular.

When traveling to the stadium, you want to be conscious of which bus service you take. Most bus and taxi systems donít travel close enough to the stadium to get to it easily. The Suvarnabhumi Airport Link is the only way currently to get near it, so be sure to take that rather than the typical bus system. The Airport Link is a new innovation, having opened in 2010 because fans were very frustrated by how difficult the stadium was to access. Don't miss out on this great opportunity for the sports enthusiast in your family, since it is the biggest sports complex in Thailand.

Rajamangala Stadium Thailand
By Chrstian Bellgardt, via Wikimedia Commons

6)  Buddha Park
The artist in your family will love the opportunity to visit this beautiful sculpture park. Known by the locals as Xieng Khuan, or Spirit City, it is nearly on the border of Laos and Thailand. Though it isnít a temple, it is often called that due to the sheer number of religious images represented in the park. Over 200 Buddhist and Hindu sculptures are there and it was created by the shamanic priest named Luang Pu Bunieua Sulilat. The priest wished to bring together the ideas of Buddhism and Hinduism via the park, the subject matter ranges from gods to demons. The strange thing about the sculpture park is that the sculptures arenít modern art, some look like they could be centuries old but they are all made of reinforced concrete.

The sculptures are all unique and most are fantastically bizarre. There are three levels of this park that visitors can go through called:  Heaven, Earth, and Hell. Guests begin by climbing through a large sculpture of a demonís mouth that leads them into Hell, where demonic sculptures are located. Then they climb the stairs until they reach Heaven and get a lovely view of the park that has a humongous statue of Buddha. A bit out of the way and an oddity for sure, Buddha Park is the perfect place for the more eccentric.

The Demon's Mouth at Buddha Park you walk into
The Demon's Mouth at Buddha Park you walk into

Buddha Park Thailand
By Dezwitser, via Wikimedia Commons

The park's humongous statue of Buddha
Humongous statue of Buddha in Buddha Park

5)  Bangkok National Museum
The Bangkok National Museum is a must for the history enthusiast, it is the main branch of Thailandís National Museums and holds a great number of exhibits on Thai history as well as art. Its almost a century and a half old and originally opened in 1874 as a place to store relics of the previous kingís rule. Their gallery has expanded significantly over the years to include a wide variety of pieces ranging from the Neolithic to modern times, there are also temporary exhibitions that change regularly. The museum offers quite a few services to guests as well to make certain that they get the most out of their visit. Groups can schedule a guide to lead them through the museum or visit the library at their leisure, foreigners can even get guides specifically for them at designated times. The museum is free and open every day, except for Mondays as well as Tuesdays because those are museum holidays. There is no better way to learn about the history of a country than to learn about it in the country itself and the Bangkok National Museum is a great resource for tourists to learn about Thailand.

 Bangkok National Museum
By Masgatotkaca, via Wikimedia Commons

4)  Bang Pa-In Royal Palace
Though itís technically the summer palace for the king and queen of Thailand, the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace is very rarely used and is easily accessible for tourists. It is located in the Bang Pa-In district in the Ayutthaya Province on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. The architecture in this palace is interesting because it has more of a Chinese influence than most architecture in Thailand did at the time it was built. Since it was rarely used, the palace fell into great disrepair for a few centuries but renovations began in the middle of the 1800ís. Today the palace is as good as new with many new buildings to add to it. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful extensive gardens and landscapes as they take in the magnificent view. The palace is rarely crowded even though it is gorgeous, so youíre sure to get a great look at everything you want to see. The centerpiece of the palace is a small pavilion situated on a man-made crystalline pond and bright colors of the building are in deep contrast to the pale blue water, making the sight completely breathtaking.

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace

3)  Wat Benchamabophit
Wat Benchamabophit is a huge tourist attraction in Bangkok to add to the list of memorable Buddhist temples to visit in Thailand. It's popular enough that the faÁade is featured on the official Thai currency and can be seen in multiple television programs. The entire place is a work of art from top to bottom with bright booming colors, elaborate rooftops and an overall ornate style that exemplifies the height of Bangkok architecture. Every part of the Wat Benchamabophit is decorated in some fashion and the structure is made from Carrera marble that can only be found in Italy, this makes it impossible to look away from. When visiting, be sure to venture through the gallery to see the 52 sculptures of Buddha all doing different signs. If you decide to go in the early morning youíll get the benefit of seeing monks come to the temple to receive their daily donations. During certain times of the year festivals are held where there are processions every evening via candlelight, illuminating the temple with a beautiful glow.

Marble Temple Wat Benchamabophit  Bangkok, Thailand.

Wat Benchamabophit at Twilight

2)  Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is the third largest park in Thailand and is located mostly in Nakhon Ratchasima Province. There are many scenic mountains though the landscape that includes everything from grasslands to forests of lush evergreens. Take a misty morning hike through the woods to enjoy the flora and fauna around you then stop by the many waterfalls, a few so beautifully large that they have become famous worldwide. The best time to visit is between November and February, which is the ďcold seasonĒ in the park  as well as the best time for hiking. From May to October is the rainy season but that's when the waterfalls are the prettiest. March up through April is the hot season with more humidity than normal, making a hike a bit more difficult but the plants are more lush. The cold, rainy and hot seasons are all beautiful but it is up to you which season you would enjoy the most.  At night the park includes a nighttime safari program with pick-up trucks for guests as well as camping opportunities. For those who are particularly adventurous, there is a four-day trek offered to go see a dinosaur footprint or you can just stick to the many hiking trails that vary widely in difficulty and length. This location has so many options that you could nearly spend your entire vacation just in this beautiful spot.

Khao Yai National Park Thailand

1)  Elephant Nature Park
For the animal lover in your party, the Elephant Nature Park is the perfect stop. Close to the Chiang Mai City, the park caters to distressed elephants all over Thailand. Itís designed in a natural valley to provide a sanctuary for them while still maintaining their habitat with mountains surrounding it and a river flowing smoothly around it. The herd includes elephants that are orphaned, blind or disabled. Rather than having shows that require rigorous training with the elephants, the goal of the park is to show elephants in a happy natural setting. Visitors are welcome all year round and can even make special accommodations to stay overnight.

Elephant Nature Park Thailand

Final Thoughts
With these wide variety of attractions, Thailand truly has a little bit of everything to offer. From thick lush jungles to crystal blue waters and food thatís guaranteed to be an adventure for any taste connoisseur, there is something to appeal to everyone. Whether you and a tour guide end up climbing the steps of ancient temples or relaxing on one of Thailandís luxurious beaches, youíll enjoy everything beautiful Thailand has to offer. Immerse yourself in the blend of culture as well as the long-standing traditions that comprise the core of Thailandís tourism appeal and stay for a while.





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