Top 5 Places to Visit in Thailand

Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand


With around 27 million visits every year, Thailand is one of the most popular countries to visit on the planet. It is one of my favourite places I have ever been to, and it was here that I truly caught the traveling bug! 


Thailand offers an extensive range of incredible scenery, culture, and crazy activities to give you the experience of a lifetime. It has everything from mountain hikes and famous temples to busy cities and party islands. What more could you want? 


Well, being such a big country you may be wondering where you should focus your time… I’ve traveled up and down Thailand twice in 2022 and 2023, taking a slightly different route each time. There is a LOT to see, so read on and I’ll highlight the absolute must-see places which you shouldn’t miss!


Without further ado, here are my top 5 places to visit in Thailand right now…



1. Pai, North Thailand

Bamboo Bridge in Pai, Thailand

Upon arriving in Thailand, I wasn’t sure there was much to see up North, but it is worth the trek to check out Chiang Mai, and especially Pai. 


Pai is the traveler’s hub of North Thailand, receiving over a million visitors every year! It’s a small (slightly westernised) village surrounded by incredible waterfalls, hot springs, and cultural villages. 


It’s a common stop for fellow travelers if you’re looking to meet people, and has some very social hostels such as Revolution and Pai Circus. Its famous Walking Street is a great place to try some delicious street food and becomes full of life in the evenings. 


When you get there, be sure to rent a bike ASAP so you can check out all the hot springs, caves, The Bamboo Bridge, and The Canyon.


Check out my Complete Guide to Pai here.


2. Koh Tao

John Suwan Viewpoint in Ko Tao, Thailand

My favourite island in Thailand. Koh Tao is probably the most beautiful island I’ve ever been to, and not only that but there’s so much to see for such a tiny landmass. 


You can get the ferry out to Koh Tao from Surat Thani. On the way, It also makes sense to visit neighbouring islands Koh Samui and Koh Phangan if you have the time. 


Renting a bike will make it easy to do day trips out to its many beaches, viewpoints, and activities. Be sure to check out Jansom Bay, Tanote Bay, and John-Suwan Viewpoint. Koh Tao is also one of the cheapest places in the world to go Scuba diving. You can also get your Open Water License in a few days of diving! 


Koh Tao also has a great nightlife, with a selection of lively beach bars and hostels. The best social hostel to meet fellow backpackers is Revolution, and the best bars/clubs are AC and Fishbowl! 


Check out my guide to Koh Tao here!


3. Koh Phi Phi

koh phi phi viewpoint 2

Located off the west coast of South Thailand, Koh Phi Phi is a stunning island with white sand beaches, breathtaking views, and ecstatic nightlife. You can reach it via ferry from Phuket or Krabi. 


If you’re not chilling on one of its gorgeous beaches, there are lots of things to do in Phi Phi. One of my favourites is kayaking out to Monkey Beach. You can rent kayaks from Loh Dalum Beach and paddle out to sea, hugging the coastline on the left until you turn the corner and end up on a beach full of monkeys. Just be warned, they do bite! 

There are also 3 viewpoints along a short (ish) hike up a hill, accessible from a staircase in the main village area. I saw all three and they are definitely worth the trek. 


At night, Phi Phi is pretty lively. Loh Dalum Beach (on the North side), is where the main party happens. Slinky Bar is the heart of the beach party that will sometimes ensue until sunrise. It has a good atmosphere, cheap drinks, and a bucking bronco! See if you can beat my time of 1 minute and 20 seconds! 😉


The most sociable hostels are Blanco and IBIZA Pool Party.


4. Chiang Mai

Rice fields in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Located just South of Pai, Chiang Mai is the cultural center of North Thailand. There are over 300 Wats in Chiang Mai and plenty of night markets. Its laid-back vibe is a nice contrast to the madness of Bangkok. 


From Chiang Mai, you’ll be able to book a trip to an elephant sanctuary. This is a must-do experience when you’re in Thailand. When I visited I went on a 3-day jungle trek, including a visit to the sanctuary, and a hike amongst some beautiful rice fields. We were also hosted by a friendly Thai family, who live in a wooden hut on the side of a mountain. They even made us a delicious beef stew! 


Another cool thing to do in Chiang Mai is the Grand Canyon Waterpark. It’s a great day out where you can tackle the inflatable assault course, and be launched in the air on a bouncy pillow! 


Some great bars for the evening include Zoe in Yellow and The Spicy.


5. Phuket

Patong Beach on a rainy day, Phuket, Thailand

Phuket doesn’t have the same beauty as the other places on this list (I know the photo doesn’t help this statement). However, there are some pretty cool things to do in Phuket, and now that I look back on my experience, it was a great time. 


Patong Beach is a popular spot for travelers. It has a busy atmosphere and a large beach with lots of water sports. You can rent a jet ski for a decent price, or learn to surf. You can also check out Andamanda Waterpark, which is about a 30-minute drive from Patong. 


Patong is also home to the famous Bangla Road. After visiting Khao San Road in Bangkok, I thought this would be a slightly more tame version, but I was mistaken! In the evenings it is full of busy bars, entertainers, and people coming up to you asking to play Connect Four or that weird axe-chopping game (don’t do it). Just as in Bangkok, make sure you keep your valuables close.  

Muay Tai Boxing Fight, Phuket, Thailand

There will be no shortage of Muay Thai Boxing events in Phuket, and these are a great way to spend your evening. There will be several cards featuring fighters of different ages, and usually some foreign fighters too. So grab yourself a beer, place some bets, and enjoy the action.


Traveling through Bangkok on your way? Check out my 5 Best Things To Do in Bangkok here!

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