Black and white illustration of Keith Jarmon's headshot
Written by
Keith Jarman

Published on: September 29th, 2017

Last modified: July 27th, 2023

In the heart of Southeast Asia lies Thailand, a country bursting with incredible places to go and things to do. From family adventures, foodie explorations, trips for two and honeymoon - there’s something for everyone: climb the limestone cliffs of Krabi, visit rural temples in Chiang Mai, go shopping in bustling Bangkok or try snorkelling on Koh Samui.

Although Thailand is best known for its Buddhist culture and delectable cuisine, there’s a multitude of other experiences too. With a seemingly endless amount of activities, we’ve asked our travel designers to handpick their best things to do and explain why they love them.

1. Explore The Grand Palace in Bangkok

Adventure through the maze of buildings, pavilions, gardens and courtyards that make up the official residence of the Kings of Siam in Bangkok. Within the palace complex lies Wat Phra Kaew, a temple which houses the famed Emerald Buddha that was carved from a single block of semi-precious green stone.

Feast your eyes upon the intricate interior of the Grand Palace Hall or visit the museum to learn more about the restoration of the Grand Palace. Your private guide will make sure to find the hidden spots and quiet corners of the palace to truly immerse you within its history.

2. Learn how to cook traditional Thai cuisine in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai offers an abundance of culinary experiences for visitors to delve into the rich and diverse world of Thai cuisine. Whether it be taking part in a cooking class at an organic farm, savouring various street foods at the night markets, or discovering the unique flavours of the Akha tribe’s cuisine. You’ll be able to learn about Thailand’s culinary history and taste-test delicious traditional dishes, all within one city. 

Most cooking classes in Chiang Mai begin with a visit to a local market, where you’ll learn how to choose the best ingredients. Once back, enjoy a fully-guided class with demonstrations and explanations along the way. Then, sit down and savour the fruits of your labour. At the end of the class, participants are often provided with a recipe booklet so they can recreate the dishes in their own kitchens. 

3. Visit the floating markets of Bangkok

Rise early and traverse the narrow canals that lead to Bangkok’s lively Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in a long-tail boat. Here, you can find many fruit and vegetable sellers whose fresh produce will make your mouth water. There is also a copious amount of food to taste along the docks, such as fluffy coconut pancakes and mango sticky rice. 

A short drive from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market lies the Tha Kha Floating Market. Local traditions have been preserved here as residents bring their own-grown vegetables to sell in their boats, giving visitors an authentic glimpse into rural life. There’s even the chance to take a boat out to paddle around the village and delightful fruit orchards with a guide. 

4. Go rock climbing in Krabi

Krabi, in southern Thailand, is a rock-climber’s haven with conditions suitable for beginners, up to advanced climbers. The steep limestone cliffs jut spectacularly out of the Andaman Sea meaning climbers can experience magnificent views over the azure waters below.

Rai Leh, located east of Krabi, is defined by its picturesque beaches and engulfing limestone mountains. These colossal karsts are only accessible by long-tail boat fishing boats, meaning that just getting there is an adventure activity. It’s often described as a climber’s utopia due to the hundreds, if not thousands, of routes waiting to be climbed.

5. Devour street food in Bangkok

Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is home to arguably some of the world’s best street food, full of flavour and demonstrating the country’s rich culinary culture. A fun and efficient way to visit as many stalls as possible is by taking a tuk-tuk tour around the city, moving from one delectable food stall to the next. 

And while Michelin stars are typically associated with high-end establishments, the Michelin Guide has also recognised the exceptional quality of some street food stalls in Bangkok, elevating them to a whole new level of recognition and prestige; among which Jay Fai which has gained worldwide fame for its delicious and meticulously prepared Thai seafood dishes.


6. Kayak on the breathtaking Phang Nga Bay

Take a kayaking tour in Phang Nga Bay located just off the coast of Phuket, paddle through emerald waters, explore hidden lagoons, and marvel at the breathtaking limestone cliffs that rise majestically from the sea. It’s also possible to explore some of the 42 small islands that are dotted across the bay while on your kayaking adventures. 

For more water-based activities, and also within Phang Nga Bay, you’ll find Khao Phing Kan, famously known as ‘James Bond Island’ due to its role in the movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. Kayak or sail as close as you can to the rocky pinnacle, before enjoying a seafood lunch at one of the many oceanfront restaurants in Phuket. 

7. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya

Not far from Bangkok lies the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya, an archeological ruin that was once one of the largest urban areas in the world. It’s known for its remnants of towers and monumental Buddhist monasteries, which you can view on guided cycling tours within Ayutthaya’s ancient walls. 

Step right into history when you stay at Sala Ayutthaya, one of our favourite hotels in the area. Perched on the riverbank of Chao Phraya River, this stylish hotel will put you in the heart of the ancient ruins, the perfect spot for your historical adventure.

8. Snorkel in the Ang Thong National Park

Discover the turquoise home of whale sharks, green sea turtles, and yellow-spotted trevallies on snorkelling activities in Ang Thong National Park. Reach the park on a scenic boat trip from the nearest island of Koh Samui during February to October, when the afternoons are sunny and the seas are calm.

Snorkelling in Thailand

The stunning archipelago is composed of 42 islands. Ang Thong National Park is a vast wonder engulfed by towering limestone pinnacles and dense jungles. Snorkelling and diving are popular activities here, allowing you to explore the vibrant coral reefs and encounter an abundance of marine life.

9. Visit the iconic White Temple in Chiang Rai

Visiting temples is one of the top things to do in Thailand, a country rich in ancient buddhist culture. The culturally significant region of Chiang Rai, in the picturesque Golden Triangle, is home to one of Thailand’s most impressive temples: Wat Rong Khun, also known as ‘The White Temple.’

While walking around the temple notice how the white walls sparkle in the sun, due to the use of glass in the plaster. Marvel at the intricate detail of every statue and structure and take the opportunity to reflect on the Buddhist teachings each feature symbolises. 


10. Go hiking in Chiang Mai

One of the best places to go hiking in Thailand is in the hilly northern region of Chiang Mai. Here you can hike through the jungle and visit hill tribes, before white-water rafting, mountain biking or even ziplining over the vegetation and crashing waters of the jungle. 

Landscape Chiang Mai Thailand

You can also trek from Chiang Mai up to the Golden Triangle, the area where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the convergence of the Ruak and the Mekong Rivers. This adventure will give you plenty of opportunities to visit ancient monuments as you hike your way through the stunning scenery of Thailand. 

11. Get off the beaten track on the idyllic beaches of Koh Yao Noi

Indulge in the tropical island paradise of Koh Yao Noi, situated just far enough off the tourist trail for exclusive and private activities on its pristine beaches. In terms of things to do, relaxing on the soft sands will be top of the list for some, but there’s plenty of activities too: try Thai kickboxing, rock climbing, and a variety of cycling trails.  

Stay at Six Senses Yao Noi, where you can choose from ocean, beachfront, or hideaway villas. These come with their own private infinity pool and terrace, which are perfect for soaking up the sun and al-fresco dining. 

12. Learn about ethical elephant tourism

Elephant’s have played an important role in Thai history for hundreds of years, sadly often exploited for human gain. So, today, it’s crucially important to learn about ethical elephant tourism, before taking part in, or visiting so called sanctuaries.

In the south west of the country the Elephant Haven operates an ethical ‘saddle off’ program which allows visitors to simply observe these gentle giants as they roam freely. For those interested in a complete immersion in the experience, it’s possible to stay the night and spend more time learning about elephant behaviour.

13. Uncover World War II history in Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi in west Thailand known for its World War II history. Here you can cruise along the River Kwai with a historian and learn about the Death Railway, before visiting the war cemetery where the Kanchanaburi Memorial can be found.

The interactive Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, where you can look at photographs of the railway construction, is a fantastic way to understand more about the history here. There’s also the JEATH war museum a short walk from River Kwai, which displays part of the original bridge after it was bombed in 1944. 

14. Learn about Thailand’s diverse culture in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a cultural hub, meaning there is no end of activities to embark on for a respectful cultural experience. Here you can visit the 8 Hill Tribes of Chiang Mai, including the Hmong tribe who live in Northern Thailand, and hop on a train to the small town of Lampang. 

In Lampang you can marvel at the architecture that dates back to the 7th century, taste the local cuisine, and hike up Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat to admire the golden and white pagodas scattered atop of the mountain peaks.

Trip Inspiration

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Luxury accommodation in Thailand

There are many incredible places to stay in Thailand. Here are some of our favourites, handpicked by our travel designers:

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