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Things to Do in Thailand

temple in thailandThailand caters to tourists like a sommelier to wine pairings. There is a perfect match for every traveler, whether you’re a 20-something backpacker who just wants to party on the beach, a soul-seeker who craves silent meditation in an ashram, or someone in-between.

Following is a general list of things to do and see in Thailand; follow our links for more details.

Beaches & Islands

Gorgeous beaches, the type that are meant for postcards, are spread along Thailand’s coastline. You’ll find some of the hottest nightlife in the world, and a few small smiles of sand that are great for hammocks and bobbing around in clear, warm water.

Some of the bigger beach destinations in Thailand include:

  • Phuket : Thailand’s largest island is home to many fine beaches, the most popular being Patong.
  • Ko Samui: an island off the east coast of Thailand, Samui caters to a resort crowd that enjoys laid-back luxury.
  • Hua Hin: A resort destination south of Bangkok that is still popular with the Royal Family. You can golf, snack on seafood, or splash around in the waves.
  • Pattaya: Since it’s located less than two hours from Bangkok, Pattaya is a popular destination. Though it’s rebranding itself as a family destination, it’s still the prostitution capital of Thailand, so you’ll need to be prepared for that.
  • Ko Samet: Still just a quick trip from Bangkok, Ko Samet is popular with weekending Bangkok residents. There are several all-inclusive resorts with private beaches, as well backpacker huts scattered across the small island.

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Thailand is a shopaholics downward spiral. An abundance of textiles, cheap clothing, knock-off designer products (and electronics), and funky art can keep anyone occupied for weeks. In Bangkok, swanky malls collect on Sukhumvit Road – but don’t miss MBK, a mall filled with cheap stalls selling everything from fisherman’s pants to used cell phones.

The Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest market in Thailand and possibly the world. A sweaty maze of handicrafts, home appliances, clothing, food, books, art, and anything else you might desire (baby squirrels? a puppy? what about army boots?). Check out Nancy Chandler’s map of the market for information on stalls and products.

Up north, Chiang Mai boasts a popular night bazaar, as well as a Sunday Walking Street and Saturday Walking Street. Numerous day markets round out the offerings.

If you’re looking for souvenir ideas, check out our post on gift ideas for the Thailand lover.


There are over 31,000 temples spread across Thailand – so many that you can’t help but stumble across them. Called “wats,” there are two types: those which carry out religious functions and those which are used only for living quarters for monks. Furthermore, temples are categorized as either Royal or Common.

In Thailand there are about 200 Royal temples, out of which the following six are of the highest grade: Wat Phra Chetuphon, Wat Mahathat, Wat Suthat and Wat Arun in Bangkok , Wat Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakhon Pathom Province, Wat Phra Buddhabat in Saraburi Province.

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