35 Amazing Things to Do in Thailand in 2021

It’s hard to believe how many times we have been to Thailand. The first time was 20 years ago, and we keep going back again and again. The Thai people are some of the friendliest people in the world, and each time we return we feel at home.

Many friends and readers are always asking us where they should go, and what to do in Thailand. Thailand is the first stop on most people’s South East Asia trip. So we thought we’d share our expertise from our multiple travels to Thailand.

Best Things to do in Thailand

Thailand is open for business and welcoming visitors in 2021. These are our favorite things to do in Thailand to help you plan your visit.

1. Rock Climbing in Railay Beach

adventurous things to do in Thailand | rock climbing railay

Railay Beach is our favorite place in Thailand and not only because of the amazing beaches surrounded by massive limestone cliffs, and turquoise waters, we love it for the climbing! There are hundreds of routes to climb for all levels of climbers. We climbed with both Hot Rocks climbing school and King Climbers and both were fantastic.

2. Sea Kayak in Krabi

things to do in Thailand phuket | sea kayaking

Exploring the karst islands of The Andaman Sea by Sea Kayak is one of the beset things to do in Thailand. Join John Gray Sea Canoe to paddle through caves to enter gorgeous lagoons in the middle of islands surrounded by sea cliffs. Make sure to book overnight on one of the uninhabited islands in the area.

While Sea kayaking is very popular in Krabi going inland to the mangrove forest is also unforgettable. You’ll explore mangrove forests and ancient caves housing hieroglyphics. An experience you’ll never forget.

3. Motorcycle to the Myanmar Border

thailand tourism | motorcycle tour

Take a tour of Northern Thailand on a motorcycle. We loved our safe luxury motorcycle tour with The Smiling Albino. They created a custom tour where we had a thorough riding lesson (with a test included!) before taking an epic tour off the beaten track.

4. Visit the Golden Triangle

thailand holidays | golden triangle

Standing on the border of northern Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, (The Golden Triangle) is a once in a lifetime experience. What was once infamous for the opium trade is now filled with lush tea terraces and temples and hill tribes. For an off the beaten track destination in Thailand, this is it!

5. Muay Thai Kickboxing

things to do in thailand - muay thai

Want a great way to whip yourself in shape? Try enrolling in a Muay Thai Kickboxing course. There are schools all over the country and you can sign up for a few short days or stay for months at a time. Kickboxing is an important sport to the Thai People and if you want to immerse in Thai Culture this is a great option. We trained with Rawai Muay Thai in Phuket and found them to be outstanding.

If you are not up for Muay Thai Training, check out a professional Muay Thai Fight. There are matches somewhere every night in Thailand, and it’s a huge part of the country’s tradition.

6. Get Soaked at Songkran Festival

top things to do in Thailand | songkran festival
Prepare to get wet!

It only happens once a year, but if you find yourself in Thailand when the Songkran festival is going on, you have got to go out and experience it. It’s the world’s largest water fight celebrating the Thai New Year. (Songkran Festival usually takes place at the beginning of April) Songkran Festival the celebrates ringing in Thailand’s ancient New Year.

7. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary – Elephant Nature Park

things to do in thailand animals | elephant sanctuary

Skip riding elephants and instead visit an elephant sanctuary that gives refuge to former working and logging elephants. Elephants in Thailand have lived hard lives and the sanctuaries that are opening are starting to give them a safe haven to live out the rest of their lives.

8. Tour the Chao Phraya River

things to do in thailand chao phraya river bangkok
Wat Arun towers over the river – Navigating the Chao Phraya River

Many of the best things do in Thailand are on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Wat Arun stands proud over all temples as you tour Bangkok’s water highway to see its top sights.

Many of Bangkok’s major tourist attractions are along the Chao Phraya river. You can take the water taxi for the low price of 20 baht (less than 1 US dollar ) for the tourist boat or 8 baht for the local boat.

Best Things to do on the Chao Phraya River

  • The Grand Palace and Wat Pho – The Grand Palace is the most popular place to visit in Bangkok. Wat Pho houses the reclingin buddha
  • China Town – Hop off at this vibrant area of Bangkok
  • Temple of the Dawn, (Wat Arun) – Wat Arun, Aka The Temple of the Dawn is a Buddhist Temple that is not to be missed.
  • The National Museum
  • Flower Markets in Bangkok – Most of Bangkoks flower arrangements come from this. One of Asia’s largest flower markets.
  • Floating Market – The main Floating Market – Damnoen Saduak, is located outside of the city, but if you hire a longtail boat, you can hit floating markets in the backwaters of the Chao Phraya.

9. Shop at Chang Mai’s Night Market

places to visit in Bangkok | Chiang Mai Night Market

At night the streets of Chang Mai come alive with rows and rows of vendors. The prices seem to be higher here than anywhere else in Thailand, but once you know what to pay for things, you can get them down to the proper price.

10. Take a Long Tail Boat Island Hopping 

thailand what to do | longtail boat on beach

Thailand’s beaches are the most beautiful beaches in the world. The most famous being Koh Phi Phi and Railay Beach. Take a longtail boat from island to island. Longtail boats are canopied long hull boats with a long outboard motor. They are one of the most photographed images of southern Thailand.

Thailand’s Best Islands

Koh Phi Phi – Koh Phi Phi was the island we visited in 2000 and it is the most recognizable beach in Thailand. It is due to open back up in 2021, and it is considered one of the most beautiful and famous islands in Thailand. Koh Phi Phi is that perfect horseshoe beach with incredible karst formation jutting out from the Andaman Sea. Koh Phi Phi was featured in James Bond and the Beach. There’s a reason it is the most famous,

Koh Phangan – Koh Phangan is popular for its Full Moon Party that happens each month at the full moon. Most islands have some sort of full moon party each month, but Koh Phangan is the original and people flock to it for the festivities. People party so much on Koh Phangan, they have even added a half-moon party to the celebration.

must see in thailand | beaches
  • Koh Samui – Located on the Gulf of Thailand, this is very popular spot.
  • Koh Lanta – Excellent for chillaxing.
  • Koh Lipe – Southernmost island with white sand beaches and small enough to walk around.
  • Railay Beach – popular for climbers and beautiful beaches
  • Phra Nang – often named the most beautiful beach in the world.
  • Koh Tao – Koh Tao is the best place in Thailand to go diving

11. Watch a Fire Spin Show

things to see in thailand | firespinning

When hanging out on the beach of your choice in Southern Thailand, chances are you’ll have the opportunity to watch a fire-spinning show known as Fire Sparkle Poi shows.

12. Visit the Grand Palace

visit the Grand palace in Thailand

The Grand Palace is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Thailand. The former Royal Residence, The Grand Palace (Royal Palace) covers an area of 218,400 sq. metres; It is Grand indeed and houses the Emerald Buddha (which is really made out of Jade). Be sure to go into Wat Phra Kaew to see the Emerald Buddha with your own eyes. (no photos allowed)

13. Check out Wat Pho

things to do in bangkok | wat Pho

Wat Pho is home to the Reclining Buddha at 46 metres long and 15 metres high. This golden beauty is Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha it is in the oldest Wat in Bangkok. It is the first thing that most people see and do in Thailand and I can understand why it is magnificent.

14. Catch a Movie at Siam Square

bangkok tourism mbk centre

We can’t help it, we love movies and wherever we go, we always go to a movie. In Bangkok, you have designated seating and you must stand before each movie while watching a montage of the King. (we haven’t been since the new King was crowned, but expect it to be the same)

15. Release a Lantern at Yi Peng Festival

thailand what to do | Yi Peng Festival

Yi Peng is a wonderful time to be in Thailand. It takes place in November alongside the Loi Krathong Festival. Both festivals are lantern festivals. Yi Peng has revelers releasing paper lanterns in the sky and Loi Krathong has worshippers release bamboo and boats in the river. Be sure to only use environmentally friendly lanterns!

Where to Celebrate Yi Peng and Loi Krathong

  • Chiang Mai – Northern Thailand
  • Bangkok – Chao Phraya River
  • Sukhothai – North-central Thailand – It was the original Capital of Thailand and is still a very important city.
  • Lampang – Northern Thailand
  • Phuket – Southern Thailand
  • Chiang Rai – Northern Thailand Celebrates Yee Peng

16. Ride a Tuk Tuk

must do's in thailand | ride a tuk tuk

You gotta ride a tuk tuk at least once while visiting Thailand. They’re loud, polluted and one zany ride, but you haven’t lived until you’ve zipped around the streets of Bangkok in a three-wheeler two-stroke engine zipping machine. Feeling wary about hopping in a tuk tuk for the first time? Book a Bangkok Tuk Tuk Tour .

17. Get a Thai Massage

Traditional Thai Massages are cheap in Thailand and they are heavenly. We recommend having a Thai massage every couple of days to keep the body limber. You’ll find them anywhere in Thailand. On the beaches, at Khao San Road, in high end hotels and on any street.

18. Take a Cooking Class

We love Thai food and it’s even better when you know how to cook it. Our very first visit to Thailand ignited our senses and we learned about Thai food. I am so glad we took a Thai cooking class so we can recreate our favourite Thai recipes at home like delicious Pad Thai from scratch!

19. Visit the Bridge on the River Kwai

must see thailand | Bridge on River Kwai

Do you remember the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai? It tells the story of the Death Railway built by British POWs and forced laborers from around South East Asia. The Railway is still in working order today and is a popular tourist attraction. But it is also a sombre memorial to those who died on this Death Railay. There are many memorials paying tribute to the thousands that died during the war including the Chungkai War Cemetery and the JEATH War Museum.

20. Visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

We love riding boats in Thailand and there are many floating markets you can visit near Bangkok. The largest floating market is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and the Amphawa Floating Market is another less crowded option. Book a tour to Damnoen Saduak. This day tour takes you to both the Damnoen Saduak floating market and the famous Maeklong Railway Market.

21. Take the Slow Boat to Laos

thailand things to do | slow boat

Ride along the Mekong River from Luang Prabang Laos to Chang Rai doing nothing but taking in the scenery. See the mighty Mekong River and meet the local people that live along its shores. Insider Tip: Bring some food and drink and some cards or games to keep you occupied for the trip.

22. Chiang Rai’s Wat Rung

unique things to do tailand | wat rung

One of Thailand’s newest temples is Wat Rong Khun aka The White Temple. It is also one of Thailand’s most beautiful temple. Restoration began in the late 20th century and it has transformed into pure beauty of white intricate designs and mirrored reflections.

23. Meditation Retreat in Chiang Mai

When you visit Chiang Mai, a popular option is to do a Mediation retreat. We took a multi-day meditation course in Chiang Mai and it was heavenly. We were the only two people in the course and worked on several different types of meditations and tai chi. As we talked with our instructor, we cooked vegetarian food and really bonded with each other during that time. There are many Meditation courses in Chiang Mai.

24. Swim in a Waterfall

Thailand is full of waterfalls. You can hike to one in nearly every major tourist area. But we loved the waterfall in Koh Samui. Swimming in the pool below the falls and letting the water run over your head cools you off during a long hot day. Find your favorite waterfall in the country and spend the day suntanning on rocks and cooling off in the fresh water.

There was also great waterfalls in Doi Ithanon National Park in Northern Thailand just outside of Chiang Mai.

25. Visit Thailand’s National Parks

Besides Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand has several national parks to visit. Khao Yai national park is Thailand’s first national park and is part of  Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a popular park for animal watching where you’ll see Elephants, Sun Bears, gibbons, civets, and many other animals of Thailand. Khao Yai National park is located in Central Thailand 120 km (75 miles. from Bangkok.

Other National Parks that we’ve visited are:

  • Khao Sok – Great for jungle trekking, the Cheow Lan Lake Tour and the Khao Sock River.
  • Erawan National Park – Visit Erawan Falls, hiking trails and caving.

26. Chiang Mai Temple Tour

things to do in Chiang Mai | temples
Temples are the main attraction in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the capital of Northern Thailand, you cannot miss going there on your Thailand trip. When you visit Chiang Mai, it is all about the. In fact, there are more than 300 temples to discover. Monks walk the grounds and study Buddhism. A beautiful temple in Chiang Mai is Wat Suan Dok where you can watch the monks chant daily. Wat Chedi Luang – pictured above, is our favourite temple in Chiang Mai at night.

27. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep 

what to see in thailand | doi suthep

Just a few km outside Chiang Mai is the wonderful Doi Suthep Temple. Hire a taxi, tuk tuk or Grab Taxi to take you to the temple early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Doi Suthep was our favorite temple in Thailand. Walk the 309 steps to the complex where we were treated to an extraordinary panoramic view of Chiang Mai.

28. Shop at the Chiang Mai Night Market

what to do in thailand night market in chiang mai

Chiang Mai is famous for its Night Bazaar. When the sun goes down, the markets open up. Chang Klan Road is where the Night Bazaar is open every evening. But on Sundays all the streets by Thapae Gate close to traffic and it become and endless line of street stalls. You haven’t experienced shopping in Asia until you have explored the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. It’s a great spot to grab some street food and sample the best of Thai cooking.

29. Ayuthaya

Located just one hour from Bangkok, Ayutthaya is an incredible temple complex that is a popular day trip. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to the 1300s, Ayuthaya is the former ancient capital of Siam. Ayutthaya Archeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with historic temples. Book a day trip to Ayutthaya.

30. Hang Out in Pai

Pai is a laidback and popular hotspot for backpackers, hippies, and artists. It’s a great place to chill out, soak in the hot springs and explore the waterfalls. Read about all the The Best Things to do in Pai by The Experts

31. Railway Market

unique things to do in Thailand | train market

Take a 70km trip from Bangkok to the Maeklong Market. The railway runs through the center of this world-famous market with the wheels passing just inches from the beautifully laid out fruit and vegetables which are displayed along the edges of the track.

32. Visit Khao San Road

There is no doubt that when you first land in Bangkok, you will make your way to Khao San Road. It is the original backpackers ghetto and it’s not to be missed. This famous street is lined with bars, eateries, and shops. You’ll see people walking the streets 24 hours a day. It’s a great place to eat some Pad Thai, eat street food, or chill out while sipping a Singha Beer and watching the crowds go by. And there are many affordable hotels in the area.

33. Mountain Bike, Chiang Rai

things to do in thailand mountain biking

We took a mountain bike tour from the city streets of Chiang Rai out to the surrounding countryside. Biking up impressive hills and through rice paddy fields was a challenging yet fun ride and really took us off the beaten track of Thailand.

34. Eat Street Food

Some of our best dining experiences in Thailand were outside on the street. Just make sure to eat cooked food only. Street food in Thailand is generally safe. It is fresh, well cooked and there’s a high turnover of food. Look for street vendors with long lines and places where the locals eat.

It’s fitting that we end off our list of things to do in Thailand with food. Thai food is our favorite food on earth and a trip to Thailand wouldn’t be complete without immersing in the food culture.

So what are you waiting for? Thailand awaits.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

49 thoughts on “35 Amazing Things to Do in Thailand in 2021”

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Thailand but have no idea why because I knew absolutely nothing about it until reading this post. I think I was right in wanting to visit though because it sounds like an awesome city!

    Reply
  2. This blog post is so inspiring! We have visited Thailand twice and heading back this December and we will surely tick off some of the activities mentioned in this article. Such a good read.

    Reply
  3. I had a plan to visit Thailand next month.By reading this blog i got an idea about the places to visit and where to explore.The list you have mentioned are my dream places and thank you for giving a brief idea about Thailand.

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  4. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful information with us. I had read many blogs about Thailand but this is the best one for me. Most people plan to enjoy the nightlife of Bangkok, relaxing on the beaches, sightseeing, Thai Massages, etc. but getting experiences of Muay Thai kickboxing, cooking classes are great ideas. Your list is helpful for travelers who want to explore actual Thailand. Nice article keep on sharing your experiences.

    Reply
  5. Fantastic list! I wish i could do all the things you have mentioned in this post $_$. Well, I think yoga retreat would be a great addition to this list.

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  6. Ahh, this takes me back to when we visited pre-kids! We can’t wait to return again and try some of the things you have listed here. Thailand really is the best destination!

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  7. Most of us including me only know that Thailand is famous for its beaches and the nightlife. Okay i accept that your exploration is some what beyond that, what you are searching is really good. Keep finding such a places and don’t forget we are here let us know that too.

    Reply
  8. Though I’ve visited Thailand before… but I’ve missed many of those places mentioned by you. I think visiting Thailand one more time will be a good idea.

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  9. Thanks for some good ideas, Dave and Deb! I have been to Thailand 4 times and each time for about 1 month, but so far I have completed just over 50% of your list! I love the sea, which is not in my country. Therefore, every time I plan to go to the north of Thailand, I end up choosing islands …
    I advise readers of the blog to also visit Ancient Siam Park (Mueang Boran). It is located in a suburb of Bangkok and it is the largest park museum in the world. There you can see the most famous temples of Thailand almost life-size. There are also many fantastic buildings. When there is nothing to take all day in the capital – I recommend this place, it will be interesting!

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  10. this is by far the best post about Thailand I’ve read lately, very complete and outstanding new places to visit, thank you for your wonderful word

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  11. Thailand amazing place to visit numerous place to explore. most of the people spend holidays in Thailand…thank you for sharing

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  12. Moved to Thailand a couple of months ago and a lot of my friends are into Muay Thai. I’m actually thinking of enrolling myself to a class but I just can’t decide where to enroll though.

    Reply
  13. I absolutely loved your expression skills in writing. I really enjoyed this content.
    I too write but not better than you. Thailand is of course fantastic place. I too visited bangkok, phuket , karabi, pattaya,
    Cannot forget those memories

    Reply
  14. So much beauty in this part of the world! It’s amazing to explore and bliss for outdoor adventure lovers! Fantastic recommendation! I would especially love to climb in Railay and kayak in Krabi!

    Reply
    • You would love Railay, it’s still one of our favourite spots. Each time we go back to Thailand, we set aside of couple of days to go there and climb. We’d love to go back and spend a season there honing our skills again. We’re quite rusty now.

      Reply
  15. Thailand is unarguably, one of the best place for holidays. There are lot of sight seeing attractions and activities to do. You have described these things in a good manner.

    Reply
  16. I just wanted to let you know how much I value your help, information, but also how you came to this point in your life and the beautiful things it has given you. Thank you for the inspiration. Just wanted to let you know of my admiration! (yes cheesy I decided to rhyme).
    🙂

    Reply
  17. Great article! We would have added an elephant camp in Chiang Mai, however only 5 unique things to do in Thailand is a pretty difficult choice as there are infinite things to do in this amazing country!

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  18. Great ideas for some unique activities in Thailand. I can’t say that I have done any of them other than number one, and I have lived here for years.

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    • Thanks Lawrence. I’m glad we could introduce you to some new ideas. We’re thinking of spending the winter in Thailand this year. Looking forward to finding some more things to do! We’re probably going to take up kite boarding this year.

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  19. People, if you do just one thing on this list make it Songkran! Of course, I’m just saying that because it was the only thing I did do from this list. Maybe next time I’ll do the rest!

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  20. This made me want to go back to Thailand right now! I did get to experience Songkran in Chiang Mai which became one of my all time favourite memories, but now I have to go back to Thailand to experience everything on this list! Thanks for the great article and amazing pictures. Happy Travels!

    Reply
    • Hi Tara, thanks so much and glad you liked it. Songkran is definitely up there as one of our most memorable experiences as well. There is so much to do in that country that we always keep discovering something new each time we go back. it’s the one place in the world that keeps drawing us back again and again.

      Reply
  21. Hi. We just spent a couple of months in Thailand and have moved on to Cambodia. Good suggestions. Jon and Jenny

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    • Hi Jon, congratulations on living the dream. I hope you enjoy Cambodia. We really enjoyed our time there in 2003. I have heard it has changed dramatically now. We have to go back to check it out!

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  22. Totally agree with you about the scooter accident that you mentioned. It reminded me of my first trip to Thailand in 2007 when I did something similar. I was excited about the “no laws” and tried passing someone around a blind corner in the dark. It was so stupid and luckily didn’t leave me with any lasting problems. I went flying over the handlebars after driving off the road.

    The most recent time I rented a scooter, but drove more carefully. and followed the laws. This scooter ride to the border of Myanmar.

    Great compilation of things that are off the beaten path.

    Reply
    • Wow, I am glad that you survived. It could have been a far more tragic accident. We’ve heard of so many people losing their lives or seriously injuring themselves in scooter accidents.

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    • It’s always nice to have a little escape from the cold eh. Although sometimes seeing the warm weather can be a bit of a tease”:)

      Reply
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    • Very good point Nate. With the new waterproof cameras out now that is a good idea too. We’ve been using the Olympus Tough Cameras and they take great photos and videos in teh sunlight. Plus their waterproof and shockproof. I wish we had it when we were there.

      Reply
  24. Even in Atlanta it is freezing this week. This was a welcome post to start the daydreaming of warmer days (and exotic locales) that lie ahead. I’d never heard of mountain biking in Thailand before – thanks for sharing!

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    • Thanks John. Bummer it’s cold in Atlanta. I hope it warms up soon. Get yourself to the North of Thailand and contact the Smiling Albino. They know all about the mountain biking there. Cheers.

      Reply
  25. Just got back from a week in Railay–well, back, now I’m in Chiang Mai–and I absolutely loved it! Rock climbed for the first time and just couldn’t get enough, went every morning with Highland Climbing School. Beaches are gorgeous as well–was standing in the water and thought, I couldn’t live here but I could holiday here every year!!!

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    • I am so glad to hear that you were rock climbing in Thailand. It is one of our favourite things to do and Railay is amazing. It is a great place to holiday for sure. People go back here year after year to climb and enjoy the beach. Cheers and enjoy Chiang Mai.

      Reply