One of the most visited countries in southeast Asia by international tourists, Thailand attracts travelers from across the planet with its frenetic, temple-filled cities and remote beaches. Best of all, you probably don't need a visa to check them out. Add these points of interest in Thailand to the top of your must-do list.
With more than 8 million people, Bangkok doubles as Thailand’s largest city and capital. Visitors should head straight to the famous street food stalls and gleaming temples like Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
Thailand’s largest island, sometimes called the Pearl of the Andaman, attracts everyone from serious scuba divers to casual sun worshippers. There’s a lot to be had for the luxury traveler too, from designer stores to white tablecloth restaurants helmed by chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants.
Located in the Gulf of Thailand on the country’s eastern coast, tourists have been visiting this Thai island since the 1980s. Today, it's a cosmopolitan destination for local and international tourists, bringing together a surprising mix of Buddhist temples and Irish pubs.
Full of temples and ancient teak hauled by elephants from the surrounding forests, Chiang Mai has been celebrated as one of the best — and friendliest — cities on Earth. Once the capital of the kingdom of Lan Na, it’s now famous for its night bazaar, which sells local art and crafts.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
A 14th-century Thai city captured by the Burmese in the 16th century, Ayutthaya was the capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The park is home to at least a dozen temples, but more iconic is perhaps a lone head of the Buddha emerging from the roots of a banyan tree.
Sukhothai Historical Park
Encompassing the ruins of Sukhothai, the capital of the eponymous 13th and 14th century kingdom, the park boasts a 49-foot-high seated Buddha (among many others), entire palaces, and temples.
A previously unknown Bronze Age culture was formally recorded here in 1967, with artifacts that date the archeological site back to as early as 2100 BCE. A museum houses examples of the handsome and distinctive red-painted pottery uncovered there.
Phi Phi Islands
Once the home of fishermen and then, later, a coconut plantation, this group of islands only filled with travelers after the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach was released in 2000. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, the stunning backdrop of these limestone islands makes clear why it was chosen as a filming location. Head straight to Maya Bay for an afternoon of incredible snorkeling and postcard-worthy beaches.