My Top 10 Things to Do in Thailand

Wondering what to do in Thailand? I spent my 40th birthday celebrating in Asia and Thailand was my first stop. I booked tickets, invited some friends and we headed out on our adventure. We packed so much into our trip to Thailand and I know there are so many more things to see and do, but I wanted to share what I think are the top things to do in Thailand.

1. Stay at a Villa with a Private Chef

One of the most amazing things to do in Thailand is to rent a villa that comes with a private chef. I knew that I wanted this iconic experience for my birthday, so we searched for the best private villas near Phuket in southern Thailand and found Samsara Villas “Rom Trai.” We had the most incredible experience at the villa. The staff took such good care of us and the location was stunning.

We spent 4 days at Villa Rom Trai and did a mix of relaxing and exploring the area. Villa Rom Trai set up a full day of spa treatments for us, including a full body scrubs, Thai massages, facials, and a milk bath. It was such an incredibly relaxing day with the most beautiful views to accompany it!

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Our private chef was a magician and made the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten in my life! We were able to order from a large menu a few hours before each meal and anything we wanted from the store, the staff would get for us. We were able to try so many tasty Thai dishes this way like pad thai, satay, pad see ew, and of course we had mango sticky rice for dessert every night! We left very well fed!

You could also book a Thai cooking class at the villa which would have been so fun, but we ran out of time.

Samsara Villas was able to book a day trip and private boat for us for and arrange transportation. More on that below.

It was such an incredible experience, and very affordable for the quality, location, and food! You can book your villa here and let me know if you have any questions about our experience.

2. Charter a Boat and Explore Thai Islands

If you’re visiting Thailand, you absolutely must get on the water on a boat. The water is warm, clear, and full of life. Samsara Villas Rom Trai was able to organize a private catamaran for us to do some island hopping, snorkeling, and partying! We visited several islands near Phuket and had a blast on the boat. The villa even arranged a huge picnic lunch for us to take on the boat. The islands are some of the most beautiful places to see in Thailand.

If you scuba dive, the villa can arrange that for you too. Spending a day on the catamaran is one of the most fun things to do in Thailand, don’t skip it! It wasn’t a cheap experience, but split between 8 people, it was totally doable and everyone agreed it was 100% worth it. It was one of our favorite days in Thailand!

3. Visit and Elephant Sanctuary

The main reason I wanted to visit Thailand was to see elephants. But I knew that I wanted to do it ethically, which meant not riding elephants and being very selective about where we saw the elephants and how we interacted with them.

We chose to visit an elephant nature park called Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park, one of the most ethical elephant experiences in Thailand. We were able to learn about Asian elephants, prepare their food, feed them, and watch them bathe.

The elephants are retired from the logging industry or from the circus. They seemed so happy to be free and be able to roam freely. It was incredible watching these majestic animals and also feeling good about our experience. It was one of my favorite activities in Thailand.

4. Visit a National Park

Thailand has 156 national parks and 31% of its land is covered by national park land, so you can see why visiting a national park is one of the best things to do in Thailand. We spent tie in Khao Sok National Park seeing elephants and exploring the park by boat and hiking trails.

It’s one of the top spots in Thailand to see wildlife. We saw monkeys, snakes, birds, and even a scorpion! Wherever you choose to visit in Thailand, you won’t be too far from a national park.

5. Get a Thai Massage

Getting a Thai massage is one of those Thailand activities that you can’t leave without trying. It’s part of Thai culture and you’ll be able to find opportunities to get one anywhere. I probably got around 3 during our time there. I’ll admit, I was nervous to get one. I’ve seen videos and it looks painful, but I was happy I tried it and it was a really good experience every time I tried it.

6. Explore Bangkok on a Private Tour

We began our journey through Thailand in Bangkok, which is most likely where you’ll begin too, being the capital of Thailand, it’s largest city and one of the most popular places to visit in Thailand. Bangkok is huge and busy. I found navigating it overwhelming, so if it’s your first time, I highly recommend booking a private guide to help you get around the city. We did two private tours during our time in Bangkok: a private walking tour and a street food tuk tuk tour.

On our first tour, our guide, Sunny, walked us all around Bangkok, exploring the most famous stops in the city like the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha, and more, and explained how life works here. We visited lots of temples, palaces, markets, and stopped to try Thai tea. It was so helpful to have a local showing us around and explain the city to us.

We also booked a private street food tuk tuk tour so we could eat street food, check out street stalls, and experience a tuk tuk ride! It was so much fun and I loved getting to eat street food that was safe, but still what locals eat.

7. Visit a Buddhist Temple (or several)

Temples are a must see in Thailand and when you arrive you’ll see why. There are so many temples and the Thai people are very proud of their religion and way of life. All of our guides in Bangkok were so excited to show us each temple, and our private guide Sunny showed us how to properly bow and be respectful at temples.

Sunny took us to see Wat Pho, where you can see the reclining Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew, located in the Grand Palace where you can see the Emerald Buddha, and Wat Arun, also known as Temple of the Dawn, which is covered in beautiful mosaics.

While we were near Phuket, we were also able to visit Big Buddha, which is a huge statue of Buddha that was recently built and one of the coolest things to see in Thailand. You can receive a blessing from a monk here and shop at the souvenir stalls. It also has fantastic views!

If you’re not sure what to see in Thailand, definitely add temples to your itinerary.

8. Book a Photoshoot

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Thailand, think about booking a photoshoot! It’s a fun way to capture memories from your trip. I try to do this on every trip, but it was especially important to me on my birthday trip with my friends there! We booked our shoot through Flytographer and had a great experience! We went to Wat Pho and it was a great location for photos.

Book a Photoshoot

We always love to book a photoshoot when we’re traveling. As a mom, it’s tough to get in the photos since I’m always behind the camera. We love using Flytographer to capture our memories. You can get $25 off your shoot by booking with this link or using code WANDERLUST.

And for the month of March and November, you can actually get $50 off your first Flytographer booking!

9. Visit a Local Market

Put this on your Thailand must do list! This amazing country is known for its incredible bustling markets where Thai locals sell souvenirs, food, flowers, and more. We saw several local markets around Bangkok but also took a day trip to see two famous markets in Thailand: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Maeklong Railway Market. It was fascinating to shop at the markets, especially the train market where you had to jump into a shop to avoid getting run over by the train!

I really loved the Damnoen Saduak floating market and being able to shop from our little boat. I bought a few gifts for my kids and some coconut ice cream that was delicious! If you don’t want to ride in a boat you can also walk along the walkways and bridges of the floating markets and just take it all in.

This is the tour that we booked to see both markets as a day trip from Bangkok.

10. Go to the Beach & Snorkel

One of the best things to do in Thailand is just go to the beach. Thailand is full of incredible white sand beaches and it’s one of the things that drew me to the country. I wanted a trip for relaxation, natural beauty, and sun (since we visited Thailand in January). We loved the amazing beaches near Phuket in southern Thailand. Many beaches will offer beach massages and boat tours. You can also find smoothies and food, but just be careful with what you choose to consume.

There is a lot of great snorkeling in Thailand, but do beware of jellyfish. There are some that will sting and some that won’t. I did end up getting stung on our boat day, but just a little and it wasn’t even painful, more like having a bug bite.

There are lots of other water activities to do in Thailand as well like sea kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding, and scuba diving.

When should I visit Thailand?

We visited Thailand in January and the weather was perfect for us. Thailand’s peak season is November to February, when it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but still warm in Southeast Asia. Monsoon season is typically July to October, but that can still be a good time to go if you’re prepared to get wet.

Do I need a visa to visit Thailand?

For most travelers, whether you need a visa to visit Thailand depends on your nationality, the length of your stay, and the purpose of your visit. Thailand has agreements with various countries allowing for visa exemptions or visa on arrival for short-term visits. As an American, I did NOT need a visa to visit Thailand. Check you home country’s requirements.

What are some cultural norms to be aware of in Thailand?

There seem to be a lot of rules for visiting Thailand, but the most important one is that you should be modestly dressed while visiting Buddhist temple sites or any Buddha sites, like the Big Buddha. This includes having your shoulders and knees covered.

I absolutely loved my time in Thailand and cannot wait to go back with my family someday. I think they will love it too! I hope you’ve found some fun things to do in Thailand for your own trip!

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