34 Can’t Miss Things to Do and See in Thailand

Warning: Reading this may result in wanderlust, impulsivity, restlessness, booking a flight to Thailand and/or hunger pains. We recommend you channel that energy into making a loan on Kiva!

To see:

1. Cover yourself head to toe to visit one of Thailand’s most sacred sites: the 14th century Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Photo by Flickr user Tony Lin. Top photo by Flickr user Rushen.

2. From the Grand Palace, go across the street to Wat Pho and see the massive reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf.

3. Bike around the ancient ruins of Sukhothai Historical Park. Before kings resided in the Grand Palace, Sukhothai was the first capital of the country.

4. Explore the ruins of the historic city of Ayutthaya, the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom, located an hour drive from Bangkok.

5. Float your way down one of the markets that line the canals of Bangkok: rickety wooden boats piled high with crafts, local produce and souvenirs.

Photo by Flickr user Abhimanyu

6. Hop the train and monkey around at Lopburi, a town overrun by monkeys.

7. Sleep in the floating villages of Khao Sok National Park.

8. Experience the giant Kanchanaburi waterfalls at Erawan National Park.

9. Take token James Bond photos at the beautiful Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi.

Photo by Flickr user Lutz

10. Sit back with a Chang beer and enjoy the fire shows put on by locals on any of the Thai islands.

11. Revisit history in Kanchanaburi by touring the Death Railway and the bridge over the River Kwai.

12. What is a Wat? Wat in Thai means temple, and with over 40,000 temples in Thailand, you have plenty to choose from.

13. Watch the sunset anywhere near the sea.

14. Sit ringside at a Muay Thai boxing match.

To do:

15. Volunteer at a school or refugee center.*

16. Get a thai massage.

17. Explore the many national parks and forests. Kayak around the national marine park, Ang Thong, and explore the many islands filled with wildlife.

18. Spend three days swimming in and out of the many schools of fish in Koh Tao. Thailand is one of the cheapest places to get certified to dive while maintaining PADI standards.

19. Not up for the infamous Full Moon Party in Koh Pha Ngam? Check out the Half Moon, Jungle and Waterfall parties for glow paint and rum buckets.

20. If partying isn’t your scene, still go to Koh Pha Ngam for the numerous yoga, meditation and detox resorts on the island.

21. Want to rock climb up limestone formations and fall back into warm emerald water? Get to Railay Beachby, accessed only by long tail boats.

22. Learn to make all your favorite dishes when you take a Thai cooking class. The best part is eating all the dishes you make.

23. Trek through the surrounding hillside regions of Northern Thailand to learn about and visit the local tribes.*

24. Dive into Buddhism by taking an introductory meditation course or attend a ‘Monk Chat’ at a local temple.

25. Get custom clothes made by a tailor in Bangkok.*

26. Bathe an elephant at the Elephant Nature Park, an elephant rescue and rehabilitation camp for elephants in abusive working situations. *

Photo by Flickr user Eva Buijs

27. Shop at Bangkok’s famous MBK mall, hosting over 2,000 shops and restaurants.

28. Browse the markets: Chatuchak Weekend market in Bangkok and the famous night market of Chiang Mai are the biggest and most unique .

29. Learn how to ride a motorbike on the islands, great way to explore the island but be careful for the infamous Thailand Tattoo (road rash).

To eat:

30. Don’t be afraid of street food. Nab pad thai for 30 baht ($1) and curry for 60 baht ($2)

31. Sample khao soi, a northern Thai coconut curry soup usually with chicken and topped with crunchy noodles.

32. Munch on crunchy delicacies like crickets, mealworms, scorpions, grasshoppers and cockroaches at the night markets.

33. Cool off with Cha Yen, refreshing Thai iced tea usually sweetened with condensed milk.

34. Finish a meal the right way, with sweet sticky rice with mangoes.

*Author’s Note: We urge you to do research on tourist attractions, companies and organizations regarding animal treatment, human rights and social and environmental impact. Supporting eco- and socially-responsible tourism are important ways we can enjoy these wonderful places without negatively impacting the culture and area.

Happy and safe traveling!

About the author

Tess Murphy

After graduating from Fordham University with a B.A. in Political Science and French, Tess decided to book a one-way flight to Asia, volunteering as she traveled. She found that the best way to close the gap between what she saw and the people back home was the share these experiences through writing blogs. Tess saw how local businesses can help improve the lives of the community while preserving their cultural traditions. She described how Cambodian farmers, Vietnamese teachers and Malaysian artists all have similar ambitions to their American counterparts. People everywhere want to succeed and technology helps connect these ambitions. After finishing her travels, Tess joined the Marketing Team at Kiva as an intern, where she focused on the inspiring stories behind each borrower. Behind the amount of the loan is an enriching story about that entrepreneur’s life. By shedding light on these stories to lenders, Tess saw how relatable stories can help drive enterprise. After completing her forthcoming fellowship in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Tess hopes to continue a development and content driven career in social enterprise.