Best places to visit in Thailand for first timers

Best places to visit in Thailand for first timers

Thailand is a big country with many beautiful destinations and attractions that can be explored. Usually, it’s hard to cover all the beautiful places in Thailand in just one trip, that’s why many tourists decide to travel to Thailand more than once to explore further each time they visit this beautiful country. The best places to visit in Thailand for first-timers encompass a variety of destinations, each providing a unique insight into the country’s rich cultural and natural heritage, ideal for those exploring Thailand for the first time.

To be able to decide which destinations to visit on your first trip to Thailand, you will need to set some basic things to decide accordingly. First of all, the duration of the trip is a very crucial thing when it comes to the decision of where to go in Thailand for the first Time. The longer your trip, the more beautiful places that you will be able to explore. In this guide, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview on planning your first trip to Thailand, including the best places to include in your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

Best Places to visit in Thailand for first timers

How long to stay in Thailand for first Time visit 

In general, it’s recommended to stay in Thailand for no less than 15 days during your first visit, to be able to explore different places with different nature and cultures. 

What is the best Itinerary for Thailand for First timers

The best way to cover the main Highlights of the kingdom is to explore Bangkok and its surrounding, Stay for several days in the north and explore The beauty of Chiang mai and Chiang Rai, and stay for 1 week in one of the beautiful islands located in the South of Thailand, either in the Andaman Sea or the Gulf of Thailand. 

By Setting up such an itinerary, you will have the opportunity to explore the main and must see places in Thailand for first timers.

Best Places to Visit in Thailand for First Timers

Bangkok 

Bangkok is one of the most visited cities around the world and it has a lot to show. This vibrant city is known for its nightlife, cultural richness, and beautiful temples. When visiting Thailand for the first time, it’s highly recommended to stay in Bangkok for at least 3 nights to be able to explore its main attractions and beautiful places. Below are the recommended places to visit in Bangkok and its surrounding areas for first timers. 

Bangkok Temples: Embark on a full-day tour of Bangkok’s exquisite temples, a journey that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Thailand. This Bangkok temple tour takes you through the city’s most iconic and revered temples. Start with Wat Pho, the largest temple in Bangkok, famous for its majestic Sleeping Buddha. Then, visit Wat Phra Kaew, nestled within the Grand Palace, the former royal residence, and marvel at its intricate designs. Conclude your tour at Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, renowned for its unique architectural beauty and historical significance. This tour offers an immersive experience into the spiritual heart of Bangkok.

Bangkok Temples

Ayutthaya: Ayutthaya (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the former Capital of Thailand, Situated around 1 hour drive from Bangkok. Exploring this city is one of the most recommended things to do during your visit to Bangkok since it’s home to beautiful Khmer Style temples. As you wander through Ayutthaya, you’ll be captivated by the well-preserved and properly maintained monuments, transporting you back in time to the city’s glorious past. A Full day tour to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is one of the best ways to explore it without the need for an overnight stay, especially for the first timers. 

Ayutthaya tour

Khao Yai National Park: If you are interested in Nature and wildlife more than monuments and Historical sites, then visiting Khao Yai National Park in a one or several days trip from Bangkok will be a good choice for you. Khao Yai National Park is renowned as one of Thailand’s largest national parks, and serves as a sanctuary for a diverse array of animal and bird species. Embarking on a Safari trip in this National park provides you with the opportunity to spot Elephants, Gibbons, Monkeys, Hornbills and other amazing wildlife. In addition to the Wildlife, this National park is home to beautiful waterfalls and viewPoints that can be visited such as Haew Suwat and Haew Narok waterfalls.

Khao Yai National Park

Bangkok Canals: The Klong tour in Bangkok offers a unique exploration of the city’s historical canals, once central to transportation and urban development. Originating in the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 14th century for defense and flood management, these canals played a key role in Bangkok’s evolution, earning it the nickname “Venice of the East” in the 19th century. While modernization in the 20th century transformed many klongs into roads, remnants of this water-based heritage persist. Tours typically start at major piers, venturing into quieter suburbs to reveal a blend of traditional Thai houses and modern buildings, reflecting Bangkok’s growth and cultural preservation. 

Canals in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi: Kanchanaburi is a beautiful destination located around 2 to 2 and half hours drive from Bangkok. This City has a lot to be explored, especially for Nature and History enthusiasts. There are several ways to explore Kanchanaburi, either through a one day trip from Bangkok, or by staying 1 or 2 nights, it depends on how much time you have. Usually we recommend at least 1 night stay at Kanchanaburi to be able to explore the best out of this beautiful destination. Among the best places that can be explored, we recommend visiting Erawan Waterfall (one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand) in addition to the Historical landmarks related to World War 2 including the bridge over the river Kwai, the death railway, and the Kanchanaburi Cemetery. 

Kanchanaburi Waterfall

Explore the City by Tuk Tuk Tuk Tuk is one of the most authentic means of transportation in Thailand. One of the best ways to explore Bangkok is by joining a Tuk Tuk tour. These tours have different programs and itineraries allowing you to explore different sides of the Capital. One of the most Popular Tuk Tuk tour itineraries in Bangkok is the Night Food Tuk Tuk tour. This program allows you to experience the best street food in Bangkok from Michelin Star awarded sellers, in addition to exploring Chinatown, which is one of the oldest districts in Bangkok.

Tuk Tuk tour best thing to do in Thailand for first timer travelers

Explore the Markets One of the most enriching experiences when visiting Bangkok is undoubtedly exploring its vibrant local markets, each offering a unique glimpse into Thai culture and lifestyle. Among these, the Amphawa Floating Market stands out for its charming canal-side setting and traditional wooden houses, making it perfect for those seeking an authentic Thai experience away from the city’s hustle. Equally fascinating is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, known for its colorful array of boats laden with fresh produce and local delicacies, offering a picturesque and lively atmosphere. For a truly unique spectacle, the Maeklong Railway Market is a must-visit; it’s famous for its narrow stalls lining the railway tracks, with vendors swiftly pulling back their awnings every time a train passes through. Lastly, the Chatuchak Market, one of the largest weekend markets in the world, provides an endless maze of shops and stalls selling everything from vintage clothing to local handicrafts, making it an unmissable destination for shoppers and culture enthusiasts alike. Each of these markets encapsulates the vibrant spirit of Bangkok, offering visitors a rich tapestry of sights, sounds, and flavors.

Floating Market Bangkok

The North of Thailand

When Visiting Thailand for the first time, you should not miss its beautiful northern Side. The North of Thailand is one of the most beautiful regions in Thailand, rich with cultural landmarks and Natural landscapes. For First timers, we recommend adding Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai into your itinerary to be able to explore the most popular 2 destinations in this region. Below are the best recommended things to do and to explore in each of these 2 destinations during your visit. 

Chiang Mai 

When visiting the North of Thailand, you can not skip Chiang Mai, the most popular destination in the region and one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first timers. It’s recommended to stay in Chiang Mai for 3 Nights to be able to explore its main landmarks and enjoy amazing activities. 

Chiang Mai Temples 
Chiang Mai Temples

Chiang Mai, known for its cultural and historical richness, is home to over 300 temples, each with unique architectural styles and historical significance. Chiang Mai temples, like Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang, showcase diverse architectural influences including Lanna, Burmese, Sukhothai, and Mon styles, as well as contemporary designs.

It’s a great Idea to explore the most iconic temples of the city in a one day Tour that covers the main Highlights and most important landmarks of Chiang Mai.

Doi Inthanon National Park 
Doi inthanon one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first timers

The Doi Inthanon tour is highly recommended for visitors in Chiang Mai, especially for first timers. It takes you to the highest point in Thailand, offering a diverse range of attractions within the Doi Inthanon National Park. Known as “The Roof of Thailand,” this area is celebrated for its rich flora and fauna, stunning waterfalls, and breathtaking views. The park holds significant historical and cultural sites, including memorials and temples dedicated to Thai royalty. Highlights include the summit of Doi Inthanon for spectacular views, the architecturally stunning Royal Chedis, and various nature trails like Ang Ka, Kew Mae Pan, and Pha Dok Siew, each offering unique experiences of the park’s natural beauty. 

Bird watching is a popular activity with over 360 species, including the Green-tailed Sunbird and Scarlet Minivet. Additionally, visitors can explore several majestic waterfalls like Mae Ya and Wachirathan, and experience local hill tribe villages. The park also features the beautiful Siamese Sakura cherry blossoms, a rare sight in tropical climates. The journey to the park itself, about 1.5 hours from Chiang Mai city, is a scenic route with changing climates, showcasing the natural diversity of the region.

Visit an Elephant Sanctuary 
Elephant freedom village in Chiang Mai

Spending a Day in an elephant sanctuary at Chiang Mai is one of the most recommended experiences to try. During this full or half day experience, you will have the opportunity to interact closely with these gentle giants in their natural habitat. 

It is crucial to select an elephant camp that upholds ethical standards in the treatment of elephants. Such a camp should provide a natural environment for the animals and ensure they are cared for without any form of mistreatment or abuse.

During your visit to one of these camps, you will learn about Asian elephants, what they like, their behavior and more. You will also prepare their food, feed them, and help them bath in the mud and in the fresh clean waters. The most recommended Elephant sanctuaries to visit in Chiang Mai are: The Elephant Nature Park and the Elephant Freedom village.

Chiang Rai 

Chiang Rai Temples
White temple Best Places to visit in Thailand for the first time

For first-time travelers to Chiang Rai, a visit to its most iconic and artistically unique temples is a must. Start with the mesmerizing Wat Rong Khun, more famously known as the White Temple. This stunning structure, with its intricate white design and reflective glass pieces embedded in the plaster, stands as a contemporary masterpiece of unconventional Buddhist art. Next, the Blue Temple, or Wat Rong Suea Ten, captivates visitors with its brilliant blue hues and intricate carvings, showcasing a modern twist on traditional Buddhist architecture. The vivid murals and the large white Buddha statue inside add to its allure. Lastly, the Baan Dam Museum, known as the Black House, offers a stark contrast with its collection of traditional Lanna-style buildings. Created by artist Thawan Duchanee, this complex, with its dark tones and unique use of animal skins and bones, provides a more somber yet equally fascinating artistic experience. Each of these sites offers a unique perspective on the region’s rich cultural and artistic heritage, making them essential stops for any traveler in Chiang Rai.

Tea Plantations
Tea plantations Chiang Rai

Visiting the tea plantations in Chiang Rai is an amazing experience and highly recommended for first-time visitors to the region. These plantations offer a serene landscape that is both calming and captivating. The region is known for producing Oolong tea, highly valued for its quality and unique flavor.

The plantations, often shrouded in mist, present an almost ethereal beauty, especially in the early mornings. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the process of tea growing and processing. In addition, many plantations also offer tea tasting sessions, where you can savor various types of locally grown teas. The area’s cool climate and elevation make it ideal for tea cultivation, setting it apart from other regions in Thailand.

The Golden Triangle 
The Golden Triangle Chiang Rai

The Golden Triangle, renowned as one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first-timers, offers an exceptional experience. Situated where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar converge, this region is steeped in history and culture. It was once famous for opium production but has since transformed into a fascinating tourist destination. Visitors can explore traditional villages, enjoy stunning views of the Mekong River, and learn about the area’s intriguing past at opium museums. This diverse area offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance, making it a must-visit for those new to Thailand.

Karen Village 
Best places to visit in Thailand for first timers Karen Village

Visiting the Karen Village in Chiang Rai is an enriching experience and undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first-timers. This unique village is home to the Karen people, known for their rich cultural heritage and distinctive traditions. You can witness the daily life and practices of the Karen community, including their traditional weaving and farming techniques. The village is also famous for its long-neck women, adorned with brass rings around their necks, a symbol of beauty and cultural identity.

Best Islands to visit in Thailand for first timers

Thailand has over one thousand islands. Many of these islands host resorts, providing tourists the chance to spend several nights in a beachfront tropical paradise. In contrast, other islands are perfect for day trips, easily accessible from major nearby beach destinations. Below are the most recommended islands and beach destinations to visit in Thailand for first timers,

Phi Phi islands 

A beach holiday in Phi Phi Island is a blend of relaxation and adventure. Beach resorts are mainly located in Phi Phi Don, the largest island in the group, alongside lively town scenes near Tonsai Pier, offering an array of restaurants and shops.

The island is a haven for sea lovers, with activities like snorkeling and private boat trips to stunning surrounding areas like Phi Leh Lagoon, Monkey Beach, and the famous Maya Bay. This holiday destination combines the serene beauty of white sandy beaches and clear waters with the excitement of exploring vibrant marine life and unique landscapes, making it a perfect tropical getaway.

To reach Phi Phi island, you can arrive Phuket or Krabi and take a speed boat or a ferry boat from there to reach the island. The Journey takes from 1 hour to 3 hours, depending on the type of boat used and the weather and sea conditions.

Phuket 

Phuket is one of the most popular beach destinations in Thailand and Southeast Asia, and one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first timers. The island has its own international Airport receiving international and domestic flights on a daily basis, making it easily accessible for travelers from all around the world. 

Phkuet is home to many resorts with different budget ranges, suitable for all kinds of travelers, from Budget travelers to tourists looking for luxury exclusive escapes. It’s the largest island in Thailand and has plenty of things that tourists can explore during their stay.

One of the most popular things that tourists like to do during their stay in Phuket is visiting nearby islands for a One day trip. These islands include: Phi Phi islands, James Bond islands, Racha islands and many others, providing the opportunity for tourists to enjoy swimming in the crystal clear waters and enjoy snorkeling too. 

In addition to the islands, tourists can embark in other adentures such as

Koh Samui 

Koh Samui one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first timers

Koh Samui is not only one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first-timers but also a pinnacle of luxury beach holidays. This exquisite island offers a wide variety of activities, including visits to nearby islands such as the serene Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan, the breathtaking Angthong National Marine Park, and the unique Koh Tan, also known as Pig Island.

Each destination provides a distinct experience, from vibrant marine life to unspoiled natural beauty. Additionally, exploring Koh Samui itself is an adventure, with stunning waterfalls like Na Muang, panoramic viewpoints such as Lad Koh, and culturally rich temples including the Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem. This blend of natural wonders and cultural attractions makes Koh Samui an ideal destination for those experiencing Thailand’s beauty for the first time, offering a comprehensive taste of the country’s diverse and vibrant allure.

Krabi 

Krabi one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first Timers

Krabi, with its stunning coastline and picturesque landscapes, stands as one of the best places to visit in Thailand for first-timers, offering an idyllic beach holiday experience. Tourists can choose from prime locations like Ao Nang Beach, known for its lively atmosphere and convenient access to nearby attractions, and Railay Beach, a secluded paradise accessible only by boat, famed for its dramatic cliffs and serene beaches.

For a day trip, the Emerald Pool and Hot Spring Waterfall promise a unique experience; the pool’s vivid turquoise waters are perfect for a refreshing swim, while the natural hot springs offer a relaxing retreat. Additionally, exploring the nearby islands is a must-do in Krabi. Hong Island presents a tranquil escape with its stunning lagoon, while the Phi Phi Islands, known globally for their breathtaking beauty, offer a quintessential Thai beach experience. The 4 Islands tour, encompassing Phra Nang Cave, Tup Island, Chicken Island, and Poda Island, provides a diverse snapshot of the region’s natural wonders. These destinations collectively make Krabi a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and scenic beauty, ideal for first-time visitors to Thailand.

Tips for first time travelers to Thailand

Learn Basic Thai Phrases

Usually, most of the staff working in the tourism and hospitality industries in Thailand are able to speak English. However, most of the drivers and people not working in these industries are not able to communicate in foreign languages and can only speak Thai. 

Therefore, we recommend you to learn and understand some basic Thai Phrases and words that will allow you to be able to communicate with locals, unlocking many opportunities in dealing with locals. Among the basic Phrases and words that we recommend first time travelers to Thailand to learn are the following: 

  • Thank you: Khop khun
  • Hello: Sawadee
  • Good Bye: Sawadee
  • How are you?: Sabai dee mai?
  • Excuse Me or I am Sorry: Kor Tot
  • I Don’t Understand: Mai Khao Jai
  • Turn Left: lee-yo-sigh
  • Turn Right: lee-yo-kwa
  • Slow Down: high-cha-lom
  • I’m Hungry: hee-yoo

Choose the Best time to Visit Thailand 

It’s highly recommended to travel to Thailand during the Dry Season, which is between the months of November and March. During this time, the weather is mostly sunny and the chances of rain are less than the other seasons.

Set Your Budget 

Thailand is a destination with a wide variety of Tourism products. If you are a budget traveler, you will find suitable accommodations and Public transportation available to allow you to explore the kingdom on a low budget range, and If you are a luxury traveler, you will be able to stay in Luxury five star hotels and embark on Private luxury tours. By setting your budget range, it will also allow you to set the duration of your Thailand tour

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