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The Ultimate Thailand Bucketlist

This is the ultimate Thailand bucket list. Having lived and travelled in Thailand for more than 6 years now I have created an adventure Thailand bucket list of all the must see and must do activities in the Land of Smiles.

Thailand Bucketlist: See wild elephants

One of the best things about Thailand if you are a nature lover is the chance to see wild elephants here. One of the best places to see wild elephants is Khao Yai National Park, just two hours’ drive from Bangkok. The best time to see wild elephants is usually dry season which is from October-April, however, it is also possible during rainy season. For more information about Khao Yai read my article here. Book a jungle trek and tour with the fantastic local tour guides with Greenleaf. 
wild animals thailand
Wild elephants should definitely be on your Thailand bucketlist

Bucketlist Thailand: Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary

Following on with elephant activities, getting up close with these amazing animals is also very easy to do in Thailand. However, there are many ‘sanctuaries’ and elephant camps that are rife with elephant abuse so choose a place carefully, one that doesn’t allow riding or use bullhooks. The best elephant sanctuary is the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand rescue centre. Read my article all about the rescue elephants and other amazing rescue animals there.
elephant in a rescue sanctuary
Thailand Bucket List – Spend time with elephants

Thailand Bucketlist: Learn to scuba dive

Thailand is famous as being one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. If you have four days then take an Open Water course to get qualified as a certified scuba diver. Koh Tao is known as the cheapest island to learn to scuba dive in Thailand. Many people take courses through Padi or SSI who are internationally recognised organisations that accredit divers. However, all tourist islands have dive shops that offer scuba diving courses, including for beginners. Koh Lipe is the best scuba diving in Thailand in terms of healthy, colourful coral reefs and the marine life you can see there. Read my Koh Lipe Thailand Guide about scuba diving and more in Koh Lipe here.

Bucket List Thailand : Dive with whale sharks

While we are talking about bucket list Thailand experiences, snorkelling or scuba diving with whale sharks is top of most ocean lovers’ lists. Bear in mind that whale sharks are elusive and as a free, wild animal they can never be guaranteed. Top places to dive with whale sharks are Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Chumpon, the Similan Islands and Koh Lipe 8 Mile. Whale sharks are gentle giants and unable to harm you. They are the biggest fish in the ocean and some of the most amazing creatures you will ever see. Find out more about whale sharks here.

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Diving with a whale shark at Richelieu Rock, Thailand

Thailand Bucketlist : Snorkel beautiful coral reefs

Thailand is home to an array of marine life and coral reefs. While some areas of coral have been damaged due to overfishing, tourism and a rise in ocean temperatures and acidification, there are still many beautiful coral reefs around Thailand. Stay in Krabi and do island hopping trips which include snorkelling arund Phangna Bay. Koh Phi Phi is surrounded by a marine national park which is home to some decent coral reefs. Koh Similan has some lovely soft corals and Koh Lipe is home to the best coral reefs, making it the best snorkeling in Thailand.

Bucket List Thailand : Attend a Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan

The Full Moon Party is famous through the world as being an amazing beach party on Koh Phangan island. Pre-pandemic, it reached up to 30,000 people on one beach, dancing the night away. The Full Moon Party is starting to get busier again at the time of writing. When visiting Thailand, check the Full Moon Party schedule to see if there is a full moon party in Thailand during your trip to plan around it. As the name suggests it takes place monthly during full moon. Read my Full Moon Party Thailand article here with everything you need to know about the party and staying on Koh Phangan. 

What you can see at Full Moon
Playing with Fire in Haad Rin for the Full Moon Party

Visit as many Thailand islands as possible

Thailand is home to approximately 400 islands which makes it an island hopping Thailand paradise. You can island hop to uninhabited desert islands in Thailand through day trips or kayaking. For information about visiting Thai islands and comparing which ones you should visit read my Thailand island guide to help you choose with Thai island to pick. 

Thailand Bucket List : Island hop around Phangna Bay

Phangna Bay is an area of Thailand below Krabi that is absolutely beautiful. It has stunning limestone karsts emerging from the Andaman sea, hidden beaches and beautiful viewpoints. Take a day trip from Ao Nang to Koh Hong for an incredible viewpoint.

The best views from the viewpoint on Koh Hong island should definitely be on your Thailand bucket list

Bucketlist Thailand : Hear gibbons in the jungle

If you’ve never heard gibbons before then you are in for a treat. These noisy animals can make sounds that reach kilometres away and they are such a fascinating species. Head to Khao Yai National Park, the best national park in Thailand to hear gibbons in the wild or visit rescue gibbons (and elephants) at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. 

Thailand Bucket List : See white sand & clear turquoise water

For many visitors to Thailand, see white sand and clear, turquoise water is high on their Thailand bucketlists. The best islands to see white sand beaches in Thailand are Koh Hong, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, Bottle beach in Koh Phangan and Koh Similan.

showing you the prettiness of Koh Lipe beaches
White sand and clear water on Koh Lipe

Bangkok Bucket list : Explore temples in Bangkok

If it is your first time in Thailand, then seeing beautiful Buddhist temples is probably on your Bangkok bucket list. Wat Pho has a huge reclining Buddha, the Grand Palace is very popular with tourists and the Golden Mount has views of the city. All over Bangkok and Thailand you can find many beautiful temples to explore. Remember to be respectful and everyone should cover shoulders and knees when visiting a temple. Many temples will supply sarongs or scarves for visitors.

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Visit Wat Arun as part of your Bangkok bucket list

Thailand Bucketlist : Visit ancient ruins and ancient cities in Thailand

Thailand is full of ancient history and many remains are still standing today. If you’re interested in history and would like to see beautiful ancient temples then visit Ayyuthaya which is just one hour from Bangkok. Lopburi, an hour or so from Bangkok also has ancient ruins to visit as well as Sukhothai in the middle of Thailand.

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Ancient Temples in Thailand – Bucket List

Bucketlist Thailand : Go hiking in the jungle

If you are an adventurous person, take a hike in Thailand. There are many national parks to visit all around Thailand, including Khao Yai National Park, mountains all around Chiang Mai, Kaeng Krachan National Park and Khao Sok National Park.

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Thailand Bucket List – Jungle Exploring

Thailand Bucketlist : See cheeky monkeys

Some tourists love them, some tourists hate them. Many people feel a child-like thrill at seeing monkeys, especially of your home country does not have them. Most monkeys that we see in Thailand are macaques. In tourist areas some are cheeky and very used to humans so may be prone to grabbing you or your belongings. This is usually because humans have been feeding them. Please note it is recommended never to feed wildlife  as we can change their diet, how the animal sees humans and how they feed naturally. In most areas of Thailand, monkeys are shy and you would feel lucky to see them. Dusky Langurs are a favourite to see as they are black with white rings around their eyes as if they are wearing glasses. Check out monkey trail in Ao Nang and also Railay beach as a place to spot both macaques and dusky langurs.

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Macaques in Khao Yai National Park

Bangkok Bucket List : Drink at a skybar in Bangkok

Bangkok is home to so many fantastic rooftop bars with sunset views, river views and general views of this amazing city. Some of my personal favourites include Above Eleven, Tichuca and Octave. Bear in mind the dress code is smart for these places so they usually won’t let you in with flipflops or if you look too beachy.

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Add a skybar to your Bangkok bucket list

 

Thailand bucketlist : Swim the Grand Canyon

Located about half an hour outside of Chiang Mai the ‘Grand Canyon’ is definitely a place worth visiting. It was a huge disused quarry that now is filled with blue water and full of rafts, floating logs and a general great place to chill out. Cliff jumping is optional and at your own risk.

Backpack Thailand Cheap
Grand Canyon, Chiang Mai

Bucketlist Thailand : Erawan Waterfall

Visit the fairytale waterfalls of blue water in Kanchanaburi. Around 2-3 hours from Bangkok lies the province of Kanchanaburi and the Erawan waterfalls. Best experienced towards the end of rainy season when the water is at its highest (September-October) the minerals in this area turn the higher steps of the Erawan waterfall a gorgeous turquoise blue colour and you can swim at certain steps of the hike.

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Swimming in magical blue pools in the Erawan National Park – Thailand Bucket List

Thailand bucketlist : Lotus lake of Udonthani

Visit the lotus lake of Udonthani which becomes covered in red flowers during dry season (November-March). You can take a boat out to experience the beauty of the flowers on the water.

Bucketlist Thailand : Get off the beaten path Thailand

When travelling Thailand, even post pandemic, there will often be other tourists around you at the most popular destinations. Try experiencing a hidden side of Thailand by going to the mountains of Pu Chi Fah or Nan area to see mountains, viewpoints and a truly rural area of Thailand.

Bucket List Thailand : Go on a longtail boat

These noisy boats are famous all around Thailand. With their Buddhist colours tied around the front of them and recycled noisy car engines on the back, experiencing a ride on a longtail boat should definitely be on your Thailand bucketlist. You can find them everywhere, from Bangkok, to the islands to lakes in national parks.

Thailand Bucketlist – Long tail Boats

Thailand Bucketlist : See a giant Buddha statue

Throughout Thailand there are many impressive giant Buddha statues. In Bangkok, Wat Pho has a giant golden reclining Buddha. Phuket has a huge white Buddha sitting on the hillside. You can find many more all around this amazing country.

Thailand Bucketlist: The White Temple

Visit the White Temple in Chiang Rai for a beautiful and more unusual take on a Buddhist temple. Designed by an artist the outside of this temple, Wat Rong Khun, is truly spectacular, although the inside is very surprising. You can visit as a day trip from Chiang Mai or stay in the quieter town of Chiang Rai.
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Visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai – Thailand Bucketlist Must

Bucketlist Thailand : Kayaking

Kayak around limestone karsts in Phangna Bay, as part of a day trip or go indendent kayaking around Railay or many other beaches and islands. A personal favourite are clear kayaks when the water is clear and you can see the reef and fish below you. Koh Lipe has some fantastic kayaking seeing as the water is so clear. Please note you can only kayak when the tide is high to avoid damaging the reef.

Thailand Bucket List : Sleep on a desert island

Sleep on a desert island like on the Similan islands off of Khao Lak. They are about a two hour speedboat and the stars are truly magical as you are very far from any light pollution. This is only possible during dry season and you must arrange with a local tour operator to drop you there as part of your day trip and stay the night in a tent that you rent from the national park. One small restaurant was available when I visited. This is also possible at Angthong Marine Park nearby to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.

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Camping overnight on the Similan islands is a must do in Thailand

Thailand Bucketlist: Stay on a floating bungalow

In Khao Sok National Park it is possible to stay on a floating bungalow on Chaew Lan lake inside the national park. During dry season, it is possible to see the milky way. You can kayak, swim, do jungle treks and wildlife viewing as well as climb a waterfall. Read my full Khao Sok guide here.

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Kayaking in Khao Sok National Park after staying in floating bungalows on the lake

Bucketlist Thailand : Go Tubing

In Chiang Mai, when the rivers are lower towards the end of dry season you can go tubing, This means floating down the river in an inflatable rubber ring attached to some friends and usually with a coolbox of beers in between you. Pure relaxation.

Go tubing in the rivers in Chiang Mai

Thailand Bucketlist : Find Quiet Beaches

Despite the huge number of visitors to Thailand (even post covid) it is very easy to find beaches with barely anybody on them and sometimes even deserted. Tourists tend to all end up in the same spots so head to any of these quiet beaches in Thailand to avoid the crowds. 

Ao Nang: Head to Koh Hong on a Thailand island hopping trip!

Bangkok Bucketlist : Cycling Tour

Ko Van Kessel are a cycling tour agency in Bangkok that offer a range of great cycling trips, from beginners, family friendly rides and longer day trips outside of Bangkok.

Thailand Bucketlist : Eat amazing street food

A lot of Thailand’s fame comes from its incredible street food. On every corner of the country you can find cheap, local food from typical Thai dishes and desserts to fresh fruit and young coconuts. Some of it is also vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Bangkok bucket list : Market Shopping

Bangkok is home to the world’s biggest outdoor weekend market – Chatachak Market. Spend half a day or a full day here exploring the stalls, buying souvenirs, clothes, shoes, customised items, plants, furniture, artwork and paintings, Thai silk, handmade items and many many more.

Thailand Bucketlist: Swim in lagoons

Swim in emerald lagoons inside one of the national parks in Krabi. You can organise a half day trip here from streetside tour operators in Ao Nang. 

Bucket list Thailand : Snorkel with Turtles

There are many places in Thailand where you can snorkel with turtles. However, as wild animals, it is of course never guaranteed. Places where you are likely to see a turtle include Koh Phi Phi, the Similan islands and Koh Tao.

Thailand bucketlist : Viewpoints

One of the best viewpoints of Phangna Bay is from the top of Koh Hong island. You can visit via a longtail boat or speedboat from Ao Nang or neighbouring areas like Railay. Try to avoid peak season and weekends.

Go Thailand Island Hopping to Koh Hong from Ao Nang

Bucketlist Thailand : Maya Bay

From Phi Phi island you can see the famous Maya Bay where many of ‘The Beach’ scenes were filmed starring Leonardo Dicaprio. It is a beautiful areas with white sand and clear turquoise waters surrounded by limestone karsts. However, because of the huge number of tourists that visit the national park will often close this area to help regeneration. For a similar vibe, head to Koh Hong instead.

Thailand bucketlist : Fireshows

Having spent over five years in Thailand, the best fireshow perfomances are definitely on the island of Koh Phi Phi. The fireshow dancers are the most acrobatic and most impressive there, even post covid.

Bucket list Thailand : Rock Climbing

Phangna Bay is home to so many stunning limestone karsts, huge mountains that appear out of the water that it is no surprise rock climbing is so popular here. There is something suitable for beginners and advanced rock climbers around Railay and Tonsai. Ask your instructor to go through the bat cave on Railay – you won’t be disappointed.

Rock climbing in Railay 0 Thailand bucket list

Bucketlist Thailand : Huge Caves

Explore huge caves in Khao Sam Roi Yot national park and get away from the usual tourist crowd. Inside one of the caves there is a shrine making this place feel very special. The hike to it is really beautiful as well, along a coastal path with stunning sea views.

Thailand National Parks Nature Caves
Discover Thailand’s Praya Nakhon Cave

Thailand bucket list : Scuba dive shipwrecks

Various Thai islands offer shipwreck diving. Impressive shipwrecks can be found off of Koh Phi Phi, Koh Tao and Chumpon as well as a lot of other islands. My favourite so far is the shipwreck near Koh Phi Phi.

Scuba Diving in Thailand

Thailand bucketlist : Learn about Thai culture

Visit museums all around Thailand and learn about Thai history and culture. Jim Thompon’s House in Bangkok is a personal favourite for your Bangkok bucket list.

Thailand bucket list : Travel by tuktuk

Thailand has many great tuktuks and while some tuktuk drivers will try to overcharge you, they are also a great experience to try riding around the streets of Bangkok as a passenger. I recommend the tuktuks around Wat Pho to take you to other nearby areas as there is very little public transport in this area of ‘old’ Bangkok.

Thailand Bucketlist: Snorkel with sharks

There are no dangerous sharks in Thailand and it is possible to see blakc tip reef sharks who are totally harmless while snorkelling or scuba diving. Around Koh Phi Phi marine park is one of the best places to see them. Scuba diving from Ao Nang is also a great place to see bamboo sharks hiding under rocks.

Bucketlist Thailand : Muay Thai

If you are into martial arts or boxing then watching a muay Thai show is probably already on your Thailand bucketlist. To book a Muay Thai show in Bangkok, you can find tickets on this website. Having a go at muay Thai yourself is also totally feasible, even as a beginner and is a really fun, quite therapeutic work out during your Thailand vacation.

Bangkok Bucket List : Buckets on Khao San Road

The famous hangout of backpackers in Bangkok, Khao San road is known for its partying and selling of ‘buckets’, an alcoholic mix that you share with friends. Khao San remains a firm favourite as a place to party in Bangkok and meet new friends, particularly if you are a solo traveller.

Thailand bucketlist : Take a night train

Sleeper trains in Thailand are basic, cheap and a bit of an adventure. Don’t expect a luxury compartment but do expect to see some beautiful scenery and you probably won’t arrive on time.

Thailand Bucketlist : Get a Massage

Thailand is famous for amazing, sometimes brutal, Thai massages. These are not relaxing massages but are based on ancient understanding of the body and you will find yourself twisted into all sorts of shapes by your masseur or masseuse. Thai massages are incredibly cheap in all areas of Thailand. If you are unsure about a Thai massage, try a foot massage or an oil massage instead.

Bucketlist Thailand : Attend a Thai Festival

Whether you are interested in joining Songkran, a huge water fight across Thailand that celebrates Thai New Year in April or an intriguing and very weird celebration in Phuket, Thailand has the festival for you. Popular Thai festivals that tourists enjoy also include Loy Kratong in November with lantern candles.

Lanterns in the night sky of Chiang Mai during Yi Peng

Bangkok Bucket List : See Whales

Unknown to many, Thailand is home to a particular group of Bryde whales who inhabit the Gulf of Thailand and can be seen on a day trip from Bangkok year round. Read more here for how to go whale watching near Bangkok.

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Whale Watching in Thailand from a respectful distance

Thailand Bucketlist : Pink Dolphins

The waters near Nakhon Si Thammarat are home to world famous pink dolphins. Head there on a week day to be the only longtail boat on the water and appreciate the beauty of these pink dolphins in Thailand. Read my article here about how to go there and what to expect. 

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Pink(ish) dolphins in Nakhon Si Thammart province

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Thailand: Most Beautiful Destinations

These are my top 6 most beautiful destinations in Thailand…that I’ve been  to so far! Even after three years here I am still discovering so much…

Koh Similan

This group of white sand islands are found off the West Coast of Thailand, about 2 hours by speedboat. You can only visit during dry season (end of Oct-end of April) and try camping through the National Park to avoid the day tripper crowds!

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Viewpoint on Similan 4, steep hike to the top but it was worth it!

Khao Sok National Park

Stay the night on floating bungalows on a blue lake surrounded by jungle. Kayak around spotting monkeys and wake up to the sound of gibbons. About 2 hours North of Krabi, try staying at a Tree House before heading for an overnight on the lake! You are given a guide as part of the tour who will help you to spot gibbons, eagles, dusky langur monkeys and even the rare elephant!

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Kayaking with my Dad around the lake after sleeping in floating bungalows

 

Koh Lipe

One of the beaches with the whitest sand and the clearest water I’ve seen! The snorkelling was beautiful with lovely corals too. The main beach is stunning but be warned, they do have a litter problem because of the tides so walk around to the sunset beach and unfortunately you will find rubbish lying around. The sunsets are some of the best in the country!

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Sunsets in Koh Lipe, Thailand

Erawan Waterfalls, near Kanchanaburi

A 9 step waterfall found inside Erawan National Park, it’s worth the hike up to the uppermost step! Spend the day swimming in pools of stunning turquoise water. Ignore the ‘no food/drink’ sign and head to to one of the higher steps to avoid too many people. I suggest a week day visit for this place as it is very popular with Thai tourists.

Thailand waterfall destination
Swimming at the top step of the Erawan Waterfalls, Thailand

Phu Chi Fah

A little known place up in the mountains between the border of Laos and Thailand, you can take a motorbike to the top and watch the sunrise while hanging out on the border of two countries! I think having your own transport would be necessary for here and be prepared to find very few foreigners around.

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Phu Chi Fah, sunrise viewpoint in between Laos and Thailand

Do you agree? Any other places you think should be on my list? Here is my list for islands only! 

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

A new favourite of mine to visit! About 3-4 hours by minivan from Bangkok is Prachuap Kiri Khan Province. Inside the province are majestic limestone mountains known as Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, translated as Mountain of 300 peaks. Rent a scooter and ride around to beautiful beaches, explore caves and viewpoints and check out empty beaches!

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Khao Daeng Viewpoint, Thailand National Park Destinations

 

 

 

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