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
Bucketlist Thailand: Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 : 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
Bucketlist Thailand : Kayaking
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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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