27 bucket list things to do in Thailand (2024)

Dreaming of turquoise waters, delicious Thai food, or the magical lantern festival? I’ve put together a list of bucket list things to do in Thailand, which includes all the must-do activities when you visit for the first time!

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Railey beach

I’ve been to Thailand many times over the years and it’s my favorite country. Thomas and I even got married there.

So, in this post, I’m sharing the bucket list things to do in Thailand, from the best festivals to the delicious Thai street food and the tropical beaches.

Ready to discover the best activities and sights in the Land of Smiles?

Let’s dig in!

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Bucket list things to do in Thailand

1. Join a Thai cooking class

Taking a Thai cooking class is one of my favorite activities in Thailand. And it’s definitely a bucket list item!

Thai cooking classes usually start at a local market, so you’ll know which ingredients to look for back home.

I took a class in Silom, Bangkok, and loved it. I got to make my favorite Thai dish – red curry – and it came out surprisingly good! It’s a tasty way to remember your trip!

Book here – Thai Cooking Class & Market Tour in Silom (⭐ 5/5)

Thai cooking class

2. Visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a must-see! This beautiful palace has the most exquisite details and architecture I’ve ever seen – you’ll be amazed.

Prepare to spend at least 2 hours walking around its royal grounds. And dress modestly – both genders should cover their knees and shoulders.

Miriam’s tip:

Beware of ticket scams there! If you want to avoid the hassle, I recommend hiring a private guide who can show you the highlights.

Thailand

3. Taste the street food in Bangkok

Thai food is one of the best cuisines in the world. And a fun way to experience it is on a street food tour (⭐ 5/5).

That way you can taste authentic Thai delights on a budget, with a local explaining the dishes.

If this is your first time in Thailand, make sure to take this tour early on. That way you’ll know which dishes to eat on the rest of your trip.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Street food

4. Cruise the Chao Phraya River

Experience Bangkok from the water with a river cruise.

This half-day Bangkok canal tour on the Chao Phraya River stops at the Grand Palace and the iconic Wat Arun temple. Plus, you’ll get a glimpse into local life by the canals.

It includes hotel pick-up, air-conditioned transport, a river cruise, and a local guide.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Cruise the Chao Phraya River

5. Ride a tuk-tuk

Riding a tuk-tuk is simply a must in Thailand. It’s so much fun.

Tuk Tuks are more common and cheaper than taxis, but the fare depends on your haggling skills. Remember, agree on a price before you jump in, and don’t accept any stops!

First time in Bangkok?

I’d recommend the Bangkok by night tuk-tuk tour. It’s a trip to many of Bangkok’s highlights including Wat Arun, Wat Pho, the Old City, Giant Swing, Chinatown, and much more.

Read next: 8 common taxi scams (and how to avoid them)

6. Go island hopping

Did you know that Thailand has over 300 islands? Yeah, this country is made for island hopping!

The best way to experience the white sandy beaches and quiet little islands is to take an island hopping tour (or several) in southern Thailand. We always do that because there are so many to choose from.

The most popular larger islands in Thailand are Phuket, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Lanta, and Krabi. They’re all quite different.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Thai island hopping

7. Visit Khao San Road

Khao San Road is the backpacker’s hub in Southeast Asia.

It’s perfect for meeting fellow travelers, having dinner, and getting your laundry done.

I’ve stayed here most times I’ve been to Bangkok, although these days I prefer to just visit for a Singha beer or soak in the lively vibe.

Thailand

8. Trek in Chiang Rai’s Jungles

In Northern Thailand, you can go trekking in the jungle.

On this small group trekking tour in Chiang Rai, you’ll learn traditional Northern Thai cooking and visit hot springs, villages, and waterfalls where you can swim.

It’s a great way to experience a different side of Thailand.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Chiang Rai's Jungles

9. Join the Yi Peng Lantern Festival

If you’re in North Thailand at the end of November, don’t miss the Yi Peng Lantern Festival.

Yi Peng is a festival where you release lanterns into the sky, along with thousands of others, symbolizing a fresh start. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Pre-book a ticket – Heaven Lantern Festival Ticket with Dinner

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Yi Peng Lantern Festival

10. Visit the White Temple in Chiang Rai

Also in Northern Thailand is the stunning White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun.

You can visit from Chiang Mai, it’s an easy day trip. This day trip covers the White Temple, the ancient royal city of Chiang Saen, a long-tail boat ride on the Khong River, and the Golden Triangle.

It’s the perfect way to explore the northern part of Thailand.

Book here – Small-Group Day Trip with Golden Triangle (⭐ 4.5/5)

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - White temple

11. Watch a ladyboy show

Ladyboys are a big part of Thailand.

You’ll meet them at nightclubs and on the streets. They’re usually very talkative and super friendly.

A cool place to experience ladyboys is the Cabaret Show.

I’ve been to the one in Chiang Mai (in the back of the Anusarn Market) and Bangkok (the Golden Dome), and it’s fun entertainment with stunning performers. These ladyboys are amazing, seriously.

If you’re in Phuket, I recommend the Simon Cabaret Show.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - ladyboy show

12. Explore Ayutthaya’s ruins

Ayutthaya is the perfect day trip from Bangkok.

It’s a peek into Thailand’s rich past, and you’ll get to visit well-preserved monuments and age-old temples from the 16th to 18th centuries.

I highly recommend visiting!

Book now – Private Ayutthaya and Bang Pa-In Summer Palace (⭐ 5/5)

Thailand

13. Experience a night market

Night markets are a big deal in Thailand, and they’re perfect for a casual evening out—think dinner, shopping, and live music.

The ones in Chiang Mai are a real treat. There’s a market every night right outside the old city, buzzing with energy.

The top picks are definitely the Saturday and Sunday Night Markets. Try hitting them at 6 p.m. to avoid the later crowds, and remember to bring cash.

Find the hidden gems with a local guide – Evening Night Tour

Thailand

14. Try scuba diving in Koh Tao

Diving is one of the top bucket list things to do in Thailand. And the best place to do it is Koh Tao.

Imagine swimming with stingrays, clownfish, sea snakes, octopuses and so much more. That’s Koh Tao!

Before plunging in, ask about the coral scenes, maybe even wreck dives.

Become a certified diver in 3 days – PADI Open Water Diver course on Koh Tao (⭐ 5/5)

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Scuba Dive in Koh Tao

15. Watch a Muay Thai fight

Catch a Muay Thai fight, Thailand’s national sport. Known as “the art of eight limbs,” the fighters use fists, elbows, knees, and shins.

You’ll find rings in major cities, but Bangkok’s Lumpinee Stadium has the best bouts.

You can buy VIP entrance tickets here. You can even take Muay Thai lessons for really cheap.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Muyi Thai fight

16. Visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Visiting a floating market is a highlight in Bangkok.

The bustling Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the best market, so make sure to go here. It’s a fun way to experience local culture and maybe even buy some street food or fresh fruits.

I suggest going on an empty stomach, as it’s brimming with fresh eats and local trinkets.

Get tickets here – Private Tour to Maeklong​ Railway and​ Floating Markets (⭐ 5/5)

Thailand

17. Explore the scenic landscapes in Pai

Pai – a hippie haven in Northern Thailand – has been a magnet for backpackers and alternative people for years.

It’s such a relaxing place, I love this town.

With hot springs, waterfalls, markets, and cozy hostels, there’s a lot to do here. Plus, the easy reach from Chiang Mai makes it a perfect day trip.

Book here – Pai Private Day Trip From Chiang Mai (⭐ 4.7/5)

18. Ethical Elephant Encounter

Elephants are a symbol of Thailand.

And while you can visit and get up close with them, please avoid riding the elephants in Thailand or visiting “sanctuaries” without checking them out first!

Although there have been improvements, Thailand has been slow to legislate for the protection of elephants.

Thailand

19. Snorkel in Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands are one of the best places to go snorkeling in Thailand.

Hop into the clear waters at Secret Beach, Ao Toh Ko, or Phak Nam Bay around Koh Phi Phi Don to see fish, sharks, and other beautiful underwater life.

You can take a snorkeling trip from Phuket or go snorkeling from Phi Phi.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Phi Phi

20. Explore Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga is a great day trip from Phuket and Krabi.

Locally known as Tapu Island, its nail-like shape, thanks to millions of years of ocean erosion, stands tall amidst the waters.

The main attraction is James Bond Island – a striking limestone island.

Book here – Sea Cave Canoeing & James Bond Island Big Boat (⭐ 5/5)

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - James Bond Island

21. Visit The Beach

I’m sure you’ve heard of “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio.

That movie inspired me to visit Thailand in the first place back in 2006! Although Maya Bay is no longer the pristine, hidden gem like in the movie, it’s still a beautiful beach.

From Koh Phi Phi, you can rent a private longtail boat to avoid the crowds. Make sure to go in the early morning or late afternoon.

Thailand

22. Go rock climbing in Railey

If you’re up for some adventure in Krabi, try rock climbing at Railay Beach. It’s a magnet for climbers worldwide.

Never climbed before?

No worries, there are beginner tours to guide you. Just book online and you’re all set to scale those giant limestone pillars.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Railey

23. Get a Thai massage

One of my favorite things to do in Thailand is get a massage. I get one almost every day when I’m there – at around $6-10 an hour, they’re a steal.

A Thai massage isn’t your usual massage. It’s a bit of a surprise if you’re new, so prepare for a good stretch and crack!

You’ll wear pajamas, experience some thumping, and maybe have someone walk on your back. It’s quirky but leaves you feeling refreshed.

If that sounds too much, I recommend a foot or a calming oil massage.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Thai Massage

24. Discover the Bridge on the River Kwai

North of Bangkok is the Bridge Over the River Kwai. You can visit on a day trip where you can also experience Erwan National Park and hike to Erwan Falls.

Book here – Private day tour to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok (⭐ 5/5)

Bucket list things to do in Thailand -  Bridge on the River Kwai

25. Join the Fullmoon Party

If parties are your scene, check out Koh Phangan’s Full Moon Party. It takes place every month at Haad Rin beach.

There are also half-moon parties – Koh Phangan is always in a festive mood!

Book Speed Boat – Full Moon Party Round Trip from Koh Samui

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Fullmoon Party

26. Drink a Thai bucket

In Thailand, go for a Thai bucket!

Pick an alcohol, like vodka, add coke, and ice, and you’re set, especially on party islands.

Thailand

27. Get soaked at Songkran

Celebrate Thai New Year with the world’s largest squirt gun fight from April 13-15th.

To get the best experience, head to Chiang Mai.

When you walk the streets, expect to get soaked – everyone takes part of the huge water fight. It’s a lively, enjoyable festival.

Bucket list things to do in Thailand - Thai New Year Songkran

FAQ – Things to do in Thailand

What is Thailand best known for?

Thailand is best known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning temples, vibrant street markets, delicious cuisine including pad Thai and green curry, beautiful beaches and islands, and friendly locals.

It’s also famous for its festivals like Songkran and Yi Peng Lantern Festival, and its bustling capital, Bangkok.

Where should I go for the first time in Thailand?

For a first-time visit, start with Bangkok for its temples and markets, then Chiang Mai for a taste of cultural heritage, and Phuket or Koh Phi Phi for beautiful beaches and islands.

How much money do I need for 3 days in Thailand?

On a budget, you might spend around $30 to $50 per day covering food, accommodation, and basic activities. So, for 3 days, budgeting $90 to $150 would be a reasonable estimate.

For a more comfortable or luxurious experience, the costs would be higher.

What are the three most popular attractions for tourists in Thailand?

The three most popular attractions in Thailand are:

  1. The Grand Palace in Bangkok
  2. The ancient city of Ayutthaya
  3. Phi Phi Island with its beautiful beaches

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