Wondering if Thailand worth visiting? This article will outline the reasons why this country should be on your bucket list.
Thailand has been attracting tourists for decades, and with good reason. The country is famous for stunning beaches, sumptuous cuisine, vibrant cities, and incredible historic sites. Its relative affordability for overseas visitors is another reason why it’s become so popular.
I have visited Thailand multiple times and would be more than happy to return there to discover new places and revisit old favourites. The ‘Land of Smiles’, as it is sometimes called, truly has something for everyone, whether you are embarking on your backpacking adventure or looking for a luxurious escape.
Now, let’s dive into the reasons why Thailand is worth visiting. These are based on my personal experiences in the country, but I’m sure that you’ll discover your own personal reasons to love it on your next visit.
Why Thailand Is Worth Visiting in 2024: 17 Reasons
For many travellers, one of the main reasons why Thailand is worth visiting is its amazing beaches. The country is blessed with a myriad of palm-fringed, white sand beaches surrounded by calm turquoise waters.
Furthermore, beautiful beaches can be found in many parts of Thailand. Destinations like Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui have been attracting sun-seekers for years now. Although some beaches in these areas have seen significant development, sometimes to the detriment of the local area, you can still find some quieter stretches of sand with hardly any people.
For example, while Phuket is home to the notorious Patong Beach, which can get extremely crowded during the high season, it also boasts hidden gems like Mai Khao. Mai Khao Beach is part of a national park, which protects it from rampant development. You can walk along sections of the beach without seeing anyone.
If you don’t mind making a little bit more effort to experience some of Thailand’s best beaches, you can travel to lesser-known destinations such as Koh Lipe, Koh Chang, or Koh Lanta. These places still maintain a laid-back feel, away from the crowds.
One of Thailand’s major attractions for many international visitors is its tropical climate. It stays hot throughout the year and never experiences cold, snowy winters. Personally, I think Thailand is a fantastic place to escape the dark and cold UK winters.
However, there is more nuance to Thailand’s climate. The country experiences three seasons: the cool season that runs from November to February, the hot season from March to May, and the wet season from June to October.
Don’t be misled by the word ‘cool’ in the cool season which is actually one of the best times to visit Thailand for a beach holiday. The temperatures normally hover at about 28°C (82.4°F), while the rainfall and humidity are low. The hot season sees temperatures soar to above 30°C (86°F), with humidity starting to rise as well.
The wet season still sees average temperatures of around 29°C (84.2°F) and, unsurprisingly, significantly more rainfall, including the occasional typhoon. September and October receive the most rainfall.
Thailand is also large enough to exhibit geographic variations in climate. For example, while the Andaman Coast, where destinations like Phuket and Koh Phi Phi are located, experiences its monsoon season, places like Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand are drier and continue to attract a steady flow of visitors.
It’s best to check the weather conditions for your specific destination to ensure you’re making the most of your trip.
It’s an Affordable Destination
For many, Thailand is worth visiting because it is an affordable destination where your money can go further.
This is particularly true for travellers from wealthier countries with strong currencies such as the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and the EU. However, visitors from countries with lower purchasing power may have a different perspective.
If you are on an extremely tight budget, you can still find a bed in a hostel dorm for US $6, enjoy a delicious street food meal for US $1.50, and use the affordable transportation to get around.
If you can stretch your budget a bit further, you’ll quickly see how much more luxury you can access in Thailand compared to your home country. For instance, from just US $100 a night, you can enjoy a stay in a five-star hotel.
Although Thailand may seem affordable to some travellers, it’s important to remember that context is key when it comes to how we perceive the cost of something. Many locals do not find their country affordable, as they have to manage on local salaries.
The average monthly salary in Thailand is just under US $450, and this doesn’t go very far. Low wages are one of the reasons why the country appears affordable to tourists.
Bear this in mind the next time you wonder why your meal from a local vendor is so inexpensive.
No article on why Thailand is worth visiting would be complete without mentioning its delicious local cuisine. Although Thai restaurants and takeaways have become a common sight in many parts of the world, nothing beats trying local foods at their source.
Thailand’s most famous culinary delight is, of course, its street food. It’s abundant, diverse, and absolutely delicious. Bangkok is considered the capital of street food, with a myriad of vendors offering their culinary delights.
My personal favourite destination for street food is Chinatown, one of Bangkok’s most popular and vibrant neighbourhoods. In the evening, the main street, Yaowarat Road, comes alive with numerous street vendors selling a range of skewers, dumplings, grilled seafood, local sweets, and everything in between.
However, no matter where you are in Thailand, you’re bound to come across local street food vendors. Be sure to try a range of dishes on your next visit. You’ll find that there is so much variety, with different regions of the country having their own specialities.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Thailand is also home to young chefs pushing the boundaries of what local food can be. The country boasts over 30 Michelin-starred restaurants, perfect for a special occasion or a hedonistic treat.
Bangkok – Thailand’s Bustling Capital
Speaking of Bangkok, the bustling capital city is undoubtedly another reason why Thailand is worth visiting. Home to 11 million people, this vibrant city is famous for its street food, nightlife, shopping, historic attractions, and unbridled energy.
On your next trip to Bangkok, you can visit the majestic Grand Palace and the Giant Reclining Buddha, explore its impressive shopping malls and vibrant markets, eat your way through Chinatown, and enjoy a sunset cocktail at one of its many rooftop bars.
However, Bangkok is not just about glitz, glamour, and chaos. Away from the main tourist hotspots, you can find quiet temples, traditional canal life, and a local grassroots art scene. You just need to allow yourself more time to experience Bangkok’s different sides.
Personally, I’ve found that Bangkok is a city you can keep returning to for more, as one short trip is only enough to cover its main highlights. If you are heading to the Thai capital for the first time, check out these one day– and two day– itineraries that include Bangkok’s most iconic attractions and neighbourhoods.
Thailand is home to over 1,400 islands, but visitors can’t really stay at most of them. Many are uninhabited and simply lack the infrastructure for anything more than a day trip. Some islands are also part of national parks and are therefore off-limits for travellers.
Don’t worry, though, there are still dozens upon dozens of beautiful islands in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand that travellers can visit. One of the main attractions of these islands is, of course, the beaches and turquoise waters, which are perfect for a relaxing holiday.
However, there is more to the Thai islands than just beaches. They vary greatly in their atmosphere, personality, and level of development, offering something for everyone.
For example, if you would like a holiday that combines beautiful beaches, nightlife, and lots of activities, popular spots like Phuket might be the best option for you. Koh Samui is another island that offers relaxation and many things to do.
Those looking for something a little more off the beaten track should consider Koh Lipe and the Koh Yao islands. These see fewer crowds and less development and can still feel quite untouched in places.
Away from the beaches, adventure lovers will find that Thailand is worth visiting for the trekking experiences that showcase the country’s raw and wild beauty.
Trekking trails in Thailand will take you through pristine rainforests, past waterfalls, over mountains, and through rice fields. Along the way, you will get to spot unique wildlife and interact with local hill tribes whose lives have been relatively untouched by the modern world.
Northern Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for those looking to hit the trails. Many visitors base themselves in the cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to get access to many excellent local trails.
Numerous local operators offer organised trekking tours that include visits to hill tribe villages, river rafting, elephant sanctuary visits, and other fun activities. Many tours are day trips, but there are also some multi-day options that take you further out into the wilderness.
Other great spots for trekking in other parts of the country include Khao Sok National Park in the south, near Phuket, and Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand.
If you are in Phuket, there are many tourist companies that can organise a trip to Khao Sok. Tours to Khao Yai are available from Bangkok.
Fascinating Historic Sites
The lands that make up modern Thailand have witnessed human activity for thousands of years. As a result, the country boasts many fascinating archaeological and historical sites that are sure to delight history enthusiasts.
There are numerous amazing spots where you can explore different chapters of the country’s history. To learn more about Thailand’s early history, head to the ruins of the ancient kingdoms of Ayutthaya and the Sukhothai Historical Park.
The capital city of Bangkok is also home to a selection of great historic sites that reflect the power, wealth, and artistic and architectural achievements from the country’s past. If you are visiting the capital, be sure to include places like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho on your list.
Not all historic spots worth visiting in Thailand are grand, however. I personally loved exploring the charming Phuket Old Town where you can learn about the history of local communities that shaped Phuket. The historic centre of the town still has many original buildings in the Sino-Portuguese style that will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time.
For more recent history, Kanchanaburi is the destination to explore. It is home to the infamous Kwai River Bridge and the War Cemetery, which serve as reminders of the horrors of World War II and, specifically, the sacrifice of POWs who were forced to build the Thailand-Burma railway.
Thailand is nicknamed the ‘Land of Smiles’, and with good reason. Most travellers I know who have visited the country comment on how friendly and welcoming the local people are. This has been my experience as well.
Most people I’ve encountered on my previous trips to Thailand were warm, friendly, and happy to help. They are often excited to have visitors and want to ensure that others perceive their country in a positive light.
Of course, many people I’ve met were working in the tourist industry, so hospitality is very much part of their job. However, I’ve found that in Thailand, people’s warmth feels more genuine than in some of the other countries I’ve visited. Also, in my experience, so many people go above and beyond what they have to do, which makes you feel special.
Nevertheless, this is not to say that every person you meet in Thailand will be super nice and friendly. Some people may be indifferent, and there will be a small minority of scammers who do not have your best interests at heart. Also, remember, everyone is allowed to have a bad day from time to time.
Shopping: From Local Markets to Mega Malls
Those who love shopping will discover that Thailand is worth visiting for all the markets and shopping malls that the country offers. Whether you are after a bargain of the century or designer gear, there is something for everyone.
Bangkok is, undoubtedly, the capital of shopping as it boasts many fascinating markets and malls. Chatuchak Weekend Market is the city’s biggest and most impressive. With 15,000 stalls, you can find pretty much anything under the sun: from cheap clothing and jewellery to crafts and antiques, delicious street food, and everything in-between.
Markets are still an important part of Thai culture, so wherever you go, there will probably be at least one local market. From night markets selling sumptuous street food, where locals love to gather after the afternoon heat subsides, to touristy markets selling designer rip-offs and souvenirs, you are likely to encounter many variations on the theme.
Shopping malls are also a part of local life, not least because their air-conditioning provides a respite from the tropical heat. Some of the most popular malls in Bangkok include Siam Paragon, MBK Centre, Terminal 21, and ICON Siam.
Even if you are not interested in shopping, the malls are worth visiting for their food courts. You’ve read this right: mall food courts in Thailand often boast a selection of affordable and delicious local cuisine, popular with both locals and tourists for this very reason.
Stylish Rooftop Bars
Another reason why Thailand is worth visiting is its myriad of dazzling rooftop bars. Thanks to the ever-growing high-rises – and probably lax building regulations – Thais really know how to enjoy a drink with a view.
Not surprisingly, Bangkok, with its many skyscrapers, has a great range of rooftop bars. The most famous ones include the Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower, which was featured in one of the Hangover movies, and Vertigo located on the 60th floor of the Banyan Tree hotel.
However, if you are staying in a modern area of Bangkok like Sukhumvit or Silom, chances are there will be a rooftop bar in a hotel near you. The less famous ones might be cheaper and easier to get a table at.
Beautiful rooftop bars are not limited to Bangkok. Phuket, Koh Samui, and Pattaya also have a few fantastic options of their own. My personal favourite is Baba Nest, located in Cape Panwa, Phuket.
Baba Nest is the perfect place to enjoy a craft cocktail while watching the sunset over the Andaman Sea. The bar is laid-back and only has a dozen or so tables, so be sure to book your spot in advance.
Baba Nest is on the expensive side when it comes to Thai bar prices, but the view and the experience are certainly worth it.
Thailand is the perfect destination for nature lovers as the country is home to hundreds of different species of animals, reptiles, and birds.
Among the animals you could potentially spot on your next trip are elephants, leopards, tigers, gibbons, macaques, monitor lizards, and many more. The country’s tropical waters teem with marine life, including manta rays, whale sharks, and a myriad of tropical fish varieties.
Unfortunately, human activity has caused a major decline in wildlife numbers, especially among large mammals. Your best chance to experience local wildlife is to visit one of Thailand’s national parks, such as Khao Sok National Park and Kaeng Krachan National Park.
Even better would be to hire a local wildlife guide who knows the area and its animal inhabitants well. They can help you spot creatures that you might otherwise miss if you ventured out on your own.
Also, Thailand’s wildlife can be timid, so you need to be prepared for the fact that it might not appear on cue. You may need to venture deeper into national parks and spend more time there to see some of the shyer animals.
Attractions that offer close contact experiences with wild animals like tigers and elephants are best avoided. They have an appalling track record when it comes to the treatment of animals.
Incredible Diving and Snorkelling
As I mentioned in the previous section, the waters around Thailand are home to many marine species. Paired with warm waters and high visibility, it is not surprising that diving and snorkelling have become another reason why Thailand is worth visiting for many.
Some of the best destinations for diving and snorkelling include Phuket and the surrounding islands, such as the famous Similan Islands, Koh Tao, and Koh Lipe. Whether you are a novice or an experienced diver, there is an exciting dive site for you.
There are many diving schools in Thailand offering courses for both beginners and veteran divers. The country is a popular place for those looking to obtain their PADI certification, due to both the conditions and affordability.
When it comes to snorkelling, one of the easiest ways to experience this is by joining a snorkelling day trip. If you are staying in places like Koh Tao, Krabi, Phuket, you will have access to many day trips that can take you to different snorkelling sites.
Stunning National Parks
I’ve already mentioned some famous national parks, including Khao Sok National Park and Khao Yai National Park in this article. However, Thailand boasts over 100 national parks that protect the country’s natural beauty and wildlife.
With so many options on offer, you could spend a lifetime exploring these parks. My personal favourite is Ao Phang Nga National Park, which features dramatic karst islands, sea caves, and mangrove forests.
The most famous limestone formation in the park is the so-called James Bond Island – Khao Phing Kan in Thai – which was made famous by the ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ James Bond movie. This park is easily accessible on day trips from Phuket.
Other national parks worth adding to your list include Kui Buri National Park, where you can spot wild animals; Erawan National Park, famous for its spectacular waterfalls; and Doi Inthanon National Park, home to Thailand’s tallest mountain of the same name.
Thailand is also worth visiting for its vibrant nightlife. From (in)famous full moon parties and rowdy clubs to sophisticated beach bars and dazzling cabaret shows, the country knows how to party.
If you are looking for the best party destinations in Thailand, Bangkok should definitely be on your list. No matter what your budget is, there will be options for you to have an unforgettable night out.
From backpacker bars lining Khao San Road to the upscale nightlife scene in Sukhumvit to the Nana district packed with go-go bars, there is something for every taste. Don’t forget the previously mentioned rooftop bars for incredible views over the city.
For the ultimate party experience, consider heading to the island of Koh Phangan, the home of the full moon party. Nowadays, you can find full moon parties across different beach destinations in Thailand, but Koh Phangan is where the idea originated.
These parties last all night long and feature dancing, fireworks, face paint, and copious amounts of cheap alcohol. Personally, I’m not a fan of events like this, but they are a rite of passage for many visitors to Thailand.
If you prefer a more laid-back partying experience, consider visiting the beach bars in Phuket and Koh Samui. These stylish establishments often feature craft cocktails, delicious food, and sophisticated design, perfect for those who enjoy a touch of luxury.
Relaxing Thai Massage
An article on why Thailand is worth visiting would not be worth its salt if it didn’t mention Thai massage. This wellness practice can be easily enjoyed almost everywhere across Thailand, and it’s quite affordable for Western tourists.
Dating back over 2,500 years, Thai massage combines aspects of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. It involves rhythmic pressing, stretching, and bending techniques, where the therapist uses their hands, elbows, knees, and feet to apply pressure along the body’s energy lines, or ‘Sen’.
Thai massage has been nicknamed ‘lazy yoga’ as the massage therapist helps you stretch your body out with minimal effort on your part. As a result, this practice helps to relieve muscle tension, promote good blood circulation, and calm the mind.
There are many beautiful spas throughout Thailand, but for a more traditional experience, head to a local Thai massage place, which are commonly found in touristy areas.
The setting will be basic, but don’t let that deter you. Alongside Thai massage, I also recommend trying a foot reflexology experience. It doesn’t involve any stretching but will still help you achieve that zen feeling.
Something for Every Traveller
One of the things I especially love about Thailand is that it offers something for everyone. Whether you are a backpacker on a tight budget, a family looking for an unforgettable break, or a hedonist in search of luxury, the country has plenty of options for you.
The same variety applies to the range of experiences available. If you are looking for a fly-and-flop type of trip, there are numerous resort options for you to do just that. Phuket, Koh Samui, Khao Lak, as well as many smaller islands, are the best destinations for such holidays.
Those keen to immerse themselves in local culture will be spoilt for choice. Bangkok and its surrounding area, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai will all give you a glimpse into the unique culture and heritage of Thailand.
Last but not least, despite the fact that Thailand is a well-trodden destination, there are still many hidden gems out there that haven’t been overwhelmed by mass tourism. Intrepid travellers still have plenty to discover.
Reasons NOT to Visit Thailand
While I strongly believe that Thailand is absolutely worth visiting, the country, of course, has its downsides. It’s best to be aware of them to manage your expectations and help you plan the right trip for your personal preferences.
Thanks to its enduring popularity, Thailand has become a victim of its success. It is one of the most visited countries in the world, and in many locations, such as Phuket and Krabi, tourists can significantly outnumber locals.
As a result, popular tourist attractions and beaches can get so crowded that visitors might end up disliking the experience. Also, the ever-growing flow of tourists has led to overdevelopment in many parts of the country, ruining the originally pristine places that people wanted to experience in the first place.
Overtourism can also lead to inflated prices and a perceived loss of authenticity, which can all affect your experience of Thailand.
Even though most people you will meet in Thailand are friendly and honest, there is a tiny minority that seeks to take advantage of unassuming tourists. During your trip, you may be approached by people who will try to sell you dodgy tours or activities – be cautious when this happens.
If someone feels dodgy, politely remove yourself from the situation. I recommend reading some online reviews of specific areas you’re heading to – travellers often share their experiences with others.
Heat and Humidity
Although Thailand’s tropical climate is a joy for some, it can be challenging for others. The heat and humidity, especially during the hot season that lasts between March and May, can feel oppressive and make outdoor activities, such as sightseeing in cities, extremely difficult. If you don’t deal well with heat, this is something to be aware of.
Seedy Sides to Partying
Unfortunately, Thailand does have its seedier side in the shape of its large sex industry. Technically, it’s illegal, but local authorities often turn a blind eye to it as it attracts tourists. Be prepared that you may be approached by sex workers in popular party areas, and some bars act as fronts for brothels. You will quickly learn to distinguish between regular nightlife spots and the seedy establishments.
Thailand’s roads are some of the world’s deadliest, with scooter riders and pedestrians being the majority of victims. Road traffic can be chaotic, and not everyone respects the road rules. It’s best to avoid driving in Thailand altogether and be cautious when crossing the roads. Some drivers and scooter riders do not respect zebra crossings and even red lights.
When is the Best Time to Go to Thailand
Thailand is an all-year-round destination, though some periods of the year are more popular than others. The peak tourist season is between December and February, coinciding with the country’s ‘cool’ season.
This is when the temperatures are more comfortable for travel, humidity is low, and there is hardly any rain. As a result, this is also when the prices are at their highest, and popular destinations and attractions can get extremely crowded.
If you are travelling to Thailand during the hot season, between March and May, you may want to avoid big cities as the heat and humidity can make sightseeing difficult. It’s best to use this time to enjoy the Thai islands, although starting from April, some of them might begin to see some rainfall.
As the name suggests, Thailand’s wet season, which runs between June and October, experiences the most rainfall. However, some regions receive more rainfall than others.
For example, the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, such as Koh Samui and Koh Tao, are still popular options because they get plenty of sunshine. You can still experience a tropical shower in the afternoon, but these normally pass quickly.
October is a great time to escape the rainy south and head to Northern Thailand. It becomes drier then, and the forests look green and lush after a few wet months.
How to Get to Thailand
Most tourists travel to Thailand by air, as the country is well-connected to the rest of the world with ten international airports. Bangkok, home to two major airports, is often the first port of call for many travellers.
It is also possible to fly directly into other popular destinations such as Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi. You will just need to check which airlines fly to Thailand and from which airports in your home country.
How to Get Around Thailand
One of the reasons why travellers love Thailand is that it’s relatively easy to get around. Here are the main modes of transport you can use to visit different parts of the country.
Thailand has a developed domestic air network that can get you to many popular destinations. This is the most efficient and comfortable way of travelling, often favoured by visitors. However, it is also the most expensive.
Bangkok is connected to some destinations around Thailand, such as Hua Hin and Chiang Mai, via rail. Thailand’s trains are affordable by Western standards, but they are slow and not always comfortable.
For more comfort, opt for first-class tickets if they are available on your service, or the more expensive second-class options. Your journey is still not going to be luxurious, but at least you’ll get air conditioning.
Buses and Minivans
This type of transport offers the most affordable way to travel around Thailand, although they are far from the fastest. Buses vary in their comfort level. As expected, paying more will give you a more comfortable experience.
For longer journeys, opt for VIP, Super-VIP, and 1st-class buses. These have air-conditioning, a toilet on board, and more comfortable seats. Second-class buses also offer air-conditioning, while some local buses don’t offer any frills at all.
Minivans are a popular alternative to buses. Keep in mind that these can get quite crowded, and the drivers are notorious for speeding and reckless behaviour.
If you are planning on island-hopping in Thailand, you are highly likely to take advantage of the local ferry services. There are several companies across southern Thailand offering services connecting popular island destinations.
One thing to note is that services between islands can be reduced during the wet season (June to October). Be sure to check the timetables in your chosen destination before you go to avoid disappointment.
So here you have it. These are the main reasons why Thailand is worth visiting. I hope that this guide has inspired you to discover this country for yourself.
If you are looking to find out more about specific destinations in Thailand, check out these guides to Bangkok and Phuket. Both are fantastic options for first time visitors and this article provides a destination comparison for these two.
Those trying to figure out what their travel budget should be can take a look at this guide to prices in Thailand. For more information on local transport, especially ride-sharing, be sure to check out this Thailand transportation guide.
FAQs: Is Thailand Worth Visiting
Absolutely! Thailand boasts a developed tourism industry, which is one of the country’s main economic drivers. This is why visitors can enjoy a wide selection of accommodation options, a myriad of different tours and activities, and convenient transportation options. Thailand is also relatively easy and convenient to navigate, making your time there a breeze.
The length of your stay in Thailand will depend on how many places you want to visit and how quickly you want to travel. If you would like to combine a few days in Bangkok with one or two beach destinations, I recommend allocating about two weeks. Don’t try to cram too much into your trip – it’s impossible to see everything in just a couple of weeks.
Thailand offers a myriad of destinations that are worth visiting, and it’s impossible to cover everything in a single trip. Ultimately, the choice should depend on your personal preferences and the amount of time you have. For example, not everyone is excited about the chaos of Bangkok. Similarly, if you are looking for a relaxing, quiet break, you may not want to spend a long time travelling to a remote island if you only have a week in the country.
Yes, Thailand is generally a safe country for tourists. Attacks on tourists are rare. However, petty crimes such as scams and pickpocketing are common occurrences. When you are out and about, keep an eye on your belongings and avoid flashing your valuables. In terms of dealing with scammers, if you do come across one, politely remove yourself from the situation. Trust your instincts; if someone seems dodgy, they probably are.
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