The Wanderlust guide to the best of Thailand

Delicious food, beautiful beaches, great diving, trekking and wildlife-watching – Thailand does it all brilliantly. Here’s your guide to making the most of it...

7 mins

Long the backpackers’ South-East Asian favourite, it’s easy to see why Thailand creates such a buzz: it's got scores of fabulous beaches; tongue-tingling cuisine; fascinating culture – and all at great prices.

In Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, explore glittering palaces, peaceful temples and night markets. In the north of Thailand, trek through the jungles and hills to discover tribal villages, then learn how to rustle up your own Thai curry at a cooking class in Chiang Mai.

Thailand’s many laid-back islands beckon scuba divers and hammock-snoozers alike – Ko Pha-Ngan is renowned for its full moon parties, while Ko Tao, Ko Lanta and Ko Phi-Phi are hotspots for dive courses.

Take a trail through time – explore Thailand’s ancient sites at Sukhothai, Ayuthaya and Prasat Phanom Rung, or visit a piece of more-recent history at the Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi.

Wildlife-watchers should head to the dense rainforest of Khao Sok National Park and monkey-inhabited mountains of Khao Yai National Park. Further south, grab a paddle to sea kayak among the karst outcrops around Krabi.

Wat Arun on Loy Krathong Day (

Wat Arun on Loy Krathong Day (Shutterstock)

Looking for inspiration?

With such a diverse range of activities on offer, the big question facing travellers to Thailand is ‘Where to start?’. Thankfully, the Wanderlust team have pooled their considerable knowledge of the country to put together of the top 10 things to do there, just to get you started.

Chances are you’ll want to do a hilltribe trek. To that end, Alex Robinson has put together the ultimate guide, laying the out the best places to go, the best time to go there, and a handy primer on the different tribes you’ll encounter. Alex has also put together a guide to Southern Thailand for those interested in a more relaxed side of the country.

Less relaxing, but increasingly popular, is touring Thailand by bike. And the good news is you don’t have to be Tour de France-ready to do it. First-time cyclists, Becky and Jules, give you their top tips for surviving – and enjoying – a cycle trip in Thailand.

If it’s your spiritual fitness you’re looking to fine tune, then make sure you drop by Caroline Sylge’s account of her journey of reflection and enlightenment at Suan Mokkh, a monastery in the southern Thai jungle.

More information

Top 10 things to do in Thailand – Wanderlust Team

Ultimate hilltribe trekking guide, Thailand – Alex Robinson

The highlights of southern Thailand – Alex Robinson

Top tips for cycling Thailand – Becky and Jules

Roads to enlightenment – Caroline Sylge

Raillay Beach, Krabi (

Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand (Shutterstock)

Alternative Thailand

For many travellers, Thailand is a case of ‘been there, done that.‘ But the country is evolving and changing so rapidly that you may be surprised by what is now on offer.

With that in mind, the Wanderlust team have put together a handy guide to what’s new in Thailand, and, coupled with Lucy Ridout’s travel blueprint to alternative Thailand, you’re bound to find something to entice you - even if it is your third or fourth or fifth visit. From recently-discovered Khmer temples in the north east to staying with the chao ley, ‘people of the sea’, on the Andaman sea, there’s a new side to Thailand to discover with every visit. Check out our list of 7 alternative unmissables in Thailand and see how many you can tick off.

More information

What’s new in Thailand – Wanderlust Team

Travel blueprint: alternative Thailand – Lucy Ridout

7 alternative Thailand unmissables – Wanderlust Team

Tuk-tuk in motion (

Tuk-tuk in motion, Bangkok (Shutterstock)

Thailand’s secrets revealed

Every April, the normally reserved and respectful Thai people go a little bit crazy. Armed with water guns, hoses and buckets, they set about trying to soak anyone and everyone they see, including you. It’s all part of the Thai New Year festival, Songkran. And we’ve put together a guide to surviving it.

Thailand is one of the more affordable travel destinations anyway, but if you’re keen to save even more baht, take a look at Johnny Lawlor’s list of 10 things to do for free in Bangkok, including watching a bit of Thai boxing. While you’re in the Thai capital, Oliver John recommends these 5 eccentric sights.

More information

How to survive Thailand’s wildest water festival – Wanderlust Team

10 things to do for free in Bangkok – Johnny Lawlor

Eccentric Bangkok: top 5 sights – Oliver John

Kantoke, traditional meal set (

Kantoke, traditional meal set (Shutterstock)

Get a taste of Thailand

Overwhelmed by the huge variety of food offered in Thailand? Fear not. Long-time Bangkok resident Allan Wilson has put together his list of the capital’s top 10 street eats.

MasterChef finalist Andy Oliver moved to Thailand and has worked in some of Bangkok’s top restaurants. He has become our go-to guy for the very best in Thai cooking, providing awesome recipes for Northern Thai red curry and a variety of Thai regional dishes. He has also knocked up 5 alternative Thai recipes for dishes that are little-known outside Thailand.

More information

Your guide to Bangkok’s best street food – Allan Wilson

Northern Thai red curry, local style – Andy Oliver

The secrets of Thai regional cooking – Andy Oliver

5 alternative Thai recipes – Andy Oliver

Teaching novices (

Teaching young novices, Kanchanaburi (Shutterstock)

Capturing it all on film

Orange-robed monks and golden wats are an integral part of the Thai landscape - and doubtlessly of your photos too. But photographing places of worship can be a sensitive business. Our resident photography guru Steve Davey is on hand with advice on how to capture the atmosphere in style, without causing offence.

If it’s inspiration you’re after, then look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their travels in Thailand. They’re awesome.

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Photography tips: places of worship – Steve Davey

Readers photos from Thailand

Thai beach ( 

Thai beach (Shutterstock)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Thailand Travel Guide is the place to start. 

If you have a particular question about Thailand, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Our check out the questions that have already been asked about Thailand. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Thailand Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team

Forum posts tagged to Thailand

Content from our readers about Thailand

Street kids, Chang Mai ( 

Street kids in Chang Mai (Shutterstock)

Main image: Golden Buddhas, Thailand (Shutterstock)

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