Long tail boats on a beach in Krabi

Where to go in Thailand: How visiting just 3 places lets you see it all

Thailand, the “Land of Smiles,” offers a kaleidoscope of experiences, from ancient temples and vibrant cities to pristine beaches and lush rainforests. However, with so much to explore, planning a trip can be overwhelming. Luckily, the majority of must-see destinations center around three distinct destinations – Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Krabi. By basing out of these areas, you can fit many of the highlights of Thailand – rich culture, stunning landscapes, and unique charm – in just one trip.

Sunset temples in Chiang Mai

Exploring Chiang Mai: The Artistic Soul of the North

Chiang Mai, nestled amidst the verdant mountains of northern Thailand, welcomes visitors with a blend of cultural treasures, artistic expression, and breathtaking natural beauty. While Chiang Mai is a must-see destination in and of itself, it’s also perfect for taking day trips to these unforgettable stops.

The Golden Triangle

Witness the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers, marking the meeting point of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Explore the Hall of Opium, a museum showcasing the history and impact of the opium trade in the region. Take a boat ride along the Mekong River, enjoy breathtaking scenery, and gain insights into the region’s unique cultural tapestry.

Doi Suthep and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Climb the mountain (or take the convenient tram) and reach the revered Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Admire the breathtaking panoramic views of Chiang Mai and explore the ornate temple complex, a significant pilgrimage site. Witness the golden chedi (shrine) and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere.

Chiang Rai

Embark on a day trip to Chiang Rai, known for its unique artistic expressions. Marvel at the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), a stunning contemporary temple adorned with intricate white stucco and reflective glass. Explore the Black House (Baan Dam), contrasting with its black wooden structures and thought-provoking exhibitions.

White Temple in Chiang Rai
White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai

Doi Inthanon National Park

Escape the city and conquer the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon. Hike through diverse landscapes, encounter cascading waterfalls like Wachirathan Waterfall, and witness breathtaking sunrises from mountain viewpoints. Explore the diverse flora and fauna, encounter colorful birds, and discover hidden gems like the Royal Project Ang Khet, showcasing sustainable agricultural practices.

Elephant Nature Park

Immerse yourself in a meaningful experience at a responsible elephant sanctuary like Elephant Nature Park. Observe rescued elephants roaming freely in a natural setting, participate in ethical activities like preparing their food or bathing them, and contribute to their well-being and conservation efforts.

Whitewater Rafting

Embark on an exhilarating whitewater rafting adventure down the Mae Taeng River. Navigate through exciting rapids, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes, and experience the thrill of this adventurous activity.

Sticky Waterfalls

Take a refreshing dip in the natural pools formed by the Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls. Ascend the unique rock formations, explore hidden cascades, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding rainforest.

Exploring Bangkok: A Sensory Overload of Culture and City Life

If Thailand is shaped like an elephant’s head, Bangkok, Thailand’s vibrant capital city, is located in its mouth. There’s so much to do and see in Bangkok, but it’s also the central location to many other attractions. 

A view of Bangkok from the sky

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Journey back in time and explore the ruins of the ancient capital of Siam, Ayutthaya. Marvel at the architectural grandeur of temples like Wat Mahathat, housing the famous Buddha’s head entwined in tree roots, and Wat Phra Si Sanphet, showcasing the ruins of the royal palace. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and learn about the rise and fall of the once-powerful kingdom.


Visit the Bridge on the River Kwai, a historical landmark built by prisoners of war during World War II. Learn about the site’s complex history and the sacrifices made during its construction. Explore the Erawan National Park with its stunning seven-tiered Erawan Waterfall, offering a refreshing dip in its natural pools.

Sunlit water falling into the shaded blue water below.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Experience the bustling atmosphere of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Vendors on boats navigate the canals, selling everything from fresh produce and flowers to handcrafted souvenirs. Take a boat tour, witness traditional bartering practices, and immerse yourself in the unique cultural experience. While this market can be crowded and touristy, it offers a glimpse into a traditional way of life.

Bang Krachao

Discover the “Green Lung of Bangkok” at Bang Krachao, a unique oasis within the city. Explore the network of canals by boat, witness diverse flora and fauna, and escape the urban landscape for a relaxing day trip.

Ancient City (Mueang Boran)

Explore replicas of Thailand’s most significant landmarks and historical structures at the Ancient City (Mueang Boran). This open-air museum offers a glimpse into the country’s rich architectural heritage and allows you to travel through various eras in one place.

An aerial view of Bangkok's Ancient Siam Museum.

Pattaya Beach

Pattaya Beach, located along the eastern Gulf Coast of Thailand, has been a popular tourist destination for decades. It offers a mix of experiences, catering to various interests, and holds a significant place in Thailand’s tourism landscape. It’s known for its bustling atmosphere and is perfect for those who like a well-developed beach. 

Bonus Tip: Enjoy the journey more by
exploring off the beaten path

Just a train ride away from Bangkok is Suratthani. This is a perfect place to hop on a ferry and visit Koh Samui for some world-class snorkeling or to head to Koh Pharagan for an unforgettable Full Moon Party! 

Grab a bus to head west and spend a night on the lake at Khao Sok National Park. Then continue your journey to Krabu along the Andaman Coast.

Exploring Krabi: A Paradise Awaits on the Andaman Coast

Krabi, nestled along the stunning Andaman Coast, offers a plethora of diverse day trips for travelers seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the most popular day trips from Krabi.

Long tail boats on a beach in Krabi

Phi Phi Islands

Made famous by the movie “The Beach,” these islands boast stunning natural beauty, with limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs. Explore Maya Bay, the iconic filming location, snorkel amidst colorful fish, and discover hidden coves accessible only by boat.

4 Islands Tour

This popular tour takes you to four stunning islands – Ko Poda, Ko Gai (Chicken Island), Ko Tap, and Ko Mor. Each island offers unique experiences, from snorkeling in crystal-clear waters and relaxing on pristine beaches to exploring hidden coves and caves.

Koh Lanta

Escape the crowds and find a more relaxed island experience on Koh Lanta. Explore long, sandy beaches like Klong Dao and Klong Nin, visit the charming Old Town with its colorful shops and restaurants, and kayak through mangrove forests teeming with wildlife.

A beautiful, long beach, on the island of Koh Lanta, Thailand

Hong Islands

Embark on a day trip to the breathtaking Hong Islands, a group of limestone islands known for their emerald lagoons and hidden caves. Explore the islands by kayak, discover the awe-inspiring Hong Lagoon, and snorkel amongst vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.

Rock Climbing at Railay Beach

Railay Beach, with its towering limestone cliffs, is a world-renowned rock climbing destination. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, there are routes to suit all skill levels. Enjoy stunning views while challenging yourself on the cliffs.

Sea Kayaking

Explore the stunning scenery and hidden coves around Krabi by kayak. Paddle through mangrove forests, discover hidden lagoons, and encounter diverse wildlife along the way. This is a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty of Krabi from a unique perspective.

Wat Tham Sua (Tiger Cave Temple)

Climb the 1,237 steps leading up to the Tiger Cave Temple, a revered Buddhist pilgrimage site. Marvel at the breathtaking panoramic views of Krabi and explore the various caves within the temple complex.

Krabi Town

Immerse yourself in the local culture at Krabi Town. Explore the vibrant night market, overflowing with delicious street food and local handicrafts. Visit Wat Kaew Korawaram, a beautiful temple showcasing intricate architecture and sculptures.

Thung Teao Forest Natural Park

Escape the crowds and explore the lush Thung Teao Forest Natural Park. Hike through rainforests, encounter diverse wildlife like gibbons and hornbills, and discover hidden waterfalls like Khlong Tom and Sai Rung Nai.

A natural pool of emerald green and crystal blue waters.

Ao Nang Mangrove Forest

Embark on a boat tour through the Ao Nang Mangrove Forest, a vital ecosystem teeming with birdlife and other wildlife. Learn about the importance of mangroves for the local environment and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this unique ecosystem.

Emerald Pool and Hot Springs

Take a dip in the cool waters of the Emerald Pool, a natural spring nestled amidst lush rainforests. Explore the surrounding caves and waterfalls, and then relax in the natural hot springs, believed to have therapeutic properties.

James Bond Island (Ko Tap)

Visit the iconic island featured in the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun.” Explore the limestone rock formation known as Khao Phing Kan, take photos from various viewpoints, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding area.

A stone pillar covered in tropical plants juts out of a beautiful blue sea.

Each city offers unique experiences, from Chiang Mai’s artistic charm and mountainous landscapes to Bangkok’s pulsating city life and historical significance, and Krabi’s idyllic islands and adventure opportunities.

By strategically basing yourself in these three hubs, you can embark on a diverse itinerary, encompassing cultural immersion, breathtaking natural wonders, and thrilling activities.

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