Stunning beaches, history and world-class bars: The ultimate guide to Thailand's must-see sights

A stunning river view of Bangkok, Thailand.
A stunning river view of Bangkok, Thailand. Copyright Four Seasons Bangkok At Chao Phraya River
By Nichola DauntonRuth Wright
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We've narrowed it down to our favourite places to visit in Thailand.

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Thailand has been a firm favourite with Europeans for decades now. It's no surprise - there's an endless list of beautiful cities, islands and towns to explore. As well as some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet - it's called the Land of Smiles for good reason.

But whether it's your first or your fifth trip, it can be difficult to narrow down an itinerary. It can be difficult not to feel you might miss out on somewhere, well, unmissable. But wherever you end up, you can be guaranteed three elements that make or break a trip - amazing food, unforgettable sights and gorgeous hotels.

So read on for some of Euronews Travel's favourite experiences in Thailand.

BKK Social Club at Four Seasons Bangkok: Drink at one of the world's best bars

Four Seasons Bangkok At Chao Phraya River
BKK Social Club at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya RiverFour Seasons Bangkok At Chao Phraya River

Many travellers stop off in Bangkok on their way to islands or beach destinations in the south. So if you're short on time, we've got the perfect way to roll two into one: one of the city's best hotels and the best bar in Thailand.

BKK Social Club is the Four Seasons' Buenos Aires-themed bar. The South American feel comes through in the sumptuous decor, the laidback atmosphere and the swinging playlist- available on Spotify. You really do feel like you've stepped back in time to an age of endless glamour, without feeling under-dressed - anything goes here.

South America's drinking culture is reflected in the drinks list which features bespoke cocktails, dreamt up by Beverage Manager Philip Bischoff, as well as familiar favourites. The bar snacks served alongside are a lovely touch, or there is a food menu if you're after something more substantial.

The bar is part of the beautiful Four Seasons Bangkok, though outside guests are more than welcome. Location is always important if you want to make the most of a city and you can't beat where Four Seasons is- mostly because it's away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok's downtown.

Instead it's on the banks of Thailand's most important waterway, the Chao Phraya river. From all of the hotel's three restaurants, you can watch boats of every shape and size sail past, giving a sense that the river really is the lifeblood of the city.

As for where you'll sleep, you can choose from a room or a suite, some of which have majectic views over the river and beyond. Expect the attention to detail and service that Four Seasons is known for.

Explore Thailand's history in Ayutthaya

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Ayutthaya's Historical ParkCanva

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, the ancient city of Ayutthaya is about 89 kilometres north of Bangkok. Founded in the 14th century, this historic site was once an important centre of power in the region, before being destroyed by the invading Burmese army in 1767.

What remains of the city is now the Ayutthaya National Park, a collection of magnificent ruins and crumbling temples. Wat Phra Mahathat is thought to be the oldest temple in the park, dating back to the 14th century and its collection of ancient, headless Buddhist statues is captivating. 

The temple is also home to a very famous tree, a Banyan, whose roots have grown and twisted around a stone Buddha head.

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A headless Buddha in AyutthayaCanva

The park is also home to a number of museums which will give you more background on the intricate ruins surrounding you. The Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre will help you understand what the city was like in its heyday and help gain insight into the rich cultural history of Thailand as a whole.

Relax on Krabi's beaches

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A white sand beach in KrabiCanva

If that’s more than enough history for you, then it’s time to relax on the beach

And there are no better beaches in Thailand than those you find in Krabi. With luminous turquoise waters, bright white sands and rugged green cliffs, these beaches won’t disappoint even the most seasoned traveller.

Surrounded by around 200 little islands and rocky outcrops, Krabi is packed full of beaches and there are more than enough to go around, though you’ll need to hire a boat to get to some of the more remote ones.

The sheer beauty of Krabi makes it popular with tourists during the high season and the beachfronts are well developed with shops, bars and restaurants. If you want to escape the crowds though, there are some quieter options available.

Koh Mai Phai, otherwise known as Bamboo Island is a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland, making it much less popular with the backpack crowd.

Koh Mai Phai, otherwise known as Bamboo Island, is a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland, making it much less popular with the backpacker crowd. A tiny island - you can walk around it in just 30 minutes - there are no restaurants or bars to be found here, just soft white sand, crystal water and the bamboo trees that give the island its name.

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Scuba dive off the Similan Islands

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The Similan IslandsCanva

Lying off the coast of Phang Nga Province in the Andaman Sea, this archipelago of 11 islands offers some of the best scuba diving and snorkelling in Thailand. The islands were declared a national park in 1982 and are teeming with natural life. Expect to see lush forests, golden beaches and coral reefs.

The islands have previously suffered from overcrowding because of their popularity, so visitor numbers are now capped at 3,325 people per day to limit environmental damage to this precious ecosystem.

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A turtle in the Similan IslandsCanva

The diving season in the Similans runs from mid-October until mid-May, and tourists can expect to see white tip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, green sea turtles and great barracudas.

For dedicated divers, there are liveaboard dive boats available so you can spend a few days in the vicinity. Note that the diving season, the Similan Islands are closed to tourists to allow local ecosystems to recover.

Visit the bustling city of Bangkok

Whether you’re visiting Bangkok for the neon nightlife or looking to embrace the city’s rich Buddhist history, there’s something for everyone.

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There are over 31,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand with Bangkok’s Wat Arun - Temple of the Dawn - one of the oldest and most famous.

Spend the morning browsing the 8,000 stalls in Chatuchak Market or taking a walk through the city's newly opened urban oasis, Benjakitti Park. Bursting with trees, ponds and wildlife it has brought a taste of nature to this busy capital city. 

AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit
People walk on a path running through Benjakitti Park in Bangkok.AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit

After you are done there, visit some of Bangkok’s many ancient temples. There are over 31,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand with Bangkok’s Wat Arun - Temple of the Dawn - one of the oldest and most famous. 

If you’re looking for something slightly off the well-beaten tourist trail, then why not explore Bangkok’s eclectic street art collection? Street art can be found all over the city thanks to the Bukruk Urban Arts Festival which Bangkok hosted in 2013 and 2016. 

The festivals brought the world’s best street artists to the city and local and international artists have been building on the collection ever since.

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Street art in BangkokCanva

Much of the city’s best street art can be found close to the Chao Phraya river, with Bangrak and Chalerm La Park where the festivals were held, being key sites. There’s artwork to be spotted everywhere though, so keep your eyes peeled whether you’re on the way to a temple or shopping for street food.

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Party on Koh Phangan

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Koh Phangan in ThailandCanva

Sitting just off of Thailand’s gulf coast, the island of Koh Phangan has become synonymous with partying over the past few years due to the success of its monthly Full Moon Parties - celebrated, you’ve guessed it, during the full moon. These parties are mostly on Haad Rin beach.

If partying all night isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other treats in store on Koh Phangan. There’s great diving to be had among the coastal reefs of the island and for those who like to get their nature fix on dry land, the island is full of stunning hiking trails, taking visitors through waterfalls and tropical forests. It's also known for its yoga retreats and other wellness activities.

After a long day’s exploring, foodies can indulge themselves at the Thong Sala Night Market. The whole world is here to taste, whether you want to sample some traditional Thai food, seafood or even pizza.

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