Over the last couple of years, Thailand has seen an incredible influx of tourists and backpackers from all over the world. Whether this is due to breathtaking nature or mysterious air that surrounds this Southeast Asia country remains to be seen. Maybe it’s both, but whatever the case is, Thailand became one of the best, if not the best travel destination in the world. It has a well-deserved title that really emphasizes how people feel about it – it’s called the Jewel of the Indonesian peninsula.
With more than a thousand small islands that form clusters, there’s bound to be one that is just right for you. As a matter of fact, there are so many islands to explore, and not one of them will disappoint you. Even though there are some places that are definitely worth visiting with friends or family, most of this gorgeous country is to be discovered on one’s own. Almost all travellers who’ve been there agree that there are so many things to experience that it would be nigh impossible to do so in a group. This is one of those locations that require you to grab your backpack, plan a route, and begin the unravelling of this amazing land. So without further ado, here are the 12 best places to visit in Thailand alone. These are just some of the top destinations that Thailand has to offer.
Best Places in Thailand for Solo Travelers
There are a lot of interesting places to see in the south of the country that solo travellers will surely appreciate, one of them being the town of Krabi. It’s almost 800 km south of Bangkok, which is not really a short distance, but well worth the trip. You will meet the local people who are mainly fishermen. They can direct you to the nearest rock-climbing school if you’re up for the challenge.
If you’re not looking to be a daredevil, you can instead visit the beautiful beaches, mainly Ao Phra Nang, to westerners known as Princess Bay. Railay Beach offers you a chance to test your newly-attained climbing skills or take perfect pictures of limestone cliffs that rise all around you. Either one is fine. Also, Fossil Shell Beach is a great place to visit if you’re looking to observe some fossilized snail shells.
From Krabi, it’s easy to access some other, smaller islands such as Phi Phi.
11. Ko Phi Phi
Have you ever seen The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio? If not, consider watching it before the trip, because it will make the trip to Phi Phi islands so much more exciting. These islands haven’t really been that popular up until that movie hit the screens, so you should definitely at least give it a chance. It’s called Maya Beach, but it’s closed to tourists in order for its ecosystem to recover. This beach is a sobering reminder that we need to respect the lands that we visit and avoid polluting.
Even if that beach is closed down, there are still other things to see and do. There are overlooks that expand your view of the islands miles across, revealing the vivid visage of the nature surrounding you. If you’re really bent on hitting the beach and Maya is closed, there are still other options. You can check out the Long Beach, or even the aptly named Monkey Beach.
Phuket island should probably be way higher on your bucket list, but since they are in the south of Thailand, we’ve decided to group them with the rest of the places that reside there. This place will require more planning than others, which is to be expected of the largest island in Thailand. There is something for everyone here (which seems to be a pattern in this country), from burgeoning markets to wildlife reserves, you’ll find that Phuket has a very unique charm.
First of all, if you would like to get educated about the fauna of this world, you should take an excursion to Phuket elephant sanctuary and gibbon rehabilitation centre. They help abused and harmed animals recover and then return them to the wilds.
Secondly, Phuket has a rustic old town that lets you take shelter from the hustle and bustle of busy, crowded streets. It’s a great place to take some photos and eat in peace. Speaking of photographs, Big Buddha is definitely a must-see and a crowning jewel to all the cultural experiences you will attain on this solo journey.
When night falls, Phuket will reveal its beautiful markets. It is a perfect place for a lone wanderer to meet people, try some delicious food or even bargain for goods.
9. Khao Sok
Khao Sok National Park is an area of exquisite beauty. Cheow Lan Lake is the most amazing place, and you would do well to visit it. It is bounded by the Ratchaprapha dam. Aside from this lake, powerful rivers and waterfalls carve their path throughout the area, and there’s even more limestone here towering over the landscape.
This is yet another location where you get to experience Thai wildlife up close. Many endangered and rare species call this area their home, one of them being Muntjacks, or barking deer. This animal is otherwise nowhere to be found in Thailand. If you’re looking for an inexpensive pastime that also happens to be in the great outdoors, then Khao Sok is an excellent choice.
If you’re more interested in exploring the area in a more rugged manner, jungle trekking is one of the possibilities for you.
There isn’t as much to be seen in the west as there is in the north or the south. However, Kanchanaburi is a location that is worth visiting on its own merits. It’s not quite the same kind of experience that you will otherwise find, but your trip to Thailand would be incomplete if you didn’t come here and paid your respects.
The story of Kanchanaburi is a harrowing one, as are all the others from WWII. The most important landmark here is the railroad built by prisoners of war during the Japanese occupation. Of course, you can always stop by the war cemetery and other memorial structures. Many prisoners gave their lives in order to erect a bridge across the Mae Klong River, an essential part of the Thailand-Burma railway. About an hour away from Kanchanaburi lies the Hellfire Pass. It was the most difficult part of the railway to construct as prisoners were forced to remove the solid rock blocking the path.
This area also has some beautiful national parks, just like the entirety of this amazing country. But, we feel like this place should be visited for more solemn reasons.
7. Phanom Rung
Prasat Hin Phanom Rung roughly translates to Phanom Rung stone castle. It’s a temple complex east of Bangkok from the age of Khmer that sits atop an extinct volcano. Now, how is that for a challenge if you’re travelling alone?
Among many other attractions, Phanom Rung stands out in a peculiar way. It’s not just about it sitting on a volcano, there’s more to this place than meets the eye. Maybe it has something to do with it being built out of sandstone and laterite, or maybe it’s a site blessed by Shiva himself since this temple is dedicated to him. It is supposed to imitate Mount Kailash where this god resides.
There are fifteen doorways that lead into the main sanctuary. During Phanom Rung Festival in April, the Sun shines on all of these doorways, bathing them in light, making for quite a spectacular sight.
6. Chiang Rai
You will find this northern city to be to your liking. A host of attractions await those travelling solo, especially if you’re interested in abundant nightlife options. During the day, it comes off as a regular city. You can go hiking up the Lion Hill, where you will find one of many existing Buddha Caves. About 14 km from the city, you will come across the White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun. Don’t fall for it though. It’s actually not a real temple, just a private art exhibit that attracts a lot of tourists.
Is it nighttime yet? Then, it’s time to experience the real charms of Chiang Rai such as the night bazaar, the perfect place to get some souvenirs. If you go north from there, you’ll find Saturday Night Walking Street. Observe the local dancers, take in the culture that is all around you. Buy some crafts if you’re into that kind of thing. You will soon realise why nighttime in Thailand is much more festive and exciting than any day trip you’ve had.
We’re still in the north of the country. We’re now at one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Everything about this place tells the story of its ancient culture and all those who came before. Of all the places on this list, this might be the best one to visit if you’re travelling alone. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the power of the temples that are strewn about Sukhothai Old City, the original capital of the Kingdom of Siam.
Sukhothai, or dawn of happiness, is a historical park that consists of ruins of twenty-six temples. To enter the ancient courtyard, you can go through one of the gates, all of which are located at the centre of each wall. Go inside, and experience the immense grandeur of the ancient culture that spawned such a site. Stay for a while.
4. Mae Hong Son
Far to the north, at the border with Myanmar, a lone seeker may find more than a fair share of excitement in the province of Mae Hong Son. A great place to start would be the town of Pai, which is regarded by many as the best hippie resort in Thailand. It is a great place to relax, have some fun and enjoy the fact that you’ve decided to pack up and head out in this direction.
Don’t expect too much luxury though. Quaint accommodation consists mostly of bungalows, surrounded by jungle as far as the eye can see. Pai River drifts lazily by this peaceful village, and it’s a great place to partake in meditation, yoga, and healthy life in general. The air itself is much cleaner here, allowing you to really lay back and take deep breaths if you feel like you need to relax.
Even the selection of food available here echoes the need to live a healthy life. There’s organic food to be had, which is exactly what a backpacker travelling alone might need.
Once upon a time, Ayutthaya was the capital of the Thai Kingdom. It was largely destroyed in the 18th century by Burmese invaders, with more than 300 temples reduced to rubble. A lot of reconstruction projects took place, and some parts of the city have been restored to their former glory.
If you decide to visit this incredible city on your Thailand travel expedition, you’ll be able to absorb the beauty of some of the most magnificent temples you’ve ever seen. It’s alright if you don’t know which temple to visit since there are so many of them. Some of the more beautiful ones are Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Wat Phra Mahathat and Wat Phu Khao Thong. When you run out of ideas or want to travel with a group of people for a change, you can always join organized tours.
2. Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai amalgamates the wild, natural side of Thailand with a more urban one. At least that’s what it attempted to do for a number of years before it became a tourist hotspot. In 2013 the Rose of the North, as this city is sometimes referred to, had more than 14 million visitors. Of course, tourists improved the local economy significantly, but there was also some damage to the fragile ecosystem. To avert a potential disaster, the city launched a non-motor transport initiative, reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Today, the city balances quite well, maintaining high health standards and allowing for tourist areas to flourish as well.
Much like in the rest of Thailand, there are elephant nature parks where you can observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat. There are other great places such as the oldest market in the city, Talat Warorot. Here, you can buy literally anything. Of course, an abundance of temples radiates spirituality, inviting you to pray, meditate or just listen. Make sure to visit Wat Phan Tao and Wat Phra Singh. Join the festivals that celebrate lunar cycles and you won’t be disappointed.
What a journey it has been so far. But can there be such a thing as a visit to Thailand without making a stop at Bangkok? Not likely, and not just because it is the capital city. There is so much energy in this place that it’s impossible to resist its call. The busy streets, markets, shopping malls and clubs are all but unattractive. Tuktuks are constantly running around, carrying people all over the city and quite cheaply at that. Nightlife is one of the best in the world, and it’s been further immortalized in movies such as The Hangover.
Two airports service this huge city, and it is there that you can find cheap flights to other parts of this vast country. Air Asia flies passengers every day, making it more than easy for a solo traveller to get from one place in Thailand to another.
It has got everything, from parks and green areas to temples and monasteries. Of course, it is so big and so packed with sights to see that it’s quite possible to lose track of time and spend your entire journey here. However, we would discourage you from doing so, and instead, emphasize the importance of seeing as much of Thailand as possible. After all, an unpolished gemstone such as this one deserves to be discovered, absorbed and remembered forever.