Thailand is the second most visited country in Asia, seeing more than 26.6 million travelers each year.
And there is good reason for this. For those who are wondering; is Thailand worth visiting; the simple answer is yes.
Thailand is also known as The Land of Smiles because of its friendly and warm locals. The friendliness of Thai people not only makes Thailand a safe country to travel to, but they are also willing to share their culture with visitors, allowing travelers to get an authentic cultural experience.
This is just a snapshot of why Thailand is worth visiting, but there are so many more reasons why you should add Thailand to your travel bucket list.
In this guide, we’ve listed all the reasons why you should visit Thailand at least once in your life.
Reasons Thailand Is Worth Visiting
1. Fascinating History and Culture
One of the most fascinating things about traveling is the marvelous history and culture that you end up discovering, not just through online articles or books, but by actually being there for yourself, seeing it, reading it, and experiencing it with your own eyes.
Thailand boasts an incredibly rich history, evolved over centuries, that has left a huge impact on its identity, even today.
Long before modern Thailand, the region was actually home to the powerful Khmer Empire, known for the phenomenal Angkor Wat complex in nearby Cambodia.
The Empire built temples all across modern-day Thailand, which you can still see all over the country today, such as in Phimai and Buriram.
The Sukhothai Kingdom then emerged around the 13th century, which was a pivotal point in Thai history. The region became synonymous with beautiful art, culture, and its newfound religion, Buddhism.
It was this commitment to Theravada Buddhism that has now become part and parcel of daily life in Thailand.
Not long after Sukhothai was fully established, the Ayutthaya Kingdom rose to prominence, with Ayutthaya at the forefront of international trade, building beautiful temples across the country before multiple invasions from neighboring Burma led to the fall of the Kingdom.
The Thai people are proud of their history, and one of the biggest reasons to visit Thailand is to witness these crumbling temples for yourself and learn all about the fascinating Kingdoms that once ruled these lands.
Read more: Is Thailand Overrated?
2. Enchanting Temples
Following on from Thailand’s rich and diverse history, the country is renowned all over the world for its incredibly beautiful temples. These temples not only serve as quiet places of worship but also stand as architectural marvels that showcase Thailand’s spiritual and artistic traditions.
Wat Pho, in the heart of Bangkok, is the largest and arguably one of Thailand’s most famous landmarks.
Also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, you’ll see multiple towering ‘chedis’ adorned with colorful tiling, before moving on to the main attraction, the 46-meter-long Reclining Buddha. It represents the calm and composed Buddha just before entering the afterlife, or Nirvana.
Also in Bangkok is another must-visit temple, Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This is regarded as the single most sacred temple in the entire country, housing the famed Emerald Buddha.
It is thought that the Emerald Buddha was taken all over the region, being housed in various temples under different rulers before being looted from Vientiane and taken to Bangkok under orders from General Chao Phraya Chakri to be placed in the Grand Palace where it is kept today.
3. Peaceful Buddhist Heritage
If you’re someone who values traditions and heritage when you travel, Thailand’s Buddhist roots are a fundamental and integral part of the country’s culture and daily life for its citizens.
Over 90% of the country’s population belongs to Theravada Buddhism which emphasizes personal development and meditation.
If you wake up early enough, you’ll be able to see Thai Buddhist locals offering alms to monks. Offering alms is a symbolic act of gratitude that is seen as good karma by practicing Buddhists. Many locals practice meditation, which is a key part of Buddhism.
They try to incorporate this into their daily lives whether it’s at their local temple, or in their home. Tourists can take part in meditation too and is actively encouraged in many places.
Other areas of Buddhism that tourists can take part in, or at least observe, are the Buddhist festivals that take place throughout the year like Songkran (Thai New Year) and Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights).
4. Mouthwatering Street Food
The street food scene in Thailand is without a doubt an integral part of the experience and is worth visiting the country for this alone, especially if you’re a foodie.
Thai cuisine is already celebrated around the world, with a diverse array of tasty dishes blending the best of sweet, spicy, and sour flavors.
Simply put, street food is a way of life in Thailand. From heaving night markets to simple roadside carts, there’s an overwhelming abundance of vendors serving hot, fresh, and delicious meals.
Pad Krapow Moo/Gai (stir-fried chicken or pork with holy basil and plenty of chilies), Moo ping (skewered BBQ pork), and Som tam (green papaya salad) are some of the most popular dishes alongside curries and soups.
Don’t worry about breaking the bank because you’re eating out either, street food is incredibly affordable as it’s often slightly smaller portions than you would get in the restaurant and the vendors have barely any overheads.
It’s also the way most Thais eat dinner as many apartments and homes do not have cooking appliances.
Related Reading: Where To Find The Best Pad Thai in Bangkok!
5. Island Paradise
One of the biggest reasons why Thailand is worth visiting in 2023 is because of the stunning islands the country has. The Thai islands are some of the most beautiful, and picturesque in the world. They are what makes Thailand so famous.
Generally speaking, the Thai islands can be divided into two primary categories: the Gulf of Thailand islands, which include Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, as well as the Trang Islands such as Koh Kood, Koh Mak, and Koh Chang, and the Andaman Islands, where you will find Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, and Koh Lipe as the prominent ones.
Each has its own distinct differences, ranging from hilly, tropical jungle landscapes to those that resemble the mainland.
Some islands are isolated, while others are known for their vibrant party scenes. But what all of them have in common, is incredibly beautiful white sand beaches, and some of the clearest waters anywhere in the world making them perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving.
6. Thrilling Adventure Activities
For the travelers that want to inject a little adventure into their itinerary, Thailand’s incredibly diverse terrain and natural beauty provide the perfect playground for a wide variety of exciting and unique activities.
Famous for its towering limestone cliffs, the southern province of Krabi is the perfect place to get on your gear and go rock climbing. Railay Beach, near Ao Nang, is one of the best spots in the country to climb and has suitable routes for varying experience levels.
For those who want to channel their inner Bear Grylls, the northern region around Chiang Mai is superb for jungle trekking opportunities. Hike along hidden jungle trails, camp out in the jungle with your guide, and discover remote villages tucked away in the tropical wilderness.
Meanwhile, Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand is famous for the opportunity to stay on unique raft houses and the chance to head out on a night boat safari. You’ll have the chance to spot several varieties of monkeys, and if you’re lucky, even wild elephants.
7. Warm Hospitality
Have you ever wondered why Thailand is referred to as the Land of Smiles? Well, it’s because of the warm hospitality that you receive from pretty much everyone you come into contact with, from the moment you step on the plane, to the cashier in 7-Eleven, and everything in between.
It’s not always about the incredible things to see and do in the country, sometimes it can be as simple as the friendly connections you meet along the way, telling you about their life, where they are from, and what they aspire to be.
Politeness and respect are deeply engrained in Thai culture, with people always using the ‘wai’ to greet you. It’s an ancient form of respect, carried through to the modern day.
You’ll also notice how helpful and generous Thai people are. If you’re ever in need of directions, or help of any kind, locals are always willing to help out which makes you really appreciate being in an environment like that, especially if you come from a Western country.
Thais are very proud people who wear their hearts on their sleeves and will go out of their way to make sure you have the best experience possible in their home country.
8. Festivals and Celebrations
The religious festivals held in Thailand provide visitors to the country with a unique chance to dive head-first into the country’s culture and traditions.
Not only are they visually appealing, but they offer first-hand insights into Thailand’s stories, the beliefs of the people, and how a sense of community is paramount to their way of life.
Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights) is one of the country’s most famous festivals and is usually celebrated on the night of the full moon in November.
Locals release gorgeously decorated floating baskets (krathongs) onto nearby bodies of water containing offerings like candles, incense, and flowers creating a beautiful candle-lit spectacle on the water. It is thought that as the ‘krathongs’ float away, this symbolizes letting go of all hatred and anger.
Another amazing festival is the Candle Festival held in Ubon Ratchathani. Once a year to mark the beginning of Buddhist Lent, there is a huge procession with gigantic floats made entirely of candlewax as well as traditional Thai dance performances and music. It really is a huge celebration and one that you definitely miss.
Whether you take part in these traditions or just observe, experiencing them will add a one-off special touch to your trip to Thailand and you will be guaranteed to look back with fond memories.
9. Endless Shopping Opportunities
Nothing beats coming home from your travels with a suitcase full of bits and pieces you’ve picked up along the way. Well, in Thailand you’re in luck, as the country is quite literally a shopper’s paradise with all kinds of goods for everyone.
Bangkok’s floating markets are a great place to start, throwing you in at the deep end, in the midst of true local living.
Make sure to explore the busy night markets that pop up once the sun goes down too, sampling some tasty street food as you go, as well as browsing the wide range of locally made handicrafts such as Thai silk scarves, wooden turtle ashtrays, and other unique products.
If you’re more modern in nature, Thailand isn’t short on large shopping malls either. According to the database of building information in Thailand, there are over 200 malls in Bangkok alone!
Siam Paragon and IconSiam are two of the most famous, with plenty of luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton alongside cheaper brands like Zara and H&M.
10. Affordable Cost of Living
One of the main reasons why you should visit Thailand is the fact it is so affordable.
You’ll be able to stay in plush resorts with absolutely stunning beachfront locations, private villas with staff, and even spa and wellness retreats where you’ll be able to relax and live like royalty, all without spending a fortune.
You don’t even have to eat street food all of the time to eat cheap either, restaurants are all reasonably priced in relation to the local economy meaning you’ll easily be able to get a fancy meal for a fraction of the price you would back home.
Travel in Thailand is also super cheap, with tickets for buses and trains in the single figures, with flights not being much more expensive either.
A flight from Phuket to Chiang Mai can easily cost as little as $40 USD if you book in advance. It may cost a lot for your airfare to actually get over to Thailand, but once you’re here, you can live as cheaply, or as luxurious as you want.
11. Perfect Warm Weather
Thailand has a tropical climate, which means it has a year round warm weather. If you’re visiting during the winter, you’ll find the temperatures in Thailand rarely fall below 20°C and are paired with lush, bright sunshine with little cloud cover – perfect for chilling on the beach.
Many people visit Thailand to escape the harsh winters from back home, so if you’re someone who hates the cold, then Thailand is the country for you.
Thailand does have a rainy season though, which runs from June until September, sometimes into October, but even during the rainy season, it doesn’t rain all day and there are still some spells of sunshine between showers.
12. Easy Hub to Travel Southeast Asia
Another big draw to traveling in Thailand is that you can easily reach other countries in Southeast Asia.
Thailand’s land borders connect to Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia, not to mention you can get cheap short flights to Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, and The Philippines.
If you’re planning a backpacking trip around Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia, then Thailand is the perfect first stop.
13. Unspoiled nature
When you travel to a lot of countries in Southeast Asia, you’ll find many of the beaches are polluted with plastic waste or overcrowding from tourism, but not Thailand.
Thailand’s nature is still very clean and unspoiled, particularly the beaches. The Thai government takes great care in looking after their nature sites.
If they fear that over-tourism will ruin a place, they will close it or regulate it, like what they did with Maya Bay which was closed for 3.5 years to rehabilitate from over-tourism.
To summarise, if you’re debating whether or not to visit Thailand in 2023, I simply ask you; why not? There are more reasons to visit Thailand than there are not.
It’s a country with gorgeous nature, the kindest people, cheap accommodation and delicious food – what more could you want?
There’s no time like the present, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better holiday destination than the Land of Smiles.