10 Underrated Things That Thailand is Famous For

In Travel Destinations by Phoebe Nicolas

In the recent years, Thailand has emerged as one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world. What could possibly be the reasons people continue to patronize and choose this country? It could be the tranquil beaches, exotic cuisine, magnificent temples and scenery, colorful history, cultural and archaeological sites, or all of the things mentioned.

Thailand has so much to offer to the curious traveler. Thailand is famous for a good balance of calm, peaceful temples and crazy, lively party scenes. If you want a taste of beach paradise, Thailand is also the perfect destination for the sun seekers. Even though you stay for days or weeks, there is something new to experience every day when in Thailand.

I could write more than a hundred reasons why you should visit Thailand, but I will keep it short but informative. So here’s 10 underrated things that Thailand is famous for and why you should pay this country a visit.

1. Thailand is famous for beautiful and colorful temples

If there is one thing Thailand is famous for compared to other Southeast Asian destination is its temples. Being a mainly Buddhist country, temples are an important symbol among the Thais. Temples are really one of the most famous attractions and destinations in Thailand. You should definitely include temple hopping in your things to do when visiting this country.

In this country alone, there are around 40,000 temples you can visit across the country, with varying sizes and designs. These structures are ancient – all older than any of us visiting, but have been fairly preserved through the years. Built in different eras by different dynasties, each temple is unique in terms of its size, design and overall architecture.

You can find at least one major temple in the different provinces of Thailand, but when you are only visiting Bangkok, you are bound to come across a lot of these temples too, making it easier to temple hop.

Here are two of the must-visit temples in Thailand:

  • Wat Pho – Also known as the “Reclining Buddha”, you can easily visit this temple located in Bangkok. This is one of the most grand and renowned temples in Thailand, attracting thousands of tourists everyday. Here, you can see a 46 meter long reclining Buddha beautifully adorned with gold leaves.
  • Sukhothai – More aptly termed as the Sukhothai Historical Park, not only offers amazing temples, but also gives you a peek into Thai palaces. This wide land area can be explored by foot, a bike, or riding one of Thailand’s famous rides, the tuk tuk.

When planning to visit a temple, remember to dress appropriately as these temples are often sacred and with religious significance. Showing too much skin is generally not allowed, but do not fret, as there are shawls or long skirts being sold outside the temples. Some temples even offer to lend it for free.

Buddha statues

Just like many of its neighboring countries, Buddhism is also Thailand’s predominant religion. Thai people are devoted Buddhists, and this reflects in many of their designs and architectures.

You can see various sized Buddha depictions everywhere you look: from a centimeter tall Buddha pendant to a humongous Buddha at a temple. You can see a Buddha in different position like a sleeping Buddha, a sitting one, a standing one, and a meditating Buddha.

Do not forget to snap a photo when you see a unique Buddha figure! Beautiful Buddha statues are also the main attraction in some Buddhist temples. You can find ones that are made out of different materials, such as wood, stone, metal, and even out of emeralds.

2. Thailand is famous for smiling people

I used to ask my foreign friends if travelling to Thailand is safe and most of them attest that Thailand is a safe place for foreigners. You come across people who are friendly to tourists and willing to help you without scamming you.

The land of smiles

Thailand is known as the “land of smiles” and it has rightfully earned that title. The Thai are warm, friendly people who are very pleasing to converse with, despite the language barrier. The Thai love to smile, hence the nickname. Even in the middle of heated disputes and disagreements, they manage to settle it using kind words and smiles.

When asked of the kindest nationalities, tourists usually include the Thais in their list. Thais are well-mannered and friendly, mingling with tourists and foreigners.

The locals are also very helpful people, willing to point you to the right direction, willing to translate for you, and willing to offer any help needed. As I walked the streets of Thailand, some signage were not in English, but luckily, the locals were quick to come to my rescue.

Thailand is famous for backpackers

The number of international backpackers has steadily grown in number in the past decade, and Thailand emerges as one of the top Southeast Asian countries backpackers often head to. These people are the type of travelers who like to pack light, nothing but a backpack, and travel in groups of different nationalities.

When traveling to Thailand, aside from meeting the beaming Thai people, you also have the opportunity to meet with many foreigners and exchanges experiences and thoughts. Thailand seems to be a melting pot of many nationalities: American, British, African, Chinese, Filipino, Italian, French and a lot more; name it and you will probably encounter at least one of them during your Thailand trip.

3. Thailand is famous for their unique culture

The Thai culture is fascinating for plenty of things: their beliefs, the religions practiced, the gods worshiped, their architecture and design, and the traits of the Thai people.

One of the most remarkable aspects in the Thai culture is the Thai people’s sense of patriotism. They show fervent love for their country and deep respect to their rulers, especially the king that is loved by all.

Just like most developing countries in Asia, the major cities of Thailand are becoming more and more modernized with each passing day. Skyscrapers are raised, roads are paved, subways are built – signs that a country is growing and becoming more modern. Despite this urbanization, you can see Thai culture as bits and pieces in their everyday living, such as coexistence of old and modern homes, presence of temples within the city, and ancient Thai design and architecture in many of the buildings.

To know more about Thai culture, you can get a lot of knowledge by visiting and touring ancient cities, which were once the capital of Thailand through different dynasties. Must visit ancient Thai cities include: Lopburi, Sukothai, and Ayutthaya.

When I went on a city tour in Bangkok, I saw both sides of the city: the highly urban one, and the other side that reflected the Thais simple life. Though physically different, the culture remained same for both areas. Thai people preserve their culture well despite the modern times, and can be evident in their daily living, the structures, the people’s attitude, and their beliefs.

4. Thailand is famous for its sumptuous cuisines

In any country you visit, its cuisine and local food will always be the most unforgettable. The Thai cuisine is delectable, and unique in its self. It is often considered as one of the best in the world, serving you dishes with burst of flavors you surely can taste. Trying Thai cuisine is definitely a fest for the taste buds.

To truly enjoy the local food, skip the restaurants and instead, try out the Thai street food. Thailand is widely known for its night markets, and when visiting Thailand, you can see long streets lined up with different Thai specialty dishes.

Thai food is well-known for the perfect balance of sour, spicy, sweet and salty – something difficult to achieve in other cuisines. Thai cooking involves preparing fresh dishes, often using pungent, aromatic elements such as anise, lemongrass, and cinnamon.

Another ingredient Thais love to use is coconut juice. They add this to curries to make the curry thick and smooth. If you love spicy food, then you will surely love Thai food as well. Thai never skimp on their chilies and you should try it too! When ordering food, always remember to let them know of what level of spiciness you can eat. Medium spicy is my limit.

Thai food is very diverse that in each area you visit, they will have a different set of specialty and way of cooking a certain dish. Each Thai restaurant or food stall has its own secret recipe that makes it stand above the rest. Whether if you just stay within one place or hop from one to another, you will always have a lot of food options to choose from.

One dish Thailand is known food is its spicy and tangy soup, the tom yum. This is a dish made from lemongrass, lime leaves, and meat – whether chicken, pork, or most commonly, seafood. You can get tom yum from street vendors up to upscale restaurants, but both will serve a unique hot, spicy, and sour dish that will clearly stimulate your taste buds. It is similar to the “sinigang” of the Philippines, but it is not often made spicy.

Thai food has many other options to choose from such as a variety of curry, noodles, salad, and desserts. You will not even eat the same dish twice because of the amount of delicacies to try.

Another must-try food that Thailand is famous for is the exotic food. If you’re keen to taste something bizarre, you can try various insects like crickets, black scorpion, grasshopper and water bug. These are fried and seasoned with salt, pepper or chili and sold in carts and are commonly sold in backpacker’s areas and red-light districts like Khao San road in Bangkok. These unusual treats are known to be a source of high protein!

Food markets

Another attraction in Thailand is its food markets. Imagine rows and rows of Thai dishes, freshly prepared in front of you, served hot and fresh off the stove. You can check out for international dishes too. Each stall offers a different dish and there are hundreds to choose from. Be prepared to fill your stomach with delightful food. The best way to go on a gastronomic experience is to visit one of these food markets.

5. Thailand is famous for its natural beauty

Thailand is a tropical country that lies shortly above the equator. Basically, it experiences only 2 types of weather: sunny and rainy. You can enjoy a good amount of sunshine all year round.

In Thailand, you can really see the spectacular beauty of nature, and the view is more exquisite in the more remote areas of the country. You can visit temples built in between tall mountains, go on a boating cruise in a river surrounded by various greenery, or visit botanical parks that will make you feel like you are in the jungle.

The weather

As a tropical country, Thailand only enjoys 2 major seasons. Tourists can visit the country anytime as the weather is pleasing throughout the year. When visiting Thailand, you can mostly expect warm weather and clear, sunny skies – perfect to explore the country.

The wildlife

Thailand is home to an abundance of wildlife in its many national parks, beaches, and mountainous terrain.

A great place to see Thailand’s diverse wildlife is to visit the Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand. This park is home to many wild animals such as: elephants, tigers, monkeys, and wild boars.

Trekking and hiking

For the more adventurous traveler, Thailand does not disappoint. The country is filled with lush jungles and hilly mountains that is great for trekking activities. This allows you to see the different flora and fauna in Thailand’s forests.

Awaken your inner explorer by hiking in the northern areas of Thailand such as Chiang Rai and Khao Sok. Hiking not only gives you the much needed exercise when traveling abroad, but lets you see another side of Thailand – and often, the road less traveled.

6. Thailand is famous for shopping

One of the reasons I traveled (and would like to go back) to Thailand is because of its shopping scene. Shopping in this country is one thing to consider when planning to spend your vacation in Thailand. Although not the main reason why people travel to Thailand, you should know that shopping sprees are usually an enticement for a lot of tourists.

In Thailand, you can find everything you want: from luxurious high end malls with designer brands down to small pop up shops with handmade crafts.

Your Thailand trip will not be complete without shopping in the many markets and bazaars in the area. The markets in Thailand are like no others you can see and visit in the world. Each one is unique, the people they attract, the items they sell, and the price of their goods. Some markets sell brand new stuff, some sell antiques, while some also sell food and souvenirs. As a tourist, it will always be good to discover something new and never run out of things to shop.

7. Thailand is famous for being a cheap travel destination

If you are traveling on a budget, one of the things you always consider is the cost of travel in a certain destination. Those on a tight budget, yet still want to see the world, often make a list of countries or destination that allow them to do so. Often included in that list is Thailand, where travel is cheap, from airline tickets, to accommodations, to transportation, down to the food.

In Thailand, you can enjoy low prices in almost everything. Being a cheap destination to travel and explore is one of the reasons tourists visit year round. What you spend for a week in Thailand would have only covered a day if you were traveling in Europe or the United States. Ideally, 20-50 USD a day can go a long way in Thailand.

Flights

Book your tickets ahead and try to travel when it is not the peak seasons, so that you get affordable fares compared to travelling in peak season. December to February is usually the peak season in Thailand. When searching for airline tickets, check out Skyscanner for the lowest rates. Skyscanner shows direct flights available to international and domestic airports in major cities worldwide.

Local transportation

Even the local transportation is cheap in Thailand. You can easily get around by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, or by bus without draining your travel funds.

Affordable accommodation

our money goes a long way in Thailand. You can stay at a decent hotel and pay it for the price of a motel. You can get private hotel rooms for as low as $10 per night, and $50 for a whole villa, apartment or a bungalow. Check out booking.com for cheap hotels and accommodations in Thailand. If your looking for budget friendly options, check out Hostelworld for great choices of hostels around Thailand.

Read our reviews of our recommended hotels and accommodations sites.

Cheap food

Thai food likewise is inexpensive. All around Thailand you can find street vendors peddling or selling Thai meals at a friendly price. Tasting the Thai cuisine will not break the bank. Even if you would like to eat at a restaurant, Thailand has plenty of restaurants you can dine in at a lower cost than you would pay for back home. You can eat a full meal for as low as $1 per meal, and at least $5 for the whole day from street vendors.

You can spend on other things such as your accommodation and shopping because you will not be worrying about spending a lot on food. If you really want to maximize your budget, I’d recommend buying food from street vendors who sell authentic Thai food. Be careful though and make sure that is it clean to avoid food poisoning. I had a bad food poisoning in Thailand and I was hospitalized for a day. Protect yourself from this hassle by purchasing travel insurance. I highly recommend World Nomads for their comprehensive plans.

Check out our review of World Nomads travel insurance to know more.

You will not regret visiting Thailand because it offers great value for your money. Thailand is truly a haven of frugal travelers. You can save on everything else while staying in Thailand and buy gifts and souvenirs for friends and family back home.

8. Thailand is famous for their easy transportation

Getting around Thailand is a breeze, as there are many forms of transportation available: trains, motorcycles, taxi cabs, buses, river taxi and of course the famous tuk tuk, one of Thailand’s symbols.

Thailand is one of the rare places where you can ride a tuk tuk. Sure, it is open-air and dust may get into your face, but it is a unique experience when travelling to Thailand, so do not pass up the opportunity to ride one.

Riding a tuk tuk is not just for short distances, they also go to longer distances, despite their speed. It is an authentic way of moving around the cities of Thailand.

For farther distances, or even within the city, you can take the train in Thailand to arrive at your destination quicker. While aboard the train, enjoy the beautiful scenery you pass by, without paying a hefty price. In Bangkok, there are subways and sky trains available for your convenience.

There are also several airports in Thailand that can get you to another state or to another country. Thailand is strategically located such that it is only a few hours from other famous destinations such as: Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

9. Thailand is famous for its beaches

One of the first things that come into mind when thinking of traveling to Thailand is its pristine blue waters and white sand beaches. This is how I have always imagined vacation in paradise.

Pristine beaches

Thailand has a wide range of beaches from ones with chic villas to virgin, untouched beaches. These beaches are postcard-perfect ones, one of the most photographed and beautiful in the world. The same beaches are also the ones you see in travel magazines, and even locations for celebrity weddings and Hollywood movies.

Probably one of the most famous beaches Thailand is known for is Phuket Island. It is one of the most crowded and tourist-laden beaches in the country. Enjoy white sand beaches shadowed by naturally carved rockstone formations. Go island hopping or swim in the middle of the ocean when aboard one of the smaller boats.

Krabi, Freedom Beach in Phuket, Sunset Beach in Koh Kradan and Kho Chang island are good alternatives if you want spend your holiday in one of those relaxing white-sand beaches surrounded by palm trees, without the bustle of plenty of tourists.

Diving spots

Thailand has over 1,500 miles of coastline, and along these you can find some of the best diving sites in the world. Some of the best places to dive when in Thailand include Koh Tao, the Surin Islands, Koh Chang and Chumphon. These diving spots are best visited when the weather is warm and sunny.

Island hopping

And while you are in the islands or at the beach, why not take your travel to the next level and go island hopping? There are many small and large boats available to be rented out for groups, with a skilled drivers and guides.

You get to see the beauty of Thailand’s small islands, appreciate marine life, and get yourself soaked up in the sun. You can do a wide array of water activities when in Thailand, these include, but not limited to: swimming, diving, paddling, boating, fishing, and snorkeling.

10. Thailand is famous for amusements and night life

Thailand offers tourists a contrast of experiences at both ends of the spectrum. Aside from its tranquil mountain lands and quiet temples, Thailand’s nightlife should not be underestimated and considered boring.

The nightlife

If you are a tourist who wanders even after dark, then there are certainly places around Thailand that would be more than willing to accommodate you, especially in the capital city of Bangkok. A calm city in the morning turns into a wild and colorful one with bustling nightlife.

Head over to Khao San Road in Bangkok, where you can meet and mingle with fellow travelers over a bottle of beer or shots of your favorite drink.

Red light district

If you are looking for a different and unique experience, head over to the city’s red light district – where bars line up against one another and beautiful people roaming the streets. Popular in these areas are LGBTQIA+ friendly establishments. The most famous red light districts in Thailand are Nana Plaza in Bangkok and Walking Street in Pattaya.

Massages

Have you ever wondered why many spas worldwide feature a “Thai massage”? Well, that is because Thais have a unique massage technique compared to others.

After a long day at the beach, or a long day wandering around weekend markets, there is nothing better than a good hour of body massage. There are hundreds of massage parlors lined up on the streets of Thailand, the services are good and the price is light on the pocket.

Full Moon parties

When in Thailand, do not pass up on attending a Full Moon party. In these parties, a lot of locals and foreigners flock to certain bars where they have fun and enjoy until sunrise. Bars play loud background music while locals and tourists alike dance to the beat while having a beer or drinking booze.

Final thoughts

So there you have it, the 10 underrated things that Thailand is famous for. There is never a dull moment when visiting Thailand. Each day, you gain a new experience, see a new sight, taste a different dish, or meet another local.

The top things I love about Thailand are: the food, the beaches, and the temples. Thai food is bursting with flavors and always has a kick to it. The beaches are calm, with turquoise waters and powdery white sand. The temples are grand and are works of art, carefully structured and designed to stand through the years.

Two weeks is too short for a Thailand trip. There are so many places to visit, plenty of activities to do, and endless things to experience. Make your Thailand trip worthwhile by researching for the most unforgettable activities and experiences in this country.

Thailand is a place that never disappoints any traveler; it always exceeds any tourist’s expectations and welcomes all tourists graciously into its territory. Thailand to me is not just another destination to visit, but a place where I can feel like I am at home. I hope I convinced you enough to go ahead and visit Thailand soon!

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Phoebe Nicolas

Project Manager at Coles Management Ltd
I quit my office based job after 10 years and started to work remotely as a project manager. Working remotely gives me the flexibility and freedom to travel and work at the same time which I really love. I want to share information and tips on how to work while traveling, work from home lifestyle and my travel adventures.
Phoebe Nicolas