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Famous Landmarks in Thailand

Thailand, located in mainland Southeast Asia, is a country with numerous sights that range from historical and modern architecture to natural landmarks. It is one of the most welcoming and fascinating countries in the world that usually attracts millions of annual visitors. From busy cities and golden shrines to charming tribal villages and tropical islands, here are the most famous landmarks in Thailand.

If you want to know what other think and said about Thailand read our selections of Quotes about Thailand

famous landmarks in thailand

Bangkok Landmarks

Grand Palace, Bangkok

The Grand Palace is a spectacular complex consisting of a collection of remarkable temples and ancient structures in Rattanakosin, Bangkok’s historical city centre. If Bangkok is the place you land in Thailand, the Grand Palace is worth visiting. It was built in 1782 by the kings of the Chakri dynasty, and today it is home to shimmering gold palaces, Buddha statues, and more than 50 temples including the famous Wat Phra Kaew, the oldest Temple in Thailand and home to the thousand-year-old Emerald Buddha. It also used to be the official residence of the Thai Royal Family, who no longer lives here.

Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok

Known in English as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (made out of Jade Stone) and officially as Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram, this temple is one of the most iconic landmarks in Thailand. It is situated on the northeast edge of the Grand Palace in the city of Bangkok, and one of the three national treasures. Wat Phra Kaew was built by King Rama I in 1782. If you are a photographer, you will appreciate the intricate details of the architecture around this site. Due to the sacredness of this place, you should watch what you wear – traditional or polite dress is recommended. 

Wat Pho, Bangkok

Wat Pho means Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is among the most important Buddhist temples and one of the most popular landmarks in Thailand. It is known for being the temple where the art of Thai massage was developed. Around this temple, you will find the pagodas of King Rama I, King Rama II, and King Rama IV. Just as with most temples around here, Wat Pho was also built around the 1780s by King Rama I. The temple took quite long to finish – seven years and five months and 18 days. Wat Pho is the largest temple in Bangkok.

Wat Arun, Bangkok

Wat Arun is situated on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River and is one of the most unique temples in Bangkok. In English known as the Temple of the Dawn, Wat Arun is fringed by pagodas and spires that rise above the water. Visitors can climb up the ornate structures to have great views of the surroundings while taking in the details up close. The Temple of Dawn was constructed using more than a million tiles obtained from a British shipwreck. 

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Wat Arun at the Dawn, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Arun is on revers of 10 bath coin.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market near Bangkok

Visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market near the capital of Bangkok and you will understand why Thailand is often referred to as the land of smiles. The popular market started with the construction of the Damnoen Saduak Canal to link Tha Chin and Mae Klong rivers. The market is one of Thailand biggest floating markets and visit there should be on your bucket list. Its the most recognizable landmarks in Thailand. Foreign visitors flock to the market every day to shop, sample Thai food and take in the charming atmosphere. The canal, Klong Damnoen Saduak is the longest and straightest canal in Thailand, having constructed by King Rama IV more than 100 years ago. 

Floating market is one of the places where you can try some of exotic Asian fruits.

thai woman on  a boat in floating market
Visiting floating market should be on your Thailand bucket list

Man Made Thai Landmarks

Wat Pra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

One of Chiang Mai’s greatest sites and most opulent temples in Thailand, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is known for its shimmering golden pagoda fringed by stunning pavilions, statues, and buildings. The finest statue here is perhaps that of Lord Buddha. The temple itself is located on the top of a hill, so you will have to climb around 300 steps to reach it. But the effort will be worth it once you arrive at the top, with amazing views over Chiang Mai and surrounding hills views to behold. At the top, the external terrace of the temple features small shrines, flowers, trees, and statues while the interior terrace boasts the main pagoda and several Buddha statues sitting in various poses. 

Wat Rong Khun – White Temple, Chiang Rai

Better known in English as The White Temple, Wat Rong Khun is one of the latest manmade landmarks in Thailand, having been completed in 1997. It is a recognizable structure in Chiang Rai thanks to its white colour exterior and the use of bits of glass in the plaster, which sparkle in the sun. The temple was designed by the legendary Thai visual artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. Interestingly, the construction of the temple is still ongoing to date. The final structure is supposed to have nine edifices, including a hall to enshrine Buddhist relics, an ubosot, monk’s houses, an art gallery, and a meditation hall. Wat Rong Khun was damaged by the 2014 earthquake and was restore and even expanded. 

visit the White Temple - things to do in chaing Rai with kids
The White Temple Chiang Rai, Thailand

Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya

Located in Pattaya, the Sanctuary of Truth is an incomplete museum that was designed by Lek Viriyaphan in Ayutthaya style. It is a unique landmark in the area, having been constructed completely out of wood from Mai Takien, Mai Deang, Teak, and Mai Panchayat species. It also houses wooden sculptures and idols. Its construction started in 1981 and is still ongoing to this date, though visitors are allowed to enter provided they wear hard hats. The Sanctuary of the Truth is built on 13 hectares and is the internal space of the temple is 2,115 square meters, with the famous spire rising 105 meters high. This sanctuary is the best example of Thai craftsmanship. 

Temple – Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya, Thailand

Sukhothai Historical Park, Sukhothai

A UNESCO world heritage site, Sukhothai Historical Park is located where the capital of the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom used to stand between the 13th and 14th centuries. The park includes the ruins of the ancient city, which is adjacent to the modern city of the same name and the capital of Sukhothai Province. The park is home to 21 historical sites and four large ponds, all walled within the fortress, with additional 70 sites within its 5 kilometers radius. The park is divided into different regions with a separate admission fee. Visitors are allowed to explore the park on foot or by bicycle since motorbikes and cars are banned. If you are a lover of temples, make sure you check out the likes of Wat Mahathat, Wat Si Sawai, and Wat Trapang Ngoen just to name a few. 

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Ayutthaya is the former capital of Siam (1350 – 1767), so you can say old Thailand. By 1700, it had about a million inhabitants and was one of Asia’s major trading cities! Unfortunately, due to the ongoing war between Siam and Burma, it was captured, burned, destroyed and robbed.

Currently, the ruins of the city of Ayutthaya became the Ayutthaya Historical Park. You can see here the remains of the outstanding capital and its temples. the center of the park is on the island surrounded by three rivers Chao Phraya, Pa Sak and Lopburi

Historic City of Ayutthaya (Thailand) photo source

Prasat Hin Phimai Historical Park

Located in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Phimai Historical Park is one of the largest Hindu Khmer temples in Thailand and one of the top attraction in the province. Phimai used to be an important city during the era of the Khmer Empire and the temple, which is located right in the center of the city used to be among the major Khmer temples in prehistoric Thailand. The rectangular compound stretches more than 1,000 meters long and 600 meters wide and contains a premium example of Khmer architecture. Officially known as Prasat Hin Phimai, this temple was built in the 11th and 12th centuries. It is a close resemblance to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and even faces the direction of Angkor, whereas Khmer temples tend to face east. 

Prasat Hin Phimai photo source Wikipedia Commons

Bridge Over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi province in western Thailand is home to the Bridge on the River Kwai. This famous tourist has a rather sad background story. Bridge Over the River Kwai is a grim symbol of damage meted on Thailand during wartime and forms part of the proposed Thai-Burma Railway Line known as the Death Railway. The railway line was a brainchild of Japan’s ambitious plan to link the neighboring counties by railroad. Constructed using largely forced labor and allied prisoners of war in World War II, many workers lost their lives building the bridge and the railway, which is abandoned in some parts. Trains can still use this Death Railway line, though it only reaches Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi station. 

Death Railway Bridge Over the River Kwai build by Prisoners of War in World War II
Bridge Over the River Kwai build by Prisoners of War in World War II

Natural Landmarks in Thailand

Railay Beach

Also called Rai Leh, Railay Beach is a small peninsular located between the city of Ao Nang and Krabi in Thailand and only accessible by boat thanks partly to high limestone cliffs that prevents mainland access. Its fairytale limestone formations are a dream to many rock climbers from all over the world. Railay Beach is divided into two – East Railay and West Railay. East Railay Beach is where boats from Krabi dock. This section is predominantly covered in dense mangroves and is never safe for swimming. However, visitors can explore its northern end where they will find many shops and dining options along the promenade. The Diamond Cave is also a worthy attraction in East Beach and it features a walkway into its depths. West Railay on the other hand is linked to the east by trails through a thin forest cover or through walkways through the commercial area. The beach is ideal for swimming with Long-tail boats available to hire to take you to Ao Nang.

Beach, Thailand

Maya Bay and the Koh Phi Phi Islands

Maya Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in Thailand. It is enclosed by an imposing 100 meters high cliff on three of its sides, and in the middle, there are several small beaches, most of which exist only at low tide. The larger beach spans around 200 meters and has silky soft silver sand with colorful coral life and exotic marine. Since the film The Beach was shot here in 1999, Maya Bay has been one of the top tourist destinations in Thailand, drawing visitors from across the world, though it was still popular even before the film. As a result, it one of the most crowded tourist attraction on Koh Phi Phi Island, with more than 30 motorboats and longtail boats carrying visitors in and out at any given time. There are also large ferry boats that transport hundreds of sightseers and snorkelers.  

Also on Phi Phi Islands is Monkey Beach, a stunning 150 meters long strip of silver sand surrounded by emerald water. However, Monkey Beach should not be confused with Monkey Bay, which is situated on the other side of Phi Phi Don Island. 

Koh Phi Phi Islands, Monkey Beach

James Bond Island, Phang Nga Bay

Officially known as Khao Ping Kan, James Bond Island got its name because of the 1974 James Bond film ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, which was shot on the island. Since then, the island has been a top draw when it comes to tourist attractions in Phang Nga Bay in Phuket. Funny enough, the eponymous movie wasn’t even a success garnering just 45% on Rotten Tomatoes. But it was the movie that led to its popularity. The location of the island is breathtaking and the cruise through the sandstone cliffs from Phuket Island is just incredible. The island is also a great place for taking photographs, thus the reason why it was chosen for the movie. A day trip from the beach to Phang Nga Bay is a must for anyone if you find yourself in the area. The trip usually includes lunch at the floating village called Koh Panyi.

Khao Phing Kan James Bond island
Khao Phing Kan

Doi Inthanon Mountain, Chiang Mai

Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai is the tallest mountain in Thailand. It originally went by the name Doi Ang Ga, which means ‘Crow’s pond top’. At the base of the mountain used to be a pond where cows used to gather. The name Doi Inthanon was to honor the last king of Chiang Mai, Inthawichayanon who tried to preserve the forests in the north. The summit of the mountain is a popular destination for tourists, with more than 12,000 visitors climbing up to every year. There is also the Thai National Observatory (TNO) at km44 as well as a Royal Thai Air Force weather radar station at the top of the mountain. Doi Inthanon National Park is also a popular site, especially for campers and is home to more than 360 species of birds. The park is also known for its two chedis called Naphaphonphumisiri and Naphamethinidon, which means “being the strength of the air and the grace of the land” and “by the strength of the land and air” respectively. 

Natural Landmarks in Thailand – Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Nang Yuan, Koh Tao

Located a few minutes from the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan is known for its idyllic aquamarine waters, white silk sand, and imposing rocks. Due to its proximity to the two popular islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao, a trip to the island of Koh Nang Yuan is usually on top of the list of many travelers in the region. The island is closer to Koh Tao though, just 15 to 20 minutes away by long-tail boats. Despite the island being a top tourist destination, there is only one resort called Koh Nang Yuan Island Dive Resort. Also, plastic water bottles are usually confiscated before entering the island, meaning you will have to buy water from the island’s only resort. But generally, Koh Nang Yuan is a great place for a day trip from Koh Tao or Koh Samui.

Ang Thong National Park

Ang Thong Marine park National Park is a marine park located in Surat Thani Province. The park is located on 42 islands and covers a total area of 102 square kilometers, the majority of which is water. Park was established in 1980 and within its boundaries are bungalows, a shop, a ranger station, and a restaurant. In Thai, the full name Ang Thong means ‘bowl of gold’ while Mu Ko (the park is also known as Mu Ko Ang Thong) means ‘group of islands.” The park is located in shallow waters around the shore, with the average water depth being just 10 meters. 

Khao Yai National Park

This national park is located in the western edge of the Sankamphaeng Mountain Range near the Kohrat Plateau. Khao Rom is the highest peak in the area, rising some 1,300 meters high. Khao Yai National Park is largely situated in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, but some parts lie in Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, and Prachinburi provinces. Covering an area of 2,168 square kilometers, the park is the third largest in Thailand. Within the park, there are more than 3,000 plant species and 320 bird species. Khao Yai National Park is also the oldest and most visited national park in the country and is home to one of the largest monsoon forests still remaining in Asia continent; as a result, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Despite its size, the park is one of the easiest to navigate.

photo source Khao Yai National Park

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Ania James

photographer, traveller, mother of twin girls, wife, worldschooler, rulebreaker

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