To advertise on this space Thailand and Cambodia

A guide to its main attractions
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Selected by piero scaruffi | Back to the travel page | Suggestions
This page provides a list of the main things to see in Thailand and Cambodia. "++" identifies the top attractions.
Central Thailand:
Bangkok: Chinatown, +Wat Traimit in Chinatown (with the golden Buddha), ++Palace, +Wat Phra Kaeo/ Emerald Buddha (inside the palace complex), ++Wat Pho (next to the palace), Wat Prayoon, ++Wat Arun (on the opposite side of the river from Wat Pho), Wat Saket and the Golden Mount, Wat Suthat (nearby, with the giant swing), MahaNakhon (2016, Thailand's tallest building), Damnoen Saduak floating market, Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, the "Marble Temple" (in the Dusit district), Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple (Khlong Luang district, 16 kms north of the airport) topped by a dome (the Dhammakaya Cetiya) covered with 300,000 gold-coated bronze statues of Buddha (A map of Bangkok's center)
++Ayutthaya (1400-1500): +Wat Mahatathat (with head in Banyan tree), +Ratchaburana, Wat Phra Ram, Viharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit (chapel with large bronze Buddha), ++Phra Si Sanphet, Thammikarat, Palace, Naphramen, +Lokayasutha (42-meter reclining Buddha), Chai Wattanaram, Phanam Choeng (with a 19-meter tall Buddha) (Map of Ayuttaya)
Wat Saen Suk "hell" temple (between Bangkok and Pattaya)
Erawan Waterfall (7-tier waterfall)

Northern Thailand
Lamphun: ++Wat Phra That Hariphunchai (A map of Lamphun)
Chiang Mai (300 Buddhist temples): Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang in the old city, Wat Umong in the forest, Wat Suan Dok (with Lanna royal cemetery)
Long-neck hill tribes of Mae Sa valley
Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle (border with Myanmar and Laos): +Wat Rong Khun/ White Temple (1997)
++Sukhothai (1200-1400): +Wat Mahathat, Wat Sa Si (located in the middle of the Traphang-Takuan pond), Wat Si Sawai (Khmer style), Wat Sorasak (with chedi surrounded by elephants), +Wat Si Chum (with 15-meter tall Buddha), Wat Phra Phai Luang, Wat Saphan Hin (western zone) (A map of Sukhothai)
+Si Satchanalai (near Sukhothai)
Thilosu Waterfall (most famous waterfall)
Lampang: Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang, Wat Phra Kaeo Don Tao (A map of Lampang)
Kaeng Krachan national park

Northeast (aka Isaan)
Khao-Yai national park (jungle, 44 waterfalls)
Thai-Burma Railway (Death Railway) from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok via the Bridge over the River Kwai
Wat Pah Nanachat forest monastery (15 kms from Ubon Rachathani)
Phu Phra Bat Park: rock formations
Ban Chiang (5,600-year-old archaeological site near the border with Laos)
Phimai Historical Park (12th-century Khmer ruins)

Khao Sam Roi Yot Marine Park: Phraya Nakhon Cave
Ang Thong Marine Park (northwest of Ko Samui)
Koh Tao island
-Phuket (super-touristy)
Phang Nga Bay (near Phuket)
Phi Phi archipelago (near Phuket)

Phanom Rung & Muang Tam (Thailand's best-preserved 12th-century Khmer ruins)
Mu Ko Chang National Park (50 islands)
Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary: Khao Sai Dao Waterfall (16-tiere waterfall)

++Preah Vihear (built by the Khmers between 900 and 1150, near Thai border)
+++Angkor (800-1400): +++Bayon (+Relief of the exploits of Khmer), +++Angkor Wat (+Relief of dancing girls), ++Reliefs of the terrace of kings, etc (click for old maps of the region, Wat, Thom and around Angkor that can still be useful)(A guide to Angkor)
Boat to Pnom Penh
Phnom Penh: Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, National Museum, Silver Pagoda, Choeung Ek concentration camp.
Monsoon season: July to October. Best time in Bangkok: December to mid-February Best time to visit Cambodia : November to March
My pictures of Thailand and Cambodia
  • Notes (2023): $1 = 35 baht and 4200 Cambodian riels (but no need to change money if you have US dollars)
  • Bangkok (2023). Crowds and noise. Temples have little that can be called "spiritual": they are mostly shopping malls where all sort of food and drinks are sold (mostly meat that must make Buddha turn in his grave). As disrespectful as the environment is, the temples still require you to wear appropriately (long pants), which feels like a joke. Avoid Christmas holidays at all cost. The best way to move from any location near the river is to take boats but it's not trivial to figure out the system, especially now that there is no longer tourist information. Bangkok's taxis and tuktuks have become expensive ($5-8 for city rides) because foreign tourists don't bargain. Bang Sue is the subway station for the train station. Sanam Chai is the subway station for the palace. Wat Mangkon is the subway station for Chinatown (Exit 1 / Plaengnam Road) and Chinatown also has its own boat pier.
  • Ayutthaya (2023). One hour by bus from Bangkok, 70 bahts ($2). Bangkok's subway station for the bus station is Mochi 2. The "buses" for Ayutthaya are vans that are located about 300 meters from the bus station. There are also 20+ trains per day and the fastest train takes a little more than one hour. Most guesthouses in Ayutthaya offer free bicycles. Tourist information doesn't exist.
  • Ignorant or simply despicable tourists ride on the back of elephants. The way elephants are cruelly mistreated is not difficult to find out.
  • Bus from Sukhothai to Lamphun: 300 bahts, 200 kms, six hours.
  • Lamphun to Chiang Mai: 30 kms by shared tuktuk (30 bahts)
  • Chiang Mai is a western city. There are more western tourists than natives. There are restaurants from every part of the world. Nothing is "authentic" in Chiang Mai.
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia (2023). It has transformed into a Cambodian version of Chiang Mai: more tourists than natives, endless hotels and restaurants, massage and swimming pools. Cambodian cuisine is now harder to find than a pizza or a hamburger. The US dollar is de facto the currency. The Airport Bus costs $8 and drops you off at the CDF Store (2kms from the center - $1 for a tuktuk to take you to your hotel). Taxis from the airport are so expensive that almost nobody uses them, which also means that you can easily negotiate the price down if you want one (the official fare is $35). The new airport is located very far from the town. It will take you longer to get to town than to fly to Cambodia. Angkor ticket costs $37 (or $62 for up to three days) and must be bought either online or at the ticket office located very far from Angkor (outskirts of Siem Reap on the way to Angkor). If you get a bicycle, you have to bike 7 kms from Siem Reap to Angkor and then a lot of kms inside Angkor. Most people start with Angkor Wat, then bike 2 kms to Angkor Thom (which includes the Bayon, the Phimeanakas and the Baphuon), then bike 2 more kms to the terraces and the khleang. Most Angkor tours start in the morning, but that's a bad idea: visit Angkor Wat in the afternoon, when the sun is facing the main causeway and most tourists are gone.
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia (2000). It has become a major tourist hub. Downtown, that ten years ago was still a cluster of destitute huts, is now all renovated. It's a big shopping center with lots of internet cafes. The organized tours dump their tourists on Pub Street. It's the ultimate tourist trap: expensive restaurants (most tourists probably don't know that they could eat with $3), pubs, discos, etc. Things have changed dramatically in just a few years. Millions of people have discovered Angkor. The highway into town (Angkor is the ancient capital of the Khmer empire, Siem Reap is the modern town nearby where you stay and eat) are littered with five-star hotels. At every temple there were lines of tour buses. It is difficult to take a picture without tourists in it. The dust is gone: all the roads inside Angkor are now paved. You can still take the trails into the jungle if you want, but you don't need to. However, one can still live very comfortably in Cambodia, with hotel rooms at $6 and all services and consumer products at one tenth of the price of an everage Western country. People are also very friendly and honest. The best way to visit Angkor is on a motorcycle (motorcyclist can be hired anywhere in the city or at the airport). Use a bicycle only if you are a really athletic person because distances within Angkor are huge. Anyway, the idea is that the first day one can see the 12th century temples around the fortified city, namely Angor Wat, the Baphuon (the only major standing temple to date from the 11th century, while everything else is from a century later), the Terrace of the Elephants, the fortified city itself (the Thom whose main building is the Bayon), then out of the Thom to several temples north and east, notably the pyramidal Ta Keo (one of the many that you can still climb for aerial views of the jungle) and the temple in the middle of a pond. On the second day one can see the older temples that are far away from the fortified city (20-40kms), notably the Bamteay Srei. The really good news is that it was feasible in one day to explore some of the more remote temples that a decade ago were off-limits (both because of the distance and because of landmines). Even better, the restoration of the temples has also attracted botanists who are adding little plates to the main trees, so Angkor is also a huge botanic garden. And the feeling of walking in the jungle is still there, even with tourists around you.
  • To reach Preah Vihear from Thailand (2000): Korat minibus to bus station $4. Bus to Kantaralak (310 kms, 93 baht, $3, 5 hrs); Kantaralak Palace Hotel $7. Motorcycle to Preah Vihear (40km, 1 hr, 250 baht); no border formalities as you travel into Cambodia beyond the temple; the Thais have built a fast and modern highway; bus to Ubon Ratchatani (3 hrs, $2).