The land of temples, islands and palaces, Thailand has a rich heritage and fascinating history. As the only Southeast Asian country that wasn’t colonised by Europeans, Thailand’s culture remains intact and its palaces are as grand as they were centuries ago. From vibrant cities to white-sand islands and lush tropical hills, these Thailand landmarks should be on your bucket list.
Many of the most famous landmarks in Thailand are gorgeous temples and elaborate palaces but there are plenty of natural formations that are impressive too.
- 20 Thailand Landmarks You Must See
- Best Landmarks in Bangkok
- Historical Landmarks in Thailand
- Cultural Thai Landmarks
- Natural Thailand Landmarks
20 Thailand Landmarks You Must See
Best Landmarks in Bangkok
1- Grand Palace
Once the residence of Thailand’s Royal Family, the Grand Palace in Bangkok is now a museum and one of the most visited Thailand landmarks in the country.
The Grand Palace is a sprawling collection of buildings in the centre of Bangkok built over several years.
King Rama I started constructing the Grand Palace in 1782 using timber at first.
Later during the project, bricks salvaged from the Ayutthaya ruins were transported along Chao Phraya River after Ayutthaya ceased being the capital of Thailand in 1767.
The highlight of the Grand Palace is the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew, which is the most important Buddha statue in Thailand.
The Grand Palace is at Na Phra Lan Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand. Admission fee is 500 Baht (free for Thai nationals) and is open from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm daily.
2- Marble Temple
The instantly recognisable Thai landmark, Wat Benchamabophit, is known as the Marble Temple because it’s constructed from white marble imported from Italy.
Built in the late 19th century by Rama V, the temple’s architecture is an excellent example of classical Thai design.
If you’ve seen the “King and I”, you’ll feel like the temple is straight out of the play.
Equally as impressive are the 52 Buddha statues with every pose from Thailand’s Buddhist history represented.
Wat Benchamabophit is at 22, 200 Nakhon Ratchasima Rd, Khwaeng Dusit, Khet Dusit, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10300, Thailand.
3- Wat Arun
Also known as the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple built by King Narai in the 17th century.
It’s called the Temple of Dawn because it’s incredibly beautiful at dawn when the first rays of light shine down on the temple to create an esoteric gleam.
The temple’s central Khmer-style tower (or prang) soars 82 m above the landscape and is what makes the temple one of the most famous landmarks in Thailand.
The central tower is surrounded by smaller towers and decorated with figurines of Chinese soldiers, animals, Hindu gods and Buddhist icons.
Climb the temple’s tower for a fantastic view of the Chao Phraya River and explore the grounds, making sure not to miss the ordination hall (or ubosot).
Wat Arun is at 158 Wang Doem Rd, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok, Thailand,
4- Wat Pho
As the oldest temple in Bangkok, Wat Pho is another landmark in Thailand worth visiting.
Wat Pho is also the largest temple in Bangkok and home to Bangkok’s most impressive reclining Buddha.
The statue is 46 m long by 15 m high with enormous 5m feet decorated in mother of pearl.
As Wat Pho is just a 10-minute walk from the Grand Palace, it’s worth planning your visit to see both landmarks.
There’s also a traditional Thai massage school on the grounds, where you can experience the healing power of Thai massage.
Wat Pho is at 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Pranakorn District, Bangkok 10200.
5- State Tower
One of Bangkok’s tallest buildings, the State Tower and its famous Sky Bar, was featured in the movie The Hangover Part II.
The circular bar is a Bangkok landmark and sipping a cocktail in the highest open-air sky bar in the world is one of the things to do in Bangkok for your bucket list.
Book your accommodation at Lebua State Tower here
State Tower is at 1055 Silom Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand.
More landmarks in Asia:
6- Rama VIII Bridge
The Rama VIII Bridge is a manmade landmark in Thailand that you can see from most of Bangkok’s sky bars.
The Bridge stretches across Thailand’s Chao Phraya River and is an impressive engineering structure that is 475 meters (1,437 feet) long.
Built in 2002, it’s one of the largest asymmetric cable-stayed bridges in the world.
7- Chao Phraya River
The River of Kings, the Chao Phraya River, is the lifeblood of Thailand and many communities live along the banks of this river.
The river is a source of income, a means of transport and an impressive natural landmark of Thailand.
Several attractions are along the river, including the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
The 372 km Chao Phraya River flows from the province of Nakhon Sawan through Bangkok to the Gulf of Thailand.
8- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Thailand is well-known for its floating markets, where generations of vendors go to sell fruit and vegetables, clothes and souvenirs from long-tail boats.
The most visited is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is not far from Bangkok and can be visited as a day trip.
Located in the Ratchaburi province,100 km southwest of Bangkok, the floating market is a landmark in Thailand and a magnet for thousands of tourists who are keen to see how shopping is done while floating in these boats.
Historical Landmarks in Thailand
9- Bridge Over the River Kwai
Of all the Thailand landmarks, the Bridge Over the River Kwai is the one that will remind you most of the horrors of World War II.
The famous iron bridge was part of the Death Railway to Burma built by prisoners of war who were forced to labour under shocking conditions.
You can walk across the Bridge or catch a train from Bangkok’s Thonburi station (Bangkok Noi) for Kanchanaburi and on to the River Kwai Bridge station which then crosses the Bridge and runs alongside the River Kwae to Nam Tok.
10- Sukhothai Historical Park
Sukhothai is a small city that is home to amazing Thailand landmarks within Sukhothai Historical Park.
The park houses the remains of one of Thailand’s ancient capitals, with structures dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries.
Temple ruins, Buddha statues, bridges and other attractions in the park are sprawled across a large area.
Visiting Sukhothai is an excellent opportunity to see a well-preserved piece of history.
11- Wat Phra Mahathat
A large stone Buddha head wedged in a massive deep-rooted tree is just one of the historic sites in Ayutthaya.
The 14th-century city was Siam’s second capital and is home to a treasure trove of other ancient wonders, such as Wat Chaiwatthanaram (with its 120 sitting Buddha statues), Wat Lokaya Sutha (with its restored ruins and reclining Buddha statue) and the UNESCO World Heritage Ayutthaya Historical Park.
It’s not clear how the Buddha’s head became wedged in its current location, however, one theory is that it was pushed there by floods.
If you’d rather believe a legend, there’s one that says that two brothers fought over who would succeed as the King of Siam and the victor, King Ramathibodi I, built the palace and all the Buddha statues to honour his defeated brother.
You can do a day tour from Bangkok to Ayutthaya or if you’d like to stay a little longer, book a hotel in Ayutthaya here.
12- Prasat Hin Phimai
Dating back to the 11th century, Prasat Hin Phimai is one of the oldest temples in Thailand and a landmark of Khmer architecture in Isaan.
Located in Phimai Historical Park, the temple is Thailand’s version of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and surrounded by moats, walls, ponds and bridges.
Although Phimai was part of the Khmer Empire and built similarly to Angkor Wat, there are both Buddhist and Hindu influences here.
13- Phnom Rung Historical Park
In Buri Ram province in northeast Thailand lies a mysterious Khmer temple complex built on the rim of extinct volcanic.
During the 10th to the 13th centuries, Phnom Rung was a Hindu temple complex used to worship Shiva.
The temple was constructed so that four times a year, sunlight shines through the lingam in the east-facing temple through 15 doorways right through to the other side.
Visit during April, September, March and October to see this peculiar occurrence.
14- White Temple
Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) is one of the spectacular landmarks in Thailand.
Constructed in 1997 in Chiangmai, the White Temple is an artistic creation and a contemporary passion project built by Thai artist Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat.
The privately funded temple has ornate gates, stunning sculptures and a three-tiered roof inspired by traditional Thai Buddhist temple design.
A unique aspect of the White Temple is that internal paintings feature famous characters such as Hello Kitty, Spiderman and Darth Vader.
15- Wat Muang
With Buddha statues all over Thailand, the Land of A Thousand Smiles could also be called the Land of A Thousand Buddha’s.
Of all the sitting, standing and reclining Buddha’s, the Buddha at Wat Muang is the biggest.
What makes Wat Muang even more spectacular is the seated Buddha is 92 m high and is an imposing Thai landmark surrounded by farmland.
The temple is in the Ang Thong Province in central Thailand, 100 km to the north of Bangkok.
Cultural Thai Landmarks
Although there are many markets in Thailand, one that stands out as a Thai landmark is the Maeklong Railway Market.
A train runs through the centre of the market several times a day and it’s fascinating to watch the stallholders fold up their stalls to let the train pass.
17- Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya
During the reign of King Rama IX, thousands of Thai craftsmen and artisans were brought here to create the wooden castle and to fill its halls with spectacular wood carvings.
With magnificent hand-carved pillars and artisan sculptures, the Sanctuary of Truth tells stories in wood.
Halls are based around a theme, such as the Northern Hall, which is all about spiritual development and where sculptures are artistic representations of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.
In the Southern Hall, the artistry revolves around the sun, the moon and the planets and how they influence the earth.
The Sanctuary of Truth is at 206/2 Moo 5, Soi Naklua 12, Naklua, Banglamung, Chonburi
Natural Thailand Landmarks
18- Doi Inthanon Mountain
Waterfalls, hiking trails, farms and villages form the intriguing mosaic of Doi Inthanon National Park.
The national park southwest of Chiang Mai is “The Roof of Thailand” as it’s part of the Himalayan mountain range.
With peaks between 800 and 2,565 m high, the national park is home to Thailand’s tallest mountain.
Doi Inthanon Mountain is a Thailand landmark worth visiting as it’s the highest mountain in Thailand.
Visit the summit for the view.
The best place to enjoy the sunrise at Doi Inthanon is from the Two Chedis.
The entrance fee to Doi Inthanon is 300 Baht and you can easily explore the national park by taxi (around 3000 Baht) or join a guided tour.
19- James Bond Island
Some of the most stunning natural landmarks in Thailand are located in Phang Nga Bay.
The one that stands out is an island that shot to worldwide fame when it was the filming location for The Man with the Golden Gun.
That’s why Khao Phing Kan is better-known as James Bond Island.
With stunning beaches and striking limestone formations thrusting straight up towards the sky, this island is a popular destination for day-trippers from Phuket or Krabi.
20- Erawan Waterfall
The seven-level Erawan Waterfall is a 1.5km the jewel of Erawan National Park and one of the most stunning natural landmarks in Thailand.
There’s a trail that runs up along the waterfall crossing the river in several spots, with wooden ladders to help you climb large boulders.
The hike takes around an hour and if it gets too steamy, you can take a dip in the pools to cool off.
The best way to visit Erawan is to join a tour from Kanchanaburi.
Erawan National Park is at Tha Kradan, Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi 71250, Thailand. The entrance fee is 300 THB.
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