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.
- 22 Thailand Landmarks For Your Bucket List
- Best Landmarks in Bangkok
- Historical Landmarks in Thailand
- Cultural Thai Landmarks
- Natural Thailand Landmarks
22 Thailand Landmarks For Your Bucket List
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.
When visiting the Grand Palace, dress modestly (long pants for men and no bare shoulders) as this is considered a sacred site.
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
If you look on the back of a five baht coin, you’ll recognise this Thai landmark.
Wat Benchamabophit is known as the Marble Temple because it’s constructed from white marble imported from Italy.
Built during 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, and fans of The Amazing Race 9 might recognise the temple as the final place where contestants were eliminated.
Inside the ubosot (ordination hall), there’s a serene Sukhothai-style Buddha created in 1920, standing above the spot where King Chulalongkorn’s ashes lie.
Equally as impressive are the 52 Buddha statues with every pose from Thailand’s Buddhist history represented.
It’s also home to the Benchamabophit National Museum.
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.
Named after the Hindu god Aruna, 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.
During the 18th century, Wat Arun was part of the palace grounds home to Bangkok’s revered Emerald Buddha (which is now in the Grand Palace).
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 one of six top-tier royal temples and another landmark in Thailand to tick off your bucket list.
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
Picture yourself sipping a Mai Tai while gazing at the view over Bangkok from one of the highest bars in the world.
One of Bangkok’s tallest buildings, the State Tower is a soaring 247 m skyscraper in the concrete jungle of Bangkok’s Silom district.
This 21st-century Thai landmark is an architectural feat and has 68 floors with offices, apartments and shops.
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.
Treat yourself to a stay at lebua hotel and make it a visit to Bangkok you’ll always remember.
State Tower is at 1055 Silom Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand.
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6- Rama VIII Bridge
As a city built around one of the world’s most iconic rivers, Bangkok is also a city of bridges.
One bridge, in particular, 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 m (1,437 ft) long.
Constructed 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 have thrived along the banks of this river.
Menam Chao Phraya is a working river and in Bangkok, more than 50,000 people a day use its ferries to travel around the city.
A busy waterway with cargo barges, long-tail boats and leisure crafts, the river is a source of income, a means of transportation and an impressive natural landmark of Thailand.
While in the Thai capital, follow the river and you’ll find yourself visiting many of Bangkok’s top attractions, including the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
The river and its many canals (or khlongs) earned Bangkok the title “Venice of the East” and you can access these khlongs from the Chao Phraya River, Klong Saen Saeb or the Klongs of Thonburi.
The 365 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 keen to see how shopping is done while floating in these boats.
If you’re a fan of markets, there are several other floating markets near Bangkok, including the smaller and more local Khlong Lat Mayom.
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 Allied prisoners of war who were forced to labour under shocking conditions.
Visit the museum and information centre, which has displays and photographs that depict the difficult conditions endured by the Prisoners of War, who were forced into hard labour to build the bridge.
The museum is funded by both Australian and Thai governments and describes how this part of Thailand was named Hellfire Pass.
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 Historical Park is home to one of the most impressive collections of Thailand landmarks.
One of the reasons why Sukhothai is an enchanting place to visit is that the UNESCO World Heritage City was the first capital of Siam and the birthplace of Thai culture.
The Sukhothai Kingdom (1238 to 1438) represented a romantic era when it was the centre of culture, language, art and architecture in Thailand.
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 Thai 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- Sanphet Prasat Palace
The main palace in Ayutthaya was Sanphet Prasat Palace, which was constructed for Ayutthaya’s eighth king and used for official ceremonies.
With tapered pillars, ornate decorations and spires, the architectural style of the palace is distinct from Khmer and Sukhothai designs.
The Burmese captured Ayutthaya in 1767 AD and burned the palace to its brick basement.
Fortunately, historians have been able to reconstruct this famous Thai landmark by extensively researching the ruins.
Two wings flank a central hall and the Mother-of-Pearl inlaid doors and windows are testimony the importance of this palace.
The King of Thailand used this palace to welcome Queen Elizabeth II in 1972 on the day Ayutthaya was officially declared open.
Sanphet Prasat Palace is at Phra Nakhon Si, Ayutthaya.
13- 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.
The Khmer kings who built Prasat Hin Phimai believed themselves to be the human representations of the Hindu God Shiva so they built temples to edify this godly status and to spread their religion.
Once a major city in the Khmer Empire, Phimai was lost to modern civilisation until a French explorer rediscovered it in 1901.
Although Phimai was part of the Khmer Empire and built similarly to Angkor Wat, there are both Buddhist and Hindu influences here.
14- Phnom Rung Historical Park
In Buri Ram province in northeast Thailand lies a mysterious Khmer temple complex built on the rim of extinct volcanic.
Like Prasat Hin Phimai, 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.
15- 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.
16- 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.
17- Ban Chiang
It’s not surprising that Thailand is where you will find the remains of the most significant Southeast Asian prehistoric settlement.
The Ban Chiang Archaeological Site has pottery, skeletons and other artifacts from prehistoric times.
Items discovered include bronze jewellery, such as bracelets, rings and anklets, and weapons like spears, axes and blades.
The area practised wet-rice culture and was one of the earliest prehistoric farming sites.
Experts believe that Ban Chiang was occupied from 1495 BC to 900 BC.
Ban Chiang is in Nong Han District, Udon Thani Province, Thailand.
Cultural Thai Landmarks
Although there are many markets in Thailand, one that stands out as a Thai landmark is the Maeklong Railway Market.
The unique thing about this market is that the railway track cuts through the centre of the market.
A train rolls along this track several times a day and it’s fascinating to watch the stallholders fold up their stalls to let the train pass.
19- 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.
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Natural Thailand Landmarks
20- 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.
21- 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.
22- 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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