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Wonders of Thailand

Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park / Mike Gifford, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Although Thailand is a tourist hotspot, most foreign tourists come here to relax and thus: to prepare for another stressful year of work and daily worries. The natural and cultural heritage of this country though offers a lot more. The most amazing wonders of Thailand are:

  • Architecture and art values of Hinduist and Buddhist religious structures, which often are found also in exotic, ancient, abandoned cities, such as old Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Kampheng Phet.
  • Limestone karst scenery along the coast of Andaman Sea. This includes many islands which look like stacks of rock rising from the sea, high cliffs, numerous caves and above all – beautiful scenery.
  • Limestone karst in the north of the country. Here are located numerous caves, which often contain unique cave formations and very valuable archaeological artifacts. Notable landmarks in this area are also countless waterfalls and sinkholes.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Thailand

Geological wonders

Phang Nga Bay


Sea bay with beautiful karst pinnacles and islands. Here is located also the famous Ko Tapu. This is a limestone stack that was featured in the James Bond movie in 1974.

Phang Nga Bay with James Bond Island
Phang Nga Bay with James Bond Island / Joan Campderrós-i-Canas, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Thi Lo Su Falls (Namtok Teelorsu, Thilawsu, Umphang Thee Lor Sue)


One of the largest falls in Thailand, some 200 – 250 m tall and approximately 400 m wide, spread in the jungle.

Thi Lo Su Falls, Thailand
Thi Lo Su Falls / Amir Yalon, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Phu Phrabat historical park


Visually interesting geological formation with sandstone pillars, often seemingly unstable and defying gravity. The site has served as a ceremonial center and contains multiple prehistoric and historic cliff paintings (45 sites), and Buddhist carvings created in several periods by several cultures. In total there are 68 prehistoric structures, with interesting megaliths among them.

Phu Phrabat
Phu Phrabat. / Joachim Lutz, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Erawan Falls


An extensive complex of waterfalls that fall over numerous tufa terraces.

Erawan Falls
Erawan Falls, the first fall / Anthony Tong Lee, Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Ko Tapu (James Bond Island)


An approximately 20 m high, rocky monolith that rises from Phang Nga Bay. Popular tourist attraction, especially because this island was featured in a James Bond movie in 1974. The area contains many more similar islands.

Ko Tapu - James Bond Island in Thailand
Ko Tapu – James Bond Island / René Ehrhardt, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Tham Mae Usu


Very impressive cave, 1,586 m long, located in an impressive, 60 m deep sinkhole. Stream flows through the cave. It is possible that the water of the stream is heated by geothermal power – water is some 30 degrees C warm.

Amphoe Kumphawapi Stone Bridge


A natural bridge, 25 m wide and high, 30 m long, with a stream flowing under it.

Biological wonders

Mae Charim Yeties


Local people frequently have met enormous, hairy, and black creatures in this remote, mountainous area of Thailand. According to some stories, local people never leave their villages after dark due to these aggressive animals.

Wat Si Maha Pho bo tree


The largest bo tree (Ficus religiosa) in Thailand, with a circumference of some 22 m, height of some 30 m. According to legend it is 2,000 years old and brought from the sacred Bo Tree in Sri Lanka.

Archaeological wonders

Tham Lod Cave (Tham Lot)


1,666 m long cave system with Nam Lang River flowing approximately 1 km through it. The cave is adorned with beautiful, over 20 m high speleothems but unusual attractions are ornate teakwood coffins made some 1,700 years ago. The cave contains also prehistoric drawings of a deer, unfortunately, obliterated. The region contains at least 83 caves with such Iron Age burials, there are at least 12 rock art sites in local caves of this area.

Tham Lod Cave, Thailand
Tham Lod Cave / Andre Carvalho, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Spirit Cave, Banyan Valley Cave, and Steep Cliff Cave


Important archaeological monuments. Spirit Cave was inhabited 9000 – 5500 BC by people of Hoabinhian culture. Well-preserved evidence of human activity has provided much valuable data, including some data that some decades ago created hot debates about the possible plant domestication in this area earlier than in most other areas of the world.

Tham Hua Kalok (Tham Phi Hua To)


Cave with prehistoric paintings in black and red colors. Drawings show people and weird animals. Stories about ghosts with big skulls living in this cave in earlier times – reportedly here have been found giant skulls. Other caves and cliffs in this region also contain prehistoric paintings.

Architecture wonders

Ayutthaya Old City


The former capital of Siam from 1350 to 1767 when the city was destroyed by the Burmese. Around 1700 AD this city had approximately 1 million inhabitants – it was one of the largest in the world. The site still contains numerous ruins of Buddhist monasteries and temples, including the magnificent royal temple Wat Chaiwatthanaram (1630) with a 35 m high temple spire – prang.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya
Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya / Diricia De Wet, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Wat Rong Khun


One of the most astonishing achievements of modern religious architecture, a lifetime project of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. The construction of this extremely ornate Hindu and Buddhist temple was started in 1997 and all the structure is made in white color.

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat


Buddhist temple, established in 1357. Contains some 700 years old golden statue of Buddha as well as other treasures.

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
Wat Chedi Luang


This Buddhist temple was built over several stages since the 14th century AD. In the mid-15th century, the temple was 82 m high, but in 1545 an earthquake destroyed the upper 30 m of the structure.

Wat Chedi Luang, the stupa
Wat Chedi Luang, the stupa. / Vyacheslav Argenberg, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0
Wat Phra Kaew


The most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, its construction started in 1785. It consists of a group of richly decorated temples, statues, and pagodas. The central temple contains the Emerald Buddha, the palladium (symbolic keeper) of the Kingdom of Thailand. This sculpture is made of a single green jasper piece and clothed in gold.

Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew. / Ninara, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0
Phra Pathom Chedi


At 127 meters in height, it is the highest stupa in the world. The oldest buildings here were erected in the 4th century, with the existing building being completed in 1870.

Phra Pathom Chedi
Phra Pathom Chedi. / Preecha.MJ, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Sukhothai Old City (Muang Gao, Sukothai)


The former capital of the Sukhothai kingdom in 1238 – around 1380. Contains ruins of magnificent early Thai architecture from the 13th – 14th centuries. Important structures are remnants of fortification walls and temples – the royal Wat Mahathat, Wat Si Chum, and Wat Sa Si (Wat Sra Si).

Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai
Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai. / Holger Wirth, Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Wat Benchamabophit


Beautiful Buddhist temple that was built as a royal temple. Construction started in 1899.

Wat Benchamabophit
Wat Benchamabophit / Marco Nürnberger, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Grand Palace of Bangkok


The royal palace of the King of Thailand since the 18th century. Built in 1782 and since then constantly expanded, the total area reaches 94.5 ha. Palace has a magnificent, opulent architecture with a large amount of gold used for adornment.

Pavillion in Grand Palace, Bangkok
Pavillion in Grand Palace, Bangkok / Greg Knapp, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Si Satchanalai


Remnants of an ancient town. Here are located several impressive ancient temples and some 140 other structures. Some of the best are Wat Chang Lom and Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo temples.

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat in Si Satchanalai
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat in Si Satchanalai. / Gary Todd, Flickr / public domain
Phanom Rung temple


Beautiful Khmer temple complex built on the rim of an extinct volcanic complex in the 10th – 13th centuries AD. This Hindu temple is devoted to Shiva and symbolizes the sacred Mount Kailash.

Phanom Rung temple
Phanom Rung temple / Benh LIEU SONG, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Kamphaeng Phet (Kampheng Phet)


Remnants of a formerly important city that was founded in the mid-14th century. The city includes a 6 m high defensive wall with a moat and numerous ornate structures overgrown with forest. Includes impressive temples such as Wat Phra Kaeo and Wat Chang Rob.

Kamphaeng Phet
Kamphaeng Phet / John Shedrick, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Phimai Historical Park (Vimaya, Vimayapura)


Important Khmer temple that marks the north-western end of the ancient highway from Angkor. This beautiful Buddhist temple is placed inside an enclosed, 1,020 x 580 m large area and was built in the 11th – 12th centuries. Now the temple buildings are in ruins.

Phimai Temple
Phimai Temple. / Miguel Discart, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldYellow Recommended books

Early Thailand: From Prehistory to Sukhothai

Dramatic new archaeological discoveries over the past ten years demand a new look at Thailand s past. Drawing on his previous work, Prehistoric Thailand, this book with over 40% new material, covers the history of the kingdom from the first human settlement.

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