THAILAND TRAVEL GUIDE CONTENTS
At a Glance
Thailand Quick Information
Electricity Socket: 220V AC electricity. Power outlets are usually two-prong round or flat sockets. Be sure to pack a universal travel adaptor so you can still use all your electronic gadgets.
Thailand Visa: Generally speaking, people from the US, UK, and EU passports are given a free 30-day visa when you enter Thailand by air and 15 days if you enter overland. This visa is easily extendable if you want to stay in the country for longer. ASEAN passport holders get a free 30-day visa upon entry (but some aren’t valid for extension).
If you want to stay in Thailand for longer, you can look at applying for a tourist visa in any Thai embassy beforehand (this gives you 60 days). Please note that more and more countries in Southeast Asia are requiring you to show proof of onward flights before allowing you to enter the country so make sure you make the necessary booking arrangements. When we travel, we usually splurge and get Priority Pass which gives us access to lounges which is fantastic, especially on long haul flights! Click the link above to get 10% off.
Safety: Generally speaking, Thailand is a safe place to go. Yes, there are a few scams here and there but as long as you take the time to read about them beforehand, you’re good. The Thai islands have been gaining notoriety for accidents induced by alcohol so just be a little bit cautious. Based on our years of experience of traveling all over the world, we would never leave home without travel insurance. We recommend going with World Nomads as they have the best adventure travel coverage, covering activities like snorkeling, hiking, etc. For those who are only traveling month on month, Safety Wing can also be a good alternative as they offer renewable monthly insurance plans.
Language: In the Thai Islands, English is a lot more common as a lot of people are in the tourism industry. Most people, especially those who work in tour activities and hotels will be able to help you out. In Northern Thailand and more rural areas, there are chances that you will encounter people who don’t speak English. However, don’t fret. Smiles and a fun game of charades is a great way to get to know the locals. To help you out, here are a few basic Thai phrases and words that are useful for traveling.
Festivals and Celebrations: While we usually prefer to travel around countries during the shoulder seasons, we tend to also plan our trips around certain celebrations and festivals that we want to experience. In Thailand, Loi Krathong and Songkran are two festivals in Thailand that we highly recommend people to experience at least once. Imagine looking up at the sky as thousands of paper lanterns are set free in the sky and trust me when I say that seeing it in person is truly a magical experience.
Transportation: The transport from one place to the next is fairly easy in Thailand and is quite efficient. We recommend Bookaway or 12Go website to view bus, boat, and train schedules ahead of time. Using these websites saves you tons of time lining up in the transport stations or travel agencies. Although we usually book our transport a few days before, if you’re traveling during peak or holiday season, we recommend booking things in advance.
Thailand Trip Planning
While you can visit Thailand all year round, avoiding the monsoon season might be smart if much of your holiday plans involve basking in exotic islands. The best time to go to Thailand is from December to March (All of Thailand).
In a nutshell, the weather in Thailand can be broken down into three parts: Rainy (roughly May-Oct), Cool (Nov–Feb), Hot(March-May). If you’re planning on visiting Northern Thailand, it is best to avoid March-April which is when farmers burn their crops. This is known as burning season and the air becomes really unpleasant! The Thai islands during this time is a good option though!
As in every country, you can travel around for as cheap or as expensive as you want. Based on our experience, you can travel to Thailand for as low as $30-35 a day with accommodations and activities usually being your largest expense. Obviously, you can do this much cheaper if you really are in a budget. Food is relatively cheap, especially if you stick to local street food (with one plate of Pad Thai costing you as low as $1) Here is a rough cost for basic commodities:
Budget: $6 (dorm), $10-15 (private)
Food (Typical Meal For One)
Street food: $1-3
Very nice restaurant: $15++
Songthaew (red jeep): $0.60
Tuk Tuk: $1-5 depending on distance
Overnight buses: $15 (regular) $20 (VIP)
Trains: $35 (1st class with your own bed) $12 (3rd class train)
What to Pack for Traveling Thailand
Despite having different seasons, traveling around Thailand is generally warm, with the exception of a few cooler months when in Northern Thailand. With that in mind, make sure you bring lots of cool quick dry clothing and well as a scarf or two for visiting temples and other religious sites.
The most important thing for us when traveling is taking a good bag. We can’t live without our Nomatic travel bag which is the best day pack ever!) It has a ton of useful compartments and has been our sidekick for a few years now.
For tips on clothing, check out our complete guide on what to pack for Thailand.
If you want free a copy of our digital packing checklist to help you plan your trip, just let us know where to send it below!
Word of Caution
Animal Tourism in Thailand is pretty rampant with lots of tours promoting elephant trekking. If there is one thing we are passionate about, it is about spreading the word about the rampant animal abuse that happens in these establishments. A lot of tourists flock to the Tiger temple in Chiang Mai just to get a selfie with a tiger.
The tigers in these places are often mistreated and drugged up so they can be docile enough for human interaction. Same goes for elephant “sanctuaries” Bottom line is, do your research if you really must see them and only go to reputable ones (we recommend Elephant Nature Park), or better yet-just avoid any activity which involves animals.
Thailand Travel: Best Things to Do
As mentioned, Thailand is a country that has a little bit of everything for everyone. Despite being frequented by millions and millions of tourists every day, there is still a large portion of Thailand that remains largely unexplored. Here are a few of the best places things to do in Thailand.
Get Lost in the Chaos of Bangkok
This busy metropolitan city is the heart of Thailand and is one of the most chaotic, energetic, and vibrant cities in Southeast Asia. While some people head straight to the islands, spending a few days in Bangkok is a great way to ease yourself into this exotic country. In Bangkok, there are temples, shopping areas, and pretty much everything that you can imagine under the sun.
A few of the most popular things to do in Bangkok is to visit the famous Wat Pho Temple and the Grand Palace. Shop in the widely diverse Chatuchak weekend market or many malls and eat some delicious street food available all over the city. If you’re looking for something more tailored, check out our article on cheap things to do in Bangkok which suggest an activity for every day of the week.
Take a Cooking Class
The food in Thailand is some of the best in the world which is why taking a cooking class is one of the best things you can do while in the country. When living in Thailand, we’ve done over 5 cooking classes and have enjoyed every experience! When looking for where to go, I suggest looking at Cookly which has loads of listings for cooking classes in Thailand which you can filter by location. It’s like the Airbnb for cooking classes which we love.
To be perfectly honest, we have done cooking classes while in the Thai Island and a few in Northern Thailand and each one was a unique experience which is why we keep coming back! Most of the cooking classes also have market tours which is also a cool experience.
Explore Northern Thailand
After you’re done exploring Bangkok, You can opt to venture towards the cities in Northern Thailand. Make the most out of the mountains in Northern Thailand and indulge in a few days trekking, whitewater rafting, exploring remote hill-tribe villages, or simply enjoying the cool fresh air in the mountains. In northern Thailand, you can also opt to do the Mae Hong Son Loop which is one of our favorite activities in Thailand. Apart from trekking, white water rafting down the rivers in Chiang Mai is also highly recommended.
From the exploring the unique White Temple in Chiang Rai to spending a couple of days relaxing in the sleepy hippy town called Pai, here are a few of our favorite things to do in Northern Thailand:
This city is our home away from home and is where we usually stay for at least a month each year. Known as a cultural hub in Northern Thailand, there are tons of things to do in Chiang Mai. We keep coming back here because of the food, the great quality of living, and the accessibility to beautiful hikes and nature. Chiang Mai is known to be a digital nomad hub which is why it has tons of expat, making it easy to form a community.
If you want to venture a bit further north, you can check out our article on things to do in Chiang Rai which is frequently visited for the famous white temple. Apart from this though, there are loads of great night markets and parks to check out.
Last but not least, we would like to introduce you to probably our favorite place in Northern Thailand, Pai. This sleepy hippy mountainous village is the perfect getaway when you want to surround yourself with nature. We created a complete guide to this magical place featuring all the best things to do in Pai including tips on where to stay and where to eat!
Explore the Underwater World
Known to have a very diverse and rich underwater marine life, Thailand is one of the best (and cheapest places) to learn how to scuba dive. Get PADI certified as you go diving in Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, or the many other islands. Whatever you do, if you are an underwater enthusiast, experience some of the best scuba diving in Thailand from doing day trips or from doing longer liveaboard dives in the Similan Islands. If you’re a diving enthusiast, going on a liveaboard boat in Thailand is an experience you will never forget!
Explore the Off-The-Beaten-Path Places in Thailand
Being an incredibly diverse country, people flock to Thailand for a variety of reasons. Apart from visiting the usual places like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the Thai islands, make sure you check out our list of unusual places to visit in Thailand so you can chance upon seeing some awesome national parks, natural attractions, and unusual temples.
Go Hiking and Camping in the National Parks
One of our favorite things to do in Thailand is to go trekking up mountains like Doi Mon Jong or Phu Chi Fa or even explore a few of their many National Parks. When we used to live in Chiang Mai, we used to head up to Doi Inthanon or Doi Pui all the time to go camping. Similarly, places like Khao Sam Roi Yot are also excellent places to visit, given its close proximity to Bangkok.
Get a Sak Yant Tattoo
If you’re looking for a culturally immersive experience, consider getting a traditional bamboo tattoo administered by a monk. Getting a traditional tattoo while in Thailand goes beyond coming home with a “souvenir” as the whole experience is actually very personal and sacred. If this is something you’re interested in doing, you can take a look at these Sak Yant tattoo experiences available all over Thailand.
Explore the Similan Islands
If you want to explore beautiful untouched islands (both above and below waters), check out the Similan Islands. This place is a popular diving destination and is frequented by people for snorkeling day trips. Avid divers often visit the area via popular Similan Island Liveaboard trips.
If this is something you’re interested in doing, check out our complete liveaboard comparison guide to help you find the best liveaboard experience (that meets your budget!)
Go Island Hopping in the Thai Islands
Between the many islands to choose from, there is no shortage of beautiful beaches and underwater life in Thailand. Whether you want to party it up in the full moon party in Koh Phangan, visit Ang Thong Marine Park, or simply explore some of the best beaches in Thailand, a trip to the islands is a must. While visiting Phi Phi, Phuket, and the rest of the popular places are considered as musts, if you want uncrowded beaches which aren’t too touristy, Thailand has heaps of other islands that are worth visiting.
Here’s a list of all our things to do in the Thai Islands, broken down by location:
Tours Around Thailand
If traveling by yourself isn’t your jam, check out the variety of tours that they have and the details and dates of each trip. We suggest using the filters in the sidebar to help you find a tour that fits your travel dates and travel style.
What to Eat in Thailand
Thailand is home to some of the most amazing food (in the world) and is a big favorite of mine in Southeast Asia. This country features a cuisine full of fresh ingredients and bold flavors. If you’re only in Thailand for a short amount of time, here are a few dishes that you need to try:
Pad Thai: Readily available in almost every street food cart, this dish is something you can never go wrong with. Thick noodles topped with a variety of shrimp or chicken, bean sprouts, egg, and tofu, stir-fried together in goodness.
Pad Krapow Moo: A stir-fry made from minced pork or chicken dish cooked with lots of basil, garlic, and chilies served on top of a piping bowl of white rice and served with a fried egg.
Som Tum: Shredded papaya mixed with green beans, garlic and chilies marinated in a vinaigrette type of sauce topped with peanuts. Usually eaten as a side salad with grilled dishes.
Mango Sticky Rice: Coconut rice paired with a ripe sweet mango topped with a sweet coconut syrup that is to die for!
For more information on what to eat in Thailand, you can check out our Thailand street food guide as well as the full article on the best dishes in Thailand that you can’t miss out on during your trip.
Recommended Food Tours
- Chiang Mai Food Adventure by Bike– If you’re looking to burn off those calories…while getting an insider’s take on the best meals in Chiang Mai, definitely check out this food bike tour which takes you to some of Chiang Mai’s best food spots!
- Bangkok’s China Town Food Tour- If you love street food, this food tour is for you! The local guide will take you on some of the best food stalls all over China Town, giving you an overview of the incredible variety of food available!
Places to Stay in Thailand
The accommodations in Thailand vary greatly. From camping in their national parks, staying in a lush beach bungalow, or in a fancy luxurious villa, there is definitely no shortage of places to stay in Thailand. To help you out in figuring out the best places to stay in Thailand, here are our personal suggestions on the best hotels and hostels in Thailand.
Complete Thailand Guide
After traveling and living in Thailand, we created this complete Thailand guide to help people discover the best of what to do in this incredible country based on our personal recommendations. Featuring the best beaches to go to, the best treks to do, as well as sample itineraries, our Thailand guidebooks are the best way to make the most out of your trip to Thailand.
Books to Read About Thailand
Apart from our complete travel guide above, here are other reading material that we recommend checking out before your trip.
The Beach Inspired by the beaches in Thailand, Alex Garland created The Beach which has since become a staple in every traveler’s reading repertoire. If you haven’t read it, it’s a great read and is worth picking up!
Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand If you’re looking for an insight into the foodie culture around Thailand, this book gives an awesome perspective to it.
Thailand Escape: My Colorful Trip Through Exotic Lands This fun adult coloring book is perfect for those long busses and trains around Thailand. Highly recommended to pass time!
Thailand’s Best Street Food: The Complete Guide to Streetside Dining in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Other Areas Last but not least, this epic guide to where you can find the best street food in Thailand is super handy for those that are big foodies!