THAILAND TRAVEL GUIDE CONTENTS
Thailand Trip Planning
Home to picture-perfect white sandy beaches, intricately built temples, incredible street food, and a strong cultural heritage, Thailand is one of those places that has something for everyone.
Whether you want to come here to explore more of its rich cultural heritage, or simply to bask in one of their many beaches and nightly parties, Thailand has easily become one of our favorite countries in Southeast Asia.
After both traveling and living in Thailand, we’ve put together this epic travel guide, highlighting the best of what you can see and do in Thailand.
Traveling Thailand Quick Information
Currency: Thai Baht
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.
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 Southern Thailand where the locals are used to tourists, majority can speak English.
However, up in the North, and more rural areas, there are chances that you will encounter people who don’t speak English at all. 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.
Safety in Thailand
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.
However, with that being said, I have traveled all over Thailand solo and have found it pretty safe. For solo female travelers, my biggest tip is to buddy up with other travelers, avoid excessive drinking and partying and you should be fine.
Later on this article, we walk you through common scams in Thailand to avoid which you can find in major cities.
Based on our years of experience of traveling all over the world, we would never leave home without travel insurance. We recommend Safety Wing as they have a great coverage as well as monthly plans.
The most common accident in Thailand has to be scooter or moped-related. What most people don’t realize is that even if you have travel insurance, if you don’t have a valid motorcycle license from back home, most policies won’t cover you so make sure you look into this before your trip.
If you’re planning to drive a scooter while in Thailand, I highly recommend you also get an International driver’s license for motorbikes beforehand.
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.
Best Time to Visit Thailand
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 Season (roughly May-Oct), Cool Season (Nov–Feb), Hot Season (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!
A lot of people also ask us how Thailand compares to other Southeast Asian countries. Check out our full comparison guides below
How to Get Around Thailand
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.
Listed below are a few popular ways to travel around Thailand:
Buses in Thailand
A bus is an incredibly cheap way to travel around Thailand. For longer journeys or intercity travel, you can pay a bit more for better services that include sleeper buses air-conditioning.
Prices vary depend on your journey but an example of a budget bus journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai will take 10 hours will cost between 530-620 Thai Baht, a first class ticket for this journey costs 825 THB. A local bus journey costs as little as 8 THB per trip. The Metro and Skytrain in Bangkok cost 16-52 THB per trip.
Boats and Ferries in Thailand
A longtail boat is the best way to travel between island and beaches and for shorter trips they cost between 150- 275 THB per person.
You will find regular ferries in the bigger cities and they cost between 13-32 THB per ride.
Trains in Thailand
Trains are an incredibly scenic way to travel around Thailand, although they can be a bit slow. They are safer than road for traveling and relatively cheap and comfortable.
Day trains cost as little as 30-50 THB with night trains starting at $19 for a second class ticket.
A train from Bangkok to Chang Mai costs between $19 to $24 and takes around 12 hours and from Bangkok to Pattaya will cost between $0.80 to $1.35 and takes 4 hours.
Flying in Thailand
Due to the rise in low-cost airlines, you can fly within Thailand at a reasonable price. Intercity flights tend to be cheaper than flights to the islands.
You can fly from Bangkok to Phuket, Chiang Mai or Krabi for $12 – $22, while a flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui can cost around $57. You can check skyscanner for flights, times and prices.
As far as airports go, Thailand has a few. Here are some of the most visited airports in Thailand:
- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Bangkok Don Mueang Airport
- Phuket International Airport
- Chiang Mai International Airport
- Krabi Airport
Songthaews are very common in many places across Thailand. The converted pickup trucks usually cost between 30-50 Baht per ride.
Metered Taxis typically cost between 60-100 THB. Just take care to only use a metered taxi to save you from being overcharged. We recommend downloading the app GRAB which works just like Uber.
Tuk-tuks are popular amongst tourists but do tend to be more expensive, costing between 100-250 THB. Some advice would be to agree a price before taking off.
Motorbike taxis – recognized with their orange vests, these are available all over Thailand. Shorter trips will cost between 35-80 THB, but again, negotiate the price before the trip. In Bangkok, you can ride motorbike taxis using the Grab app too.
Car rental – as public transport is so cheap and with road accidents being common, I would avoid renting a car unless you’re in the Thai Islands. If this is something you’re interested in, it will cost around $30-35 per day depending on choice of car.
Thailand Travel Rough Budget
When planning a Thailand trip, mapping out your budget is crucial. 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 $35-50 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: $8 (dorm), $15-30 (private)
Food (Typical Meal For One)
Street food: $1.50 – $5
Very nice restaurant: $30++
Songthaew (red jeep): $1
Tuk Tuk: $5 depending on distance
Overnight buses: $16 (regular) $21 (VIP)
Trains: $62 (1st class with your own bed) $12 (3rd class train)
Tours Around Thailand
The best way to discover a country is by going on local tours. Lately, we’ve been using Airbnb Experiences and love the unique tours that they offer. Here are a few recommended experiences all over Thailand.
- Michelin Street Food Tour No words needed. This is a must-do for FOODIES!
- Floating Markets and Maeklong Railway- This tour takes you to the two most popular spots in Bangkok in an easy, no-fuss tour!
- Hidden Bangkok Food Tuk-Tuk Tour– If you want to discover the best street eats in BKK, we recommend doing this Airbnb experience with a local.
What to Pack for Thailand
Despite having different seasons, traveling around Thailand is generally warm, with the exception of a few cooler months when in the North. 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.
For tips on clothing, check out our complete guide on what to pack for Thailand.
Best Places to Visit in Thailand
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.
If you want to learn more about this fascinating country, check out our list of fun facts about Thailand.
Here are the top places to visit in Thailand as well as some information on the best things to do while you’re there.
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. Another must-do experience while in the city is a visit to one of the many Bangkok night markets.
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.
Bangkok Art And Culture Centre
You will find the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre among the famous shopping malls in the heart of the city. You can view its displays of Thai Art, watch live music or meet up with friends and have a coffee.
Visit the Unicorn Cafe
You will find a number of cute cafes in Bangkok which includes a mermaid cafe and a Hello Kitty Cafe. If you are a fan of rainbows and unicorns, then you will love the unicorn cafe.
They offer sweet and colorful treats, rainbow spaghetti and other foods. You can even pose in a unicorn costume for a photo, definitely a unique experience!
Exploring the Area
If it’s your first time in Bangkok, it can be a tad bit overwhelming. I recommend you “ease” into the city by going on a tour which will save you having to travel all around the city.
Here are a few of our recommendations: Damnoen Floating Market and Train Tour, Ayuthaya Day Tour and lastly, there’s nothing like dinner on the 82nd floor of the Baiyoke building so you can take in the incredible view.
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 North and indulge in a few days trekking, whitewater rafting, exploring remote hill-tribe villages, or simply enjoying the cool fresh air in the mountains.
While up in the North, 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:
2. Chiang Mai
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.
Tha Pae Gate (Old City Gate)
The Pae Gate is the most popular landmark in Chiang Mai. Surrounded by a moat, a brick wall surrounds the old city that is filled with an incredible concentration of temples. Feel free to wander into a temple or explore the night markets and restaurants and eat some delicious, traditional Thai food.
There are hundreds of waterfalls near Chiang Mai, but this one is provides a unique day trip. Usually I would not recommend running up a waterfall, but the limestone rocks have formed the sticky waterfalls which allows you bounce up the cascading waterfall.
You should consider making a night to your trip to the sticky waterfall by staying at Mae Ngat Dam and stay in a floating house. This is one of the hidden gems in Northern Thailand where you can relax with this authentic stay.
3. Chiang Rai
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 in Chiang Rai.
While there isn’t a ton to do here, we recommend heading to Chiang Rai for at least a night or two, preferably when you’re doing the Mae Hong Son Loop.
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!
Go Island Hopping in the Thai Islands
Once you’ve explored Northern Thailand, it’s time to head South for some island hopping. In this section, I will give a brief overview then will share my top recommendations on the best things to do in each place below.
Southern Thailand is home to many beautiful beaches and islands. Between the many islands to choose from, you are spoilt for choice. 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.
Well known tourist destinations in Southern Thailand include Koh Samui, Koh Lipe and Koh Tao.
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. Further down below, we highlight some of the best things to do in each location.
Phuket is an absolutely stunning island in the southern part of Thailand that is incredibly popular among tourists.
It’s renowned for its glistening waters, sandy beaches, and verdant tropical forests, which make it the ultimate tropical paradise destination. Whether you’re keen on exploring the local culture and cuisine or diving and snorkeling in the turquoise Andaman Sea, there’s always something for everyone on this island.
The nightlife is lit, the markets are buzzing, and the locals are always super friendly. For those seeking a tropical retreat that combines relaxation and adventure, Phuket should definitely be on the travel itinerary although be warned, it is very touristy!
You will find playful monkeys across Thailand with Toh Sae Hill housing 400 macaques. This is a fantastic place to watch the sunset, just keep an eye on your belongings as monkeys are very curious creatures!
Party on a boat
If you love to party at beach clubs, you will love this concept. You will spend this day trip on a stylish Catamaran, enjoy traditional Thai food and an extensive bar. You can soak up the atmosphere from your sun lounger and listen to the DJ. Island hopping while on Phuket is a must-do!
6. Koh Tao
Koh Tao is a small island located in the Gulf of Thailand that is renowned for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and amazing marine life. This place is a hotspot for underwater activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as for paddleboarding and kayaking.
In addition to its aquatic offerings, Koh Tao also boasts numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, and breathtaking viewpoints, offering endless opportunities for adventure and discovery. Despite its popularity, the island has a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. With its charming locals, breathtaking scenery, and endless array of activities, Koh Tao is undoubtedly a must-see destination for anyone visiting Thailand.
Scuba Diving in Koh Tao
If you ever want to try scuba diving, Koh Tao is one of the most popular places to get certified. Not only are the diving conditions spectacular but the courses are incredibly affordable.
People from all over the world go scuba diving in Koh Tao to see its stunning corals and fish. Click to read our article for a full breakdown of what to expect.
Koh Tao Underwater World Festival
If you travel during low season (May-June), you can still catch a festival at Koh Tao – the Underwater World Festival. Taking place mid-June, this festival is dedicated to protecting the environment and marine life.
The beaches and sea floors are cleaned up and workshops are held on information on environmental protection.
7. Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is a stunning island situated in the southernmost part of Thailand, close to the Malaysian border. It’s a well-known destination for its unspoiled beaches, turquoise waters, and colorful coral reefs, making it the perfect tropical hideaway.
With a relaxed atmosphere, Koh Lipe offers the chance to unwind and recharge while still offering a range of adventures and activities.
Visit A Buddhist Temple (Wat Hantalay)
You can’t go far in Thailand without finding a temple to visit, and Koh Lipe is no exception. You can find Wat Hantalay, a Buddhist Temple hidden in the middle of a jungle between Sunset beach and Sunrise Beach and it’s a worth a visit if you are on a walking trip. You can visit the few monks that live there together with the many dogs and cats that they care for.
Take A Yoga class
If you are in a need of downtime and relaxation, then unwind with a yoga class while you’re in your Thailand trip. Castaway Resort offers yoga classes on Sunrise Beach at 7am, 9am and 4:30pm. The classes last an hour, and is a slow paced but varied class that has something to offer all levels of ability. Pre-booking is recommended, especially during high season.
Kerita’s also offers a multiple of yoga class options to cater for all levels and take place both indoors and outdoors. The classes are 400 baht each or there are some deals for multiple class bookings, pre-booking is also recommended for Kerita.
8. Koh Samui
Koh Samui is a tropical island situated in the Gulf of Thailand and is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
It’s renowned for its pristine beaches, clear waters, and lush greenery, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse themselves in nature. With an abundance of activities and attractions, from exploring the local culture and cuisine to relaxing at luxurious spas, Koh Samui is the ultimate tropical paradise.
The island also offers plenty of opportunities for adventure, from hiking and water sports to exploring hidden waterfalls and temples. The island itself is HUGE so it is no surprise that there are tons of things to do.
Hike to a Hilltop Temple (Khao Hua Jook Chedi)
If you fancy some exercise and some beautiful panoramic views, then a visit to Khao Hua Jook Chedi is a recommended hike while in Koh Samui. There is no public transport that runs directly here so you will have to drive or take a taxi.
Don’t forget your camera as the viewing platform provides a gorgeous view of Chaweng Lake. You will also see a selection of artworks and statues in the temple complex along with a shimmering gold pagoda.
Visit The (not so) Secret Buddha Garden
Despite its name, the Secret Buddha garden has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Koh Samui.
It started in 1976 when a local farmer, Nim Thongsuk began by setting up statues around his land. These days the statues of Buddhas and other deities, along with the animals provides a lush jungle garden for a peaceful and interesting stroll.
Some organised tours stop at the Secret Buddha Garden but you can also drive there yourself.
Watch a Muay Thai Boxing Match
Head to the oldest stadium Koh Samui, Chaweng Boxing Stadium to watch the local athletes engage in combat. The stadium runs a wonderful initiative where they help train youths from the street so they have somewhere safe and secure to go and also get exercise!
Fights are every Tuesday and Friday evening and tickets cost between 1,500 and 2,000 Baht. If you’re looking for a fun activity to do while in Koh Samui, this comes highly recommended.
9. Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is a stunning island located in the Gulf of Thailand, known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and relaxed atmosphere.
It’s a popular destination for backpackers, party-goers, and anyone looking to unwind in a tropical paradise. In addition to its lively party scene, Koh Phangan also offers visitors a range of activities, including snorkeling, hiking, and yoga.
I always say that Koh Phangan has two sides, the full moon party goers as well as those who are into health and wellness.
The island is also home to numerous temples and traditional villages, providing visitors with a glimpse into the local culture and way of life.
Visit the Moonlight Cinema
If you are recovering from the full moon party and are looking for something a bit more relaxing, the Moonlight Cinema is the experience for you.
You can put your feet up with a refreshing and healthy drink while watching a classic or recent movie! Head on over to their Facebook page for further information Moonlight Cinema.
Take Muay Thai Lessons
Do you fancy a more physical challenge while learning more about the Thai culture? Muay Thai is a national sport in Thailand, a martial art that has been developed from self-defense.
Koh Phangan is becoming an increasingly popular destination to practice this sport with its airy outdoor gyms and professional teachers.
Krabi is a beautiful province located in southern Thailand, known for its stunning beaches, towering limestone cliffs, and crystal-clear waters.
This region is a popular destination for adventure-seekers and nature enthusiasts, offering plenty of opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, and island hopping
Tiger Cave Temple
Unlike the Tiger Temple in Bangkok, the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi does not have any tigers and is definitely worth a visit.
It has a fantastic 360 degree views across Krabi from the top of the temple (but beware there are 1237 steep steps so make sure to take plenty of water!). Most organized trips also go to the Emerald Pool & Hot Springs, both are set in lush green surroundings and are well worth the visit.
Hike the Monkey Trail in Ao Nang
If you head right to the south end of Ao Nang beach, you will see a wooden bridge that will take you along a trail into the mountain.
The trail is frequented by monkeys which you can observe as close as a couple of meters away! The trail also leads to Pai Phlong Beach which is quieter and away from the crowds. Apart from hiking, Krabi is another island that is extremely popular for rock climbing!
Things to Do in Thailand
Explore the Underwater World
If you’re visiting Thailand and want to spend time underwater, consider going diving. 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.
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 see some awesome national parks, hot springs, natural attractions, and unusual temples.
Go Hiking and Camping in the National Parks
When we used to live in Chiang Mai, we used to head up to Doi Inthanon National Park or Doi Pui all the time to go camping. Similarly, places like Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park and Khao Yai National Park are also excellent places to visit, given its close proximity to Bangkok.
If you’re in Southern Thailand, , Khao Sok National Park also comes highly recommended.
Take a Cooking Class in Thailand
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 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 Chiang Mai 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.
If you’re looking for specific recommendations, this and want to learn how to cook Thai food, this cooking class in Bangkok is highly rated!
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!)
Thailand Travel Tips: What to Avoid in Thailand
Thailand is a country full of beautiful scenery and exciting experiences and is extremely popular with tourists from across the globe. However, with that being said, tourism can cause its own issues and there are a few things that you should be aware of and things you need to outright avoid!
Below is some information that will protect yourself as well as the people and communities of Thailand.
Animal Tourism in Thailand
You need to avoid Tiger Temple near Bangkok at all costs. They were exposed for speed breeding tigers to provide to the black market.
The other organization in Thailand to offer a tiger experience is Tiger Kingdom near Chiang Mai who supplies adult tigers to zoos across the world. The tigers in these places are often mistreated and drugged up so they can be docile enough for human interaction.
In case you need reminding, humans are NOT meant to take selfies with tigers.
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.
The best advice we can give is to do your research on visiting animals held in captivity so you can make your own opinion before engaging in any activity with wild animals.
When engaging in any form of animals in Thailand, research is absolute key to ensuring the practices are ethical and the animals are not being mistreated in any way.
Riding an elephant can be on the top of many tourists to do lists but this is a big no no. It has led to elephants being overworked and abused. Traditionally elephants were used across Asia for hard labour and to clear lands and forests, but they make more money from tourism.
If you are keen to visit elephants while you’re in Thailand, Elephant Nature Park is a responsible option for elephant interaction. We visited elephant nature park and were impressed by what we saw. Click here to read more about our experience.
Human Tourism & Child Trafficking
Despite the ping pong shows being popular across Thailand for decades, they are also controversial with the industry being plagued with human and sex trafficking. This issue has become exasperated due to its demand from tourism.
The ping pong shows are also known for scamming tourists, either through false advertising or entry fees being really cheap but drinks being really expensive at the show. Best to avoid all round!
Child trafficking is also an issue in Thailand and is something that we see, especially when visiting big cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. If you would like to look into this more and how you can help, we recommend checking out Urban Light Thailand, a non-profit organization who is on the ground trying to help victims of sex trafficking.
If you are interested to volunteer, like many other tourists, that’s great and you can do a lot of good work to help the community and environment, just make sure to do your research before applying to any schemes as not all volunteering programs do good.
Unless you are prepared to spend many months volunteering, avoid doing so with children. A number of studies have shown that short stints in schools or orphanages can have a harmful effect on the children.
It is best to decide on the time you have and skills you can offer before deciding what volunteering you should partake in.
Common Scams in Thailand
As well as social issues that need to be considered, there are unfortunately scams you should look out for. Please remember that many people across Thailand are paid very little and more often than not are just trying to make a living, even if this is by dishonest means.
This is why it is best to read up on these common scams to avoid putting yourself in these situations.
The Shop Stop Tuk Tuk Scam:
Whenever you travel by tuktuk, make sure to clearly state “no stops” so you get to your destination directly. If the driver doesn’t understand, then go to the next driver.
Some drivers are offered commission from shop owners to get new customers, and the driver might take you on a detour to the shop where if you refuse to buy anything you may end up paying more for the trip.
Temple Scams in Thailand
Always check the opening times of temples online or with your hotel. If someone in the street tells you the temple is closed, they may be trying to offer you an alternative trip for a cheap price.
There may be people at the temples who try to sell you items of clothing as (according to them) you aren’t dressed appropriately for the temple.
Always check within the temple if you can rent or borrow clothes if needed before handing over any money. Another handy tip would be to carry a pashmina with you.
Taxi Meter Scam
Always use a metered taxi, and always check the meter is on so you don’t get overcharged. If the meter isn’t on or the driver refuses to turn it on, move on to the next driver.
We’ve seen and heard of so many stories where tourists get overcharged by the taxi. Same goes for tuk-tuks. Always agree on a price first before getting on!
The Best Thai Food: 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 in Thailand
If you’re a massive foodie like us, we recommend you go on a food tour (at least once during your trip!) The local insight of the guides are amazing, giving you a better understanding of the cuisine. Listed below are a few of our recommended food tours (located all over the country!)
- 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!
- Must-Try Bangkok Bike and Food Tour- If you want to see a different side of Bangkok from the eyes of a local, this tour is highly recommended and is one of the top rated tours in Bangkok.
- Floating Markets Foodie Tour- After being featured in “Somebody Feed Phil”, this floating market tour has gained popularity and rightly so as it is one of the best things to do in Bangkok.
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.
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 AreasLast 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!