Thailand is one of my all-time favourite travel destinations and a place I keep returning to again and again.
There’s so much to love about ‘the Land of Smiles’ from glittering golden temples and buzzing night markets, to stunning tropical islands.
Add in the welcoming people, ease of travel, affordable prices and delicious food and it’s no wonder that Thailand is on most people’s bucket lists – it’s the perfect introduction to Southeast Asia.
My Thailand Travel Guide
I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over this amazing country and have lived in Koh Phangan, Chiang Mai and Phuket, so I know my way around and want to help you fall in love with Thailand like I have.
My Thailand Travel Guide is a great place to start if you’re planning a trip to Thailand. I’ll cover everything you need to know about visiting Thailand, from where to go, what to do, how to get around and many more travel tips to help you make the most of your time.
Why I Love Thailand
This tropical paradise really has everything you could want in an easy package, from natural beauty to culture, history and food – it’s the best place to visit in Asia.
Here’s some of the reasons I love Thailand and why I think it deserves a place on everyone’s bucket list:
- Stunning Tropical Landscapes: From lush rainforests home to waterfalls and elephants, to tropical islands surrounded by turquoise waters filled with colourful marine life, Thailand has no end of natural beauty to explore.
- Rich Culture and History: Thailand has an interesting and unique cultural heritage with ancient Buddhist temples, colorful festivals, and uniquely Thai traditions.
- Delicious Food: Thai cuisine is renowned worldwide for its bold flavors, fresh ingredients and lively, affordable street food scene.
- Affordable Prices: Thailand offers amazing value for money with plenty of options for good quality yet budget-friendly accommodation, meals, and activities.
- Warm Hospitality: Known as the “Land of Smiles,” Thai people are friendly and welcoming and have a laid-back attitude.
- Easy of Travel: Thailand is a well developed tourist destination which makes traveling comfortable, easy and convenient.
Another thing I love about Thailand is that is really does have something for everyone. Whether you’re a backpacker on a budget looking for adventure, a family wanting a fun and affordable vacation, or a couple seeking a relaxing and luxurious escape, Thailand is always a great choice.
How to Get to Thailand
Let’s start off this Thailand guide with the basics. Getting to Thailand is easy with direct flights available from many major cities around the world.
Most travelers start their Thailand trip by flying into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK.) This is Thailand’s main international airport but Phuket, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Koh Samui also have international airports.
The Thai capital has two airports – Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is the main long-haul international airport while Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) is the hub for low-cost carriers offering flights within Thailand and other cities in Asia. There is a free shuttle between the two but allow plenty of time to connect.
Direct flights from the UK and Europe take around 12 hours, while flights from the US and Canada can take anywhere between 17 to 24 hours with one stop.
Connecting flights through nearby Singapore or Kuala Lumpur are a popular option that can save you money. If you are already traveling around Southeast Asia you can also take a train or bus from neighboring countries like Malaysia, Laos or Cambodia.
If you’re looking for the best deals on flights, use flight search engines such as Skyscanner and WayAway to compare prices, airlines and routes to find the best option. Being flexible with dates and travel times can also help you save money.
Once in Thailand, it’s easy and affordable to travel around the country by plane, train, bus, boat and taxi. You can book your transport online at 12 Go Asia.
Entry Requirements for Thailand
Entering Thailand is pretty easy and stress-free, but before embarking on your Thailand adventure it’s important to be aware of the entry essentials such as visa and vaccination requirements.
For travelers of most nationalities, a tourist visa is not required for stays of up to 30 days in Thailand. This is called a visa exemption and it can be extended by a further 30 days at an immigration office in Thailand (for a fee) if you wish to stay longer.
If you plan on staying longer than 60 days, or are participating in any paid work or business activities, you will need to apply for a visa beforehand. The type of visa required will depend on your specific circumstances and nationality so it’s best to check with the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country for more information.
Vaccinations and Customs
At the time of writing proof of Covid-19 vaccination or quarantine is no longer required but always double-check the most up to date information before travel.
If you are traveling from a country with a high risk of yellow fever, a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required.
Consult with your healthcare provider for any additional recommended vaccinations before your trip.
It’s important to note that strict customs regulations apply when entering Thailand. Some items such as vapes or e-cigarettes, drugs, weapons, and pornography are prohibited.
It’s important to note that entry requirements can change so keep up to date with the latest news and current requirements at the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Traveling Around Thailand
Traveling around Thailand is easy and affordable with plenty of reliable options. Most can be booked online on 12 Go Asia and you should also consider downloading the Grab App for taxis and food delivery.
Thailand has an extensive domestic flight network, making it quick and easy to travel between major cities and popular tourist destinations. The main airlines are Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, and Air Asia for budget flights.
A comfortable way to travel longer distances in Thailand is by train. The country has a good railway network that connects major cities.
Train travel is affordable, eco-friendly and comfortable, with options for both overnight and day trips.
The overnight train between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is very popular so make sure to book your tickets well in advance on 12 Go Asia to secure your berth. To get to the islands travel south to Chumphon station.
Train travel in Thailand offers a relaxing and interesting way to see the country and meet local people but note that trains can sometimes be slower than buses.
Thailand also has an extensive, modern bus network that connects all major cities and even smaller rural areas. You can choose between air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses, with prices varying accordingly.
Buses are a great way to travel long distances on a budget and can sometimes be faster than trains. Overnight buses are a popular option.
Boats and Ferries
Thailand has many beautiful islands that can only be reached by boat. There are plenty of options, from public ferries to speedboats or traditional long-tail boats. If you’re prone to seasickness, opt for a slower ferry ride instead of a speedboat.
Taxis, Tuk-Tuks, and Songthaews (shared taxis)
These are the most common forms of transportation in cities and towns. Songthaews are like shared taxis that you can flag down. To avoid haggling with taxi drivers the most convenient way to order a taxi is by using an app like Grab.
Tuk-tuks are iconic three-wheeled taxis that are a must-try experience in Thailand. They may not be the most practical mode of transportation for long distances and drivers may try to overcharge tourists, but they’re a fun and iconic way to get around the city.
Motorbikes and Scooters
If you’re feeling adventurous, renting a motorbike or scooter is a popular way to get around in Thailand. Make sure to get a international driving permit, wear a helmet, follow local traffic rules.
Tours of Thailand
Whilst it’s safe and easy to travel around Thailand independently, if you prefer to have everything planned for you there are plenty of great tours to consider.
Taking a multi-day tour is a great way to see more of the country in a shorter amount of time without having to organize transportation, accommodation, and activities. Plus, having a knowledgeable local guide who can give you insider tips and information about each destination can add a whole new dimension to your trip.
If you’re a solo traveler joining a group tour is a great way to meet fellow travelers and make new friends. Private tours are also a popular option and can usually be customized to fit your specific interests and requirements.
A great place to find and compare multi-day tours of Thailand is on Tour Radar whereas day tours can be booked through Viator and Get Your Guide. These websites also allow you to read reviews of the tours before booking so you know just what to expect.
Some recommended multi-day tours of Thailand include:
- 14 Day Thailand Island Hopper Tour: This fun small group tour takes you from Bangkok to Phuket visiting the highlights of the both the east and west coast along the way including Khao Sok National Park, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Krabi and Koh Phi Phi. It’s ideal for young solo travellers looking for a fun, action packed trip with like minded people.
- 14 Day Northern Thailand Adventure: Explore the highlights and hidden gems of northern Thailand with a small group. Traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, visiting Kanchanaburi, Erawan National Park, Ayutthaya and Pai and soaking up all the nature, culture and adventure along the way.
- 9 Day Thai Intro: Heading to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party? This 9 day Thai Intro Tour is a popular way to get there while seeing some of Thailand’s highlights and making new friends along the way. Start with exploring Bangkok, be immersed in nature at Khao Sok National Park and end partying on the beaches of Koh Phangan.
This is just a small selection, there are many more group and private tours so you’re sure to find a tour that’s perfect for you.
Best Time to Visit Thailand
Thailand has a tropical climate and is warm all year round. The country does have three distinct seasons – cool, hot and rainy.
Cool Season: If you’re looking for sunshine, clear blue skies and lower humidity, the best time to visit Thailand is from November to February during the dry and cool season.
The weather during this time is perfect for exploring the cities, temples, jungles and beaches with temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F).
This is peak season in Thailand and also the busiest time, so be prepared for crowds and book your accommodation, transport, and activities in advance.
Hot Season: From March to June the temperatures soar reaching up to 40°C (104°F). It’s a bit uncomfortably hot to enjoy exploring the cities or national parks but it’s a great time for a beach vacation when you can enjoy cheaper deals and less crowded beaches.
During this season, you can also experience some of Thailand’s famous festivals such as Songkran (Thai New Year) and the Phi Ta Khon ghost festival.
Rainy Season: The rainy season starts from July to October, with September being the wettest month. The rain brings some relief from the heat and creates lush green landscapes.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t rain constantly all day every day though. It usually rains in short, heavy, bursts and the rest of the day is sunny. You can still enjoy outdoor activities during this time but be prepared with a light raincoat or umbrella and be aware that the seas may be rougher and not so safe for swimming.
If you are looking for a beach vacation during July and August head to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand like Koh Samui which have drier weather than Phuket.
One advantage of visiting during this season is that everything is much greener and lusher, making for beautiful landscapes and waterfalls. It’s also a great time to visit the northern part of Thailand, where the rain tends to be less frequent. Read more here about traveling Southeast Asia in the rainy season.
Holidays and Festivals
Thailand has many vibrant and colorful festivals, celebrating everything from religion to culture, that are worth planning your trip around.
Songkran, the Thai New Year celebration, is one of the most popular Thai festivals. It takes place in mid-April and involves massive water fights as a symbol of cleansing and starting anew.
Loy Krathong is a magical festival that celebrates the end of the rainy season in November. Thai’s float small baskets made of banana leaves with candles and flowers on rivers and release lanterns into the sky to let go of any negative energy from the past year.
Phi Ta Khon, also known as the ghost festival, takes place in Loei Province in July. It’s a lively and colorful three-day event where people dress up in ghost costumes and masks, dancing and parading to ward off bad spirits.
Vegetarian Festival, celebrated in October in Phuket, is a religious festival where people abstain from meat for nine days. It’s also known for its extreme rituals such as firewalking and body piercing to demonstrate devotion.
Costs of Traveling in Thailand
Thailand is an affordable country to travel in, making it a popular destination, not just for backpackers and budget travelers, but for anyone looking for a bit of luxury without blowing the budget.
The average daily cost for traveling in Thailand ranges from $30-50 USD, depending on your travel style and preferences. Here is a breakdown of the average costs to expect when traveling in Thailand:
- Accommodation: Budget accommodation options such as backpacker hostels or guesthouses can range from $5-20 USD per night. Mid-range hotels or Airbnb rentals can range from $25-60 USD per night. Luxurious resorts can cost upwards of $100 USD per night.
- Transportation: Public transportation in Thailand is very affordable, a one-day ticket for unlimited travel on the Bangkok Skytrain costs 140 Thai Baht (approx $3.) Taxis and tuk-tuks are also readily available but can be more expensive depending on the distance and your negotiation skills. For longer distances, buses and trains are a budget-friendly option. Air Asia offers cheap domestic flights all over the country.
- Food: Thai street food is not only delicious but also very affordable, with dishes costing around $1-2 USD per meal. Eating at local restaurants or markets can cost anywhere from $5-10 USD per day. If you’re looking for more upscale dining options, expect to pay around $20 USD per meal.
- Activities: Many of the popular activities in Thailand, such as temple visits and cultural experiences, are free or very cheap and an hour of Thai massage is only $5–$15. For more adventurous activities like island-hopping trips, scuba diving and day tours, prices can range from $30-100 USD per day.
Best Destinations to Visit in Thailand
From exciting modern cities to ancient Buddhist temples, steamy jungles and tropical beaches, there’s no shortage of incredible destinations to visit in Thailand.
Here’s some of the most popular must-visit destinations:
Bangkok, the buzzing capital city of Thailand, is a must-visit destination and where most travelers to Thailand start their adventure.
Bangkok offers a heady mix of golden temples and soaring skyscrapers with vibrant street life, delicious food, and crazy nightlife. As soon as you step foot in this colorful city, you’ll be greeted with chaotic energy and an overwhelming array of sights, sounds, and smells.
No visit to Bangkok is complete without a trip to the Grand Palace, home to Wat Phra Kaew and the magnificent Emerald Buddha.
Other must-see attractions include Wat Pho with its stunning Reclining Buddha statue and Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn, sits alongside the Chao Praya River and is particularly beautiful during sunset.
Bangkok is one of the world’s most visited cities and offers a wide range of accommodation, entertainment and experiences for all types of travelers. Backpackers in Bangkok make a beeline for the cheap bars and street food on lively Khao San Road, while luxury travellers sip cocktails and enjoy sunset views in plush rooftop bars. There’s something for everyone in the Thai capital.
Chiang Mai is the cultural capital of Thailand and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in traditional Thai culture. Nestled in the lush green mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai’s ancient temples, lively night markets and laid-back atmosphere make it a favorite among travelers.
Chiang Mai’s Old City is filled with over 300 temples, stay in a heritage hotel in the Old City and immerse yourself in history. Also make sure you venture out to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the most revered temple perched on top a hill with sweeping views over the city.
Aside from temple-hopping, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in Chiang Mai. The street food and night markets are some of the best in all of Thailand and you can also take a cooking class and learn how to cook traditional Thai dishes for yourself.
One of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai is visiting one of the many elephant sanctuaries that offer the chance to interact with these intelligent and gentle animals. There’s also plenty of opportunities to go on a trek through the jungle and visit hill tribe villages.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island with stunning beaches, a colorful old town and plenty of attractions and accommodations for all types of travellers.
Located on the West Coast in the Andaman Sea, Phuket’s Beaches are some of the most beautiful in all of Thailand. There’s much more to do in Phuket, go snorkeling, diving and island-hopping to nearby islands like Koh Phi Phi and James Bond Island. See my 7 Day Phuket itinerary to know how to fit all the highlights into 1 week.
For a dose of culture and history visit Phuket Old Town, with its colorful Sino-Portuguese architecture and charming cafes, and head up to the Big Buddha for a stunning view of the island.
At night, the Patong Beach area comes alive with its buzzing nightlife scene, from lively bars and clubs to cabaret shows. There’s also plenty of pristine, quiet beaches and laid back resorts if you just want to relax and unwind.
Situated on the East Coast in Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is another of Thailand’s most popular islands and beach destinations with palm fringed white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters.
Chaweng Beach has plenty of resorts, watersports, nightlife and activities to keep you entertained or head to quieter beaches for pure relaxation.
You can also visit the famous Big Buddha Temple, the traditional fisherman’s village, and take a boat trip to explore the beautiful Ang Thong National Marine Park.
This is just a small selection of the top destinations, for more inspiration check out these 21 best places to visit in Thailand.
Bucket List Worthy Things to do in Thailand
From temple hopping to island hopping, elephant encounters to full moon parties, there is no shortage of exciting activities and experiences to tick off your bucket list in Thailand.
Some of the best things to do in Thailand include:
One of the must-do activities in Thailand is visiting its dazzling temples. Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho temple in Bangkok are two of the most famous and stunning temples and offer a glimpse into Thai culture and history.
I also highly recommend visiting the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO world heritage site close to Bangkok, and the mesmerizing White Temple in Chiang Rai for a unique experience.
If you’re interested in learning about Thai culture and Buddhism take a temple tour with a knowledgeable local guide who can provide insight into the significance and symbolism of each temple.
Make sure to dress respectfully, covering your shoulders and knees, and removing shoes when visiting these sacred sites.
One of the most popular things to do in Thailand is having an elephant encounter. Meeting these gentle giants is a humbling and heart warming experience.
However, if you visit elephant sanctuaries in Thailand it’s important to do your research. Choose a responsible and ethical sanctuary that prioritizes the well-being of these majestic creatures and don’t ride elephants. Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is a highly recommended option.
Island Hopping Boat Trips
Thailand is renowned for its stunning beaches and islands, and one of the best ways to explore them is by taking a boat trip.
Whether it’s a day trip or a multi-day sailing excursion, you’ll get to see some of the most beautiful spots in Thailand such as Phi Phi Islands, Similan Islands, and James Bond Island, as well as explore lesser known tiny islets in protected marine parks.
Here’s some of the best island hopping trips you can take from Phuket to give you some inspiration.
Snorkeling and Diving
Another great way to experience Thailand’s crystal clear waters is by snorkeling or diving. The Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand offer some of the best spots for underwater exploration, with vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. Some must-visit locations include Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, and Surin Islands.
Thai Cooking Classes
If you’re interested in learning more about local cuisine, why not take a cooking class? Thailand is known for its delicious food and taking a hands-on cooking class is a fun way to bring home some new recipes and skills.
Thai cuisine is famous around the world for its bold flavors and diverse dishes. A food tour is a fantastic way to sample a variety of local dishes and learn about the country’s culinary traditions. From street food markets to cooking classes, there are plenty of options to satisfy your taste buds.
No visit to Thailand is complete without experiencing a bustling night market. These markets offer irresistible street food, bargain shopping, live music, and an immersive cultural experience. Night markets or walking streets are held in most places in Thailand so you’ll never be far away from one.
Massage, Yoga and Meditation
Numerous spas all over the country offer traditional Thai massages and other therapies at all price points. There are also plenty of yoga and wellness retreats and opportunities for meditation and massage courses, yoga teacher trainings and chatting to monks.
Whether you’re just looking to unwind after a day of exploring or seeking a deeper spiritual experience you’ll find what you are looking for in Thailand. See my pick of the best yoga and wellness retreats in Thailand for inspiration.
For the adrenaline junkies, Thailand has plenty of adventure activities such as zip-lining, jungle trekking, rock climbing, white water rafting, and ATV rides. These activities are a great way to explore the natural beauty of Thailand while getting your adrenaline pumping. Follow the hiking trails to reach the scenic viewpoints found on many of the best islands.
The best way to book tours and experiences online with Viator and Get Your Guide. That way you can read reviews so you know you are booking a good experience. Some hotels and local travel agents can also make the arrangements for you.
How Long To Spend: Suggested Thailand Itineraries
With so much to see and do you should create a trip plan or itinerary so that you don’t miss out on anything, but don’t forget to leave some time for relaxation too!
Here’s some suggestions for your Thailand itinerary depending on how much time you have:
1 Week in Thailand
If you only have one week to spend in Thailand, it’s best to focus on one or two destinations. Popular choices for a short trip include Bangkok and the islands of Phuket or Koh Samui.
Spend 2 or 3 days in Bangkok visiting the temples and floating markets. Then fly to Phuket or Koh Samui where you can relax on beautiful beaches, go snorkeling or diving, and island hopping.
If you have 10 days to spend in Thailand consider adding in a few days in Chiang Mai too.
2 Weeks in Thailand
With two weeks, you have more time to explore different regions of Thailand and get a taste of both north and south.
Start in Bangkok and take a day trip the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya. Then head up north to Chiang Mai and spend a few days exploring the old city, night markets and elephant sanctuaries.
From Chiang Mai, take a flight to Phuket or Krabi for some beach time and island hopping. Don’t miss out on exploring the stunning limestone cliffs and emerald waters of Koh Phi Phi and Railay Beach in Krabi.
Alternatively, you could head to the east coast and island hop from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan for the full moon party and go snorkeling and scuba diving on tiny Koh Tao.
Check out my 2 Week Thailand Itinerary to find out how to fit the best of both north and south into 14 days.
3 Weeks – 1 Month in Thailand
Most visitors can spend 30 days in Thailand without a visa and with so much to see why not make use of that time. With three or four weeks to spend in Thailand you can enjoy a more leisurely trip visiting both the popular destinations and also getting off the beaten track.
Consider heading north from Bangkok first, exploring places like Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi and Erawan National Park, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Spend some time hanging out in Pai and drive the Mae Hong Song Loop.
With 1 month you could see both sides of Thailand’s coast. Start in popular Phuket, hop to Koh Phi Phi and check out Krabi. Then head over and explore Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
You could also consider heading to less well-known islands like Koh Chang, Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe to see a different side to Thailand.
Check out this Thailand backpacking route which is perfect for a budget friendly 1 month Thailand itinerary.
Accommodation in Thailand
There’s no shortage of accommodation options in Thailand for all budgets and travel styles. Whether you’re a backpacker on a shoestring budget or seeking a luxurious stay or family-friendly resort, you’ll find the perfect place to stay in Thailand’s popular tourist destinations.
Budget Accommodation Options:
Thailand has plenty of affordable accommodation options for backpackers and budget travelers with prices starting from as low as $5 per night for a bed in a dorm room.
Backpacker hostels: The go-to option for budget travelers. Most hostels provide comfortable and clean shared rooms and dormitories, social activities, and organized tours. They also provide opportunities to meet fellow travelers, making them perfect for solo adventurers. The best place to find and book is on Hostelworld.
Some popular backpacker hostels in Thailand include:
Budget Hotels: Local guesthouses, homestays and beach huts are all great options for private rooms at affordable prices from $10-$20 per night. These are perfect for couples or small groups who want more privacy but still want to keep costs low.
These budget accommodation options can be found in most tourist destinations in Thailand and are not just good for saving money, they are also a great way to interact with locals and experience their culture.
Mid-Range Accommodation Options
Boutique Hotels: If you’re looking for a comfortable and affordable stay, Thailand has an amazing selection of mid-range boutique hotels and resorts that offer great value for money. Prices typically range from $30-$80 per night. There’s plenty of incredible boutique hotels in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.
These hotels provide a mix of comfort and style, with unique designs and friendly hospitality. Some are heritage hotels in traditional Thai buildings and some also have swimming pools. One of the best mid range boutique hotels in Chiang Mai’s Old City is the Pingviman Hotel.
Family friendly resorts: For families, there are many resorts that offer spacious rooms, kid-friendly amenities, and activities to keep everyone entertained. A popular family friendly resort is the Ananta Burin Resort in Ao Nang, Krabi which even has an onsite waterpark.
Luxury Accommodation Options
5 Star resorts and villas: For those seeking a luxurious stay in paradise, Thailand has no shortage of 5-star hotels, luxury resorts and stunning private villas that offer world-class facilities, stunning views, and impeccable service. Prices can range from $150-$500 per night depending on the location and season.
In popular tourist destinations like Phuket and Koh Samui, you’ll find an abundance of luxury accommodation options such as the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, and Sri Panwa Phuket. These resorts boast private beaches, infinity pools, gourmet restaurants, and spas to relax and unwind in.
Tips: When booking your accommodation in Thailand, it’s always a good idea to do your research into the different areas of a city or island to find the best fit for you.
My guides are a good starting point as they describe the popular neighbourhoods and recommend hotels for all budgets:
- Where to Stay in Bangkok
- Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
- Where to Stay in Phuket
- Where to Stay in Koh Phangan
Don’t forget to read the hotel’s latest reviews before booking. Also, keep in mind that peak season (November-April) can result in higher prices and crowded accommodations, so I’d recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment or the stress of trying to find somewhere at the last minute.
Food in Thailand
Your taste buds are really in for a treat when you visit Thailand, and your wallet won’t complain either!
Thai cuisine is a tantalizing blend of flavors, textures, and aromas with influences from Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian cuisines. Indulging in authentic Thai food is a highlight of a trip to Thailand and is affordable and plentiful.
One of the must-try dishes for any visitor is Pad Thai. This popular street food dish features stir-fried rice noodles tossed with eggs, tofu or shrimp, bean sprouts, peanuts, lime, and a host of spices. If you like spicy food, try the iconic Tom Yum Soup, a fragrant hot and sour soup and a spicy papaya salad is a must.
Another of my personal favourites is Mango Sticky Rice, a popular dessert that perfectly balances the ripe sweetness of mango with coconut milk and sticky rice. It’s a delightful end to any meal.
Eating out in Thailand is an adventure in itself. From bustling night markets, where you can try a variety of inexpensive street foods to high-end restaurants serving gourmet Thai cuisine and plenty of Western and international options, there’s something to suit every palate and budget.
If you’re worried about hygiene but don’t want to miss out on experiencing street food then a food tour is the way to go. And if you want to learn how to recreate your favorite dishes sign up for a Thai cooking class.
Shopping in Thailand
Shopping in Thailand is a lot of fun and a great way to experience the local culture. There are plenty of options for shopping, from bustling street markets to luxury malls, and everything in between.
One not-to-be-missed experience is visiting one of the many famous night markets in Thailand. You’ll find night markets in almost every city in Thailand. These vibrant markets come alive after dark with a colorful mix of food stalls, clothing vendors, handicraft and souvenir shops.
Some popular souvenirs include traditional Thai silk, hand-painted ceramics, and wooden carvings. If fixed prices are not displayed then you can haggle with the vendors for a better price. Night markets often have live music too.
For a more upscale shopping experience, head to one of Thailand’s many modern shopping malls where you’ll find international designer brands and boutiques with eating and entertainment options.
For a more unique shopping experience, check out Bangkok’s floating markets and the Chatuchak Weekend Market which has over 8,000 stalls selling everything under the sun.
Nightlife in Thailand
When the sun goes down and the heat of the day subsides Thailand really comes to life. There’s plenty to do after dark in Thailand, from buzzing night markets, to lively bars and nightclubs.
Thailand’s famous night markets offer not just shopping but a variety of food stalls, activities and entertainment. Asiatique The Riverfront in Bangkok is a large, popular open-air night market while Chiang Mai’s night bazaar is one of the best in the whole of Thailand. On Sunday’s many cities also have a walking street market in the evening.
For a taste of the high life, check out Bangkok’s glamorous rooftop bars offering cocktails with an unbeatable view of the city’s skyline. Check out Vertigo & Moon Bar at Banyan Tree Bangkok, Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower and Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar at Marriott Sukhumvit.
Other popular places to go at night in Bangkok include Khao San Road, a backpacker hub offering cheap food and drinks and a lively and fun atmosphere.
Sukhumvit’s Soi 11 is another popular spot for nightlife, with a variety of bars, clubs and live music venues to choose from. Sukhumvit is also home to adult entertainment areas like Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and Patpong.
If you’re in the mood for dancing and partying, Thailand’s nightlife won’t disappoint. Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai all have a vibrant club scene with top DJs, themed parties and international crowds.
For those seeking an iconic Thai bucket list experience, head to the Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan’s Haad Rin Beach where you can drink out of buckets, deck yourself in neon and dance on the beach until the sun comes up.
Safety and Etiquette in Thailand
Thailand is generally a very safe country for visitors, even for solo female travelers, and the Thai people are welcoming, polite, respectful and helpful. It’s still a good idea to learn abit about Thai culture and be careful on the roads and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
Thailand’s roads can be chaotic and accidents do happen. It’s important to wear a helmet when riding a motorbike and be aware of your surroundings when crossing the street. Also, avoid taking overnight buses as they have a higher risk of accidents.
One of the tourist scams to be aware of is that outside Bangkok’s Grand Palace people may tell you that the palace is closed and offer to take you on a tuk-tuk tour instead. This is usually a scam to get on onto an overpriced tuk-tuk tour. Also, be cautious of strangers who are overly friendly and offering to take you to “secret” temples or gem shops.
Always agree on a price before getting into a tuk-tuk or taxi. Book a reputable tuk tuk temple tour with a company like Viator and book your taxis on the Grab app.
In terms of cultural etiquette, it’s important to dress modestly when visiting temples. This means covering your shoulders and knees. Take off your shoes and hats before entering a temple or someone’s home. It’s also polite to keep your feet on the ground and avoid pointing them at people or sacred objects.
One of the most important customs in Thailand is respecting the royal family. Any negative comments or actions towards the monarchy can result in serious consequences. Also, always stand up and show respect when the national anthem is played.
Sustainable and Responsible Travel in Thailand
Thailand is a popular tourist destination but sadly there are some issues with overtourism, animal cruelty and unsustainable practices. As responsible travelers, it’s important to be mindful of our impact on the environment and local communities.
Here are some tips for supporting responsible and sustainable tourism in Thailand:
- Avoid riding elephants or supporting unethical animal attractions like Tiger Temple as they often use inhumane methods to train and control the animals. Research elephant sanctuaries before visiting to ensure you support ethical operations where elephants are rescued and treated with care. The same goes for experiences involving hill tribe people or children.
- Support local communities by staying at locally owned accommodations or homestays, eating at local restaurants, and purchasing souvenirs from local artisans. This not only supports the local economy but also allows for an authentic cultural experience.
- If you have time take the train instead of flying to reduce your carbon footprint. Thailand’s night trains offer a clean, comfortable and interesting way to experience Thai culture and see more of the countryside. Also consider eco-friendly activities such as walking tours, hiking and biking.
- Respect the local culture and customs by dressing modestly, learning basic Thai phrases, and being mindful of your behavior in sacred places such as temples.
- Reduce plastic waste by bringing a reusable water bottle and bag and say no to single-use plastics.
Practical Information for Traveling in Thailand
Here’s all the other things you need to know about visiting Thailand:
Currency: Thailand’s currency is the Thai Baht (THB). Always have some cash on hand as not all establishments accept cards. ATMs are readily available in major cities and tourist areas but charge foreign cards.
Time Zone: Thailand is on Indochina Time (UTC+07:00).
Power: The power voltage in Thailand is 220V and the standard socket is Type A/B/C. Make sure to bring an adapter if your devices require a different voltage.
Health: Make sure to get travel insurance before your trip that covers all the activities you plan to do while in Thailand. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid are recommended. It’s also important to bring insect repellent as dengue fever is present in Thailand. Sunscreen can be expensive too so it’s better to bring this with you.
Tipping: Tipping is not expected in Thailand, but it’s appreciated for exceptional service. Round up the bill or add 10% of the total cost as a tip at restaurants.
Now You’re Ready To Plan Your Trip To Thailand!
Wow! So there you have all my Thailand travel tips! I hope this Thailand guide has given you plenty of inspiration for visiting the Land of Smiles.
Whatever your interests and budget, I’m sure a trip to Thailand will be an unforgettable adventure. Whether you love islands and jungle, food and nightlife, or temples and history, I think you’ll find plenty to love in Thailand.
I hope my guide to Thailand has helped you to plan your trip and that you fall in love with this amazing country as much as I have done. If you are looking for tips on specific destinations check out my other Thailand blogs.