Thailand, the civilized, friendly, and historic country is home to intricately designed temples, perfect postcard beaches, lip-smacking street food and the most comforting Thai smile.
If you are spiritual, the golden and gleaming temples and Buddha statues will mesmerize you. For the fun-loving ones, the vast coastline, the lively beaches, and the night parties are in abundance. The foodie in you can gorge on the scrumptious, warm and relaxing Thai cuisine. In short, Thailand has something to offer to everyone visiting the place. With a rich cultural heritage, Thailand has become the best Southeast Asian destination to visit.
Thailand Travel Info
Language: The official language of Thailand is Thai. The most commonly spoken language in the Thai Islands and major cities is English with most of the people versed in it. In rural areas, many people do not know English, but a friendly smile and some signs can be enough to help you to get to know the locals.
Currency: Thai Baht.
Visa: A passport valid for the next six months is mandatory along with a visa to enter Thailand. If you have a UK, US or EU passport, you will get a 30 days free visa if you come by Air and 15 days free visa if overland. In case you want to stay longer, you can get your visa extended. People from ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) get 30 days free visa which is not valid for an extension. More and more southeastern countries need you to produce your onward/return flight tickets before granting you the visa. Thus ensure that you have made all the necessary bookings and arrangements before applying for the same.
Electricity: Electricity in Thailand is 220V AC, 50 cycles/sec. Power outlets usually feature two-prong round or flat sockets. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Thailand Festivals & Celebrations
Thailand is an ethnic and cultural melting pot where travelers can experience a huge variety of festivals, cultural events and ceremonies throughout the year. In order to get the true feel of a country, you need to dive into it’s festivals and celebrations and see first-hand how the people come together to celebrate and honor century old beliefs and traditions.
Songkran Water Festival: The festival is considered to be one of the most fun-filled festivals of Southeast Asia, an experience that you must have if you are planning to visit Thailand. This festival symbolizes the Thai New Year and is celebrated in April. It lasts for three days of which the first-day witnesses huge water fights, during the second-day people make pagodas with the help of sand and decorate it with pennants. Lots of food is cooked by the locals to celebrate and to distribute among monks.
Loy Krathong- Festival of Light: It is one of the most popular and the beautiful festival of Thailand. People gather along rivers, lakes or canals to pay respect to water goddess. It is celebrated usually in November. Loy means to float, and Krathong stands for baskets. People make thousands of baskets from banana leaves, and trunks. Then they put Small candles and flowers inside them. When people set these free, they believe that they are releasing their miseries and troubles along with them.
Phi Ta Khon- Ghost Festival: The Phi Ta Khon is a combination of religious tradition, fun, and local handicraft and lasts for three days. The festival is known for the colorful masks that the locals wear. These masks have a horrifying, stretched face with phallic noses and are festooned in bright, gaudy colors. This festival relives the legend of a party that was once thrown, and everybody, whether living or dead was desperate to attend it. This festival takes place on the weekend of the 6th full moon of the lunar calendar.
Safety In Thailand
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to Thailand. Bag-snatching, pick-pocketing and other scams to take advantage of travelers are common in some places. Some parts of Thailand are dangerous so always do your research before you travel and make sure that you avoid any dodgy areas. Female travelers to Thailand should be mindful to dress appropriately and be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Based on many years of solo travel around southeast Asia I would never leave home without travel insurance. I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Thailand trip. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Top Things To Do In Thailand
Bangkok is the heart of Thailand and is one of the busiest, vibrant and energetic cities of Southeast Asia. To understand the country well, it is always better to spend a few days in Bangkok before moving towards the islands. Bangkok has several temples, palaces and shopping malls and some extremely delectable street food available all across the city. The city holds almost every possible experience that a tourist might look for in any city.
Visit the Grand Palace
This spectacular palace is a must visit in Bangkok and is no doubt the most famous landmark of the city. It was constructed in 1872 and has been the home of Thai Kings, the administrative seat of government and Royal Court for roughly 150 years. The intricately detailed architecture never fails to awe the tourists. When you are there remember to visit the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho that has the most massive reclining Buddha statue in Thailand.
The Golden Triangle
The spot where Ruak River meets Mekong River is called the Sop Ruak or Golden Triangle. It is the place where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. If you stand on the Thailand river bank, you can see Laos and Myanmar. You can also hire a boat and take a closer look. There would be several signs like Buddha and elephant statues, markets, etc confirming that it is the Golden Triangle. There was a time when this was an opium growing area whose history you can find at the Golden Triangle Park in the Hall of Opium.
A trip to Koh Phi Phi
The island gained fame after it appeared in the movie ‘the beach’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio as well as in a James Bond movie. Kho Phi Phi is a beautiful island located in Krabi and is a must visit if traveling to Thailand. Since there are no roads on the island, you need to walk a lot with all the action lying between the two main beaches. Once you have visited the stunning Kho Phi Phi Island, no other island will look as appealing.
Visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Although, Thailand has some floating markets, yet the Damnoen Saduak Floating market is the most popular and the biggest of all. You will find boats going up and down the canal selling locally produced fruits, vegetables and foods. The market is exceptionally colorful and picturesque. Ensure that you reach there early to explore it in peace and get the best bargain and take lots of pictures too. The market is nearly 100 kilometers out of Bangkok but is worth devoting time.
An Elephant Experience
The elephant is the national symbol of the country and is considered to be a respectable animal. There are some ways by which you can get involved with the animal but avoid promoting cruelty towards the animal in any way, especially centers that make elephants perform tricks. Apart from this, there are some good experiences too. The elephant nature ark has elephants that have been rescued and rehabilitated. You can also camp in a luxurious setting at the Elephant Hills and interact with the animal.
In Thailand, there are around 5000 miles of coastline to explore. You can take a long boat and go looking for all the islands and beaches. Discover the Phang Nga Bay and the famous limestone rocks off the west coast of Thailand. Island hop on the Andaman Sea at Krabi and Phuket. There are white sand beaches here with several snorkeling opportunities at Kho Phi Don and Kho Phi Phi.
Visit a Hill Tribe Village
The north of Thailand is home to several tribes like the Akha Karen, Lisu, and Hmong. Instead of playing tourist, spend a day or a night with a local and experience their culture. You must also select an appropriate tour guide that acts morally and sustainably. Just ensure that you have taken into consideration all the do’s and don’ts before you head to meet a local tribal family.
The area has lush green forests on display which are a heaven for all the backpackers. The place has a dark history. Here you are also going to find the starting point of the legendary Death Railway that links the area with Myanmar along with a bridge over the River Kwai. Both the things date to World War II and were constructed by prisoners of war. The spot is chilling yet historical and is essential in any itinerary of Thailand.
Explore the Ancient Ruins and National Parks
Thailand flaunts various landscapes and has national parks that are known for their vastness and beauty. There are multiple biking and hiking trails and a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites too. The best National park is Doi Inthanon National Park, followed by Sai Yok National Park, Khao Sok National Park, and Khao Yai National Park. At Khao Sai Dao you can walk around a wildlife sanctuary and also soak in a sixteen-level waterfall that flows throughout the year.
Other than these top things to do in Thailand, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems.
What To Eat In Thailand
Pad Thai: The dish was made for the first time in 1093’s by a Chinese-Thai chef and is made up of thin rice noodles which are stir-fried with shrimp, tofu, and eggs. The locals season the dish with tamarind, fish sauce, sugar, dried chili, and vinegar. It can be called the official dish of Thailand.
Tom Yam: Also called the sour Thai soup in English menus, this is a herb flavored broth. The most relished version of the broth is Tom Yam Kung, a shrimp version which is a combination of fatty prawns and a spicy soup. The result is somewhat unique and typically Thai.
Noodle Soup: The soup comes in many varieties to choose from. They include pork, chicken, vegetables, and seafood. The best among the lot is the veggie noodle soup, especially with an extra dash of mushrooms.
Som Tam: The dish is an amalgamation of all five tastes, i.e. hot, sour, salty, sweet and savory. It is a staple street food found all across Thailand. It can be prepared quickly and has a fresh and pleasant taste to it. Som Tam has some variations including salted preserved eggs or fermented fish sauce.
Green Chicken Curry: For the ones who are new to Thai cuisine, this is the best starting point which is an intersection of creamy coconut milk, Thai eggplant, and a herbal spice paste. Have this curry along with Jasmine rice. That’s how the locals eat it as it is not meant to be consumed on its own.
Where To Stay In Thailand
Thailand is an incredibly affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Thailand is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget. Hostels and dormitories make travel to Thailand affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
If you’re traveling to Thailand during peak season or wish to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up. Thailand is a pretty popular year-round destination you know!
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Thailand.
If you’re backpacking in Thailand or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Asia very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Thailand Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Thailand
The best time to visit Thailand depends on where in Thailand you’re visiting. Although the climate varies throughout Thailand, you can visit all year round. In the south, the climate differs between the eastern and western coasts. If it’s rainy in one place, it’s a short trip over to better weather on the other side. The best time to travel to Thailand is during the dry and cooler season between November and April.
Thailand Travel Budget
Thailand is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Thailand really depends on the level of comfort you will expect while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating street food then budget between $25 to $35 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $35 to $60 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Bangkok then budget about $60 to $150 plus a day.
- Budget: $10-25
- Mid-range: $25-$60
- Splurge: $60+
Meal For One
- Budget: $1.00-$5.00
- Mid-range: $5-$15
- Splurge: $15-$50+
Thailand Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Thailand, like most other places in southeast Asia, is a breeze because it’s so easy to travel light in hotter climates. Tropical southeast Asia climates also mean high humidity so lightweight and breathable lose fitting clothing is essential.
Be prepared for the occasional cool evening depending on the month you visit and pack a warm sweater just in case. If you’re visiting during the wet season bring a rain jacket and an umbrella. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need in the larger cities such as Bangkok.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Thailand include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Thailand check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Asia Packing List For Female Travelers.