Thailand is Southeast Asia’s most visited tourist destination, and it’s easy to understand why. With an incredibly varied geographic landscape—mountains, jungles, and incredible beaches—and a cultural landscape that offers both rural simplicity and modern luxury. On top of that, it’s incredibly easy to enjoy it all without spending much!
Thailand Travel Guide
Transportation in Thailand
Getting into Thailand by plane, either to Bangkok in the north or Phuket in the south, is the easiest as many Asian airlines also provide service to at least one of these two locations. It is also possible to cross from the surrounding countries by road, but the process of getting your passport stamped can take up to three hours! Either way, you’ll need your Thai visa prior to entering the country.
Once in Thailand, there are many small, budget airlines from which to choose which travel to all parts of the country. It’s a good idea to do your research beforehand though—some airlines will charge you extra fees on top of the advertised ticket price. Tuk-tuks and minibuses are also popular for local or shorter-distance travel, and the BKS bus system is cheap, reliable, and relatively comfortable. Leave the driving to the professionals, though: Thai roads are notoriously dangerous!
Food & Culture
The Kingdom of Thailand was Siam up until 1939, and is still a constitutional monarchy to this day. It has never been controlled or colonized by a foreign power and so much of the indigenous culture has been well preserved. Buddhism plays a large role in the everyday life of its people and it is not uncommon for young men to spend a short period of time in a temple as monks. A fun-loving attitude, cool temper, and ability to make play out of work are emphasized by the Thai concept of sanuk.
The food, of course, is impeccable, and while you can find sit-down or even luxury dining experiences inexpensively, trying the street stalls is a must. Spicy pad thai noodles, coconut curry, fresh fish, fruit, and vegetables—as long as you don’t mind it hot (and it will be spicy) and fragrant, you’ll find something incredible to eat. Street stalls are usually quite sanitary, but you should avoid drinking the tap water; try a refreshing iced coconut water to stay hydrated instead.
Solo Travel: If you are traveling solo, Thailand is one of the top destinations for solo female travelers.
Electrical Outlet Information: Thailand uses 220 volt electrical outlets with A and C plug type. For more information about what plug type to bring to Thailand, visit whatplug.info.
Sights & Activities
Siam Niramit Phuket— This art-theater troupe in Phuket tells the culture and history of Thailand with live animals, acrobatics, pyrotechnics, and dance!
Koh Phangan— One of the most popular islands in Southern Thailand; perfect for snorkeling, sea-canoeing, surfing, and scuba diving. It’s also famous for its Full Moon Parties in Haad Rin, huge trance and bar-crawl events, for those who enjoy a wilder scene. We personally prefer the quieter side of Koh Phangan and stayed at the Haad Yao Bayview Resort & Spa, which I highly recommend.
Island Hopping— The best part about Thailand, besides the food, is the islands. A trip to Thailand is not complete without a little island hopping. Read more: Island Hopping Guide to Thailand.
Thai Massage— Thailand’s spas and massage parlors are more than just a relaxing way to get pampered; they incorporate a more philosophical or even spiritual element in the culture. Mixing acupressure, herbal remedies, yoga and meditation, and reflexology, they are treated as a way to invigorate the mind and spirit, as well as the body.
Grand Palace— The Grand Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangkok and one of the city’s most famous landmarks. During a visit here, you will find gorgeous architecture, the Emerald Buddha, and interesting paintings.
Wat Pho— Wat Pho in Bangkok is known for the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It’s open 8:30am-6pm daily.
Yi Peng (Lantern Festival)— Yi Peng is a religious ceremony that pays homage to Buddha which takes place in Chiang Mai. Locals and tourists release thousands of lighted lanterns in the sky while making a wish. It’s a gorgeous display and something you won’t want to miss if you find yourself in Thailand during this time. The dates fluctuate, but it usually occurs in early November.
For more Thailand travel resources & tips, visit these pages: