Thailand, also known as land of the smiles. This is the place to get a serious tan, pet a tiger, indulge yourself in spicy, delicious food or taste deep-fried scorpions.
It’s a tropical getaway for 26,7 million tourists a year, and the local people are among the friendliest in the world, ready to greet you with smiles and hospitality.
As it is a both cheap and well-situated destination, many travelers use Thailand as a travel hub to the rest of Southeast Asia. Traveling within the country’s own borders is just as easy and can be done cheaply by bus, train or flights.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN THAILAND
- Explore Bangkok. The Thai capital has plenty to offer and Bangkok tourism is thriving. Grand Palace is not to be missed and it’s only a 15 minutes walk from Khao San Road; another must-visit where most backpackers stay. If you’re in a cultural mood, you can try out tai chi at 6am in Lumpini park, enjoy a Cabaret show or Muy Thai, and shop away at the MBK center.
- Trekking in Chiang Mai. From Chiang Mai you can go trekking for several days, visit native tribes and see the lush countryside with waterfalls and mountains.
- Relax in Pai. This laidback mountain town in Northern Thailand is the perfect getaway from the buzzing city of Bangkok and Chiang Mai – and it’s slightly cheaper than the touristy places.
- Island hopping. One of the most popular things to do in Thailand is island hopping. On the Eastern side you can easily sail between Koh Tao, Koh Pha nang and Koh Samui. Other beautiful islands include Koh Lanta and Phi Phi.
- Try a Full Moon Party. Being the largest beach rave party in the world, this is definitely not to be missed. Join thousands of other party-rockers on full moon nights at Koh Pha nang. See the dates here.
- Go scuba diving or snorkeling. Thailand is a goldmine when it comes to underwater activities. If you’re not a diver, you can still see tons of colourful fish, sharks and other sea creatures on snorkeling trips. Koh Tao and Phi Phi area is among the best places to snorkel.
- Learn to cook. You can join a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
- Join the festivals. Especially the Thai New Years, Songkran, is a fun experience where everyone splashes water at each other for four days straight.
BEST TIME TO GO
Thailand is best visited between November and March, which is the dry season. This, however, is also the most crowded and expensive period, so visiting outside this time will give you some bonuses. Just be prepared for rainy days.
If you arrive by air, a 30-day visa is given without a fee. Coming over land will give you 15 days. If you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than this, you can apply for a 60-day visa from the embassy in your own country.
Safety won’t be an issue as long as you use common sense. Be aware of scams, especially tuk tuk drivers that seek to lure you to jewelry or tailor shops. Read more about common scams in Thailand in this post from Lonely Planet.
Whether your heart desires a $3 bungalow on the beach or a luxurious hotel room for $500, Thailand is the place to get it. Expect the islands to be more expensive, the West coast in particular. Phuket is one of the most, if not the most, overpriced place in Thailand.
If you’re traveling around the country on a budget, you can get by for $20 to $30 per day.
How to save money
- Bargain. This is probably my number one rule for staying on budget in Thailand. And don’t cave in. I once had a hefty discussion with a tuk tuk driver about $0,06 for ten minutes, and I won the argument. Most times things are four double the price, so persistance is key. Expect to bargain for everything on the street.
- Eat street food. But be selective. Not all food are treated equally.
- Buy beer in 7eleven. Singha or Chang are bought for much less than at the restaurants.
- Travel off-season. Some places, like Phuket, you will only pay half the price.
- Bring your own snorkeling gear. While you can rent it most places, it’s cheaper (and more hygienic) to bring your own.
More posts from Thailand you might like
- What to Pack for Thailand (Packing List for First-Timers)
- Surprise! We got married in Thailand
- Koh Tao is my paradise in Thailand
- A Guide to West Coast Island Hopping in Thailand
- Koh Lanta is Thailand’s relaxing island
- Thailand Travel Guide
- Where to Stay in Bangkok | Best Hotels in the Coolest Neighborhoods
- 20 great reasons to visit Phuket: Thailand’s tropical paradise