Want to travel to Thailand? It’s one of my favorite countries, and Thailand has long been the most popular destination in Southeast Asia.
Through the years, I’ve been traveling around the country quite a lot from north to south, and I love it. I even stayed for one month in Bangkok after renting an apartment in a local area.
The food, locals, nature and interesting culture and history are some of the main draws for tourists. In this guide, I will share everything you need to know before you travel to Thailand.
There are many interesting facts about Thailand and below is some general information such as population, the capital city, language and more.
|Population: 69 million||Capital: Bangkok|
|Area: 513,120 km2||Language: Thai|
|Continent: Asia||Currency: Thai Baht (THB)|
|Timezone: UTC + 7||Religion: Buddhism|
Thailand is full of wonderful islands, historic sites, and interesting places and cities. There are more than 1430 islands that you can visit on a day trip or stay overnight. Below are some of the most popular places to visit in Thailand for first-time visitors.
- Chiang Rai
- Chiang Mai
- Hua Hin
- Khao Lak
- Koh Lanta
- Koh Samui
10 x Famous attractions in Thailand
There are a lot more than 10 attractions that are worth visiting in Thailand, but these are some of the most famous landmarks that shouldn’t be missed.
|Grand Palace in Bangkok||Doi Suthep|
|Erawan Falls||Maya Bay|
|Wat Pho and the reclining Buddha||Sukhothai|
|Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple)||Wat Arun|
10 x Things to do in Thailand as a tourist
- Visit the Elephant Nature Park and help protect the elephants
- Sit down and chat with a Buddhist monk in Chiang Mai
- Visit a night market and eat some street food
- Snorkel or dive and discover the rich marine life
- Go to a rooftop bar in Bangkok
- Spoil yourself with a Thai massage
- Go for a classic tuk-tuk ride
- Try a session of Thai boxing (Muay Thai)
- Party all night at a full moon party
- Visit a floating market
5 x Paradise Beaches in Thailand
There is a wide range of beautiful beaches in Thailand, and they are found all over the coastal areas, including the many islands.
- Sunrise Beach (Koh Lipe)
- Railay Beach (Krabi)
- Maya Bay (Phi Phi)
- Lamai Beach (Koh Samui)
- White Sand Beach (Koh Chang)
How to get to Thailand
There are direct flights from Europe, the U.S, and Australia as well as various other destinations around the world. Most flights go to Bangkok, but there are also international flights to Phuket international airport and Chiang Mai.
Flight tickets are usually available from 300-900 Euro per roundtrip depending on where you fly from to Thailand.
Buses and trains from neighboring countries
If you’re already in Southeast Asia, you could travel to Thailand overland by bus or train. Buses are widely available from neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.
For those who prefer to travel by train, there are daily trains as well, even though many routes require a short stop at the border to change trains. Tickets can be bought on arrival and the same goes for buses.
Sleeper trains and overnight bus rides are often cheaper, although a bit longer in travel time. It’s a great way of saving money since you also don’t need to pay for accommodation that night.
Accommodation and hotels in Thailand
The most popular destinations in Thailand have a wide range of accommodations available from budget to luxury. Additionally, luxury hotels and mid-range hotels are usually cheaper compared to many other countries.
The same goes for hostels and guesthouses due to a large number of backpackers traveling to Thailand every year. During high season, it’s recommended that you book your accommodation in advance, but many hotels and hostels will also offer to book a room upon arrival.
I recommend these two hotel booking sites for hotel rooms in Thailand:
Budget & Price level in Thailand
Prices vary a lot between tourist areas and local areas. Tourist resorts and areas will have a higher price level than local areas. With that said, prices are still relatively cheap in Thailand for international visitors.
Western-style restaurants and imported goods are priced at 50-70% compared to European countries. However, local products and restaurants often have much lower prices. Dinner at a local restaurant will cost from 1 Euro to 3 Euro, and at a Western-styled restaurant, expect to pay 5-10 Euro.
Public transportation and taxi/tuk-tuk are also cheap for most visitors. A taxi only costs a few bahts per kilometer in Bangkok and northern Thailand. In Phuket, the prices a bit higher since the taxi companies have somewhat a monopoly.
A budget of 1000-1500 Euro per month should be more than sufficient when you travel to Thailand. This includes accommodation, food, and activities. Considering that most Thai people survive on much less than that, you could also get by on a lower budget.
3-4 star hotels are usually available from 20-50 Euro per night, but there are also cheap hostels and guesthouses from 5-10 Euro.
Currency and Credit Cards
The currency used in Thailand is called Baht. Payment by card is not very common, although more hotels and restaurants have started to accept card payments in recent years. However, cash is still king in Thailand, and you should always carry cash while traveling around the country.
I recommend that you withdraw money from a local ATM upon arrival since this will give you the most value for your money. Another option is to exchange Euros or Dollars at Superrich, which usually offers quite reasonable exchange rates.
Best time of the year to visit Thailand
You can travel to Thailand all year-round, but if you’re planning a vacation in the sun, it’s best to visit from November to March when the rain season is over. The high season typically starts in December and lasts somewhere in February/March with a peak during Christmas and January.
If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Thailand will be from the end of November and early December as well as in March. Prices will be lower during these periods and there will be fewer tourists visiting as well.
The official dates for the rainy season from July to October, but it can differ from year to year. I have visited Thailand during the rainy season as well, and there will still be days of sunshine and nice weather. The prices will also be significantly lower.
Festivals in Thailand
Throughout the year, there are hundreds of festivals in Thailand that you can attend. Below are some of the coolest festivals that attract visitors from all over the world as well as many locals.
- Songkran (April)
- Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai (November)
- Vegetarian Festival in Phuket (November)
- Chinese New Year in Bangkok (January or February)
- Phi Ta Koon (Ghost festival in Dan Sai – June or July)
Weather and Climate
The climate of Thailand is tropical and moist year-round with two distinct seasons, a rain period and a dry period. The rainy season starts usually starts in May/June, although the official date is from July. It last until October, and sometimes extends into November depending on the region.
The least rain falls in January and March as well as December. The temperature is more or less the same year-round and sits at around 30 degrees during the daytime and 25 degrees in the evening.
July and September are usually the months that see the most rain.
The table below displays the average temperature in Thailand throughout the year as well as how much rain falls in each quarter. Please note that there will be local variations depending on the region.
The average temperature listed is from Phuket, in the southern part of the country.
|January, February, March||27-28°C||110 mm|
|April, May, June||29°C||590 mm|
|July, August, September, October||27-28°C||1240 mm|
|November, December||27-28°C||260 mm|
Temples in Thailand
Most temples in Thailand are Buddhist temples since the majority of Thai people are Buddhists. Every city will have several temples that are open to the public. Foreigners might have to pay an entrance fee, but that’s not always the case.
Thai Temples are quite spectacular and often have majestic architecture with lots of interesting details.
As a visitor, you must adhere to the dress code and show respect. Most temples require that you take off your shoes, and too revealing clothing is not allowed. Both women and men should cover their legs and shoulders when visiting a temple in Thailand.
This will not be enforced at smaller temples, which often don’t have any staff that checks visitors. However, you should always respect the local customs and follow the dress code.
5 x Practical tips for your trip
- Use a travel card without fees for atm withdrawals
- Don’t be afraid of eating street food in Thailand, but make sure it’s recently cooked
- Always carry cash
- Make sure that you have a valid travel insurance
- Don’t forget to haggle at local markets, it’s part of the local culture and customs. Sellers will often list higher prices to tourists, and you can start by offering half the price
Thai: (ภาษาไทย) is the only official language in Thailand and it’s part of the Kra-Dai language family. The writing system consists of the Thai script, which is different compared to the Latin script.
Most locals who work within the tourism industry will know basic English, but it’s always appreciated if a foreigner learns a few basic Thai phrases before traveling to Thailand.
How to say hello in Thai
Hello = Sa wat dee (Sawadee)
How to say thank you in Thai
- Thank you = Kob khun
- Thank you (said by a woman) = Kob khun kha
- Thank you (said by a man) = Kob khun krup (pronounced Kob Khun Kup)
What to eat in Thailand
Thai food is available in many countries around the world, but it’s not quite the same, even though the same dishes will be served in Thailand as well. Thai people eat a lot of meat, and you’ll find skewers sold at food stalls around the country.
Every region also has its own specialties and there are lots of interesting Thai food that you should try while visiting. Below are some of the most common dishes that can be found all over the country.
- Som Tam (Green papaya salad)
- Pad Thai
- Panang Gai (red curry)
- Gang Massaman
- Khao Pad
- Pad Krapow Moo Saap
- Tom Yum Gung
- Gang Keow Wan (Green curry)
Is it safe to eat street food in Thailand?
Street food is generally safe to eat, but some precaution is needed before consumption. Make sure that the street food was recently cooked, and hasn’t been out in the sun for a few hours.
If it’s cooked recently, there shouldn’t be any issues, and might even be safer than some restaurants depending on the hygiene standard. Most food stalls are rather simple, but the people preparing the food are often meticulous when cooking the food. They are often highly dependant on having return customers and maintaining a good reputation.
I eat street food in Thailand every time I visit and haven’t had any issues. Most of the time, street food will even have better flavors than restaurants.
How to get around in Thailand
Getting around in Thailand as a tourist is very simple since the infrastructure is well-developed for tourists. Furthermore, even local means of transportation are efficient in getting from A to B. For example, you can take a tuk-tuk or taxi to various places without paying too much.
Trains and buses can sometimes require longer travel times, but it’s very cheap and a great option if you don’t have a tight schedule. If you want to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or Phuket, you could take a train or bus, but it will be much faster to take a domestic flight.
There are several domestic flights daily to all main islands and regions. It’s also relatively cheap, especially if you book your flight tickets well in advance.
Domestic airlines in Thailand
- Bangkok Airways
- Thai Airways
- Thai Lionair
- Thai Smile
Along the coasts and from and to the islands, boat is the most common way of transportation. There are daily ferries and longtail boats to the most popular destinations and islands.
There is no Uber in Thailand, instead, you have Grab, which is more or less the same thing. It’s an Asian ride-hailing app and they merged with Uber and took over their operations in 2018.
You can also take a regular taxi by phoning a taxi company or hail a taxi when it passes. Make sure to agree on the price beforehand, and ideally, they should use their meter.
I recommend using Grab since you don’t have to worry about payment or negotiating prices. It’s all in the app, and the driver will just come and pick you up and drop you off at your desired drop-off point.
Tuk-Tuks in Thailand has become famous worldwide, and they are a fun way of getting around. You’ll have to negotiate prices before getting inside the vehicle. Tuk-Tuks are typically available in cities and tourist areas.
Local bus / Songthaews
Larger cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai will have local buses as well as shared minibusses, locally known as songthaews. You’ll pay on the bus and the price is typically fixed depending on your travel distance.
Where to get a Thai massage
Getting a Thai massage is one of the best things you can do in Thailand, but make sure that you visit a reputable place. Avoid massage parlors where there are ladies standing outside and calling customers from the street.
These are likely to be sketchy places and not a genuine place to get a traditional Thai massage. Another great place to get a good massage in Thailand is by visiting the local markets, especially weekend markets.
Shopping in Thailand
The markets in Thailand are full of local products such as clothing and handicrafts. The major cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai also have large shopping malls where you can find international stores.
Wildlife in Thailand
Thailand has a rich wildlife with many exotic animals living in the jungles. As a tourist, you’re unlikely to encounter any dangerous animals, but it’s still good to know about them.
There are several poisonous snakes in Thailand, but most tourists will never see one. Some animals in Thailand that you can see in the wild are Monkeys, Elephants, Asian water monitor lizard, Manta Rays, Sun bears, Dolphins.
Additionally, there’s also a rich marine life with a wide range of fishes and other animals such as turtles.
Dangerous animals in Thailand
- Poisonous snakes (Cobra, Krait, Vipers)
- Giant Centipede
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to travel to Thailand?
Thailand is very safe for tourists and crimes are quite uncommon. Foreigners are often treated very good and a lot of locals depend on the income from international visitors.
However, while you’re unlikely to encounter any serious crimes, there are still travel scams to watch out for as well as pickpocketers. Some common scams include taxi drivers not turning their meter on, or tuk-tuk drivers making a stop at gem stores or other places where they get paid to take you.
Additionally, there are some beggars that are disguised as Buddhist monks who will approach tourists and beg for money. These are not real Buddhist monks since real monks are not allowed to handle money.
There are also some known scams in Thailand that happen at massage parlors, red-light districts, nightclubs, and tourists who buy drugs. It often includes extortion of money or if something illegal has happened a corrupt police officer might “catch” you and force you to pay cash in order to avoid jail time.
You’re best off avoiding sketchy massage parlors and nightclubs with a bad reputation. Drugs should always be avoided in Thailand since the penalties and laws are very strict, even for foreigners.
At clubs, especially in red-light districts, you might end up with a much higher bill and have to pay for drinks that you didn’t order. The girls or ladyboys working there might also order drinks on your behalf, that you need to pay for.
How much money do you need per day in Thailand?
I recommend 50 Euros per person per day when traveling around Thailand. It’s possible to use less than that per day, and you can obviously spend a lot more per day as well. For couples, I would say that 75 Euros per day will be enough.
About 1000-1500 Euros per person should be more than enough for 1 month unless you travel in an expensive way. For most standard tourists that should be sufficient funds for a month.
Can you drink the tap water in Thailand?
You shouldn’t drink tap water in Thailand unless it has been filtered. Most apartments will have large water dispensers with filtered water for a couple of bahts. Otherwise, I recommend that you bring your own filtered water bottle.
What power plug is used in Thailand?
The electrical outlets and sockets in Thailand are of the types A, B, C, F, and O. For simple electronics such as a phone charger, you’ll likely not need a travel adapter if you’re from Europe. However, for laptop chargers and heavier electronics, you’ll likely need an adapter.
Do you need a visa to visit Thailand?
Thailand offers a visa-free stay to 64 countries around the world for trips that are shorter than 30 days.
Do you need injections for Thailand?
The usual recommended vaccinations for Thailand include Hepatitis A and B (Twinrix) as well as ensuring that you have cover against childhood diseases. Some will also take vaccination for Typhoid, which is a foodborne disease.
Personally, I only have the standard vaccine against Hepatitis A and B as well as childhood diseases.
Internet and Wi-Fi in Thailand
If you bring an unlocked phone, you can easily purchase a local sim card. Just go to any 7-eleven or Family mart and buy what they recommend depending on the latest offers.
TrueMove, Dtac, and Ais are the most common carriers. At the airport, you can also buy specific packages for the internet and calls for tourists, which can be worthwhile depending on the length of your stay.
It’s always a good idea to have an internet connection while traveling around Thailand, to use services like Grab or Google Maps.
More information about Thailand
Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia that borders Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. The country has a total of 69 million people, where 8.2 million people live in the capital Bangkok.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and the current monarch is Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as King Rama X. It’s a Buddhist country where 95% of the people are considered Buddhists.
List of Cities in Thailand
- Nakhon Ratchasima
- Chiang Mai
- Hat Yai
- Udon Thani
- Pak Kret
- Khon Kaen
- Chaophraya Surasak
- Phuket town
The oldest findings of human settlement in Thailand go back as far as 40 000 years in time, but there are no written accounts from this period. The fact is that little is known about Thai history before the 13th century.
What’s known is that the Dvaravati kingdom was founded by the Mon people somewhere around the 6th century AD. The first known Thai people of today came from southern China in the 13th century, and the first Thai kingdom was founded in 1238 – The Sukothai.
During the ruling of King Ramkamhaeng between the years 1283 and 1317, two major reforms were made that are still characterizing the country today. Theravada Buddhism was stated as the official religion and the Thai script was introduced.
Around 1350, Ayutthaya was founded, which is located 1 hour away by car from Bangkok. A might empire thrived here that also became an important trade center in Southeast Asia. From the middle of the 15th century, Ayutthaya went by the name “Siam” and the residents were known as Siamese.
The power of Ayutthaya grew and they expanded their territory by defeating the Khmer empire and seizing Angkor. The kingdom flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to try and establish themselves in the region, but they never succeeded within the Ayutthaya kingdom.
Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia which were never colonized. They have kept its own distinct culture and independence except during a short period in the 18th century where the Burmese captured Ayutthaya and a short period when the Japanese occupied the country during World War II.
The Burmese rule only lasted for 15 years before the Thai people revolted against them and reclaimed their power, under the leadership of Chao Phya Chakri, which thereby became the first king of the current dynasty.
This also led to the foundation of the current capital – Bangkok. However, in some other parts of the country, there were other kingdoms that flourished throughout history as well, such as the Lanna kingdom in the north.
Europeans threatened Thailand in the 19th and 20th centuries when they had various colonies in Asia. However, it was decided that Thailand would remain a neutral zone between the major colonial powers.
Tourism in Thailand
More than 38 million tourists travel to Thailand every year, and there’s been a steady increase in international visitors in the last couple of decades. Tourism in Thailand accounts for over 10% of the national GDP and many locals depend on it as their main source of income.
Buddhism is the official religion in Thailand and more than 95% of the people recognize themselves as Buddhists. Additionally, about 4% of the population is Muslim, who mostly reside in the southern part of the country.
Buddhism is well integrated into Thai society and most things in daily life revolve around the Buddhist faith.
Map of Thailand
Below is a map of the country’s territory and where the largest cities are located.
Things to avoid when you travel to Thailand
- Don’t touch someone else’s head, it’s considered sacred
- Tourist attractions that exploit animals, such as Elephant riding and petting tigers
- Don’t take a regular taxi unless they use their meter
- Never speak ill of the king and the royal family, it’s punishable by law
- Don’t store anything valuable in your luggage that goes into the hold when taking a bus
- Never leave your drink unattended, especially at full moon parties
- Don’t drink the tap water or salad that has been washed with unfiltered water
How to avoid food poisoning in Thailand
It’s not that common to get food poisoned when you travel to Thailand, but it might happen. Luckily there are some precautions that you can take to avoid food poisoning during your trip.
For example, don’t eat uncooked salad or vegetables that have been washed in tap water. If they cook the vegetables, you’ll likely be fine since the bacterias will die from the heat. Ice that’s made from tap water should also be avoided.
Furthermore, always make sure that the food is thoroughly cooked, especially chicken and pork. Also, ensure that the food is freshly cooked and hasn’t been out in the sun or open air for several hours.
If you’re eating at popular restaurants and avoid food buffets, you’ll have a higher chance of getting freshly cooked food, and thus avoiding food poisoning in Thailand.
What it’s like to travel to Thailand
Thailand is one of the easiest countries in the world to explore as a tourist, no matter your travel style. It’s cheap and the locals are very friendly, the food is delicious and there is almost an endless number of attractions and beautiful places.
My best memories from Thailand are from visiting local restaurants where a dinner cost just 1-2 Euros. Or the times, when I’ve been traveling by Songthaew and met the locals who barely spoke English.
Thai people are known for being friendly, helpful, and happy to talk with strangers. I recommend that you explore off-the-beaten-path and also tries to visit some lesser-known attractions.
Travel like a local and take a songthaew or tuk-tuk instead of a regular taxi. Eat street food or go to a local restaurant at a backstreet instead of the typical restaurant on the main strip.
Visit the local markets when you travel to Thailand and go to places where the locals go and experience the Thai culture. Thailand is a safe country and you don’t have to worry about dangerous situations.
And last but not least, make sure to drink a lot of smoothies, try weird fruits in Thailand and eat lots of Thai food!
Want more tips before you travel to Thailand? Leave a comment below!