Thailand is a destination for all travelers, from all around the world. Discover secluded islands with pristine white beaches, ancient temples dating back hundreds of years, incredible waterfalls deep in the jungle, and a huge urban metropolis home to over 11 million people and loads of tasty street food.
This is your Thailand travel guide. Let’s go.
Population: 68 million
Currency: Thai Baht. Check exchange rates here.
Languages; Thai, English
International Airports; Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai
Visa Requirements; land entry gives a 2-week tourist visa, air entry gives a 30-day tourist visa
Domestic flights; Nok Air, Thai Smile, Lion Air, Air Asia.
Phone services; AIS, DTAC, True
Here you will find articles, reviews and tips to help you travel Thailand better than anyone else you know.
Here I have broken down the destinations in Thailand into 5 easy to use categories; Bangkok, Northern Thailand, The Islands, Central Thailand, and Isan (Eastern Thailand). You could break it down in many other ways, but I find this works best.
Bangkok is the entry point to Thailand, and to Southeast Asia for that matter.
The problem is, too many travelers see Bangkok as a transit destination. They arrive and leave before really discovering this city’s true potential. I was once guilty of this, but then I lived there for four years and wrote this fully comprehensive Bangkok travel guide.
Bangkok is a huge city with lively markets, fun outdoor activities, great nightlife, some of the most amazing food you will find in the world. Overall it is a very diverse city that deserves at least one week from your travels around Thailand.
Some markets that you have to check out in Bangkok
The Maeklong Railway Market is a unique market where a train passes right through the middle of it! One minute there is a busy market, the next it is an active railway line. To ensure you arrive at the right time, check out the Maeklong Railway Market Train Schedule here.
The Amphawa Floating Market is one of the largest floating markets in Thailand. It is a popular weekend destination for Bangkok locals coming for a fresh seafood barbecue. It is also just down the road from the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, though a bit more touristy.
Perhaps Bangkok’s best floating market is the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. This huge floating market has a chilled local vibe, and some of the best food you will find in Bangkok. Don’t tell too many people though, this secret is just for locals.
Be sure to head to one of two islands right in Bangkok
Bang Krachao Island is a throwback to Bangkok from 50 years ago. This small islands located right in the heart of the city has a lively little floating market, a beautiful wetland park, and an active farming community.
Head a little further north of Bangkok towards Nonthaburi to explore Koh Kret. This island is complete with its own ancient pottery village, microbrewery, and weekend market. What more could you want?
A bit of Bangkok nightlife
After you’ve explored the city by day, be sure to stop by one of my favorite live music bars in Bangkok. There is a huge range of bars in Bangkok where you can relax with cheap drinks, tasty food, and some great live music. Don’t miss out!
The thought of crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, bright coral and fish, and of course, fresh coconuts brings thousands of people to travel in Thailand every year. This is the life of the Thai islands.
How many islands are there in Thailand? No one is sure, not even Wikipedia! It is estimated there are over 1,000 islands scattered about Thailand.
Many travelers think the islands are only in the south of Thailand; Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Phuket. Don’t be fooled. There is actually a huge abundance of amazing islands in the provinces of Trat, Trang, Ranong, Rayong, Satun and Surat Thani.
Here is my huge selection of the Thai islands. You must visit at least one of these while you travel Thailand:
While Northern Thailand seems like the sleepy end of the country, there is actually plenty happening this way.
Travel to northern Thailand to go jungle trekking, hiking the mountains, discover amazing waterfalls and soak away in a natural hot spring. When you’re done with nature check out the local art scene or the ancient history within the city walls.
I hear so many people traveling Thailand only giving the north a few days, it really deserves a lot more than that. You should allow one week to see two to three of the destinations listed out below. If you cram any more, you are just rushing it.
Here are some places that I recommend traveling to in Northern Thailand
Chiang Rai is Thailand’s northernmost province, surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges, waterfalls, and ethnic villages. The winter climate in Chiang Rai is much cooler than the rest of Thailand, a great place to escape the heat.
In the northeast corner of Chiang Rai is the ancient city of Chiang Saen and the Golden Triangle. Here where the Thai, Laos and Myanmar borders meet you will discover a handful ancient temples centuries old.
Mai Sai is the northernmost town in Thailand where a huge market lies on either side of the Thai-Myanmar border. Many travelers cross the border from Thailand to Myanmar just for a few hours to see what life is like on the other side.
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city after Bangkok. There are plenty of mountains and waterfalls like in Chiang Rai, yet the city is much busier.
Pai (Mae Hong Son) is a small hippie village hidden far up in the mountains. Just 10 years ago no one even spoke of Pai, now it is backpacker paradise. Discover loads of amazing waterfalls, hiking routes, and of course Khao Soi Chicken Soup!
What is Central Thailand? Nothing really. This is a term I am loosely giving to an area surrounding Bangkok in a 300km radius.
All of these destinations are within a few hours reach of Bangkok and can be visited with 2 or more days available. These are ideal if you are only planning a short trip to Thailand or a weekend trip from Bangkok.
It is surprisingly easy to visit ancient temples, go jungle trekking to waterfalls and relax on amazing beaches within just a few hours reach from Bangkok. So if you only have a few days to travel Thailand, you don’t have to go flying all over the country.
My top places to travel in Thailand near to Bangkok:
Isan is that huge chunk of eastern Thailand which no one you know has ever traveled too… Actually, only 1% of travelers to Thailand actually visit Isan.
Why travel this far east in Thailand? Isan is so culturally different from North, South or Central Thailand that it is more similar to Laos. The food is different, the language is different, and the weather is way hotter.
Out in Isan, there are no islands or beaches. Instead, there are sprawling rice fields, cowboy farmers, and some of the best food you will find in all of Thailand.
If you want to experience the real rural Thailand and get really off the beaten track, Isan is the place to go.
Places to visit in Isaan include:
The easiest and most difficult question to answer is, how much does it cost to travel Thailand? The budget really depends on how you travel. The good news is that with a huge range of great budget resorts in Thailand you can travel Thailand exceptionally cheaply.
Use these numbers as a rule of thumb for preparing your Thailand travel budget:
Accommodation in Thailand can be fairly cheap. I personally use Agoda for most of my bookings, it has the largest range of hotels and plenty of discount rates available even during the high season.
Thailand has 2 seasons. Hot (October to March) and Hotter (April to September) which is also considered the rainy season.
Peak Season: November to January can see accommodation prices jump anywhere from double to triple. This is also the nicest time to visit Thailand. The weather is not unbearably hot and there is a low chance of rain. Great for beach days, motorbike adventures and cool weather up in the mountains.
Low Season: April to September has a high chance of rain. April has the week-long Songkran water festival which marks the start of the wet season and the Thai New Year. May to July are uncomfortably hot months across the entire country, Bangkok swelters with daily average temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius.
The Best Time: Over 4 years of living and travel in Thailand I have found the best time to travel Thailand is from September to early November. This is also commonly referred to as the shoulder season. Accommodation prices are still lower, the temperature starts to cool down and there are not yet loads of tourists at all of the popular destinations.
Nomadic Notes – James has put together a huge list of useful resources for travel in Bangkok.
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