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Thailand

Welcome to the Ultimate Thailand Travel Guide!

Thailand is known for its food, martial arts, beaches, temples, and islands. And I can promise you that none of these things disappoint! Whatever kind of adventure you want to have in this singularly beautiful country, this Thailand travel guide has everything you need for planning a trip!

Chiang Mai and Bangkok are the most visited cities in the country. Both of these are worth visiting, and they make for great “home bases” for day trips to other towns and sites. You should also visit at least one of the islands – I would recommend Phuket, the Koh Yao Islands, or the Phi Phi islands.

Thailand is also one of the Best Destinations For Solo Female Travelers!
Ready to plan your trip? Then here’s your ultimate Thailand travel guide!
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Top Places to Visit

Ayutthaya
Bangkok
Chiang Mai
Koh Yao Islands
Pai
Pattaya
Phi Phi islands
Phuket Island
Samut Prakan
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Typical Costs When Traveling

Exchange Rate

The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (฿). Exchange rates are subject to fluctuations, so be sure to check this regularly as your trip approaches. On average, ฿1 is equal to about £.02 British Pounds $.03 U.S., €,03, and .23 Chinese Yuan.

Accommodation

A budget hotel room is in the ฿500–1000 a night range (£12.50-25, $16.50-33, €15-30, 116-232 Yuan). A mid-range hotel can be anywhere from ฿1000–4000 a night (£25-98, $33-132, €30-119, 232-928 Yuan). More luxury accommodations start at around ฿4500 a night and go up from there (£110, $149, €135, 1044 Yuan).

Airbnb prices usually average less a night than their hotel counterparts. So consider the location, amenities, transportation, and services you’ll need/want from your accommodation when choosing between a hotel/hostel or Airbnb.

November to February is Thailand’s peak tourism season, so travel costs will be higher during these months.

Food

Meals from a market or street stand will only be about ฿70 (£1.75, $2.25, €2, 16.25 Yuan). Western lunches and a traditional Thai dinner will be between ฿150–350 (£3.75-8.50, $5-11.50, €4,50-10,50, 35-81 Yuan).

In Thailand, when you dine with a group, it’s customary for one person to order multiple dishes for the table. Then everyone shares the food “family style.”

A meal at a fine dining restaurant will be anywhere between ฿350–1000 and up (£8.75-25, $11.50-$33, €10,50-30, 35-232 Yuan).

Alcohol is relative cheap in Thailand, with a beer averaging ฿75 (£1.85, $2.50, €2,25, 17.50 Yuan) and a cocktail averaging ฿100 (£2.46, $3.25, €3, 23 Yuan).

Transportation

Bangkok has a sky train, subway, and water taxis. But a Tuk Tuk, motorbike or bus are the best ways to get around Thailand’s cities – big and small. Plan to spend ฿20–50 (£.50-1.25, $.65-1.65, €,60-1,50, 4.50-12 Yuan) per day on public transportation within a city or town.

Renting a motorbike for the day will be ฿150–250 (£3.75-6, $5-8, €4,50-7,50, 35-58). A private car and driver will start at ฿900 per day, plus tips (£22, $30, €27, 209 Yuan).

Plane, train, and bus are your best options for going from city to city. For train and bus travel, it’s best to get your tickets ahead of time. The Man in Seat 61 is my favorite booking site for trains. Depending on how far you’re going, costs for long-distance travel within Thailand are:

Buses – ฿240-1150 (£6-28, $8-38, €7-38, 56-38 Yuan)

Trains – ฿360-1780 (£9-44, $12-59, €11-59, 84-413 Yuan)

Flights – ฿910-3140 (£22-77, $30-105, €27-94, 211-729)

Thailand has an extensive ferry network that runs to and from the mainland and islands. Ferry tickets are around ฿400 (£10, $13, €12, 93 Yuan) depending on the island you’re visiting. It’s best to buy your ferry tickets ahead of time online. My favorite site for this is 12go.

Other Expenses

I’d budget around ฿150 a day (£3.75, $5, €4,50, 34.75 Yuan) for entrance fees, tours, guides, snacks, tips, and souvenirs. Organized and guided tours will cost about ฿1000–1500 (£25-37, $33-50, €30-45, 232-348 Yuan).

Most places in Thailand only accept cash. Some travel agents, upmarket hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls accept foreign credit cards. But you need to always have enough cash on you for anything you want to do or buy. Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted debit and credit cards. American Express is usually only accepted at high-end hotels and restaurants.

ATMs are common in Thai cities of all sizes. Thai ATMs charge a ฿220 (£5.50, $7.25, €6,50, 50 Yuan) foreign-transaction fee in addition to whatever currency conversion and out-of-network fees you’ll already be paying. So, check to see if your bank or private money changers will offer better foreign-exchange rates for cash exchanges before your trip.

Thailand travel guide
Tipping

At many hotel restaurants and more upmarket eateries, a 10% service charge will be added to your bill. Otherwise, tipping isn’t generally expected in Thailand, but it’s appreciated to leave the change from a large restaurant bill if you pay with cash.

Suggested Daily Costs

These budget estimates include eating and drinking out at least once a day and a couple of train, bus, or ferry rides.

Lower End: ฿1400 a day (£35, $46, €42, 325 Yuan). Midrange: ฿3000 a day (£74, $96, €88, 675 Yuan). Higher End: ฿5000 a day and up (£123, $161, €147, 1125 Yuan).

Money Saving Tips

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Haggle Haggling is expected in Thailand, so it should be relaxed and friendly. Let the seller make the first offer, then ask, ‘can you lower the price?’ This usually results in a discount, then you make a counter-offer. But don’t bargain unless you’re serious about buying. If you’re buying several of an item, you have a lot more reasons and leverage for requesting a lower price.
2
Travel North Thai beaches are amazing, but they're about three times as expensive as Northern Thailand, even in the off-season.
3
Eat Street Food Every city, town, and island is full of street stalls with great food. So, you'll be eating more like a local and saving money!

My Must-Have Guide Books

How to Prepare for Thailand

Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations for Thailand: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, and influenza.

Passport Health has additional information on current vaccinations and diseases in Thailand, and I recommend visiting their website for the most up-to-date travel requirements.

You don’t need to take anti-malaria medication when visiting most parts of the country. But if you’re traveling to a more remote and rural part of Thailand, especially near the borders of Myanmar, you might need to take malaria medication. The CDC has a detailed list of regions in Thailand that pose a risk for malaria transmission.

Visas

Citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, EU, and Great Britain need a valid passport and a return ticket to enter Thailand, but they DO NOT need a visa if they’re staying less than 30 days.

If you’re a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check your country’s requirements for visiting Thailand. The World Travel Guide has more information on Thailand’s visa and passport requirements, including a list of countries who’s citizens are required to have a visa to enter Thailand.

Everyone who enters Thailand must have a passport that’s valid for six months past the date of entry and that has one blank page for an entry stamp.

iVisa is an incredibly helpful resource for obtaining visas. iVisa makes the usually complicated and confusing process of getting a visa easy by taking care of everything for you. You fill out a simple online application, and then iVisa takes care of everything else.

Etiquette

Thais are usually very understanding and hospitable, but there are some taboos and social conventions to be aware of.

It’s a criminal offense to disrespect the royal family. So don’t say anything negative about the royal family or treat objects depicting the king (including money) with disrespect.

Women should never touch a monk or a monk’s belongings. Women should also step out of the way of Monks and not sit next to them on public transportation.

It’s illegal to take images and statues of the Lord Buddha out of Thailand. If you buy anything with the Buddha on it, it will be seized by customs agents when you leave the country.

When To Go

Thailand’s High Season is from November to March. During these months, everything is open – sights, tours, transportation, etc. But accommodation prices and tourists can be double what they are for the rest of the year. This is the country’s cooler and dry season when the landscape is most lush and temperatures are most comfortable.

The Shoulder Season is from April to June and September to October. April to June is generally very hot and dry, especially in the jungle and island parts of the country. September and October are close enough to the rainy season that you risk some bad weather in the mainland part of the country. So the islands are your best best for these two months.

The Monsoon Season is from July to October. During these months, you’ll encounter less-desirable weather conditions in all parts of the country. Expect rain every day and be prepared for flooding to affect your transportation around the country. Many hotels, sights, and restaurants shut down, especially on the islands, and ferry schedules are limited.

What To Pack

In addition to your usual travel essentials, you’ll want these items in Thailand:

Slip-on shoes because you’ll regularly be taking your shoes off and on when you visit temples, homes, many shops, some restaurants, and massage parlors.

Water bottle to save on plastic and because you can refill water bottles with filtered water for just a few cents here.

Bug spray and sunscreen: You’ll constantly need both of these things. But bring these with you from home because they are very expensive in Thailand.

Rain jacket because there’s always a chance of rain, even when it’s not the monsoon season.

A couple of layers to cover your arms when entering a temple and for the cooler nights from December to February.

Sturdy hiking shoes when visiting the rural or jungle parts of the country.

What To Wear

Men and women need to dress reasonably conservatively in Thailand. Please refrain from wearing tank tops, short shorts, or crop tops. This would be disrespectful, especially in Southern Thailand, where there’s a large Muslin population.

Many establishments and religious sites won’t let you enter if you’re not dressed appropriately.

If you’re visiting a religious site, wear clothes that cover your knees and elbows. Swimsuits are fine on a beach or in a pool, but cover-up when going to and from the beach or pool.

Have you been to Thailand? Comment below with anything you’d add to this Thailand travel guide!
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This Thailand travel guide is not a sponsored post, and, as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Some of the links in this Thailand travel guide are affiliate links, and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

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Comments:

  • January 7, 2020

    Thanks for putting this guide together–it’s definitely super informative! :] I haven’t been to Thailand in…over 15 years, but it’s definitely on my list of places I’d like to visit again!

    reply...
  • January 7, 2020

    I would love to visit Thailand someday! This guide is very useful! My husband went a few years ago for a mission trip & he mentioned the people there are so kind & welcoming!

    reply...
  • February 24, 2020

    Great and informative post. I find it interesting that many places only accept cash.

    reply...

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