Have you ever wondered what’s the hype about visiting Thailand? Why is it a favorite spot for chilling trips with friends or simply shopping? Well, because, the ‘’Land of Smiles’’ has its offering for everyone. Low & friendly prices, beautiful attractions, enthralling beaches, palaces with great historical values, monasteries, divine temples, bountiful of handicraft stuff, never-ending nightlife, beautiful exotic islands and much more. What amongst these, does not fascinate you? The richness of Thailand irresistibly attracts the tourists to visit at least once.
An enticing travel hub for most tourists, travellers find Thailand very reasonable on their wallet. However, given its expansive assortment of sights and experiences, it becomes slightly overwhelming while planning a trip to Thailand, especially for first-time travellers. There is so much information available that it gets quite confusing to decide what to see, how to travel and where to stay in Thailand.
Here’s a quick Thailand travel guide focusing on what you need to know on your first trip to Thailand.
Best time to travel
Although the climate varies throughout Thailand, it is an all year-round destination and every season has a distinct charm. Our favourite time to visit Thailand is between November and March, when temperatures are a little lower and there is less rain and humidity. July to October is the low season as the weather brings heavy rainfall in Thailand. For a true taste of Thai culture, April’s Songkran festival (Thai New Year) is also popular.
Decide your budget
There are options for all budgets wherever you go. Thailand is a value for money destination and suits all types of travellers. A budget traveller can spend approx. 1000 Thai Baht in a day which is about 30 USD. A basic guesthouse costs from 600 Thai Baht onwards. If you are looking for slightly higher stay options; then mid-range hotels to boutique hotels cost anywhere between 1000 to 4000 Thai Baht per day. Luxury is super affordable in this country!
Transportation is cheap and so are the flights. Every bit of early planning on your part will get you closer to affordable travel tickets and great discounts on other travel products. So, if you are planning a trip to Thailand, your first step should be to book flight tickets.
Thailand has a variety of accommodations ranging from backpacker’s hostels to motels and luxurious hotels. You name it and you have it. There is a hotel type for every budget. However, staying at a hotel or resort near the beach is a favourite for many. Nothing beats having a beach a stone throw away; the smell of the sea, the sound of the waves crashing into each other and the beautiful sight of the calm blue sea.
Getting around in Thailand
There are several ways of getting around in Thailand:
- Taxis: Make sure you use metered taxis. Do not let the driver give you a set price as they will usually overcharge tourists. Also, check that the meter is turned on and if the driver refuses or says it’s broken get another taxi, there are plenty in Thailand.
- Tuk Tuk: A fun way to travel around but can be a very bumpy ride. They also do not offer a lot of protection from other vehicles. These do not have meters so make sure you agree on a price before you depart.
- Motorbikes: You can spot motorbike taxis by the driver’s orange vests. These are the fastest way to get around crowded cities but can be very scary! There’s a reason renting scooters in Thailand is so popular: it’s fun. It’s also the way most locals get around, so you’re really just fitting in with the crowd.
- Trains: One of the safest ways to travel in Thailand and a great way to see the countryside. However, beware of thieves on overnight trains as you may wake up with all your belongings gone.
Know before you go
- Thailand Visa: Indian citizens can apply for Thailand visa before travel or also have an option to get the Thailand visa on arrival. However, we strongly recommend you apply for your Thai visa well in advance to avoid long waiting queues (it can go up to 4 hours) which can be tiring and time consuming and comparatively expensive.
- Sim Cards: Sim Cards and top-ups are widely available throughout Thailand. Major national operators include DTAC, True, AIS
- Currency: Thai Baht is the currency of Thailand. Notes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Baht. Avoid getting your money changed at the airport, you will be charged a high commission fee and there’s always a risk of fake bank notes especially 100 and 1000 Baht notes. Also, ATM’s will charge around 150 Baht per cash withdrawal. So, it’s best to carry sufficient cash from your home country only. Click here for best currency rates,
- Tipping: it is not a tradition in Thailand, although restaurants in tourist areas have come to expect tips from foreigners. If you have got good service and would like to tip, 10 percent is fine. Restaurants will sometimes add a 10 percent service charge to your bill, so make sure you check before you hand over more money for a tip.
- Adventure Activities: Thailand is a place of fun and there are a lots of adventure activities to choose from. Hence, we advise take the right precautions, always get travel insurance and make sure your completely covered before you venture on that much awaited Thailand trip.
- What to wear: Belonging to the tropics, Thailand’s hot and sunny climate can get from 27 – 35 degrees Celsius all throughout the year so carry light clothes. However, Thailand is also an inherently spiritual place, meaning you will need to pack set of long skirts or pants, and something to cover your shoulders out of respect when visiting temples and sacred monuments.
What to do
- Thailand’s shopping & nightlife: Thailand is a shopaholic’s paradise. It is also a haven for those who love a vibrant nightlife. Bangkok is a premier hub presenting a myriad of choices for shopping and nightlife entertainment for your Thailand tour. Shop till you drop at colossal malls and sprawling street markets such as Chatuchak weekend markets. Right from designer labels to handmade antiques and merchandises, you can get anything and everything in Bangkok.
- Do Some Island Hopping: Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi, Phi Phi, Phuket – Thailand has tons of beautiful islands where you can relax on white sandy beaches. So why not visit as many as you can?
- Hit a Full Moon Party: Thailand’s Full Moon Parties are legendary. Now infamous around the world, what was started by a bunch of hippies dancing at Koh Phangan now attracts around 30,000 revelers each full moon. Alcohol is served in buckets, it really is a party animal’s paradise.
- Look for the famous activities and festivals: Riding on the elephant or bathing them, chilling out in the floating market, learning Muay Thai, enjoying fish spa, attending a traditional yoga class, riding the 3-wheeled motor vehicle called “tuk”, taking traditional cooking classes, exploring the ancient temple and hanging out in the night market.
- For Adventure junkies: Thailand has some of the best diving spots in the world and is one of the cheapest places to learn. There are literally hundreds to choose from, but we recommend Hin Muang, Hin Daeng and the Similan Islands. You can also go ziplining above the rugged forests attached to a thin wire for an adrenaline rush like no other. Thailand has some of the best diving spots in the world and is one of the cheapest places to learn. There are literally hundreds to choose from, but we recommend Hin Muang, Hin Daeng and the Similan Islands. You can also go ziplining above the rugged forests attached to a thin wire for an adrenaline rush like no other.
- Eat your first bug: If you have a strong stomach, then go for it – eat an insect! If you have a weak stomach, still go for it but just be prepared with a glass of water on standby. You can sample anything from grasshoppers, crickets and worms when in Thailand. Once you get over any initial reservations, you might be surprised to find you actually enjoy deep-fried bugs
- Explore the local markets: Visit the likes of the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, Krabi, Pai and Chiang Mai for the best souvenirs, handmade paintings and other goods. Before you purchase any large wooden items, fur or animal bones make sure you check for any customs or border control restrictions before you arrive back home.
- Eat, Eat, Eat: Thailand is a street food capital of the world. It has some of the most delicious and cheapest street food in the world. Grabbing a bite to eat from one of the many street vendors is all part of the Thai experience. Head to stalls with big crowds and choose food that is cooked to order rather than pre-prepared to make sure it’s fresh. If you’re feeling adventurous why not try some crispy fried insects – they go down great with a cold beer. The Thais are seriously proud of their cuisine, and one of the best ways to make friends in the country is to eat as much and as widely as you can. Try food you’ve never even seen before. Eat as many chilies as the locals do. If you’re worried about street food, try to stick to the popular vendors, the ones with queues out the front, and watch as your food is cooked in front of you.
Things to avoid
- Going on a pre-travel shopping spree: don’t do it – you’ll pack way too much and you’ll find everything much cheaper in Thailand!
- Under paying for a tuk tuk: If a Tuk Tuk driver is offering to take you anywhere in Bangkok for 20B (less than $1) – they’re going to take you to every tailor and jewellery shop in the city before they take you anywhere and you’ll be begging to get out of the tuk tuk. Being anxious about going somewhere new and not knowing what to expect is normal and if you’re travelling solo it can be even more intimidating. As you research and plan, there is always the worry of ‘Am I getting it right? Is this the best way?’.
- Be careful with Tap water: Never drink the tap water. Always use bottled water and if ordering drinks make sure the ice is not made from tap water. Many travellers don’t even use the tap water to brush their teeth. Prepare your kids beforehand by letting them know that they can’t drink the tap water – including in the bath or shower.
- Sun Stroke: Sunburn can be horrendous on a holiday and can potentially ruin it if you end up with sunstroke. Our advice is; Use a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF, always carry water, heatstroke is not fun. Lightweight jacket, cardigan or pashmina are also good for protection against the sun. They also keep you warm during night time which can get cold after getting sun burns from the beach.
- Be Cautious of Infectious Diseases: Getting sick on a vacation is the worst experience, so try to avoid getting sick. There are a lot of mosquitos in Thailand and many dangerous diseases are spread by mosquitos. Use mosquito repellent creams and sprays to get as much protection you can get from the mosquitos whilst there. You should also wear full sleeved clothes to be safe from the mosquitos at night.
Places to visit in Thailand
- Bangkok: will be flying into Bangkok anyway, do yourself a favor and stay a few extra days. When in Thailand, you cannot miss to see its capital city of Bangkok where all the angels live in. Bangkok or Krungthep means the land of angels and is the main destination in Thailand. Shoppers, night goers and adventurers consider this place their paradise. The top activities that people will do when they are in Bangkok are shopping, visiting temples, enjoying Thai cuisine and tropical fruits and exploring the notoriously crazy nightlife in Patpong.
- Phuket: Phuket is no wonder one of the top main destination of Thailand. It is famous for its tropical beaches and surrounding beautiful islands such Phi Phi Islands. The must-visit beaches are Patong, Kata and Karon, to name a few. Water sports can also be enjoyed on Phuket, from sea kayaking, diving and snorkelling to surfing.
- Koh Samui: For those who dislike the rush and the crowd, Koh Samui is your best destination choice as there are plenty of pristine beaches just like in Phuket but with less people. Koh Samui is also in South of Thailand but on the side of Gulf of Thailand. Top beaches on Koh Samui that you cannot miss to see are Chaweng and Lamai. They are considered to be the most beautiful beaches on the island.
- Chiang Mai: Being a great place for retirees, Chiang Mai is also one of the most famous tourist destinations in Thailand. Chiang Mai is a northern province in Thailand. It is rich in nature with a lot of green area, a lush mountain and hills as well as beautiful ancient ruins. The Northern Province is also well-known for its sweet hospitality and nice temperature when compared to Bangkok. Chiang Mai has many interesting tourist spots – from the hill tribe’s village and royal projects to the old city areas.
- Hua Hin: Hua Hin is one of the closest beach destination from Bangkok. That’s why it is very popular among the locals. Apart from its proximity to the capital city, Hua Hin also offers great accommodation and convenient city lifestyles in the beach city. Although, Hua Hin beach might not be the main attraction itself as it doesn’t have the white sandy quality like the southern beaches. However, Hua Hin is charming with its rich in royal history and can offer relaxing beach holidays for travellers.
- Pattaya: Pattaya has more than just Go Go Bars to offer. Located in Chon Buri province, just a 2-hr drive from Bangkok, Pattaya boasts the nearest beach to Bangkok. Apart from the beach, Pattaya also has many famous attractions such as the famous transvestite shows. Other attractions such as the Sanctuary of Truth and Nongnut Tropical Park are so family friendly that you will forget that you are in Pattaya.
- Railay: Just around the corner from Krabi, Railay is much less developed than its neighboring islands but a haven for rock-climbers or those who love exploring the jungle.
Inspired already? Want to treat yourself to a sunshine holiday on the beach? Planning a summer holiday with the family? Looking for last minute deals to exciting new destinations? Stuck at the office and dreaming of a weekend city break? We have you covered!
Go on! Explore our money-saver Thailand tour packages and experience your first ever time in the ‘Land of Smiles’.
You may also be interested in…
- Thailand Travel Guide
- Top 10 must visit sights in Thailand
- You can’t go to Thailand and not see these 10 must see Thailand attractions
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