Heading to Thailand? We share these ultimate Thailand travel tips to help you plan your trip and save money in Thailand.
With endless stunning beaches, incredible food and a bustling capital, Thailand is one of the most popular places to visit in Asia. As expats in Bangkok, we share these Thailand Travel tips to prepare you for a trip.
Thailand Travel Tips
Know before you go to Thailand
Slow down – When you plan a trip, make sure to plan plenty of time. If you have just a week in Thailand, then stick to visit one or two destinations whilst your 3 week itinerary in Thailand can include a few more destinations. But make sure to avoid squeezing in too many places and miss experience the country properly.
Best time to visit Thailand – Visiting Thailand during the dry season is the best time to visit but also the most expensive. This is from November to early April. May through to October is monsoon season but visiting in October and May sees less rain, warmer weather and cheaper prices. Also, April is the hottest month, so avoid this time if you want to explore the cities.
What to pack – Bring appropriate footwear for those long sightseeing days, wear mosquito bracelets, bring long lightweight trousers for temple visits and a hat to keep you from getting sunstroke.
Bring plenty of sunscreen lotion too and a light jacket if you intend to head up north or will be using the buses and minivans; the AC can get cold quickly. You may also want to bring a wrap around scarf, this can be used as a light layer when you are feeling cold but also as a way to cover shoulders when you visit temples.
Vaccinations – Before visiting Thailand, make sure to check the vaccination recommendations from your country of residence. It is worth considering the Diphtheria, Hep B, Rabies, Tetanus, and Typhoid jab and you will need a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are travelling from or through an airport of a country with rise of the yellow fever transmission.
Hotels or hostels – There are plenty of budget friendly accommodation options in Thailand but choosing whether to go with a hotel or hostel all depends on the traveller. Hostels aren’t always the cheapest option in Thailand but in cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok, they do have a lot of competition. This means that hostels are often clean, comfortable and come with some great ammentities. Private rooms in budget hotels can be found for a similar price to hostels but for a little more, you can get some excellent hotel rooms in 3 or 4 star hotels.
Budgeting your trip – Thailand is an affordable travel destination to visit but of course, you will always need to plan a budget. Budget accommodation can be found in most areas for as little as 300B whilst 4 star hotels start at around 1200B.
Street food dishes cost between 30 – 80B, sit down local meals cost around 200B whilst a western meal costs around 500B per person. Temples are generally under 100B, taxis and public transport are cheap with a 20 minute taxi drive costing between 150 – 250B and a BTS trip costs 40B.
Stay safe – Before any trip (but especially for Thailand), make sure you get proper travel insurance. There are too many stories of motorbike accidents or drunken nights gone wrong and people being stranded with no travel coverage.
We use World Nomads because it covers activities like hiking, snorkelling and scuba diving (which we definitely recommend doing in Thailand) but is also affordable and has yearly plans available. It is also another reason why you shouldn’t rent a scooter – unless you have a valid motorcycle license, most travel insurance won’t cover any accidents.
Visas for Thailand – Travellers with US, UK or EU passports can visit Thailand for free with a 30-day visa if you enter by air or 15 days if you enter overland. If you are looking for a longer stay, you can get yourself a 60 day visit from any Thai embassy before arriving in the country.
Money in Thailand
Carry Cash – Restaurants, malls and hotels will take card or bank transfer but carrying cash is important in Thailand. You will often pick up food from vendors or markets and even some stores and restaurants will only take cash.
Bank app – If you are an expat in Thailand with a Thai bank card, make sure to download the banking app and learn how to use it. More and more restaurants and stores are offering bank transfers via QR codes so make life easier for yourself by having this handy.
Be aware of scams – There is a lot to love about Thailand but the scams are not one of them. Near many of the major attractions, you may find locals trying to tell you that certain places are closed. Ignore them and always go to the official ticket booth.
Haggle – When shopping in the markets, you will often find souvenirs without a price tag. When asking for the price, foreigners will often be charged up to 4x more than the actual price; so make sure to negotiate and if you aren’t happy with a price, move on – you will likely find a similar item in a store or two down.
Getting around Thailand
Download the grab app – Whilst in Thailand, you will at some point find yourself trying to haggle with a taxi driver. Often, they will avoid putting on their meter, especially in tourists areas. Instead, download the grab app (similar to Uber) and use this to book taxis around the major cities. If you aren’t in a major city, Grab may still work or you can speak with your hotel or hostel to arrange a taxi driver.
Flights in Thailand – Budget airlines such as AirAsia, VietJet, Jetstar and Skoot are all great options for those looking to fly around Thailand on a budget. Just make sure to add luggage before you arrive at the airport.
Train and Bus routes – Getting around Thailand is easy; not only are there plenty of flights but there are also lots of train and bus options to choose from. Compare different routes on the 12Go.Asia website and remember to book travel in advance, especially if you are in Thailand during the high season or during a national holiday.
Don’t rent a scooter – Renting a scooter is a popular option in Thailand but it isn’t always the best option. If you are on a quiet island then perhaps choose this, but when you are in a city or travelling along the rocky roads in the north, it is best to stick with local transport or taxis. Hundreds of people get into car accidents each day in Thailand and you don’t want to be one of them.
Food in Thailand
Eat the local food – Of course, you need to eat the local food whilst you are in Thailand. With delicious curries, tasty noodle dishes and endless fried snacks, you will never get bored of the local food here. Plus, it is much more affordable than western dishes.
Choose street food wisely – On every street, you will find street food. However, stick the the food stalls that are in the resident areas or are used by locals.
There are food vendors on Khao San Road and outside popular tourist sights but these may not be the best quality of the most hygienic options.
Cooking classes – Whilst in Thailand, we highly recommend you take a cooking class. Take the opportunity to learn how to cook the local dishes and desserts such as Green Thai Curry and the amazing Mango Sticky Rice.
Extra Thailand Tips
Keep hydrated – During your visit, you must keep drinking water. It is easy to not keep up with the water intake needed to keep hydrated during the 30+°C heat. Also, wear a hat and loose clothing to avoid getting too hot.
Mosquito spray – Make sure to pick up some mosquito spray from 7-eleven or bring along some mosquito bracelets to wear during your trip.
Avoid animal tourism – Thailand is home to many animals and visiting the animals during your trip is a popular option. However, make sure to do your research before visiting elephant sanctuaries and avoid places that have the animals dancing, painting, being ridden or anything where animals are being forced to do something.
Don’t feed the monkeys – Whilst in Thailand, you will see monkeys in many areas of the country. There is even an entire beach in Koh Phi Phi that is dedicated to the animals. However, do not feed the monkeys as they will then associate people with food, leading to aggression and biting.
Learn the language – Learn Thai, or at least basic words, to help you get around and communicate whilst in the country. Most locals in tourist cities will speak some level of English but many will be impressed if you try to use a few Thai words.
- Bangkok – Most travellers head to Thailand via Bangkok. The capital is home to some of the most famous landmarks in the country as well as some unique places to eat, stunning hotels, floating markets and out-of-this-world shopping mall.
- Chiang Mai – For a quieter, cultural hub, head to Chiang Mai. Take in the nature, enjoy the hikes, head to one of the many cute coffee shops and slow down. The city is also home to unique temples and ancient ruins that will fill your days quickly.
- Chiang Rai – Known for being the home to the incredible white temple, Chiang Rai is a popular city to head to from Chiang Mai. There is a lot of beautiful nature, hill tribes, scenery and national parks around Chiang Rai, so make sure to stop by whilst you are in Northern Thailand.
- Pai – Another Northern Thailand spot is Pai. This is a calm and relaxing mountainous village that is completely opposite to the bustle of Bangkok.
- Khao Yai National Park – Not far from Bangkok is this breathtaking national park. Not only is it gorgeous but it is also home to some quirky hotels, fun days out and tasty wineries.
- Hua Hin – For a quiet town not far from Bangkok, Hua Hin is a great option for those short on time. There is a decent beach, lots of restaurant options, a market and plenty of villas with private pools for you to take advantage of.
- Koh Samui – If you are looking for a beautiful destination in Thailand, Koh Samui is it. With palm trees everywhere, gorgeous golden beaches and mountainous rainforests, you can’t help but fall in love with Koh Samui.
- Phuket – Another popular beach destination, Phuket offers something for everyone. The size of Phuket means that you can get lost in Old Town Phuket, enjoy fun and loud nightlife in Patong, relax on Kata Not Beach or head to one of the luxury resorts along Surin Beach.
- Krabi – With over 200 islands making up Krabi province, there are plenty of beaches and hotels fo you to choose from. Railay Beach is one of the most stunning options whilst Phi Phi Islands and its surrounding limestone rocks is a popular area to explore.
What to pack for Thailand?
We hope you have an awesome time in beautiful Thailand, don’t forget to read more about the best Thailand itineraries for you and learn more about the non-touristy things to do in Bangkok whilst you are in the city.