Thailand Travel Tips

Thailand Boat Maya Bay

With stunning beaches, lush mountains, delicious food, rich culture and party hot-spots, Thailand should be on every traveler’s bucket list! 

Thailand is a country that appeals to both backpackers on a budget and travelers with luxurious taste. This Southeast Asian gem is popular for short holidays, gap year travels and a place for expats and “Digital Nomads” alike to call home. 

Over the years, we’ve traveled to Thailand time and time again. We’ve spent several months traveling around this country and even called the lovely city of Chiang Mai home for 6 months. We’ve got all the information you need to plan the perfect trip to Thailand!

Thailand Travel Guide Contents

Important Info   |   Best Time to Visit   |   Things to Do   |   What to Eat   |   Typical Budget

Travel Tips   |   What to Pack   |   Thailand Articles   |   Book Now

Thailand Travel Tips

Important Information about Thailand

Thailand at a Glance: You’ll find mountains and lush jungle in the north of the country and beautiful islands in the south. Chiang Mai is the largest city in the north and is a cultural hub, while the capital city, Bangkok, is where most international flights will land.

Most popular places to visit in Thailand:

  • Bangkok: Thailand’s capital city is a busy metropolis with tons to do!

  • Chiang Mai: This city in northern Thailand is the country’s cultural hub and is known for having amazing food.

  • Thai Islands: Take your pick between party islands, yoga getaways, scuba hotspots, built up resorts and laid-back beaches. There really is an island for each type of traveler. Tip: Do some research on the weather at the time you’ll be visiting before picking to visit the Andaman Coast or the Gulf, as they have nearly opposite weather patterns.

Currency in Thailand: Thai Baht | 2018 Conversion Rate: 100 THB = $3 USD

Tipping in Thailand: Unless you’re somewhere fancy, tipping is not expected. However, it is common to leave loose change or round up at a restaurant, and the gesture is appreciated. Leaving a small tip after a massage is also customary. 

Language & Helpful Phrases: Thai 

  • Hello = sa-wat-dee ka (female) | sa-wat-dee kap (male)

  • Thank you = kop-koon ka (female) | kop-koon kap (male)

  • Not spicy = mai pet | little bit spicy = pet noi | very spicy = pet mak

  • Beer = bia

  • Delicious = a-roy

  • Bathroom = hong-num

  • How much? = nee gee baht?

  • Too expensive = feng-mak-pie

  • Don’t want = mai ow

Religion and Culture: Buddhism is the official religion of the country, and you will find temples and shrines all over the country. When visiting religious sites, cover your shoulders and legs above the knees.

Transportation around Thailand: Getting around Thailand is easy and cheap. Domestic fights are actually very inexpensive and the most convenient way to get around the country if you are short on time. Taking ferries is the best way to get between the islands, and mini-buses (or 15-passenger vans) are a good way to travel short distances. 

Transportation Tip: is a great site is you want to book your transportation in advance or look at the time tables!

Thailand Travel Tips

Best Time To Visit Thailand

The climate varies around the country, but you will typically find the most comfortable temperatures and least amount of rain from November to April.

For an in depth guide on the regional seasons, weather patterns (which — spoiler alert! — vary wildly throughout the country) and other factors, check out our guide on the best time to visit Thailand. We’ve also listed out some of the basics below to give you a general idea.

Weather in Thailand

Tropical with 3 distinct seasons. Though there is a “rainy season”, precipitation is possible at any time of the year, so it’s best to be prepared.

  • Hot season: March to May

  • Cool season: November to February

  • Rainy season: June to October

Peak season for tourists is typically from November to February, so this will be the busiest and most expensive time to visit. 

Times to avoid traveling in Thailand

  • Chiang Mai: If possible, avoid visiting from mid-February through early April. This is “burning season” and air quality can be quite bad.

  • Andaman Sea (Krabi, Phi Phi, Phuket, Koh Lanta): Rainy season is from May – October

  • Gulf Islands (Koh Tao, Koh Chang, Phang Nga Samui): Rainfall is heaviest in October & November

Major Festivals in Thailand

Thailand has many colorful and exciting festivals that are fun for visitors and locals alike.

  • Songkran, April 13 – 15: Thai New Year festival with lots of water gun fights in the streets of Thailand’s major cities

  • Loi Krathong & Yi Peng, November*: These 2 festivals happen around the same time, and they are often referred to as the “festivals of lights” for the lanterns released into the sky and the candlelit “boats” released into the river. The best place to celebrate these festivals in in Chiang Mai.

Related: Complete Guide to Yi Peng & Loi Krathong

*These festivals follow the Lunar calendar, so the exact dates vary each year

Thailand Travel Tips

Top Things to Do in Thailand

Scuba Diving

With clam and clear waters, Thailand is one of the best places in the world to learn how to Scuba dive. There are plenty of high quality (and inexpensive!) dive schools to choose from. If you are a certified diver, consider doing a liveaboard dive trip for an experience of a lifetime!

Thai Cooking Class

Thai cuisine is often hailed as one of the best in the world (and we can’t disagree!). Learn how to make your favorite Thai dishes in a hands-on cooking class! You can easily find cooking classes all around the country, but Chiang Mai is home to the most (and best!) cooking schools in all of Thailand.

Elephant Sanctuary (Don’t Ride Them!)

Spending time with these gentle creatures is on most travelers’ bucket lists when they visit Thailand. Be very careful when choosing an elephant encounter and never ever ride them!

Meditation Retreat

Learning how to meditate with monks while surrounded by the beautiful mountains of northern Thailand is an experience that might just change your life, and it will certainly be a highlight of your trip.

Thai Massage

After a long flight or even just a day of exploring, there’s not much that will feel better than indulging in a Thai massage. The best part is you can get pampered without spending a fortune! Prices vary around the country, but expect to pay between $6 – $15 depending on your location. 

Insider Tip: Thai massages are quite intense, and there is a lot of stretching and cracking involved. We loved them, but if you’re sensitive, you might prefer a head, neck and shoulder massage.

Read more: Unique Things to do in Chiang Mai

Did you know Thailand is a great place to teach English? Find out how to get certified to teach English abroad.

Thailand Travel Tips

Best Food to Eat in Thailand

Thai cuisine varies from the north to the south of the country, and there are so many flavorful and delicious dishes to try. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Khao Soi: egg noodles and curry broth with chicken and pickled vegetables, typically only found in the north of the country (pictured above)

  • Curries: green, massaman, red, yellow – try them all!

  • Pad Thai: a favorite of travelers, try this noodle dish on the street for a super cheap and authentic version of this meal

  • Tom Kha Gai: coconut lemongrass soup with chicken

  • Tom Yum Goong: hot and sour seafood soup

  • Mango sticky rice for dessert

Vegetarian in Thailand: Traditional Thai dishes are often cooked with fish sauce, oyster sauce and lard. Eggs are common in many dishes, and even if it’s not a meat-heavy dish, it’s not uncommon to find small pieces of meat. If you are a vegetarian or vegan traveling in Thailand, don’t worry! There are plenty of veg-friendly restaurants and it’s becoming easier to find food vegetarian and vegan food.

Here are a couple phrases that will help you:

“A-harn mang-sow-ee-rat” = vegetarian food   |   “A-harn Jey” = vegan food

  • “a harn” translates to food

  • “mang-sow-ee-rat” means no meat, but can include eggs and dairy

  • “jey” is a word of Chinese origin and translates to vegan (no meat and no animal products). It also excludes onion, garlic and chili.

Insider Tip: Happy Cow is a great resource for finding vegetarian and vegan restaurants all around the country!

Typical Budget for Thailand

Thailand attracts travelers with all budgets. It is a country where backpackers can stretch their money while honeymooners can get pampered in luxury. No matter what type of traveler you are, will find Thailand very affordable.

Good to know: Typically, prices are cheapest in the north of the country, while you will be paying more in the islands.

How much to budget in Thailand per day

Budget traveler: If you are on a tight budget and watch your spending closely, $25 – $30 could be a sufficient budget.

Mid-range traveler: If you want to have a few splurges and stay in nicer accommodation, plan to budget $40 – $50 per day

Travel Guide | Two Wandering Soles

Dorm bed = $10

Budget room = $25

Mid-range = $40-60

Luxury hotel = $80+

Travel Guide | Two Wandering Soles

Street food = $1-$2

Mid-range restaurant = $3-$5

Fancy restaurant = $6-$15

Local beer = $1-$2

Travel Guide | Two Wandering Soles

Domestic flight = $35-$50 Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Mini-bus = $6 for 3-hour ride

Ferry between islands = $14

Songthaew (shared red truck taxi) = $1 for a ride within the city

Travel Guide | Two Wandering Soles

Elephant sanctuary = $75

Cooking class = $35

Scuba diving = $90 for 2 dives

Thai massage = $6-$10

Thailand Travel Tips

Responsible Travel Tips in Thailand

We are passionate about sharing tips anyone can use to travel more responsibly. Here are some easy ways you can travel better in Thailand.

1. Educate yourself

Before your trip, please read this article on how to travel responsibly in Thailand. There are many issues this country is facing, and it is important to be informed so you can be a responsible traveler.

2. Say no to straws

Reduce your use of single-use plastic by asking for no straw in your drinks.

How to say “No straw, please,” in Thai: “Mai ow lord ka” (female) / “Mai ow lord kap” (male).

And be prepared by carrying your own reusable straw!

3. Do Not Ride Elephants

Many travelers want to see elephants on their visit to Thailand, and there are many places to choose from. Be sure you do your research and choose a reputable sanctuary that does not allow riding. (Riding elephants is very harmful to these gentle animals.) Book your experience in advance, as most of the respected elephant sanctuaries fill up quickly. 

Related Article: Eco-Friendly Packing List for Responsible Travelers

4. Get Local Advice

Asking a local to plan your trip has a couple of advantages. First, you’ll support the local economy. Second, you give locals the space to advocate for how they want visitors to see their home. Third, it’s a great way to get off the beaten path and away from tourist traps. ViaHero, a service that pairs travelers with locals, launched in Thailand in 2019.

Thailand Travel Tips

What to Pack for Thailand

When packing for Thailand, less is more. You will be thankful you packed light when walking around with your bag in the tropical heat or getting on and off ferries on the islands. Read about how we pack light and see exactly what we pack in our carryon bags.

Casual, beachy clothing and athletic ware will be your favorite clothing staples in this humid country.

Here are some Thailand-specific items we’d recommend packing:

Southeast Asia Packing List Free Download | Two Wandering Soles

Thailand Articles

35 Best Things to Do in Bangkok You Can’t Miss! (2024)

We created this list of the best things to do in Bangkok including some super touristy (yet still worthwhile) attractions and some totally hidden gems. In this Bangkok travel guide, we’ll also cover everything you need to know to prepare for your trip.

45 Absolute Best Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

We’ve rounded up a list of the best things to do in Chiang Mai that will make your trip a memorable one. We have spent more than a year living in Chiang Mai, Thailand so we know this city inside and out! We’re sharing both top Chiang Mai attractions as...

How to Visit Bua Tong (aka Chiang Mai’s “Sticky Waterfall”)

Bua Tong, more commonly known as "Sticky Waterfall" is a unique waterfall is a bucket list experience for most travelers in Chiang Mai and we're sharing exactly how to get there, plus everything you need to know to plan your trip.

Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat: Day Trip to Thailand’s Floating Pagodas

The jaw-dropping mountaintop pagodas of Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat near Lampang are still a secret to many tourists, so you can enjoy this hidden gem without crowds.

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai: Neighborhood Guide + Best Hotels

One of our favorite cities in Thailand, Chiang Mai makes a great place to visit or base yourself as a digital nomad. If you're planning a trip and wondering where to stay in Chiang Mai, this guide will go over the different neighborhoods and what you can expect in each,...

Koh Tao, Thailand: Ultimate Guide + 16 Exciting Things to Do

When it comes to exploring the Thai islands, you’ll find there are some seriously cool things to do in Koh Tao. We put together this ultimate guide to visiting Koh Tao, Thailand with everything you need to know to help you plan your trip.

Koh Lanta, Thailand: Ultimate Guide + 19 Adventurous Things to Do

If you're dreaming of a beach vacation with an equal balance of relaxation and adventure, Koh Lanta may just be the perfect place to visit! This Thai island is known for its laidback vibe and stunning beaches, plus we were happy to find that there are a ton of adventurous...

Koh Lipe, Thailand: Ultimate Guide + 15 Can’t-Miss Things to Do

If you’re seeking white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters and laid back vibes, look no further than Koh Lipe, Thailand’s southernmost island. We put together this ultimate guide with everything you’ll need to know when planning a visit, including how to get there, things to do, and essential tips.

Best Time to Visit Thailand: When to Go & When to Avoid!

Thailand makes an excellent destination for backpackers, vacationers and digital nomads year-round. However, the seasons vary widely from region to region and coast to coast. We’re going over the seasons of each region to help you determine the best time to visit Thailand for your travel needs!

25 Delicious Thai Dishes You Must Try in Thailand

Famously flavorful, complex, and fiery, Thai dishes delight the senses with unique combinations of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. Truly a foodie’s paradise, we’ve rounded up the best Thai food you must try on your next visit. Spicy and fresh, sweet and sour, Thai cuisine is multi-dimensional and utilizes all...

Perfect 2 Week Itinerary for Thailand

Dreaming of turquoise waters and white sand? Only have 10 days? We put together a complete itinerary for Thailand that hits all the highlights, and in only 10 days! We included all the information you'll need to plan your very own Thai getaway!

Bamboo Rafting in Chiang Mai: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like floating down a river that carves its way through the jungle while sitting on a rustic raft made from long pieces of bamboo tied together with a cold beer in your hand. You should definitely check out bamboo rafting in Chiang Mai. We’re...

Scuba Diving in Thailand: The Best Liveaboards for Every Budget

With Liveaboard, you can experience scuba diving in Thailand in an entirely unique way. In this article, we will walk you through the basics of participating in a Liveaboard dive trip and suggest some of the best Liveaboard experiences in Thailand for every budget.

Loy Krathong & Yi Peng Travel Guide: Thailand’s Famous Lantern Festival

Releasing a sky lantern during Thailand’s famous Festival of Lights is a bucket list experience for many travelers. We’ve put together a guide of our top tips for enjoying Loy Krathong and Yi Peng in Chiang Mai for free! Plus, we're sharing which event you should avoid.

Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Ultimate Digital Nomad Guide

Chiang Mai is one of the biggest hubs for Digital Nomads in the world, and for good reason. We’re sharing everything you need to know about living in Chiang Mai — from how to find an apartment, how much money to budget, best coworking spaces, and where to meet other...

How to Travel Sustainably in Thailand and Why You Should Care

Tourism has affected Thailand in so many ways, and there are many issues you'll be shocked to learn about. As tourism in Thailand continues to skyrocket, it's more important than ever to support ecotourism and travel sustainably. We've put together out best tips so you can travel more responsibly in...

Beginner Meditation Retreat in Thailand

If you're looking for a beginner meditation retreat, look no further than Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery in Northern Thailand. With the happiest monks and jaw-dropping scenery, this Buddhist monastery is a great place to learn how to meditate for the first time or continue to deepen your mindfulness...

Similan Islands Diving: Our Liveaboard Experience in Thailand

Whether you're a Scuba diving newbie or you've been diving around the world for decades, Similan Islands diving should be at the top of your bucketlist. We loved our experience with Wicked Diving Thailand because they are environmentally conscious, budget friendly, fun and professional! Come with us as we describe...

Khao Sok National Park & Floating Bungalows Travel Guide

The untouched paradise of Khao Sok National Park is perfect for anyone who loves nature and is seeking an off the beaten path adventure. If you’re headed to the south of Thailand, be sure to put Khao Sok on your itinerary. We have everything you need to know about planning...

Is Sky Bar in Bangkok Worthwhile?

Many itineraries of a trip to Bangkok will include a visit to one of the city’s many rooftop bars. Situated 63 stories above Bangkok, Sky Bar is arguably the most famous rooftop bar in the city. But is this posh bar with a view of Bangkok really worth the price?...

How To Choose the Best Dive School in Koh Tao

People travel to this Koh Tao island with one common goal: leave with a PADI open water certification. But how do you choose among hundreds of dive schools? We'll show you how to narrow it down, and which diving school we think is the best on the entire island!

Where to Eat in Koh Tao

My first question when arriving in a new place is: where is the best food?! We put together a list of some of our favorite restaurants we ate at while on the Thailand island of Koh Tao so that you have an idea of where to start!

The Beach: Maya Bay Sleep Aboard Review

If "The Beach" is on your Bucket List, you'll want to read this first! Was staying overnight in this famous bay worth the hefty fee? Read our thoughts on the Maya Bay Sleep Aboard tour.

15 Epic Things to Do in Pai, Thailand

If you love waterfalls, hot springs, mountains, and the occasional (or frequent) cocktail, Pai is likely on your Thailand itinerary. We've put together the best things to do in Pai, Thailand (including some lesser-known gems). You'll also find the best restaurants as well as where to stay during your visit...

Philippines Travel Guide Nacpan Twin Beach
Travel Hacks e-Book

Save this guide on Pinterest for later!

Thailand Country Hub Pinterest
Thailand Country Hub Pinterest

Book Your Trip Now

Here are some helpful links for booking your trip to Thailand…

To find the best airline deals: Skyscanner

Finding tours in Thailand: Get Your Guide

Don’t you dare travel without this!

Airbnb Booking Credit | Two Wandering Soles