10 best places to visit in Thailand

A detailed Thailand travel guide that highlights the best places to visit in Thailand as well as other budget travel tips for the country.


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Gabrielle

Jan 01, 2020

I am a 24 year old from the USA, currently living and working in Australia. I love writing about my travel experiences in Europe, South America, an...

places to visit in Thailand

Thailand is a diverse, affordable and magical country. It is becoming more and more touristy, but with good reason. 

The picturesque beaches, the sparkling Buddhist temples, the friendly locals, the cheap prices, the flavorful food, the rugged mountains, the lush jungle; all of these are reasons why backpackers keep flocking to Thailand.

But despite the number of tourists, you can still find hidden gems and quiet, local areas for immersing yourself in the culture. Throughout all the best places to visit in Thailand, there are always touristy spots and non-touristy spots.

A great way to get to know the local culture is by doing a work exchange with Worldpackers. You get to live and work with locals while saving money on accommodation.

This article will outline everything you need to know about traveling to Thailand. Whether you are staying for one week, two weeks, or one month, I will explain a few sample Thailand trip itineraries that may make traveling a bit easier.

I will also include basic knowledge of Thailand, what to expect while traveling, safety tips, how to get around, the best time to visit, and of course, the best places to visit in Thailand.

Basic knowledge of Thailand

Capital City: Bangkok

Language: Thai

Religion: Buddhism is the main religion, though there are some Islam and Chinese religion minorities

Currency: Thai Baht (1 USD equals about 30 Thai Baht)

Visas: You usually do not need a visa for a visit under 30 days

The best places to visit in Thailand

From the big cities to the jungles of the north, to the white sand beaches of the islands, here are all the best places to visit in Thailand.

1. Bangkok

2. Chiang Mai

3. Pai

4. The Andaman Sea

5. Phuket

6. Koh Phi Phi

7. Ao Nang

8. The Gulf of Thailand

9. Koh Samui

10. Koh Pha Ngan

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1. Bangkok


Best places to visit in Thailand: Bangkok

No trip to Thailand is complete without stopping in its capital city. Bangkok is huge and very well-developed, though it has a nice mix of modern high rises with traditional old cultural areas.

Located in the Chao Phraya River delta, Bangkok is packed with things to do for travelers of all budgets. It is also a super convenient starting place for a trip around Thailand, as most affordable international flights will fly into Bangkok.

The public transportation network from here is affordable and easy to use, so you can easily take an overnight bus up north to Chiang Mai after, or catch a quick flight down to the islands. Either way, Bangkok can fit nicely into any Thailand travel itinerary.

Bangkok's Old City is the best place for backpackers to stay. This is where the unique history and culture is, and it is easy to get around on foot. Outside the Old City, Bangkok becomes very metropolitan and it can be overwhelming trying to get around.

The Old City is full of world renown Buddhist temples, including Wat Bowonniwet, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Wat Saket which is located on top of a hill known as Golden Mountain.

One of Bangkok's best attractions is the Grand Palace, built in 1782 and full of many different temple halls and buildings. Every surface in the Grand Palace is covered with jewels, vibrant colors, and sparkling materials so it is a captivating sight to see.

Khao San Road is a popular tourist street in the middle of the Old Town. Visit the nightly market and taste some local street food, or head to one of the many bars, clubs, restaurants, cabarets, and comedy clubs for some local entertainment.

Take a riverboat tour along the Chao Phraya River to visit the local floating markets, or take a day trip to the rustic old pagodas of Ayutthaya, Thailand's former capital city. Get a Thai massage, where the local masseuses twist your body into weird positions in order to release tension, strengthen the muscles and improve blood flow.

There is plenty to do in Bangkok to occupy you at the start of your trip, and it is definitely one of the best places to visit in Thailand.

Make sure to check out Worldpackers work exchange and volunteer programs in Bangkok!

2. Chiang Mai


Best places to visit in Thailand: Chiang Mai

This is the second largest city in Thailand, located in the north of the country. Packed with culture and surrounded by lush forest, Chiang Mai has so many things to do for all types of travelers.

The Old City is where most of the tourist attractions are. This historical part of town is surrounded by a moat with four gates on every corner that connect the Old City to the more modern parts of Chiang Mai.

In the Old City, there are so many fun things to do. You can watch a ladyboy cabaret in the Night Bazaar, take a Thai cooking class, or stroll through the Saturday and Sunday night markets. Watch a Muay Thai Boxing Match, or indulge in the nightlife.

There are over 300 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai, with Wat Phra Singh in the Old City being the most popular one. Another amazing temple to visit is Wat Phra Doi Suthep, a hilltop temple with golden pagodas and a spectacular lookout point located about 45 minutes outside the city.

With so much nature around the city, there are plenty of attractions just outside Chiang Mai that make for amazing day trips. Head to the Bua Tong Waterfall, also known as the "Sticky Waterfall", where the rocks are covered in sticky mineral deposits so there is enough friction to climb up the waterfall like spiderman.

Or visit Doi Inthanon National Park, a place full of unique Buddhist architecture and stunning landscaped gardens. There are also lots of waterfalls and hiking trails in the surrounding forest here, so this makes for a beautiful day trip away from the city.

You could also visit an Elephant Sanctuary to observe the giant majestic creatures up close. Do your research beforehand though and make sure you only visit elephant sanctuaries that are humane. That means you should never visit a place that lets you ride elephants. 

Elephants don't have the same spinal structure as horses or camels; they are not physically made to be ridden. Only visit places that let you watch the animals behave naturally. Two reputable elephant sanctuaries near Chiang Mai are Elephant Nature Park and Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

Make sure to check out Worldpackers work exchange and volunteer programs in Chiang Mai!

3. Pai


Best places to visit in Thailand: Pai

Pai is a small city in northern Thailand that many travelers venture to after visiting Chiang Mai. It is only 135 km away from Chiang Mai, but you have to drive along an insanely windy road to get there.

Once you arrive, be prepared to relax and get to know other backpackers because Pai has sort of become known as a hippie mecca of northern Thailand. Travelers love Pai because of its rich natural beauty and its chilled out culture. There are lots of cheap backpacker hostels and outdoorsy things to do.

Spend a day swimming in waterfalls like the Mo Paeng Waterfalls or the Pambok Waterfall. Take a day trip to the Pai Canyon or Tham Lod Caves. Soak your body in naturally warm water at the Sai Ngam hot springs or the Tha Pai hot springs.

Go hiking in the wilderness, visit local temples, and explore the landscape on a scooter. In the quaint town center, stroll through the night market and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.

Pai is a great place to spend quality time with nature, relax and unwind, and meet lots of fellow travelers. So if you have the time to head up here after Chiang Mai, do it!

4. The Andaman Sea


Best places to visit in Thailand: The Andaman Sea

The Andaman Sea is the western side of the Thai peninsula that hangs down from the mainland. This side of the country has the best places to visit in Thailand in January, as the weather is ideal for hanging out on the beach and the water is super clear for snorkeling or scuba diving. 

Phuket and Koh Phi Phi are the two best islands to visit in the Andaman Sea.

5. Phuket


Best places to visit in Thailand: Phuket

This is Thailand's largest island, and it is roughly the same size as Singapore. So there are plenty of tourist attractions and white sand beaches to keep you occupied here for a few days or a few weeks!

Because Phuket is so big, you may want to rent a car or a scooter here to see everything. Taxi rides can add up if you keep traveling all over the island, or you can just pick an area and explore that one area thoroughly.

Most of the best beaches and touristy areas are on the west side of the island. The beaches are more beautiful and the landscape is more rugged so there are more viewpoints and hiking opportunities. The east side of the island is more flat and populated with just locals. But to venture out to other islands, you'll need to come to this side of the island to Rassada Pier for the ferries and speed boats.

The northwest of the island is pretty quiet, but it has lots of uncrowded, beautiful beaches like Nai Yang Beach and Mai Khao Beach. The airport is also up here, so if you want to stay within walking distance of the airport there are plenty of accommodation options.

The central-west of the island is probably the most popular place to stay for beach dwellers and people who like to party. Patong Beach and the surrounding neighborhood is full of tourists and fun bars, clubs, and street markets.

Just south of Patong Beach is Karon Beach and Kata Beach, both of which are gorgeous and relaxing but still have fun stuff to do. You can hike to various viewpoints and visit the Big Buddha atop a hill.

Phuket Town is another great place to visit in Phuket. It is a cultural center with lots of museums and cool architecture. Located in the southeast area of the island, it is a bit far from the beach but still full of viewpoints, temples and shrines, and street markets.

6. Koh Phi Phi


Best places to visit in Thailand: Koh Phi Phi

Of all the Thai islands, this is probably the most popular among tourists. But it is also maybe the most naturally beautiful, so it makes sense why everyone flocks here.

There is a chain of three tiny islands of Koh Phi Phi, two of them uninhabited. Phi Phi Don is the biggest and only inhabited island, and it is crowded with hotels, backpacker hostels, restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops. It is very touristy, but still charming.

Koh Phi Phi is easily one of the best places to visit in Thailand because it is simply stunning. Picture towering limestone cliffs and sparkling turquoise water

You can go snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and exploring. Book a boat tour to the other islands of Koh Phi Phi so you can witness their thriving nature either by kayak or by boat.

Hike up to the Koh Phi Phi Don viewpoint, so you can gaze over the incredible scene of the Phi Phi islands from above. Party your heart out with other backpackers and sip fruit smoothies in the street. You don't need more than a few days here because it is very small, but you definitely won't regret the days you are here.

7. Ao Nang


Best places to visit in Thailand: Ao Nang

This is a popular place to stop when traveling from the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand. it is located on the western coast of the Thai peninsula, so it faces the Andaman Sea. From here, you can take public transport to get across to the other side and start exploring the islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

Ao Nang is a pretty localized town and it isn't that touristy. There are a few good backpacker hostels here for travelers who want a cheap and comfortable place to stay. But this is a great place to eat some delicious, cheap authentic Thai food and meet some locals.

The best thing to do in Ao Nang is take a day trip to Railay Beach. This is a world-famous beach, as it has warm waters, soft sand, and massive, rugged limestone cliffs. You can take a classic Thai longtail boat from Ao Nang Beach to this stunning beach and hang out for the day.

8. The Gulf of Thailand


Best places to visit in Thailand: Gulf of Thailand

The Gulf of Thailand is comprised of the sea and islands on the eastern side of the Thai peninsula. Here the water is clear and usually quite warm. There is world-class snorkeling and diving here, and the islands are full of natural beauty. 

Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan are the most popular islands to visit here.

9. Koh Samui


Best places to visit in Thailand: Koh Samui

This is the second largest island in Thailand, after Phuket. The attractions are quite spread out around the island so you may want to spend at least a few days here to see it all. But definitely spend a lot of time at the beach, as every single white-sand, coconut-palm-fringed beach on this island looks like something out of a magazine.

Chaweng Beach is the busiest and most touristy area of the island. Lamai is the second biggest beach but it is still quite relaxing and uncrowded. Bophut Beach is very local and non-touristy, and every Friday night there is a street market with lots of cool local crafts and street food.

There is a ring road that snakes around the whole island so you can just follow that to get to all the best attractions. The Big Buddha in the northeast area of the island, the Secret Buddha Garden full of interesting statues, and the refreshing Na Muang Waterfalls are three of the best things to do in Koh Samui.

One of the best places to visit in Thailand is Ang Thong National Marine Park, which you can do as a day trip from Koh Samui. This is a well-protected archipelago of 42 islands, and you can only enter by government approved boat so you'll have to book a tour. But the tours are so much fun, and they will take you snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and exploring through this unbelievable chain of beautiful islands.

10. Koh Pha Ngan


Best places to visit in Thailand: Koh Pha Ngan

If you're wondering what places to visit in Thailand for partying, look no further than Koh Pha Ngan. Home of the famous Half Moon and Full Moon parties, this island is full of backpackers who want to participate in these wild festivals.

The festivals occur, of course, on the days of the half and full moons of the lunar cycle. So it is hard to book a ticket too far in advance because the exact dates may vary. But if you do get the chance to attend one of the festivals, it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The half-moon party is a bit smaller than the full moon party, but it is still insanely fun. People dress up in crazy costumes and dance to different types of music in the middle of the jungle. The full moon party is on the beach instead of the jungle.

If you're not into partying, Koh Pha Ngan is still a beautiful island to visit. There is a waterpark called Slip N' Fly that has fun waterslides, and of course, there are countless breathtaking beaches around the island. Koh Ma sandbar is a long strip of sand that connects a tiny piece of land to the mainland of the island, and this is a nice place to chill out and relax on the sand.

The island is quite hilly, so there are plenty of hiking trails and hilltop bars and viewpoints for watching the sunset over the ocean. There is amazing snorkeling in the reefs around Koh Pha Ngan, and lots of delicious local food to indulge in.

Make sure to check out Worldpackers work exchange and volunteer programs in Koh Pha Ngan!

Suggested itineraries for Thailand

Whether you are traveling for one week, two weeks, or a whole month, there are a few different possible combinations of the best places to visit in Thailand. Of course, the more time you have in a country, the better. One week is a bit short, but you can still catch a glimpse of all that Thailand has to offer.

The best way to see the country is to first try a Worldpackers exchange in Thailand to learn about the culture, then spend some time traveling around. 

Every traveler should spend some time in the cities of the mainland, and some time in the islands. They both offer a rich sense of culture but have completely different landscapes. So here are a few sample itineraries of the best places to visit in Thailand, for one-week, two-week or one-month trips.


Thailand travel itinerary

One-week itinerary for Thailand

Bangkok: 1 day

Have one solid day as a tourist in Thailand. Visit the Grand Palace, take a quick river tour to the floating market, and eat some street food at Khao San Road in the evening before going to watch a ladyboy cabaret.

Chiang Mai: 3 days

Three days in Chiang Mai is plenty to absorb some of the culture.

Spend your first day sightseeing. Walk around to all the famous temples, get a one hour Thai massage, and go to a night market in the evening for local food.

On your second day, take a full day Thai cooking class. You'll learn so much about the local cuisine and taste some delicious meals. In the evening, go watch a Muay Thai Boxing Match, as this is Thailand's favorite sport.

On your third day in Chiang Mai, take a day trip to the Sticky Waterfalls. This is such an incredible natural phenomenon that cannot be missed.

Phuket: 2 days

Catch a quick flight down to the Andaman Coast, then head to Patong Beach. Check out the Big Buddha, relax on the beach, and walk down Patong's Bangla Road in the evening for some street food and nightlife.

Spend your second day in Phuket exploring Phuket Town. Hike up to a viewpoint, check out some temples and local shops, then get ready for your ferry to Koh Phi Phi in the morning.

Koh Phi Phi: 1 day

After arriving off the ferry, book an island tour so you can go snorkeling, kayaking, and exploring around the chain of Phi Phi islands. Then it's time to get ready for your departure!

Two-week itinerary for Thailand

Bangkok: 2 days

Spend your first day in Bangkok doing the touristy stuff I mentioned in the previous itinerary.

On your second day, take a day trip to Ayutthaya to learn about the history of this significant area.

Chiang Mai: 4 days

In addition to the three days I mentioned in the previous itinerary, spend your fourth day in Chiang Mai doing a full day tour at a humane elephant park. It is so magical to see elephants up close in their natural habitat, so this experience is not to be missed.

Pai: 2 days

For your two days in Pai, pick which adventurous nature activities you want to do and divide them up however you want. Relax in the hot springs. go hiking, explore waterfalls, visit the Pai canyon, or just relax at your hostel with your fellow backpackers.

Phuket: 2 days

Spend your two days in Phuket the same way as the one-week itinerary stated.

Koh Phi Phi: 2 days

Do a snorkeling island tour on your first day in Koh Phi Phi.

On your second day, spend more time exploring the island. Hike up to the viewpoint, go shopping in the local village, and soak in the sun on the gorgeous beaches surrounding the town.

Ao Nang: 2 days

Spend your first day in Ao Nang walking around town, socializing in your hostel, drinking fruit smoothies, hanging out on the beach, and enjoying the nightlife.

On your second day in Ao Nang, take a longtail boat over to Railay Beach to admire the scenery and swim in the refreshing waters.

One-month itinerary for Thailand

Bangkok: 3 days

Spend your first two days in Bangkok visiting the tourist attractions I mentioned in the first itinerary, but have the luxury of more time to slow down and absorb it all.

Spend your third day on a day trip to Ayutthaya.

Chiang Mai: 5 days

Spend your first four days the same as I mentioned in the two-week itinerary, and on your fifth day take a day trip to Doi Inthanon National Park.

Pai: 3 days

Spend three days in Pai the same as the two-week itinerary, but have more time to explore the different attractions without rushing.

Phuket: 4 days

Spend your first day in Phuket staying up in the north near the airport. You can visit the stunning local beaches and enjoy some peace and quiet before heading into the touristy areas.

Your second and third days in Phuket will be the same as previously mentioned in the one-week itinerary.

Spend your fourth day in Phuket doing some fun water activities. You can go parasailing at Patong Beach, or go snorkeling. You could even book a day tour that takes you snorkeling at some of the nearby islands. Pha Nga Bay is an area near Phuket where a James Bond movie was filmed, so lots of day tours check out that cool spot.

Koh Phi Phi: 2 days

Spend your two days in Koh Phi Phi as mentioned in the two-week itinerary.

Ao Nang: 2 days

Spend your two days in Ao Nang as mentioned in the two-week itinerary.

Koh Samui: 4 days

You will need to dedicate a whole day to traveling from Ao Nang over to Koh Samui. You'll have to take a long bus ride across the Thai peninsula, then catch another ferry to the island of Koh Samui. Once you arrive, spend the evening walking around Chaweng Beach and absorbing the nightlife and tasting street food.

On your second day in Koh Samui, take a day trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park. Your whole day will be spent swimming, kayaking and exploring this beautiful archipelago, and you'll definitely be tired at the end of the day.

You next two days in Koh Samui will consist of sightseeing. Spend one day in the north of the island, checking out the Big Buddha, the nearby beaches and temples, and the fishermen's village in Bophut.

Spend the next day exploring further south on the island. Visit waterfalls, the Secret Buddha Garden, and Lamai Beach.

Koh Pha Ngan: 3 days

If you are in Koh Pha Ngan during a full or half-moon party, spend one day partying and socializing with other travelers at your hostel to get ready for the party. Then have a blast all night!

Spend the next day recovering and relaxing on the Koh Ma sandbar and walking around the quiet streets in search of some local food.

On the third day, you can go hiking, snorkeling or diving, or visit the local waterpark. Treat yourself to a drink at a hilltop bar for sunset.

What to expect while traveling in Thailand

Thailand is a warm, welcoming and beautiful country. You should expect to be amazed by all the natural beauty and pleasantly surprised at how accommodating and friendly the locals are.

There are also lots of other tourists in Thailand, as it is becoming a more popular country to visit every day. Here are some things to expect while traveling around all the best places to visit in Thailand.


What to expect while traveling in Thailand

Temple dress codes

Thailand is a mainly Buddhist country, so it is natural you'll want to check out some of the stunning Buddhist temples.

Every temple has a certain dress code that aligns with Buddhist beliefs, so many sure you are respectful of those rules and dress accordingly.

You must wear clothes that cover your shoulders, knees, and cleavage. Shoes must always be removed before entering a temple, as feet are considered a very dirty part of the body. Even when entering any indoor establishment, especially someone's home, you must remove your shoes.

Just act respectfully while inside a temple as well. Try to whisper and not disturb those who are actually there for the religious aspect of the building. Always double check if photos are allowed or not before you start snapping a picture, because some sacred sites do not allow photography.

Beach awareness

While touring around the Thai islands, you'll most likely spend lots of time at the beach. Keep in mind, Thailand is quite close to the Equator and the sun is very strong.

Always wear sunscreen, with a higher SPF level than you normally do. A bad sunburn can ruin a vacation, so always be smart.

There are also plenty of deserted beaches on various islands around the country. These can be very beautiful and scenic, but try and check with locals if it is safe before swimming. 

Sometimes there is no one in the water for a reason. Rip currents, sea urchins, jellyfish, and sharp coral reefs may be hiding in the water. So try to avoid swimming in the ocean when there is no one else around unless a local tells you it is safe.

Tap Water

Don't drink the tap water in Thailand. Just to be safe. Drink only boiled water or bottled water, or buy a water bottle with a built-in filter to prepare your own drinking water. 

Most hostels will offer filtered drinking water, but if not you can buy cheap water bottles at 7-11, the most common convenience store in Thailand.

Safety in Thailand

Thailand is overall, a very safe country to visit. The country is informally known as "the Land of Smiles" for good reason. The people are generally very nice, friendly, and helpful so the biggest safety factors to consider while traveling in Thailand are pretty standard.

General common sense and universal safety knowledge will help you the most in Thailand.

So for example, try to avoid walking around alone at night. Don't wear lots of flashy jewelry or expensive items to make you stand out as a tourist. Even though theft isn't a huge problem in Thailand, you can get caught in some big crowds in touristy areas, and wearing expensive things will make you a target for pickpockets.

Also use general street smarts when staying in hostels, Airbnbs, or with Worldpackers hosts. Make sure you feel comfortable with your accommodation and have read other travelers' reviews to confirm the safety of the place. Bring a luggage lock and stow your valuables safely. Make photocopies of your passport and always keep the real thing locked up safely.

If you decide to experience the party scene, be extra cautious about your own safety. Never leave a drink unattended and buy your own drinks to avoid having it spiked with anything. Never drive a rental car or scooter under the influence. Make sure you know the way back to your accommodation and try to avoid getting too intoxicated.

Bad things probably won't happen, as partying with other backpackers is usually a very positive and lighthearted environment. But you always want to be prepared for unfortunate situations, so just be careful.

Just use common knowledge, follow simple travel safety tips, and keep your wits about you, and you should be perfectly safe while traveling Thailand.

When to visit Thailand

Thailand, and most of Southeast Asia, basically has two seasons: rainy season and dry season.

The rainy season lasts from May until October. During this time, flights are cheaper and the attractions are less crowded. Rainy season could also be considered "off-season." Don't be afraid to visit Thailand during the rainy season, as it usually only rains in the afternoon every day so you can still get some sunshine.

The dry season is from November until April, though temperatures are a bit cooler from November until February. This is peak tourist season, so prepare for crowds in the touristy areas. But the weather is favorable during the peak season, with hot temperatures and a little less humidity.

So basically there is no bad time to visit Thailand. It just depends if you would prefer nicer weather or fewer crowds. You can't go wrong with either.

A popular time to visit Thailand is in October or November, as this is when the annual Chiang Mai Lantern Festival occurs. The exact date of the festival depends on the Lanna calendar, which relies on lunar cycles. So the date is different every year but it always falls sometime in October or November.


Lantern Festival, Thailand

The Lantern Festival is a tradition in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand. People make lanterns out of rice paper, put a candle inside then set them free into the sky in hopes of ridding themselves of misfortune. 

It is a truly beautiful sight to see, with all the glowing lanterns drifting into the night sky. So Chiang Mai is one of the best places to visit in Thailand in November if you can make it happen!

How to get around Thailand

Getting around Thailand is very easy for travelers on a budget. The public transport is cheap and easy to use, so it is very easy to travel between all the best places to visit in Thailand.


How to get around Thailand

Plane

To travel long distances, there are lots of low-cost airlines in Thailand that can transport you long distances around the country. Thai Airways, Nok Air, Thai Lion Air, and Thai Smile are four examples of budget airlines that have cheap flights all over the country and to other Southeast Asian destinations.

So if you're hopping between all the best places to visit in Thailand, sometimes it can be quicker and cheaper to just fly. Getting down to the islands is a great example of how flying can be more convenient. After exploring the top places to visit in Thailand's mainland, just catch a cheap, one hour flight down to Phuket and start exploring the island.

Bus

For traveling long distances between cities, the bus is a very affordable method of transport. While flights can be much quicker and cheaper, buses allow you to see the countryside more and stop in rural towns. So consider traveling between the best places to visit in Thailand by bus, if you have lots of time. If you are short on time, flying is probably better.

Some popular bus companies in Thailand are Chai Tour, Bang Tour, Siam Transport, Chit Than Tour, Sophon Tour, Suwannathee Tour, Win Tour, Prempracha Transport, and Alek Tour. But there are so many more bus companies, so just ask around in the area you're staying for what the locals and hostel staff recommend.

Songtaews

These red pick up trucks with a cover on the back can be found all over Thailand. They act as shared taxis, so you can share a ride with other random people going to your same destination and split the cost together. The more people, the cheaper the ride.

Songtaews often travel from touristy areas of a city to popular day trip destinations because there are lots of travelers taking the same journeys. These are convenient for traveling distances any longer than 20 minutes, as the cost is more affordable than taxing a taxi and it is a more convenient way to travel than the bus.

Tuk Tuks

For traveling short distances within a city or town, tuk tuks make for a quick, cheap and easy way to get around. These are basically three wheeled carts with motors that serve as little taxis. They have no doors, and the drivers are skilled at whizzing through crowded streets.

Always double check the price of a ride to your destination first, so the driver doesn't over charge you.

Walking

If you are staying in a big city like Bangkok or Chiang Mai, or on a small island like Koh Phi Phi, you can walk everywhere. This is a great way to exercise, save money while traveling, and see all the little bits of culture around you.

Because the Thai language is difficult to read for foreigners, be prepared to get lost a few times and have trouble reading directions. Having a navigation app like Maps.Me or Google Maps can be super helpful when trying to walk around in a new place. Or you can go old-school and use a paper map. Most hostels provide free city maps so you can make sure you don't get lost.

Also don't be afraid to ask locals for directions. Thais are insanely friendly and nice, and in touristy areas they often speak English.

What to eat in Thailand

Thai food has become famous all over the world. In any country these days, you can usually find a Thai restaurant.

The food you would find in an international Thai restaurant is a good introduction to Thai cuisine, but tasting the food at the source is the best way to experience local cuisine.

Thailand has amazing food, everywhere you go. The flavors are robust and the ingredients are always fresh. Local street markets thrive everywhere in Thailand and locals pick up fresh herbs, spices and vegetables every day to make their meals.

Here are some Thai food classics you may encounter while traveling through Thailand.


What to eat in Thailand

Pad Thai: A dish made of rice noodles, bean sprouts, peanuts, egg, spring onions, cilantro, and either chicken, shrimp or tofu. Pad Thai is stir-fried in a big wok and coated with a savory sauce.

Curry: This is a staple dish of Thailand. Green, red, yellow, panang, and massaman are the four most popular types of curry. Green is usually the spiciest, panang is the sweetest, and massaman is the smokiest and is made with a little cinnamon. Curries are made by cooking veggies and either meat, fish or tofu in coconut milk and curry paste. Curry paste is often hand-ground with ginger, garlic, chili, black pepper, lemongrass, and other local herbs.

Khao Soi: This noodle curry dish is popular in the north of Thailand. It consists of a creamy curry-flavored broth with egg noodles and usually pork or chicken in it.

Papaya Salad: Made by shaving green papayas (which have a taste and texture similar to cucumber) and mixing them with peanuts, tomatoes, Thai basil, green beans, garlic, chili, and palm sugar. It is a very light and refreshing dish to eat on a hot day.

Spring Rolls: There are two types of spring rolls in Thailand. Both usually have ingredients like cabbage, bean sprouts, rice noodles, veggies, spring onions, and meat, shrimp or tofu inside. Fresh spring rolls wrap those ingredients in sticky, chewy rice paper. Fried spring rolls wrap the ingredients in rice flour wraps, then fry them for a crispy outer coating. Usually, both you will dip is sweet chili sauce.

Mango and Sticky Rice: This classic Thai dessert is so delicious. The rice is cooked in coconut milk until it gets sticky and creamy, and it is served on a plate next to half a ripe mango, Sometimes the dish is topped with coconut cream or sesame seeds, but either way, it is delicious.

Thai Iced Tea: All over Thailand, you'll find stalls in the street selling Thai iced tea. It is made from a mixture of red and black tea, then is mixed with condensed milk and regular milk and is served over ice. It is very sweet but delicious. 

Worldpackers experiences in Thailand

Worldpackers has lots of volunteer opportunities in Thailand for travelers who want to make friends with locals, learn new skills and save money.

Bangkok is a huge traveler hub, and there are lots of volunteer jobs here. If you have musical talent, this hostel needs help with performing for guests, and if you love to socialize, this hostel needs a party promoter to make sure the guests are having fun.

Bangkok has lots of hostels accepting volunteers, such as this hostel that needs activity planners, this hostel that needs reception workers, and this hostel that needs lots of jobs done, from bartending to working in reception, to social media help.

If you want a quieter experience in Bangkok, you can work at a small guesthouse and help with general hospitality like housekeeping and keeping guests happy.

If you want to spend lots of time in the tropical paradise of the Thai islands, Koh Pha Ngan as lots of volunteer opportunities for travelers. You can help paint and decorate a new hostel, or help with plumbing, building, and general handyman stuff at another new hostel.

As this island hosts the full and half moon parties, there are lots of jobs at hostels as party promoters and graphic artists to help prepare for the festivities. One hostel even needs help taking care of their newborn baby during the moon parties!

If you want to immerse yourself in nature up in Chiang Mai, you can volunteer at an eco-village or help maintain and take care of an eco-lodge. You can also work on a family-run farm and help out with gardening. 

In Thailand, Worldpackers has adventures for everyone. Whether you want to soak in the culture of Bangkok, party with other backpackers in Koh Pha Ngan, or get in touch with nature in Chiang Mai, there are plenty of ways to volunteer in Thailand.


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Gabrielle

Jan 01, 2020

I am a 24 year old from the USA, currently living and working in Australia. I love writing about my travel experiences in Europe, South America, an...


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