Thailand is a Southeast Asian country. It’s known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. In Bangkok, the capital, an ultramodern cityscape rises next to quiet canalside communities and the iconic temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew). Nearby beach resorts include bustling Pattaya and fashionable Hua Hin.
At a Glance
Thailand Quick Information
Thailand Visa: Generally speaking, people from the US, UK, and EU passports are given a free 30-day visa when you enter Thailand by air and 15 days if you enter overland. This visa is easily extendable if you want to stay in the country for longer. ASEAN passport holders get a free 30-day visa upon entry (but some aren’t valid for extension).
If you want to stay in Thailand for longer, you can look at applying for a tourist visa in any Thai embassy beforehand (this gives you 60 days). Please note that more and more countries in Southeast Asia are requiring you to show proof of onward flights before allowing you to enter the country so make sure you make the necessary booking arrangements.
Safety: Generally speaking, Thailand is a safe place to go. Yes, there are a few scams here and there but as long as you take the time to read about them beforehand, you’re good. Based on our years of experience of traveling all over the world, we would never leave home without travel insurance.
Festivals and Celebrations: While we usually prefer to travel around countries during the shoulder seasons, we tend to also plan our trips around certain celebrations and festivals that we want to experience. In Thailand, Loi Krathong and Songkran are two festivals in Thailand that we highly recommend people to experience at least once. Imagine looking up at the sky as thousands of paper lanterns are set free in the sky and trust me when I say that seeing it in person is truly a magical experience.
Thailand Trip Planning
While you can visit Thailand all year round, avoiding the monsoon season might be smart if much of your holiday plans involve basking in exotic islands. The best time to go to Thailand is December to March (All of Thailand). In a nutshell, the weather in Thailand can be broken down into three parts: Rainy (roughly May-Oct), Cool (Nov–Feb), Hot(March-May).
What to Pack for Traveling Thailand
Despite having different seasons, traveling around Thailand is generally warm, with the exception of a few cooler months when in Northern Thailand. With that in mind, make sure you bring lots of cool quick dry clothing and well as a scarf or two for visiting temples and other religious sites.
Word of Caution
Animal Tourism in Thailand is pretty rampant with lots of tours promoting elephant trekking. If there is one thing we are passionate about, it is about spreading the word about the rampant animal abuse that happens in these establishments. A lot of tourists flock to the Tiger temple in Chiang Mai just to get a selfie with a tiger. The tigers in these places are often mistreated and drugged up so they can be docile enough for human interaction. Same goes for elephant “sanctuaries” Bottom line is, do your research if you really must see them and only go to reputable ones (we recommend Elephant Nature Park), or better yet-just avoid any activity which involves animals.
Best Things to Do in Thailand
As mentioned, Thailand is a country that has a little bit of everything for everyone. Despite being frequented by millions and millions of tourists every day, there is still a large portion of Thailand that remains largely unexplored. Here are a few of the best places things to do in Thailand.
Get Lost in the Chaos of Bangkok
This busy metropolitan city is the heart of Thailand and is one of the most chaotic, energetic, and vibrant cities in Southeast Asia. While some people head straight to the islands, spending a few days in Bangkok is a great way to ease yourself into this exotic country. In Bangkok, there are temples, shopping areas, and pretty much everything that you can imagine under the sun. A few of the most popular things to do in Bangkok is to visit the famous Wat Pho Temple and the Grand Palace. Shop in the widely diverse Chatuchak weekend market or many malls and eat some delicious street food available all over the city. If you’re looking for something more tailored, check out our article on cheap things to do in Bangkok which suggest an activity for every day of the week.
Go Trekking in Northern Thailand
After you’re done exploring Bangkok, You can opt to venture towards the cities in Northern Thailand. Make the most out of the mountains in Northern Thailand and indulge in a few days trekking, whitewater rafting, exploring remote hill-tribe villages, or simply enjoying the cool fresh air in the mountains. In northern Thailand, you can also opt to do the Mae Hong Son Loop which is one of our favorite activities in Thailand.
Go Hiking and Camping in the National Parks
One of our favorite things to do in Thailand is to go trekking up mountains like Doi Mon Jong or Phu Chi Fa or even explore a few of their many National Parks. When we used to live in Chiang Mai, we used to head up to Doi Inthanon or Doi Pui all the time to go camping. Similarly, places like Khao Sam Roi Yot are also excellent places to visit, given its close proximity to Bangkok.
What to Eat in Thailand
Thailand is home to some of the most amazing food (in the world) and is a big favorite of mine in Southeast Asia. This country features a cuisine full of fresh ingredients and bold flavors. If you’re only in Thailand for a short amount of time, here are a few dishes that you need to try:
Pad Thai: Readily available in almost every street food cart, this dish is something you can never go wrong with. Thick noodles topped with a variety of shrimp or chicken, bean sprouts, egg, and tofu, stir-fried together in goodness.
Pad Krapow Moo: A stir-fry made from minced pork or chicken dish cooked with lots of basil, garlic, and chilies served on top of a piping bowl of white rice and served with a fried egg.
Som Tum: Shredded papaya mixed with green beans, garlic and chilies marinated in a vinaigrette type of sauce topped with peanuts. Usually eaten as a side salad with grilled dishes.
Mango Sticky Rice: Coconut rice paired with a ripe sweet mango topped with a sweet coconut syrup that is to die for!