Backpacking in Thailand is the number one choice for so many travellers! Read this guide for all the information you will need.
Thailand has to be the number one destination for backpackers and travellers starting their adventures. The reason for this has to be the people. The Thai people are the most accommodating, friendly and open to tourists out of any of the countries we have been to.
- Visas in Thailand
- Vaccinations in Thailand
- Best Time to Go to Thailand
- Packing List
- Getting To Thailand
- Getting Around Thailand
- Places To Visit In Thailand
- What To Eat In Thailand
- Staying Safe In Thailand
- Scams In Thailand
- Budget in Thailand
- Cultural Differences In Thailand
- Apps for Thailand
- Language In Thailand
- Currency In Thailand
- Honest Opinion Of Thailand
- Frequently Asked Questions
This makes it perfect for people just starting out their travelling and backpacking experience. That being said, Thailand is now a powerhouse of globally famous events and activities. For example; the full moon party in Koh Phangan, elephant conservation and the floating markets.
Read More: The Chiang Mai To Bangkok Sleeper Train
So whether you’ve never been travelling before or you’re looking for somewhere new to experience, backpacking in Thailand is one of the best places in the world.
If you are looking for something in particular then I strongly advise using the contents section below as this will save you some time scrolling through. If you have only just thought about backpacking in Thailand then start from the top and let me guide you through the whole process.
Visas in Thailand
Whenever you are applying for a visa, always find out all of the information you require from the official immigration or visa website for that particular country. Visa requirements will change for different countries and they can also change over time.
To find out the current tourist visa rules and requirements for Thailand, visit the Thai immigration website.
You may be able to backpack around Thailand without a visa for a limited time if your country has a visa exemption policy, read this page referring to visa exemption in Thailand to find out if this is applicable to you.
As always your passport has to be valid for at least 6 months. This goes for every country I’ve ever been to. Check your passport before going any further, you would be amazed how many backpackers don’t and get stranded at the airport.
If you have received any advice that sounds like it’s a loophole, such as leaving the country and coming back on the same day in order to get a new free visa, then think carefully about doing this. Many countries don’t care about it but it’s clearly something they didn’t plan on people doing, you only need one person to have a bad day and you’re stuck.
Vaccinations in Thailand
As always, we are not doctors so we will not recommend certain vaccinations. Have a look at this list of vaccinations for Thailand that will advise exactly what you should be looking at.
The best thing to do is always book an appointment with your local doctor’s surgery or hospital and seek professional medical advice relating to Thailand.
Best Time to Go to Thailand
Thailand loves to be annoying when it comes to the best time to go. Thailand is so long that the north and the south can vary quite significantly throughout the year. To make matters worse, the islands in the south experience an even different weather pattern as they are in open water.
However, if you are looking at backpacking through Thailand and experiencing as much as you can see then there is an optimal time to go, from January to March. This combines the best times for all over Thailand where you can minimise rain and get the nicest temperatures throughout.
Cool and Dry
October to January. Temperatures are cool and rainfall is basically non-existent. If you prefer a comfortable heat or you are planning some adventure activities like trekking then this is the time for you.
Hot and Dry
January to May. Temperatures start to regularly exceed 30oC and often go above 40oC. If you prefer scorching heat then this is the time for you.
Thai Gulf Islands
These are islands in the Gulf of Thailand, for example; Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. The best time to visit these islands is March to May as this is the least chance of rain with the best temperatures.
Andaman Sea Islands
These are the islands like Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. The best time to visit this grouping of islands is November to March.
Carrying around a big backpack can be tiring, so you’ll need something extra comfortable like this Osprey Renn. It has an adjustable shoulder harness so it’s suitable whatever your height and the back panel is ventilated which helps on those hot sweaty days! The bag has plenty of compartments for all of your belongings – there’s a space for your sleeping bag, water reservoir sleeve and rain cover too! Click here to buy yours.
For city exploring and shorter hikes, you’ll need a decent day pack. We recommend one like Osprey’s Arcane, as not only can it hold a 15″ laptop, water bottle and everything else you would need day to day but it is also incredibly stylish (we think). We have used Osprey for loads of different bags over the years and they have all been perfect. Check out the Osprey Arcane on Amazon here.
If you’re not really planning on doing any major hiking then we recommend that you check out these AKK walking shoes. There are extremely lightweight, breathable and have memory foam insoles to make them super comfy. Don’t make the mistake of spending loads of money on insane walking boots if you don’t need to! Check them out here!
If you don’t have a camera then I HIGHLY recommend the Panasonic Lumix ZS70K. It is an affordable point-and-shoot camera that can be picked up and used by anyone of any ability. The camera captures gorgeous images and surprisingly excellent video whilst fitting in your pocket. The main difference between this and your phone’s camera is that it also has an incredible optical zoom so you won’t miss any of the shots you need to take. Check it out here.
If you’re worried about powering your devices on your trip then the simple solution is to take this EPIKA worldwide travel adapter. We have used it all over the world and it has worked flawlessly. Being able to charge up to 5 devices by USB (4 USB-A’s + 1 USB-C) plus a full power outlet socket is incredibly useful and works as an all-in-one solution. Check it out on Amazon here.
Don’t even think about stepping out in the sun without protection! This factor 50 sun cream from Sunbum is vegan, reef-safe and smells like summer, as well as being dermatologist approved! It’s non-greasy, easy to apply and doesn’t leave a white cast so you can quickly rub it in and get on with your adventures! Take a look on Amazon here.
Whether you’re visiting religious temples or windy beaches, this long cover-up by Moss Rose is perfect for wrapping around your shoulders. It’s lightweight and has so many uses, plus it looks great too! One size fits all and there are so many different patterns to choose from. Click here to get yours.
For a comprehensive breakdown of this list go to our budget-savvy packing list guide
Getting To Thailand
Flying into Thailand is by far the easiest way to get into Thailand from long distance. Thailand has a lot of good international and domestic airports so even if you are not going to Bangkok, getting around the country is very easy by air.
I highly recommend flying directly to Bangkok and then flying to wherever you are going from there. If you do have the time though, try to spend at least one day in the capital as it is such an interesting place!
If you are travelling down to the Thai islands then there will be some boat trips for you, for example; if you are going to Koh Phangan then you will need to fly to Bangkok, then to Koh Samui and then get a boat across to Koh Phangan.
Book your favourite hotel hereWhere will you go?
Travelling by boat is a favourite for backpackers in Thailand, the big destinations have big ports that are well equipped and modern.
The smaller islands have many local businesses that can ferry you across for a good price. Unfortunately, for those of you who don’t like boats, these are nearly always the only option to reach the famous islands.
Thai trains can be a very effective way of cutting down on transport costs. The train network in Thailand is quite extensive however you will almost always have to get a bus or a private taxi from the final station in order to get to your destination.
If time is limited and your budget is not too cripplingly tight then definitely fly wherever you can. Flying in Thailand cuts a considerable amount of travel time and maximises time on the beach with a cocktail!
If you are making your way around South East Asia then a great way to do it is by going through Vietnam and Cambodia by land and entering Bangkok from Cambodia by bus. This way you can experience all of the small villages and towns throughout the 3 countries. Have a look here for a detailed guide travelling from Beijing to Bangkok
Getting Around Thailand
This is the easiest way to get around in Thailand if you are in a town. They are numerous and very affordable. Tuk-tuks have the added benefit of being able to dodge through traffic and decrease travel time, due to congestion, considerably.
Tuk-tuk drivers are very good at knowing how to rip you off if you have just got into Thailand. They ask for very large amounts of money to anyone who looks like they have just arrived.
If you think that the amount is too high then get on with some serious negotiating! If they refuse then just simply walk to the next tuk-tuk, they will certainly go lower.
Taxis have the additional benefit of being air-conditioned throughout the entire trip, and also a hell of a lot more comfortable.
All taxis in Thailand come with a meter, if it doesn’t then it isn’t an official taxi. This means that everyone will be paying the same amount so you don’t have to worry about constantly bartering your way around.
They are more expensive than tuk-tuks and also can get caught in congestion.
As I said before, Thailand has a very good internal train network that can be used to vastly cut down transport costs within the country. Just be aware that they will take a long time to get where they are going so this will impact your travel time. Check times and book in advance here!
Places To Visit In Thailand
How can you talk about places to go in Thailand and not start with the capital, Bangkok? It is a phenomenal place where you can truly lose yourself for many days.
Are you interested in temples? Then Bangkok has some of the biggest and best temples in the world.
Are you interested in street food? Bangkok has one of the biggest, cheapest and most diverse street food scenes in the world. You really can’t leave without sampling incredible Thai cuisine in Bangkok.
Are you a shopaholic? Knock yourself out with some of the most unique markets in the world coupled with incredibly modern shopping malls throughout the city.
Every story you’ve ever heard about Bangkok is true and I bet you haven’t heard them all. Any backpacking in Thailand itinerary that doesn’t include Bangkok isn’t worth the time.
The tuk-tuks here are ridiculously fast, they will get you around the city faster than any other form of transport.
If you prefer air-conditioned with a seatbelt then grab a taxi, the price is still good. You will, however, find yourself in traffic jams more often than not so I recommend trying to get by with the tuk-tuks.
Khao San Road
Khao San Road in Bangkok is the place to go if you want everything in one place; markets, food, beer and massages. For next to no money at all, you could happily live in Khao San Road and what a happy life it would be.
If you are looking for the quintessential backpacking Thailand experience and you want to share that experience with hundreds of other backpackers then head to Khao San Road in Bangkok. Khao San Road is the number one place in the world for elephant pants, dreadlocks and bandanas.
Khao San Road is located in the centre of Bangkok and every taxi driver and tuk-tuk driver knows the way.
There are some awesome markets in Bangkok, but Chatuchak market is one of the largest markets you will ever go to I swear. There are more than 8000 stalls and they sell everything from; clothing to food to antiques to anything you can think of!
This is a full day experience, especially if you like losing yourself whilst sifting through thousands of bargains. The markets open at the weekend at 9am and carry on through the day until 6pm.
Take the subway to Chatuchak station and follow the crowds until you see the entrance. The market is on Google maps so it should be very easy to find once you are at Chatuchak station.
It would be a crime not to get a massage whilst backpacking Bangkok. I got an authentic Thai massage and this technique does not use any oils. If you are looking for something more relaxing then definitely go for one of the many oil-based massages.
You can still get a Thai massage with oil if you want, I recommend not getting the authentic one because the friction means there is a lot of skin pinching and wrenching that I’m sure is beneficial in some way but frankly hurts quite a lot.
Muay Thai Kickboxing
Watching a Muay Thai kickboxing match has become a massive tourist industry for backpackers in Thailand in recent years. Whilst in Bangkok, many people will be advertising fights around the city and, if you’re into that sort of thing, it can be a hell of an atmosphere.
Make sure that you are going to watch an officially sanctioned fight by the governing body because fighting is illegal if it has not been sanctioned. Unofficial fighting can also be dangerous for the fighters as sanctioned kickboxers have to be medically screened and adhere to certain guidelines.
Songkran Water Festival
The Songkran water festival is gaining popularity at an exponential rate in Thailand. Originally a cleansing ritual developed by Buddhist monks, the Thai people and now thousands of foreigners use it to have a huge water fight.
I can’t think of many places in Thailand better than Bangkok to celebrate the Songkran water festival. The capital comes alive from April 13th – April 15th so if you’re there during that time, you’re going to get wet whether you like it or not!
Generally Explore Bangkok
Bangkok has so much to offer for anyone backpacking Thailand. Take your time exploring the temples, the streets and the culture as Bangkok really is the centre of the backpacking world.
Whether you’re travelling solo or even travelling Bangkok with kids, there is something for everyone!
Full Moon Party – Koh Phangan
This has to be one of the most famous parties in Thailand, if not the world. Once a month during the full moon, if you hadn’t guessed, the beach of Haad Rin becomes a mega party for backpackers and travellers alike.
If you are travelling the islands then this really has to be up on your list if you like partying, if you’re not really a party animal then stay away!
If you are wondering what the best way to get to Koh Phangan is, look at our handy ‘how to get to Koh Phangan’ guide’.
If you are around for the half-moon party then this is not the same thing by a long way! The vibe is completely different and it costs a lot more money to get in. It is more of an outside club rave than a relaxed moonlit beach party.
Chiang Mai is in the very north of Thailand and is especially popular with digital nomads.
Where it shines is the activities you can do surrounding Chiang Mai. The city is quite remote so they have an abundance of land up there. This has given rise to huge sanctuaries for elephants and in my opinion, is the best place to see them in the country.
Elephant Nature Park
Elephant Nature Park is the most famous and the best elephant sanctuary in Thailand. We were both very worried about cruelty to elephants in Thailand and we didn’t want to endorse or witness anything that could be distressing for the elephants.
Everything online about Elephant Nature Park said it was the best and they weren’t wrong. The care and treatment of the elephants is obviously very high and all of them have been rescued from around the country for various reasons.
Have a read to see how to spend the night at Elephant Nature Park and how to avoid partaking in cruelty to elephants in Thailand.
Before we did the research into elephant cruelty, we were unaware of how bad it is in Thailand. If you see an elephant painting, standing on one leg or even playing with a ball for amusement then the elephants have been very seriously mistreated.
Thai Farm Cooking School
If you like cooking then Chiang Mai is a very good place to get yourself on some of the best cooking schools in Thailand.
We went to Thai Farm Cooking School and it was literally the best cooking school we have ever been on. The best thing about going to any Thai cooking class is that you find out how easy it is to cook some of the classic Thai food.
I love a pad Thai and when I found out that it takes minutes to make then I got a dreadful feeling that obesity was around the corner for me…
Pai is the jewel of the Thailand backpacking experience. The town itself is slowly becoming a typically backpacking booze culture yoga retreat, however, the location hasn’t changed.
It is still nestled in one of the most beautiful spots in Thailand, surrounded by incredible hiking trails, mountains, waterfalls and caves.
If you are the adventurous type then definitely head down to Pai, it has everything you want.
Pai is home to some of the best rafting experiences you can get anywhere in the world. You spend 2 days making your way down the river through the dense non-accessible rainforest, finding waterfalls and bathing in hot springs.
The scenery and wildlife along the way is second to none and the animal locals are completely wild. If you’re in Pai, I highly recommend booking a tour rafting down the Pai River.
Pai is surrounded by incredible mountain landscapes and is an incredible opportunity to grab some breathtaking pictures of the rolling terrain.
You don’t necessarily have to book a tour to fully immerse yourself in the trekking culture in Pai. You can rent a scooter and head up to various spots around the town to save yourself some money. I always advise NOT to rent a scooter if you don’t have a domestic and international motorbike licence as you WILL NOT be covered by your insurance if you crash.
You can also rent a bicycle from town if you think you need the extra exercise but I recommend booking some sort of a tour that will take you around the best spots over a day or two. This will maximise your enjoyment and make sure you are seeing the best the town has to offer.
There are so many islands in Thailand and nearly all of them are incredibly beautiful. Any decent backpacking Thailand itinerary has to include at least one stay at a Thai Island. Whether you’re looking for a busy party scene, or somewhere a little more off the beaten track, there will be somewhere perfect for you!
Below I have written about some of the most popular Thai islands for backpackers.
As I said earlier, Koh Phangan is the place for the legendary full moon party in Thailand. If you are a party animal and are looking for that ridiculously laid-back party vibe then seriously get yourself down to Koh Phangan for the full moon party. You won’t regret it.
Koh Samui has it all, from budget accommodation to luxury white beaches and 5-star hotels. If you are looking for a little bit of something in one place then this is it. Some of the other islands in Thailand cater to a very specific crowd; you don’t go to Phuket to experience high-class nightlife after all. Koh Samui, however, caters to everyone.
This may be positive or negative for you. If you are looking for a very specific Thai experience then one of the other islands may be more suited. If you simply want a relaxing, beautiful, resort-like island then Koh Samui is for you.
Click to see the best things to do in Koh Samui
- Ang Thong Marine Park Full Day Kayak and Snorkelling Tour
- Fishing and Snorkelling Boat Trip With BBQ
This is one of the more divided islands in terms of opinion. It’s a beautiful island to spend time on, but you only have to search Koh Tao in Google and you will see why. Without sugar-coating it, there have been a number of murders of foreign tourists in Koh Tao in recent years.
I couldn’t leave it out as it really is a diving paradise. There are a number of dive centres on the island and it’s great for beginners and experienced divers alike. If you are really looking for an immersive diving experience then have a look at some of these liveaboard diving boats in Thailand.
Thailand is renowned for being a fantastically cheap place to learn how to dive and this is a great place to do it.
Please, if you are thinking of going, do your research and stay safe. This isn’t the island to be walking late at night, drunk, alone on the beach. If I’m honest, don’t ever do that wherever you may be in the world.
You don’t really go to Phuket to experience the ‘real Thailand’. I don’t mean that in a bad way; if you have ever heard of anyone going to Mexico for example, then they almost certainly not going to have a wander around the city’s streets.
Phuket is very much like this, the whole island is basically one huge holiday resort. If that’s your kind of thing and your main goal is to find some good weather, good beaches, lie down and forget your troubles then Phuket is for you.
In recent years, some areas of Phuket have started to become a little seedy. What I mean is that a lot of young people getting very pissed and making a lot of noise and mess. If that’s not what you’re looking for then have a look at my recommendations for Phuket accommodation here.
Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is widely accepted as the best national park in Thailand. It is a very good place to see Thai elephants in the wild as well as a lot of other amazing wildlife throughout the park.
Khao Yai National Park really is best experienced with a tour group or private guide. It is over 2 hours from Bangkok and, when you’re inside the park, it is very difficult to traverse.
I highly recommend booking a tour for Khao Yai National Park, you won’t regret it.
What To Eat In Thailand
Thailand is a powerhouse for easy-to-cook, cheap meals that taste amazing. Those three things all in one are very hard to come by anywhere in the world and Thailand has them in abundance. Food is literally the reason why many people go backpacking in Thailand
If there is anywhere that you’re going to finally try street food then Thailand is the place, so much of the food is fried in front of you that you can reduce your risk of food poisoning dramatically.
A lot of food in Thailand can be served with tofu instead of meat. This gives the impression that it is vegetarian and even vegan in so many situations. Unfortunately, nearly every single main course dish in Thailand is cooked using fish sauce. If you are a vegan or vegetarian then ensure you ask for no fish sauce.
If you’re only going to try one dish in Thailand then this has to be it. Fried noodles with citrus and nutty flavours; they make it fresh for you on the side of the street in minutes and tastes ridiculously good.
Considering the average price can be as low as 50THB then this is pretty damn good.
Green and Red Curry
The difference in colour is only due to the different chillies used in the base paste. Thai green curry is the spiciest with a red curry quite close behind.
You can get either with a choice of meat or tofu for the protein source and they are full of various vegetables like; green beans, eggplant and potatoes. The sauce is made from coconut milk which just adds to the overall ridiculously good taste of the curry.
Sticky Rice Mango
Stick rice mango is a very typical dessert in Thailand and is very sweet. The rice is soaked in coconut milk and palm sugar and is served with fresh mango slices. If you have a sweet tooth then grab one of these desserts from one of the thousands of street vendors that sell it
Papaya salad is the most eaten salad in the whole of Thailand. Some of them are made with fish sauce but if you can find one without this then it becomes a very tasty vegan dish. The citrusy taste that is all over Thailand is very prevalent in most Papaya salad.
Tom Yum Soup
If you’re a fan of the spice and want a light bite then tom yam soup is the way to go. Tom yam soup is usually served with shrimp but you can get it with all sorts of meat or tofu.
If you like your curries richer and creamier than the relatively light red and green curries then grab a mutton massaman curry. It comes with various choices of meat of vegetarian options but I just think the mutton is the best.
If you haven’t already fallen in love just reading about Thai food then you’re going to when you eventually get there!
Ice Cream Rolls
If you’re not feeling like a traditional Thai dessert or you just have a ridiculously high sweet tooth, then have a look for the many stalls making ice cream rolls. They always give you a list of ingredients to smash up and put inside. It is literally ice cream that has been rolled up in front of your eyes, so nice.
Staying Safe In Thailand
Backpacking in Thailand can be a very memorable or traumatic experience. If you don’t go prepared for certain things or make the right choices then you can put yourself in a position to compromise your entire trip.
I guarantee that you’ve already been looking at Instagram pictures and travel blogs that say the best way to get around Thailand is by renting a scooter. I’m not going to say it isn’t because it definitely is the cheapest and easiest way to get around.
However, not many people realise that you are not covered at all by your insurance unless you have a domestic and international motorcycle license.
I was the same before, I thought that they were 50cc mopeds and my normal driver’s license allowed me to ride one. This is not the case, the motorbikes are 125cc and above and if anything happens to you then you will be footing the bill.
I also have to warn you that motorcycle accidents are not uncommon! It’s not like it won’t happen to you, it really could. Lastly, it’s not like the tuk-tuks and local taxis are that expensive either, save yourself some potential injury and don’t rent a bike.
Drugs, sex and passing out on the beach. That’s what so many are expecting from their backpacking Thailand island experience. Unfortunately, when so many go to Thailand to do just that, predators follow. I’m not trying to scare you away from Thailand but I don’t sugar-coat things either. Drink spiking and sexual assault are on the rise in the Thai islands so be careful and don’t be stupid.
I highly recommend not doing any drugs available anywhere. Thailand, especially, has very strict laws on drugs and you could be looking at being in serious trouble.
Tuk Tuks in Thailand are the quickest I have seen in South East Asia. They are made using quite large motorcycles and have a lot of power compared to ones you may have been on before.
Also, they don’t have a very large barrier between the seat and the road; a quick corner can make you feel like you will slide out or one of your bags will.
Just be careful when using a tuk-tuk in Thailand and ensure you are seating in a good position and all your bags are nicely inside the vehicle.
Prostitution is illegal in Thailand. This means that it is not moderated and is controlled by illegal organisations. If you partake in prostitution in Thailand then you are contributing to an illegal organisation that is well known to be rife with abuse.
This is made worse by the level of sexually transmitted disease that is present in any illegal prostitution network.
Scams In Thailand
If you are an experienced backpacker then you will probably be able to spot a scam a mile away. If you are not then you will have to be on the lookout as Thailand has a number of scams specifically targeting backpackers in Thailand.
A really common scam in the Thai islands where owners will say you have damaged the jet ski and demand reimbursement. It is so common on the islands as a lot of the islands are controlled by certain gangs or mafia. This means that the police will not help you if this happens.
Avoid renting jet skis on the islands and if you do NEVER give your passport as collateral at the beginning.
Small shady gem stores will say all sorts of things for you to buy their wares. If they are pushing the gems and are saying things like ‘we have too many’ then it’s a scam and they are worthless.
There are so many tailor shops in Thailand, especially Bangkok. If you want to have something made then have it made whilst you are in Thailand and don’t pay up front. This means that you can inspect the goods at the end and if it is a scam you will know instantly.
This happens everywhere in the world. Tour companies advertising on the side of the street don’t sell the good tours. They peddle bad, shop heavy, sales orientated tours that do nothing for tourism at all.
They might be a good deal but go to proper agencies or book through reputable websites online. We personally like to use GetYourGuide and I highly recommend them.
Do not get into a taxi without a meter. All official taxis in Thailand have meters and they are not allowed to be ‘broken’. If your driver says it is broken or it is getting repaired then go elsewhere. You will be ripped off.
There are a lot of scams in Thailand and too many for this backpackers guide to Thailand. I got a lot of my information from Travel Scams so check out that page to clue yourself up.
Budget in Thailand
You will be able to get any level of accommodation basically wherever you are in Thailand. It is easy to find extreme budget hostels all the way to 5-star resorts at any of the tourist hot spots throughout Thailand.
I recommend using booking.com as we have been using them all over the world for years now and it just makes everything so easy having all the accommodation in one place.
If you don’t like booking.com then I highly recommend using one site for all of your purchases if you are backpacking through Thailand, for example; Agoda or Hotels Combined. It just means that you will have one place to go to find out all the information you need. When you are hopping from place to place, this is very important.
Book your favourite hotel hereWhere will you go?
Get on the street food wagon if you’re not already on it. Food is ridiculously cheap here and you can find incredibly tasty food wherever you are in seconds.
If you go to a restaurant then they will prepare the exact same meal in the exact same way as the street food people and it will be at least triple the price.
This is the easiest way to save money throughout your backpacking experience in Thailand.
Cultural Differences In Thailand
One of the nicest things about Thailand is their hospitality to the tourism industry. This is why it’s such a massive hub for backpackers and tourists alike. Because of this, you won’t really ever feel like you’re not allowed to do something or you have to put up with something that is different from your own culture.
There are a few things to consider, however, if you are backpacking Thailand.
You cannot go into a temple with your shoulders showing or wearing any sort of revealing clothes. At all of the temples we went to, there are overalls for people to wear during their visit. I would highly recommend that you carry around a shawl or something to cover up yourself just in case they do not have overalls.
If you do happen to visit a monastery or see monks around town, do not touch them, this especially goes for women. They are forbidden from having a relationship with women and cannot be touched, even a simple handshake.
Saving face is quite a big thing in many areas of Asia but is especially prevalent in Thailand. It means that people don’t like to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t help you’. If you ask for directions and someone doesn’t know, then they are likely to send you somewhere just to save face. Just be aware of this and don’t be annoyed if someone does save face as it is a big tradition in Thailand.
Apps for Thailand
As the name suggests, this is an app for learning Thai and is very useful for key phrases and helping you to get by. Even if you are the sort of person who doesn’t really care for learning new languages, I highly recommend simply downloading it. Backpacking in Thailand is a lot easier if you know a few simple key phrases and it may help you if you are in a sticky situation.
The XE app has become a lot more streamlined in recent times and is just so handy for doing those quick currency exchanges on the move. You will end up using this much more than you think to keep track of how much you are spending in relation to your home currency.
If learn Thai has failed you then you can use Google translate to translate the words you are speaking into your phone. It listens to you and then writes what you are saying in Thai. This is largely guesswork for the app but can really help out if everything else fails.
Get this app. You’ll have it permanently open on your phone. If you don’t then you will regret it.
Language In Thailand
There is only one language in Thailand and that is Thai. You won’t get caught out going to some obscure region and not knowing your key phrases.
In the cities and tourist spots, English is quite widely spoken and to a reasonable standard as well. You shouldn’t have to worry too much about learning the key phrases in order to get around and get by. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a go at some of the key phrases whilst in Thailand because, wherever you go in the world, the locals love someone that tries.
One thing to consider is that a lot of words have a female and male variant. For example, thankyou can be said ‘kob khun krab’ or ‘kob khun kha’ depending on your gender. The following translations and for females but you should easily be able to find the right ones for you on the Learn Thai app that I recommended earlier.
Thank you – Kob khun kha
Goodbye – Sawasdee (same as hello)
How much? – Nee tao rai?
Not Spicy – Mai-Ped
No – Mai chai
Hello – Sawasdee
Taxi – Taksi
Spicy – Ped-Mak
Yes – Ka
Toilet – Nong-hum
Currency In Thailand
The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht. Thailand is not like Cambodia or Vietnam, where they accept USD as currency in some areas. You will have to pay in Thai Baht if you want to receive any goods or services.
If you do find somewhere that is accepting USD then the price will be largely inflated and you should just walk away.
Honest Opinion Of Thailand
We have been backpacking through Thailand twice in our travelling experiences and have been more than happy with our experience both times.
The single best thing about Thailand is how accommodating the Thai people are to tourists. Other destinations throughout the world can have a general disdain for tourists all the way to outright rudeness.
Thailand, however, is the land of smiles and I can completely vouch for that. It is perfect for all levels of travellers, from beginner to experienced, and the backpacking community is large and vibrant.
If you are a solo backpacker and looking for companions then Thailand is the place to go, you’ll find at least someone exactly like you in the seas of backpackers in Thailand.
Honestly, there are a lot of scams going on in Thailand and some of the islands are particularly troubled with illegal activities. The vast majority of tourists and backpackers that go to Thailand never experience any negativity but it is one of those countries that you have to keep an eye open and your sense about you.
It is highly recommended for everyone to go to backpacking in Thailand at least once. Use this guide to help you plan the entire trip from start to finish and you’ll have a great time!
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you tip in Thailand?
The tipping culture in Thailand is very much a choice. It is not like the U.S. where many people expect a tip regardless of the service you received. It is appreciated and is not expected. If you are happy with the service and want to tip then go ahead, if not then don’t worry.
Is it safe in Thailand?
Thailand can be a very safe place for backpackers, it is helped by how aware you are and how you behave in Thailand. If you are going to start taking drugs on mafia controlled islands or be involved with prostitution then you are opening yourself up to being targeted.
But this goes for any country in the world, stay out of the illegal businesses and don’t walk drunk down the beach alone at night. If you are smart then you drastically reduce the risk of anything bad happening to you.
What shoes do I wear in Thailand?
You shouldn’t need walking boots in Thailand unless you are planning on some serious trekking. For a normal backpacking in Thailand experience, take a pair of plimsolls and a pair of flip-flops and you’ll be good to go. If either break then they can be easily replaced in Thailand in the various stalls scattered around the entire country.
How much do you need per day whilst backpacking in Thailand?
You can easily live off of £25 per day for 2 People, this goes down to £18-£20 per day for 1 person. If there are two of you it massively saves you money in the long term. Read our ‘how to live in Thailand for £25 per day’ guide for more information.
What are the top places to go in Thailand?
If you are short on time then the top 3 places have to be;
- Chiang Mai
- Any Thai Island
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