Thailand: Thailand is the travel hub of Southeast Asia. Most people coming into the region fly into Bangkok and make that their base for doing the circuit around Southeast Asia. With its lush jungles, famed beaches, world-class diving, amazing food, friendly and cheap prices, Thailand is by far my favorite country in the world! I’ve been coming to the country since 2005, lived there for 2 years, and always seem pulled back to it. It’s an easy country to travel and you can meet a lot of other people there. You’re never alone! The country is a well-worn destination on the backpacking trail and everything is convenient and easy. However, there are still many off the beaten path destinations aways from the crowds and the prices they bring. Overall, Thailand speaks for itself. When you hear its name, you already think about beaches, beauty, jungles, and food. And your thoughts are spot on.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who
requires visa please refer to the Thailand consulate website: www.thaiconsulatedubai.com
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options.
Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things to see & do:
Explore Bangkok – The heart of Thailand, this crazy city is a must-see. Most travelers don’t like it right away but it grows on you. Explore temples, palaces, amazing markets, shops, one of the craziest nightlife scenes in the world, and of course, amazing Thai food.
Visit the Grand Palace and Wat Pho – Thailand’s royal palace was built at the end of the 18th century by King Rama I and is the official residence of the current monarch. It’s a striking place filled with numerous temples, including Wat Pra Kaeo, which houses the 15th-century Emerald Buddha.
Find adventure around Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai is an old city ringed with temples and surrounded by jungles. It’s a good launching pad for jungle treks into the area; there is a nearby elephant sanctuary, Chiang Mai night market is a place for best handicrafts and deals in the country.
Hike in Khao Yai National Park – Khao Yai National Park located about 2.5 hours north of Bangkok and is one of Thailand’s best national parks. It’s truly amazing — visually stunning, empty of tourists, and filled with lush flora and fauna and even a few wild elephants.
Visit Khao Sok National Park – Located in the south of Thailand, Khao Sok National Park is constantly rated as one of the best in Thailand, with incredible trekking, camping, limestone karsts, cooling rivers, and a glistening lake. You’ll find semi-challenging hikes, tons of wildlife
Hop around the ancient capitals – Between Chiang Mai and Bangkok are Thailand’s three ancient capitals – Sukhothai, Lopburi, and Ayutthaya. Visiting them on your way north is a unique way to head from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. You’ll get to learn about ancient Thailand and see rural life at its best. My favorite is Ayutthaya.
Relax on tropical islands – Thailand has a million and one beautiful tropical islands. Some of the best islands here are – Ko Samet, Ko Taruato, Ko Lanta, Ko Chang, Ko Tao, Ko Jum, Ko Lipe, Ko Phi Phi, Phuket, the Similan Islands, and Ko Samui.
Partake in the Full Moon Party – If you like partying, there’s no better party in the world than the famous Full Moon Party. The Full Moon Party is a giant festival-like party with a lot of drinking & dancing. Each bar has its own sound system, so you’ll hear different music loudly blasting onto the beach every few feet. The beach itself is lined with people selling alcohol, fire dancers putting on shows, and little booths selling glow-in-the-dark face paint.
Go jungle trekking – There are some great jungle trekking opportunities in northern Thailand. Be sure to go on a multi-day hike. The shorter hikes aren’t as good and the hill tribes you visit are like visiting a rural impoverished Disney World. The biggest departure points are Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
Go scuba diving in the Similan Islands – Scuba diving here is a popular activity because of the crystal clear waters and majestic sea life. The cheapest place to learn is on the island of Ko Tao, which caters specifically for dive trips. Most people don’t go unless they’re planning on diving. While you can dive all over the country, the Similan Islands offer the best diving. If you dive the Similan Islands, be sure to see Elephant Head Rock, and the reef houses plenty of fish, snappers, rays, and turtles.
Learn to cook – Thai food is delicious and it’s relatively easy to cook. All over the country, you’ll find places to teach you, though the best are in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Even if you don’t plan to cook back home, at least you get to spend a day making and eating scrumptious food.
Explore the Khmer temples in Isaan – There are many temples built throughout the region, all along the ancient roads connecting Angkor to the other villages. The largest of these is Phimai, located at the end of the ancient highway. In the Buriram province are two other magnificent Khmer temples only a few kilometers apart. Phanom Rung built on top of a hill and Muang Tum which is at the base of the hill.
Get off the trail in Isaan – One of the most under visited areas of the country, Isaan is mostly a land of farms and villages. This is a great place to escape the frantic tourist atmosphere of the rest of the country. It is not overrun by tourists, and you get a chance to experience Thai culture in a different, more personal way. I think it’s one of the most interesting places in the country.
Take the day train – Taking the day train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is not only cheaper but a much better way to see the countryside than the night train. Sure, you waste a day but you see the countryside, you experience how Thais take the train, and you’re treated to vendors coming off and on every stop selling meals for 15 THB. The day trip remains one of my favorite experiences in Thailand. Just make sure you have a good book!
Throw water during Songkran – Between April 13-15th, the Thai celebrate Thai New Year by holding an enormous, three-day water fight. Songkran, as it’s known, is meant to wash away the old and begin the year anew. Be prepared to get wet everywhere you go those days.
Help the elephants at the Elephant Nature Park – Sure you can come to Thailand and ride an elephant, but so many of them in this country suffer from abuse. An even better way to get up-close-and-personal to the animals is to volunteer at the Elephant Conservation Center.
Admire Wat Doi Suthep – This stunning Buddhist temples lies in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, 10 miles out of Chiang Mai. A tram or a trek up 300 steps will take you to the summit of Doi Suthep, where the glittering gold temple spire awaits you. The temple dates back to the 14th century and holds rare relics of Buddha. It’s really is too beautiful of a view to miss, so don’t leave Chiang Mai without visiting Wat Doi Suthep.
Visit the Golden Triangle – The point where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River is known as the Golden Triangle. You can take a boat and head to the Golden Triangle Park, or check out some of the many Buddha statues and markets.
Phuket – This island is the biggest destination for tourism in Thailand. You’ll find great beaches and amazing activities this island, and if you stay away from Patong Beach, you can avoid most of the over-development and crowds.
Ko Phi Phi – This is one of the most popular tourist islands in Thailand. From the famous of Maya Bay (made famous in The Beach) to the monkeys on the aptly named Monkey Beach to the diving and nightlife, there are reasons people flock here.
Shop at the floating markets – Thailand is full of markets. Perhaps the most whimsical of these are the floating markets, which can be found throughout the country. Some of the best are Damnoen Saduak, in Ratchaburi, and the Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market in Bangkok. You’ll find rickety boats piled high with colorful goods and eats. You’ll get plenty of great photos! (Although it’s become majorly touristy to go to the floating markets, you’ll not want to miss a morning shopping from boat to boat.)
Kanchanaburi Province – Here you’ll find a lush forest perfect for trekking, though the history of this area is rather dark. The infamous Death Railway is located here, linking Burma and Myanmar, which were constructed during WWII by prisoners of war. This is also where you will find the Bridge on the River Kwai, built using POW labor and the subject of a both a film and a book. While it is a haunting reminder, it is an essential part of Thailand’s history.