For those who can’t help but follow their sense of adventure — Thailand is definitely the place to be. For backpackers, it’s a place that many return to, and for good reason. A home away from home if you will. From the sandy white beaches to the all-night parties, everyone has a blast in Thailand.
Whether you’re going for the first time, or want to brush up on your knowledge — this guide is for you. Here’s everything you need to know before you take off to ‘The Land of Smiles.’
What You Need to Know About Thailand
Depending on what you’d like to see and do, there’s plenty to explore. Before you leave for your adventure ahead, be sure to look into some spots off-the-beaten-track. Pack your backpack light, and travel smart between destinations.
First thing’s first — money. How much money will you need? What is the local currency?
Although US Currency tends to be the money of choice in certain areas within Laos and Cambodia, you will mostly be using Thai baht throughout Thailand. Remember this, one baht = 100 satang (smaller denomination coins). Overall, the most commonly used coin is the 10 baht and the most common note will be 100 baht.
Although you can source Thai baht currency within your home country, it’s often more beneficial to exchange it on arrival — the rates will always be better than they are at home. Also, depending on how you want to travel, around $50 US/couple tends to be a comfortable budget. This will cover accommodations, transportation, a tour or two, and beer money.
Here are some of the main areas of concern, as well as appropriate budgets:
- Accommodations — This will range depending on where you stay. Although prices have gone up in the last few decades, they’re still very affordable. If you’re staying on a more expensive island, you may need to pay around $20 for a double room — but on average, it will likely be around $8-$10 for a hut. If you’re staying in hostels, you can get by on an even tighter budget.
- Food — When you’re rolling through the streets of Thailand, you can find incredible deals, eating for around $2 a meal. From Pad Thai to curry, there are plenty of filling, authentic dishes available. Once again, if you’re in a more touristy area, such as Bangkok, you may find that you’re paying closer to $5 for a cheap meal.
- Alcohol — Pre-drinking is never a bad idea, as beers and local whiskey won’t cost more than $2 — whereas a cocktail may cost you $3-$4 while you’re out. Overall, you can fit alcohol into a shoestring budget.
- Transportation — The local transit system in Thailand is great — with both bus and boat connections. Buying your tickets is easy, and you can go from Bangkok to Koh Phangan (an approximate 12-hour journey) for around $20 US. If you plan ahead, you can get some great deals.
The locals are extremely friendly, and based on exposure, the majority know at least basic English. Although many tourists feel as though they should tip, unless you’re within the more touristy areas, this isn’t generally encouraged.
Also, before we cover where you should go, let’s highlight when you should go. The climate of Thailand can generally be broken down into three main seasons — rainy (May-October); hot (March-May); and cool (Nov-Feb). Of course, this will depend on where you are. Temperatures throughout the regions of northern Thailand, for instance, will differ from southern Thailand.
Where Should I Go?
There are far too many amazing spots to list off, so once again — what you see and do, will highly depend on your interests and willingness to explore. Do your homework and plan ahead for the main areas you want to see, then see where the wind blows you.
Here are some of the most frequently visited regions and what they have to offer.
Being the capital of Thailand, this large city is known for its vibrant, bustling street life. Broken down into various districts, Bangkok offers a unique combination of historic and modern life. Although the heavy traffic and intense heat may put you off at first, you will have barely scratched the surface.
Although there’s plenty of restaurants and nightlife, you will also have access to incredible temples, palaces, canals, and must-visit markets. From cooking classes to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, there’s no shortage of things to do. The same goes for food — you can grab some cheap eats — or eat in high-end, award-winning restaurants.
The Islands of Thailand
Known throughout the world, the islands found off of Thailand’s coast are something out of a dream. Known for the stunning scenery and party atmosphere, there’s no shortage of areas to explore. With three main sets of islands, you can travel from one to the other, with Phuket being the country’s largest and most developed.
This flourishing city is surrounded by mountains, and is often used as a base camp for backpackers. From the hill tribes to the jaw-dropping landscapes, there’s so much to explore around this area. The city itself is historic, offering a mixture of modern and traditional architecture. Once you’ve completed an outdoor adventure or two, view one of dozens of Buddhist temples.
Khao Sok National Park
Being one of Thailand’s most pristine wildlife reserves, it’s a remarkable sight to see. Covered by rivers, lakes, and jungle forests, travelers can spot anything from elephants to wild boars, gibbons to bears. With a number of trails, you can hike past waterfalls and natural swimming pools, taking in the unforgettable viewpoints along the way.
Some of the other places you’ll want to check out include, but are not limited to:
- Phanom Rung
- Chiang Rai
- Koh Phangan
- Koh Chang
Overall, Thailand is a backpacker’s paradise. From the happy locals to the incredible amount of history, the beautiful beaches to the authentic cuisine, this Southeast Asian country is one of the most backpacker-friendly places on the planet.
So, what are you waiting for?