Have a peek at our Thailand Travel Guide—it’s all about helping you plan better and discover the real Siam beyond the usual tacky touristy spots.
After me and Mum spent 15 days in Thailand, I’ve got loads more to share than just travel tips. There are so many wrong ideas about women spending 2 weeks in Thailand isn’t worth.
This detailed Thailand Travel guide is here to make your planning smoother, show you all sides of Thailand, and let you experience the amazing “Land of Smiles” without breaking the bank.
I reckon it’s more of a “Complete Guide” rather than clickbait. I put in a solid two weeks wandering around Siam with mom, while my partner had a blast at three bachelor parties here in Thailand!
- Preparing for Your Trip
- Essential Information
- Practical Travel Tips
- Getting around
- Food and Alcohol etiquette
- Recommended duration and Itinerary
1. Preparing for Your Trip
Thailand Tourist Visa
Lots of tourists flock to Thailand because getting a tourist visa is super easy. Before, folks from countries like India could get an Electronic Visa or a Visa on arrival.
But guess what? Thailand went even further to simplify entry – and while it’s convenient, it might lead to over-tourism. They’ve waived visas for more countries now, even ones like India that previously had to apply, unlike Western countries. Check out the “How to Get a Thailand Tourist Visa” post for all the juicy details!
Thailand Government do not have any COVID entry restrictions. But they recommend COVID insurance for visitors from all countries when visiting Thailand.
There are about 38 airports in Thailand, with several major ones handling international and domestic flights. Some of the prominent ones include
- Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok,
- Phuket International Airport,
- Chiang Mai International Airport.
When moving between Thai cities, domestic flights become essential. While there might be a 15-hour bus from Bangkok to Phuket, flying between regions is more common. But think twice, before you book Thai-Airways. All our Thai Airways booking made till now to Thailand and other places have been cancelled after booking. Plus, their luggage policy is mostly cabin bags.
Since COVID hit, airlines have significantly changed flight routes. They’ve axed direct flights from Indian cities like Bangalore or Chennai to places such as Phuket or Chiang Mai. Now, for many countries, landing in Bangkok first has become the norm.
Before booking, it’s wise to check Skyscanner for flight connections. Avoid those lengthy layovers, especially ones stretching up to 7 hours in Bangkok.
Thailand uses the Baht as its currency, featuring their kings on the bills (since it’s a monarchy). When exchanging currency there, carry USD, Euro, or GBP, not Indian Rupees. Most Indian state capitals have counters for buying or selling Bahts.
Thailand Travel Cost
Thailand offers good affordability, cheaper than India but not as low-priced as Iran. Off-season travel in months like June can save a significant amount.
- Cost Estimates: In 2019, a mid-range budget traveler spent around 4200 INR (60 USD) per day, covering guesthouses, local meals, monument fees, transport (tuk-tuks, taxis), and shopping. Excludes flights, luxury resort stays. For 2023, estimate around 6000 INR or 75 USD daily.
- Free Walking Tours: Available in select Thai cities through Guru Walks. Take advantage of these tours and consider tipping the guides as appropriate.
- Accommodation Options: Hotel rooms are relatively inexpensive compared to other Asian countries. Rooms ranged from 1600-1800 INR per night and were comfortable. There are also luxurious resorts costing up to 60k INR per day if you prefer a lavish stay. Choose homestays over the usual branded business hotels for more local experience.
2. Essential Information
Language Spoken in Thailand
Thai is the official language in Thailand and it’s dialect varies across region.
Different parts of the country have their own way of using Thai, like Chiang Mai compared to the south. Signboards, guides, and audio stuff come in English, French, German, and sometimes Russian. The folks driving tuk-tuks or working in hotels and restaurants can usually chat in English with tourists. When Thais chat, they tend to stretch their words at the end, making it kinda musical.
Thai People and Culture
More than 90% of Thais follow Buddhism, with a few Muslim communities near the Malaysian border in Southern Thailand and a small Christian population.
We noticed men hanging out and chatting at markets while women did a lot of the physical work. It seemed like Thai women are hardworking all over, whether as scuba diving instructors, boat rowers, or tour guides. Women drivers for taxis aren’t common, though.
Thailand’s often called the “Land of Smile,” and it’s true—the people often have smiles on their faces. But we found them less friendly in terms of interactions. You get your service, pay up, and they’re off without saying goodbye. It’s different from the warmth you’d often get from people in the Philippines.
How to dress in Thailand?
In Thailand, it’s common to see tourists wearing shorts and skirts, especially in beachside towns. However, when visiting temples and palaces, there’s a specific dress code to follow. Clothing that exposes the waist or goes above the knees, including leggings, isn’t permitted.
Read our post “What to Wear in Thailand as a Tourist?” to know what to wear, where and when!
Safety Concerns in Thailand
According to the 2020 Global Peace Index, Thailand ranks 114th, boasting lower terror attack rates and generally being safe for travelers.. Some might have misconceptions due to legal prostitution, but in reality, Thailand is safe for solo or duo female travelers. I went flashpacking with my mom and didn’t encounter any issues. Walking streets at night felt secure for women; just standard precautions applied.
The usual safety measures apply: avoid isolated dark streets, be cautious with late-night drinks and strangers, and steer clear of drugs. Mainly, take care of your passport and money!
Tourist Scams in Thailand
- Scammers often hang around tourist attraction exits, flashing smiles and pitching useless day trips or silly shows – Be wary of places like Tiger parks or shows masquerading as “art.”
- Not all dance shows and those gardens that look fancy on images might not be worth your time or money.
- Activities involving animals like elephant safaris, snakes on shoulders, or touching tigers might seem cool, but animals could be drugged for tourist interaction.
- Look out for common scams involving taxi/tuk-tuk fares, counterfeit currency, and purchases of gems and silk.
- If eyeing gems or silk, avoid relying on tuk-tuk drivers to guide you to shops. Do your research and seek advice before splashing out big bucks.
- If your accommodation is in a tourist hotspot, it’s wise not to leave your passport in your room. A friend faced a scam in Bangkok where housekeepers allegedly took it and demanded money to return it.
3. Practical Travel Tips for the Thailand
Mastercard and Amex cards worked like a charm everywhere. But, gotta say, Visa cards gave us a headache at ATMs. Smaller towns like Samet Nangshe, and Old Sukhothai prefer cash payments. Luckily, there are loads of ATMs even in smaller cities, so you don’t have to lug around a bulky wallet full of cash.
Mobile SIM and Connectivity
We grabbed a couple of True Move sims at Bangkok airport. They offer cool packages with 4G data and awesome international call plans for tourists. Hotel Wi-Fi wasn’t top-notch, and free Wi-Fi in public spots or cafes was pretty scarce.
Plug Sockets and Adapters
Thailand has TYPE A, B & C. Check if your country needs a plug adapter here. I carry a universal adapter.
In Thailand, tipping isn’t standard practice, especially at restaurants. During yacht and boat trips, they often have a tip collection box, but it’s totally up to you whether to chip in. Still, if you’ve had a fantastic meal or service, adding a little something extra is a lovely gesture to show appreciation, especially for hard-working ladies.
4. Getting Around Thailand
Roads and Driving
Thailand drives on the right side, with two-point lap belts in cars – Which is super rare in other parts of the world.
Traffic’s quite wild, especially in Bangkok, much like the chaos in Bangalore. The good news? Honking isn’t common and reserved for emergencies, making the streets more pedestrian-friendly. People usually stick to lanes, but keep an eye out for motorbikes zipping between vehicles. Phuket’s traffic mirrors Bangkok’s, while Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, and Sukhothai are mellower.
Renting cars and bikes
Renting bikes or cycles is easy, but it’s not exactly peaceful. As an Indian, I’m used to bustling motorbikes, but I wouldn’t suggest renting one in Phuket or Bangkok—it can be too stressful.
Public Transport Overview
When it comes to getting around in Thailand, you’ve got a bunch of options:
Taxis in Thailand aren’t expensive during day and can reach roof top post 8PM. Instead of Uber, Thailand uses Grabb.
Booking train tickets via Thailand’s railway website can be as tricky as navigating India’s railway website. During the off-season, you might find bus agents in tourist spots for ticket booking, but in peak times, seats go like hotcakes. So, apart from Tuk Tuks and Songathews, stick to 12Go Asia to scout for your tickets. They display all available options for your choice of route – Be it train, bus, ferries, minivans, or a combo of these.
Trains in Thailand are budget-friendly, but with 1400+ islands, train options are limited. We rode from Ayutthaya to Phitsanulok; comfy journey, stinky toilets. Opt for AC coaches in summers and book early; locals use these trains a lot. Try 12Go Asia for easier train bookings in Thailand.
For island hopping, ferries are the go-to choice between places like Phi Phi to Phuket or Koh Samui. Just a heads-up, it’s public transport, not a private tour. If you’re after private yacht boat tours, check out Coral Seekers.
The white and blue buses connect major Thai cities, often reserved through middlemen like travel agencies on 12go Asia (you’ll spot their names while booking). These agents pick you up and drop you at the main bus stands via minivans. If you don’t see an agency name, it’s your cue to head to the terminal by yourself.
For city travel, red and beige buses are the go-to, while shorter intercity trips like Bangkok to Ayutthaya use minivans.
When Thailand comes to mind, “Tuk Tuk” is an instant thought. They’re like our Auto rickshaws in India but comfier and roomier. These mostly semi-open rides offer better airflow and safety, especially for solo travelers. To catch a ride, simply wave by the roadside. Use Google Translate or pictures to convey your address to the driver, haggle for the fare, and agree on the price before you hop on.
In towns like Phuket and Chiang Mai, you’ll see larger red-colored shuttle taxis, known as “Songathew.” These are small trucks transformed into passenger vehicles with seats and overhead covering. They’re the most cost-effective way to travel between spots within cities. Since they’re privately owned, there’s no fixed schedule. Look out for groups of locals to find Songathew stops.
There’s usually a switch for a buzzer on the roof to signal your stop, but if you’re unsure, ask the driver.
Cycling in Thailand
Cycling in rural Thailand can be truly blissful. Picture yourself amidst the lush green rice fields of Sukhothai dotted with ancient ruins or the forests of Chiang Mai, pedaling on your bicycle! Biking around the outskirts of Phuket is an awesome idea! Cruising along the roads by the cliffside gives you an endless view of the Andaman Sea.
However, I suggest avoiding cycling around Bangkok or any other busy city.
If you’re concerned about feeling isolated while cycling in remote areas of Thailand, you can hire a guide. Local guides accompany you on their bicycles, taking you around magnificent places.
What are the best online options for booking bicycles in Thailand?
“Bicycle Thailand” is one of the most renowned cycling clubs, organizing numerous trips. They’ve got a comprehensive list of bike shops across different Thai cities.
Public Toilet Policy
In Thailand, most public toilets are clean, have European Water Closets. Sometimes you might find squatty-potties too. But the good thing is, their toilets usually come with a jet spray for rinsing along with tissue paper.The vast majority of public toilets are free but every once in a while you will have to pay a small fee to use a toilet.
The funny thing is, every darn EWC we used in Thailand does this quirky thing after you flush. The solid and liquid stuff rises up from the bottom of the bowl almost to the seat and then disappears down the drain. Then, like magic, half the bowl fills up with fresh water. It feels like the person before you forgot to flush, but it’s just how these toilets work!
The remote villages in Sukhothai had roads that were free of garbage. Chiang Mai stood out as the cleanest and most peaceful spot. Bangkok, one of the world’s top 40 densely populated cities and the second most-visited by tourists, surprisingly keeps its streets almost trash-free. Even at busy places like the Grand Palace, the streets were spotless.
The excessive use of plastic bags for every little thing we bought really bugged me. It’s causing a waste management crisis lately. The Thai government is working hard to maintain clean beaches. But Railay and Krabi’s packed beaches are starting to look like they might turn into dumps in about ten years if they don’t get proper care.
Street Food safety in Thailand
Now, street food might look super tempting for meat lovers. But it’s not as safe as Amsterdam nor as dodgy as Egypt or India. So, in Chiang Mai, we went with our gut and tried some steamed and baked street bites. They were not just tasty but also pretty healthy.
6. Thailand Food and Alcohol Etiquette
Thai Cuisine Overview
Thailand is a haven for non-veg food, and Ashrith can’t get enough of it. Yet, Thailand also offers an abundance of delicious veg options. Street food, especially in hygienic spots, is mostly safe to try. A typical Thai breakfast often features rice, boiled until it’s similar to porridge (or ‘Ganji’ in my language), served with a variety of meat choices.
Tips to Vegetarian Dining in Thailand
if you’re into veggie options, Thailand’s got some yummy stuff like Thai-style rolls, steamed coconut pudding, and tofu that hit the spot. And their fruit game is strong—from pineapples to mangoes, it’s all about that healthy fruit fix throughout the day even at 7/11!
There’s a whole array of curry-based veggie dishes, and you can always request fried rice minus the meat. While there are several non-veg dishes like “Som Tam” or Thai papaya salad, you can ask for a vegetarian version without fish oil.
For picky eaters seeking Indian cuisine, Bangkok and Phuket are brimming with Indian restaurants serving Jain food. But why stick to Idli or Dhal Bati when you can indulge in Mango Sticky Rice and Pad Thai?
Check out our “Vegetarian’s Guide to Thailand Food” for more tasty Thai insights insights.
Drinking Culture and Smoking in Thailand
In Thailand, there aren’t strict alcohol restrictions. You’ll find Thai beer at beachside cafes and street food spots. It’s pretty common to see tourists strolling around places like Pattaya or Khao San with a beer in hand. However, carrying alcohol is a no-go in specific areas like temples, public offices, petrol stations, and public parks.
As for smoking, it’s generally prohibited in public spaces, but beachside cafes usually have designated smoking zones. Interestingly, aside from a few tourists, we didn’t spot many Thai folks smoking in public.
7. Best times and spots to visit in Thailand.
Recommended Duration: How Many Days
You gotta spend at least 15 days in Thailand, trust me on this one. Some Indian folks might give you the side-eye, just like they did to me. But seriously, Thailand’s so amazing and budget-friendly that backpackers often spend a whole three months exploring it.
Check out our article “Why are you wasting 15 Days in Thailand?” to discover the burning questions people, including an immigration officer at an Indian airport, fired at us when they found out we were going to chill in Thailand for a fortnight.
Best time to visit Thailand
The best time to visit Thailand is from mid-January to May. Hotel rates drop, the crowds thin out, and the weather’s just right across all regions.
December 3rd week until mid January can get pretty hectic with loads of tourists flooding in. The celebration vibe is to the sky. But the prices are rocketery high!
When we went in June, the temps were nice, but rainy season had kicked off in Chiang Mai and Phuket. If you’re cool with evening showers and strolls in the rain like us, June to August brings lush greenery to the mountains, making nature look amazing. But brace yourself for higher tides and not-so-calm seas, which might cramp your sailing days.
Guide to crafting Thailand Travel Itinerary
When planning 15 days in Thailand, don’t just stick to New Bangkok or Northern Thailand—there’s so much more! Thailand’s got over 35,000 Buddhist temples, incredible beach spots along the Andaman and Gulf of Thailand coasts, and awesome marine life for scuba lovers. Central Thailand’s packed with ancient capitals like Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, and hiking in national parks like Erawan is pure bliss. You can hit the classic beaches or venture off the beaten path.
Places that I don’t recommend adding to your Thailand trip itinerary are
- Pattaya—I visited for a day and found only one thing appealing: the place seems artificial and overrun by inebriated men.
- Krabi, Railay, and Phi Phi—overwhelmed by tourists! Chances are high you’ll be swallowed up in the crowds.
Booking Tickets for Activities
While strolling around, you might stumble upon some pretty weird shows, like the Ping Pong show—it’s wild, where a girl uses her pelvic muscles for tricks. There are other quirky things too, like “Men with giant penises beating drums” or a “Massage with Boom.” If you’re into these crazy shows, you can snag tickets on the streets from the reps there. But for Cabaret shows, I’d suggest pre-booking those tickets.
Surely, you must book Island day trips or Private Yacht tours in much advance.
But don’t miss out on traditional Thai performances at temples or palaces, like Khon’s performance or Serng Krapo —the coconut shell dance. They’re stunning!
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