Southeast Asia’s travel hub and a backpacking favorite is the Land of Smiles, Thailand. Made more famous due to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hollywood film, “The Beach” the country is a common term for many first-time backpackers. A travel hotspot, the country is on everyone’s backpacker lists, perfect for first time travelers in Asia. With its verdant jungles, white sand beaches, amazing diving sites, delicious food, and crazy night life, Thailand draws in visitors from all over the world. But there’s more to this alluring country than party festivals and beach-bumming.
Thailand can provide the needs from every budget backpacker to luxury traveler. Dirt cheap guesthouses can easily be found as well as 5 star hotel suites costing thousands of dollars a night situated right next to each other. Without a doubt, this is one of the best countries in the world for first-time backpackers or digital nomads thinking of a great place to settle for some time.
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The country due to its friendly and generous people is convenient, easy and relatively safe to travel. However, it can be a bit expensive compared to neighboring countries in South East Asia. It is still possible to travel Thailand in style even when on a limited budget if you put on some smart backpacker travel hacks that moving around should be a piece of cake.
Best Thailand Places to Visit:
For many years, Thailand has been a top travel destination with so much to offer to every type of traveler. There are infinite places to visit in Thailand, from its world-renowned flea markets to temples and islands coasts to metropolis and provinces, this is a nation worth visiting.
Here are some of the best places to visit when in Thailand:
If culture, history, culture, and ruins appeal to you, this is the best place to visit when in Thailand. Founded in 1350, it was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th C. What’s left are the remains, that were restored and are conserved by UNESCO.
Thailand’s capital city is a place that’s always busy. The roads are lively with locals who go to work, traders marketing their products, and motorcycles passing by. Bangkok’s street food is famous and the city has a distinct mix of modern life and historic appeal.
The city’s energy and food are amazing, plus there are a lot of best places to visit in Bangkok. Go to the Chatuchak weekend market for shopping, the Royal Palace for sightseeing, and cruise the Chao Phraya River.
The cool village vibe of Pai located north of the country is a place you should visit. It has become more famous through the years especially in the backpacking community. It is an awesome hangout site to chill out in a simple affordable accommodation along the river. The place is enveloped by jungle, farms, and falls, making this a great place to relax and unwind.
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4. Chiang Mai
One more best place to visit in northern Thailand is Chiang Mai. This place has lately become a hub for digital nomads because of its strong internet, cheap lodging, and entrepreneurial setting.
Chiang Mai is a foodie’s haven with great Thai food and cuisines coming from across the globe. If you want to know how these delicious Pad Thai meals are prepared, you can join a cooking class. Check out the night market, Muay Thai boxing and get the authentic experience of a Thai massage.
5. Koh Samui
If you want to level up your holiday travel experience, set out for Koh Samui’s pristine beach and luxury villa in the jungle. Lamai beach is pretty and the best place to go for a swim. Chaweng beach has stunning powdery white sand with lush hotels and palm trees.
6. Khao San Road: Ultimate Backpacking Mecca
Bangkok is home to the world’s backpacker’s mecca.
Khao San Road sits in the heart of “old Bangkok” that is near to many of the city’s cultural tourist spots, including Grand Palace, Wat Pho, National Museum and Wat Arun. Since Bangkok is where many travelers begin or end their Asian backpacking trip, this stretch of street that never sleeps is the place that welcomes excited souls or visitors with more than a few stories to tell (over beer, most likely). It’s a party like no other in Asia or the world.
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Khaosan in Thai denotes ‘milled rice’. Before it became a famous travel destination, the street was a prime rice market in the Old City throughout early Rattanakosin period, since 1782, when the city was set up as the country’s capital. During that era, Bangkok was called the ‘Venice of the East’, due to its canals and waterways that were the most significant method of transportation and market trading. Remnants of the Rattanakosin period like the old architectural style and traditional ways of life are still more apparent by the river and canals.
20 hassle-free Thailand Backpacking Tips
Practical Savings Tips
- Fly with Budget Airlines. Plane fares in Thailand can be affordable, especially if you pack light thus not needing to pay for checked in baggage. Research airlines such as Nok Air and AirAsia and compare prices with Skyscanner and download the mobile app so it’s more convenient.
- Pack your camping hammock with you and sleep the night in beautiful lovely national parks for free! Khao Sok perhaps is the country’s the best national park covers jungles, caves, rivers and gorgeous limestone scenes. Craving a day for adventure, travelers can explore the park through its hiking trail, or raft, canoe or kayak through Sok river and if fortunate can spot an elusive gibbon or two.
- Are you looking to make a difference through your travels? An organization called Mindful Farm uses a volunteering system to keep the farm’s operation and give good value for travelers. It is an organic farm that teaches a more eco living and retreat from any touristic hustle. Travelers can volunteer here for a small fee of about 200 baht a day and discover a lot about organic farming.
- To save on accommodation and to really get a grip on the backpacking culture, choose to stay in some of the most amazing hostels in South East Asia. Places like these are backpacker meccas that are excellent for meeting fellow travelers, exchange interesting travel stories and just relax and chill out. Hostels provide the fantastic opportunity to get to know fellow travelers from different parts of the world. Thailand has an amazing selection of hostels, guesthouses and homestays, which all come at affordable prices. While backpacking, be reminded that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the people you encounter and spend time with that make traveling so life-changing.
- Try couchsurfing. If you are backpacking on a tight budget and you want to experience something different, Couchsurfing is a great way to connect travelers with locals and explore the local culture. You can save a few bucks because CouchSurfing is free plus the community now runs in millions.
- Rent a motorbike and explore the island. For as affordable as $5 per day you can have your own mode of transportation to explore your surroundings at your own pace. Tip of advice, do not go for the cheapest one, instead, find a shop that has well maintained bikes. The more reputable stores will let you rent a bike without having to leave your passport.
- Never get a taxi or Tuk Tuk from Khao San, you will get ripped off. Almost everything is negotiable in Thailand. You will most definitely get ripped off at least once or twice, but the more you do it the better you will get at haggling. Figure out what you want to pay, and if they won’t agree then start to leave and see if they will accept.
- Book in advance. If you’re planning on going to a famous festival like Songkran (April), Chiang Mai’s Lantern Festival (November), FullMoon party, a music festival, Europe’s year-end holidays or just any famous holiday celebration it is imperative to take care of your accommodation in advance. Avoid getting hit by sudden price surges or the failure to book a room.
- Buy an unlimited data plan that’s good for a month. They can be bought in almost all 7/11 stores, as long as you bring a passport for registration. If you will be staying long then this tip will surely come in handy. Once connected, you will be able to access the internet, use GPS in real-time, make calls without staggering roaming costs and plan your trip without the need for Wi-Fi. This goes well for looking for directions, information research, booking last-minute accommodation, making calls, etc. You can also tether it to your laptop or tablet for long bus journeys, train rides, or ferries.
- Learn to love Thai’s street food – it’s cheap, and you often get fresh ingredients and the most authentic tastes and flavors. With food stalls, cold beers and great company offers backpackers a simple and unique Bangkok experience.
Asian Backpacking Tips
Bangkok, Thailand – All travel roads lead in and out of there. However, it is more than just a transit hub for travelers.
- The number 1 rule in backpacking is to pack light. When traveling to Asia, you don’t really need that much variety of clothes. You’ll just need some basic clothes that can be worn in a lot of different settings. Do not weigh yourself down and buy a light backpack to fill with only the essentials.
- Pamper yourself. After all the tiring adventures, a good hour of Thai massage will help you unwind and give a much-needed boost. Thai massage is known the world over and is just so cheap and amazing. If you are an expert for finding the best deal, you can find them for as cheap as 150 Baht per hour.
- There are so many amazing places in Thailand so don’t let yourself stuck on the same tourist path as everyone else. The country has become a pretty popular travel destination, but there are still a few places that are not often traveled. There are many things you can do in Chiang Mai for example and it’s largely considered the digital nomad center of the universe.
- Go to places for free. There are so many free spots to see in Thailand that offers a lot of action and sightseeing spree. One of Bangkok’s best parks with free entrance is Lumpini. It’s a great park with plenty of green spaces plus areas for running and cycling track, basketball court, Tai Chi, fencing and yoga classes. Chatuchak being one of the largest weekend markets in the world is a must-see. Sitting on 35 acres, the market semi-resembles a Moroccan souk with its winding alleyways and you can get more or less anything you want here. MBK’s legendary fight night is certainly one of the most thrilling free things to do in Bangkok. If you feel like watching some Muay Thai fighters in action without having to pay a penny, get yourself down to the MBK shopping mall when Fight Night is scheduled.
- Check the weather charts in advance. You can backpack in Thailand all year, but there’s a season for everything. So if you are settled on a specific activity or area, be certain you are choosing the right season. Generally, the best time to visit Thailand is between November and February, when the rainy season has ended and temperatures are at coolest. Although this is also peak season therefore if you’re on a tight budget and want to avoid crowds, traveling in May to October could be a better bet.
- Watch your valuables. Full moon parties are notorious for theft. Just bring what you need and just enough cash to spend. Don’t dare leave anything of value unattended on the beach. Thousands of party-goers gather during New Year’s Eve Full Moon Party so personal safety is paramount.
- Respect the culture. Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles for a reason, but those smiles can quickly disappear if you don’t respect the culture. Never step on a coin to stop it from rolling. The royal family is revered and respected, and to step on the face of a runaway coin would be considered very offensive. The feet are thought to be the lowest part of the body so never point them to somebody especially if it’s the statue of Buddha. The head is considered most sacred so don’t touch people on the head, even children.
- Familiarize different locations. Presuming that you’re flying into Bangkok, travel north for a jungle experience or south for a beach experience. If you head south pick the islands in the Gulf of Thailand like Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao or the islands in the Andaman Sea Phuket, Raleigh Beach, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi.
- Avoid scams. Beware of tuk tuk driver trying to stop you on the street saying it is a national holiday and temple you’re planning to visit is closed when it’s not. These people may just want to take you to their relative’s carpet factory or gem shop. Street scams unscrupulously planned up to part you from your travel funds, usually, in exchange for a worthless ‘gem’ you can sell when you get back home
- Learn Some Basic Thai Phrases. It’s the doorway to better understanding a culture. English is not widely spoken in Thailand so if you can understand some basics and utter a few words yourself, it is usually enough to boost your confidence abroad. And confidence is really all you need to go out and meet people. Try to learn to say please, thank you and hello in Thai before you go.
Visit Amazing Thailand
The country’s verdant tropical landscapes and unique culture, together with relatively affordable prices for western travelers, has attracted a steady stream of backpackers. The current flows as strongly today as ever before and, as this Southeast Asian gem can attest, it’s easy to understand why. Hiking on beautiful limestone cliffs, lazing at the soft white sand pristine beaches, plunging into emerald waters to explore submarine worlds of colorful coral, and weaving handicrafts with a cosmopolitan population of ragged travelers are among the experiences this destination has to offer.
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Understand that your backpacking in Thailand impacts local culture, nature and the environment. Your money will support certain venues and it’s a good thing to keep in mind to choose sustainable options when traveling.