TravelAsia

Thailand Travel Guide

The ultimate tropical paradise. Coconut-clad sun-drenched islands, with alluring beaches, so divine they captured James Bond, are just the beginning.

Relaxation is best practiced in Phuket’s luxury beach resorts, while Chiang Mai is enveloped in soaring mountains, misty rainforests, and ancient temples. Krabi is the quintessential island-hopping haven, and metropolitan Bangkok springs to life with exotic street food, ultra-fancy rooftop bars, and legendary nightlife.

Travel deeper and uncover hiking trails winding through lush jungles, cascading waterfalls, natural pools, hot springs and colossal caves - a wonderland for nature junkies.

City streets harbor a utopia for foodies. Thai cuisine’s punchy flavors gained a global following and abound at bargain street food prices. 

Thailand’s heartfelt culture is exemplified in its ornate Buddhist temples, dating back to the 16th century. Locals brim with kindness and happiness. It’s no wonder Thailand is reputed as “the land of smiles”. Spend a few days in this tropical paradise and you’ll find yourself smiling too.

You'll Like Thailand if you Like...

  • The Beach (2000)
  • Thai green curry
  • Eat Pray Love
  • Pristine beaches
  • Yoga pants
  • Bargain hunting
  • Massage therapy
  • Pina Colada
Inspiration

Top Sights & Attractions In Thailand

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

Palace $$$$$

Na Phra Lan Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand

Price: ฿500 (USD$15.72) Time spent: 2 hours

Hours: 8:30am-3:30pm, 7 days

A spectacular 18th century palace and former home to Thai royals. Exquisite buildings decorated in mosaic, painted ceramic and carved statues bring thousands of tourists to the complex each day. Also within the complex is Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, said to be the most sacred Buddhist relic in Thailand.

Tip: Strict dress code – shoulders and knees must be covered.

website email

Full attraction details...

Railay Beach

Beach Free

Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand

Price: Free Time spent: 1-4 hours

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days

A pristine, white sandy beach with dramatic cliff landscapes only accessible by boat. No vehicles (other than golf buggies) are allowed on the peninsula, creating a peaceful atmosphere. Activities range from lazing in the sparkling, calm sea to rock climbing. Dozens of accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury.

Tip: Several day tours leave from Railay Beach to explore nearby islands.

Full attraction details...

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Market Free

Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

Price: Free Time spent: 1.5-3 hours

Hours: 7am-6pm, Wednesday-Thursday (Plant section only)
6pm-12am, Friday (wholesale only)
9am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday

One of the world’s largest outdoor markets with over 1,500 vendors forming a maze-like grid of stalls each weekend. Items for sale include clothing, souvenirs, homewares, jewellery, curry sauces, street food, and much more.

Tip: Explore undercover alleys to avoid the crowds and escape from the heat.

website email +66 2 272 4813

Full attraction details...

Ko Racha Yai

Beach Free

Rawai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket, Thailand

Price: Free Time spent: 2-5 hours

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days

Immaculate white beach sand and crystal clear, turquoise waters and one of South East Asia’s best snorkeling locations. Canoe hire and scuba-diving courses available. The Racha Resort provides a rest from snorkeling with a restaurant, cocktail bar and swimming pool. Best visited as a day tour from Chalong Pier, Phuket.

Tip: An alternate and more luxurious day tour option than the Phi Phi Islands.

Full attraction details...

Wat Chedi Luang

Religious $$$$$

103 Prapokkloa Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Price: ฿40 (USD$1.26) Time spent: 1 hour

Hours: 6am-5pm, 7 days

A 14th century Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai. Former home of the Emerald Buddha (which now resides in Wat Pra Kaew at the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok). Wat Chedi Luang features three ornate buildings with golden Buddhas, intricate paintings and religious sculptures. The main building stood 80 metres high before being damaged by an earthquake in 1545 AD. Earthquake damage can still be seen.

Tip: Ticket booth contains a QR code that links to an information video.

Full attraction details...

Phraya Nakhon Cave

Nature $$$$$

Sam Roi Yot District, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Price: ฿200 (USD$6.29) Time spent: 3 hours

Hours: 8am-3:30pm, 7 days

A mystical cavern located within the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park near Hua Hin. Views of dancing sunrays and the pin-drop quiet atmosphere are well worth the 430m uphill climb to reach the cave. Save a 2km hike and catch a boat from the main National Park entrance to the closer Laem Sala Beach.

Tip: Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy inside the cave.

website +66 032 821 568

Full attraction details...

Sanctuary of Truth

Cultural $$$$$

Muang Pattaya, Amphoe Bang Lamung, Chang Wat Chon Buri 20150

Price: Adult: ฿500 (USD$15.72), Child: ฿250 ($7.86) Time spent: 1-3 hours

Hours: 8am-5pm, 7 days

A majestic, castle-like wooden temple seemingly floating above the sea at the Ratchavete Cape beachfront. Every inch of the 105-metre high structure is decorated with intricate carvings of stories from Thai folklore. The Sanctuary of Truth possesses a rare atmosphere of tranquility and is a fine example of man’s ability to craft natural materials, made entirely from untreated wood without a single mental nail.

Tip: Set aside a full day to explore all attractions within the complex.

website +66 038110653

Full attraction details...

Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium

Sports $$$$$

1 Ratchadamnoen Nok Rd, Wat Sommanat, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

Price: Ringside: ฿2,000 (USD$62.86), Club Class: ฿1,800 ($56.58), Second Class: ฿1,500 ($47.15), Third Class: ฿1,000 ($31.43) Time spent: 1.5-4 hours

Hours: 6pm-10pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday

Bangkok’s home of Muay Thai fighting matches. Watch professional fighters clash in the ring every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Perhaps more popular than the fight itself is the opportunity for spectators to place bets on blue vs red-clad boxers using a series of coded hand gestures. Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium is one of the largest and most modern stadiums in Bangkok with capacity for 8,000 spectators.

Tip: Only beer and light snacks sold at the kiosk inside.

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More Attractions:

Thailand Photos

Ease Of Travel

Overall:
8.1Quite Easy
Language:
5.7Slightly Frustrating
Transport:
8.1Quite Easy
Accomodation:
9.3Very Easy
Affordability:
8.8Very Affordable
Access:
8.6Very Convenient
Money:
8.6Very Convenient
Communications:
8.6Very Convenient
Food:
7Convenient
 

Driving side of road: Left

Nearby destinations: Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar

Food & Drink In Thailand

Thai cuisine ignites taste buds with its unique combination of spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter flavors. You’ll never get bored of Thailand’s many curries, stir-fries, noodle and rice dishes, with fresh ingredients.  Thai dining caters to every budget. World-class, Michelin star restaurants contrast with low-cost street food vendors. Watch out for hygiene when buying food on the streets. A couple of quick things to look for are the cook’s fingernails and apron. If they both look grubby, move on to the next store just to be safe. 

A few Thai words to remember when ordering: 

  • Gai: chicken
  • Gung: shrimp
  • Nua: beef
  • Moo: pork
  • Khao: rice

Must try:

01
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Gang Keow Wan (Thai Green Curry)

Classic curry

Spicy Gluten-friendly Dairy-free

A world-renowned thin curry made with green curry paste, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, Thai basil, Thai eggplant and often chicken. Tangy hints of lemongrass, lime and of course, chili. Usually served with rice. Similar dishes Gaeng Daeng (Thai Red Curry) and Penang Gai (Penang Curry) are just as tasty.

02
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Tom Yum Gung (Hot & Sour Soup)

Packs a punch

Very Spicy Gluten-friendly Dairy-free

Not for the spice-o-phobic. Mouthwatering spicy soup made with mushrooms, tomatoes, shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaves. Coconut milk may be added to tame the spice. Just as flavorsome with chicken instead of shrimp.

Tip: Order ‘Tom Yum Gai’ if you’re not a shellfish fan.

03
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Phad Thai (Fried Rice Noodles)

World famous

A little spicy Gluten-friendly Dairy-free

Rice noodles stir fried with tofu, peanuts, spring onions, egg, herbs and spices. Often served with either shrimp or chicken. Usually served with sides of white sugar, ground peanuts, lime, and chili.

Tip: Order “Phad Thai Gai” if you want chicken.

04
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Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)

For spice lovers

Very Spicy Gluten-friendly Dairy-free Vegetarian

An Isaan favorite (northern region). A base of shredded papaya mixed with green beans, cherry tomatoes, chili and garlic resulting in a blend of spicy, sour, and sweet tastes that most either love or hate. Often topped with dry shrimp or salted crab.

05
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Kao Niew Ma Muang (Mango Sticky Rice)

Sweet treat

Not spicy Gluten-friendly Dairy-free Vegetarian Vegan

A portion of glutenous rice served alongside slices of fresh mango. Often topped with coconut syrup. Proof that rice can eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desert.

Planning

Areas of Thailand

thailand_areas.svg
  1. Urban Center Bangkok Bustling capital city with endless skyscrapers, rooftop bars, shopping malls, street markets, bars and nightclubs.
  2. Southern Islands Phuket Krabi Koh Samui Koh Pha Ngan Soaring limestone cliffs with swaying palm trees, sandy beaches, and colorful marine life. Activities from calming yoga retreats to all-night beach parties.
  3. Northern Mountains Chiang Mai Chiang Rai Budget travelers are drawn to these elevated landscapes with iconic rice fields, numerous hiking trails and ancient Buddhist temples.
  4. Coastal Cities Pattaya Chon Buri Hua Hin Dynamic urban hubs within easy driving distance from capital, Bangkok. Activities range from shopping and dining to watersports and cultural sites.

How Long To Stay & Where To Go

Exploring Thailand thoroughly calls for a minimum of 3 weeks. Here are suggested cities to include in your Thailand vacation.  

  • 3 weeks: Spend 4 days in Bangkok, 4 days in Hua Hin, 5 days in Chiang Mai, 4 days in Krabi, then 4 days in Phuket.
  • 2 weeks: Spend 4 days in Bangkok, 5 days in Chiang Mai, then 4 days in either Phuket, Krabi, or Koh Samui.
  • 10 days: Spend 4 days in Bangkok and 6 days in either Phuket, Krabi, or Koh Samui.
  • 1 week: Spend 4 days in Bangkok and 3 days in Hua Hin or Pattaya. 
  • 4 days: Focus on Bangkok or Phuket.

Thailand Travel Ideas For...

Food Connoisseur

Indulge in fresh produce and street food at Thailand’s many markets. A few suggestions are Bangkok’s floating markets and Chinatown, the Tamarind Night Markets in Hua Hin and the South Gate Market in Chiang Mai.

Culture Buff

Explore Thailand’s ancient and intricate temples. Start at Bangkok’s iconic Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho before exploring the 100% hand carved Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, Wat Chedi Leung in Chiang Mai, and the ruins of Ayutthaya.

Relaxation Guru

Check in to a beach resort in Phuket and divide your days between lounging by the pool and Thai massage in the resort spa. Take a day-trip to a nearby remote island to sip cocktails in a hammock suspended between palm trees. 

Nature Lover

Soak up tropical paradise vibes in Krabi and snorkel or dive at Ko Racha Yai’s coral reef. Explore magnificent caves, limestone cliffs, and mangroves  at Hua Hin’s Sam Roi Yot National Park before trekking through the mountains near Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. 

Wellness Pursuer

Book a room at one of Koh Samui’s beachfront yoga retreats to rest and restore your senses. Focus your center with daily yoga and meditation classes and bring healing to your body with a detox diet.  

Nightlife Star

Party your nights away at Bangkok’s countless rooftop bars or nightlife hubs like Soi Cowbow, Patpong Night Markets, or Khaosan Road. You won’t want to miss a beachfront full moon party with DJs, dancing, and neon lights on Koh Phangan.

Where To Stay In Thailand

Thailand’s hotel industry caters to every budget and appetite. Luxury resorts abound in Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi. Mid-range hotels are easy to find across the country. Bangkok and Chiang Mai are ideal for backpackers with dozens of budget hostels. 

Travelers planning to stay in one city for 2 weeks or longer may be better suited to a short-term apartment rental, easily found in most major cities. 

Bangkok:

Phuket:

Pattaya:

Hua Hin

Chiang Mai

Getting Around Thailand

Plane

Domestic flights between major cities are relatively cheap and often take less than 2 hours.

Ferry

A popular way for locals and budget travelers to get between islands and cities. Often combined with a bus. Ferries are cheap but can take several hours to get from one place to another. 

Bus

A cheap and fast way to get between nearby cities, like Bangkok and Pattaya. Bus trips can be tedious for journeys over 3 hours, such as the journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Mini Bus

Half way between a taxi and bus. Share the vehicle with other passengers and split the cost. These depart on flexible schedules based on demand.

Taxi

A more expensive yet more convenient transport method between nearby cities. The benefit is getting dropped off at your exact destination, not the bus station. 

Car Rental

While car hire is available, driving long distances in Thailand isn’t recommended. Traffic can be challenging at the best of times and it’s cheaper to use alternative transport options such as bus or train.

Ride Share

A cheaper alternative to taxis but it may be tricky finding a driver willing to travel the distance.  It’s a good idea to book longer trips in advance through the rideshare app “Grab”.

grabcar.jpg
Mobile app
Grab

Thailand Travel Guides

Best Time of Year to Visit Thailand

Thailand’s tropical climate varies between regions. Central and northern Thailand have 3 distinct seasons: hot, cool, and wet. Southern Thailand has 2 seasons: wet and dry. 

While Thailand’s weather is pleasant all year round, the best time to visit is between November and March, when there’s sunshine in the south and cool breeze in the north. 

During wet season showers tend to come in short bursts and often in the mid-afternoons. Don’t despair, it’s still shorts and singlet weather.

Central & Northern Thailand

Hot Season

February-June: up to 40°C, hot and humid in Central Thailand.
March-May: up to 36°C, quite hot In the North.

Cold Season

October-January: up to 30°C, cool in Central Thailand.
October-February: up to 25°C, cooler in Northern Thailand, the best time for hiking.

Wet Season

July-October: wet season in Central Thailand.
June-October: wet season in North. 

Southern Thailand

Dry Season

December-May: 25-32°C, dry season in Southern Thailand.

Wet Season

June-October: 30°C, wet season in southern Thailand. 

Essentials

Money

Thai Baht is the official currency. 1 Thai Baht (฿) is divided into 100 satang (cents). Frequently used notes: ฿20, ฿50, ฿100, ฿500 and ฿1000. Frequently used coins: ฿1, ฿2, ฿5, ฿10.

Neighboring countries Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam may accept Thai Baht, but your mileage may vary.

Live exchange rates (to Thai Baht):

USD$1 = ฿31.99 CAD$1 = ฿22.86 GBP£1 = ฿38.95 EUR€1 = ฿34.80 AUD$1 = ฿20.88 JPY¥1 = ฿0.30

Credit cards accepted: Almost everywhere

Most larger retail stores and restaurants accept MasterCard and Visa credit/debit cards. American Express credit cards are less widely accepted. Try to swipe your own credit card where possible instead of handing it to the clerk to minimize the risk of credit card fraud. If you decide to use your credit card often while in Thailand, check your statement regularly for unauthorized transactions and report these to your bank ASAP.

Contactless payments accepted: Some places

Apple Pay: Not available yet

Google Pay: Not available yet

Samsung Pay: Available

ATM Access: Very easy to find

Most ATM machines in Thailand accept international ATM cards and dispense notes in ฿100, ฿500 and ฿1000 values. Some machines require a 4-digit PIN number so make sure you have a 4-digit (not 6-digit) PIN before leaving for Thailand.

Currency exchangers: Very easy to find

Try to avoid changing money in souvenir or clothing stalls that double as a currency exchanger as there is a higher risk of being scammed. Stick to changing money in banks or official currency exchange stores. Look for air-conditioning and security certification to tell if a store is official.

Budget

Daily Budget

Budget฿189-฿250 (USD$5.94 - $7.86)

Comfortable฿780-฿1,400 (USD$24.52 - $44.00)

Luxury฿8,600-฿10,000 (USD$270.31 - $314.32)

Accommodation

Budget฿64-฿86 (USD$2.01 - $2.70)hostel or 1 star hotel

Comfortable฿158-฿215 (USD$4.97 - $6.76)3 star

Luxury฿4,286-฿8,572 (USD$134.72 - $269.43)4-5 star

Food

Street Food฿20-฿30 (USD$0.63 - $0.94)

Mid-Range Restaurant฿175-฿250 (USD$5.50 - $7.86)

Fine Dining Restaurant฿625-฿2,250 (USD$19.64 - $70.72)

Transport

Tuk-tuk฿75-฿150 (USD$2.36 - $4.71)Short Trip

Taxi฿50-฿100 (USD$1.57 - $3.14)Short trip

Ferry฿1,000 (USD$31.43)Koh Samui to Hua Hin

Bus฿108 (USD$3.39)Bangkok to Pattaya

Ride share฿50-฿100 (USD$1.57 - $3.14)Short trip

Songthaew฿30-฿100 (USD$0.94 - $3.14)Flat fee

Activities

Snorkelling฿300 (USD$9.43)Gear hire

Scuba Diving฿900 (USD$28.29)Gear hire

Thai Massage฿300 (USD$9.43)1 hour

Thai Cooking Class฿625-฿1,000 (USD$19.64 - $31.43)Includes ingredients

Elephant Sanctuary฿1,700 (USD$53.43)Half Day

Temple฿0-฿500 (0 - $15.72)Entrance Fee

Internet, Mobile & Tech

Internet

Average Internet speed in Thailand: 17.06 Mbps

Public wifi access: Readily available

Relatively easy to find fast and free WiFi in public restaurants and cafes.

Mobile

There are 3 main mobile prepaid SIM providers in Thailand that cater to tourists and offer similar products, prices and 3G coverage.

  • AIS - “traveller sim” package for ฿299 (8 days, 3GB data, ฿100 call credit, free AIS Super WiFi). AIS is said to have the strongest 4G coverage in regional areas.
  • DTAC - “happy tourist” package for ฿299 (8 days, 3GB data, ฿100 call credit)
  • True Move - “tourist sim” package for ฿299 (8 days, 3GB data, ฿100 call credit, free TrueMove WiFi)

Phone country code: +66

Power

Power outlets in Thailand:

Type A
Type A
Type B
Type B
Type C
Type C
Type FType F

Voltage: 220 V, 50 Hz

Recommended buy: Universal power adapter

Drones

Drone regulations: Easy to fly in most places

Drone regulatory body: Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) Register online

Drones must be registered online before flying in Thailand. The registration form is in Thai.

Major cities like Bangkok and Pattaya are very technologically advanced. Larger shopping malls often have one or more electronics store selling local and international brands. Watch out for imitation products on the streets. Electronics are less readily available in smaller locations like Koh Samui. Phone repairers are easy to find almost anywhere.

What's on Netflix in Thailand?

Getting Into Thailand

The easiest and most popular way to get into Thailand is via air. There are also 20 international land border crossings from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia.

Plane

2 large international airports in Bangkok (BKK and DMK) are major airline hubs. Smaller international airports in Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui mainly receive flights from nearby countries in Southeast Asia.  Most tourists fly into Bangkok and then transfer to their final destination. 

Taxi

Most popular from Cambodia (Aranyaprathet),  Malaysia (Padang Besar or Sadao), or Laos (Nong Kai or Chiang Khong). Most taxis will drop tourists at the border to go through immigration and find a different taxi on the other side. Entering by car from Myanmar is theoretically possible but more difficult to get through border control due to stricter requirements.  

Bus

Most popular from Cambodia (Aranyaprathet), Malaysia (Padang Besar or Sadao), or Laos (Nong Kai or Chiang Khong). Most busses stop at the border crossing so tourists can go through immigration and transfer to another bus across the border. Some busses entering from Malaysia stop for immigration and then continue across the border. 

Train

Malaysian and Thai Railways meet at Padang Besar.

Visas

Passport holders from countries including the US, Canada, UK, and Australia do not require a tourist visa for stays under 30 days. Some common requirements for entering Thailand include:

  • At least 6 months passport validity
  • Blank/unused passport pages
  • Proof of outbound flights.

Tourists wishing to stay longer than 30 days must get a visa from a Thailand Embassy before arriving in Thailand.

Health & Safety

Thailand is a relatively safe country for visitors with low levels of crime. The highest risks of illness while visiting Thailand come from drinking tap water or mosquito bites. Bottled water is readily available and most restaurants and hotels provide mosquito repellant.

Possessing and smuggling illegal drugs in Thailand and can result in imprisonment.

Quite Good69.5 Healthcare Access
and Quality
Index
Fairly Safe71 Safety Index
Very Peaceful98.85% Global Peace Index

Is it safe to drink tap water? Not recommend

While tap water is unsafe to drink, most ice is made with purified water and safe to drink. Some apartment buildings may have a communal filtered water dispenser which costs ฿1 per liter. These are usually safe but check for signs of regular maintenance to be sure.

Important Phone Numbers:

Tourist Police: 1155

Tourist Police are more likely to speak English than regular police so give them a call first should you run into trouble.

Emergency: 1669

Police: 191

Ambulance: 1554

Fire: 199

Consular Help: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia

Doctors:

  • Thailand has many accessible, cheap and highly-qualified doctors with good English language skills.
  • Pharmacies in Thailand sell some medicines over the counter that would require a prescription in USA or Australia. If it’s a minor illness or health complaint, try a chemist first.

Hospitals:

  • Most private hospitals in Thailand cater to international tourists. Doctors, nurses and reception staff usually speak English well and focus on customer service. Hospitals are attracting more and more local and international specialists. Most cities have a branch of the private hospital network, Bangkok Hospital.
  • Many tourists travel to Thailand for medical treatment as costs are relatively low. Government hospitals cater primarily to locals and have longer waiting times and inferior facilities.
  • Before leaving, check that your health insurance covers treatment overseas. If not, take out travel insurance that covers medical emergencies.

Scams:

  • Gem scam. Taxi drivers may offer to give you a lower cost to stop at a “friend” or “cousin’s” gem store or tailor shop. Drivers get a commission from tourists purchases and you will likely be pressured into buying something you don’t want or can’t afford. Simply walk away and find a different driver.
  • Imitation designer products like handbags and underwear. Most vendors are accepting fair prices but some insist their products are genuine and demand a higher price.
  • Attraction closed scam. Locals may tell you the Grand Palace or other tourist attractions are closed. They will likely try to overcharge you for a ride home or to a friend’s shop. Trust the opening hours online.
  • Damaged jet skis. Jet ski vendors in Phuket and Pattaya may try to charge you for a scratch or existing damage on their jet ski. Take photos of existing damage before hiring the equipment and make sure the owner acknowledges it is there or even better, hire your equipment from a licensed operator that provides you with a written receipt.
Avoid:
  • Purchase, use, or sell illegal drugs.
  • Overstay your visa.
  • Hire a tour guide off the street. Go through an official tour agency.
Do:
  • Carry a backpack or small handbag with an across-the-shoulder strap that can’t be easily snatched.
  • Carry mosquito repellant at night.
  • Carry hand sanitizer.
Travel Deeper

Thailand's Culture

Many beliefs, customs, and traditions in Thailand stem from Buddhist principles. Thai people value respect, self-control, and a non-confrontational attitude. They also prioritize kindness, happiness and good sense of humor and have a reputation for their constant smiles. Family, religious practices and the Monarchy are held with high importance. 

Tradition:

  • Keeping calm: It is very important for Thai people not to let their emotions get the best of them. Engaging in an argument or raising one’s voice is a grave embarrassment and sign of losing face. They value staying calm, polite, and smiling even in the toughest of circumstances. 
  • Respect the Royal Family: It’s a criminal offence to disrespect or speak ill of the King and Royal Family. Most locals hold deep respect for the Royal Family and take words against them as a personal offence.  
  • Color: Each day of the week is assigned a different color. Thais often choose to wear clothing colored to match the day ie. Pink on Tuesdays. A person can also be represented by the color of the day of the week they were born. Ie Former King Bumibol’s color is yellow since he was born on a Monday.
  • Respect monks: Thai people show respect to Buddhist monks by bowing before addressing them and not never obstructing them. Women must not touch, sit next to, or initiate contact with a monk. However, a woman may answer a monk’s question.
  • Taking shoes off: Feet are considered the most disrespectful part of the body and pointing feet at someone or using feet to aid in a task are considered huge insults. It’s equally important to take shoes off before entering a home, temple, or business. If you see shoes outside a door, take yours off too.
  • Respect elders: It’s important to respect the elderly in Thailand, so bow your head slightly to people older than you as a sign of respect. 

Religion:

There is no official religion in Thailand, except for the King who must be Buddhist. Thai people enjoy religious freedom but most practice Theravada Buddhism.

Thais are very superstitious and strongly believe in ghosts and mystic energy, which can make lives miserable and poor, or happy and wealthy. Phi houses are small buildings in which spirits live (phi in Thai means “ghost or “spirit”). They’re found everywhere in Thailand and often intrigue tourists. Every home, business and even some ancient trees, have their own phi house. These look like colourful dollhouses, decorated with flowers and surrounded with bowls of fruit and drink. Thais believe Phi houses appease the spirits and bring peace to their homes.

  • Buddhism: 94.50%
  • Islam: 4.29%
  • Christianity: 1.17%
  • Hinduism: 0.03%
  • Secular/Nonreligious: 0.01%

Social:

Family is fundamental to Thai social life, with extended family, friends and neighbours often included in celebrations and events. The importance of family is reflected in the Thai language having different nicknames to greet older and younger siblings. 

It is common for several generations to live under the same roof, with the highest authority given to the oldest male. Raising children is a family activity, with grandparents, aunts, and uncles helping out. 

Great importance is placed upon caring and respecting parents and senior community members. Thai children have a duty and expectation to care for their parents in their old age. The family home was traditionally passed down to the youngest daughter, who is expected to return home with her own family to care for her parents. 

Dating traditions vary in different regions. Urban cities like Bangkok have dating customs similar to western culture, whereas rural areas tend to be more conservative. While individuals are responsible for choosing their own partner, the families’ opinion is held in high regard and may influence the choice of partner. 

Arts & Style:

Thai craftspeople are extremely skillful as evidenced in intricate architecture, painting, sculptures, and handicrafts.

 Thai painting and sculptures often tell stories from Thai folklore. Examples can be seen at Queen Sirikit Gallery and Wat Pho in Bangkok and at the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya.

One-of-a-kind handicrafts from jewelry and clothes to woodwork and parasols may be found in markets across Thailand. The Cicada Handicraft Market in Hua Hin and at the Bo Sang Handicraft villages in Chiang Mai are two of the best locations to find unique handmade items.

Government & Law:

Form of government: Constitutional monarchy

Thailand’s King is the head of state but has little direct power. The Prime Minister is the head of Government and holds all executive powers. The cabinet is appointed by the King on recommendation of the Prime Minister. Thailand has 76 provinces, each administered by a Governor and is divided into districts, sub-districts, and villages.

56.37% World Press Freedom Index

Calendar & Time:

Thailand observes two main calendars systems:

  • The Thai solar calendar is based on the Gregorian calendar and is used for official purposes and day-to-day activities. The calendar counts years in the Buddhist Era (B.E) which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar.
  • The Thai lunar calendar is based on the Buddhist calendar and is used to observe traditional religious festival and celebrations.

Timezone: UTC +7

Language:

Most Thais in urban areas learn English in school and have medium-to-strong English skills. Those working in major tourist hubs (like Bangkok and Phuket) often speak English semi-fluently. 

Written English in Thailand is not so strong. While it’s always possible to determine the intended meaning, spelling and grammar errors on menus, brochures and signs can have humorous results. Ie. “Pawn salad” instead of “prawn”.
Thai faces light up when tourists go out of their way to learn basic Thai phrases, like “hello”, and “thank you”. Manners and body language are important in Thai culture, so smile when talking to someone.

In Thai, men add the word “khrup” to the end of a sentence and woman add the word “ka” to be polite. 

Basic Phrases:

  • Hello / goodbye: Sa-wat dee (khrup/ka)
  • Thank you: Khop khun (khrup/ka)
  • Don’t worry: Mai pen rai
  • How are you?: Sa-baai-dee mai?
  • I’m fine: Sa-bai-dee 
  • Sorry / excuse me:  Khor-tort 
  • How much?: Gee baht
  • Can you make it cheaper? Lot noi dai mai?
  • Delicious: A-roi

Etiquette:

Do:
  • Respect Buddhist monks. Always show respect to Buddhist moks dressed in orange robes.
  • Dress respectfully. Even when it's super hot.
  • Remove shoes before entering homes, temples and shops.
  • Groom yourself. Always appear clean and presentable.
  • Be kind and always greet people with a smile.
  • Stay calm and keep your voice lowered.
Don't:
  • Be disrespectful or speak ill of the Royal Family.
  • Damage or disrespect Buddha images or statues.
  • Overstay your visa. If you do, you could be fined.
  • Lose your temper or raise your voice.
  • Touch a Thai's head. This is considered very disrespectful.
  • Be overly affectionate in public. No PDAs.
  • Use your feet to point or touch anyone nor to assist in a task like opening a door. Never place your feet on the table.

More Culture:

Thailand & The World

Quick Recap

Start of Modern Siam1782
Constitutional monarchy starts1932
Siam renamed Thailand1939
WWII1941-1945
Tsunami hits SW coast2004
King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies2016

Movies & TV Shows Filmed In Thailand

The Beach2000More...
The Man with the Golden Gun1974More...
The Hangover Part II2011More...

Famous People From Thailand

Buakaw BanchamekProfessional BoxerTwo-time World MAX champion
Tammy DuckworthPoliticianFirst woman with a disability in US Congress
Ratchanok IntanonBadminton PlayerFirst Thai ranged world #1
Tatchakorn Yeerum (Tony Jaa)Martial Artist & ActorFamous for Furious 7

Other Stuff From Thailand

BrandRed BullDeveloped in Thailand as “Krating Daeng”
BrandSinghaThai beer since 1933
BrandOriental PrincessPopular cosmetic and skincare brand
BrandS. KhonkaenFirst publicly listed Thai food company.

Events & Festivals In Thailand

Annual dates for most festivals celebrated in Thailand depend on the lunar calendar so dates may change from year to year. Some festivals are celebrated across Thailand and others only in certain regions. Here are some key festivals and events celebrated in Thailand.

February

  • Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Celebrated at the beginning of February each year with intricate floral displays, parades, music concerts, street markets, and cultural shows. 

April

  • Songkran (Thai New Year Water Festival). A three-day, nationwide celebration from April 13th to 15th each year. Songkran (meaning ‘move into’) is a massive water fight celebrated in city streets and villages by locals and tourists alike with water pistols and buckets of water. Water washing is symbolic of washing away of sins and troubles and starting the new year with a clean slate. 

May

  • Boon Bang Fai (Isaan Rocket Festivals). Celebrated in the northeast (Isaan) region in mid-May. The traditional farming communities originally fired rockets to encourage the gods to send rain ahead of the rice growing season (#rocketsforrain). The festival is now celebrated with a rocket competition, live music, food, beauty pageants and partying.  

October

  • Wang Kwai (Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival). A 2-week festival celebrated each October in Chonburi. Trained racing buffalo are ridden bareback along a 100m track in front of Chonburi City hall. The festival is celebrated with live music, food stalls, small amusement park rides for children, beauty pageants, and other buffalo competitions. 

November

  • Loy Krathong (Festival of Light). Celebrated in November on the night of the full moon. During the day, offerings called “krathongs” are made out of banana tree bark decorated with leaves, flowers, candles and incense. At night, the person floating the “krathong” will traditionally place a clipping of their hair or fingernail along with some coins inside the “krathong” before lighting the candle and incense and floating the offering into the nearest natural body of water. 
  • Yi Peng Lantern Festival. Celebrated in Chiang Mai and northern Thailand on November’s full moon, with lantern displays and parades around the Old Town district. At night lanterns or candles are lit to represent moving away from the darkness and into a brighter future.

More Events & Festivals:

Last Bit

Myth Busting

  • Thailand is unsafe for solo female travels. We were actually warned that it's men who need to watch out for being propositioned on the streets!
  • Thailand is all about the sex industry. This is a very small pocket in cities like Bangkok and more prominent in Pattaya, but it is quite easy to avoid, unless of course you seek it out.
  • All Thais want to rip you off. Overall, Thai people are very kind, generous and helpful. Scammers are few and far between and only in very touristy areas.
  • Thailand is a poor country and everything is cheap. The large wealth gap is noticeable, but Thailand has its share of affluent individuals. Designer high end shopping malls in Bangkok sell completely genuine products at Western prices. Luxury apartments can be found in Bangkok. Luxury resorts and villas abound in Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, Bangkok, and Pattaya.
  • Giving money to beggars is helpful. It's not uncommon to see adults and children alike begging on the streets but that does not mean they are homeless or destitute. If you want to help the needy in Thailand, go through official organizations.
  • It's okay to ride elephants. Performing elephants are unfortunately all too common in Thailand. While elephant rides are widely offered, animal experts agree this is detrimental to the elephants physically and psychologically. If you wish to see elephants in Thailand, spend a morning feeding and bathing them at a sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, or Koh Samui.
  • Prices can always be bargained / bartered. Most items in street markets can be haggled. The general rule of thumb is if it has a price tag, don't try to barter. If you do barter, keep it light-hearted and humorous.

Tourism Insights & Useful Stuff

38.30 million interntational tourist arrivals per year.

Population of Thailand: 69.04 million

Tourism as a share of GDP: 17.70%

Top international tourists by country:

  1. China
  2. Malaysia
  3. South Korea
  4. Laos
  5. Japan
  6. India
  7. Russia

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After Thailand, Go Further

It's quite easy to travel anywhere further afield from Thailand which is why it's often called the "Gateway to Southeast Asia". Visit neighboring countries Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.

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