Backpacking Thailand is an important part of most travels heading into the wondrous part of the world known as South East Asia. In fact Thailand is one most peoples backpacking through Asia itinerary for a few reasons.
I mean, Thailand’s culture is friendly ( though it seems backwards sometimes), the food delicious, the islands, like Koh Lipe , are picturesque, and the nightlife is out of control.
Mix that all up with the cheap price tag, and it is easy to see why Thailand draws hundreds of thousands of tourist and backpackers every year. After all what more do backpackers want!?
Before we get any further, I am going to come clean. I have a massive love affair with Thailand so that this post might seem a little bias about the awesomeness of the country. If you don’t stay on your toes you’ll be sucked into the culture and soon be head over heels in love.
While it is impossible to sum up such a complex and beautiful country in a couple of thousand words, this guide will help give you the information you need to start planning your travels in Thailand.
After reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of what to do and what to expect when backpacking Thailand.
So, if you are backpacking Thailand you are in the right place.
Know I know what you are saying to yourself, ” No offense, Stephen….but there are a ton of backpacking Thailand blog post, why should we listen to yours?”.
Vaild question! Well, one reason is that I have spent over a year of my life traveling the country. It is also a country I have lived in twice. Basically (not to talk myself up) but I have spent more than my fair share of time backpacking Thailand.
Why Go Backpacking in Thailand
Let’s talk about why you should take a trip backpacking Thailand.
Thailand is special because it caters to every traveler need, and also every type of traveler. Whether you are a luxury traveler or a dirty backpacker (like myself), you are going to get the trip you want.
A lot of backpackers travel Thailand to party all nights on the islands like Koh Phangan.
Looking to sip cocktails, sit on the beach, and never leave the resort then head to Koh Samui.
Others, like myself, love the north of Thailand for the trekking, road trips, and culture.
Thailand is a country that caters to your every need, and you can have whatever type of trip you want.
Best Time to Visit Thailand
Peak season- Thailand’s peak tourist season is from November to February.
Weather- There are two major seasons in Thailand. Hot/rainy, and warm/dry.
Summer Temperatures – Summer in Thailand is March to June. April tends to be the hottest month with temperatures being around 96 °F to 104 °F (36-40 °C).
Winter Temperatures – Thailand cools off November to February. Temperatures are still warm. Somewhere around 80 °F. (30ish °C)
How Much to Budget when Backpacking Thailand
Monthly Budget – The cost of backpacking Thailand varies a lot. The country has a ton of fun activities to indulge. Backpacking Thailand on a small budget will cost around $900.
However, it is possible to backpack Thailand cheaper. I’ve known people to travel Thailand for $600 a month.
However, I wouldn’t recommend it. Why would you want to fly all the way to Thailand to sit in a hostel eating noodles? Make sure you have some cash to have some fun right?
If you want to add scuba diving, island hopping, partying,a Sak Yant tattoo, trekking, motorbike rentals, and other things I would budget for at least $1200 a month.
Daily Budget – I’ve spent less than $10 a day in Thailand and more than $100. It depends on what you are doing. A safe backpacking Thailand budget is $30 a day.
Things to Know Before Heading to Thailand.
Flight – Flights to Thailand are cheaper than you think. I’ve flown from the U.S. to Thailand one way for under $300. Using some tricks to find insanely cheap flight, and knowing the right websites like Kayak Flights is essential to finding a right flight.
Travel Insurance – I use RoamRight for all my travel insurance. They are a great company, and I have never had a problem with them.
Here is why travel insurance is a must. Dengue is rare in Thailand, but it does happen. I have a friend that just got Dengue Fever in Thailand.
She spent five days in the hospital, and her bill was over $5,000. Luckily she had insurance, and they covered the whole thing.
Dengue might be rare in Thailand, but it does happen.
Another buddy of mine got bit by a dog and had to get $1600 in shots.
Which the insurance covered.
Where to Stay in Thailand
I recommend a couple of type of accommodations
Airbnb – Renting a room in a house is a fantastic way to meets some locals. There are cheaper ways to stay in Aisa, bit Airbnb is a good option if you are looking for privacy or staying with a local.
Also, Airbnb is cheap if you are staying in the same city in Thailand for a month or longer.
Hostel –Hostels in Thailand are awesome! I live in hostels and Thailand has a few of my favorites. Hostels are a great way to meet like-minded travelers.
I always use Hostelworld when booking my hostels.
I’ll tell you more about what hostels are the best in Thailand when we discuss cities. A few of my favorite are Lub’d in Bangkok,
Eating in Thailand
The food… man oh man the food. A couple of the best dishes are the rich coconut curries, spicy salads, and chicken stir fried with vegetables.
Personally, I always head straight for the hole in the wall restaurants or indulge in street food. They have the cheapest price tag, and the food is almost always better.
An average meal will cost between $1-$3. Restaurants that cater to westerns and western food cost between $6-$12 a meal.
Tips to Find Mouth-Watering Food
Walk Around – Head down the side streets and alleys. Don’t be afraid to eat in a place that looks a little dirty as long as you can see where they prepare the food.
Street Food- Cheap and amazing…. enough said.
Ask the hostel staff – Ask the staff. Tell them you want to get away from the tourist restaurants and find the local hotspots.
Getting Around Thailand
Thailand runs off of buses, ferries, and trains. Lately budget airline flight prices have been so good that I have just been paying a little extra to fly.
Budget airlines in Thailand are Air Asia and Tiger Air.
However, Buses are the cheapest option. While Trains and planes are a bit more expensive.
Tours in Thailand
Companies also Thailand backpacking trips. These are good in your are backpacking Thailand alone and looking for some company.
A couple of my favorite companies are G Adventures, and Intrepid Travel. . They both are good companie and offer different types ofThailand tour. However, they are worth checking out if you are looking for tours in Thailand.
Places to See in Thailand
There are a ton of different cities to see when backpacking Thailand. Here are a few of the top ones and some suggestion of what to do when visiting this cities.
However, there is more to do in Bangkok than just backpackers partying.
Get off the regular tourist track and you will see a very deep city, full of culture and life.
Sadly, most people backpacking Thailand never get off Koh San Road long enough to see it.
Where to stay – I’ve been to Bangkok over 12 times, and I highly recommend either Lub’d
They are hands down the best hotels in Bangkok and a couple of my favorite hostels in the entire world.
What to see in Bangkok
Royal Palace – Over 300 years old, this extravagant palace is the main tourist attraction in Bangkok.
Cost to visit the Royal Palace: Thai people get in free. Everyone else it cost 500 Baht ($15)
Visit Bangkok’s other Temples- You might get templed out if you attempt to visit all of these in a couple of days, but here are some other.popular temples in Bangkok.
• Wat Kalayanamit
• Wat Saket and the Golden Mount
• Wat Benchamabophit
• Wat Traimit
Don’t have a lot of time, not to worry. Here is the perfect way to spend 3 days in Bangkok.
What to do in Bangkok
Shop till you drop – Downtown Bangkok is filled with massive malls. Many of them are all right next to each other. Take the BTS (Sky train) to the Siam stop and you will be surrounded by shopping centers.
Party- Nightlife in Bangkok never ends. The city is wild, and I have had more than one morning I woke up and felt like I had just reenacted the movie Hangover 2.
The Main party streets in Bangkok are Koh San Rd and Soi Cowboy.
Markets – The weekly markets in Bangkok are ok. However, they are nothing compared to the massive weekend market. This market has over 8,000 stalls and shops. Some of the shops are price, but many of them are also very affordable.
How to get to Chatuchak Weekend Market: Take the BTS to Mo Chit station. The market is open Friday through Sunday.
Chiang Mai is a city that’s dear to my heart. It is a place I have called home twice in my life.
The main draws of Chiang Mai are the food, the overwhelming friendly locals, and the low price.
The quality of living in Chaing Mai for the price is insane. If you are looking to take a break from the road, and looking for a cheap hideout, then Chiang Mai is the city for you. It is possible to live like a king for $1,000 a month.
Things to See in Chiang Mai
Doi Sup Thep – The famous temple in Chaing Mai. Full of gold statues, and has some amazing views of the city.
Other popular temples to visit in Chaing Mai
- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep,
- Wat Chedi Luang,
- Wat Chiang Man
- Wat Suan Dok
Get a Sak Yant – This is my Sak Yant
What is a Sak Yant – A Magic protection tattoo given to you by a monk. This bamboo tradition started over 700 years ago in Chiang Mai area. I recommend this private tour for a Sak Yant, because they take you to an Ajram (master) who’s family has been giving Sak Yant for over 300 years.
Eat a ton of Khao Soi – One of the best foods in Thailand.Khao Soi is known as the food of the North.
However, Khao Soi is the tourist food of the north. If you want the local experience also try Kà•nŏm jeen nám ngée•o. It is tasty ( though I like Khoa Soi better) and it is what the locals eat.
(Note: Kà•nŏm jeen nám ngée•o contains blood)
The best Khao Soi in town is Khao Soi Mae Sai. You can also get Kà•nŏm jeen nám ngée•o here as well. See it on Google Maps
Bus Bar Wednesday – A bunch of couch surfers meet every Wednesday at Bus Bar to talk, hang out, and share cheap drinks. When I am in Chiang Mai, I never miss it. It is a insanely fun night and a great way to meet locals and fellow travelers when backpacking Thailand.
Road Trip to Pai – A beautiful city in the mountain. Rent a bike and head on a road trip. The mountain road is full of thousands of twist and turns and some amazing views.
CHiang Mai has one of the lowest cost of living in Thailand. It is an amazing place!
Other Places to VIsit in Thailand
Pai – Beautiful city in the mountains
Chiang Rai – The two main attractions of Chiang Rai are the famous White and Black Temples
Phuket – Party town and where you will want to fly if you are going to Phi Phi or Koh Lak.
Pattaya – On the east coast of Thailand. Pattaya is known for its beautiful beaches, big resorts, and never ending parties.
Islands to Visit on Trips in Thailand
Of course, we have to talk about the Thai Islands. Many of these islands are picture perfect with soft sandy beaches, warm water, and thick jungle.
Most backpackers flock to the islands for partying. (the parties are out of control) but there are some quite Islands for people just wanting to lounge on the beach.
Koh Tao – Famous for Scuba Diving. Kho Tao has some epic places to stay, and has a mix of nightlife and adventures. It is my favorite personal island in Thailand.
Koh Phangan- Famous for the epic full moon party that draws crowds of up to 20,000 each month.
Koh Samui – The biggest island in the area. Koh Samui is where most honeymooners and families spend their time. It is not really a party island. It is also a little more expensive than the other islands but the quality of the resorts on Koh Samui is much higher. .
Phi Phi – Known for snorkeling, scuba, party, and tattoos. Oh yes, and the fantastic views.
Other Things to do when Backpacking Thailand
Learn to Scuba Dive- Thailand is famous for having amazing dive spots. It is also one of the cheapest places to learn in the world. ( Maybe even scuba dive in a tropical storm)
Visit the Floating Markets – These boat markets are more of a tourist trap, but are still cool to see if you have the time.
Song Kran – Thai New Years turns into a wild and wet festival. With entire cities turning into a massive water fight.
I hope you enjoyed these backpacking Thailand travel tips. Feel free to comment below about your Thailand travels.