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Thailand Travel Guide

SKIP AHEAD

The Land of Smiles, Thailand, formerly known as “Siam”, has become one of the most popular travel destinations for tourists around the world. Gorgeous temples, rich religious customs, white-sand beaches, and exotic history & culture all add to the unique charm of Thailand. The friendly locals and their warm service make visitors feel at home. Abundant Thai snacks, creative desserts, and affordable seafood are also reasons for visitors to linger.

This Thailand travel guide gives you some essential tips on the best places to visit, the best time to travel, the food not to miss, how to get to & around… Keep reading for more Thailand travel inspiration.

Basic Facts about Thailand

  • Name: Kingdom of Thailand
  • Captial: Bangkok
  • Population: 6,6170,000 (2022)
  • Language: Thai
  • Currency: Thai Baht
  • Religions & Beliefs: Hinayana Buddhism, Islam, Christianity
  • Time Zone: UTC+7
  • Electrical Outlets: 220V/50Hz. Electrical outlets in Thailand are usually two-prong round sockets or flat sockets. Remember to bring a universal adapter.
  • Festival & Events: Songkran (in April) and Loi Krathong are two of the biggest and most popular festivals in Thailand. The Loi Krathong Festival is held every year in November when thousands of candle-lit paper lanterns fly in the sky in a spectacular display.

☛ See also: Thailand Lantern Festival

Royal Palace Phnom Penh
Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

Best Places to Visit in Thailand

Tropical scenery, charming islands, gorgeous Buddhist culture, ancient ruins, and exciting recreational activities label Thailand as unique. With so many highlights in Thailand, are you stuck on how to choose? Here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Thailand. Pick one or more of them to add to your Thailand travel list.

Phuket - Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands on Phuket

1. Bangkok

Bangkok, the capital and largest city of Thailand, is world-famous for its vibrant street life and cosmopolitan atmosphere. For young people, Bangkok is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Thailand, with Khao San Road being a highlight. Bangkok is also known as the “Buddhist Capital” as it has the most Buddhist temples in the world. The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha are must-sees.

2. Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, the former capital of Thailand, is the perfect destination to experience the country’s profound culture & history and trek into the lush rainforest. Visit the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep on a hillside on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, overlooking the city from there. Venture into some of the hill tribes to get a glimpse of their history and unique way of life.

3. Pattaya

Pattaya is one of the most popular sea-view resorts in Southeast Asia. Visitors can experience new and exciting sea entertainment; enjoy the colorful coral wonders and tropical fish under the sea on a transparent long-tail boat; and watch the wonderful Tiffany’s Show, the first true ladyboy show in Southeast Asia.

4. Koh Samui

Koh Samui is the third-largest island in Thailand, retaining its original flavor due to not being overdeveloped. It is the best place to visit in Thailand for everyone from backpackers to honeymooners. Visitors can enjoy relaxing spas, visit many temples, and do some underwater activities such as snorkeling.

5. Phuket

Phuket is dubbed as the “Pearl of the Andaman Sea” for its wide beaches, spotless white sands, and emerald green waters. It is the largest island in Thailand, highlighted by the nearby Coral Island and Phang Nga Bay. It is a paradise for divers and water parachute enthusiasts. Phang Nga Bay is the most beautiful part of Phuket, with its oddly shaped stalactite caves. The bay is filled with precious mangrove forests, which are quite beautiful and spectacular.

☛ See also: 11 Best Places to Visit in Thailand  &  Thailand Islands Guide

Best Time to Visit Thailand

Most of Thailand has a tropical monsoon climate with little difference in temperature throughout the year. Except for a few mountainous areas, temperatures are high everywhere, with an average annual temperature of 28ºC. The best time to visit Thailand is during the cool, dry season from November to February when temperatures fluctuate roughly between 29ºC and 33ºC.

During the best time to travel to Thailand (also the peak tourist season), many islands in the south are open to tourists, allowing them to fully experience the islands. The Loi Krathong Festival in the north also takes place during this time (roughly in November). Remember to book your hotel and airfare in advance.

☛ See also: Thailand Weather

Recommended Thailand Tours

Thailand Food: 5 Best Dishes to Eat in Thailand

Thailand is a tropical country near the sea, where the weather is hot, with abundant rainfall and sunshine. This special climate makes Thai people rely on sour and spicy tastes.

Thai food is mainly made from seafood, fruits, and vegetables. There are four major cuisines in Thailand, namely Northern Thai, Northeastern Thai, Central Thai and Southern Thai, reflecting the different geographical and cultural characteristics of Thailand. Here is a list of some of Thailand’s signature dishes.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is considered Thailand’s most famous food and a must-try dish when visiting the country. It is a variant of Chinese chow mein, Thai rice noodles, stir-fried with bean sprouts, chives, scrambled eggs, chicken or shrimp, ground peanuts and a sweet and sour sauce. In addition, it has an extra ingredient, chilli, which is not very spicy and can be accepted by most people.

Tom Yum Goong

Also known as Spicy Shrimp Soup, it is one of Thailand’s most iconic dishes from the central region and is widely praised for its spicy and sour flavors! The uniqueness of Tom Yum Goong lies in the combination of fragrant lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, shallots, lime leaves, lime juice and red pepper. The shrimp in this dish can be replaced by chicken or fish.

Yum Nua (Thai Beef Salad)

Yam refers to a salad-like dish in Thai cooking. Yum Nua is a rather refreshing Thai salad featuring strips of grilled steak, usually served with tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh chili peppers, and lemongrass, and flavored with lime juice and fish sauce. You can enjoy Yum Nua on its own, or with rice to help soften the sour taste.

Khao Niew Ma Muang

Khao Niew Ma Muang is a common street staple eaten as a dessert in Thailand. Sticky rice is soaked in sweet coconut syrup, topped with salty coconut sauce and served with melt-in-your-mouth mango chunks. This delicacy is best served cold and is most popular during the hot summer months.

Gai Pad Med Mamuang

Gai Pad Med Mamuang or Thai Cashew Chicken, which is stir-fried with Thai chilies, garlic and onions and served with a rich and flavorful honey sauce, is very popular in Thai restaurants. Crunchy cashews and fresh scallions add extra flavor to the dish. This dish is suitable for kids or people who do not accept spicy food.

☛ See also: Thailand Dining Etiquette and Table Manners

Thailand Visa

Passport holders from the United States, Australia, and European countries can stay up to 30 days without a visa when entering Thailand by air. However, citizens of the vast majority of countries will need a visa and a passport valid within six months to enter Thailand.

Citizens of countries such as China, India and Mexico are eligible to apply for an electronic visa on arrival in Thailand for up to 15 days, which will significantly reduce the time required to process a visa on arrival at the airport.

☛ See also: How to Apply a Thailand Visa in 2023

Thailand Transportation

How to Get to

Thailand is well-connected to the rest of the world by air, land, and water.

By Air

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the air transportation hub for the entire country and Southeast Asia. Direct flights to Bangkok are already available from most cities around the world, including London, Paris, Vancouver, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

The other most commonly used airports in Thailand are Phuket Airport and Chiang Mai Airport.

By Train & Bus

Visitors can get to Thailand from Malaysia by train: Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) – Padang Besar (Malaysia) – Bangkok (Thailand) for a total of 23 hours.

The ticket price from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar starts from 640 baht (USD 16.7). And the train tickets for Padang Besar-Bangkok start at 900 baht (USD 23.5).

In addition, tourists can get to Thailand by bus from neighboring Southeast Asian countries, such as Laos, Malaysia, and Cambodia.

By Water

There are regular ferries between Malaysia and Thailand. When you get to Thailand by ferry, you will need to register for entry. Many waterway entry points do not allow visa-on-arrival, so it is recommended that you obtain a visa in advance.

How to Get around

Thailand has a well-developed public transport network that can take you anywhere you want to go, by plane, train, long-distance bus and ferry. Even if you are traveling in the city, you can choose from a variety of travel options such as cabs, buses, tuk-tuks, subways, and BTS.

Air Travel

Bangkok to Chiang Mai is one of the most popular routes in Thailand, usually taking 1 hour and 20 minutes, with fares fluctuating between US$30 and US$50 (depending on low and high seasons). The flight time from Bangkok to Phuket is about 1.5 hours and costs about US$34 each way, and the flight time to Koh Samui is about 1 hour and costs about US$111 each way.

Train Travel

Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Train Station is the central station for train travel in Thailand. Centered in Bangkok, Thailand’s railroads radiate outward on four lines. Thailand’s other international rail railway from Bangkok, through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and finally to Singapore, offers a unique travel experience in all of Asia.

Ferry Travel

The ferry is a leisurely way to get around Thailand. The boat offers ample seating and English-language commentary. The Tourist Boat runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. A one-day ticket costs 150 baht.

Bangkok BTS Skytrain & MRT Subway Travel

These two are the most affordable and fastest modes of transportation in Bangkok, allowing visitors to avoid traffic jams. One-way fares range from 15 to 40 baht, depending on the distance.

Taxi Travel

A taxi is the most convenient way to get around the city. Taxi fares in coastal cities are slightly higher than in inland cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In Bangkok, a taxi from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to the city center costs about 220 baht.

Tuk-tuk Travel

Tuk-tuks are cheap and safe for short trips. Generally, a 10-minute ride in cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai costs about 20-40 baht.

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