Planning a trip to Thailand but don’t know where to start? Well, after 5 different Thailand trips and island hopping all around the country we’ve started to figure it out! Join us as we cover everything from transportation to what time of year to visit and so much more. Hopefully, this guide can help you plan a trip to Thailand as we share some of our own experiences and tips!
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10 Tips For Planning a Trip to Thailand
1. Duration of Your Thailand Trip
First things first. How many days do you have for your Thailand trip? One of the best parts about planning a trip to Thailand is that your vacation can range from one week to multiple months! You’ll find every type of traveler here from backpackers to luxury vacationers.
That is actually one of the largest draws to the country. Thailand truly caters to every type of budget and traveler. Whether you have one week off from work or are looking to start a 3-month long backpacking trip, there’s something for everyone.
After you figure out the length of your journey you can jump into the fun stuff. However, you’ll want to be as flexible as possible until you actually book your flight. We’ll talk more about this part of planning a trip to Thailand soon!
*Each country has different visa rules for entering Thailand. Depending on where you’re traveling from the length you’re allowed to stay can vary dramatically. Be sure to double-check your visa first!
2. Where to go in Thailand
If you’ve already started your research into Thailand, then you know it’s a diverse country with SO much to see. We’ve mentioned that we’ve been to Thailand several times and we still feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface!
Many travelers flock to the beautiful islands such as Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta or Koh Samui different reasons. There is a great mix of party islands, places to snorkel and dive, and even plenty of secluded beaches to relax on.
Still, Thailand isn’t only about the islands! Make sure to visit the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and have some mainland adventures, too! Really it all depends on what kind of trip to Thailand you want.
3. Time of Year for Thailand Trips
The time of year for your trip to Thailand is so important. Like most places in Southeast Asia, Thailand has a wet and dry season. So unless you’re a surfer looking for waves, you’ll want to visit outside of wet/monsoon season!
The rainy season in Thailand typically goes from July to October while the hot season is from March to June. The months at the beginning of the year are often popular times to visit as it’s still winter in the U.S. and Europe.
4. Trip to Thailand Cost
Now for the part everyone may be wondering about when planning a trip to Thailand! How much does it cost? Well in Thailand you will find everything from beautiful luxury resorts with private pools to $5 a night hostels!
Due to this wide range of accommodations, there is really something to fit any travel style. While many do come to Thailand for a luxury getaway, Southeast Asia as a whole does cater to the budget backpacker.
Overall, the cost of visiting Thailand is much cheaper than you would pay for a European vacation or U.S. road trip. Yet, the prices for almost everything vary depending on if you are going to local or tourist places.
For the simplest of examples, Pad Thai is one of the most popular dishes in Thailand. If you stop by a street cart you might pay around 50 Baht for the dish which is about $1.50 USD. Nevertheless, at a restaurant, you can expect to pay anywhere from 80 to 150 Baht.
Travel Tip: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are always there when we need them.
→ Learn more about the cost of living in Thailand as an expat!
5. Planning a Trip to Thailand Route
Onto our favorite part! When you start to plan a trip to Thailand it may be overwhelming… There are endless places to go and see in this massive country. I mean, why do you think we’re on our 5th Thailand trip already??
Planning your route all depends on what type of vacation you want and how long you have. For example, if you’re island hopping but only have 10 days you may want to stick to one island chain or area to most enjoy your time.
If you have longer you can easily mix in some time in Bangkok as you’ll likely be flying in and out of the capital city. Here are some fun sample routes to give you an idea and help plan a trip to Thailand!
*Know that when you are traveling from abroad you most likely will be starting your trip in Bangkok or Phuket.
10+ Days: Bangkok – (overnight train) Chaing Mai – Pai – Koh Chaing – Koh Mak – Koh Kut (Land Crossing to Cambodia)
7+ Days: Phuket – Phi Phi – Koh Lanta – Koh Lipe (International Ferry to Malaysia)
7+ Days: Koh Samui – Koh Phanang – Koh Tao
30 Days: Phuket – Koh Phi Phi – Koh Lanta – Railay Beach – Koh Phanang – Koh Tao – Koh Samui – Bangkok – Chaing Mai – Pai
6. Booking Your Flights
So you have your route, a budget, and the number of days… It’s time to book flights for your trip to Thailand and make it official! The best way to do it if your dates are flexible is to use a tool like Skyscanner. This way you can search by the cheapest and most direct route and pick your flights based on that.
There are a ton of flights from Europe to Bangkok if that’s where you’re coming from. However, if your Thailand trip is starting from the U.S. you will likely have a layover in the Middle East. Our recent trip to Thailand went from NYC to Doha and we arrived in Phuket. Here are some more quick flight tips for a trip to Thailand!
- Plan for a flight that arrives in the morning so you don’t miss out on a day of exploring.
- Look into other options over Bangkok. We flew into Phuket to start our island hopping trip and out of Chaing Mai. That way we didn’t have to backtrack!
- Flights aren’t just for arriving and leaving in the country. You may take some domestic flights as they are fast and often inexpensive.
- Set up a transfer from the airport to your hotel when you first land. We’re always happy doing this after a long international flight and don’t need to worry about how we’re going to get to our hotel!
7. How to Get Around Thailand
There are many forms of transportation to learn about while you plan a trip to Thailand. Planes are an obvious choice for long distances and domestic flights can be as cheap as $20 USD. Still, there are buses, trains, boats, and even private transfers to consider, too! Check out our breakdown of each transportation method to use during your Thailand trips.
→ In Thailand, we always use 12Go to search for the best route and prices. You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai!
Train: Trains are an exciting way to travel on the mainland of Thailand. You can take an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai where they serve you meals as you look out onto the countryside. This is definitely a fun experience if you have time.
Bus: The buses are not our favorite mode of transport but oh are they cheap! This is a popular way to get around for backpackers planning a trip to Thailand, especially the overnight ones. Be prepared for long travel days and bumpy roads if you choose the bus.
Ferry: Ferries can be utilized to get between the gorgeous islands of Thailand. If you can afford the high-speed boats we recommend taking those over the cheaper slow ferries.
Private Transport: This is one we’ve grown to love on our own Thailand trips! You may find yourself paying for these on short journeys to train stations or ports. Also, make sure to download the app GRAB to order taxis and food in Thailand.
8. Thailand Accommodations
As we’ve mentioned already, there are so many options for places to stay in Thailand. This is why it’s such a perfect destination for any traveler!
Another good part is you don’t necessarily have to stay in a hostel to be on a budget. We’ve found an abundance of nice places on or near the beach in the $20-30 USD per night range. In each of our specific Thailand articles, we share our own recommendations for where to stay.
Thailand Tip: Compare multiple sites to get the best deal. Booking.com and Agoda are the two most popular hotel sites used in Thailand. Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
9. Activities on Your Trip to Thailand
When planning your trip to Thailand make sure to save some time and money for activities! One of our absolute favorite things to do is to take boat tours and snorkeling trips.
Island hopping in general is so much, fun but going on day trips in small groups where you can swim is the best! There are also rock climbing, food tours, cooking classes, and so many more activities to book when you plan a trip to Thailand.
→ Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Thailand! They have everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and a 5-hour island tour.
10. Pack Your Bags and Go!
Woo hoo! You’ve made it. The only thing left to do for your Thailand trip is pack your bags and go. Once you get there you’ll see why millions of travelers make the journey every year. Thailand is a special place in Southeast Asia that’s like no other. Enjoy!
5 Steps Before You Leave
- Confirm your baggage allowance and see if you need to buy extra before getting to the airport.
- Download your airline app and check-in for your flight.
- Send yourself all your travel documents and confirmations in one email for quick access.
- Arrange for an airport transfer or set up a taxi or shuttle for when you arrived and are jet lagged.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
Have any questions about how to plan a trip to Thailand? What about tips from your own epic Thailand trips? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Helpful Thailand Articles
Phuket: 22 Things to Do – Old Town Food Guide – 6 Sunset Spots – Rawai – Elephant Sanctuary – Promthep Cape Sunset – Sunday Night Market – Phuket Old Town – Big Buddha – Renting a Motorbike
Phuket Beaches: Nai Harn & Yanui – Kata Beach – Kata Noi – Nui Beach
Koh Phi Phi: Ferry from Phuket – 25 Things to Know – Maya Bay Private Tour – 3 Viewpoint Hike – Monkey Beach – Phi Phi Don Boat Tour
Koh Lanta: 8 Best Beaches – One Day Motorbike
Railey Beach: 12 Things to Do – 3 Epic Beaches – Krabi to Koh Phangan
Gulf of Thailand: Bottle Beach Koh Phangan – Freedom Beach Koh Tao
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