9 Practical Thailand Travel Tips
Thailand Travel Tips for having the “Thaime” of your life
In recent years, Thailand has become quite the tourist destination and for good reason! It is beautiful, friendly and rich in culture. I am routinely asked for Thailand travel tips as people start planning their Southeast Asian vacation. Being prepared with helpful and practical tips will have you worrying less and enjoying your vacation sooner. So today, I want to share with you all some of my best practical Thailand travel tips for the ultimate Thai adventure.
9 Practical Travel Tips for the Ultimate Thailand Vacation
Tip #1 Check the Weather
Before planning your trip to Thailand be sure to check the weather during the season you are hoping to visit. Thailand is always hot and often rainy, but you will want to be sure you are visiting when it is a more manageable heat and has less rain. I like to use Travel Fish for information regarding weather, currency, customs, and laws in Southeast Asia; it is an incredibly useful site and I recommend it highly.
Tip #2 Travel to Chiang Mai
While the islands are stunning and Bangkok has all the street food you have ever hoped for, Chiang Mai was by far my favorite place we visited in Thailand. There is just so much to do! Ziplining through the jungle, temple hopping, playing with elephants are only a drop in the bucket. So many bloggers live and breath Bangkok, but my vote will forever be for this quieter Northern city that makes my heart beat a little faster just thinking about it.
Tip #3 Spend Time in Bangkok on the Last Weekend of your Trip
Bangkok is super overwhelming. It is busy, smelly and chaotic. Don’t get me wrong, you have to spend some time exploring the city (and eating your way through it!). However, my advice is upon arriving in Bangkok to immediately head to the islands, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai and wait to explore the capital city at the end of your trip. By that time you will be more acclimated to Thailand and feel more comfortable tackling the large bustling city.
Be sure to be in the city over the weekend for the Chatuchak Market, also known as the JJ Market, and easily accessible by the SkyTrain. It is a seemingly never-ending market full of anything and everything. Trust me, you don’t want to be lugging around all your (cheap!) finds for the entirety of your trip. It’s the perfect way to find souvenirs, gifts and experience an incredible market at the end of your vacation.
Tip #4 Temple Hop in Moderation
I am a huge proponent of temple hopping. Personally, visiting the temples was 80% of the reason I wanted to visit Thailand (and Cambodia). However, there is so much more to Thailand than just temples. My recommendation is to pick a few temples in each location you visit. Hire a tuk-tuk or taxi to get you to them – they will even wait while you explore. So really soak them in! Spend the rest of your time in Thailand exploring all the other amazing things it has to offer.
Doi Suthep and Wat Phra Singh are absolute must-see’s in my opinion.
Tip #5 Spend Time in your Layover City
It’s safe to say that getting to Thailand from the States will require quite a bit of time in the air. Hopefully with only a layover or two. Personally, we took the United flight from Denver to Tokyo to Bangkok. While we loved only having one layover, I wish we would have spent a few nights in Tokyo on either our way over or way back. Not only does this break up the flight, but I feel we should have taken advantage of being across the world.
Tip #6 Be Aware of Bangkok Taxi’s
Being aware of scammers and people trying to take advantage of you is always important when you travel. However, be particularly aware when taking a taxi in Bangkok! A few things to be aware of when taking a taxi in Bangkok:
- There is a specific area to pick up a taxi at the Bangkok airport. It can seem never-ending, but it actually moves quite quickly.
- Always, always, always make sure they use the meter rather than negotiating a price. They will try to cover up their meter and tell you it is a better deal. It never is! If your driver won’t use the meter, find a different cab.
- There is a 50 Baht charge added to Taxi rides from the airport. This is normal, you should be paying it.
- You will most likely hit toll roads – you are to pay the tolls, not the driver. Either ask them to let you pay from the back seat, or watch your driver closely – sometimes they will tell you a higher amount and pocket the change.
- Taxi’s (and tuk-tuks) will occasionally try to take you to a different location (typically a storefront they have an arrangement with). Just ask to go where you intended, and if your driver refuses, try to find yourself a different mode of transportation.
Tip #7 Be Respectful of the Thai King and Royal Family & Religious Buildings
While this was particularly true when we visited Thailand soon after the passing of the Thai King, you should follow it regardless. No seriously, it is punishable by law to speak badly about the Royal Family! In my opinion, not saying anything and just observing is always the best policy.
And please don’t be the tourist who doesn’t cover their knees and shoulders (women) when visiting temples and other religious buildings. Wear closed toed shoes that are easy to slip on and off as well. Just be respectful, easy as that.
Tip #8 Get the Proper Vaccinations
People often forget this vital step in their travel planning. While Thailand is more developed than other Southeast Asian countries, it is always a good idea to check the CDC Website to ensure you are properly vaccinated for your international travels. Talk to your doctor and make the right decisions for yourself and how you plan to travel. If you are trekking through Northern Thailand, you will need different vaccinations from someone spending the entirety of their trip on a resort in Phuket.
And my Ultimate Thailand Travel Tip
Tip #9 Plan your Trip during the Loy Kratong and Yi Peng Festival
You know these special occasions by the sky lanterns that light up the sky in Thailand every year. However, it is so much more than that. I am so thankful we were able to be in Chiang Mai during the celebrations!
Loy Kratong and Yi Peng are technically two separate holidays, but Westerner’s often mistakenly lump them together. Thai’s celebrate both holidays near the full moon, which typically falls in November. You will find Thai’s celebrating Yi Peng with sky lanterns in Northern Thailand. While Thai’s across Thailand celebrate Loy Kratong with floating vessels.
As far as we could tell, the local mass-release of lanterns at Mae Jo University in Chaing Mai has been suspended indefinitely. While this is disappointing, it is nice to know there is no longer a night of local celebrations and a separate night for tourists. Be aware of any company’s making you pay to go see the mass release – this is not the Mae Jo release and it will only have tourists at it!
Unfortunately, there is relatively little information regarding the festivals. I spent an ungodly amount of time researching, scouring group discussions and contacting people in Thailand to plan our trip accordingly.
As this is the ultimate Thailand travel tip, I am going to be writing a guide on How To Celebrate Yi Peng and Loy Kratong in Thailand to help anyone trying to plan their trip during this special time. Stay tuned!
Will you be using these 9 Thailand Travel Tips?
So what do you think of my practical Thailand travel tips? I am certain this advice will have you hitting the ground running, but if you have any questions I would love to answer them in the comments below. Happy travels!
Until Next Time,