We present to you our complete guide to travel to Thailand. Here you will find in one place everything you need to know before traveling and during your stay in the country, as well as what to do in Thailand. Enough of fragmented information on many different pages, in Universo Viajero we want to simplify your search by delivering everything in one place. Keep reading to find information about the country, how to get there, how to get around, areas of stay, where to eat, where to sleep, what to see, what to do, dangers and recurring scams, festivals and important dates and much more!
- 1 Important information and tips for your trip to Thailand
- 2 Do you want to know more? Here is our Guide to travel to Thailand!
- 2.1 Best time to travel to Thailand?
- 2.2 Why traveling to Thailand.
- 2.3 How long should I stay in Thailand?
- 2.4 Recommended vaccines to travel to Thailand
- 2.5 Visas and documents needed to enter Thailand
- 2.6 Currency, prices and payment methods in Thailand
- 2.7 Festivals and important dates in Thailand
- 2.8 Gastronomy and food in Thailand
- 2.9 How to move around Thailand and visit different cities.
- 2.10 Most common scams and dangers in Thailand
- 2.11 Responsible and sustainable tourism in Thailand
Important information and tips for your trip to Thailand
Welcome to Siam! Sorry … Thailand. The country is only called that way since 1949 so you can hear your grandparents talking about Siam referring to this country. Understanding the history of this country is not easy, as it is marked by many wars, conquests, and capital changes. The main ones were Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, today archaeological sites protected thanks to their importance in history. As a country, it is one of the strongest economies in Southeast Asia and a very good place to live. Poverty is relatively low compared to other countries in the area and the infrastructure is consistent with a developed country.
A little about Thailand
Thailand is the only country in the Southeast that has never been under the control of another country; only some of its zones. Although, its culture has been influenced to a large extent by countries such as China, India, and Cambodia. Much of what you will see here is similar to other countries in Asia. They have their own language, Thai, but the majority of the population also speaks English. You can learn some words (hello, how are you and other basic ones) that will make you smile and receive you better only; It is always good to show interest in their language. They actually laugh because you pronounce everything wrong and think you’re doing excellent. Regarding religion, 94% of the population is Buddhist Theravada and on a lesser extent Muslim (4.5%) and Catholic (0.5%). In Theravada Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to achieve Nirvana by practicing the Eight Noble Truths. In this way, they get rid of the cycle of suffering and rebirth.
Andaman Sea of Thailand
- Koh Phi Phi
- Similian Islands and diving
- Koh Lipe
The Gulf of Thailand
- Koh Phangan
- Koh Samui
- Koh Tao
Do you want to know more? Here is our Guide to travel to Thailand!
In our travel guide to Thailand, you will find a lot of information that may be important before and during your trip. We recommend that you always get informed before visiting new countries.
Best time to travel to Thailand?
Most of the country is affected by heavy rains from May to November, and in the area of the islands in the east (Phangan, Samui, and Thao) they also predominate between November and December as the monsoons arrive from the area of the Philippines. When we talk about rain, we talk about the flood. Try to go to the country between November and April.
Why traveling to Thailand.
Thailand has a lot to offer and is the perfect destination for solo travelers, honeymooners, couples, families with kids and/or babies and everyone who would love to know an amazing culture and awesome places that range from temples o beautiful beaches. Also, given the big amount of tourist getting here it is one of the countries in south-east Asia where you can travel really easy from one city to another. Everything is well connected and you can see a lot in only a few days. Every destination has a lot to offer for anyone. For example, you can visit this Chiang Mai Honeymoon Guide to understand why this is the perfect destination. As an example of all the things, you can do in Thailand, visit this post about things to do in Chiang Rai.
How long should I stay in Thailand?
Well, it depends… I think that if you want to see the main parts of the country, a minimum stay of two weeks would be needed. Bangkok itself would require at least 3 days to see it and enjoy it, the same with Chiang Mai. There are cities that you can see in one day, like Ayutthaya, Sukhothai or Chiang Rai. As for the beaches, if you want to relax and know around you will need at least two full days on each one (and I think that is too little… 3 days would be perfect!) You can see these two weeks in Thailand itinerary if you want some advice on this.
Recommended vaccines to travel to Thailand
- Yellow fever: You will only be asked if you come from an area of risk. We as Chileans never asked for it. Keep in mind that in Thailand there is no yellow fever, so you do not need to have it because you can not catch anything, the certificate is requested as a precaution so that you do not carry the disease.
- Hepatitis A and B: We recommend it, you may eat in places that are not as healthy as they look.
- Typhoid fever: Recommended.
- Tetanus: It never hurts to have it. In case of an accident or getting cut with metal, you will be protected.
Malaria and Dengue:
Many do not take the anti-malaria pills (which give you vomiting and dizziness, at the best of the chances) and nothing happens to them. In the most tourist cities of Thailand, there is practically no malaria and the only way to avoid dengue is by using a lot of repellents. Enter here for more information on how to repel mosquitoes and take care of these diseases. If you travel to more rural areas of the country the risk is much higher, so it is advisable to take the anti-malaria pills and use repellent with a minimum of 60 deet.
Visas and documents needed to enter Thailand
Not all countries need a visa to travel to Thailand. Many can reach the country without problems and enter for a certain number of days predefined by the authorities. If you want to stay longer, you only need to leave the country and re-enter a few hours later to renew your visa.
- Countries that obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport (on arrival), without paying anything and for the days indicated according to nationality.
- Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru: 90 days
- Italy, Spain and the G7 countries: 30 days
- They need to process the visa before the trip (price and duration vary depending on the country): Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela.
Find out here more tips to travel to Thailand from our friend Claire’s Itchy Feet.
Currency, prices and payment methods in Thailand
The official currency of the country is the BAHTS (THB). At the time of writing this article, 1 dollar was equivalent to 34.5 THB. It is the currency used, so it is important that you have it and hopefully not very large bills because it can often be difficult to have smaller changes unless they are restaurants or larger and established businesses.
How to get bahts?
To change dollars to baths, it is best to do it in some established place that looks reliable. Never trust in very good exchange houses or in people who give you greater changes than the official one; it will always be a scam and they will give you fake bills or they will give you less money (they are like magicians, they count it in your eyes and when they give it to you there is less in the pill). Airports have the most expensive change, so wait to be in city centers to do so. The ATMs are very reliable, but in general, they charge an extra commission of about 180 – 200 THB every time you take money from them. When paying with credit cards they usually recharge the price a little 3-4% to pay the bank’s commission.
Regarding prices, Thailand has everything. In accommodation, you can spend $ 5 in a hostel with shared room and bathroom, 15 for a simple double room and 30 for a double room and with air conditioning in a well-qualified 3 stars hotel. Luxury hotels go from 80 to 100 dollars a night in a double room. The food is also cheap. You can eat in the street for 2 dollars, in a local restaurant for 5 or in a tourist restaurant for 15. A bottle of water costs 1 dollar.
Festivals and important dates in Thailand
Between the 13th and the 15th of April of each year the Thai New Year is celebrated. To celebrate it thousands of people take the streets and do a “water war”. Buckets filled with water are thrown between the people and everyone that is passing by and all the people are fully soaked. If you are in the country for the Thai New Year, you can’t get mad if you go down the street and they wet you or your backpack. Come prepared and protect your things.
For the full moon of November thousands of people go to the rivers to leave small paper boats with candles. In the north, in addition, balloons are thrown with candles to the sky. The best places to enjoy the festival are Sukhothai and Ayutthaya where there are not so many tourists.
Chinese New Year:
All the big cities have a Chinatown, and in them, the Chinese New Year is always celebrated at the end of January.
A festival of lights that is celebrated every year in Chiang Mai, the date varies depending on the old Lanna lunar calendar. In it, thousands of Khom Loy or luminous hot air balloons are thrown into the air.
Full Moon Party:
We can not stop mentioning it because it has already become almost a symbol of tourism in the country. Each full moon thousands of people arrive at Koh Phangan to a party on the beach that lasts all night, with music, lights, fluorescent paint and lots of alcohol.
Gastronomy and food in Thailand
Thai food is characterized by mixing 4 flavors: sweet, spicy, acid and salty. The typical dish of excellence is the Pad Thai, which you will find everywhere you go. If you prefer rice, there is a similar version that is fried rice with vegetables called Khao Pad Goong. In addition to many other types of chicken seasoned with curry, fried vegetables and in general everything a little spicy and well seasoned. Another delicacy is the Sticky Rice Mango, which is usually eaten as a dessert. For the typical Southeast breakfast, you can find the Pancakes. People will always ask you: “Banana Pancake?”… Everywhere. If Thai food is not your thing, you will always find pizzas and pasta in most tourist areas. And if you’re a vegetarian, there are always vegetable options on the menu. For some reason Thais believe that vegetarians do eat chicken and fish, so be careful with that.
How to move around Thailand and visit different cities.
Moving between cities is easy in this country. In general, everything is very well connected due to the huge amount of tourists and locals already have everything you might need in mind and provide you with a solution. Here you can find information about other means of transport in Thailand cities.
Low-cost flights abound and can be as low as $ 25 dollars per person per flight. These are the best option if you will be for a short period of time in the country and need to change cities quickly.
Buy your tickets in advance to secure your seat and the class in which you want to travel. Here you can make reservations.
A very good way to move because they are faster than trains. In the case of buses, it will always be better to buy the tickets directly at the station. Do it one or two days in advance to avoid full bookings. You can also buy them at the tour booths and agencies in the cities but it will be more expensive; although for the good side, in general, they include Pick Up in your hotel and more comfortable buses. The latter is a good alternative if you are willing to pay the premium.
Van or Minibus:
In general, they are completely tourists and they are the ones that you hire in the agencies and they sell you as a package from one place to another. Check the other alternatives well, as this Vans and Minibuses can be even more expensive than airplanes.
Between islands, you will always need a boat. The best option is to find out which port they come from and buy the tickets there directly. Otherwise, you will end up paying the commission of the agencies.
FACT! The 12go.asia platform is one of the best when it comes to booking your bus, train or ferry tickets in Thailand. Here we leave the link.
You can also use Uber in some cities. If you are interested, check this guide about using uber in Chiang Mai.
Most common scams and dangers in Thailand
There are several types of money travel scams that you can find while traveling. Here we leave you the most common scams and dangers in Thailand:
One of the most typical scams of Thailand and Southeast Asia happens in the unofficial exchange houses. They offer you a wonderful exchange rate and, as much as you see how the bills on the table are count over and over again, they are like magicians and you leave the place with less money. Change only in official places and count the money back into your own hands once it is delivered to you.
Broke / Scratched the motorcycle:
Leasing bikes (like scooters) is a very good way to have freedom while traveling in Thailand. However, many times when you return them the owners will try to charge you for a scratch or damage that was not there… when it always was … How to avoid it? Take pictures of the bike everywhere and every scrap and damage it has. Also, worry that the person who leased it appears on those photos and that you see the rental place in them so there is no doubt that it was taken when you rented it and not after. We never had a problem and we leased motorcycles in more than 70 cities. If you want to know our tips for renting a motorcycle in Asia, enter here.
That place is closed, it does not exist anymore or a meteor fell on top of it:
Maybe the taxi driver or tuk-tuk tells you about your hotel or hostel to take you to another place. It also happens that someone in the streets tells you that a tourist attraction is closed so they can take you to another place. Never believe them! Getaway immediately or get off the taxi/tuk-tuk and take another one. They may even take you to a tourist agency where they will only take money from you and they will not let you go. Sure, everything is a scam.
Dubious police officers:
They ask for your passport in the street, they try to pass a fine for something, but without any paper or certificate. To avoid it, speak to them in a language different than English (you can even invent one). They will get confused and they will try to cheat someone else.
People too friendly:
Yes, there are good people, but do not trust if someone tries to be your best friend. In the best part of the conversation, they will begin to talk to you about their business and how you would be an amazing contribution to it. It will be an amazing opportunity because just will just give them $ 100 dollars and in 5 days they will return you $ 1000. Miraculous businesses do NOT exist.
The girl who loves you:
A piece of advice, especially for men… There are women who specialize in conquering and then pity how they hate their lives as prostitutes or workers and get tourists and foreigners to even send money monthly to help. Clearly, then they continue working and seducing more men or women to do the same. Also if you decide to take someone to your hotel, be careful because it may happen that if you fall asleep they will take everything you have.
Responsible and sustainable tourism in Thailand
Thailand is a beautiful country, but unfortunately, the huge amount of tourists has invaded much of the attractions of the country. That attracts a lot of garbage, for example, to beaches. It is not strange to think that you arrive in paradise; like Maya Bay, where the movie “The Beach” was filmed in Koh Phi Phi, and leave disappointed by the high price of touching the sand and the mountain of tourists jumping and taking pictures everywhere. Be clear that today tourism is so developed that few authentic areas remain. If you want to see the true Thai culture, you should stay away from the tourist route.
It is important to be always responsible for the environment and the people when we travel. What you do today will influence many generations forward, and it is everyone’s job to take care of our planet. We invite you to read our responsible tourism content here.