A paradise on Earth, Thailand is the travel hub of South East Asia. A haven for all types of travelers – from the intrepid backpackers to the honeymooners, Thailand caters to the likes of all.
Sprawling azure beaches, fiery gastronomic delights, world class diving and hundreds of lush jungles attract visitors from all over the world. And the best part? It’s an incredibly budget friendly destination making it highly attractive for all types of backpackers.
A backpacking trip around Thailand would satisfy your travel bug for years on end. You get the exuberant capital of Bangkok, the rave parties, floating markets, little fishing villages and tropical paradises. All in the same country.
Backpackers are drawn to the chance of experiencing immense contrasts and delving into cultures they’ve never explored before. It’s quite simply the “once in a life experience” everyone raves about. In this article I will provide an extended, informative travel guide to Thailand for backpackers.
Relax, take a deep breath and don’t panic. That’s my first tip to you. Backpacking around Thailand may sound intimidating at first, and packing everything you need in a small carry-on or backpack may sound as a nightmare at first. Luckily, things are much simpler than they seem.
- Use packing cubes. Packing cubes are a great way to fit a lot more items in your bag while simultaneously saving space and organizing your items. They fit in all types of bags, are easy to compress and come in all shapes and sizes. It may be hard to figure out what packing cubes to get, and you can see reviews on the best packing cubes here.
- Get slip on shoes! You will be taking off and on your shoes a lot – either for the beaches or when entering a person’s house or temple.
- Bug Spray! You will regret not getting bug spray when you’re trekking in the middle of one of the jungles.
- Get a rain jacket. The rain is unpredictable and a lot of times, even in the middle of summer, you will be met with rain.
- Make sure you have all prescription medications.
Traveling inside Thailand
From one city to another
- Thailand is quite massive, so you need to figure out how you’re going to be traveling around the country. If you’re short on time, it’s recommended to take some internal flights using low cost airlines like AirAsia. Always remember – the earlier you book, the cheaper the prices.
- You can also try taking the train or the bus, albeit not as efficient as airlines. By taking the train and the bus you get to have first-hand experience with the culture and the locals. It helps you explore the city from a different angle by interacting and being “one of the locals.”
- If you want to save some money accommodation, try an overnight train. This way, you hit two birds with one stone. You get to travel on a bus and spend nothing on a hotel!
Inside the cities
The best and most fun way to transport inside the city is by using the world renowned tuk tuks. They’re fun, quirky and so quintessentially Thai! Much better than a boring taxi ride. You can also try using Uber if you’re looking for a more convenient method of transportation.
Want to feed your adventurous soul a bit more? Hitchhike! It’s practically safe and easy, and usually most drivers are friendly enough to help you.
Suggested Daily Budget
Thailand is quite cheap compared to Europe and Australia – two of the biggest backpacking destinations after Thailand. If you’re going to be staying at a hostel, alternating between cooking and eating out, and relying on local experiences then you’ll need about $30 per day. That is approximately 1000 THB.
Which city should you visit?
Bangkok, Bangkok, Bangkok! Without a doubt, if there’s only one city you have to choose in Thailand, make it Bangkok. Pulsating with life, teeming with experiences, proudly emanating thrilling vibes and filled with vigor – the city is a rollercoaster!
Golden palaces sit next to skyscrapers, futuristic edifices rise up from old floating markets, and temples neighbor red light districts…You go to Bangkok to experience the true meaning of Thai culture, all while surrounded by modernity.
You’ll spend your time exploring museums, visiting temples, shopping at floating markets or roaming around old neighborhoods.
The Top Islands in Thailand
If there was once place in the world that you could make your castaway fantasy come to reality in, it’s Thailand. Visiting your idyllic paradise is not a dream anymore with Thailand’s dozens of islands. I’ve written about the best beaches you can find in Thailand on my blog www.pretravels.com but every island has its own set of perfect beaches. In other words, you can’t go wrong with the islands!
Tropical, exotic and most importantly, affordable – the islands are blessed with all things postcard-worthy. Think white powdery beaches, azure waters, scenic sunsets that color the surroundings in shades of red and orange, and temples perched into lush jungles.
Not only do you get to bask by the sun for hours with a coconut drink in your hand, but you also get to indulge in all sorts of water activities. From snorkeling, and diving to canoeing amidst cliffs, Thailand is your playground.
I doubt that you’ve never heard of Phuket before. The island is one of the world’s favorite tropical islands. Blessed with a wonderful setting – the center of the island is framed from all sides by sandy beaches and forestation-covered mountains. Peripheral islands are lined with long tail boats, affordable resorts and a wide array of things to do. You can visit historical museums, explore neighborhoods or simply do nothing by the beach all day.
Koh Phi Phi
A hedonistic cocktail of islands, Koh Phi Phi is brimming with nodding palm trees and gorgeous seas. It’s blessed with lively towns contrasted by dramatic limestone cliffs and has a national park that beats all competition. Snorkel, explore the beaches on a long-tail boat, or visit Viking Caves.
To get your scuba certification, head straight to Koh Tao. Go cavort with sharks, swim with rays, explore colorful corals or bask under the sun. You can also mix that adrenaline rush with rock climbing hiking or scuba diving.
Small villages built of bamboo, lush jungles and dozens of meditation centers – the island of Koh Samui is one of contrasts. Do you want to party the night away at one of its nightclubs? You can! Do you also want to spend an entire day in a blissful meditation at one of the retreats? You also can.
Bonus point? You can travel all around the island in just one day.
If you’re not into partying, this island is not the most recommended for you. However, if you are, then this is the place for you.
It’s a place where you get to immerse yourself in the energy of thousands of people dancing to the beat of the echoing music, an unparalleled amount of good vibes. The monthly New Moon parties cannot be missed!
This list can go on and on and on….Thailand is full of experiences that suit all types of travelers. If you will be backpacking, I can guarantee that you won’t run out of options for things to do. If you’re sick of the islands, you can visit the temples. If you’re sick of the temples, you can have a more authentic experience and visit the hill tribes…A few experiences later and you’ll be aching to go back to Thailand.