Thailand Travel Guide
Thailand. From the highlands and foothills of the Himalayas, over-dense rainforests, serene villages, picturesque beaches, ancient temples, and vibrant cities, this rich and diverse kingdom is a great destination for backpackers, beachgoers, the adventurer, and the tourist who wants to sleep in. With over a thousand years as a bastion for cuisine, invention, trade, and religion here in mainland Southeast Asia, Thailand is an enchanting destination as beautiful as it is varied. Read on for some of our highlights and favorite things to do and see here around this gorgeous country.
What are the requirements for travel to Thailand?
As of October 1, Thailand does not require proof of vaccination nor a negative Covid test to travel into the country. However, airlines might still require one or both of these, so be sure to check with the airline you are flying with and plan accordingly.
How much is $100 in Thai Baht?
One hundred United States dollars is around 3819 Thai baht. Aside from this, also take into account how prices will still be much lower compared to prices in North America or the Eurozone.
How can I travel to Thailand?
As the controls on entry into Thailand are no longer as strict, travel into the country is as simple as booking your ticket and packing your bags. However, given the distance from places like the United States, stopovers and layovers in other third/fourth countries might have stricter rules on entry compared to Thailand. For this reason we recommend paying close attention to all travel information and requirements set by your airline or jurisdictions you will be traveling through.
One of the largest Chinatowns in the world, this is a hub of Thailand's large Thai-Chinese community and a great way to experience not just Chinese fare, but also distinct Thai-Chinese cuisine and many Thai classics. Whether in the vibrant day markets and restaurants or by night with the endless selection of street food vendors, Bangkok Chinatown is a fabulous place to tour Thailand's globally celebrated cuisines. Whether it is spiced pork on fresh rice, seafood curry, duck soup, green chicken curry noodles, fermented rice noodles, hot pot, green papaya salad, deep fried eggs, or fragrant taro sweets, visitors will find a vast world of delicious, colorful, and diverse Thai cuisine to explore. Whether you are a foodie, just looking for a nice place to eat or wanting to enjoy the atmosphere of a buzzing night market, Bangkok's Chinatown is a great destination for all eats.
With a regal gaze over the capital from its tall golden spires and towers, the ornate and sprawling complex that is the Grand Palace is a sight to behold for all travelers to Bangkok. Residence of the king of Siam since 1782, the Grand Palace is the elegant venue for many important royal ceremonies and state functions, and continues as a working palace, even with portions of its grounds open to tourists. Aside from viewing these important events, visitors will enjoy the sheer number of historic and important landmark buildings and institutions to tour here around the Grand Palace, including the Museum of the Emerald Buddha temple, with its collections of ancient Thai and Indochinese relics, Phra Thinang Suthaisawan Prasat, a revered podium where the king would give audience to the public, the ornate Phra Thinang Aphorn Phimok Prasat and other impossibly intricate designs of the Middle Court, as well as the massive Temple of the Emerald Buddha. These are only the beginnings of attractions and significant landmarks here at the Grand Palace, a fantastic journey onto the revered working grounds of Thai royalty. However, do pack well for this locale, as there is a dress code on entry to the Grand Palace.
Wat Arun Ratchawararam
With it's illuminated peak soaring into the Bangkok night sky, guarded by the intense and watchful gaze of giants Thotsakan and Sahatsadecha, Wat Arun Ratchawararam, also known as Wat Arun, is one of Bangkok's most striking sights, known from the 19th century for its stunning iridescence in the morning sky. This grandiose site is home to one of the most celebrated Buddhist temples of all Bangkok, its main spire flanked by intricately crafted halls, murals, and entities. Whether as a landmark of religious and cultural importance or just to gaze upon its beauty, visitors will enjoy getting lost amid the grounds of Wat Arun during their stay here in Bangkok.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
The largest market in all Thailand, visitors can shop from morning to morning here at this massive event, with over 15,000 stalls and 11,505 vendors selling not just delicious food, but produce, fresh harvested ingredients, artisan products, antiques, electronics, pets, plants, drinks, ceramics, furniture, artwork, clothing, books, and home accessories, among the many other novelties you'll discover here. Come to sample fresh fruits, browse street foods, beautiful and skillfully crafted home appliances and decor, and endless rows and shelves of goods as far as the eye can see. At night, the market takes on a festive atmosphere with its many lights and multicolored awnings. Since 1942, Chatuchak Weekend Market has been an interesting crossroads and point of interest for locals and tourists alike who come to browse its endless selections every day. You can find not just good eats and souvenirs, but something for every interest here in massive Chatuchak.
This is an attraction not limited to just Bangkok or any one city in Thailand, but is an experience popular in the region we highly recommend nonetheless. Tuk-tuks are Thailand's incarnation of the auto rickshaw, a mode of transport as versatile as it is affordable, charming three-wheeled motorized engines with bench seating for 2–8 in the back, depending on the size and type. These tuk-tuks can be seen zooming through Bangkok in all areas at all times, in their myriad variations and appearances, and are a more unique, open-air, and exciting way to get around town as opposed to taking the taxi or a bus. Even outside Bangkok, many of the cities will have tuk-tuk service for transport easily accessible and available so no worries about missing the opportunity to ride the iconic vehicle. However, there are some local travel tips unique to this mode of transport. Unlike taxis, tuk-tuks may frequently operate without a meter, meaning the price is much more up for debate. Those travelers with a comfortable budget may not care to haggle, but it is common practice, so for those who want to travel on a tighter budget, we recommend negotiating the price of the trip before getting on. Also, with the sheer number of tuk-tuks in Thailand and especially the larger cities, never feel pressured to take a ride you are not absolutely sure about. If your driver seems quite tired or the tuk-tuk seems to be in disrepair, no harm done in waiting for another tuk-tuk. Chances are, there's three or four more about to show up very soon.
North into the country is one of Thailand's most striking sites, the ruins of the lost city of Ayutthaya, an old bastion of the Ayutthaya kingdom and stronghold of the early Khmer settlers. This historic city would play a significant role in Southeast Asian history as a major city in the Thai nation, conquested from the early Khmer and held until its takeover by the Burmese in the 18th century. Now restored and renovated, this historic city is quite the sight to behold, from ancient Wats over the site such as Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Mahathat to the series of headless statues, or the Buddha's head in the tree. Visitors can pass the day and night wandering these storied grounds and marveling at the work and history of over a century of civilization and conflict here at historic Ayutthaya.
Sukhothai Historical Park
Further to the North is another ancient Khmer outpost since converted to the capital of the Ancient Sukhothai Kingdom, dating back to the 13th century. With nearly a millennium of history, today Sukhothai Historical Park is the site of some 193 ruins, including the remains of the royal palace, the giant seated Buddha in Wat Si Chum, the formidable Wat Mahathat, Ramkhamhaeng National Museum and Enchanting Wat Si Sawai. In fact, with such a quantity and variety in surviving ruins, ancient urban landscapes, and reclaimed land, those history buffs and fans of Thai national mythology alike will delight in the massive size of this dormant capital. Make the trip to the domain of Sukhothai and wander among one of the greatest cities of ancient Thailand.
Elephant Rescue Parks, Sanctuaries
Another item of interest special to Thailand is a vibrant number of elephant communities, both wild and captive living in sanctuaries over the country. These majestic animals are actually a longtime symbol of the Thai people and civilization, making appearances in royally commissioned artwork, sacred temples, battlefields and national emblems. Whether on sightseeing tours to observe them in the wild or up close in a more domesticated manner, on an Elephant ride or walking between an Elephant's legs, visitors can meet, learn and interact with these revered icons in many different ways. Presently, they occupy the dense forests in Mae Hong Son, Chumphon, Dangrek, and Phetchabun, but face pressures on their habitats from illegal logging. For this reason, visiting a sanctuary such as the ones in Chiang Mai, Phuket, or Surin might be logistically easier and more convenient for planning in advance. Consider saving a spot for some of Thailand's mightiest residents in your travel plans, and visit an elephant sanctuary.
Floating Markets in Pattaya, Damnoen, Amphawa, Khlong Lat
Beyond the massive open air markets seen in Bangkok and the other largest cities of Thailand, another form of trade and community is a novel and exciting experience, the floating markets! Whether via floating platforms, on the docks, by boats next to each other, or most commonly all of the above, these spectacular sights are regular occurrences over Southeast Asia, and namely in the many bustling riverside cities of Thailand. Pattaya, Damnoen, Amphawa, and Khlong Lat are all renowned floating markets of Thailand, dynamic and truly unique sights to see, with fresh product and produce moving to and fro on the water while patrons can walk along the water and buy their pick of fresh fruits, fish, or even freshly cooked dishes right from the boat. Some of the larger markets even feature tour boats through the market itself and of the night lights and local wildlife, another great experience for groups and solo travelers alike. This is a truly unique experience for many, and also makes for quite the addition to any travel albums.
Erawan National Park
Up in the verdant, lush landscape of the Tenasserim Hills in western Thailand is Erawan National Park, celebrated nationwide for its diversity in wildlife and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. Here, visitors will find muntjacs, Asian elephants, leopard cats, Burmese pythons, and king cobras, among dozens of other rare and prized endemic species over some 550 square kilometers of space. Over this vast emerald landscape is also a series of streams and the famous Erawan Waterfall, a natural oasis inside the park itself, providing for spaces to dip your toes in the water or wade and swim in the teal waters. Aside from the waterfall and the wildlife, there are also four caves, and the Khao Nom Nang hill offering views over the forest. Consider the trip out to the otherworldly realm of Erawan National Park and enjoy the beauty and comforts of wild Thailand for your next travel itinerary.
Of course, this being Thailand, there is another famous attraction we've yet to mention, the beaches. Indeed, bordering the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, Thailand offers some 3148 km of coastline, one of the most famous being Pattaya Beach. Pattaya is renowned for its clear aquamarine water, bright sand beaches and watersports. Whether just to wade in the water and sunlight, bask on a towel, or enjoy the thrill of jet skis farther out into the water. Aside from the beaches, Pattaya also boasts a number of lively and festive beachside party districts, the beautiful Sanctuary of Truth, and the gorgeous Nong Nooch Garden. For those visitors who want to spend their time in Thailand in the sun, water, and relaxed vibes of the beach, Pattaya is a solid choice.
Attend a Muay Thai Fight
While maybe not for the faint of heart, a Muay Thai fight in Thailand is quite the spectacle, and truly one of the most globally exported aspects of Thai sporting culture. Whether in the intense atmosphere of the crowd, the invigorating Sarama, or just in the event itself of skilled Thai fighters facing off with fist, elbow, knee, and shin, this is both an engaging event and a one-of-a-kind experience to witness this fierce sport in its homeland. Flying knees, lightning quick dodges, and the pageantry from ornate fighting codes to tradition of the audience in itself, Muay Thai is one of the most exciting living remnants of ancient Thai heritage. Whether to catch it with your phone's camera, or just mix in with a local favorite, attending a Muay Thai while you're in Thailand is a thrilling and exciting addition to any travel itinerary.
Tiger Cave Temple
Overlooking the summit at Tiger Cave Temple is a golden Buddha, serene much as the surrounding landscape. But of real note, is the discovery of Tiger Paw Prints on the cave walls, a striking characteristic. Legend says a Vipassana monk discovered the current cave while meditating, witnessing tigers roaming around the cave, while another story goes that a giant tiger once called the cave home. The caves are only a portion of the site in its entirety, with extensive temple grounds featuring decorated skulls and ancient pottery shards. Above all, however, is the infamously long staircase to the temple itself, scaling some 278 meters over 1237 steps. While a site of stunning beauty and mystery, this destination is suited to those travelers who like a bit of a challenge.
Railay Beach and the Railay area is another hotspot for outdoors sport and recreation, with dramatic limestone cliffs the envy of rock climbers the world over, warm, teal waters, vast beaches, and a quiet vibe in this part of the nation. Aside from the sailing, swimming, and rock climbing, Railay Beach also has a number of cozy bungalows to luxury resorts, as well as numerous beachfront dining options. Whether you want to vibe with backpackers and climbers, indulge in a luxury stay, or just spend your vacation on a quieter beach with a bit more room and peace, Railay offers all of these in one place. Not to mention the boardwalk and shopping district tucked away just far enough from the resorts, visitors can have both the calm of an empty beach and the liveliness of a bustling commercial district just a short trip from home. Make Railay Beach your getaway on the water here in the nation's south during your next visit to Thailand.