Thailand is heaven for backpackers on a budget. It is a place that you can visit again and again and still find alluring. This tropical paradise is a welcoming place that feels like second home, despite being so far away from home. In essence, Thailand is a wondrous travel destination.
Check out this awesome video about Thailand.
Thailand is known for sparkling white sand beaches, friendly locals, incredible food, and parties from sunrise to sunset. In fact, the place has so much to offer that you are guaranteed to have a good time.
Best Times To Visit: Rainy, Cool, or Hot Season?
Thailand’s climate can be split into three specific seasons: May through October is the rainy season, November till February is the winter, and finally March through May is the summer.
Out of these, the rainy season is unpredictable with varied intensity from year to year. As a result, it is not the best time to visit Thailand: being stuck in the rain is never fun for tourists. Plus, a lot of activities in Thailand take place outdoors.
Then, there is summer with the sun broiling at around 35°C (over 100°F). The best time to visit Thailand is the winter. This is the time when temperatures are ideal and the islands come buzzing to life with activity.
Backpacking Thailand Costs: How Much for Housing, Food, Attractions, & Beer?
Thailand is very affordable, so backpacking in Thailand on a budget is never a problem. In fact, two people can easily survive on $50 a day or less and still have some money left over for beer. To make the most of your money, make sure that you’re buying Thai Baht online. Exchange bureaus, especially at the airport, can be very very expensive if you’re converting a lot of money. If you’re from England, it makes a lot of sense to use online money transfer services to get the best exchange rate.
The most expensive part of your trip, however, is going to be your hostel, housing, or hotel accommodations.
It is very rare to find a hut for $8 or less. And if you are in Bangkok or another popular island you can expect to pay close to $20 a night for a double room.
HotelsCombined is an excellent resource for all backpackers worldwide. And it’s one of the most popular choice in terms of finding affordable guest housing in Thailand. Booking.com is also another resource to help you figure out where to stay.
Next up, food. You can expect to find good food in Thailand, costing around $1-$3 per meal. Anything from Mussuman Curry, Spring Rolls to Pad Thai can be usually ordered for just over $1. However, if you are in a big tourist destination you can expect to pay around $3 per meal, which is commonly known as the farang (foreigner) price.
Now the travel part. You can expect to spend $5 on average as entry fee to incredible attractions like great temples, The Ancient City of Siam, and the Grand Palace. That, in itself, is a steal!
Finally, if you wish to have a drink at the end of your day or with lunch, you can expect to pay roughly $2 per beer and $4 per mixed cocktail. Tipping in heavy tourist areas is fully acceptable. However, please make a note that tipping is frowned upon in local venues. If you keep an eye on where your money is going you it is not hard to stick to your backpacking budget.
For flights, we like and recommend Skyscanner.
Backpacking Thailand: Packing List, Connectivity & Visa/Passport Information
Believe it or not, you can get away with not packing a whole lot when traveling to Thailand. Here are some items that you can forget about carrying ( think of how cheap these items can be)
• Pain Relievers like Tylenol
• & Light-Weight Shirts
Alternatively, there are some things you will need to bring on your own. Things such as:
• A Good Fleece Jacket
• A Quick Dry Towel
• A Water Carrier
• Some Sunscreen
• A High-Quality Mosquito Repellent
• Over the Counter Medication for Travelers Diarrhea
• Over the Counter Allergy Medication
• Some Tissues and Toilet Paper
• Shorts and Skirts
• Good Walking Shoes
• Ear Plugs
• Locks for Your Luggage
First thing first. To stay connected with the outside world you will need a cellphone that allows you to put a Thai SIM card in it. It is much cheaper to do this once you get to Thailand than pay for inflated roaming charges with your existing mobile operator. Also, it’s recommended that you bring a decent cellphone that can multitask as an MP3 player, navigation system, digital camera and so much more.
You could also check out OneSimCard. They sell prepaid travel sims that provide free incoming calls all around the world.
If you are like most people, your cell phone is going to be the most expensive item you carry along: make sure you have a durable case for it in the event you drop it or the device gets splashed with water.
Otterbox is known to offer very good defender cases that can protect your cell phone. A pro tip is to make sure your travel insurance covers you if anything happens to your cell phone. You do not want to be trapped without a way to connect to the outside world. Also, you must have your phone consistently backed up online so if something does happen you do not lose everything within a split of a second.
Also, you must think hard about carrying your laptop or tablet on this trip. If you have to, it is better to bring along a cheaper model, because these items can get stolen or trashed quite easily. It may also be helpful to make sure these items are insured along with your cell phone.
In terms of traveling to Thailand, most nationalities are allowed to stay for 30-days with a visa waiver stamp in your passport. However, if you want to stay longer than 30-days, you will need to contact your country’s embassy before your tour to get an extended travel visa to Thailand.
Backpacking in Thailand: Traveling with a Tour Operator
There are three popular small group tour companies that offer the ultimate Thailand experience.
Contiki is the number one choice for young adults aged about 18 – 35. The company offers very affordable trips for 9, 14, and 25 days tours.
Prices for these guided tours with Contiki in Thailand start at roughly $800 and go up from there, depending on the package you choose.
Alternatively, Intrepid Travel offers a larger selection of tours in Thailand, with all-inclusive trips ranging from $780 for a seven-day trip to $3,500 for a 30-day trip.
Finally, there is GAdventures. GAdventures offers a wide variety of tours to choose from. Although a bit pricier, the small group tour packages offered by this company are worth every penny. GAdventures is known for its active tours for those of you that are adventurous and want to participate in wide range of outdoor activities.
Backpacking in Thailand: Itinerary Route Ideas
Perhaps you just want to explore Thailand on your own without the help of a guide or tour. That’s perfectly okay! This option is also favorable because you can customize your trip to fit your needs, wants, and desires.
We also recommend getting a copy of the Lonely Planet For Thailand. It’s a great resource and will help you immensely while planning your trip.
3 Weeks Backpacking in Thailand Itinerary
• Days 1-3 Starting in Bangkok
• Days 4-6 in Phuket
• Days 7-9 in Koh Koh Phi
• Days 10-14 in Koh Lanta
• Days 15-16 in Krabi Town
• Days 17-20 Ao Nang
• Day 21 Return to Bangkok
Alternative 3 Weeks Backpacking in Thailand Itinerary
• Days 1-3 Starting in Bangkok
• Days 4-7 in Chiang Mai
• Days 8-10 in Chiang Rai
• Days 11-21 in North Thailand
2 Weeks Backpacking Thailand Itinerary
• Days 1-3 starting in Bangkok
• Days 4-5 in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai
• Days 6-7 in Chiang Rai
• Days 8-10 in Chiang Mai
• Days 11-12 in Pai
• Day 14 Travel Back to Chiang Mai
Alternative 2 Weeks Backpacking in Thailand Itinerary
• Days 1-3 starting in Bangkok
• Days 4-8 in Ko Samui (or Ko Phi Phi)
• Days 9-13 in Ko Tao & Ko Pha Ngan (or Koh Lanta)
• Day 14 Return to the Airport
Itinerary Destination: Bangkok Mini-Guide
Accommodation: Despite being the Capital City in Thailand, you can still find some great deals in Bangkok. For instance, the Pridi Hostel in Bangkok offers free Wi-Fi and breakfast. For roughly $15 per night, it is a great deal.
Another great hostel is D Hostel Bangkok. With a 9.1 Superb rating on Hostel world, you cannot go wrong with D Hostel. It is a popular choice, centrally located and is available for $15 a night.
Food: If you are hungry and on a tight budget, Took Lae Dee is a restaurant that means cheap and good in Thai. It is an iconic place. Many Thai movies have been shot here and its regulars swear by the good and cheap food the restaurant offers.
HK Noodle, short for Hong Kong Noodle, is also an excellent and well-priced restaurant to check out in Bangkok.
Attractions: Bangkok has so much to offer to tourists. The highlights of your tour should include the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Jim Thompson House, Khaosan Road, the BTS Skytrain, Siam Paragon, Erawan Shrine, and the Temple of Dawn. With floating markets and Golden palaces, there is no place in the world like Bangkok.
Here is a cool video on 25 things to do in Bangkok.
Itinerary Destination: Phuket Mini-Guide
Accommodation: With a 9.6 Suburb rating at Hostel World and only $14 a night, the Doolay Hostel is one of the best in Phuket. The hostel is centrally located and in proximity to Subway and a variety of local markets. The hostel is also 10 minutes away from Kata Beach by foot. Among other options, the Welcome Inn located on Karon Beach is a very budget-friendly hotel. It prides itself on high-quality services with rooms available around $10 – $20 a night.
Food: Next topic, EATERY. Bar & Grill in Karon is ranked #1 of 2,062 on Trip Advisor for restaurants in Phuket. The restaurant is a bit more pricey but could make for an excellent date night or an indulgent meal. Prices for a meal here varies from $4 to $25.
If you are looking for something more budget-friendly, Istanbul Restaurant on Kata Beach should be your destination. You can’t go wrong with this restaurant with meal prices ranging around $3 – $9.
Attractions: Phuket is a fantastic destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. This is the #1 attraction for the beautiful white sandy beaches. You cannot go to Phuket and not explore the coastline. It is what this wonderful town is all about. Among other attractions, Phang Nga bay, old Phuket town, Bangla road nightlife, Big Buddha, Simon Cabaret show are most famous.
Itinerary Destination: Chiang Mai Mini-Guide
Accommodations: Nature’s Way Hotel is a fabulous place to stay in the heart of Chiang Mai. The hotel is centrally located with many tourist attractions and restaurants. Staying here is very relaxing with the most popular bar in Chiang Mai just a few hundred meters away. The best bit is that it is very affordable: in about $4 – $10 depending on room availability and your personal budget it cannot get cheaper than this anywhere else.
Food: The Hideout is the best restaurant in Chiang Mai. With an official Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and only $5, this is one of the best places to grab a bite in town. Another Restaurant that is worth it’s salt, although a bit on the pricer side, is La Terrasse. It won the Travelers Choice Awards in 2015 and offers the finest French food you will find in Thailand. This is the perfect place if you are craving something different.
Here are some things to do in Chiang Mai.
Attractions: Nature and Wildlife Tours are the best reason to visit Chiang Mai. Wat Chedi Luang is another must-see here: it is a gorgeous temple that is sure to astound you. Among other local attractions, Doi Suthep—Pui national park is famous. All in all, Chiang Mai is a remarkable destination.
Itinerary Destination: Chiang Rai Mini-Guide
Accommodations: You cannot pass through Chiang Mai without going to Chiang Rai. Not to mention, Chiang Rai is very affordable. You can stay at a social hostel, known as Mercy Hostel, for just $6. It is the perfect option for student backpackers. If you’re looking for a better option, Fun-D Hostel Chiang Rai starting at just $7 for a dorm or $10 for a private room should be your top choice.
Food: After you are settled with your accommodations, you’d want to know about food. The fooding options in Chiang Rai is delicious and perfect for those on a tight budget. Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House is the highest rated restaurant in Chiang Rai, according to TripAdvisor. It will cost you no more than roughly $10. Another great restaurant with TripAdvisor is 71 Celsius Grill & Salad where you can get a filling meal for $2 – $9.
Attractions: Wat Rong Khun is the number one attraction in Chiang. It is not your typical temple. One of the must-see attraction in Chiang, it is a stunning and amazing piece of architecture. Your trip to Chiang Rai should also include botanical garden and
Wat Phra Kaew— a buddhist temple.
With Chiang Rai being just five hours away from Chiang Mai, it makes sense to visit this place, especially because you will not find anything as architecturally stunning as the temples in Chiang Rai.
Itinerary Destination: Ayutthaya Mini-Guide
Accommodation: Room 31 is in Ayutthaya has a 9.1 Superb rating from Hostel World. In fact, starting at $10 a night, it is one of the best hostels in the area. Another great place to stay in, starting at a $6 a night is the Ayutthaya Place Youth Hostel; the place is specifically suited for young adult or youth backpackers.
Food: If you are looking for something to pamper your taste buds, Ayutthaya Heritage has excellent cuisine choices for an average price of $7. But if you’d like quick and cheap snack, Coffee Old City is a great place, which offers a variety of good food choices for under $5.
Attractions: Ayutthaya is famous for being closest to the incredible ruins that were once the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The kingdom was destroyed by the Siamese power by the Burmese invasion during the 18th century. This is a must-see site alongside Wat Chaiwattanarm where you can catch one of the best sunsets in the whole wide world.
Finally, the top attraction in Ayutthaya is the Ayutthaya Historical Park that features wildlife up close and personal. Here you can immerse yourself with nature and the beauty of Thailand.
Backpacking in Thailand: Don’t Hesitate and Book Your Trip Today
Backpacking in Thailand is affordable and fun. Many of you who visit Thailand will come back again and again because there is just so much to do and so much to see. It would be near impossible to explore everything in one 30-day trip. Even a 90-day trip will not be enough.
Locals in Thailand are friendly and often make a great first impression on tourists. Thais know how to have fun. They are also known to have great senses of humor. If you learn a little bit of the Thai language, you can easily impress the locals as well as gain their respect.
Thai people are very proud of their country, and rightfully so: it is a top travel destination that offers more than what you can initially imagine. Don’t sleep on it. Explore the wonders of Thailand.
Start planning today!