How To Plan Your Thailand Holidays!
Everything I wish I knew before my Thailand Holidays the first time. In here you will find all the info you need to plan a smashing trip to Thailand, from the Thai culture to the best places to visit, things to do and much more, read on!
Click on the relevant chapter and skip the rest
1 | Why this Thailand Holidays Guide?
Thailand often referred to as the Land of Smiles, is a Southeast Asian country that attracts holidaymakers and travelers worldwide.
So, why should you trust me when it comes to Thailand? If you have followed my website and adventures, you already know that from my first Thailand Holidays, I decided to live there on and off for around two years, and I can say that I know the country pretty well!
From living in a super basic home in a rural village near Koh Tao, to experiencing the most luxurious spas and resorts on the beach in the Islands, I have really tried it all.
I can tell you what I think is the best way to plan your smashing Thailand Holidays, stress-free because whatever you’re interested in, you’ll surely find it in Thailand. You just need the right guide, of course 😉
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, here’s everything you need to know to enjoy your journey in style, without too much stress or hassle. I am a nonstop traveler, but I get it: A proper holiday is that time of the year when you can finally unplug and spoil yourself with no guilty feelings. You deserve it!
So grab a drink, sit comfortably, and plan your exciting trip to Thailand!
2 | Flying To Thailand Options
As I always say, the holidays start with choosing the right flights.
It makes a huge difference when you only have a week or two to relax, and you are able to arrive fresh and rested at your destination.
Business Class and First Class flights are obviously the best choices when it comes to traveling in style: The luxury vibe, champagne, comfortable seats that turn into beds, and a minibar all for yourself are everyone’s dream when up in the air.
I WILL TELL YOU THE MOST COMFORTABLE WAY TO START YOUR THAI HOLIDAYS AS WELL AS A MORE BUDGET WAY TO PLAN YOUR TRIP.
I am constantly checking the web to find interesting deals on flights for my trips. Here are a few tips I’ve learned when it comes to choosing a convenient flight to Thailand:
- Book way in advance for the best deals.
- Try to book in the “middle season” (After NYE and before the rainy season starting around May)
- Compare, compare and compare as many flights as you can!
- Try different combinations for your trip. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book the legs separately.
I’ve found several deals by searching online with the tools like the ones below:
Even if money is not an issue for you, getting a discount or saving money when booking your flights is still a massive bonus. This allows you to splurge even more during your Holiday! It doesn’t get any better than this.
3| Airports in Thailand
Thailand’s main international airport is located in its famous capital: Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is among Asia’s top ten busiest airports.
The capital is also served by a smaller airport, Don Mueang International Airport (DMK), mainly used for domestic flights and budget carriers.
If you’re flying in style, you’ll likely arrive at the newer airport of Suvarnabhumi.
Other major air gateways to the Land of Smiles include Phuket International Airport (HKT) and Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX). There are numerous smaller airports around the country, many only served by domestic routes.
MORE INFOClick on the link for the complete list of all the airports in Thailand, and click on the relevant ones to have more info on the airlines and routes served by a specific airport.
4 | Vaccines Before You Travel & Common Diseases In Thailand
Getting sick is never fun. But getting sick when you’re away from home can feel a whole lot worse.
While things like an upset stomach, a cold, and other complaints can’t be avoided, there are some vaccinations that are recommended by health professionals to ensure you don’t pick up anything truly nasty.
While you should always consult a medical professional when planning your vaccinations, the most commonly recommended jabs include tetanus, hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, and typhoid.
If you’ll spend a lot of time in the country, especially in rural areas, cholera, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis may also be advised.
Most parts of Thailand are Malaria-free but I still recommend you to wear white shirts and trousers in the evenings and spray yourself with an insect repellent containing DEET, as they say: better be safe than sorry.
Also, watch out for the mosquitoes during daylight as well, as they are the ones who carry dengue fever, so remember to also apply the spray during the day if you are outside the main cities.
MORE INFO ON VACCINES & DISEASES IN THAILANDFor a comprehensive and detailed guide to preventing the most common diseases in Thailand, check out the Official website for travel heath in the US (it is obviously valid for all the western countries) It really has it all!
5 | Transportation In Thailand
The quickest way of traveling long distances in Thailand is to book an internal flight.
The country is also very well served by rail and bus networks, with first-class and VIP options available on most routes to give you a little bit of style while moving from point A to point B. Chartering a taxi for the day, or hiring a car with a driver, can be ideal for shorter distances.
What about the tuk-tuks? I was not a huge fan of them, overpriced and super touristy, but in the end, I caved in.
One or two rides in Bangkok just to try the experience didn’t harm and were actually quite fun. Always negotiate the price and say, “No” if the driver wants to stop by a friend’s shop for you to buy a souvenir. It’s a very common trick in Thailand.
MORE INFO: BANGKOK BY BUSDo you want to dive in the Thai culture a bit more? Even if you are traveling “In style,” one day spent using the buses like locals can be a great option for you to see the real deal. You can read my article on how I tried public transport in Bangkok with detailed info, bus numbers, and more.
6 | How To Dress In Thailand
Thailand is used to seeing tourists in droves, and attitudes towards foreigners are fairly relaxed. Bikinis and bathing suits are fine on the most popular beaches, both on the mainland and the islands.
If you head off the beaten path, however, you should consider covering up with a t-shirt and shorts when bathing; look at what the locals are wearing and take your cue from them.
You should be especially sensitive in the predominantly Muslim southern provinces.
Wherever you are, beachwear should only be worn on the beach; change before wandering around local towns, restaurants, and bars.
While walking around in shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, and so on is okay in popular hotspots, do remember to cover up when visiting a temple, monastery, or other religious sites.
Generally, your shoulders and knees should be covered, with no sheer or torn clothing items. This applies to both men and women.
If you venture into smaller villages, rural areas, and places that don’t see many foreign visitors, you should dress more conservatively than you would in Phuket, Bangkok, or Chiang Mai.
Traditional Thai communities are fairly modest in their dress and older generations especially can be offended by people wandering around in skimpy outfits. Respect their culture.
A sarong is a great item to carry with you; both men and women can use it to cover shoulders and plunging necklines. Wrap around as a skirt when wearing shorts, as a head covering when the shade is difficult to find, and even as a beach towel.
MY TRAVEL PACKING LISTDo you want to know what I packed for my first trip to Asia (my first stop was Thailand), check out my Packing List article with all the items, including clothes and accessories!
7 | Common Scams To Avoid In Thailand
As with anywhere in the world, you should be aware of a few common tricks and scams when visiting Thailand. That said, most Thai people are very friendly, helpful, and welcoming towards foreigners.
Taxis/ Tuk-Tuks scams:
You should always use a taxi that operates the meter. If a driver refuses, find another vehicle. If you take a tuk-tuk, negotiate the price before your trip; asking for your accommodation beforehand for a fair price can help immensely.
The “Closed temple” scam:
If people approach you saying that attractions are closed, take the time to go and see for yourself. This is particularly common around the Grand Palace and other Bangkok hotspots, where touts try to set you up for a day of sailing around in a tuk-tuk, visiting shops and tailors from where they will make a commission.
While not a scam as such, it’s worth knowing that haggling is expected in many markets. The starting price is often inflated.
The Gambling Scams:
Never agree to a card game or other form of gambling. Gambling is illegal in Thailand. There are two common scams relating to card games; one involves paying hefty bribes to corrupt officials who “catch” you engaging in illegal activity, the other relates to rigged games that you will never win.
The Drugs Scams:
There are also scams related to drugs. Drugs are also illegal in Thailand, and penalties can be severe. It’s not uncommon for people to offer to sell you drugs and to be working in cahoots with a corrupt police officer. The result is a significant bribe being paid.
MORE SCAMSFor the most comprehensive list of scams to be aware of in Thailand, check out this article, it gives you details and variations of every possible scam, from the most popular to the new ones.
8 |Top Destinations In Thailand
The Tourism Authority of Thailand splits the country into five regions: Central, Northern, Northeast (also known as Isan), Eastern, and Southern.
Northeast Thailand sees the least international visitors. Northern, Southern, and Central Thailand see the most visitors, though tourism is often centered around a few key cities, towns, beaches, and islands. Let’s see them one by one, so you can choose what suits you the most.
The nation’s capital Bangkok is home to numerous attractions and activities. Cultural highlights include the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho, with its large reclining Buddha statue, the riverside Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of the Dawn, and Wat Saket.
There are many markets around Bangkok, including the enormous weekend Chatuchak Market. There are also plenty of modern shopping malls, great for picking up the latest fashions.
Museums are plentiful and diverse, including Bangkok National Museum, Jim Thompson House, Bangkok Folk Museum, Bangkok Doll Museum, and Kamthieng House Museum.
Talk about traveling in style. Why not unwind with a spa day when in the capital? There are many massage joints, but for something unforgettable, head to one of the many luxurious spas for some top-notch pampering.
The Siam Niramit show is a great way to pass an evening, complete with folkloric dancing, costumes, music, food, and elephants. Alternatively, you can experience the buzz of a Muay Thai fight. There are many bars and clubs around Thailand.
Thong Lor is home to swanky wine bars, and RCA is the prime part of the city for clubbing enthusiasts. Watch the sun go down from one of the trendy Sky bars; Sky Bar at Lebua is the highest.
Accommodation in Bangkok
My favorite website to find great deals on hotels and resorts worldwide has always been booking.com because most properties have a free cancellation policy and competitive prices.
Central Thailand – With a word on Responsible Tourism
Spend a few days exploring the ancient city of Ayutthaya, with its many splendid ruins. Observe the mischievous monkeys that roam around Lopburi’s Old Town, visit the floating market at Damnoen Saduak, and see the famous Bridge Over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi.
A word of advice for responsible tourism: In Thailand, especially in the Kanchanaburi area, there are a few attractions that I DON’T recommend you to try, as this is a business that threatens the animals’ safety and health and promotes animal cruelty.
Before leaving for my long-term trip to Thailand, I was intrigued by this attraction and planned to visit it. I’m glad I didn’t, as the tigers in there are kept in chains, and in order for the tourists to take a picture with them, they are drugged. Such a disgrace for these poor animals.
If you want to know more about this delicate issue, read this interesting article. I happened to meet the journalist who wrote the piece in person while I was in London, and he is very into exposing the truth about ethical tourism and environmental issues.
Another activity that is, still to this day, very popular amongst tourists is elephant riding. You should know that in order for you to have 30 minutes of “fun” riding the poor animals, they are badly beaten up and mistreated. Another blog post will definitely open your eyes to the topic. It gives you all the information you need to make a conscious and responsible choice and gives you a healthier alternative to interacting with these beautiful animals.
Sometimes the travel guides only tell you what to do in a certain place, completely disregarding the activities you shouldn’t do.
I was also a victim of ignorance and wanted to try both activities because I didn’t know what was behind the scenes.
Now that I have a website, I feel that this is my responsibility to warn you against this type of tourism.
Thailand is packed with stunning locations and adventurous activities to experience that doesn’t involve ruining the environment or animal abuse. Just choose wisely, and when in doubt, don’t do it.
Accommodation in Central Thailand
Chiang Mai, with its 500-plus temples, is a major destination in Northern Thailand.
Often referred to as the Northern Capital, it offers a much more laid-back vibe than Bangkok. Wat Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Umong are among the most famous temples in Chiang Mai.
Conquer Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon, for incredible views, shop till you drop at the lively Night Bazaar and get up close and personal with graceful giants at Elephant Nature Park.
Jungle treks can be arranged for various durations. If you just want a quick taster, day treks are possible. For longer experiences, don’t worry about having to rough it.
Luxury camps and stunning treehouse resorts are just a few options you’ll find when it comes to sleeping in style while surrounded by lush nature.
The jungles are filled with an abundance of flora and fauna, as well as many beautiful waterfalls. The unusual Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls is highly recommended.
Chiang Rai offers even more jungle trekking, with a less-commercialized vibe than trips taken from Chiang Mai. There are also more opportunities to visit local hill tribes. Wat Rong Khun, also known as the
Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, is a stunning sight; other attractions include Baan Dam (the Black House), hot springs and a geyser, and the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.
The ancient city of Sukhothai, the backpacker favorite of Pai in Mae Hong Son, and charming Lampang are a few other Northern gems.
Accommodation in Northern Thailand – Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai
Southern Thailand is a beach lover’s dream!
Phuket is one of the most-visited destinations in the south. The large island is lively, though it is still possible to find relatively quiet stretches of sands if you venture away from the main resort areas.
Kata, Kamala, Nai Harn, and Surin are among Phuket’s beautiful beaches.
Patong is the liveliest area, known for water sports galore, bars, clubs, and revelry. Luxury accommodations, top-class restaurants, and decadent spas can be found all over the island.
Stroll through Phuket town, with its blend of Chinese and Portuguese architecture, meet the Moken sea gypsies at Rawai Village, and get close to nature at Sirinat National Park. Watch the sun go down from one of the many viewpoints and have a day filled with fun at Phuket FantaSea.
Wat Phra Thong is a traditional temple, and the Big Buddha is one of the island’s most famous sights. Boat trips around the coast and to nearby islands are popular.
Snorkeling and diving trips are perfect for spotting the teeming underwater life. From culture and history to nature and wildlife, with plenty of activities, family fun, and nightlife, Phuket really does offer something for everyone.
Watch this jaw-dropping video showing the best beaches and islands in Southern Thailand!
Another top spot on the Andaman coast is Krabi. The Phi Phi Islands attract dedicated sun worshippers and beach lovers, whilst Koh Lanta offers splashes of luxury along its sun-kissed shores. Railay, on the mainland, is known for its great diving opportunities.
Head over to the Gulf coast and visit Koh Samui, an island that’s known for its verdant golf courses, luxury spas, and stylish facilities for people looking for an up-market vacation.
If you decide to get around by car, you can find trusted car rentals in Ko Samui. It all depends on whether you want to travel comfortably and at your own pace or rely on buses and taxis. For short vacations, I recommend the first option. Renting a car is a sure way to enjoy a much more relaxed vacation in Thailand!
Koh Tao draws divers and snorkelers, and Koh Pha Ngan is known for its party scene but also offers stunning resorts with breathtaking views. (I tried one with the infinity pool over a gorgeous sunset in a super quiet area of the island.)
Accommodation in Southern Thailand
I’ve been to all of these places, and my absolute favorites were Koh Tao for the snorkeling and Krabi for the amazing boat trips
Eastern Thailand’s Pattaya is notorious for its adult entertainment and night scene, although there are several great attractions close at hands, such as the Sanctuary of Truth and Silverlake Winery. Farther down the coast, Koh Samet and Koh Chang are pleasant islands in the Gulf of Thailand.
Just into the Isan region, you’ll find one of Thailand’s most popular national parks: Khao Yai National Park. Stunning scenery, varied wildlife, and beautiful waterfalls are a few things you can enjoy in the large national park.
Accommodation in Eastern Thailand – Koh Samet/Koh Chang/Khao Yai
9| Travel Insurance for Thailand
Accidents do, unfortunately, sometimes happen. Don’t even think about visiting Thailand (or anywhere else) without adequate travel insurance. Whether you become sick or get injured, lose belongings or are a victim of theft, or if your flight is canceled or delayed, travel insurance covers many eventualities to give you greater peace of mind when away from home.
I know this very well, one moment of distraction or a smart thief can literally ruin your holiday (It might have happened to me many times without my insurance!)
I have a long list of calamities to report, and I am so glad that I was smart enough to get insured every time.
My preference goes to World Nomads by Bupa. Unfortunately, I had to test them on several occasions, and they were brilliant every time.
Among small travel incidents, they refunded me more than 4000 euros when I got sick in Africa.
I was once also robbed of 1000 euros on a night bus in Thailand (more on that story in a separate article coming soon), and yet again, they were there to assist and help me get my money back.
The good thing with World Nomads is that you can reach them at any time, and you can renew your insurance when on the road. But most importantly, they are TRUSTWORTHY.
They cover basically everything, from travel issues to legal and medical problems. I had offers to try other insurance companies – for free- and I declined. I will always choose them and recommend them to everyone online and offline.
You can check it out here and see if it’s the right insurance for you:
As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy Thailand in style; it’s not just a destination for backpackers.
Have a fantastic time exploring the diverse Land of Smiles 🙂
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clelia is an enthusiastic Italian traveler born on the beautiful Island of Sardinia. She quit her job at Burberry London in 2012 to realize her dream of becoming a digital nomad. Counting the number of countries visited? No thanks! She believes that travel involves memories and emotions more than a list of places. Check out her new website about lifestyle & Beauty products
Wow! i loved this place, thank you for sharing this.
Nice Post.Thanks for sharing
Some helpful tips for travelers. Thanks for the help.
Best tips for the travelers. Thanks for helping.
Thanks for the great tips.
Great post on Thailand. We’re there at the moment and a great help for deciding on our next destination. Loved your tip on the Jessie on a Journey blog too.
Thank you Nicki! I hope you’re enjoying Thailand and I’m glad my advice was of some help too 🙂
This is a great guide. I’ve been all over Thailand a few times now and overall it’s a really safe place with amazing, friendly people 🙂 Make sure you go to the islands for some incredible dive spots!
Thanks Alex! Oh I’ve been to the Island, I also wrote a comprehensive guide on Koh Tao (for diving, what else) and I even moved in a small village in front on the Island. Thailand is truly amazing and given that I’ve lived there for 4 years I can attest that it’s very safe also for solo travelers 🙂
Thanks for sharing very good information about holidays in Thailand great post.
Love these tips…but always get frustrated when I need to dress according to religion:
“You should be especially sensitive in the predominantly Muslim southern provinces..”
I can respect it when it comes to temples or places that have a historical meaning, but regarding Islam or any extreme religious views whatsoever, then I am just not able to.
Coming from a free country, where I can dress or act however I want, without following some roles that are written in an ancient fiction book.
I just find it absurd.
Well, by traveling I learned to be more considerate with the cultural differences. I have so many Muslim friends for example and if i have to cover up out of respect for their beliefs well, it’s not a big deal for me and they truly appreciate it. I try not to judge, not everyone is an extremist and we should be more accepting of other people choices, we would live so much better don0’t u think? 🙂
You put together this travel guide, highlighting the best of what we can see and do in this country. Thanks
Planning is crucial for a great vacation, and this blog serves as a perfect guide in that respect. Right from choosing a flight to getting vaccinated, travel insurance, and not falling into common scams, this blog cover everything travelers should be wary about. I hold the same opinion as of yours about not encouraging tourism where animals are subjected to torture. It’s very thankful of you to present accommodation rate in each of the tourist destination.
Thanks Priya! Yes, we have to be very careful about when visiting a new place, some people are not aware that they are exploiting the animals for their own pleasure so it’s important to inform them!
Nice article, Thailand is really a beutiful country. It’s really a shame that all those poor elephants are treated so badly, most time tourists don’t know better indeed, but how to blame them it’s such a popular activity … Ironic how the elephant is such a symbol of Thailand, but they’re abused all the time. But yeah besides that : great food, great culture and great landscape everywhere !
Thanks for stopping by Steven! You are so right about the elephants and as I said in the article, I was one of those people who had ZERO awareness of how them (and also the Tigers in the tigers temple) were treated, so I admit I was tempted to try these experience as a part of the “Thai culture”. Nothing could be farther from the truth, unfortunately. I’m so glad I have read some other blog posts about it and realized how bad it was. That’s why I’m trying my best to spread some awareness and thanks for your comment which gave me the possibility to say once again: DO NOT RIDE ELEPHANTS IN THAILAND or go to the tiger temple. For the rest, except for the beaches that are now getting so touristy that are a bit ruined, but Thailand still remains an incredible country to visit if you want to experience a completely different cultural experience!
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I have never read such detailed article about Thailand. Thank you for all informations. You don’t let is to search more. Because you mentioned all the things. Your shots are great too. So I have made my mind about travelling, getting flights and where to stay in Bangkok. And also I really wonder tuck tucks 😉
Thank you, glad you found this useful!
Wow, Wonderful Post. . . Traveling is really a good thing in life,infact it’s everything
Great guide. I agree with you that vaccinations are important (as well as travel insurance); my friend forgot to get vaccinations before spending 3 months touring Thailand and ended up with Hep A and no travel insurance. Luckily it was right at the end of the trip that he became unwell and was treated back in the UK. Could’ve been a different story if he’d picked it up early on the trip. Enjoyed reading this – thanks for sharing!
Hey Raymond, Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. Yes definitely vaccinations are more important than most people think. They usually only focus on malaria but one of my friends had the same issue as yours, he wasn’t immunized for Hepatitis A and while I was and I didn’t catch anything from food/water he ate the same meal and was sick for a whole week (and I’m usually the one who always get sick so this tells it all!)