Thailand travel guide, including map of Thailand, top Thai travel experiences, tips for travel in Thailand plus where to learn to dive and trek to hilltribe vil
Long the backpackers’ South-East Asian favourite, it’s easy to see why Thailand creates such a buzz: scores of fabulous, sandy beaches; tongue-tingling cuisine; fascinating culture – and all at great prices.
In Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, explore glittering palaces, peaceful temples and night markets. In the north of Thailand, trek through the jungles and hills to discover tribal villages, then learn to rustle up your own Thai curry at a cooking class in Chiang Mai.
Thailand’s many laid-back islands beckon scuba divers and hammock-snoozers alike – Ko Pha-Ngan is renowned for its full moon parties, while Ko Tao, Ko Lanta and Ko Phi-Phi are hotspots for dive courses.
Take a trail through time – explore Thailand’s ancient sites at Sukhothai, Ayuthaya and Prasat Phanom Rung, or visit a piece of more-recent history at the Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi.
Wildlife-watchers head to the dense rainforest of Khao Sok National Park and monkey-inhabited mountains of Khao Yai National Park. Further south, grab a paddle to sea kayak among the karst outcrops around Krabi.
Treat yourself with an authentic and affordable Thai massage in Bangkok’s Wat Pho temple, where practitioners are trained in the fine art of balancing energy and releasing blocks.
The best weather for travel is from November to February. Christmas holidays are a popular time for package tours, when resorts get croeded. It is hot and dry from March to May, whereas monsoon is from June to October. The rainy season is still an enjoyable time to travel, with fewer tourists.
Chinese New Year is celebrated with dragon parades and fireworks, mainly in Chinatowns in Bangkok and Phuket (January or February). Songkhran festivities welcome the Thai New Year with water fights and sandcastle building (April). During Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival Chinese devotees become vegetarian for nine days and parade through town carrying out acts of self-mortification. Excellent vegetarian food is available from most food stalls and restaurants (October or November). One of the most beautiful celebrations is Loy Krathong, Thailand’s Festival of Light (usually in November).
Bangkok (BKK) 22km from the city, Chiang Mai (CNX) 15km from town, Phuket (HKT) 35km from town and Koh Samui (USM) 5km from Chaweng Beach
Thailand has a reasonably good rail system, run by the State Railway of Thailand. Travellers on their way to Koh Phangan or Koh Samui often use the overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani. Bus travel is very cheap, with various classes, some air-con. A good way to explore the countryside is to rent a motorbike – helmets are obligatory. Shared songthaews (open vans with benches) are a cheap way of travelling in rural areas. Thailand’s major islands can be reached by ferry.
There's a wide range of accommodation in Thailand. If travelling on a budget you can choose between guesthouses, homestays and – usually at the beach – simple bungalows. Upmarket hotels and resorts are much cheaper than in Western countries.
With a glorious variety of flavours and ingredients, Thailand’s cuisine is one of the best in the world. Don’t miss out on the excellent snacks on offer at many food stalls in the streets. A classic is Pad Thai, fried noodles with vegetables, eggs, fish sauce and sometimes meat, topped with peanuts and lime juice. Rice is an essential part of the Thai diet. Vegetables, coconut milk, chillies, ginger, fish or oyster sauce, garlic and tamarind are often used, and excellent fresh fish and seafood is available at the coast.
Depending on where you go and how you travel, vaccinations are recommended, as is malaria prophylaxis – consult your GP or travel health clinic. Drink only sterilised or bottled water, and make sure the bottles are sealed. Hygiene at street food stalls is a consideration – but places where lots of locals eat are usually fine.
Think you know your UNESCO World Heritage sites? Think again. Here are five UNESCO sites in South-East Asia we bet you haven't heard of. How many have you ticked off? More
From slow river cruises through the jungle to spotting rare dolphins and visiting cave temples, here are your top tips on how to navigate Asia’s greatest waterway – and where to stop along the way… More
Wondering where to see elephants in the wild? Read expert advice on spotting elephants in national parks and rehabilitation sanctuaries around the world... More
From jostling floating markets in Thailand to islands made from reeds in Lake Titicaca, these incredible attractions are colourful, uplifting and gravity-defying … and guaranteed to float your boat... More
Swim with whale sharks, clamber smoking volcanoes and wander where dragons roam. South-East Asia is packed with unforgettable moments – here’s our pick of the best… More
Every country has its rules. Some are more unusual, or much stricter than others. Knowledge is power when it comes to staying on the right side of the law during your trip... More
When buildings, towns and cities are left behind, nature invades and fills the void. As a result, there are plenty of deserted places taken over by sand, green vines and wild animals... More
From liana-strangled jungle ruins to disappeared desert civilisations and eerie ghost cities, exploring the planet’s forgotten places is a thrilling adventure… More
Repositories of rare plants, an oasis of calm and places of extraordinary beauty, these stunning botanical gardens are the living, breathing heart of the cities they serve... More
Vesak Day is an important holiday in the Buddhist calendar. So, what is it? How is it celebrated – and where? Is there anything you need to know if you’re visiting a Buddhist country? More
Heading to Thailand's riotous New Year festival, Songkran? Here's how to survive the world's biggest water fight... More
On 13 April, Thailand celebrates its New Year with the world’s wettest festival, Songkran. Here's everything you need to know about the annual national holiday... More
Combining gourmet food, attentive guides, unique boutique stays and some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet - these privately tailored tours are once in a lifetime luxury experiences... More
Exploring the world by yacht is becoming more accessible than ever before. Discover how with The Moorings yacht ownership programme… More
From stunning candlelit streets to innovative installations and breathtaking projections, these annual light festivals are guaranteed to dazzle, delight and cheer the soul... More
Get your sunglasses ready, because these natural wonders and man-made must-sees are the most blindingly white spots on the planet… More
Cities are exciting and energising for solo travellers, especially on Valentine's Day. Author Stephanie Rosenbloom reveals her favourite cities to explore alone – where you'll always receive a warm welcome More
Phuket is one of Thailand's busiest islands, so it's easy to presume that every stone has been turned here – but you'd be wrong. Here's where to go in Phuket to escape the tourist bubble More
Famous landmarks, dark skies and a lot of fireworks. From Paris to Dubai, we've put together your best Instagram posts of bringing in the New Year in style... More
One of the joys of travelling around Thailand is discovering how much the cuisine varies from region to region. MasterChef finalist Andy Oliver gives his insider guide to the delights of each region More
Wanderlust subscribers now receive a free £50 voucher valid on trips from a great selection of top tour operators
And the best bit is, this isn't a one-off offer, you get one every time you renew as well!
The £50 discount can be redeemed against one trip booking with one of our tour operator partners, by the expiry date printed on the voucher. The £50 can even be redeemed on top of any discounts our partners are already offering, ensuring Wanderlust subscribers get the best deal possible.
Simply quote your unique voucher code when booking to claim the discount. This offer is only available to Wanderlust subscribers.
UK subscribers automatically receive the voucher each year. Overseas subscribers receive it upon request.
From: £3820.00More …
From: £1905.00More …
From: £1801.15More …
From: £5315.00More …
Sign up today for free and be the first to get notified of new articles, new competitions, new events and more!