Use this list of resources to help plan your trip to Thailand. This page includes ideas on where to go, when to go and what to see. You can also find practical advice on flights to Thailand and essential information you need to know for visas and health matters.
1. How to get the best rates for accommodation in Thailand. Online booking sites Agoda* and Booking.com* often have the best rates for hotels and guest-houses in Thailand. They also offer a best-price guarantee and these are the two companies I use myself when booking hotels on my travels around Thailand.
2. City or province. When booking accommodation be careful to check the location is where you want. In Thailand, the name of the city is often the name of the province. This means, for example, that a hotel described as being in Chiang Mai may actually be in the Chiang Mai countryside rather than in Chiang Mai city centre.
3. Mysteriousthailand recommendations. Over the years I’ve travelled to just about every province in Thailand and stayed in hundreds of hotels and condos. Whether you’re looking for the best place to stay in Bangkok or advice on where to stay in other cities, each destination page on this site has suggestions for accommodation.
4. Fill out your arrival card. You will need to fill the arrival and departure cards out before joining the queue for immigration/passport control. Carrying a pen with you will make things easier.
5. Two airports in Bangkok. Most international visitors to Thailand will arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK), but be aware that some flights (e.g. with Air Asia) arrive at Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK).
6. Getting around. If you are travelling into Bangkok the most comfortable option is usually to hire a car, take a taxi, arrange a private transfer or take a public transport.
7. Fill out your departure card. When departing Thailand by air, land or sea you will still need to complete your departure card before clearing immigration/passport control.
8. Allow plenty of time. The queues at immigration/security can be long and the walk to the departure gate can also add time. If you are flying on an international flight from Bangkok it is advisable to arrive at the airport three hours before your scheduled departure time. For domestic flights within Thailand, two hours should be sufficient.
9. VAT refunds. Tourists are able to obtain VAT refunds on some goods although you need to make sure you have the correct paperwork from the point of purchase.
Do’s and don’ts
10. There are some important cultural do’s and don’ts to be aware of.
11. Booking flights to Thailand. Skyscanner is a good place to start researching for flights to Thailand. There can also be advantages in booking directly with the airline.
12. Domestic flights in Thailand. For internal flights within Thailand, I find it easier to book directly with the airline. Many will have promotion fares if you can book far enough in advance. Look too for seasonal offers which can be excellent value.
Food & drink
13. Food, glorious food. Thailand is justifiably famous for its food. Whether it’s a tasty green curry in Bangkok, a spicy tom yam kung in Ko Samui or a satisfying bowl of khao soi in Chiang Mai, food is at the heart of Thai culture.
14. Hygiene. Eating at a street food stall for the first time can be intimidating, but these nondescript little stalls can be wonderful places to eat. If Thai people are eating there it’s a reasonable bet that the food is good. Iced drinks are generally safe although you should use bottled water and avoid drinking tap water.
15. Pharmacies & hospitals in Thailand. If you do have the misfortune to be ill during your trip, pharmacies are a good place to start. Pharmacists in most areas are able to speak English and an over the counter treatment is often all that most people need. Should you require more serious treatment, the pharmacist or your hotel will be able to suggest nearby hospitals. Medical staff, especially in tourist areas, usually speak good English.
16. Bringing prescribed drugs into Thailand. In most cases, bringing prescribed drugs into Thailand isn’t a problem. However, issues can arise if you travel via another country (e.g. Dubai) where regulations are stricter.
17. Tourist police. If you run into problems in Thailand, there is a tourist police service which can be a useful first point of contact. The telephone line is free to call and is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1155 for assistance.
18. Consular assistance. If you have more serious issues, you can contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in Bangkok.
19. Is travel insurance really necessary? Travel insurance is an essential part of your pre-trip planning. If you require hospital treatment in Thailand you need to pay for it. There is no National Health Service or free Medicare for tourists. Make sure you are covered and be aware that there are some activities e.g riding a motorbike, which may be excluded from your insurance policy.
20. In Thailand English is spoken widely. While the Thai language is the official language of Thailand, I can say English is its unofficial second language.
21. Where is the best place to change money into Thai Baht? Superrich Thailand gives Thailand’s best rate.
22. Should I take cash or credit/debit cards? Credit cards or debit cards are ideal for booking flights or hotels online. But for day-to-day transactions, Thailand is predominantly a cash culture. Although that is slowly starting to change, if you are eating at small restaurants or street stalls you will need to pay by cash.
23. Are there any fees to use an ATM/cash machine? There is a fee for using overseas bank cards at Thai ATMs. The standard fee is currently 220 Baht.
Nightlife & entertainment
24. Paying the bill. Many visitors to Thailand are able to enjoy nightlife and entertainment venues without any problems. Be aware that many rooftop bars in Bangkok add on a service charge plus VAT to prices and this isn’t always clearly displayed.
25. Carrying your passport. When booking into hotels or checking in for domestic flights you will need to show your passport. Thai people are required to show their ID card.
26. Avoid common scams. Con-artists do operate in some tourist locations in Thailand. One of the most common scams is around the Grand Palace in Bangkok. If an English-speaking Thai person approaches you to say the Grand Palace is closed for the day, politely ignore them.
27. Vaping and smoking. Please be aware that vaping and electronic cigarettes are banned in Thailand. And at some beaches in Thailand, smoking is also banned.
28. Tax refunds. Tourists are able to take advantage of tax savings on some goods by claiming a VAT refund. This involves filling out some paperwork and won’t always be worth the hassle, but if you have made a major purchase such as a camera or laptop, the money you can claim back can be significant.
29. Organised tours. Throughout this site you will find information about various tourist attractions around Thailand with advice on how to visit them independently.
30. Trains. Train tickets can be purchased at any Thai railway station. You can also use the services of an online agent such as 12Go Asia whose website is far more user-friendly than the SRT’s.
31. Cars and motorbikes. Thailand is not a place for inexperienced motorbike riders. Even experienced riders and car drivers should be extra careful on Thailand’s roads.
32. Boats. Boat and ferry tickets can normally be bought on the day of travel. If you prefer to have the security of a ticket in advance, you can book online with 12Go Asia.
33. Buses. The best companies to use are the government regulated services and those of reputable operators including, The Transport Company Ltd., Green Bus Company and Nakhon Chai Air.
34. Taxis and tuk-tuks. In Bangkok, taxis are supposed to charge fares according to the meter rate.
35. Do I need a visa? Visa rules in Thailand have a habit of changing and regulations can be applied differently depending on the border crossing used. Some tourists are eligible for a visa exemption while others may be able to obtain a visa on arrival.
36. When is the best time to visit Thailand? Any month can be a good month to visit Thailand and with different weather patterns on the Gulf Coast and Andaman Coast there is plenty of scope for a beach holiday.
What to bring
37. Packing lists. To keep comfortable in the heat, lightweight cotton and linen clothing are good choices. At least one pair of trousers and smart casual shoes are a good idea for men if you are planning to visit a rooftop bar or restaurant in Bangkok. Women should bring an outfit that covers the knees and shoulders if you are planning to visit temples or royal palaces during your stay.
What to see & do
38. Must-see attractions. If you are visiting Thailand for the first time, the must-see attractions in Bangkok include the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. For ideas on what to see and do in each city or region, take a look at the destination pages.
39. Local events and festivals. Check for special events and festivals at destination pages. Individual destination pages feature details of regional events.
Where to go
40. Destinations. The best place to go during your trip is down to individual preference. You may want to hit the islands and beaches of the south for a few weeks or spend time exploring the mountain scenery in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces in the north. Take a look at the destination pages to see what appeals to you.