Whether you dream of lazing on the beaches in the south of Thailand, trekking the jungles in the north, or soaking up the bustling city vibe in Bangkok, our Thailand travel guide offers tips for making the most of your trip to one of Southeast Asia’s most popular destinations.
Thailand Travel Guide 2019
When is the best time to travel to Thailand?
Thailand is a year-round destination. Unlike many countries in the Northern Hemisphere, Thailand does not have four seasons. As a tropical country, it has wet and dry seasons. The wet season is also known as monsoon season, which is typically from May until October. Tourists who are attracted to the coastline want beach season, which is from November – March. This is when the weather is cooler (still hot by Canadian standards) and dry.
The heat rises and the daily downpours begin by April (sometimes March), which also means high humidity. But don’t forget that Thailand is not all about beaches. The north can be quite cool from November to March so if you’re visiting Chiang Mai, bring a jacket for the evenings.
Travel tip: For Southern Thailand beach season, travel November – March. For Northern Thailand, August – October is pleasant.
Where to stay in Thailand
Many tourists fly into Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) in Bangkok, Chiang Mai International Airport or Phuket International Airport to start their Thailand adventure.
Bangkok is the capital of the kingdom of Thailand. This bustling, riverside city is teeming with nightlife, shopping, and temples. Many of the top Thailand hotels are in Bangkok, so consider pampering yourself at Dream Hotel or Well Hotel Bangkok.
Chiang Mai is located in the north, 688 kilometres from Bangkok. Exploring the jungles, visiting temples, and browsing the street markets and food stalls are amongst the top things to do in the ‘Rose of the North’. If you’re backpacking, there are many affordable hostels and guest houses in the northern capital.
The southern end of Thailand is a thin strip of land that contains stunning beaches, movie-worthy islands, and 5-star resorts. Travellers seeking a sun-filled, beachside holiday tend to go to Phuket and the surrounding islands.
You’ll find incredibly relaxing, club-style hotels like Banyan Tree Phuket or Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort. Travellers also love Koh Samui island for its gorgeous beaches and isolated vibes. Prana Resorts Samui offers all the luxury in a great location near the beach while Samui Mermaid Resort offers affordable sea views and free airport transfers.
Travel tip: Find Thailand hotels with Skyscanner search engines.
Getting around in Thailand
If there’s a train from the airport (like in Bangkok), that will most likely be the cheapest way to your hotel, depending on where you’re staying. And don’t forget about Grab. Once in town, you can get around cheaper if you purchase a seat in a songthaew taxi. When the taxis are not running, use tuk-tuks, which are automatic rickshaws.
On longer trips, travellers can look into riding the train and buses that connect the smaller towns. You can also rent a car or hire a driver if you would prefer not to use public transportation, but keep in mind that Bangkok traffic is relentless and the road rules, in general, are lax.
Travel tip: If you’re travelling from one destination to another, say from the south to the north, or vice versa, it’s easier (and often very cheap) to just take a domestic flight.
Visiting Thailand’s beaches and islands
Thailand is famous for its pristine beaches on the shores of aquamarine waters and Instagrammable islands. For instance, kayakers love Koh Kradan island while sunbathers like Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui. Kluai Beach on Koh Kood island is unspoiled and free from crowds, and Mae Nam is another great option for those who like a little seclusion. Islands like Koh Lanta, Koh Tao, and Koh Phi Phi are excellent for snorkelling and scuba diving if underwater exploration is your jam.
Travel tip: Base yourself in Phuket or Krabi if you want to spend a week or so exploring the nearby islands of southern Thailand.
Things to do in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand
Every trip to Bangkok will no doubt include haggling with street vendors for the best price. Naturally, it’s a tradition and expectation, so don’t be shy. Be sure to include a visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market, the largest in Thailand (possibly the world).
If you love nature, Thailand has incredible jungles in the north. At Elephant Nature Park, visit for the day to see dozens of elephants live happily and free in a large, beautiful setting. A true elephant sanctuary, the park is home to rescued elephants who’ve endured abusive practices such as riding, street begging and working in the circus. By the way, they also offer weekly and monthly volunteer projects if you’re looking to give back on your vacation.
Visiting the temples of Thailand is another must-do activity. Beautifully decorated Buddhist temples date back hundreds of years. Add Wat Chiang Man, Wat Jet Yot, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Suan Dok, and Wat Phrathat Doi in Chiang Mai to your list of must-visit temples. In Bangkok, Wat Phra Keaw (Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho are not to be missed.
Temple tip: Be sure to dress appropriately and bring a shawl to cover your shoulder and legs before entering any temple. Remove hats and sunglasses before receiving a monk’s blessing.
Travel tip: Massage is incredibly cheap in Thailand (about $10CAD) so always factor in the time for a daily rub down.
Some of the best food experiences in Thailand
Thai food is adored the world over for its delicious blend of sweet, spicy, salty and bitter. Wander through the night bazaar of Chiang Mai for inexpensive tasty treats from the many food stalls just outside of the old city. Do not leave Chiang Mai without devouring a bowl of the city’s signature dish, Khao Soi, a sweet and tangy broth with noodles. Want to add chicken? Ask for Khao Soi Gai.
Throughout Bangkok and the beaches, you’ll find an abundance of street food vendors selling everything from vegetarian spring rolls to bananas to ice cold drinks. No trip to Thailand is complete without some delicious, authentic cuisine made by the hard-working locals.
Travel tip: If you’re worried about eating from street vendors, try shopping centre food courts. They can be found all around the major cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Phuket. You’ll find a greater selection of dishes, cutlery sterilizing stations, and higher standards in hygiene.
Ready to Book Your Trip to Thailand?
We hope this Thailand trip advice has inspired you to start planning your vacay to one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful and welcoming countries. Remember to use Skyscanner search engines and tools to source the best prices on flights, hotels, and car rentals.