When you are travelling to Thailand alone, you will definitely have a different experience than immersed in a group. So here are both perks and things to consider for your solo travel to Thailand. After all, if you do your research in advance well, you can enjoy your trip even more!
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Group or Private Tours?
The beauty of solo travel is that it is entirely up to you what you want to do. You can go to a museum, hang out by the beach, join a group tour or do everything by yourself. There is no one else you have to build an itinerary with, no compromises.
Sharing your experiences with amazing people isn’t necessarily part of it but it’s not impossible. To avoid getting lonely on a solo trip to Thailand, you can stay in hostels (more on that further down), join local walking tours or go on a small group tour for one or several days.
Mostly, I mix it up a little with DIY itineraries, such as the day trip around Phuket. Then, every now and then I join a small group tour.
On my last visits to Thailand I spend a lot of time in the country and didn’t do arranged tours but have done some research and found the following tours highly recommended and well rated from fellow travellers:
I prefer those over the big bus tours because you can much better mingle with like-minded people, ask the guide many more questions and maybe even arrange impromptu photo stops.
If you want to see as much as possible but only have a few days of holiday, here are a few tours I handpicked so you have a starting point:
- 9 Day South Thailand Tour: Bangkok, Khao Sok National Park and Koh Phangan
- 4 Day Chiang Mai Tour: Doi Suthep, hiking Huay Sathan Waterfall and river rafting
- 7 Day Thailand Sailing Trip: Phuket, Phang Nga Bay, Railay Beach, Koh Haa and Koh Phi Phi
Best Attractions in Thailand
There are so many cool towns to discover, beaches to stroll along and temples to pray at. The number one city you have to visit is Bangkok. It is a city perfect for a short layover, there tons of sights in Bangkok, river cruises, markets and abandoned airplanes.
Next up, are Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai with their unique buildings, wonderful nature and colourful temples. Then, there are a few islands worth exploring, such as Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Samui and Ko Phangan.
From Bangkok, there are many day trip options worth exploring. The most popular one is Ayutthaya, the former Thai capital and historical town full of temple ruins. Another way is Pattaya. If you need some more detailed guides to Thailand, check out the following articles:
- Travelling Chiang Rai: White Temple, Blue Temple and Black House
- Travelling Chiang Mai: The Best Hikes
- Travelling Bangkok: 3 days in Bangkok
- South Thailand: Floating markets
- Udon Thani: 3 day trips
- Travelling Phuket: Going on a day trip by scooter
Getting Around Thailand
Thailand is a huge country and getting around can easily take a day. From Bangkok to Chiang Mai it can easily take up to 11 hours by bus. It’s cheap though, costing between 10-30 USD. You don’t have to book tickets in advance but buy them right at the train station.
When you check train timetables here, also look at the type of train and level of comfort. That can make quite the difference in travelling duration and price. For instance, the first class ride to Ayutthaya was 354 THB (11.2 USD) and the slow one in the regular compartment was 15 THB (0.5 USD).
Alternatively, there are affordable flights throughout the country. For example, budget airlines like Air Asia and Nok Air fly between Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Udon Thani. Here are some tips on how to find the best flight deals.
Within the city or a little outside, you can always hire a tuk tuk, vanpool, songthaew or taxi. Download the free Grab app to see what the prices are in advance and book easily. There’s also the possibility of storing your credit card details so you don’t have to use cash everytime.
It’s important to know that you need to have wifi to use it. Usually shopping malls or cafes in Thailand have free wifi. But if you’re on the go, bring a wifi hotspot with you. (Order a 15 day sim card with 4 GB here).
When you want to hail transport from the street, don’t be afraid to haggle. Having a screenshot or an address in Thai is a good idea. You might pronounce a place weirdly and then the driver won’t understand you.
Here’s a tip by Jen from Jen On A Jet Plane: “Out of the three cities I visited, Chiang Mai felt the safest. The streets were well lit and was activity happening around the city center well into the night. Here, I would recommend renting a scooter.
In Bangkok, take public transportation. The traffic gets to be insane, especially during rush hour, and the train system is extensive enough that you can reach all locations of interest with ease.
You can buy a ticket to board on-site from an agent at most major stations that speaks English, or select an English option on the automated machine.”
More Travel Tips: How to Plan a Phuket Day Trip with a Scooter
Accommodation in Thailand
Thailand has quite a good selection of various accommodation style. You can travel on a budget by staying in hostels. You can get daily rates for a dorm bed from 5-10 USD.
A good compromise between hotel and hostel are poshtels, such as Bangkok Saran Poshtel. They offer small single or double rooms for the price of hostel rooms but also come with a shared lounge area. This way, you can easily meet other travellers in a relaxed environment. Check rates here.
Bring 1-2 locks with you so you can lock up your valuables in a locker and your bag as well. Hostels in Thailand are small so there isn’t much storage space. Also, here’s a tip (for travelling across the world, really). Always check for bedbug signs before you unpack. (Here’s my bedbug scare story.)
Another option is to rent an airbnb. You can get pretty good hotel-quality options. All with kitchen and swimming pool and epic views. One drawback, however, is that many of the listings are actually illegal.
It’s good to check reviews to see if other guests mention sneaking in, meeting up with a host outside the place, etc. If the actual house owners realise you are sub-renting the apartment, they might be able to evict you and go after the airbnb lister. Mostly, everything goes smoothly. But it’s good to be aware of this.
Even if you are on a budget, hotel rooms can be had at amazing deals. You can get access to rooftop pools, skyline views and easy access to restaurants.
For instance, the fancy Hotel Clover Asoke with a rating of 9.0 offers rooms for around 100 USD. You are right next to the main shopping areas and the Skytrain, too. Check deals here.
Solo Female Travel Thailand
First up, travelling Thailand alone as a female is no problem at all. I have been in Thailand for three months in total and never felt uneasy. There was no catcalling, no sizing up, no open judgment. I loved that!
But I am not the only one who felt like that. To give you another opinion, I asked Jen to share her experiences of solo travel in Thailand with you. There is no need to ever feel lonely or lt language barriers get in the way.
“If you’re eating street food, the vendors will make a seat for you. If you’re on a tour or guided excursion, you’ll find friends along the way. I recommend taking a cooking class, visiting Elephant Nature Park and seeing the temples of Bangkok at night…
As with all countries, exercise precaution when traveling alone. Don’t get so inebriated that you look vulnerable. Walk with purpose and know where you’re going.”
When to Travel to Thailand
Thailand has tropical weather and three seasons. High season in Thailand – and therefore busiest – is from November to March. It’s then that the weather is dry and cool due to the north-east monsoon. This affects you mainly if you head up North.
From March to mid May, it’s the hot season. In spring, it gets quite hot on the mainland. In the South it’s not quite as hot though temperatures are around 30°C (70-80°F).
Mid May to October it’s rainy season. From June to August, the coastal regions experience around 100mm (4in) of rain per month. On top of that, it’s often overcast but still hot and humid.
If you want a good compromise between warm weather and less crowds, try travelling Thailand in September or October.
Thailand What to Pack for Thailand
Thailand enjoys warm tropical climate all year round. So no need to pack any warm jackets, even in the middle of winter. Think summer clothes but also consider that Thailand is a conservative country.
This means avoid walking in skimpy clothes, super short shorts or tank tops, baring your shoulders. For temple visits, pack t-shirts, long skirts/pants and have a sarong or shawl with you in case you need to cover up.
Wearing flip flops any other place than along the islands or coast isn’t typical, so pack a bunch of breathable sneakers or canvas shoes. For hiking trips, such as Chiang Mai’s waterfalls, light hiking boots are the way to go. It can get slippery!
Keep a wallet with enough change and bills on you as well. Credit cards might be widely accepted in stores but if you are going to markets (even Chatuchak Market in Bangkok), street food vendors or want to hail a songthaew, you need cash.
Google Maps isn’t entirely reliable in Asia, so I am usually using the free app Maps.Me. If you download the map while connected to the internet, you can use it offline as well. I add my desired Thailand attractions in there as well as my hotel locations and can find my way around via GPS. It even has hiking trails!
When using maps, taking lots of photos and generally keeping your phone on, battery will drain quickly. So bring along an external charger (and cables). And maybe even a portable wifi hotspot or sim card, which you can order online and pick up at the airport.
Tell me: Where would you want to travel to in Thailand solo?
More Thailand tips:
- Your Handy Guide to Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market in Bangkok
- 3 Day Itinerary for Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Surroundings
- How to Get Your Thailand Visa Extension in Chiang Mai Within Hours
- Your Guide to the Red Lotus Lake in Udon Thani
- Why Foodies Need to Visit at Least One Cafe in Chiang Mai
- How to Get to Doi Inthanon National Park