thailand travel guide

thailand IN A NUTSHELL

Thailand is known for stunning beaches, elephants, a quirky capital and mesmerizing  temples.  25 million foreigners fly into the country every year making it one of Asia’s top vacation destinations.

Bangkok is full of exotic amd erotic adventures to get into.  Head North to experience culture and to hang out with elephants.  Or if you would rather catch a tan and a buzz head South to the islands where you can party the night away.

Whatever type of vacation you are looking for, Thailand will provide.  Let’s dive deeper into this Thailand travel guide.



VISA:  Most Western passport holders are allowed to enter the country for short stays (30 days or less) without having to apply for a visa.  You will get a stamp on arrival.  Your passport must have at least 6 months validity. If you plan on staying in Thailand longer than 30 days you can apply for a sixty day tourist visa here.

CURRENCY: The Thai Baht is the official currency of Thailand.  1 USD is about 32 Thai Baht.  Some places do accept USD, make sure the bills aren’t worn and are 2006 or newer.

LANGUAGE:  Thai is the official language of Thailand but English is widely spoken.

FESTIVALS & EVENTS:  One of the most renown festivals or events in Thailand is the infamous Full Moon Party which is held every full moon of the month.  The full moon party can be enjoyed throughout the country with the craziest on Koh Pha Ngan.  When exploring Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai holds several different lantern lighting festivals with Loi Krathong being the most popular and happens in February.

Thailand travel guide with I'm Jess Traveling



There are 3 seasons to consider when planning a trip to Thailand.

The “rainy” season or monsoon season which runs about May to October.  Count on there will be rain most days usually in the afternoon it will dump rain hard for a couple hours.  The rainy season is considered off season so room prices will be a little cheaper and easier to book as you go.

 The “cool” season is November to February.  This is considered peak season so preparation is crucial.  The Loi Krathong lantern festival is held every February in Chiang Mai.  You must plan ahead for this event.

The “hot” season is March through May.  If your main objective is spending time at the beach then this could be a good time to visit.  It’s not as busy as the cool season and wouldn’t need as much forward planning.  


Thailand travel guide with I'm Jess Traveling


This Thailand travel guide recommends touring around Thailand for at least a month!  There are countless things to do and islands to visit that a month will give you enough time to island hop, get weird in Bangkok and bath elephants in the North.  

If you’re short on time.

🤳 useful apps

GOOGLE TRANSLATE: Translates characters to English by taking a picture with your phone.

GRAB: The Uber of  Southeast Asia.

GOOGLE MAPS: How did we ever survive without it.  Very helpful when you’re trying to navigate public transportation.

WHATSAPP:  Talk/text to friends and family anytime you are connected to the internet for free.

ROME2RIO: Calculates different routes from point A to point B, showing you the cheapest, quickest etc…


Thailand travel guide with I'm Jess Traveling


$50-60 a day, living comfortably and not denying yourself any comforts or pleasures.  It is possible to get by on $13 -20 a day but that means steet food, a bed at a hostel and no alcohol consumption (it’s much more expensive to drink in Thailand compared to its neighbors of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam).

For double the shoestring budget you can travel lavishly and not break the bank.  Spending time in the smaller towns like Pai will make up for the islands which are more expensive and splurges on high ticket activities like going to an elephant sanctuary.




  • A bed in a dorm room | $3-15 dollars

  • A basic room with private bath & fan | $15-20 USD

  • Budget luxury hotel | $40 USD

  • Luxury Resorts in the islands | $100-150 USD




  • Thailand Beer |$3 USD’s.  

  • Street food |$1-3

  • Drinks at a rooftop bar in Bangkok | 300-600 Baht

  • Meal at a sit down restaurant | $6




  • Domestic Flight | $20 – $50
  • Overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai | $39
  • International bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap | $22- 30 USD’s
  • Short tuk tuk rides|  50-100 Baht
  • Songthaew (covered truck with benches in the back) through Old Town in Chiang Mai | 20 Baht
  • Moped rental for the day | 150-200 Baht $5-6 USD’s




  • Visiting an elephant sanctuary | $75

  • Private longtail boat ride to the floating markets | $35


Transferring between towns is straight forward and easy to navigate.  Download the apps Bookaway and 12Go Website. They are very helpful to check bus, boat, and train schedules ahead of time.  Skyscanner is my go to site for flights and use it often.


BY PLANE:  Airlines from all over the world fly into Bangkok.  Domestic flights are cheap.

BY BUS:  Buses are cheap and frequent.  If you’re traveling slow its an easy way to stay on budget.

TUK TUKS:  A common form of transportation within the cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

BY TRAIN:  There is a train that connects Bangkok and Chiang Mai via Ayutthaya.  The overnight train is comfortable and the way to go. 

Ferries:  Frequent and how you will get to the islands.

Thailand travel guide with I'm Jess Traveling


Packing is always the hardest part.  You don’t want to overpack but you also don’t want to be left wanting.  You’ll most definetly want a rain jacket  for wet season and comfortable clothing that are suitable for the warm, humid weather of the warm months.  A warm jacket and comfortable yoga pants are also essential for the winter months.

Thailand is a conservative country and you’ll need to be covered up when entering the temples.  I always bring a wrap skirt that I can throw on when I need to be covered up.

Don’t leave home without theses Thailand travel guide essentials.

Best travel gadgets for backpackers
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Travel essentials for a long haul flight with I'm Jess Traveling
Thailand travel guide with I'm Jess Traveling

Top things to do in Thaland

Get Lost in Bangkok

Bangkok is a chaotic city that you could spend weeks exploring and not even begin to scratch the surface.  A few highlights of Bangkok are to explore floating markets, the Chatuchak Weekend Market, drinks at a stylish rooftop bar, the Grand Palace or Thanon Khao San Road, a popular hangout for backpackers.

The list could go on and on.  You can get as weird as you want.  Here are a few tours that I recommend while exploring this vibrant city.

experience the elephants

A must do on most every bodies bucket list when they visit Thailand is to be able to have a personal experience with elephants.  A common way to do this is by visiting an elephant sanctuary. 

Make sure that you visit a sanctuary that offers an ethical elephant experience.  No one wants any elephants harmed and ill cared for.  You can check out ethical sanctuaries here. 

Rage at a legendary full moon party 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the legendary full moon party that happens every month when it’s a full moon.  Full moon parties are held in various different islands in Thailand but the most iconic is held on Koh Pha Ngan.  Up to 30,000 people flock to this island every month just to party the night away. 

I recommend staying on a nearby island either Koh Samui of Koh Tao and ferry over for the party and when you’re ready catch the ferry back.  Most places on Koh Phi Ngan make you book a room minimum 3 nights to a week.  This  gives you more flexibility and a chance to escape the rave when you’re partied out.

Explore northern thailand 

Northern Thailand is a mountainous region covered with thick forests.  Visitors venture up to the North to experience culture, go trekking, whitewater rafting or exploring remote hill-tribe villages.

Much more calm and less chaotic than the city of Bangkok there are a handful of cities/towns that are worth a stop.


The culture capitol of Thailand and a popular city for digital nomads.  There are plenty of things to see, cafes to enjoy, outdoor activities to do and places to stay that you quickly understand the appeal.

chiang rai

A bit farther North is Chiang Rai.  Most visitors travel to Chiang Rai to see  is the iconic White Temple.  It really is one of the most beautiful temples I’ve ever seen.  This can be a great day trip from Chiang Mai or from Pai if you’re short on time.  I stopped here for the day on my way to the border town of Chiang Khong.


Pai is a small hippy town northwest of Chiang Mai towards the Burmese border.  The best thing to do in Pai is explore the countryside by moped.  Swim under waterfalls and relax in the hot springs.  There’s also several up and coming resorts that stretch the dollar.  The definition of budget luxury.  

USEFUL GUIDES:  Where to Stay in Pai

find seclusion in the islands


take the 2 day slow boat journey into laos

If you’re panning on traveling from Northern Thailand to Laos, an adventurous way to get there is by taking a 2 day slow boat.  This journey takes you across the border and down the Mekong River for a scenic, often cramped boat ride.  

You’ll see parts of the country that you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else.  This was a crazy adventure.  Make sure you get to the boat early on the second day or you’ll be stuck sitting in the engine room like us.  Definitely an experience I won’t forget but wouldn’t want to do again. 🙂

explore the old capital of ayutthaya

Only an hour train ride North of Bangkok is Ayutthaya.  Once the capitol of the Siam Kingdom, Ayutthaya has remains of its past.  Inside the Historical Park in the center of town are four, well known temples – Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana. 

This is an easy day trip from Bangkok.  Check out some great tours below.

Thailand travel guide with I'm Jess Traveling


If you’re not into planning your own travels and would rather travel in an organized group setting I’d recomend TourRadar.  They provide cultural, historic and adventure tours all over the world.  It’s a great way to meet people, sight see and feel safe.


Thailand travel guide with I'm Jess Traveling

Accommodations in Thailand range from a basic bed in a dorm for a couple bucks to stunning luxurious resorts.  There is something for everyone’s budget in Thailand, I think that is a lot of the lure to visiting Thailand, the fact that its budget friendly.  Check out these travel guides to assist in your Thailand travel planning.

⭐️ Worth the Splurge: Samui Bayside Luxuy Villas


Safety is an important factor in planning any trip, espicially when it is international.  Here are my Thailand travel guide safety tips.


 You can find the

∇ Travel insurance is very important.  There is nothing worse than being in need of medical care in a foreign country without insurance!  Protect yourself!  This is your best investment.

thailand travel guide tips

Thailand travel guides

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Thailand Travel Guide with I'm Jess Traveling
Thailand Travel Guide with I'm Jess Traveling
Thailand Travel Guide with I'm Jess Traveling