Southeast Asia is full of countries that boast a combination of cheap and beautiful. Thailand is no exception! It has some of the most beautiful beaches. Its food is cheap and delicious. What’s not to love? Check out this tag to find more about Thailand! Go to this tag to find more “Everything You Need to Know” posts!
Each metric is given an overall score between 1 and 10, and the ratings are briefly explained.
Go here if you are looking for: A quintessential Southeast Asian experience with lots to see and a good tourist infrastructure.
This explains the prevailing sort of experience you might have in this country.
Overall experience: 7.43/10
What your travel experience might revolve around.
Natural and landscape views: 8
- How beautiful and unique are the landscape and nature views?
- Make your way to the southern Peninsula and you can find some really stunning views of the beach! I can highly recommend going to both Krabi and Phuket, and stopping by the Phi Phi Islands which are between Krabi and Phuket. These are the destinations where everybody takes those gorgeous beach photos when they visit Thailand.
Historical attractions: 8
To what extent can you see physical evidence of the country’s culture?
- The parts of Thailand that don’t have stunning landscape views have historical attractions to make up for that! Stop by Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, or Bangkok to see majestic houses of worship and structures like the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The cities are lined with these temples that you can walk in and admire, or worship in if you practice Buddhism.
City culture: 7
- How should you expect locals to react to you? How does it feel to be in the city?
- Thai people are so used to tourists in their cities that they look at you weird if you speak Thai, even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you”.
- How unique is the local food and how available is food from home?
- I’m a huge fan of pad thai, so I was basically in heaven in Thailand! They also have lots of beach foods, including fruit juices and whole coconuts that you can drink directly out of. One of my favorite desserts is a Thai specialty – coconut ice cream! They will scoop out coconut-flavored ice cream directly into half of a small coconut shell, and they scrape off most of the coconut meat so you can eat pieces of fresh coconut with the ice cream. Add in some peanuts (or another topping) and you’ll be in heaven too.
- How much do souvenirs cost relative to everyday items and how representative are they of the local culture?
- Thailand is a great place to get souvenirs if it’s your first time in Southeast Asia and you’re not planning on going to another country. The souvenirs are relatively cheap, and I absolutely LOVE the elephant pants that are sold in seemingly every stall. If you can, however, hold off your purchases until you get to a country like Cambodia, which produces the same elephant pants at slightly higher quality and at about 20% lower price.
- How clean is everything, including trash along the streets, water, and food?
- You can’t drink water that isn’t bottled and I got really, really sick the first day I arrived in Chiang Mai. Considering I ate street food basically every day, I guess that’s not too bad. My being sick could also have been because I was constantly in and out of air conditioning, so my body was subjected to dramatic temperature differences throughout each day.
Tourism services: 9
- Are there people who specifically serve tourists outside private hotels and accommodation?
- Go to the tourist areas of the city (Khaosan Road in Bangkok especially, but smaller ones in every city exist) and you can find plenty of tourism companies willing to give you information on their tours, transportation to the airport, and bus and plane tickets. Whether or not you book with them, you can get great information.
[Recommended Read: Everything You Need to Know About Cambodia]
- Are you going to freeze or sweat to death?
- Unfortunately, you’ll probably sweat to death year-round. Fortunately, this can be prevented by drinking multiple liters of water per day. You won’t even need a bathroom because all the extra water will come out through your skin.
- What currency is used? (Not a rated category)
Cost: 7 (higher rating means lower cost)
- Overall, is this country expensive or not?
- The great thing about having a developed tourism infrastructure is that you can find a wide range of experiences for a range of costs. I stayed in a hostel that cost $8/night (super low-end) but also got to go to a hotel that cost $1000/night for its cheapest rooms and enjoy free appetizers and drinks because one of the friends I traveled with had some connections with the hotel manager. Overall, you can do things for cheap.
Approximate time needed to visit the whole country: 2 weeks
- How much time do you need to devote here? (Not a rated category)
- Ideally, you can spend one week in the northern cities (Chiang Mai and Bangkok especially) and one week on the beaches of the south.
Speed of Wi-Fi: 9
- How fast is the Wi-Fi?
- The special thing about internet in Thailand is that they offer this INCREDIBLE tourist SIM card that you can easily get in airports. The plan is for a set amount of time (a week, 2 weeks, a month) but the company that I went with offered the plans for the exact same price, so I just went with the month plan. They include UNLIMITED data coverage – WHAT?!? And the data is really reliable. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want this.
Accessibility of Wi-Fi: 10
- Can you connect to Wi-Fi when you need it?
- Don’t connect to Wi-Fi – just use your tourist SIM. If you need to tether other devices (laptops, tablets), just open up a hotspot from your phone. It’s marvelous.
[Recommended Read: Everything You Need to Know About Malaysia]
Culture and Immersion: 8/10
- What language do locals speak? (Not a rated category)
English level of the typical local: 8
- If you really needed help, how much could a typical local help?
- In my three weeks in Thailand, I met only one Thai person working in a market who didn’t speak English. Granted, everyone else I interacted with worked in a tourist-catering area (housing, tour companies, etc.) but you should have no problem with communication.
Approachability of locals if you can’t speak the language: 10
- If you can’t speak the local language, how willing are locals to patiently help you?
- Since most people speak enough English to interact with you on a basic level, they’re willing to help.
Signage for an English speaker: 8
- If you can’t read the local language, can you read the signs?
- In general, signs display both Thai and English.
- If you buy something (especially at street markets), how much do you need to haggle?
- Unless there is a sign stating a set price for something, you need to haggle. Whatever price is named, counter with a price at least 25% lower than what they say. Be firm, but if after a couple tries to get the lowest price, you can relent to a price between what was originally presented.
[Recommended Read: Why You Should Start Your Travels With A Host]
Intercity buses, trains, and planes: 10
- How easy is it to get from one city to another? How understandable is the system?
- Again, Thailand’s tourism infrastructure comes to the rescue! Get a bus from anywhere to anywhere, or grab a super cheap flight (if you buy at the right time, less than $30) from cities with an airport.
Taxi reliability: 6
- How many taxis are there? Are they to cheat you? How friendly are the drivers to foreigners, especially if you don’t speak the local language?
- Taxis or tuktuks (local bike or motorcycle-power carriages) are everywhere in most cities, so you’ll have no problem getting one. Taxis will have meters, so you can just pay what the meter says. For tuktuks, you’ll need to come to a price that works for you and the driver. Drivers are generally nice but some will ignore you even though they are looking at you while you give them a request. This part really is quite weird.
Intra-city transportation: 8
- How easy is it to get where you want to go within the city?
- Because tuktuks are readily available, they’re also cheap. In some cities, especially Chiang Mai, you can rent a bike by the day.
- If you want to get some exercise, how easy it is to walk from place to place?
- In Bangkok, I walked to most places. Other cities may vary, but you can always use a tuktuk if you need to go somewhere farther.
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