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How to Plan a Trip to Thailand and Build an Itinerary

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Thailand is a tropical paradise you must visit in the northern hemisphere. The country offers countless beaches, mountains, and islands for exploring. Here is how to plan a trip to Thailand and build an itinerary.

Planning a vacation doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. It can be enjoyable if you know where you want to go, what type of accommodation you want and plan your activities.

In this article, we’ll show you how planning a trip to Thailand and building an itinerary can make the most of your vacation. I know I risk boring you with my write-up. Still, it is essential to note right now that if you don’t have the necessary information or knowledge about planning a Thailand vacation, you might end up frustrated and leave this great country with a bad taste in your mouth.

I want to provide you with all the knowledge and preparation necessary for your upcoming tour of Thailand so you can fully enjoy your time there. Thailand is a vast Southeast Asian country with diverse ethnic cultures, exciting temples, and delicious cuisine.

While Thailand is often seen as the home of friendly people, it’s a familiar feeling for first-time vacationers to feel homesick. One might be pleasantly surprised by regions such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai. They aren’t as hectic or crazy as you might think.

This validates that Thailand welcomes global travelers from all parts of the world without discrimination and segregation by offering a Visa-free stay for two weeks or even three months to citizens from 58 recognized countries.

The White Temple and pond with fish, in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Radarani / Adobe Stock

You can taste fresh food from the local ingredients and enjoy it in Thailand. There are many beach destinations, warm weather, and people of different religions.

It is essential to know that people in Thailand are Buddhist. They have different beliefs than other countries. People give alms, wear modest clothes, and respect monks and holy temples.

Exploring Thailand is worth the visit, and you’ll be amazed at how wonderful this country is. There are many things to do there, including visiting parks, seeing elephants, scuba diving, eating excellent Thai food, visiting the Andaman Sea, and so much more.

Tips for Planning a Trip to Thailand

Landscape famous landmark beach Maya bay in Phuket, Thailand
Day2505 / Shutterstock

Here are some guidelines on how to plan a trip to Thailand to make the most of your vacation:

  • Visit Bangkok, Krabi, and Chiang Mai. For the full experience, spend at least a week in each city.
  • The best time to go is from March until November when it’s not too hot or rainy.
  • Get a visa beforehand so you don’t have to do it in Thailand.
  • Consider planning your trip around festivals like Songkran, Loy Krathong, or Loi Kratong, which are huge events with celebrations and fireworks nationwide.
  • When traveling by air, consider flying with budget airlines such as Air Asia instead of a national carrier. They will be cheaper, more efficient, and have better seats.
  • If you plan on flying into the city instead of public transportation, have your hotel book a driver to pick you up from Bangkok Airport.

See Related: Top Tips for Luggage-Free Travel

How to Plan a Trip to Thailand

Two happy women traveler at temple in Thailand
interstid / Adobe Stock

Planning a trip to Thailand can be difficult because there is so much to do. There are many options, and you don’t want to miss out on anything!

That’s why we have compiled this quick guide on planning a vacation from the ground up so that you will know where and how to invest your time best when preparing for Thailand.

Budgeting Your Thailand Tour

Woman in red shirt riding bicycle looking at old Buddhist temple in Sukhothai historical park, Thailand
Pikoso.kz / Shutterstock

Planning a trip isn’t just about balancing what you want with what you need for success. If it were that simple, anyone could do it! Even when planning vacations. First, consider how much money you have (and are willing to spend) and how long you should stay there. This will factor into how much to budget for food, transportation, and other costs.

As with planning any trip or vacation you’ve never been on, it’s a good idea to get as many opinions as possible from those who have traveled there. From personal experience, I can say that the closer your destination is to home (family or friends), the more you’ll want to take precautions and plan for things readily available at home, so planning your vacation there will be much easier.

The best thing about planning a trip is just getting started! The first step in planning should be determining what you need (information, funds) before planning a trip.

Longer trips allow travelers to explore more, but shorter trips provide the same respite. It’s a balance between what you can and want to do. The good news is that Thailand is a very affordable country to visit. It costs next to nothing if you plan on staying in hotels, hostels, or guesthouses. Costs for food and travel differ from city to city, but the average Thai can spend as low as $1 a day.

The food, transportation, and other expenses in Thailand can vary greatly depending on your location. In Bangkok, for example, the average person can spend $1 a day, whereas in Chiang Mai, the average person could spend $7. Budgeting for your visit entails planning a budget before coming up with an itinerary so that you don’t spend more than you have planned.

Planning a Trip to Thailand and Building an Itinerary

Young woman traveler with backpack and hat looking the Map in Wat Pho at Bangkok Thailand
Travel man / Adobe Stock

Once you’ve figured out how much money you’re willing to spend, it’s time to think about the route of your Thailand itinerary. Determining which areas you want to explore and what activities you’ll be there will help define the travel days and flight requirements needed.

The best time to travel to Thailand is from March until November when it’s not too hot or rainy. Try to avoid the rainy season to the best of your ability. Building your itinerary is a lot like planning out the sections of an outline for writing in that you need to figure out what will happen and when.

If you’re planning on traveling backpacking style, it might be best to plan stops by city; if not, think about choosing locations based on their site (e.g., northeast, south). Some of Thailand’s best places to visit are Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai, Saigon, Phi Phi Islands, and Krabi. Any of these destinations could easily be the focus of a long-term Thailand itinerary.

If you plan to go backpacking there, it’s best to plan your travel days and flight requirements before jumping in because prices can change depending on when you purchase them (e.g., buy flights as soon as possible).

Thailand is a country that has many modes of transportation. There are buses, trains, and even boats for tourists to enjoy. Whether you want to go on an adventure or visit the capital city, Thailand has many options to satisfy multiple desires.

The bus system is one of the most popular ways to get around because it’s cheap and easy to use. If you plan on staying at more than one place during your stay, this might be the best way to plan your trip since they can take you anywhere in the country where stops are available.

One thing people should remember when planning their trip through Thailand is that not all of them will have English-speaking drivers. If you don’t know the language, it’s best to make sure you have Google Translate on your phone.

The Thai currency is the baht, and you can also buy US dollars or euros before arriving in Thailand at an airport. Still, it’s always better to have cash on hand when planning your trip to avoid any issues with exchanging money.

ATMs are all over Bangkok, but it’s important to remember that some will charge a fee for use, so planning is the best way to save money on your trip. Consider making a spreadsheet of all your trip stops to plan for your Thailand cost. Then, factor in the various lodging, transportation, dining, and tour expenses to get there.

See Related: Do Hotels Take Cash?

How to Book a Flight to Thailand

Two plane boarding passes and passports
REDPIXEL.PL / Shutterstock

Before purchasing airline tickets for a trip to Thailand, finding out which airport serves the area you want to go to is essential. That will help determine what type of flight is needed and how much time you’ll need before and after your stay in Thailand, so planning an itinerary becomes much more accessible!

Depending on where you are coming from, but in most cases, there are no direct flights to Thailand. Hence, there will always be a stopover in another country, depending on how far your home country is from Thailand.

One of the first things people should do when planning a trip is booking their flight because prices change depending on when they purchase them. To get the best price, buy tickets at least three months before your departure date.

One thing you should do before booking any flights or accommodations is research what type of visa Thailand requires. There are different types depending on where in Thailand you plan on visiting.

Bangkok is Thailand’s sprawling capital city and business and international travel hub. Many tourists come to Thailand just for Bangkok’s bright lights and vibrant culture, but this is only one of the country’s many regions. Use this 3-day guide to Bangkok to ensure you see all the necessary attractions.

If you plan to go to Chiang Mai, two airports operate: Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) and Mae Hong Son Airport (HGN). It’s important to note that flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai can take anywhere from one hour to three, depending on which airport you fly to. The flights are also priced differently, with the average flight costing between $200 and $400.

To purchase your inter-Thailand travel tickets before you get there, it’s best to plan your itinerary so that you can order them before time runs out for availability.

Planning a trip can be daunting, but understanding where to start planning, calculating how much you want and can spend, and deciding on what areas of Thailand you will visit, as well as which activities will most enjoyably meet your needs, can make the process of planning a vacation go smoothly.

See Related: Best Credit Cards for Travel

Book Lodging for Your Thailand Itinerary

Longtail Boat in Thailand

Many people find traveling to Thailand exotic. That’s strange because it is easier than you think. It’s a fallacy to say faraway places are accessible only to the wealthy. Thailand is a massive exception, as once you get there, it’s insanely affordable. It’s not expensive, like visiting remote destinations like Hawaii, The Caribbean, or California.

For a 4-star hotel night and a private day trip, including a guide and car, the starting rate is about $130 to $200. There is a bit of a difference between hotels and inns in Thailand.

However, for all-inclusive resorts, the starting rate is about $200. If you’re planning on staying in hotels, there are many class levels, from budget to luxury.

See Related: Best Travel Accessories

Best Places to Go to Thailand

Thai traditional wooden longtail boat in Phuket, Thailand
preto_perola / Adobe Stock

It is a known fact that there are a lot of exciting and captivating places to visit in Thailand, among which are:

  • Temple of Reclining Buddha,
  • Wat Chedi Luang Varavhara, an ancient architectural building,
  • Bang Tao Beach,
  • The Sanctuary of Truth,
  • Classic Thai Yachts,
  • The White Temple in Chiang Rai,
  • Grand Palace, Sukhothai, Khao,
  • Sok Lake National Park,
  • Bridges over the River,
  • Thailand Crazy Market, known as the Train Market

Thailand is a place for fun, relaxation, and breathtaking tours. Here is a guide to the perfect Chiang Mai itinerary.

Southern Thailand vs. Northern Thailand vs. Central Thailand

Traditional Thai Boat

Southern Thailand is the more populous and urban area in terms of infrastructure. It also has the most significant number of international chain restaurants. Connectivity in these regions is also relatively high. Furthermore, there are many established resorts and hotels in the area.

In contrast, Northern Thailand is less populated and more rugged. It contains various natural features, including mountains, forests, prairies, valleys, plains, and rivers. Infrastructure to connect these areas is limited to small villages or towns with limited access to electricity or running water.

However, Northern Thailand does contain a lot of wildlife, such as elephants, tigers, and bears, among others. On the other hand, it is also considerably cheaper to visit Northern Thailand than Southern Thailand. The quality of accommodations in some areas may be lower, and electricity may be less reliable.

Central Thailand is a region that has become more popular in recent years. Central Thailand can be an excellent place for vacations for those who like the tranquillity of nature. The top attractions in this region are:

  • Kanchanaburi,
  • Khao Sok National Park,
  • Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary,
  • River Kwai and Bridge on River Kwai.

Check out our complete list of places to visit in Thailand to spur your ideas.

How to Pack for a Trip to Thailand

If you are planning a trip to Thailand with the mindset of enjoying the most of your experience, you need some requisite knowledge about packing your necessary luggage.

Planning a trip to Thailand is easy because the weather stays the same year-round, with some exceptions for rainy periods. The below list contains all of the necessary items you’ll need:

Flip Flop (or Slip-on Shoes)

Flip Flop or Slipper

Thais remove their shoes before entering temples and restaurants. You will probably take your shoes on and off multiple times a day. Thus, we have a simple solution: comfortable sandals such as Birkenstocks or Rainbows.

Something waterproof is also advisable if you want to walk around in case of rainstorms that may pop up for no reason. You’ll also be happy you have these sandals when visiting one of Thailand’s many beautiful beaches.

See Related: Best Travel Sandals

Modest Dresses

Clothes In Thailand

For many, the main reason for visiting Thailand is its world-famous temples. To respect Thai culture, it’s best to wear modest clothing and cover your knees while you’re there.

Reusable Water Bottle

Rwenzori Mineral Water

Unsurprisingly, one might become fatigued during a tour or visit. Hence, staying hydrated by refilling your reusable bottle with filtered water at an affordable rate and visiting well-hydrated in a tropical climate is essential.

Grab one of these best travel water purifiers to drink fresh water on the go.

Bug Spray

Visitors to Thailand should know that the climate is hot and humid and buy bug repellent, as it’s expensive locally.

Towel

Towels

Not all hotels and guest houses in Thailand provide sheets, so you should always bring your own.

Soap and Shampoo

It is advisable to bring shampoo, soap, conditioner, body wash, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Especially if you are heading to Phi Phi Island or doing Thailand solo, check out these top travel toiletry kits to make your life easier.

Travel Insurance for Thailand

Blank travel insurance form and map on background
Africa Studio / Adobe Stock

Although safety is less of an issue in Thailand, it can still be challenging to plan a trip to the Southeast Asian country. Additionally, things may not go as planned, and travelers often find themselves in difficult situations, like injury and illness.

Insurance will cover these delicate matters and give you peace of mind while traveling abroad. A top-rated insurance company is SafetyWing.

Affordable Underwater Camera

Not all cell phones can take pictures underwater. Hence, I recommend a little camera that won’t get damaged easily to photograph on land and underwater.

Thai Sim Card or Phone Plan

Sim Card And Card Reader

Getting a Thai SIM card while traveling is imperative for communication and for staying connected with loved ones and friends. Here is an essential list of packing items for Southeast Asia.

See Related: Travel Hacking 101

Things to do during your trip to Thailand

These are some fantastic things to do during your trip to Thailand.

Ride a Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk In Thailand

The popular mode of transport in Thailand is by tuk-tuk. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a taxi or bus, but you’ll see plenty of brightly colored tuk-tuks zipping around every corner.

Watch a Muay Thai Fight

Muay Thai Kids

Watch an infamous Muay Thai fight. The sport is available at all levels and in every region of Thailand. It is a boxing context known as “the art of eight limbs” because fighters can use their elbows, knees, shins, and fists.

Visit The Many Islands and Temples

Buddhist Temple in Thailand

Your trip to Thailand will be memorable for more than just historical sites. There are over 300 islands and a few famous temples. Koh Samui and Phuket are two of the top islands to visit in Thailand for the best beaches, diving, and other tourist attractions.

The best temples in Thailand are those that provide an atmosphere of peace and serenity. The top five are Wat Phra Kaeo Buddhist Temple, Wat Ratchabophit, San Chao Phoo Daeng, Lopburi’s Big Buddha, and Wat Thai.

See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Families

Get a Sak Yant Tattoo

Yant Tattoo Of Thailand

Sak Yant tattoos are the most common Thai culture tattoos. It is a tattoo artist that was modified from ancient traditional Khmer practices. Sak means “to insert,” and Yant means “sacred.”

Each tattoo has a meaning or effect based on Buddhist teachings and ancient beliefs. The tattoo’s supernatural power can then be transferred to the person who wears it.

When planning to get a tattoo, ensure you know what you want. Sak Yings are time-consuming and expensive, up to $500 per session.

Visit a Floating Market

Floating Market In Thailand

Floating markets are popular tourist attractions in Thailand. They’re built on barges and moored to the shore so they can be navigated by boat. The floating markets range in size and specialty, but most people come here to barter for clothing, souvenirs, handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and dried goods.

You can also buy items from the local craftsman, who often have stalls on the barge. It is worth noting that most of these products are handmade, so prices may vary depending on whether you’re bargaining.

The best places to stay at a floating market are those that offer a beautiful view of sunrise and sunset. It is also advantageous to wait close to the water, cool down when needed, and be closer to where all the activities occur. You will see floating markets full of fresh fruits, cooked foods, and local souvenirs.

See Related: Things to do on Koh Yao Yai Island

Eat a Scorpion

Pad Thai

Thailand is a country where it’s not uncommon to eat insects, but while they may be strange to you, locals enthusiastically partake. For visitors looking for an exciting Thai experience, you can try the following:

  • Scuba dive underwater in the Thai Islands,
  • Visit a gorgeous beach,
  • Visit an overwater bungalow,
  • Drink a Thai iced coffee,
  • Explore the night market,
  • Visit the Khao Sok Lake National Park, and
  • Visit the train market.

Thai visas are relatively easy to obtain, as most are available upon arrival; fortunately, if you come from an Asian country, you get a free 30-day visa on your travel document number.

For those who want to stay there for a month, consider applying for a 6-month visa in the Thai embassy before leaving your home country. Travel insurance is recommended, although it is not required as a criterion.

After reviewing all of the critical points in this article, you will undoubtedly find that your trip to Thailand is a one-of-a-kind experience that will last for years after it concludes. I recommend, therefore, to enjoy yourself!

I am delighted that you are visiting Thailand, where friendly people await to give you a warm welcome. Thailand will captivate you, intrigue you, and make your heart pound. The people of Thailand are incredibly welcoming, so you’ll feel right at home.

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