Perfect for first time travellers, Thailand has everything. A friendly culture (nicknamed the ‘Land of Smiles’), delicious food, stunning beaches, world famous parties and endless things to do. It is one of the most popular travel and gap year destinations, and it’s easy to see why! Over 10 million people visit Thailand every year from all over the world and there are so many incredible things to do.
Find travel inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to go travelling, backpacking or take a gap year in Thailand.
Get essential information, tips, itineraries and inspiration for visiting Thailand.
Thailand enjoys a warm tropical climate with temperatures averaging around 30°C / 90°F. The North is relatively cooler than the South, especially at night when even during summer you might want to pack some warm clothes. Thailand is a great country to visit any month. Generally the cold season runs from October to March, the hot season from March to July, whilst rainy season usually runs from July to October. This is also monsoon season.
A popular option is to travel to Thailand from November to February, when there is usually a cool breeze which is great to give a rest from the intense heat. Spending Christmas in Thailand is a great experience. If you are seeking sun and heat then aim to arrive in Thailand around April, May or June when the temperature is usually well over 32°C. We recommend escaping the cities during this period and head to the coast where you can swim in the ocean or find a pool to bathe and relax from the humidity. The weather can sometimes be unpredictable even during summer, even in rainy season of July to October you can get a lot of sunshine and top up your tan.
You can gain a visa on arrival and when entering the country you are meant to have proof of an outbound ticket but this is very rarely checked. If you overstay your tourist visa in Thailand will be fined or in the worst case put in jail. Ideas to extend your Thai visa period including doing a 'visa run' to a nearby country like Malaysia, Cambodia or Laos where you can then re-enter Thailand. This destination doesn't have a working holiday visa program as such, but if you are looking to work or teach English in Thailand you can apply for a longer visa in advance.
Citizens from most countries like the UK, USA and Canada can enter Thailand and be granted a visa on arrival. This is a very easy process you just need to turn up at an airport and this will be issued when you arrive. If you arrive by land you will be given a 15 day visa. Nationalities Which Are Eligible For The Thai Tourist Visa Include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea*, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, UK, USA and Vietnam.
There are no specific vaccinations needed to enter Thailand but please check with your local GP to see what they recommend a couple of months before departing. Malaria is only a problem in really rural areas around the Cambodia and Laos borders in the North, please ask locals and fellow travellers for advice on this. The chances of catching malaria in Thailand are slim but if you want to be on the safe side get tablets before departing.
Drink lots of water during summer, Thailand gets hot and its important to stay hydrated also be careful when drinking alcoholic buckets on the islands and beaches, usually these are really strong! Try the local food which is very tasty and usually includes fresh ingredients. Try to avoid eating fast food everyday as it might make you feel lethargic and tired. Avoid having sex without a condom, problems with HIV and Aids are a big problem in Thailand and there is a very active sex tourism market.
Thailand is a very touristy destination but it is still essential you follow the local laws and research the destination before departing. The FCO advises against all but essential travel to areas on the Thai - Malaysia borders and some on the Thai-Cambodian borders, in the city of Bangkok itself the rules perhaps aren’t as clear cut. The first rule in Bangkok is if there’s no set price get ready to haggle your way to a good price - but adopting a confrontational attitude won’t help.
It’s best to stick to tactics such as, “help me out on a good price here my friend” as a general rule. Remember Thais don’t like to ‘lose face’ so be gracious in your proceedings. Another good thing to remember is that at all times you need to carry your passport. It’s actually illegal to be without it so when deciding whether it’s safer to have it on you or in the hotel safe, the answer in Thailand is always securely on you! One last tip, don’t make defamatory comments about the King or the Royal Family for that matter, it’s another way you could find yourself in a prison rather than with a bucket down Khao San Road!
Travellers need to be aware of the high regard royalty is held in when visiting Thailand and be sure not to do anything that could be construed as official to the Thai royal family. Also, your clothing should be considered when in more rural parts of Thailand. Generally speaking, travellers should cover their shoulders and at least down to the knees when visiting rural villages.
The name Thailand means Land of the Free and not many countries in the world compare. Thailand was known as Siam until 1939, it's land borders are with Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Thailand really does have everything - brilliant city nightlife in Bangkok, stunning national parks for hiking, beautiful beaches, ornately decorated Buddhist temples and of the course the opportunity to get up and close with elephants. Our authentic holidays are from the leading international travel operators which are the perfect balance of sightseeing, culture and adventure with immersion and engrossing activities.
Thailand is one of the worlds most popular travel destinations there really so many things you could do when visiting so be sure to research all destinations before joining. As a whole, Thailand activity holidays are the complete package. From the crazy nightlife of Bangkok to the stunning jungle locations of some treks, this destination really do have it all. The best bit being - you get to decide where you visit. You could experience a city like Bangkok, join a hill tribe trek in the North, visit the stunning ancient temples, explore a city like Chiang Mai, see elephants, visit the tallest Buddhist monument in the world in the town of Nakhon Pathom or or go island hopping - the choice is yours.
Thailand is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world with over 10 million tourists visiting annually. If you would like to visit Thailand and do more than just sunbathing our activities and gap year programs will appeal to you.
Expect beautiful beaches, spectacular islands, diverse cities, spectacular mountains, tasty food and friendly locals. A lot of people in Thailand speak English so booking tranport is fairly easy, there are bus and trains which connect towns and cities throughout the country. These are very safe as is public transport, locals are very used to see tourists and people are generally very friendly. Always watch belongings on bus journeys, lots of people either misplace or have things stolen because they are careless.
In Thailand's capital - Bangkok, you can explore canals, explore markets or experience a traditional Thai massage. From Bangkok you could cruise down the "River of Kings" and visit the ancient Siamese capital of Ayutthaya which has an diverse selection of palaces and temples. In Southern Thailand you might want to go island hopping and see places like Koh Phi Phi and Phuket or kick back and relax at beautiful beach resorts in places like Koh Samui. In Northern Thailand you can explore cities like Chiang Mai, usually you will have around 2 days to enjoy the sights and sounds of this bustling city. You can also take a trek into the beautiful surrounding countryside, visit one of the 300 temples, check out the brilliant ancient city and the great shopping, cafes and architecture to be seen here. Take a stroll through the night market in the evening – we guarantee you won’t leave empty handed!
If you are looking to get away from the normal itinerary we recommend Songkhla which is one of the Southern mosts provinces in Thailand and considered the most important one for international trade and tourism (mainly with Malaysia). There is a harbour in Songkhla city, and loads of beautiful, sandy beaches. There are also many National Parks with stunning waterfalls and the Lake of Songkhla is famous for harbouring migration birds (from as far as the Himalayas and Siberia). You'll also get visits to the National Park Thalee Noi (bird sanctuary) and Don Na Chang National Park (with many waterfalls) thrown in too. These are a very small sampling of wonders just provides a taster of Thailand's rich history and fascinating culture.
Buses are highly recommended for getting around, these can be arranged with most travel agents but shop around as prices can vary differently. There are bus journeys for all budgets, if you want luxury you'll find amazing train carriages or premium bus services. Renting a car and riding on Thai roads is not really recommended unless you are really experienced. Hiring a moped is very easily done and a lot of fun especially on islands like Koh Chang but please always be safety conscious and wear a helmet. So many tourists get injured riding mopeds either going to quick or driving dangerously, if you have never riden one before go slow.
Looking for the best things to do on a gap year in Thailand? Our website can help you plan the ultimate experience. Thailand attracts thousands of travellers because of its beautiful beaches, rich culture and party scene. Taking a gap year in Thailand is a fun way for you to enjoy something different and see more of the world. There are no specific reasons why you might want to visit Thailand, maybe you are are finishing your studies, possible want to travel and see places you've heard about or you just want to experience one of the worlds greatest parties the Full Moon Party.
If you have never visited Asia before then Thailand is a great country to start, a lot of people speak English and travel can be organised very easily. Starting off your travels in the bustling city of Bangkok you can embrace the culture face on with busy markets, incredible street food and temples. Heading south your travels will be rewarded by beautiful sandy beaches and a laid back vibe. For those after a bit of adventure you can trek through jungles, learn to dive and kayak in Marine National Parks.
Visiting Thailand is a great opportunity to become attuned to how other countries live and it is undoubtedly a culturally rich experience. Many gap year travellers choose to book experiences through our website during their travels because there are few better ways to ingratiate yourself into the cultures and customs of the country. Whether on your trip you spend time soaking up the sights, meeting new people or you want to return home with some skills you never thought you would acquire, there are plenty of experiences available to book all year round. Popular adventure ideas include joining an overland adventure, going off the beaten track hill tribe expedition, going sea kayaking in Koh Chang, joining mountain walks in Chiang Rai and going rafting in the North.
Thailand is very well placed to travel around or take a gap year South-East Asia. Bangkok is an easily accessible city to get to from anywhere in the world and can be incorporated into most round the world tickets. This is a top destination for a reason, the food is delicious, there are friendly locals many of which speak English whilst there is also good infrastructure and also so many things to see and do. Highlights include partying in Koh Phangan, seeing the famous 'Maya Bay' from the film the Beach, visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, doing a trek up to the Burma border, island hopping, hiring a moped and exploring an island like Koh Chang & more.
We list gap year jobs and programs for students, graduates, career breaks and for people seeking the adventure of a lifetime. There are so many options from paid work, gaining experience on an internship or voluntary work. A lot of people work as TEFL teachers which is a great way to live and work in Thailand. There are so many different gap year programs and packages available, here are some options and recommendations:
If you would like to share your experience, advice or reviews please get in touch.
"I spend part of my gap year volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary in Thailand which was an incredible experience. Seeing and helping elephants was the highlight of my trip." - Jess, UK
"I spent last year on a gap year traveling around Thailand and have been a keen traveler ever since. I love adventure so try and tried to fit in as many exciting activities and cultural experiences as I could." - Charlotte, UK
"Go in search of the best island, there are so many to choose from. The full moon party is wild, if you are looking for culture and something more relaxing head to the north of the country." - Paul, UK
"Visit Chaing Mai on your gap year. There is literally so much to choose from including jungle treks, zip line adventures, cooking classes, animal conservations and everything in between. Chiang Mai is special, and I will be back there again one day. It was the most amazing experience and simply put: it is one of the best places I have ever visited and it has given me some memories that I cannot see being beaten anytime soon." - Jack B, UK
"I spent a year in Thailand with Project Trust and it was amazing and I wish I could re live the experience over again" - Bethany, UK
The cost of traveling in Thailand has risen in the past decade but you can still get great value if you seek out the best deals. Depending on what level of luxury you require you can budget for around £3 for food, £2 for drinks, £5 for accommodation and then £5 for other things like activities or tourist sights. We think you can live cheaply in Thailand for less than £15 ($25) per day if you are careful with spending. Remember alcohol can be more expensive than food and can stretch your budget if you drink a lot every day.
A cheaper option is to go to a supermarket or a local cafe / pub. Also don't be afraid to barter for prices, for examples taxis, street food and buying goods in shops and market stalls. You might think the prices are already cheap but they will probably lower the price with some persuasion. For internal transport in Thailand always shop around for the best prices, in Bangkok around the Koh San Road there are lots of agencies and the prices vary dramatically. Here we give you an idea of what you are roughly likely to pay for certain things in Thailand, this is only an estimate it really depends where you are and if you eat in local or touristy designated places.
Please do not support the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand, this means not buying any ivory / ornaments or souvenirs from exotic animals, reporting any restaurants which sell exotic wildlife on their menus (e.g. tigers) and also having your pictures taken with elephants and other animals like snakes and reptiles on the streets of cities like Bangkok. We also do not support the use of elephants for tourist purposes, please try to avoid riding elephants there are plenty of places you can see these magnificent creatures in a natural habitat.
Please also avoid visiting the Tiger Temple especially if you care about animals and wildlife conservation, this is a controversial place where tigers are raised by humans and reportedly drugged to make them passive to human contact. There are lots of really amazing wildlife holidays in Thailand which genuinely have the interests of the animals at heart, not profit to be made from tourists.
View our Asia travel guide.