Thailand is one of those unquestioned destinations for backpackers. It’s been that way for decades. The combination of climate, affordable cost of living, and the variety of sights and attractions all make for an ideal destination for budget travelers. In this post, we will offer some general tips for visiting the land of smiles.
Avoid the hordes
Tourists and backpackers flock to certain areas and overwhelm them. Phuket may be beautiful, but know that you won’t be the only one enjoying it. In fact, there will be a veritable united nations style representation of the world soaking up the rays there. But there are many nearby spots like Ko Lanta that don’t see as many visitors. On the opposite side of Thailand, islands like Ko Tao are generally quieter and less touristed than places like Ko Samui.
Eat like the locals
Thailand is a land of delicious street food. On every corner and every roadside, you will see carts piled high with fruits and juices, noodles and fried delicacies, and everything in between. You can eat whole meals for a dollar or two and you will come away satisfied with both the quantity and the quality. Try to avoid tourist restaurants and instead follow the locals to the popular food carts around town. You will not be disappointed.
Stay in guesthouses
Many budget travelers will opt for hostels because that’s where most backpackers congregate, but guesthouses offer great value and often a cultural experience as well. Typically, guesthouses are smaller and family run, and you may have an opportunity to interact with the family on a regular basis. This could also mean that you could profit from home-cooked meals. Alternatively, take a look at our post on finding free accommodation over here.
Don’t ride the elephants
Riding on an elephant is a popular tourist activity in Thailand, but the abuses of these large animals are well documented. You don’t need to ride an elephant to enjoy your time in northern Thailand. Instead, research responsibly run tour outfits that will let you go on an excursion that does not involve elephants. Or, visit elephants at a sanctuary where you can see them up close, but cannot ride on them.
Smile and laugh, it goes a long way
Thai culture is averse to public displays of emotion and anger. Often, people will smile even if they are not necessarily overtly happy. This has to do with deep-rooted elements of the culture, some of which relate directly to Buddhism, which is widely practiced here. If you take things lightly and focus on composing yourself and taking a breath before reacting to every little thing, you may find that you are smiling and laughing a lot more than you thought you would. This is one of the best valuable lessons a visitor to Thailand can learn.
Feel free to share your own tips on traveling to Thailand in the comments below