19 Thailand Travel Tips for Solo Visitors [in 2023]
Thinking about taking a solo trip to Thailand? After lockdown life, doesn’t the thought of sitting on a Thai beach sound amazing?
Here’s the thing – Thailand is a great place to consider if it is your first time traveling alone. But there a few Thailand travel tips you need to consider before going, especially with all the uncertainly created around Thailand’s reopening to tourism.
I’ve updated my list of travel tips for Thailand in an effort to give you the latest info about a country I love and have visited multiple times (most recently for a 3 month stint). Thailand remains one of my favorite solo travel destinations in the world, but I’m going to quickly go over a few practical things you should know before you go to Thailand.
19 Thailand Travel Tips for Solo Visitors
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1. Know the Entry Requirements
Thailand grants visa-free entry to visitors from 64 “visa exemption” countries (including the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and much of Europe). As of April 1, 2023, visa-exempt entry is allowed for a period of 30 days (it was temporarily 45 days, but they changed it back to 30 days recently). Tourists on a visa exempt entry stamp can extend their stay for another 30 days by visiting a local immigration office once inside Thailand.
Note that, as of October 1, 2022, Thailand dropped its prior requirement for proof of vaccination or a negative test.
2. Consider Medical Insurance
For the past several years, getting travel insurance for Thailand was required for tourist visas. However, Thailand dropped that requirement this past summer when it ended the “Thailand Pass” registration scheme.
Traveling is still risky traveling these days, though. You can compare quotes from dozens of companies in minutes through a site like VisitorsCoverage.
If you’re traveling for a longer period of time, you could also check out Genki for subscription-style monthly medical health insurance. It’s pretty affordable and geared towards digital nomads!
Genki provides extremely affordable medical cover for longer stays. It's really targeted at digital nomads who want health cover as a recurring subscription.
- Affordable monthly medical coverage
- Simple claims process
- Only medical - not full travel insurance (no gear, theft, or trip delay coverages)
3. Thailand is Great for Solo Travel
Maybe you’re worried about traveling to Thailand alone.
Well, don’t be.
Solo travel in Thailand is simply awesome and I think it is one of the best countries in the world for traveling alone.
Why do I say that?
Well, a couple of reasons. First, there are a LOT of tourists in Thailand – and quite a lot of them are traveling in Thailand alone. With so many other solo travelers in Thailand, it’s really easy to meet people and even find companions to join you on your Thailand itinerary. Now, mind you, there will be fewer people these days because of the pandemic, but you still are likely to find plenty of other travelers.
Second, Thailand is a gorgeous country and there are so many beautiful places to visit in Thailand and activities to keep you busy you may forget you are solo.
And, lastly, when it comes to stretching a budget …
4. Thailand is Really Affordable
Traveling by yourself can get expensive.
Thankfully, of the world’s most popular countries for tourism, Thailand remains one of the most affordable. When everything is so easy on the wallet, you can afford to travel longer — or to splurge on a little bit of “me” time.
Thailand’s prices are especially great for solo travelers because they mean that, even without sharing, private accommodation can be very budget friendly.
It’s not uncommon to find decent private accommodation for $10 USD per night. That’s one reason Thailand is a great backpacker destination, even when you compare Thailand vs Bali and other affordable SouthEast Asian destinations.
And if you want to save even more, take advantage of this next tip …
5. Hostels Are an Easy Way to Make Friends
If you’re wondering how to book a hostel, then look no further than Hostelworld. They have a worldwide selection of hostels, each rated and reviewed by real travelers.
Thailand is one of the biggest backpacking destinations in the world. So, if you are going to solo travel in Thailand, you should definitely consider staying in a hostel. Thailand has literally thousands of hostels, and most of them are clean, cheap, and central. And, yes, generally hostels are safe.
Many hostels even offer hostel jobs to backpackers through the platform World Packers.
Best of all?
Staying in a hostel is one of the easiest ways to make friends while traveling alone in Thailand. Remember, there are a lot of other solo travelers in Thailand.
And a lot of them stay in hostels! I made so many friends in the hostels of Thailand that a lot of the time I totally forgot I was technically a solo traveler. To help plan your trip, check out this backpacker guide to Thailand.
6. Scooters are Great – But Be Careful
If you know how to drive them, renting a scooter or motorbike can be one of the best ways to explore Thailand. They are very affordable to rent (usually about $5-8 USD/day) and they can give you the freedom to explore out of the way places by yourself.
Even on the busiest Thai islands, I found that having a scooter meant I could escape to some secret beach tucked away from the crowds.
But you do need to be sure that you actually know how to ride a scooter. Way too many foreigners in Thailand hop on a bike without knowing what they are doing (or, worse, while being drunk) and end up seriously injuring themselves or someone else. So be careful before hopping on that ride!
Also, make sure you’re actually legal to drive! Rental places don’t check, but the police will. Unless you have a Thai license, US citizens and most other foreigners need a motorcycle endorsement as well as an International Driving Permit to be considered legal (your license from home is not enough).
It takes less than 10 minutes to apply for an International Driving Permit. Essential for many countries like Thailand, and a good thing to have on hand no matter where you're driving.
7. You Can Volunteer, or Get Paid to Teach, in Thailand
Even before the pandemic, one really common way to travel Thailand solo was to join a volunteer program or get a job teaching English in Thailand. Thousands of visitors, ranging from gap year college kids to senior citizens, do this every year. You just need to make sure to sort out all the right visa info, and then find a program willing to accept you.
Check out Worldpackers to find opportunities in Thailand (or read Vanessa’s story of how she used WorldPackers to go to Asia on the cheap!).
8. Pack a Filtration Water Bottle to Drink Safely (And Save the Planet!)
Why does simply getting a drink of water while traveling or hiking have to be a such a pain? This premium water bottle filters out more viruses and bacteria than any we've seen before. The price tag means its an investment, but you'll save on water bottles and help save the planet along the way!
Obviously you don’t want to drink the water straight from the tap anywhere in Thailand. But of course that usually results in spending a lot of money on water bottles, and then immediately polluting the planet with the plastic garbage you create.
Here’s a Thailand travel tip for an easy solution to this problem:
Buy a filtration water water before you leave for Thailand. It’s a great addition to every solo travel packing checklist.
Our writer Taylor recently reviewed the Grayl Geopress, which is a premium item, but for something more affordable just check out a simple LifeStraw portable filtration water bottle. Whatever you get, a filtration water bottle will filter water for you, saving money and the planet along the way.
9. Thailand is Safe for Solo Travelers
Speaking of safety, you might be wondering:
Is Thailand safe to travel alone?
Thailand is generally very safe for travel by solo visitors. There are dangers everywhere in the world, and Thailand is no exception. Scams are the most likely safety issue in Thailand. But generally speaking most travelers feel very comfortable traveling alone in Thailand.
The most dangerous part of traveling Thailand alone (or traveling with others, for that matter) is probably going to be the roads. It’s a big reason why I always buy travel insurance in Thailand!
10. It’s Easy to Find a Beach for Yourself
Thailand is renowned for its beaches for a reason. You’ll find beautiful sand, crystal clear water, and some of the best diving and snorkeling spots around.
Heck, there is even a famous movie set there entitled “The Beach.” And, because of that reputation, some of Thailand’s beaches can get downright crowded.
But do you want to know a little secret?
Almost everywhere in Thailand, it’s possible to find a less touristed and quiet beach, even on the popular islands. All you have to do is ask some locals where the tranquil secret beaches are and work out your transport there (again, this is where a scooter comes in handy).
11. Thailand Offers Lots of Cheap Transport Options
Speaking of transport, scooters aren’t the only ride in town in Thailand. Tuk-tuks are everywhere, relatively affordable, and worth taking if only for the experience.
Or you can do like the locals and hop on a “Songthaew” — which is basically a truck that’s used for very cheap public transport.
And when it comes to getting between destinations as a solo traveler in Thailand, there are loads of transportation options too. Trains, buses, and ferries are all plentiful and relatively affordable. And if you value time over money, then budget carriers like AirAsia offer cheap flights within the country.
👉 Read Next: Tips for Solo Female Travelers
12. Songkran is Worth Planning a Trip Around
There are a lot of really cool experiences to have as a solo traveler in Thailand, but Songkran is by far my favorite.
What is Songkran, you ask?
It’s the Thai New Year’s festival and it’s celebrated on April 13th of every year. There are a lot of traditions associated with the festival, but the big one is that essentially the entire country turns into a giant water fight!
Songkran is seriously fun. I arrived on Koh Tao last year the morning of Songkran, and no sooner had I exited the ferry than I was doused — bags and all — in buckets of water.
The only thing I could do? Grab a SuperSoaker and join in the action!
Oh, and it is super easy to make friends at the festival – even if you are traveling to Thailand alone!
13. The Full Moon Party, Meanwhile, Isn’t
Oh, yeah, there is this other festival in Thailand that you might have heard of. It’s called the Full Moon Party and it too is an experience.
A lot of people doing solo travel in Thailand will plan a trip around going to the Full Moon Party.
But the party in a lot of ways reflects some of the worst things about tourism in Thailand. I’ve been twice. And, to be honest, it’s far from the greatest party I’ve been to in my life.
You may be bummed out that, at least for now, covid-19 has put a stop to the Full Moon Party. But, look, if you want to party on your solo trip through Thailand there will be many opportunities, so don’t feel bad if you can’t make the Full Moon Party.
14. But You Should Go Anyway If It Re-Opens
With that said, the Full Moon Party can be fun and it is definitely a unique experience. When I went in April, it wasn’t nearly as overcrowded as I expected, there was lots of interesting entertainment, and I was surprised by just how gorgeous the beach was.
Plus, there are so many solo travelers at the party that it’s a great way to connect with others if you are traveling alone in Thailand.
So if they ever restart the party, and you’re in the area anyway, go ahead and have some fun. Just don’t be one of those drunk fools who makes an embarrassment out of visitors to Thailand.
15. Try to Watch as Many Sunsets as You Can
I know, I know, “watch the sunset” seems like a pretty lame solo travel tip right?
Well, tell me what you think after you’ve seen the sunset a half dozen times or so in Thailand. I’ve been around the world, and in my opinion, Thailand has some of the most consistently amazing sunsets in the world. And because you’re likely to spend a lot of time on islands while doing solo travel in Thailand, it’s always possible to find a westward facing view!
16. Don’t Exploit Elephants and Tigers Please
A decade ago, it was practically a right of passage for backpackers in Thailand to ride elephants and take a photo with tiger cubs at one of Thailand’s “tiger temples.”
These days we know the truth: this is animal abuse. The elephants are brutally beaten to become compliant enough to allow human riders, and Thailand’s unethical tiger temples drug the beautiful animals so that visitors can take photos with them. Cubs are even separated from their mothers.
Be an ethical traveler and skip the elephant riding and tiger selfies!
17. Don’t Forget About Thailand’s North
While the Thai islands are great for their sunsets, don’t forget to plan to spend some time in Thailand’s gorgeous and mountainous north.
Chiang Mai is one of the most popular spots for solo travel in the world. You’ll spend your mornings exploring some of the most beautiful temples in the world, your afternoons hanging out with elephants (just don’t ride them), and your nights eating incredible street food.
Or head on up to Pai, where you can soak in life at one of the top backpacker towns in the world.
Pai is absolutely filled with other people traveling through Thailand solo – so you’re practically guaranteed not to be alone there 🙂
18. You’ll Have to Go Through Bangkok A Lot
Bangkok is the hub for pretty much any travel in Thailand (and Southeast Asia more generally). So, regardless of whether your itinerary is filled with the tourist hotspots or some off-the-beaten-path destinations, you’re likely to find yourself going through the city at a few points during your solo trip through Thailand.
In fact, after spending some time doing solo travel in Thailand, you’ll soon get familiar with the phrase “back to Bangkok.”
19. But Be Sure to Go Beyond Khaosan Road
Bangkok has something of a mixed reputation amongst solo travelers in Thailand. Some love it and some absolutely hate it.
But do you know what I think the difference is between those two groups of people?
The difference is whether they’ve explored the city beyond Khaosan Road, the famous tourist strip. I’ve found that a lot of solo travelers tend to spend a night or two on Khaosan, quickly sour on the crowded streets and over-the-top tourism, and never look back.
But there is a lot more to explore in Bangkok, and if you talk to people who take the time to travel beyond Khaosan, you’ll find that they almost universally fall in love with the city!
That’s it for these Thailand travel tips for visitors traveling Thailand alone!
But one last thing before you go: check out this neat trick that will help you get a free Lonely Planet Thailand pdf!
Solo travel in Thailand can be incredible. So enjoy your trip, and let me know in the comments if you have any questions or tips of your own for solo travel to Thailand!
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Enjoyed the article… Traveling to Thailand for a month… 25th of March to April 25
Sounds like a lot of fun! And I think that means you’ll be there for Songkran!
I’ve really enjoyed reading your articel! Thank you for the tips!!
If you’re not staying in hostels, Facebook groups, couchsurfing and airbnb experiences are great ways to meet people too 😉
Can’t agree on one piece of advice, the Tuk tuks! They are largely scammers/gang enterprises and will often try to take you on round about trips that include unwanted stops to cheap jewelry and awful “tourists sites.” This is despite negotiation of price beforehand. Furthermore, they are environmentally filthy with their smokey two stroke engines. Lastly, they are definitely NOT cheaper than the metered taxi except for really short hops under a mile.
But for short hops why not walk? At a starting meter price the taxis are air conditioned and super cheap. Bangkok to airport (45 minutes) is baht as example or about $5 US. Or, good luck on Tuk tuk!
Thanks for your perspective Tony. My point is just that tuk tuks are a relatively affordable means of travel, at least for anyone used to US or Europe prices. I agree they are more expensive in Bangkok, but in much of the rest of the country (such as the islands) they are essential to getting around if you don’t have a scooter.
Hi Nate, I want to spend about 2 weeks in Thailand but I am not sure which city to start at. I want to explore Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Spending about 3-4 days in each city. May you kindly advice on this. I do not mind the order of the cities, I can start anywhere.
Hi Rachel – that sounds like a great plan. Those are three of the largest destinations in Thailand and all three have airports with frequent flights between them.
Thanks for mentioning not riding a beaten elephant or petting a drugged tiger.
Thanks for the very interesting article!
I want to do a solo travel in Thailand, would you recommend to travel from north to south or from south to north?
(I have 3 weeks and I’m thinking of doing also some volunteer work for 1 week!
Hi Sofie – going either way is generally fine, in my opinion. The one thing I’d avoid is spending time in the north during March or April, which is burning season in northern Thailand. Otherwise, I think whatever works for your schedule is just fine. In general, you will find more volunteer opportunities in the north. Check out Vanessa’s Worldpackers review for tips on how to find them.
Hi Nate, loved the article, lots of helpful tips. I am planning a 5 week trip across 5 countries and I will be in thiland at 2 different parts. For one day I will be in Bangkok with a group of 4 and then a week or so later i have about 5 days by myself in Bangkok. I have never traveled out of the US by myself and am a bit worried about getting lost or stuck somewhere and not making it back to bangkok for my flight. Still, I have 5 days and would love to explore more of the country that just the city. Do you have any tips for the best mode of travel for getting in and out of the city or maybe a place out of the city that is the most worth visiting or easy to get to and from?
Hi Cam! First, congrats on your first solo trip abroad – Thailand is a great choice! I would suggest just being sure to be back in Bangkok at least one night before your flight, and you should be fine. There are plenty of quick and easy affordable flights from Bangkok to elsewhere in the country. You could go to Chiang Mai if you want jungles, mountains, and temples. Or fly to Krabi and visit Ao Nang if you want beach. Or to Koh Samui if you want an island.
If you’re really worried about it, I would suggest checking out Koh Chang. It is a beautiful island and one of my favorites in Thailand. You can access it by bus/ferry combo from Bangkok.
Planning to stay in Thailand should I break It down to two destinations for the month or is it cool to sit in Bangkok for the whole month ?
Hi Bill –
It depends what you’re looking for, but personally I would suggest visiting one of Thailand’s amazing island or mountain destinations. Bangkok is a world class city and there is definitely enough to keep you busy for a month if you are the kind of traveler who likes to go deep into a city. But it’s an entirely different Thailand outside of Bangkok, so I’d suggest visiting somewhere else. It’s a short flight to Koh Samui, Krabi, or Phuket, which are home to tons of amazing beachfront destinations. You could also go north and visit the mountains, checking out Chiang Mai, Pai, or Chiang Rai. If you want to stay closer to Bangkok, it is only a couple hours over land to Pattaya, or a few more and a ferry to visit my favorite Thai island, Koh Chang.
Whatever you do, it sounds like a great trip! Have fun in Thailand!
I’m due some solo travel in November, perhaps for a month.
Thailand with few days in Cambodia. Would you recommend planning, or just seeing where the wind takes me? I imagine it’s relatively easy to make plans on the fly.
Hi Darren – it really depends what type of travel you like. Especially if traveling overland, it is true that Thailand and Cambodia are relatively easy places to plan on the go.