Solo Travel Thailand: Koh Lipe Boats

18 Thailand Travel Tips for Solo Visitors [in 2021]

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 – there a few Thailand travel tips you need to consider before going, especially with all the uncertainly created around Thailand’s 2021 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 destinations in the world for traveling by myself, but I’m going to quickly go over a few practical things you should know before you go to Thailand.

18 Thailand Travel Tips for Solo Visitors

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A traveler alone in Thailand at the Pai Canyon
Me watching an amazing sunset at the Pai Canyon

1. You Now Need Medical Insurance to Enter Thailand in 2021

It used to be that getting travel insurance for Thailand was optional, and I remember debates between travelers in hostel common rooms about whether or not it was really worth it. These days, though, you don’t have a choice. In light of the covid-19 pandemic, Thailand is requiring visitors to provide proof of medical insurance with at least $100,000 USD in coverage, and covering covid-19. Personally, I’ve always used World Nomads for Thailand, and they are still the best company I’ve found. But you should always do your own research and shop around (read my full guide on the subject to learn how).

2. 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 …

3. Thailand is Really Affordable

Solo Travel in Thailand: A Beach in Koh Lanta
My private room near this beach in Koh Lanta cost $13/night!

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 …

4. Hostels Are an Easy Way to Make Friends

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, central, and safe.

Many of them 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.

5. Scooters are Great – But Be Careful

A bike that one might rent while traveling solo in Thailand
Scooters are great for solo travel in Thailand – 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!

6. 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.

👉 Pro tip: if you need help managing the teaching or volunteering process, check out the folks over at Global Work and Travel. Basically, they’re a service that helps you manage the entire process, from getting visas to finding work to getting one the plane to Bangkok.

7. Pack a Filtration Water Bottle to Drink Safely (And Save the Planet!)

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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. 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.

8. 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!

9. It’s Easy to Find a Beach for Yourself

Solo Travel Thailand: A palm on a beach
One of Thailand’s many great beaches for solo travelers

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).

10. 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.

11. Songkran is Worth Planning a Trip Around

Solo Travel Thailand: Waterfight on Songkran
The streets of Thailand turn into a water fight for Songkran

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!

12. 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.

13. But You Should Go Anyway If It Re-Opens

The Full Moon Party Thailand
Sunrise over the famous Full Moon Party

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.

14. Try to Watch as Many Sunsets as You Can

Sunset in Koh Phangan Thailand
Sunset in Koh Phangan Thailand

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!

15. Don’t Exploit Elephants and Tigers Please

Thailand tiger temple
These animals belong in the wild, not drugged up and abused for your pleasure

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!

16. 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 🙂

17. 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.”

18. 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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