Solo Travel in Thailand
Can there ever be an easier country to travel around? If you’ve never travelled solo before then Thailand should be your first port of call. The people are incredibly friendly (it’s not called ‘The Land of Smiles’ for nothing) and there are so many travellers here following the same routes that you’ll be looking for those hidden gems to escape the crowds.
Solo travel in Thailand is so easy as the country is geared up for tourism and because of its reputation for great beaches and partying, the country tends to attract a younger crowd of traveller.
However, there is Thai Mafia on the islands, and places such as: Koh Samui, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai have rip off industries protected by the police so don't argue with a local if you get overcharged. If you respect the culture, don't dress provocatively and avoid the beaches at night – you'll have an amazingly cheap time.
Service with a smile, delicious cuisine and white pristine beaches, this country literally has it all, whether you’re into your sun-worshipping, hill tribes or Buddhist culture, the Land of Smiles will definitely not disappoint. The country is no stranger to tourism and is continuously evolving. With the cost of living so low you are guaranteed to be treated like a queen.
The capital, Bangkok is one of Asia’s most exciting and culture shocking cities. It’s busy, polluted and incredibly humid but it does have the Temple of the Golden Buddha, the River Kwai and markets galore from night bazaars to the floating kind (Wat Sai). Tuk tuks whizz around the streets and are a cheap mode of transport but make sure you hold on tight. You can also hire them as a guide to take you around the city.
Khao San Road is a mecca for travellers and if you’re in need of some company head for this well-known street with everything you need from guest houses, tour operators, bars and restaurants. When the crowds get too much treat yourself to a famous Thai massage (which isn’t as relaxing as you may think) or a treatment from one of the many beauty parlours.
Head south and you’ll find the undisputed sex-tourism capital of the world, Pattaya known for tacky neon bars and Go Go girls. As women travelling alone we prefer the more luxurious hideaways of Hua Hin or Koh Kood to escape the crowds.
The beaches are every cliche under the sun and there are so many to choose from especially along the Andaman Coast. If you only go to one beach in Thailand make it Railay Bay a stunning part of the peninsular with a turquoise blue lagoon that is only reachable by boat.
Patpong in Phuket is probably the liveliest area but if you want somewhere quieter choose Karon Beach which is close enough to venture into the hot spots at night. You can take a tour from here to James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay and visit a Gypsy Fisherman Village on the way.
From one movie set to another; Maya Bay just off Ko Phi Phi was the setting for the film The Beach and is as stunning as it is in the movie (if not a little different). Ko Phi Phi itself is a bustling little island with cafes serving western food as well as Thai and has movies playing all day long. You definitely won’t be short of company here.
Travelling solo in Thailand means you can island hop to your heart's content, although the overnight boats leave a lot to be desired. Surrathani is the gateway to two of the most popular islands, Ko Samui and Koh Phangan.
If you’re into the party scene, Koh Phangan holds regular full or black moon parties at Koh Som where you can dance barefoot in the sand to hedonistic beats. Haadrin beach is full of travellers and you’ll find many solos here.
Just a boat ride away is Koh Samui, the largest of the islands with palm-fringed beaches and a lively party scene. There are quieter parts of the island which cater for couples and singles. Bo Phut is great for those wishing to escape from it all in a beach bungalow with waves lapping at your door.
Chaweng beach is the most touristy with Thai kickboxing, party dwellers and a beach that stretches for miles. You can do a day trip from here to Koh Tao, one of Thailand’s favourite dive spots.
There’s more to Thailand than its beaches, nightlife and fresh barracuda, the country is drenched in Buddhist culture and is dotted with stunning temples and palaces. Nakhon Pathom is the oldest city in Thailand and has the tallest Buddhist monument in the world but the most stunning has to be the White Temple of Chiang Rai in the north which borders neighbouring Burma.
Ayutthaya was once the nations’ capital and was ranked as the most magnificent city in the Orient. Nowadays it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with cultural shows and too many temples and palaces to count.
There really is no better way to meet Thailand’s indigenous people than on a hill tribe trek, staying overnight with the tribes. Head north to Chiang Mai, the largest city in the north and the gateway to tribal treks, and bamboo rafting.
It is Thailand’s second largest city with its own night bazaar and Sunday market and is home to the Crystal Buddha and the underground Tunnel Temple. (Don’t forget to try Thai cuisine from the street vendors, it’s just as good as the restaurants and much cheaper). Chiang Mai does get smoky in March each year due to the farmers burning their fields to get ready for the crops.
Sustainable and eco tourism are growing in Thailand especially in Chiang Mai and Koh Chang and the country has numerous national parks, waterfalls and heritage sites. See the Thi Lo Su waterfall for its beauty or the seven tiers of Erawan and take a dip in its freshwater pools. Visit the National Parks of Doi Inthanon, home to Thailand’s highest peak or Khao Sok National Park, one of the best in Thailand.
Many travellers come to Thailand each year and stick to a particular route. To avoid the masses, head to the North for rural tranquility in Surin, Ancient Khmer ruins in Buri Ram or Nong Khai for great river views of the Mekong (opposite Laos). The East has idyllic, isolated beaches but get there quick before they are properly discovered.
Visit Koh Chang for solitude or Rayong with its coastline of quieter less developed beaches. In the South a quiet escape can be found on the long coastline of Chumphon or visit Trang for the Emerald Cave and waterfalls in a peaceful forest setting.
Thailand also caters for the adventurous traveller with watersports, trekking, rafting (in the North), cycling, rock climbing (Krabi is the best spot) and even bungee jumping in Pattaya, Phuket, Ko Samui and Mae Rim. There’s a reason it’s called ‘Amazing Thailand’ because it literally is.
If you visit on a government holiday, tuk tuk drivers may try and take you to government shops in exchange for free fuel. Just be firm on where you want to go.
Thais don’t seem to know the meaning of health and safety and boats can get very overcrowded.
Be careful with your drinks in the tourist areas as drinks have been known to be spiked.
How long do I need?
To see the major destinations or travel overland to Malaysia you’ll need around a month but experiencing the country as a holiday can be done in less. In one week to 10 days you can visit Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the southern beaches.
Accommodation in Thailand
From huts on the beach to staying in a hotel fit for Thai royalty, whichever accommodation you are looking for you will find in true Thai style. You won’t find many houses on stilts in paddy fields or cheap beach huts bookable on the internet but you will be able to book lavish hotels in Bangkok and spa resorts on the beach.
There aren’t many hostels in the beach areas but you’ll find them in Bangkok, Surat Thani, Phuket, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai on Hostelworld. Plus there’s Airbnb which connects you to unique travel experiences and isn’t just limited to staying in a local’s spare room. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
GatG Favourite – Asia Hotel, Bangkok
The perfect place to stay in Bangkok with the Skytrain nearby. If you love food, the Asia Hotel has an impressive range of cuisine and is great value for money. Prices from £37 p/n. Find out more…
GatG Favourite – Chaweng Buri Resort, Koh Samui
This 3 star Thai resort is set in the heart of Chaweng Beach. It may only have 3 stars but there is plenty to help you relax from a hot tub to Thai massages. Prices from £61 p/n. Find out more…
GatG Favourite – ThaiLife Homestay Resort & Spa, Khao Lak
If you fancy being surrounded in nature with the added bonus of a nearby beach, ThaiLife Homestay Resort & Spa is simply stunning. Plus there’s a free shuttle to the city. Prices from £72 p/n. Find out more…
If you’re after some company on all or part of your trip, both Gadventures and Intrepid Travel are responsible tour companies and have group tours from 7 to 18 days for every solo whether you prefer comfort or backpacking in Thailand.
Take the Highlights of Thailand tour and see the best of Thailand in 10 days. Sail around Thailand from Koh Phi Phi on a 7 day sailing trip, or take a 14 day Thailand hike, bike & kayak and explore Thailand the adventurous way. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
For local tour companies, the following have been recommended by solo female travellers.
- Local Day Tours with Urban Adventures – Visit temples and the River of Kings or explore Bangkok by bike.
- Chai Lai Sisters is a women-led trekking company which offers ethical tours such as hilltribe treks and cultural immersions.
- Responsible travel around northern Thailand with Thailand Hilltribe Holidays.
Travelling Around Thailand
Travelling in Thailand is very easy. Local tour operators are everywhere to book your travel through the country and any onward tickets. Head North on overnight trains (13 hours) and South on air-conditioned buses (up to 8 hours).
Ferries and overnight boats take you to the islands; motorcycles, taxis, tuk tuks and overland trucks pick you up in towns and cities. In Bangkok use the skytrain or even a boat. You can fly to some of the islands if you don’t have time to travel overland. Read here for domestic airports.
Uber – When getting around the cities you may feel more comfortable with Uber instead of taking a taxi. Uber is a driver app where each driver is vetted beforehand, and you can see the driver’s picture and registration number before they arrive. Save up to $20 off your first ride with Uber using promo code RIDINGUBER20.
To hire a car we recommend pre-booking car hire with Avis so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
From the Airport
It takes 15 minutes to the city by airport rail link which leaves every 30 minutes and takes you to Phaya Thai for the Skytrain. There’s also a commuter line which stops at all stations. Taxis are really reasonable and can be booked on the first floor.
The desk will ask your destination and write the name in Thai to hand to the driver. Public buses run from the second floor but there is no direct service to Khao San Road.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
Travelling onwards (check visas before you travel)
If you’re travelling on a round the world ticket, Bangkok can be used for the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Burma which can be reached overland. Thailand can also be twinned with: Korea, Middle East and the Maldives with Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways or Air Asia.
Thailand To Malaysia – Hat Yin is just a few hours from the border where you get a minibus to Penang. Krabi is a good last stop as minibuses go from here to Hai Yin, or catch a boat from Satun to the island of Langkawi.
Thailand To Burma – Cross from Mae Sai at the northern tip but check the latest advice before you go as border crossing information can change.
Thailand To Laos – There are several crossings but one of the most popular is Nong Khai, which crosses into Vientiane, the capital of Laos. You can travel from Bangkok to Nong Khai which takes approx 10 hours or cross at Chiang Khong into Huya Xai but you will need to pre-arrange your visa here.
Thailand To Cambodia – From Bangkok it’s 3 hours to the Aranyprathet border crossing to Poipet.
Where can I go from here?
Cambodia – 1 hour 25 minutes
Burma – 1 hour 30 minutes
Laos – 1 hour 30 minutes
- Can I drink the water? No.
- Is tipping expected? No but 10% is appreciated.
- Fixed price or barter? Barter.
- Any ATMs? Yes and lots of money exchanges.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Left.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No.
*This is accurate at time of writing but we appreciate things can change. Please let us know if you experience anything otherwise. Thanks…
Capital – Bangkok
Population – 63.5 million
Language Spoken – Thai. English is widely spoken.
Best Time to Go – March to May for the South. November to December for the North.
Did you know? Thailand has many homestays for authentic experiences with the local people
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