Thailand is a popular destination for solo travelers. As a result, over the years we have published many posts on the country thanks to readers who have traveled solo there and reported back to our community.
But with Solo Traveler being over 10 years old, it's not surprising that some posts are a little stale.
We've been busy updating some of the most important posts on the site. In this case, we've combined a number of the posts on Thailand into one and updated the information so that we can share with you what other solo travelers have enjoyed in various Thailand destinations.
Using our solo travel destination ranking system, Thailand is a 1.5. One indicates that the country is very safe and easy to travel and 3 suggests that it is quite difficult. A 1.5 certainly suggests that it is solo-friendly. The languages spoken are Thai and English.
For those planning to go to Thailand, World Nomads has extensive information on safety there.
Table of Contents
Solo Travel Thailand: A Quick Overview
Nino, who is from the Philippines, gave us this summary about Thailand: Anyone who travels solo in Asia, aside from going to India, eventually finds themselves in Thailand. Its tourist trade is well-established and there are a myriad of options for getting to certain places. Though I really recommend staying in Bangkok for just a few days, it’s when you go around the country that you see the true Thailand. The further away you are from Bangkok, the better it gets. The southern beaches and the cities in the North are a must for any traveler. The country's culture is exotic, yet it has many western attitudes. Some say that it is overly touristy, but this also means that you are almost guaranteed to find good company with other solo travelers. In my first solo trip to Thailand, I managed to meet people from Hungary, Slovakia, Finland, the USA, Argentina, Canada, Ireland, Indonesia, Australia, and Germany.
Solo Travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand
This report on Chiang Mai came from Inoka, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook who lives in Sri Lanka.
Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand stole my heart. It's a mixture of everything you could possibly want in an Asian holiday. Chiang Mai spells out vibrant culture through and through. Being a novice photographer, I've realized that one way to explore a destination and improve photography skills is to do at least a day's photo tour. Exploring Chiang Mai on a photography tour was a wonderful experience.
Markets speak a lot about a destination's culture. The markets there have just about everything under the sun. Some of the vendors have been there for generations and you feel as if they've grown with time. It's amazing how day markets convert into night markets after around 5:00 p.m. and buzz with music, street food, and various items that will catch the eyes of tourists and locals alike. It's beautiful to see members of hill tribes selling some of their produce in these markets as well.
The architecture and temples (called Wat in Thai) are amazing. Some, if not all are centuries old. Whilst each one has a story, the Silver Temple merits specific mention. The paneling for the temple has been designed and carved by generations of silversmiths. The detail in those panels is so intricate. It's a must visit.
The Old Chiang Mai square is a city on its own. Whilst catering to tourists with beautiful hotels and a multitude of coffee shops and eateries, the old world charm of spiritual Chiang Mai prevails. There are a number of Wats inside the square and it's recommended that some, if not all, should be visited as each one has something beautiful to offer.
The other interesting things to do are to visit the model tribal village to get a feel for the lifestyle and ways of Northern Thailand's hill tribes, the Bo Sang traditional umbrella village (now a craft village) to see the traditional umbrellas being made and hand painted, and the Chiang Mai Zoo (for which I didn't have the time). *Please see the comments below for other perspectives.
What's special about Chiang Mai is that there is something for everyone. Even children. There are artists, traditional bamboo tattooists, bars, both fancy restaurants and chains we are familiar with (e.g., McDonald's, Subway, Starbucks), sidewalk eateries serving very good food, and lots of street food and fruit. There are three massive shopping malls and a lot of small shops that sell good quality handicrafts and anything else one would need.
Finding accommodation is pretty easy. I stayed at Imperial Mae Ping (currently under renovation) which was easily accessible and known. But there are beautiful high-end properties as well as a multitude of vacation rentals.
Getting about is easy, too. You can walk to most places if you stay in central Chiang Mai or there are tuk tuks and means of public transport to practically everywhere.
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is between November and February. The weather is cool and the place is simply beautiful.
Like any other destination, travelers will need to exercise their own safety measures and do their own research before traveling. It is recommended that you read reviews and other literature before you plan your visit. It all depends on what you want, for how long, and how far your wallet can stretch.
All in all, this is a must-visit destination if you are into culture, people, and like the old charm with a flavor of the modern world. As you can see, I could go on and all this surely calls for another visit!
Go, explore, relax. Basically, have a fabulous solo holiday in Chiang Mai. Yes to solo travel Thailand.
The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai – Thailand Highlight
This report on Elephant Nature Park came from Angela of the United States. She is a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook.
After a week of sightseeing in Cambodia, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai, I set off to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a volunteer vacation. Elephant Nature Park offers single day and overnight visits to the park and seven-day volunteer opportunities. In fact, they offer experiences beyond the original park to other locations in Thailand and even Cambodia. It's far from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai city.
I reserved my spot as a weekly volunteer several months in advance, as the programs are in high demand. On a beautiful Monday in January, 50 other weekly volunteers and I arrived at the Elephant Nature Park office, where they shuttled us in air conditioned vans to the project site.
For the next week, many other solo travelers and I bonded over daily chores like washing watermelons, cleaning the park, cutting corn in the fields, and scooping elephant poop – which is not as bad as it sounds!
Each day, we were able to get close to the elephants and learn their stories. In our free time, our Volunteer Coordinators helped us bathe and feed some of the 41 rescued elephants at the project. We were encouraged to walk dogs at the attached dog shelter, and nights were structured with Thai language lessons, wildlife documentaries, and even a traditional Buddhist ceremony to bless the volunteers.
The donation to the volunteer program covered three vegetarian meals a day served buffet style, and a shared room with other volunteers. Though hot water and a good Wi-Fi signal were nearly non-existent, it did not take away from the overall amazing feeling the project left me with.
I would highly recommend a volunteer vacation to Elephant Nature Park, where you'll learn about the plight of elephants used for tourism and work to make a difference for them. It was a well-organized program with friendly English-speaking staff who genuinely appreciated our help. I made great friends who shared my passion for animal welfare, and came back to the United States having had an experience unlike any other.
Rubbing noses with the incredible Asian elephants didn't hurt, either.
Sukhothai, Thailand for Solo Travelers
This report on Sukhothai came from Anne-Marie who is from Belgium and a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook.
Slowly working my way down by bus from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand to Bangkok, I decide to make a detour to Sukhothai. The small, peaceful city has little to boast about but offers decent accommodation to lean purses. More importantly, it is conveniently located near its ancient namesake, once the capital of Thailand, now a historical park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A blue songthaew provides a shuttle service from the the outskirts of new Sukhothai to the park. It could optimistically be called a minibus, but after 7.5 miles (12 km) on wooden benches and hard suspension – believe me – you call it by its Thai name, “two benches.”
My travel guide claims Sukhothai – Dawn of Happiness – to be an extensive but well-maintained area of partially rebuilt ruins. I felt some reticence when I read about thousands of visitors making it one of the most visited ancient sites in Thailand. However, the vastness of the site and its subdivision into five zones can easily accommodate the number of visitors who respectfully admire the remains of the old palace, the temples, and the Buddha statues.
Outside the park entrance hundreds of bikes are lined up. I rented one for the day. It is well worth considering this mode of transport. Although the serene park-like aspect of the area invites you to take a stroll, the distance between the ruins is not to be underestimated (not to mention the heat at noon).
This is my first visit to Thailand but even I can appreciate the variety of architectural styles. First and foremost, Wat Mahatat with its traditional lotus-shaped chedi (or stupa). The three ornate prangs or pagodas of Wat Si Sawai in Khmer-style architecture show a clear Hindu influence. How different are the bell-like stupas with Sinhalese Buddhist influence of Wat Sa Si reflecting in a pond.
All over the park, giant Buddhas look serenely upon the visitors who reverently leave an offering of marigolds. Leaving Wat Si Chum with its graceful Buddha sculpture tightly fitting in what remains of a mandapa, I took a wrong turn and ended up cycling through fields of marigolds. Sheltered from the sun, women were sorting out their harvest of fluffy golden flowers, destined for the markets of Bangkok. I tried to pronounce Su-kho-thai as best I could, mimicking a silly lost tourist.
All smiles, they pointed me in the right direction. Thank you ladies, Kob Khun Ka!
Solo Travel Thailand: Reasons to Visit Ao Nang Beach
This report on Ao Nang Beach came from Andrea who is from Croatia and a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook.
When you mention beaches in Thailand, the first place that comes to everybody's mind is Phuket or maybe one of the islands like Samui or Phi Phi. However, if you wish to visit a place that is not so packed with tourists, but is equally beautiful, then go to Krabi and visit its surrounding beaches.
Krabi is one of the southern provinces of Thailand located at the shore of the Andaman Sea. The capital of the region is the town of Krabi with one of the most beautiful beaches, Ao Nang Beach, that is located some 20-30 minutes away by local bus, motorbike, or car. It is very easy to reach from Krabi airport. You can either take a shuttle van or opt for the cheaper option of a local shuttle bus which will stop close to your hotel if you tell the driver where exactly you are going.
Ao Nang is still very reasonably priced. There is a good range of cheap, good quality accommodation, many good restaurants and bars, easy transport, and travel agencies that are ready to cater to your every wish, making it a good base for exploring the Krabi area.
It is very easy to navigate around the town and surrounding areas, too. Tuk-tuks in Ao Nang charge a flat 20 baht/person for trips around town. Songthaews also run all across Ao Nang onto the Nopparat Thara Beach, Rai Leh Beach, and some all the way to Krabi town with fares starting from 10 baht, depending on distance. However, one of the best ways to move around is by renting a motorbike which would cost you around 200 baht/day.
There are plenty of things to do in Ao Nang. You can go on day trips to Phi Phi Island or Phuket, jungle trekking, rock climbing, scuba diving, snorkeling, or canoeing, or you can always just lie on this idyllic beach, sip a cocktail, and relax.
When you get hungry, there are many options. There are many street carts offering delicious Thai food or you can visit one of many restaurants. However, be aware that the places along the beach are more expensive. The ones up the hill are usually better value.
Whatever you decide to do, don't forget to throw away your watch, cellphone, and everything else that might remind you of your everyday life and just relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. The sea and landscapes will dazzle you, while the slow pace will restore your soul.
Solo Travel to Koh Chang, Thailand
This report on Koh Chang came from Peggy who is from the United States and is a member of the Solo Travel Society .
Koh Chang is a spectacular island in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border. Since it's located away from the main tourist areas of the west gulf and Andaman Sea, it has a distinctly laid back vibe. There's plenty to do without having to deal with crowds of farang (caucasians).
There are great restaurants and bars that both the locals and tourists go to. The nightly fire dancers on the beach are amazing. It is easy to meet and hang out with locals while in Koh Chang – maybe more so than in other places in Thailand.
It's an incredible island with rain forests, incredible waterfalls, and spectacular beaches. If you're into adventure, there's snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking. You can stay in a beach hut, luxury resort, or somewhere in between.
The island is very safe, friendly, and most people speak at least some English. You may have a hard time leaving.
Finally, the Reasons to Go Solo to Bangkok
This report on Bangkok came from Doris who is from the United States and a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook.
Bangkok offers great value for exploring juxtapositions of history, culture, and religion with modern commerce, nightlife, cuisine, and shopping, set amid picturesque topography.
The affordability of options for dining, entertainment, shopping, and transportation make Bangkok, and solo travel in Thailand generally, a great value.
The rich depth of history, culture, and religion surround you on each corner, from the unexpected shrines on the busy city sidewalks to the lavish temples with some of the most-recognized religious icons in the world, including The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho and the Demon Guardians and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace.
In sharp contrast to the deep religious roots, Bangkok is also known for its infamous nightlife in districts such as Soy Cowboy, Patpong, and Nana. Current-day elegant nightclubs, live music venues, and exceptional restaurants go far to diminish the seedy reputation of the past. Current government restrictions limit the operating hours of most establishments, but for the true party-goer, there is always an after hours party to be found!
A wide array of dining options can be found in Bangkok, from limitless choices at nightly street food vendors to casual spots set in lush tropical landscaping to upscale dining with spectacular views of the Chao Phraya River. The famous Cabbages & Condoms is something definitely out of the ordinary.
Shopping in Bangkok should include a visit to one of their affordable tailors. Suits, dresses, and shirts can be custom made and shipped to your home at a fraction of the cost of one off-the rack suit. Another part of the shopping experience in Bangkok is the late night and floating markets. Some of the best late night markets are Saphan Phut, Patpong Night Market, and Asiatique. Floating markets include Taling Chan Market, Bang Ku Wiang Market, Tha Kha, and Damnoen Saduak.
If you have never taken a crazed ride through a city in a tuk-tuk, it is a perfect way to zip around town – if you're not too queasy! You can often negotiate a deal with a tuk-tuk driver for the whole day for less than separate trips from one destination to the other.
However, when dealing with the price of almost anything (other than a restaurant, for example) you must be ready to negotiate! It is by no means insulting, as long as you do it in a polite manner. Do some research online to find recent travelers' posts of price guides for suits, gems, souvenirs, and even tuk tuk rides and keep a list with you as you enter the shopping arena. I also like having a printed exchange rate sheet, partly so I don't have to continuously do the math while I am focusing on my negotiations, but mostly because the vendors see my sheet and begin to give me a modicum of respect that I am prepared and ready to do business. You must be well prepared and wise, since there are a few scam artists out there that appear to be incredibly friendly and helpful while they steer you to one particular store or another (and collect their kickback at the end of the day). Unfortunately, some of the shop keepers will take advantage of you if you are not prepared. But once you establish respect via proper negotiating, they are very friendly.
Familiarize yourself with and use the very clean and safe public transit system and don't waste money on a river tour when you can take a commuter ferry on the Chao Phraya River and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way to the Grand Palace. Just make sure to not sit in the section reserved for “Monks Only.”
Between the value and amazing cultural sights, Bangkok has something to offer for everyone and is a city most definitely worth more than one visit!