If you are new to backpacking, Thailand is probably the best place in the world to try backpacking for the first time. Traveling in Thailand is safe, easy and straightforward.
Backpacking in Thailand won’t break your bank, either. Thailand is a very cheap place to travel; you can travel pretty comfortably on a daily budget of 20 to 25 euro (800 to 1000 baht).
Buses, trains and boats run everywhere, and helpful Thais direct you to the right direction. Road signs are in English even in the most remote roads.
It would really take some serious effort to get lost or into serious troubles in Thailand.
Read more: Travel Budget in Thailand
Khao San Road, Backpackers’ Heaven in Thailand
Backpacking trips usually start from Bangkok’s Khao San Road, the world’s most famous backpacker street. Guesthouses are cheap, parties plentiful and it is easy to arrange transportation to wherever in Thailand you want to go.
Khao San Road is quite an experience in its own right: full of exotic flavors, fragrances, drinking holes, and tourists from all the corners of the world. Many end up being lured by the vibrant atmosphere and stay for much longer than they intend.
No wonder Khao San Road is named as the shortest road with the longest dream in the world.
What else to see in Bangkok then? You can actually see most of Bangkok in two days: you will need one day to see the most important historical sights and the second day you should visit the modern part of Bangkok full of skyscrapers and shopping malls.
Diving Certificate in Thailand? Check
The classic backpacker route goes from Khao San Road to Ko Tao to get the diving certificate. Koh Tao is a nice little island full of diving schools. The diving course can be done here cheaper than almost anywhere else in the world.
The recommended way to get to Ko Tao is to take a night train to Chumphon where you can board a boat to the island. Other options are long night bus ride to Chumphon or flying to Suratthani, which also has boats to the island.
Full Moon Parties? Check
Koh Phangan is a gorgeous island to visit even if you are not interested in the megalomaniac parties. The beaches are beautiful, the vibe very chill-out and backpacker orientated, and the bungalows by the beach some of the best value-for-money in Thailand.
Backpacking in a Rainforest? Check
Ever wanted to experience a real rainforest? Your dreams come true in Thailand.
Take a boat from Ko Phangan to Suratthani, and continue by bus to Khao Sok National Park, Thailand’s most impressive jungle area.
Hike by yourself on Khao Sok’s well-marked jungle paths or join a two-days trip that takes you to a magnificent lake, where you will stay overnight over the water on a floating bamboo hut surrounded by rainforest and mountain sceneries of ethereal proportions. During the day you can go kayaking and hiking through jungles and caves.
Rock Climbing in Krabi? Check
Another exhilarating experience: rock climbing in Krabi. On the way you will cross the narrow isthmus from the Gulf of Siam to the Andaman Sea.
Krabi’s fantastic karst mountain scenery is known as the best rock climbing spot in the planet. It offers endless climbing routes both for beginners and experienced climbers.
And even if scaling the heights is not your idea of a relaxing beach holiday, these landscapes are not to be missed!
Krabi’s main beaches have been taken over by package tourists, but you can still find one thoroughbred backpacker beach. Ao Ton Sai Beach is like a journey back in time 20 years ago, full of lovely hippie atmosphere.
Island Hopping in Thailand? Check
From Krabi you can continue by boat to the party island of Ko Phi Phi, which was made famous as the filming location of the movie The Beach. After few days of partying, snorkeling and diving in Ko Phi Phi, the much more relaxed island of Ko Lanta comes as a much needed respite.
There’s not that much do to in Ko Lanta except to rent a motorcycle and drive around the island looking for the perfect beach and the guesthouse of your dreams. Many consider Ko Lanta as the loveliest island in Thailand and its guesthouses are definitely some of the most inviting in the country.
From Ko Lanta you can continue island hopping down south all the way to Malaysia. You will encounter several beautiful islands like Ko Mook, Ko Bulon Lee and Ko Lipe that is labeled as the Maldives of Thailand. Ko Lipe also happens to be right now Thailand’s hottest island destination.
Read more: Thailand’s Best Islands for Snorkeling
Ko Lipe is getting extremely popular and overrun by haphazard development but it still has its charm – and some of the best snorkeling in Thailand.
If Ko Lipe feels too crowded, a 15-minute longtailboat ride away is the protected island of Ko Adang where you can get a taste of staying in a deserted island.
Exotic Hill Tribes? Check
Mountaneous Northern Thailand is a popular alternative to the beaches in the south. Here the main draw is the treks to hill tribe villages, and the bohemian backpacker town Pai that has a lively live music scene.
The gateway to the North is Chiang Mai where most backpackers stay for several days enjoying a wide range of activities that go from cooking courses to adrenaline filled jungle zipline adventures.
A great way to enjoy the North is to rent a scooter, and drive the 400-kilometer long Mae Hong Son Loop that goes from Chiang Mai via Mae Hong Son and Pai back to Chiang Mai. The trip takes around four days, and you will see some of the best sceneries that Northern Thailand has to offer.
Holiday in Cambodia? Check
Thailand is a popular jumping of point to neighboring countries Laos and Cambodia. To get to Laos the easiest border crossing by land is either from Nong Khai in North-Eastern Thailand or Chiang Khong in Northern Thailand.
To get to Cambodia you can cross the border either in the north-east in Aranyaprathet, which takes you to Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor, or in the south in Hat Lek to go to the Cambodian beach town Sihanoukville.
If you choose the southern route to Cambodia, you can have a pleasant stopover in the Thai island Ko Chang, which is located near the border. Ko Chang is the third largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Ko Samui but has a much more backpacker feel.
And at Last: Travel Insurance? Check
You can buy almost anything you need in Thailand –but do not forget to get the travel insurance in advance!
Read more: Is Thailand Dangerous?
While backpacking you will probably end up renting a scooter sooner or later. It is the best way to move around the islands but it is also the most dangerous thing you can do in Thailand. Accidents do happen. A lot of them. And when they do happen, a hospital bill can become very expensive without a proper travel insurance.
Also, check well ahead that you have all the necessary vaccinations for the tropics. Anti-malarial medication is not needed in Thailand unless you are planning to spend a lot of time in the jungles close to the Thai border with Myanmar.