EN
EN

Backpacking: how to prepare for your trip to Thailand

Travelling in Thailand is within everyone's reach. It is a recommended destination for a first backpacking trip. And even though this Southeast Asian country is very touristy, it's easily possible to get off the beaten track and have some great adventures on the road. Between heavenly beaches, bustling cities and wild jungle, discover the land of smiles in backpacker mode.

Travel to Thailand
trekking in Thailand

1/ BEFORE LEAVING: DOCUMENTS YOU MUSTN’T FORGET

For a stay of less than 30 days, French nationals do not need a visa to travel to Thailand. Nevertheless, it is important not to forget the following documents:

- A passport with at least 6 months of validity;
- Your plane ticket;
- Proof of travel insurance, if applicable;
- Your driving license to rent a scooter or car;
- Cash (euros or Thai bats).

travel budget in Thailand

2/ BUDGET: WHAT IS THE PRICE FOR A TRIP TO THAILAND?

Even if prices in Thailand have really increased in the last few years, the land of smiles is still an inexpensive destination, where it is possible to travel on a very modest budget. Keep in mind, however, that prices vary greatly by region. Indeed, the cost of living is very different in northern and southern Thailand. While it is possible to have lunch in the street for 1 euro in Bangkok or in the north, it is necessary to pay 3 times more in the tourist islands of the south.

To make the most of your backpacking budget, we recommend that you choose the stages of your itinerary carefully.

travel budget in Thailand

3/ ITINERARY: OUR TIPS TO PLAN YOUR TRIP TO THAILAND

HOW LONG SOULD YOU STAY IN THAILAND?

Generally, most first-time travellers to Thailand stay for 10 days. If you want to really immerse yourself in the country and meet people, we recommend that you stay for a minimum of 3 weeks or even a month.

Of course, 15 days will allow you to discover the essentials of the country, but if you want to enjoy the beautiful islands of the south, trek through the jungle, visit Bangkok and Chiang Mai and meet the locals, it is better to plan more time.

A 1-WEEK TRIP TO THAILAND: IS IT REALLY A GOOD IDEA?

Going on a trip to Thailand for a week is not really what we would recommend. From an ecological point of view, the impact is significant, if only because of the air travel to South East Asia from Paris. Backpacking is also a state of mind that promotes the idea of more responsible tourism. So check out our recommended itinerary for 3 weeks or 1 month instead.

How long to stay in Thailand

THE IDEAL TOUR FOR A 20-DAY ROAD TRIP IN THAILAND

From Bangkok, we recommend starting in the north of the country with stops in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. You can then travel to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. You will finish your trip in the south by discovering the islands of the Andaman Sea from Phuket and the Gulf of Thailand with Koh Tao and Kho Pha Ngan.

Here are the details of the stages day by day:
- 2 days in Bangkok to visit the must-sees: Grand Palace in the morning, Wat Pho and Wat Arun in the afternoon, evening at Khao San Road.
The next day, discover Chinatown, Wat Saket and a floating market on the klongs;
- 1 day in Ayutthaya: a UNESCO World Heritage site;
- 2 days in Sukhothai (including travel): to discover this other historical site, former capital of the kingdom of Siam;
- 3 days in Chiang Mai, the capital of northern Thailand (one day on the road): a day to visit the old town and spend the evening at the night market.
The next day, take a Thai cooking class and visit Doi Suthep National Park;
- 3 days in the Chiang Rai area: as soon as you arrive, take a walk through the old town and visit the small shops of the night market. The next day, don't miss the Blue Temple, Khun Korn Waterfall and Wat Huay Pla Klang. Finally, take advantage of the third day to go hiking in the jungle, to meet the ethnic minorities of the region;
- 2 days in Phuket: go back down to Phuket by night train or bus to avoid domestic flights. On site, rent a scooter for a day trip to the south of the island;
- 1 day in Koh Phi Phi: take the ferry to spend the day on this legendary island in the Andaman Sea. Spend the night there, then take the boat back to Koh Lanta;
- 2 days in Koh Lanta: very wild, Koh Lanta is a popular destination for backpackers looking for deserted beaches. By scooter, you can easily explore every corner of the island;
- 3 days in the islands of the Gulf of Thailand: put down your backpack on Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Tao for a few days of relaxation or take a dive.
Return to France from Koh Samui or Bangkok.

1 MONTH IN THAILAND: THE GRAND TOUR

If you want to do the grand tour of the country, we really recommend that you stay for 30 days. In addition to our recommended 3-week itinerary, you can add to your itinerary:
- a 3-day trek in the mountains of northern Thailand;
- 3 days to discover Isan, a little-known region in the east of the country;
- 3 to 4 days to discover the Khao Sok National Park and the islands of the far south of the country.

4/ TRAVEL SOLO: YOUR FIRST BACKPACKING EXPERIENCE

Thailand is truly an ideal destination for a first solo backpacking trip. In the Land of Smiles, everything is designed for backpackers and you will never really be alone on the road. You will always come across other travellers who can help and advise you during your trip.

There is no need to book all your stops in advance. Simply book your hotel when you arrive in Bangkok, then for the rest, give yourself the freedom to choose and stay longer in the places you like best.

Take a paper travel guide with you, so that you can find the right addresses and things to do. Locally, you can easily find a place in a dormitory or guesthouse, except in high season when reservations may be necessary in very touristy places.

Choose your backpack carefully, even if you have to invest a little more, and don't go too heavy. Choose a model with a maximum capacity of 40L, so that you can move around easily.

Finally, take to the road and don't hesitate to leave the beaten track, to get out of your comfort zone.

5/ TRAVEL TO THAILAND: WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR BACKPACK

There is no need to overload your backpack when travelling to Thailand. With temperatures hovering around 30°C all year round, light clothing is a must, as are sun cream and sunglasses. However, you should bring a light mackintosh because it rains regularly, even during the dry season.

Never leave home without trousers and long sleeves. Firstly because it is compulsory to enter the temples, and secondly because there is nothing better to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening, in addition to a good repellent..

Don't forget good walking shoes, whether you are walking in the city or trekking through the forest. Make room for a pair of sandals or flip-flops, so you can be comfortable on the southern beaches.

Finally, make sure you take a swimming costume with you!

TRAVEL TO THAILAND: WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR BACKPACK

PREPARE YOUR FIRST-AID KIT PROPERLY

Although Thailand has a very good medical infrastructure, it is essential to take a first aid kit with you, even if it's only for everyday injuries.

Here are the essentials we recommend you pack in your kit:
- tweezers,
- scissors,
-bandages,
- disinfectant such as betadine,
- mosquito repellent,
- painkillers and anti-inflammatories,
- antidiarrhoea medication,
- compresses and cotton wool,
- saline solution,
which is always useful for cleaning wounds or rinsing your eyes.

We insist on the anti-mosquito product which is for us - and for all travellers - an indispensable product in South East Asia. You will appreciate taking some with you, especially if you plan to eat on the street or in the markets. Be careful to choose a product suitable for tropical areas.
Regarding medication for diarrhoea, keep in mind that tourista is very common among travellers. Plan accordingly and you will thank us!
Don't hesitate to ask the advice of your paediatrician. In general, do not hesitate to have a check-up before your departure and to have antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

HOW TO PACK A BACKPACK RIGHT

Optimisation is certainly the golden rule for backpackers travelling in Thailand. To save space in your backpack, the sack technique is certainly the best way to fit a maximum of stuff in a minimum of space. Thanks, Marie Kondo! Think smart and balance the weight of your bag by using all the compartments at your disposal. Another warrior technique: put your sandals or flip-flops at the top of your bag so that you can change shoes as soon as you arrive at the airport in Bangkok!

Second important rule: you have to learn to travel light! Never carry too much in your bag. You may regret it once you get there if your bag is too heavy. Keep in mind that you can always complete your package by going to local shops if you are missing something locally.

In Thailand, you can also easily wash your clothes in any city in the country. With 5 changes of clothes, you can travel for a month, provided you do your laundry regularly. Remember to keep the contents of your backpack to a minimum! And don't forget your waterproof tarpaulin, so you don't end up with wet things in case of heavy rain.

Also carry waterproof bags to organise your belongings inside your bag, while protecting them even more from the elements. Have a bag for underwear, another for t-shirts and one for your cables, phone and other small electronic devices. You will save precious time in finding your belongings.

A final piece of advice: take a pair of reusable earplugs with you, especially if you are staying in festive places in Bangkok or southern Thailand.

Prepare a travel bag

going further