Thailand Slow Travel Guide
Despite the fact that we’ve visited this gorgeous country twice, we’re still beginners. Why, you ask? Well, our first visit happened when we were still novices to this long-term travel thing, and on the second visit we went back to one of the locations from the first trip. Nevertheless, we’ve covered a handful of destinations and will add more as we go along, so make sure to bookmark this Thailand slow travel guide for future additions!
General Country Tips
Thailand is a wonderful, diverse, and intriguing country, with both nuances and exclamation marks. As a sovereign kingdom, you might be surprised to see images if the king in nearly every public space, and marvel at the devotion and loyalty to the ruler by all people, regardless of age, social class or, gender.
At the same time, there are also observable stark differences, especially when it comes to cuisine, lifestyle, culture, religion and even weather. Let’s talk about food, for instance. You will find the classics like pad thai or red curries pretty much everywhere, however, regions near the borders of surrounding countries will give you lots of other flavors, dishes and culinary tendencies to explore. Look no further than southern Thailand for delicious Malay-influenced dishes like the Penang Curry or savory seafood pancakes.
Getting Around Thailand
We’re fans of sustainable travel, which means using the least damaging ways of getting around. That’s why we rely heavily on public transport (apart from in Bangkok, where taxis are the most convenient). The good news is, the infrastructure in Thailand is excellent, and pretty much the entire country is well connected with trains or buses. Sleeper trains are a popular mode of transport if you need to move from the north to the south, and they provide a good standard for a relatively low price. However, make sure you buy your tickets in advance, if you can, directly at the train station.
Currently, there is no option to purchase tickets on the official Thai railways page with a foreign card, so you might stumble upon one or two associated sellers who provide advance ticket purchase for nervous tourists – but for a hefty price markup. If you don’t want to double the price of the ticket, I would advise you to take things slow and plan for a couple of days’ stay in Bangkok (where you’ll likely arrive), allowing you to buy tickets 2 or 3 days in advance.
Thailand Slow Travel Destinations
Below is a list of places wevisited thus far, with each destination having a dedicated page. Simply click through for a more extensive assessment of accommodation, getting around, food, vibe and culture.
The west coast of the Thailand peninsula includes some of the most visited destinations in the country. Read on about our experience in Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi to get an impression of whether these three areas would be of interest.
Koh Tao and Koh Phangan
Located on the other side of the peninsula, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan are two of the famous trio of backpacker islands – the third being Koh Samui. If you’re a fan of diving, you might like Koh Tao – despite its notoriety as ‘open dive certificate factory’, even experience divers can find worthwhile dive sites and amazing marine life.
Chiang Mai is the go-to destination for temple sightseeing, nature, and food. Its location in the middle of northern Thailand makes it convenient to go beyond the gates of the old Chiang Mai city and explore the region. It doesn’t have to be a stopover destination, though! Between amazing and cheap cuisine, massages, cute alleyways, and cafes, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into in this cultural hub!
A true backpackers’ favorite – but with the chops to woo seasoned travelers as well! Pai is the laidback cousin of an adventure holiday: just sit yourself on a scooter and explore the waterfalls, lookout points and rolling hills around Pai while leaving your heavy-duty hiking gear at home.
The local currency is the Baht, going at roughly 40 Baht to 1 Euro, give or take. If you’re planning on using a currency exchange, be ready to pay a commission pretty much anywhere you go. On the other hand, you can always use a credit card to take money out at an ATM. HOWEVER: since a few years back, Thailand started imposing transaction fees on foreign cards, meaning that every separate withdrawal will cost you between 180 and 220 Baht in fees – which is steep. There are, though, some ways to get around that, depending where you are.
As of 2017, there were still some banks who allowed a cashout of an electronic transaction without any fees. This means that you would ‘pay’ the bank with your credit card, and they’d give you the same amount back in cash.
Paying in cash is advised whenever possible – it’s easier and reduces the risk of fraud. At the same time, I’d stray from carrying loads of cash around. Simply use your common sense: touristy areas, as well as less touristy ones, do get their share of petty crimes since foreign tourist are generally easy targets – likely to get distracted, likely to leave their stuff unattended, etc. Carry as few valuables as possible when you’re out and about, and you’ll be fine.