With a treasure trove of experiences that are equal parts natural beauty, cultural splendor, and pure, unadulterated fun, the ‘Land of Smiles’ opens its arms to solo travelers. Picture yourself sipping a Mai Thai on a golden beach, dining out at bustling night markets, and strolling through gold-clad temples that whisper centuries of ancient traditions.

Best of all? Solo travel in Thailand is relatively safe and incredibly affordable.

True, Thailand’s backpacker scene is a robust one, with plenty of destinations safe enough to travel solo, all for a super-duper low price. Traveling alone in Thailand will open you up to plenty of new experiences, people, and feelings of independence you never knew you were capable of.

After all, travel is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, right? That said, understanding where to go and when to visit this colorful country can be overwhelming.

But worry not, that’s where I come in. Let’s get clued up on tips and tricks on how to meet other travelers, stay safe, and have the best damn time possible. Throw in a few personal recommendations for places to go and things to do, and we have ourselves the ultimate guide to traveling solo in Thailand.

a girl smiling with an iced green tea in her hand, looking at the sunset
Welcome to Thailand!
Photo: @amandaadraper

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5 Things to Do in Thailand When Traveling Solo

Backpacking in Thailand is so fashionable right now. It’s the PERFECT location for first-time solo travelers, and was my first-ever solo travel destination.

Thailand is known for its contagious smiles and adventurous spirit, often shared by the tourists who visit. There is no better way to explore the country than getting right into the thick of Thai culture and nature; and damn, is there a lot of it…

Without further ado, here are five activities worth looking into as you plan your getaway. It would be a good idea to add these to your pre-planned activities, as mentioned earlier.

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    1. Learn to Cook Traditional Pad Thai in a Cooking Class

    A woman cooking Pad Thai on the street in Bangkok, Thailand
    Learn from the master.
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

    A trip to Bangkok is a total assault on the senses. May aswell assault them nicely, eh? I’m such a huge fan of Pad Thai I would practically book a flight to try the dish in its authentic form. 

    One of my favorite things to do in any foreign country is to join a cooking class. Not only will you gain a new skill and meet like-minded foodies, but you’ll also be able to taste the dishes you make. There are not many other activities where you can combine culture and socializing and come out with a new skill.

    At this cooking class in Silom, Bangkok you really can have your cake and eat it too!

    2. Charter a Boat and go Island Hopping from Koh Samui

    Island hopping is one of those activities you just can’t afford to miss out on when traveling solo in Thailand. With over 300 islands across the Gulf of Thailand, pick a few islands you want to explore and go forth. 

    The beach and blue waters of Koh Samui in Thailand, Asia
    Koh Samui <3
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    And by going forth, I mean charter a private longtail boat and local skipper to guide you there. Affordable and easy to organize without booking too far in advance, there is nothing better than parking off on your own private island for the day. This really takes solo travel to the next level.

    3. Explore the Ruins of the Ancient City of Sukhothai

    Another ancient temple complex that was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam (a whopping eight centuries ago), Sukhothai, is scattered with monuments and temple ruins you’ll need your comfortable shoes to explore. 

    Sukhothai park

    Whether you choose to visit Ayutthaya or Sukhothai is your choice, and both are easily accessible from Bangkok.

    4. Trek Through the Northern Mountains of Chiang Dao

    While everyone heads towards the beaches, go against the flow and travel north to the mountains near Chiang Dao for some of the best hiking in Thailand. Other than hiking through misty rainforests and summiting incredible mountains without large crowds, you can visit various local tribal villages like the Akha and Kahu villages.

    Doi-Luang-Chiang-Dao
    Get out there!

    Pro Thailand solo travel tip? I really recommend these treks for those interested in ethical and environmental sustainability. Many of these tour companies and organizations raise money for local health centers and schools.

    5. Join a Night Tour of Bangkok via Tuk Tuk

    There are night markets all over the country, but by far, the most vibrant and buzzing have to be the ones in the capital. Chatuchak is the most famous market, while the Lamai market runs only on Sunday evenings.

    A great place to grab a bite, explore the local food scene, and really immerse yourself in Thai culture, I promise you will walk away with all your senses overwhelmed. Talk about a culture-shock.

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    5 Best Solo Destinations in Thailand

    I won’t play it down; there are countless beautiful places worth making the trip to Thailand for. It doesn’t matter if you’re more of a city-slicker, a beach-lounger, or a jungle-trekker; there is a spot in Thailand with your name on it. 

    Here is my list of the top five places to visit in Thailand, especially curated for solo adventurers:

    Chiang Rai

    One thing that makes this such a perfect city for solo travelers is that it’s super small and walkable. Easy to navigate and stacked with adventures, Chiang Rai is located in a mountainous region of the same name in Northern Thailand. From any given viewpoint, you can expect gorgeous natural beauty of rolling hills, snaking rivers, and the odd ornate temple to top it off. 

    Think of it as the older sibling of Chiang Mai, a busier, bigger, and equally as worthwhile city to visit. But Chiang Rai seems to fall slightly off the radar – which also means it’s a lot more affordable – big tick!

    Farmers baskets in a field of cabbages in the mountains near Chiang Mai, Thailand
    Get out there and pick those cabbages!
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

    Of all Thai locations, this town might just be home to the most beautiful temples of them all. And that is saying A LOT in a temple-studded country like this. Wat Rong Suean Ten, Wat Rong Khun, Wat Huay Pla Kang – all beautiful and unique. You’ll also want to explore the gorgeous mountains surrounding the city. How about a hike to Huay Kaew Waterfall or Khun Korn Waterfall? 

    After a day in the jungle or mountains, you’ll be able to pick from countless bars and nightclubs. Yup, this city is well known for its vibrant nightlife scene – perfect for a solo traveler in Thailand!

    Just a few steps from the Clock Tower and fresh produce market, Mercy Hostel is one of the best located in Chiang Rai. Relax on the large terrace or spend some social time playing a game of pool in the games room.

    Ayutthaya

    With a name like Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, we won’t judge you for calling it by its nickname.  Ayutthaya is a small city a short drive north of Bangkok that was the original capital of the Kingdom of Siam before it became the Thailand we know today. 

    From around 1350, Ayatthuya was a bustling international trading port – a metropolis of the time, you might say – until it was destroyed by Burma in 1767. Today, the ruins of the old city are preserved in the Ayutthaya Historical Park. First on your to-do list is to explore this archeological site, featuring palaces, Buddhist temples, statues, and monasteries. You could call it the Angkor Wat of Thailand.

    Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
    Wat are you waiting for?

    In fact, visiting the historical city might take two days out of your itinerary. Make sure to dress appropriately. That means no short skirts and shoulders covered!

    Around these impressive ruins is a modern city, or town, if you will. Over fifty thousand people live and work in the region. 

    Cozy, homey, and social – what more can you ask for? Early Bird Hostel Ayutthaya is your ideal base for exploring this historical region. It’s located on City Island, where you can easily walk to the major Wats, night markets, and nearby bars. 

    Bangkok

    As the capital and largest city in the country, it’s no shock Bangkok is one of the top places to visit as a solo traveler in Thailand. The bustling city is packed with high-rise skyscrapers, a boat scattered Chao Phraya River, canals, and ornate palaces and shrines. Add vibrant street life and an incredible food scene to the mix, and we have ourselves one of the most exciting cities in Southeast Asia – if not the world.

    First things first, explore the city on foot or tuk-tuk, absorbing all the bright colors, lights, sounds, and smells along the way. Here, I recommend joining a food tour or a free city walking tour.

    She’s a beaut!
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

    Next, take a step back in time and head to some historical sites. The Grand Palace is the official home of the King of Siam. Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan (Wat Arun for short) is a Buddhist Temple from the 17th century worth checking out. 

    Not to mention, Bangkok gets a double thumbs up from solo travelers, both for its ease of getting around on public transport and its affordability.

    Khao San Social Capsule Hostel is one of the cleanest and most comfortable hostels I’ve laid eyes on. There are plenty of common spaces to socialize, with regular activities and events hosted through the hostel. 

    Koh Samui

    After some time in the busy city, staying in Koh Samui is an epic time to recharge. Thailand’s second biggest island sits just off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus and is loved for its palm-tree-lined beaches, coconut groves, and tropical jungles.

    Some of your best Thailand solo travel days will be spent lounging on the beach, snorkeling, diving, or enjoying boat trips to nearby islands and beaches. When the sun sets on a beautiful beach day (which is every day, might I add), head out for a bite to eat and a night on the town. Koh Samui is known for its party scene, mostly concentrated in Chaweng – the island’s party center.

    Beautiful beach and reef
    I love all the Thai Islands as much as each other

    Sure, a place as beautiful as this has its fair share of high-end hotels and resorts, but that isn’t to say you won’t find affordable accommodation on the island.

    For a taste of beachy luxury, Lub d Koh Samui Chaweng Beach is set right on the sand of Chaweng Beach (obvs). The trusted Lub d brand found elsewhere in Thailand offers a social hostel concept that perfectly blends a high-end hotel and a hostel. It’s the best of both worlds!

    Pattaya

    Falling slightly under the radar, Pattaya is a city on the mainland of Thailand, south of Bangkok. What used to be a charming fishing village is now a resort town known for its water sports, long stretches of beaches, and 24-hour night clubs.

    I added this city to the list because it offers a small taste of everything. For historical beauty, explore the Phra Yai Temple and its towering golden Buddha. For sports fans, not only can you enjoy watersports from the beach, but you can also indulge in a game of golf or a hike in the nearby hills.

    Pattaya Beach, Pattaya

    On top of this, Pattaya also offers a never-ending loop of nightlife, beautiful beaches, classy restaurants, and affordable shops. 

    While there is a bar on the property (thumbs up from those traveling solo in Thailand), I would say that Kaen Hostel is more suitable for solo travelers who enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in between the hustle of solo traveling. I love this spot for its clean and modern interiors and close proximity to the beach, but it doesn’t hurt that it also features plenty of common areas.

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    We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

    Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

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    The Best Travel Apps for Solo Travel in Thailand

    Having the right apps for travel makes your life a whole lot easier. Here are some of my personal favs.

    • Hostelworld: To find hostels in every region.
    • Booking.com and Airbnb: Your go-to apps for finding hotels, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering rentals.
    • GetYourGuide and Viator: The best tour groups to find tours and experiences in the area. Check the reviews before booking anything, and try to find refundable options.
    • Couchsurfing: Connecting locals with foreigners for cheap (or even free) accommodation.
    • Tinder, Bumble, Hinge: Dating apps that can be switched to ‘friend mode’ to help you meet people in your vicinity.
    • ThaiCupid, ThaiFriendly, and ThaiFlirting: Thailand-specific dating and friend-finding apps.
    • Grab: Thailand’s equivalent to Uber.
    • Line: Thailand’s version of WhatsApp, useful for communication.
    • Thai Best Dict: A translation app that can be used offline to help you communicate in Thai.
    • Foodpanda: Thailand’s first food delivery platform. Order in at your hostel and share with friends!
    • Holafly: An e-SIM application that allows you to download a data-only SIM card without installing a physical card.

    I also suggest joining relevant Facebook groups to get info about upcoming events, news, and important updates for the main cities you might visit. For example, “Thailand Travel Advice” is an open group designed to give people tips and tricks for exploring the country.

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    Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in Thailand

    Onto the boring stuff. As I’ve mentioned, most solo travelers feel safe, welcomed, and comfortable traveling through Thailand. Most safety issues tend to revolve around scams. Tuk-tuk scammers might overcharge you for a ride, and pickpocketing is always a possibility. Keep your belongings close to you! I like to travel with a belt bag.

    a girl in front of a temple in thailand
    I went to Thailand solo – you can too!
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    As with any country, you’re going to want to take extra care as a solo female traveling in Thailand. When you go out at night, stick to well-lit areas and do your research to make sure you do not end up walking down any particularly dodgy streets (even the safest cities have them). 

    Don’t accept drinks from strangers, always keep an eye on your drinks, and try not to get blackout drunk when you have absolutely no one to carry you home. I’m also a big fan of sharing my geo-location with a friend in Thailand and back home.

    Tips for Solo Traveling in Thailand

    • Stay in a hostel, and book them in advance. Hostels are the best and easiest way to meet other travelers.
    • Meet your new ‘best friend’ at Bed Friends Poshtel in Chiang Rai. Modern, clean, and just a stroll from the city center, no wonder this is one of the top places to stay in town. The Yard Hostel Bangkok is one of the best spots in the capital. With a central terrace and a multi-national guest list, you’re bound to meet people here.
    • Plan your own trip. This is one of the few times you are allowed to be totally selfish with where you go, what you do, and how much money you want to spend. Take advantage of this independence and call the shots yourself while taking template itineraries and any friend’s advice as guidelines.

    • Take the time to understand the local culture and religions. When visiting temples or holy sites, make sure you are modestly dressed to show respect for the local customs and traditions. This is something that solo female travelers in Thailand need to be particularly aware of.

    • Plan some booked adventures. Scatter these throughout your itinerary to create some structure. I always like joining a walking tour of every new city I visit, as well as checking out the local museums. In Bangkok, you can join unique tours like this midnight tuk-tuk food tour or this flower market tour.
    Girls on a tuk tuk ride in Bangkok, Thailand
    Who doesn’t love a Tuk Tuk?
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    Oh, and I almost forgot. Last but most definitely NOT least. The most important solo travel tip…

    • Get insured. Always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I recommend getting comprehensive travel AND medical insurance for any trip abroad. 

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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    How to Meet People When Solo Traveling in Thailand

    Monkeys in Lopburi Thailand
    • Join group tours. Take a guess at who else joins these tours… Spot on! It’s other solo travelers. Group tours are a good way to meet others who have similar interests to yourself. 
    • Make use of shared spaces. Coffee shops or co-working spaces for digital nomads and hostels are packed with friendly people who are usually happy to meet others. I recommend Get Hi Hostel, an absolute social hub for travelers. With a multi-national guest list, you’re bound to meet people and enjoy endless karaoke nights and family dinners.
    • Have an open mind and be willing to engage. There is no point in traveling solo if you aren’t interested in opening yourself up to new connections and relationships.
    • Join hostel-organized activities and events. Other than sharing a room with others, hostels are known for being super social because of the events that they host (it is literally in the name).

    • Volunteer. It’s always good to give back, but volunteering in Thailand is also an epic way to meet other humanitarian-minded friends.
    • Utilise social media and dating apps. Social media was designed to help us make friends. If you have no mutual connections traveling solo in Thailand, this is an epic way to meet people in your vicinity.
    • Sign up for a short-term membership. Not only will you get your daily sweat in, but you never know who will be willing to spot you on the weights.
    • Attend local cultural events. Check the calendar for local Thai events and festivals. Usually attended by a good mix of locals and tourists, this can be an easy way to meet people.

    Final Thoughts for Your Solo Trip to Thailand

    There is nothing better than heading into the unknown with nothing but a backpack, a good attitude, and an adventurous spirit. No one to guide your decisions or sway your perceptions of the world. Just your own open mind, willing to expand across the four corners of the globe.

    Traveling solo in Thailand will easily be one of the best things you will do for yourself. Not only does this Southeast Asian gem offer the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation, but it’s also home to one of the world’s most colorful cultures, ancient traditions, and, let’s not forget, the food!

    Of course, it’s also one of the safer countries in the region to travel solo (even as a female solo traveler in Thailand), has a bustling backpacker scene, and well-run facilities in the odd case something does go wrong. Oh, and it’s also extremely affordable, which you’ll quickly come to appreciate when you have no travel bud to share your cabs and rooms with.

    Let’s get packing, traveler friend. It’s time to write your solo travel manifesto and discover one of the best places in the world – Thailand.

    Woman standing next to a Chinese warrior statue in Bangkok, Thailand
    Good luck in Thailand y’all!
    Photo: @amandaadraper

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