How To Travel Solo in Thailand

Hike the Khao Ngon Nak Trail to enjoy views over Ao Nang bay
Hike the Khao Ngon Nak Trail to enjoy views over Ao Nang bay | © David Bokuchava / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kelly Iverson
3 September 2021

Independent travellers have long flocked to Thailand. The Land of Smiles is well-suited to a solo adventure, but there are a few things you should know before going it alone here. So – to help you steer clear of any mishaps and avoid feeling lonely – here’s our solo traveller’s guide to Thailand.

Used to travelling solo but fancy some company on your next adventure? Join one of Culture Trip’s small-group adventures, either to Northern Thailand or Southern Thailand.

Top destinations for solo travellers in Thailand

Thailand is a hodgepodge of destinations, so do a bit of research before you decide on your travel itinerary. Chiang Mai, the former capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, is great for those who enjoy learning about history. While the cities of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai are also home to a number of decaying temples. The capital of Bangkok has luxury hotels, excellent street food, and (arguably) the best nightlife in the country.

And don’t forget the tropical islands. Those with an itch to explore under the sea should sail to Koh Tao, which has excellent scuba diving spots and affordable dive schools. Other great places to dive include the Similan Islands, Phuket and the Surin Islands. Koh Phangan is great for partiers, as it hosts the full moon party each month; Koh Samui is better if you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere. The city of Kanchanaburi is great for history buffs, chock full of museums and a stunning national park.

All these destinations are a bus, train or short flight away from one another with transport relatively cheap compared to other countries.

Visit Chiang Saen in the Golden Triangle to see the gold Buddha statue by the Mekong river | © John Elk III / Alamy Stock Photo

Dining alone in Thailand

Thai cuisine is superb and affordable, making Thailand an easy place to dine alone. The country, and more specifically Bangkok, is home to some of the best street food in the world. Just pitch up at one of the food vendors lining the many sois (streets), pick your meal and enjoy the delicious cuisine.

Feeling lazy? Download Food Panda, a food delivery service with several restaurants on their platform. They deliver right to the accommodation, meaning you won’t have to leave your room to enjoy delicious Thai cuisine.

If you’re in Chiang Mai, head to the Saturday Night Market to sample delicious Thai street food | © Elena Ermakova / Alamy Stock Photo

How to get around by yourself

One of the downsides of travelling alone is that getting from A to B is often pricier. You won’t get to split that taxi fare. However, there are several ways to get around that are both cost effective and safe.

In Bangkok, the BTS sky train runs from 6am to midnight, with two lines stopping at the top attractions in town. The MRT subway stops at fewer attractions, but is still a good form of transportation, reaching destinations including Chinatown and the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, hop on the back of a motorbike taxi, the perfect mode of transportation for those traveling solo. Be sure to barter with the driver and wear a helmet if possible.

Cities such as Hua Hin and Chiang Mai also have songthaews. These are vehicles with two benches in the back on which you can sit. They normally have fixed fares and routes, allowing you to hop on and off as you please. You can also save money by taking overnight buses or trains instead of staying in a hotel or hostel. These are normally safe, even for those traveling alone, and reach some of the most popular cities in the country.

Take a ‘songthaew’ for a fun and cheap way to explore | © Thaiways / Alamy Stock Photo

Staying safe as a solo traveller in Thailand

The Land of Smiles is a welcoming and generally safe country to visit, but there are a few things you should know as a solo traveller. Try not to venture out alone too late in the evening. Taxis are readily available, especially in Bangkok, at almost all times of the night. There are also plenty of apps that make it easy to book a ride as opposed to walking.

Taxis are available throughout the night in Bangkok | © Sergi Reboredo / Alamy Stock Photo

Must-have travel apps

Getting the right travel apps on your phone will make your solo life much easier. Of course, the Culture Trip app is an essential – find hand-picked recommendations from expert locals on everything from the coolest speakeasies in Bangkok to the most budget-friendly hotels in Phuket.

For assistance in getting around, download apps such as Bangkok MRT, BTS Skytrain and Grab. Grab is similar to Uber, but you can book a taxi, car or even a motorbike.

Download the Grab app for an easy way to get food deliveries | © Techa Tungateja / Alamy Stock Photo

Top excursions for solo travellers in Thailand

There are tour companies across Thailand offering excellent excursions. The northern regions have lush jungles, zip-lining, white-water rafting and elephant camps. The south has snorkelling and diving. Signing up for a tour is a good way to meet travellers, and to take the stress out of forging an itinerary.

The reefs around Ko Ma island make for a great snorkelling spot | © Andrew Woodley / Alamy Stock Photo

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