15 Steps To Planning A Trip To Thailand | Checklist

I’ve been helping friends and clients to plan trips to Thailand since I moved there in 2016.

From 2 weeks holidays around Thailand to wild bachelor parties in Bangkok and Pattaya, I’ve got a good idea of what you can do in Thailand.

So I’m going to make it super easy for you to plan your holidays in the Land of Smiles, step by step.

Sit down, grab a drink, and let’s go over all the things you need to check before your trip.

Download my checklist and plan your trip at your own pace.

🇹🇭 Download my checklist to plan your trip to Thailand at your own pace.

Pick The Dates

A calendar to pick dates for your check list.

One of the questions I get asked the most is “When is the best time to visit Thailand?

The short answer is, that it’s always a good time to visit Thailand.

But if you prefer the summer and to avoid the rain, the best time to visit is between November and April.

But that’s also the busiest season and when prices are the highest.

Between May and August is the beginning of the rainy season.

It doesn’t rain every day, and rarely all day.

Prices are cheaper during this time.

September and October are the peak of the rainy season, with rain almost every day.

It usually doesn’t rain all day, but if you’re coming for a short time (2 weeks or less), I recommend avoiding that period.

Check If You Need A Visa

A photo of a Passport.

For most of you coming to Thailand, you probably have a 30-day visa exemption.

You can check the full list of nationalities that have a 30-day visa exemption here (15-day stays if arriving by land-crossing).

The list also includes the few countries that need a visa on arrival (it includes India).

For the visa on arrival, prepare your documents in advance to spend less time at the immigration when you land in Thailand.

For trips between 30 and 90 days, you'll need a tourist visa.

They usually take between 3 to 8 weeks to get, so apply well in advance.

Go to the website of your local Thai embassy to find all the details and the list of documents you need.

For longer stays, I have made a list of the different visas you have to stay long-term in Thailand.

Create A Budget For Your Trip

Image of Thai Baht Currency with Coins and Banknotes.

What also makes Thailand such a popular destination is that it has options for everyone.

From backpackers to luxury travelers and digital nomads.

There is something for everyone, and for all budgets.

But it’s better to have a budget in advance and to add 20 to 30% on top of that.

Because there’s always something to do in Thailand, and there are more luxurious options and experiences than you might expect.

So people often end up spending more than they planned to.

The cost of living in Thailand can be very different depending on the city and your lifestyle.

In general, you can expect to spend:

Daily Expenses

  • Low Budget: $30 - $50 per day (Hostels, street food, local transport)
  • Mid-Range Budget: $50 - $150 per day (3-star hotels, restaurants, some guided tours)
  • Luxury Budget: $150 - $300+ per day (5-star hotels, fine dining, private tours)


  • Hostels and guesthouses can cost as little as $10 - $20 per night
  • 3 and 4-star hotels, expect to pay around $30 - $80 per night
  • 5-star hotels and resorts start at $100 per night and can go much higher depending on the location and amenities.


  • Street Food: $1 - $5 per meal
  • Restaurants: $5 - $20 per person
  • Fine Dining: $20 - $50+ per person

Beers and Bottle Service

Local Beers

  • Convenience Stores: Around $1 - $2 per can or bottle
  • Bars and Restaurants: Approximately $3 - $5
  • Clubs: Expect to pay $5 - $10, depending on the venue

Bottle Service at Clubs

  • Standard Spirits: Bottle service generally starts at around $60 to $100 for well-known brands like Absolut or Johnnie Walker Black.
  • Premium Spirits: For high-end brands like Grey Goose or Hennessy, expect to pay $150 - $200.


  • Budget Activities: Many temples and attractions are free or have a small entrance fee of $1 - $5 per person.
  • Guided Tours: Costs can range from $20 - $100 per person depending on the length and type of tour.
  • Luxury Activities: Private boat rentals, scuba diving lessons, and other high-end activities can cost $100 - $300 or more per person.


  • Local buses and trains cost a few dollars.
  • Flights between cities usually range from $30 - $100.
  • Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Generally cheap but can add up if you're traveling longer distances.

Tips and Gratuity

Tipping is not customary in Thailand, but it is appreciated.

A rule of thumb is to leave around 10-15% at restaurants if you're pleased with the service.


Don't forget to budget for shopping, gifts, or any unplanned expenses.

It's always better to overestimate than to have regrets or frustration during your trip.

I also have a few tips to help you save money.

Find Cheap Flights

Thai flight attendants from Emirates airline in uniform walking to their flight.

There are a lot of options to find cheap flights to Thailand.

Here are a few tips:

  • Use a comparator like Google Flights or Skyscanner
  • Check the calendar to find the cheapest flights
  • Book flights during the week, they’re usually cheaper

I personally like to use Skyscanners to find the cheapest flights.

✈️ Find The Cheapest Flights On Skyscanner

Sometimes I also use Booking.com to book my international flights to have all my bookings (hotels + flights) in the same app.

And for local flights in Thailand, I either book with 12GoAsia or directly with AirAsia when I fly with them.

And depending on the airline, I often book straight on the airline’s website.

Airlines I recommend to travel to Thailand:

  • Emirates
  • Thai Airways
  • Swiss Airways
  • Etihad
  • Qatar Airways
  • Japan Airline

Plan Your Itinerary

A beautiful Thai building and a Thai flag in Thailand.

Now that your dates and the flights are locked, let’s get to the itinerary.

You don’t need to plan everything in advance in Thailand.

It’s pretty “easy” to organize things at the last minute, outside of the big celebrations each year. (New Year Eve, Thai New Year (Songkran), Loy Kratong…).

But depending on what you want to see, what you like, and how long you’ve got, there are a few itineraries and destinations I recommend.

First Trip To Thailand (2 Weeks)

For your first trip to Thailand, I would recommend an itinerary that includes:

  • Bangkok
  • Chiang Mai
  • Phuket or Samui

Those are for me the must-see in Thailand.

Superb photo of a Thai temple with sunset in Thailand.

You can have a look at the 10 days itinerary I've made for my best friend when he came to visit with his girlfriend.

For Adventures

The best destinations for an adventure trip in Thailand are:

  • Chiang Mai
  • Krabi
  • Koh Phi Phi
  • Khao Sok
  • Phuket

With these destinations, you can do it all.

Hiking, partying, island hopping, diving, cooking local meals, visiting an elephant sanctuary, kayaking on a lake… and so much more.

A beautiful picture of Khao Sok National Park in Thailand.

For Nightlife / Parties

The best destinations for nightlife and parties in Thailand are:

  • Bangkok
  • Pattaya
  • Phuket
  • Koh Phi Phi
  • Samui
  • Koh Phangan (Full Moon Party)

There are so many bars, clubs, and beach clubs in Thailand, especially in these destinations.

fire sign at the full moon party in haad rin in Koh Phangan Thailand

Check out my Thailand bucket list for more ideas of places to include in your itinerary.

You can use an app like Wanderlog to plan your trip.

It’s free and super simple to use.

You can create your itinerary, add the costs, share it with your friends, split expenses, and more.

It’s really easy to use.

And if you need help to create a custom itinerary, you can always book a call with me on Vida.

Schedule A Call To Chat With Me

Mojomatt on his phone at home in Bangkok

Book A Place To Stay

w hotel bangkok extreme wow suite

For a short-term trip, book your hotels with Booking.com.

They have a large selection of hotels all around Thailand, for all budgets.

It's also ideal for accumulating bookings to reach Genius 3, Booking.com's highest reward, which you can use all around the world.

I’ve unlocked Genius 3 while traveling in Thailand, and I now enjoy huge discounts when I travel in Europe.

🐵 Find The Best Deals On Booking.com


For those who have crypto to spend, you can check out Travala.

It’s like Booking.com, but they also accept payments in crypto.

Book hotels, flights, and activities with crypto (or fiat) on Travala

Now if you stay a few weeks in one place, you can either use Booking.com or check out the options on Airbnb.

Airbnb is less convenient for check-in but offers a home-like experience with a ton of villas and apartments.

For long-term stays, I have a dedicated post on how to find a condo in Bangkok ( most of the tips I give you also apply to the rest of Thailand).

Book Tickets To Travel In Thailand

Whether you plan to travel in Thailand by plane, bus, taxi, or ferry, you’ll find all the options available for each route on 12Go Asia.

It’s super easy to use, the prices are cheap, and you can compare all the options for a route right on their site.

Start booking your tickets now.

🐵  Start Planning Your Trip

Book your tickets with 12Go Asia now.

Book Activities And Attractions

For most activities and attractions you don’t need to book in advance.

Or you can book with a local travel agency when you arrive in Thailand.

But I tend to book most of my activities and attractions with Klook.

It’s easier, especially when you have a lot planned, a tight itinerary, or when you’re traveling with a large group.

And you can easily compare prices.

Download Apps In Advance

There is a list of apps I’m sure you’re gonna need during your trip to Thailand.

Like Google Maps to get around, AirAsia for flights in Thailand, or Thaifriendly to find a Thai girlfriend.

Okay, maybe not that last one.

But I’ve made a list of must-have apps in Thailand.

Get A Travel Insurance

Before purchasing online travel insurance, check if your credit card or other subscriptions already cover you.

If you’re traveling for a short time (less than 90 days), usually you already have insurance with your credit card.

Pack Your Bag

Now that the trip is coming, it's time for the most exciting part, packing your bad.

Just kidding.

That being said, with the right packing list, it shouldn't take long.

Here are my tips to pack for a trip to Thailand and my personal packing list.

You can also find my packing list in my checklist to plan a trip to Thailand.

Bring Cash

cost of living bangkok bank notes bahts

People still use cash a lot in Thailand.

Especially taxis, street vendors, and some restaurants and bars.

Withdraw some cash before your trip home, and exchange it at a Superrich location when you arrive in Thailand.

For the rest of your expenses, try to withdraw as little as possible as ATMs charge a 250 THB fee every time you withdraw with a foreign card.

And to save more on fees, use an online bank like Wise.

Wise is the best bank account and credit card to travel.

They have the lowest fees on currency exchange and no fees to pay overseas.

Learn Thai

A picture of the Thai alphabet.

No matter how long your trip in Thailand is, you need to learn how to say hi, ask how much it is, give directions to a taxi, and a few words that will make people smile.

For that, I’ve made a list of the 50 words to know when you travel to Thailand.

To learn even more, check out my page with all the resources and guides on how to learn Thai.

Get A SIM Card

A shop at the Bangkok's airport to buy a sim card.

No matter where you land in Thailand, you can buy a SIM card right at the airport.

Choose True or AIS as they have the best coverage in Thailand.

And pick a package with enough internet to last during your trip.

It is the same price to do it at the airport as it is in the rest of Thailand, so get it done as soon as you land.

Get Help To Plan Your Trip

Need help to plan your party in Thailand?

Need help to plan your luxury trip to Thailand?

🇹🇭 Download my checklist to plan your trip to Thailand at your own pace.

Do You Still Have Questions?

I try to answer the most common questions on the blog, but if you have any specific questions you want me to answer, you can always text me on Vida.

That’s the only place where I reply to texts.

Schedule A Call To Chat With Me

Mojomatt on his phone at home in Bangkok

And if you think about anything that I should add to this list, leave a comment below.

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