Slow Traveling in Thailand

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This post was written by Josh Band from A Backpacker’s World. Josh loves to write about backpacking all around the world. From Southeast Asia to Europe, and everything in between, Josh loves to explore and spend as little as possible while doing so. 

Thailand is one of those countries that has “everything”. 

But most people only visit for around 2 weeks and try to see “everything”. 

It’s impossible, especially when one of the biggest draws is relaxing by the beach – how can you relax if you’re rushing from place to place?

That’s why slow travelling in Thailand is the best option. 

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How Long To Spend In Thailand

If you want to see everything Thailand has to offer without burning yourself out, you need at least two months to visit all of the most popular spots.

Thailand has so much to offer and while you can visit all the hot spots in around one month, you will only be spending about 2 days in each place – which means you’ll spend half your time travelling between places rather than exploring each place.

By spending around 5 days (or more) in each location, with a little bit longer on the islands so you can relax and unwind, you 1) won’t burn yourself out from travelling and 2) you will get to do more in each place.

There are hundreds of reasons to visit Thailand – and if you travel slowly, you’ll get to experience a lot more of the reasons than the average tourist.  

How To Get Around Thailand

Getting between destinations in Thailand is really easy. There are buses, trains and ferries which connect everywhere in the country together.

You can easily book these through hostels or travel agents (hotels usually don’t book onward transport) for a cheaper price than online – but if you prefer the convenience then 12Go is a great app which allows you to go from literally anywhere to anywhere within Thailand. 

The buses and trains vary in quality – some are amazing, some are awful. One thing is consistent though, and that’s that the journeys are usually quite long. That’s why slow travelling in Thailand is a good option because you don’t want to be travelling every other day. 

Getting around in each location is also really easy. Grab is the easiest way to get around – it’s Thailand’s version of Uber and it’s incredibly cheap and really convenient too as you are rarely waiting long for a ride.

Other options are taxis, tuk-tuks, of course, songthaews and renting your own bike. If you are on one of the islands that don’t have Grab then it’s a really good option as it allows you to go wherever you want whenever you want which is great for getting to some of the more remote beaches. 

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Places To Visit In Thailand

There are so many places to visit in Thailand, but a few of them are especially suited to slow travel. 

Bangkok

You simply couldn’t visit Thailand without visiting Bangkok – chances are that’s where you’ll fly into anyway. 

Bangkok is the perfect place to start as the city is so huge, it’s like lots of mini-cities put together. If you only stay in the touristy part near Khaosan Road, you might get bored.

But if you explore all of Bangkok, you can easily spend a week or two going between each suburb and seeing what it has to offer. 

Even though it’s the capital and most popular place to visit in Thailand, some suburbs receive next to no tourists and it’s such a big city that some kids will have never seen a tourist before. It’s the perfect chance to go off the beaten path. 

Chiang Mai

There are so many reasons Chiang Mai is worth visiting but the abundance of things to do is definitely one of the biggest ones.

If you like getting active, it’s the perfect place for you. There is zip lining, jungle trekking, white water rafting and lots more to do from the city.

Not to mention the famous Elephant Nature Park, which is one of the only truly ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand. It’s recognised worldwide for its efforts as you don’t feed the elephants, you don’t touch them, you don’t bathe them, and you definitely don’t ride them – you simply watch them from a distance.

Chiang Mai is very popular amongst expats, especially digital nomads, which shows just how good it is, making it the perfect place to slow down while travelling. Chiang Mai is also very safe, it’s one of the safest cities in Southeast Asia, which is another reason it’s great. 

Pai

Near Chiang Mai, is Pai which is one of the most relaxing places in Thailand. It’s a nature haven, and the views are incredible.

The saying amongst travellers in Thailand is that if you stay for 3 days or less, you won’t like Pai. But if you stay for a week or more, you’ll never want to leave.

It’s so peaceful and relaxing, and even though it’s getting more and more popular, it still doesn’t feel busy. 

If you like the outdoors and being amongst nature, you’ll love Pai. 

Ao Nang

Heading to the south now, Ao Nang is the best place to go for beaches on the mainland. Lots of people will head to Phuket but it’s way too busy and Ao Nang suits the laid-back vibes which you look for when travelling slowly in Thailand.

It’s in the province of Krabi and is right by Railay Beach, as well as Ao Nang Beach itself, and you can take lots of day trips such as to the Phi Phi Islands. 

For most people, being by the beach every day in the sun is enough to keep you happy – and that’s what Ao Nang offers. But if you need even more, there are fire shows every night, there are wild monkeys just a few minutes away from the beach, and the street food is incredible.

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Island-hopping

It would be impossible to list all of the best islands to visit in Thailand as there are thousands to choose from and 99% of them are incredible. 

In the Gulf of Thailand, which is where most people will island hop, the most popular are Koh Samui, Koh Phang-an, and Koh Tao. 

You could easily spend a month chilling between these three islands and if you have the time, you definitely should.

Life is so chilled out on the islands and if you are interested in diving, Koh Tao is the perfect place to get your diving license as it’s the cheapest place in the world, and there are lots of coral reefs to see, not to mention the chance to see turtles and whale sharks.

Some people even choose to take a month-long dive programme which takes slow travel to a whole other level. Imagine waking up, going for a dive, having lunch, going for another dive, going back to land, lying by the beach until the evening, having a nice meal, going to bed and repeating that every day. What a life!

Thailand Slow Travel Tips

While travelling is usually pretty self explanatory, there are some tips which can help you make the most of your time in Thailand when slow travelling specifically. Here are a few:

Live in the moment

One of the joys of slow travel is letting go of the need to rush from one attraction to another. In Thailand, life moves at a relaxed pace, so take your time to savour every moment. If you’re going to the same beach every day, you don’t need to bring your phone to take photos every day – live in the moment. 

Explore Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

These destinations offer a more authentic glimpse into Thai life, with fewer crowds and a slower way of life – which is what you are looking for. You’ll be able to connect with nature, interact with locals, and experience the famous Thai hospitality in its purest form.

Stay in Homestays or Guesthouses

To truly immerse yourself in the local culture, choose accommodation that provides an authentic experience. Homestays and guesthouses run by local families offer a glimpse into everyday life in Thailand. You’ll have the chance to learn about traditional customs, taste home-cooked meals, and forge meaningful connections with your hosts. Plus, you’re helping locals rather than giving money to huge companies. 

Take Your Time to Connect with Nature

Thailand boasts breathtaking natural beauty, from lush jungles and pristine beaches to serene rice paddies and towering mountains. Slow travel allows you to fully appreciate these wonders of nature. You have the chance to take a few days that others might not have to go trekking through the jungle, kayaking along tranquil rivers, or lounging on secluded beaches.

Immerse Yourself in Local Traditions and Festivals

Thailand is famous for its vibrant festivals and rich cultural traditions. Whether it’s joining in the water fights during Songkran (Thai New Year), witnessing the spectacular lantern release at Yi Peng Festival, or attending a traditional Thai cooking class, you’ll make valuable memories that many travellers would miss out on. 

Conclusion

And there you have it, a complete guide to slow travelling in Thailand.

Thailand is genuinely the perfect place to travel at a slower pace as the locals are chilled out (except when it comes to driving) so it’s really easy to get into the way of life.

Enjoy your time in Thailand, you’ll have the best few months of your life – no doubt about it.

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