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Top 12 Best Backpacking Destinations in Thailand 

The Best Backpacking Thailand Route for Budget Travelers

Backpacking Destinations Thailand

12 Places to Visit in Thailand for Backpackers

Thailand, as the most visited country of Southeast Asia, is a haven for backpackers not only because of its limitless offerings of natural adventures, cultural discoveries, and historical tours but also because of the safety it offers to all tourists.

Backpacker Destinations in Thailand
Backpacker Destinations in Thailand

Moreover, Thailand also has a lot of cities that are considered to be backpacking hotspots because of their incredible affordability. You can actually stay in Thailand for one whole week under a budget of $250! With that amount of money, you can already book your own room, try different Thai dishes every day, and reach popular tourist destinations using public transport! How about that? Well, that’s a good enough bargain for me.

In Thailand, you will discover and encounter a lot of things. From world-class natural wonders to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, cultural landmarks, thriving street markets, pleasant people, and more! So if you’re a backpacker and want to travel to the mesmerizing country of Thailand soon, then this article is perfect for you! Come with me as we both discover the 12 Best Backpacking Destinations in Thailand!

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai by Cheese Yang via Unsplash
Chiang Mai by Cheese Yang via Unsplash

First on the list is the beautiful city of Chiang Mai. It is a backpacker’s haven because of its location in the mountainous region of Thailand. Chiang Mai has a vibrant history of being the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in the past. Some of the iconic temples and castles are still perfectly preserved and attract thousands of tourists worldwide.

Chiang Mai is also a melting pot of Thai culture. You can explore the city, taste some iconic Thai foods, tour natural landmarks, and have a good time with the remarkable nightlife experience waiting for you!

Things to do: Visit some of Chiang Mai’s iconic destinations: Doi Inthanon National Park, Doi Suthep, and Wat Phra Singh. Nightlife shopping, Thai Massage, Hiking, Canyoneering, Traditional Thai Food Trip.

How to get there: Chiang Mai has a pretty busy airport with direct flights from several Southeast Asian countries. Traveling by plane is probably the best mode of transport to reach Chiang Mai, especially if you’re already in Thailand. Alternatively, you can also ride the bus hailing from the capital Bangkok or Chiang Rai. Moreover, reaching Chiang Mai by train is also a popular choice for tourists with direct flights to Bangkok. For further details, click this link!

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Bangkok at night by Florian Wehde via Unsplash
Bangkok at night by Florian Wehde via Unsplash

Ah, of course! The list wouldn’t be complete without the famed capital of Thailand itself, the city of Bangkok. It has long been one of the most visited cities globally for its revered ancient attractions and landmarks. However, Bangkok is ultimately known for its unparalleled nightlife experience. The metropolis of Bangkok is filled with fun and exciting experiences that best suit the millennials!

More than that, Bangkok is also a popular backpacking destination because of its extreme affordability. Get to experience a lot for a lesser price indeed!

Things to do: Bangkok is home to some of the most iconic cultural landmarks of Thailand, such as The Grand Palace, Golden Buddha, and Wat Arun. Surfing at Flow House, Thai Boxing, Weekend Market Shopping, Nightlife, River Cruise, and Thai Food adventure.

How to get there: The best way to reach Bangkok is by plane thru the Suvarnabhumi International Airport. This airport caters to several flights from all over the world.

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Backpacking in Pai Thailand photo via Pixabay
Backpacking in Pai Thailand photo via Pixabay

Ah, the small town of Pai in Thailand is also a thriving tourist attraction thanks to the countless selection of relaxing activities it offers to backpackers. If you like to have a serene and peaceful vacation in Thailand, visiting Pai is most likely the best option! The small town is known for its hippie culture, where you can find unique hot springs, affordable guesthouses, stunning views of nature, and even elephant camps!

Things to do: Exploring Pai Canyon, Pambok Waterfalls, and Mo Paeng Falls. Whitewater Rafting, Hiking, Spelunking, Thai Hot Springs, and Scooter Rides.

How to get there: The most popular way to reach Pai is to come from Chiang Mai. You can either travel by plane, shuttle bus, and scooter. Of course, the fastest way is to travel by plane. However, if you really want to admire the breathtaking scenery along the way, then I recommend traveling by shuttle bus or scooter!

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Kanchanaburi photo by Tar Patipat via Unsplash
Kanchanaburi photo by Tar Patipat via Unsplash

The town of Kanchanaburi is widely known as the home of the iconic River Kwai Bridge. It is the controversial structure that is said to have played a huge role in World War II. Aside from its historical landmarks, Kanchanaburi is also a haven for nature lovers as you can visit countless national parks and sightseeing spots! From mesmerizing waterfalls, abundant wildlife, complicated cave systems, and many more, you’ll definitely be closer to nature when you visit Kanchanaburi!

Things to do: Explore Kanchanaburi’s famous museums such as Death Railway Museum, JEATH War Museum, and Hellfire Pass Museum. Night Market Shopping, Relaxing Hot Springs, Scenic Train Rides, and Spelunking at Kaeng Lawa Cave.

How to get there: Hailing from Bangkok, the best way to reach Kanchanaburi is by train. This allows you to fully enjoy the scenic views along the route and even reach some historical landmarks of Thailand. You can either hire an agent to set you up, go to the train station yourself, or book tickets online.

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Sukhothai photo via Pixabay
Sukhothai photo via Pixabay

If you’re more into the impressive history of Thailand, visiting the small town of Sukhothai is the best place for you. The town only has a population of almost 40,000 and houses countless historical landmarks that date back to the town being the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam.

Enjoy touring around ancient castles, historic ruins, and majestic temples of historical significance to the country. For backpackers, Sukhothai is the perfect destination to immerse yourselves in Thai culture!

Things to do: Visit Sukhothai’s iconic temples and ruins, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Old City,” Wat Mahathat, and Wat Traphang Ngoen. You can also meet the lovely rescued animals at the Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary.

How to get there: The best way to reach Sukhothai is to travel by plane from the capital Bangkok through Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Another way is to travel by bus, which takes around 6-7 hours.

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Ayutthaya by Aaron Thomas via Unsplash
Ayutthaya by Aaron Thomas via Unsplash

Thai history at its finest. Our next backpacking destination is the historical city of Ayutthaya, a city located about 80 kilometers from the capital Bangkok. The ancient city was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam and remained in power for so long because of its strategic location as a trading port.

Not only is Ayutthaya rich in history, but also in treasures of temples and palaces. It became the face of Thailand for more than four (4) centuries, so it’s safe to say that you’ll definitely have a look back at the iconic history of the country.

Things to do: Ayutthaya is widely known for its temples and ancient ruins, such as Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Na Phra Men, and Wat Suwam Dararam. Tourists can also be closer to nature by spending time with elephants at the Elephant Stay.

How to get there: Ayutthaya can be easily accessed from Bangkok, where you can ride the bus or train. However, the best way to reach Ayutthaya is by booking a private tour featuring a scenic river cruise from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.

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Koh Samui

Koh Samui by Max Bottinger via Unsplash
Koh Samui by Max Bottinger via Unsplash

Of course! The next destination perfectly embodies the tropical paradise that Thailand truly is. Koh Samui is the second-largest island of Thailand known for its pristine white-sand beaches, crystalline turquoise waters, and lush rainforests. So if you’re a beach lover, then Koh Samui is probably the best place for you in Thailand.

Besides its natural wonders, Koh Samui also proudly houses some of Thailand’s historical landmarks, such as the Golden Big Buddha Statue of Wat Phra Yai Temple.

Things to do: Swimming and Sunbathing at Koh Samui’s beaches, diving, snorkeling, island hopping, and exploring the iconic Ang Thong Marine Park.

How to get there: The best way to travel to Koh Samui is by plane through the Samui International Airport, which caters to several flights abroad and Bangkok.

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Koh Tao

Koh Tao by Darren Lawrence via Unsplash
Koh Tao by Darren Lawrence via Unsplash

Another tropical paradise with mesmerizing sceneries, white-sand beaches, pristine waters, abundant rainforests, gastronomic restaurants, and unmatched nightlife experience that you can find in Thailand is located on the island of Koh Tao.

This fantastic backpacking destination offers a whole set of experiences for everyone who wants to cast themselves away from the noise and buzz of the city. Scuba diving, island hopping, swimming, and witnessing the mesmerizing sunset with a cold bottle of beer beside you is gotta be one of the most fun experiences you’ll have in Thailand!

Things to do: Visit Koh Tao’s breathtaking viewpoints such as Koh Nang Yuan, Mango Bay Viewpoint, and Love @ Koh Tao, where you can witness mesmerizing sunsets, sunrise, and scenic natural views. Diving, beach camping, snorkeling, and rock climbing.

How to get there: Hailing from Bangkok, you can travel to Koh Tao by bus, ferry, train, and van. Out of all these choices, the best and most popular mode of transport is by ferry.

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Krabi by Andreas M via Unsplash
Krabi by Andreas M via Unsplash

Yet another premier island getaway is waiting for you here at Krabi, Thailand. Along with its majestic islets, white-sand beaches, blue-green waters, and beautiful limestone cliffs are fun and exciting activities designed to make you fall in love with nature even more! From scuba diving, rock climbing, island hopping, and many more, Krabi is definitely one of the best backpacking destinations you’ll ever find in Thailand!

Krabi is also a popular beach destination, so there are already countless established resorts and restaurants out there to serve all your vacation needs!

Things to do: Visit Krabi’s natural wonders like Railay Beaches and Caves, Thung Teao Forest Natural Park, and Phi Phi Islands. Swimming, Diving, Snorkeling, Island Hopping, Night Market Shopping, and Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary.

How to get there: There are many options to travel to Krabi from Bangkok, such as by bus, plane, and by taxi or private car. The best way is to travel by aircraft, which only takes about 1.5 hours.

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Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi photo via Pixabay
Koh Phi Phi photo via Pixabay

Ah, another world-famous group of islands you’ll find in Thailand is the famous Koh Phi Phi Islands. The premier backpacking destination earned its fame through the mesmerizing white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and limestone rock formations you’ll find around the six (6) islands. Koh Phi Phi was also made famous by the Hollywood movie of Leonardo Di Caprio titled “The Beach.”

Things to do: Island Hopping and Exploration at the iconic Maya Bay, Monkey Island, Mosquito Island, and Bamboo Island. Diving, Snorkeling, Swimming, and Muay Thai.

How to get there: The best way to reach Phi Phi Islands is by traveling by plane from Bangkok to Krabi and then riding the ferry en route to Phi Phi Islands. This whole trip takes about 5 to 10 hours.

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Beach in Phuket by Arkady Lukashov via Unsplash
Beach in Phuket by Arkady Lukashov via Unsplash

Undeniably the most famous tourist destination in Thailand is the largest island itself, Phuket. Known globally for its white-sand beaches, crystalline turquoise waters, rich Thai culture, and countless scenic diving spots, Phuket has quickly captured the hearts of many tourists from all over the world.

Despite being one of the most expensive places to visit in Thailand mainly because of its fame, booking a trip to Phuket can still be an affordable adventure because everything else you’ll need for your journey is so much cheaper!

Things to do: Explore Phuket’s heavenly beaches such as Karon Beach, Patong Beach, and Kata Beach. Diving, Snorkeling, Hiking, and Phuket Market Shopping.

How to get there: Tourists can reach Phuket by plane, bus, or train from Bangkok. The Suvarnabhumi International Airport and the Don Muang Airport offer several direct flights to Phuket, which makes it the best choice.

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Chiang Rai

Temple in Chiang Rai by Alex Azabache via Unsplash
Temple in Chiang Rai by Alex Azabache via Unsplash

Last but definitely not least is the beautiful city of Chiang Rai. This small city located in the mountainous region of Thailand bordering Laos and Myanmar is one of the backpacking havens you’ll find in the country.

Chiang Rai is the perfect place to cast yourself away from the hustle and bustle of the city while peacefully admiring the natural and historical beauty that the city has to offer. From sightseeing destinations to cultural landmarks including temples, palaces, artistic museums, gastronomic restaurants, and many more, Chiang Rai is indeed the best place to experience Thai culture in its full power!

Things to do: Explore Chiang Rai’s must-visit destinations such as the White Temple, Blue Temple, and Singha Park. Trekking, Night Bazaar Shopping, Nightlife, and Thai Food Hunting.

How to get there: Chiang Rai can be reached from Bangkok by train, bus, car, and plane. The best way is to travel by plane through Chiang Rai International Airport, only 1.5 hours.

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Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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