10 Things Backpackers in Thailand Should Not Miss

The backpacking culture is diverse and inclusive.

For everyone that enjoys traveling off the beaten path, the adventure that is backpacking awaits.

You may have decided to travel the world for the parties, the outdoor excursions or to experience different cultures. One thing remains true, Thailand is the ideal place for all of the above.

Take your pick from stunning beaches, tropical forests, food, friendly locals, and nightlife.

Below are 10 things backpackers in Thailand should not miss. There is no doubt you will enjoy your time in Thailand.

1. Dive in the Deep

Diving in Thailand

Popular places to dive include Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Chang and Koh Lanta.

Once you get PADI certification to dive the depths of the ocean, you will have the mind-blowing opportunity to observe marine wildlife closer than ever before.

Watch turtles swim by and enjoy majestic shoals of fish swim past you in a giant living wall. You will also most likely swim past stingrays, anemones, barracuda, tiger sharks, parrotfish and several other species of fish.

Apart from that, you can see beautiful hard and soft coral formations at the reefs.

It is an unforgettable experience.

2. Climb at Krabi

Krabi Climb

Krabi is known as the Mecca for all rock climbing enthusiasts.

The stark and rugged cliffs that tower over sandy bays make Krabi a beautiful site for climbers. The rock at Krabi is part of the world’s largest coral reef that stretches from China to Papua New Guinea.

You do not have to be an expert level climber to enjoy and climb the limestone peaks. Beginners can be taught the basics of how to belay a partner, climb and abseil.

3.The famous Thai massage

Thai Massage

Ancient Thai massage techniques are a form of Thai traditional medicine.

In Thailand, you can get a full body professional massage for only five American dollars.

You can also enjoy indulgent pampering sessions. Pedicures, manicures, facials, body scrubs, body wraps, mud masks, waxing and Swedish massage are all available to relax your mind and body after a strenuous day of touring.

4. Do a festival the Thai way

Thai Festival

(Photo available under Creative Commons license).

The Thai calendar is littered with gorgeous festivals and celebrations all year round.

The event might be a nation-wide or town celebration, but it is always guaranteed to be a fun and colorful drenched in culture.

A great example of this is the Songkran festival held in April. People join together for a water fight of epic proportions!

The Loi Krathong festival that takes place in November is another spectacular event that is centered around lights or lanterns. Tens of thousands of glowing paper lanterns are let loose into the night sky, floating upwards to fill the night with light.

5. Go to the market

Chatuchak Market

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Thai Markets are a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and chat to friendly locals.

You get to experience a day in the life of most Thai people and enjoy good food too! Take a stroll through the market and around stalls that sell interesting artifacts, food, and drink. You can also try your hand at barter trade!

A unique market in Thailand is the Chiang Mai Weekend Market. It specialises in hand-made products and silks from local tribes.

However, the biggest market in Thailand is the Chatuchak Market. You can literally buy anything you want here with an impressive 14,000 stalls to choose from.

6. Elephant sanctuaries

Elephant Sanctuaries

The Thai culture has an ingrained respect for the elephant.

It is acknowledged as a symbol of Thai culture and heritage. Despite being revered, the elephant has a dark history when it comes to its interactions with humans. The capture and enslavement of the elephant are practiced, where they are used for labor and sometimes entertainment.

Recently there has been an upsurge in elephant protection.

They are rescued from poor conditions and are taken to protected areas and sanctuaries. In places like Chiang Mai, you will find Elephant Homes and Elephant Conservation Parks. In these elephant homes, you can feed them, bathe with them and learn how to take care of them.

Examples of places you can visit are the Elephant Nature Park, The Surin Project, Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary and Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary. Have an ethical elephant experience.

7. The Full Moon Party

The Full Moon Party

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The Full Moon Party is an event that began in 1987 as a gathering on the beach of a few friends and a few guitars. Since then, every month on the night of the full moon the party continues. It is now a world-famous event that attracts 10,000 to 30,000 people each time.  

Thai DJ’s and other DJ’s from around the world play a variety of music from about 15 different sound systems on the long sandy stretch of Haad Rin Beach.

There has been plenty of debate about why this party seems more enchanted and magical than most. Some people say it could be the full moon, others say it is the music that reverberates through the sand and into the water.

The most likely cause of magic, however, is the throngs of happy people that fill the night air with palpable energy and great vibes.

8. Muay Thai Boxing

Muay Thai Boxing

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Muay Thai is a form of kickboxing.

Its origins are in Chinese and Indian martial arts but it is uniquely Thai. As the ‘Art of Eight Limbs’, it uses punches, elbows, kicks and knee strikes.

If you are interested in learning more about the method, sign up for training at the various camps where you go toe to toe with real fighters. Spectating a Muay Thai fight at Lumphini Stadium is something that you must do while in Bangkok.

9. Go where no one has been


Try to see Thailand with different eyes.

Hiring a motorbike, for example, is a great way to explore. On a bike, you can decide to get off the tarmac and take the dirt tracks up country. On a bike, you can decide to stop over at villages or drive up coastal roads.

Thailand is one of the safer countries to travel to.

You will be more at risk of minor pilfering than having any physical harm done to you. What you will come across for sure are smiling faces and warm, welcoming locals. For another fun and rewarding escapade, check out the Khmer ruins and rice fields.

10. Street food central

Thai Food

Picture this… noodle soup, sushi, satay, meatballs, fried chicken, quail eggs, coconut ice cream, dried squid, fresh fruit, papaya salad, sticky rice…

Thailand is street food heaven! It is cheap, delicious, and filling, which means it’s all systems go for the backpacker!

Make sure to take out a good insurance policy before traveling. Comprehensive travel insurance covers theft, loss and medical problems. Be careful when choosing policies because some intentionally exclude dangerous activities such as diving and surfing.  Enjoy backpacking in Thailand safely and have fun exploring!