Thailand: A Great Budget Destination for Your First Solo Trip

by Gray Cargill on June 4, 2011

Thinking about solo travel, but can’t figure out where you should go? That is the dilemma of many a traveler. After all, the world is a big place. Those of us who have trouble choosing just one dish off a restaurant menu have an even harder time narrowing down travel choices when the world is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. If there’s one thing I’ve picked up over the past few years of reading other travel blogs, it’s that most budget travelers make Thailand a stop on their world tour. Today’s guest blogger, Catherine Bodry, explains why.

Ko Chang

Ko Chang, Thailand

If you’re contemplating your first solo travels and need a country that will help you ease into it, consider Thailand.

There are many reasons why Thailand is a great country for solo travelers, especially those who haven’t traveled on their own before. Here are a few.

It’s set up for travelers

That means you can catch a bus directly from Bangkok’s main airport to many of Thailand’s hot tourist destinations. Travel desks are set up with destinations listed, and you can walk right up and buy a ticket. For me, sometimes the biggest stress of traveling alone is the frustration of trying to figure things out. I hate feeling like an idiot, trying to communicate with someone through a plexi-glass ticket window at a public bus station while others hover in line behind me. In Thailand, you can take out that embarrassment factor simply with the ease of travel.

Though I never recommend taking buses from the backpacker neighborhood that surrounds Bangkok’s Khao San Road, taking buses that leave from other tourist destinations (such as the airport, the train station, or booked through your hotel’s concierge) almost guarantee that you’ll find folks who are on a similar itinerary as you. In fact, sometimes when I’m on a tourist bus I feel like I’m part of an all-adult summer camp, one that takes place on incredible beaches.

Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai

Accommodation is cheap

Low prices mean that if you want to be alone, you don’t have to break your bank to get your own room. There’s nothing worse than a sweaty dorm room when all you want is to have some solo time. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a social atmosphere, plenty of hostels are around; you can even book a private room at one and enjoy the social benefits of hosteling without the dorm room.

Activities are aplenty, and also cheap

I’m one of those people who likes to be alone without being alone. I prefer to write in a coffee shop instead of my home, simply to be around people. Thailand caters to me with a myriad of activities and cheap classes and tours, which means that I can spend an afternoon or entire day being around other people without committing to travel together or even be friends. Cooking classes, yoga classes, massage training, elephant riding, jungle trekking – really, your options are almost limitless.

Catherine Bodry

Catherine Bodry

Thailand is safe

Of course you should always use common sense, particularly if you’re a solo female traveler. But I’ve never felt threatened or seen any acts of aggression against tourists in Thailand. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, and (nonviolent) theft can be quite common in heavily touristed areas, but in general you’ll be left alone. This will come as a breath of fresh air to any woman who has traveled solo in, say, India.

Thailand is an excellent way to ease your way into solo travel in Asia. It’s forgiving, gentle and easy, allowing you to get off the beaten track as much or as little as you like. Happy trails!

Catherine Bodry is the writer at WhyGoThailand, where you can book your trip and get tips for traveling by bus in Thailand. Almost all of her trips to the Land of Smiles have been solo, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photo credit: Catherine Bodry.

Gray Cargill June 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Christine!

GRRRL TRAVELER June 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I totally agree with all of these points! Thailand was my first real solo-SOLO adventure and it was easy.. in fact, it’s become one of my most favorite travel stops (I’m on my 4th visit!). It’s totally set up for tourism– multiple ways to get around, budget tours, a variety of places/sights to see and Thai hospitality. It’s also got border crossings into other countries and again,… Thailand makes it easy even for that. I recommend it for any solo traveler wanting to test out solo travel.

Gray June 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Great tips, Nora! Thank you for sharing.

Nora June 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Having done a 5 week solo trip in Thailand a year ago, I agree that Thailand can be a good solo strip destination. I love the variety (islands, shopping or temples in the north, ancient cultures at Sukothai, Ayuthaya). It is inexpensive to pamper yourself – a lovely Thai massage runs about $6 US, there are lots of non-pricey courses you can take to mingle (Thai cooking, language, learn Thai massage, jewelry making etc), and you can stock up on lovely Thai silk scarves etc for a few $US each. The variety of food and its quality, and the fact that Thailand is one of the few SE Asian destinations where you can safely have ice in your drinks make travel here a joy. Tip: If you’ve got some time to travel, find a Thai language school online before you go and sign up for some private lessons in Bangkok… your tutor will be an instant friend and help you find your way, invite you out for a meal or evening with friends and generally make things fun. I’m still in touch with Nut from my last trip!

Catherine June 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Hi Lindy,

I think that if you’ve never traveled at all, then any kind of solo travel might be scary for the first time — I certainly had many a breakdown on my first trip abroad, which was also solo (and to Europe). But if you’ve already got some trips behind you, Thailand shouldn’t be a problem for an introduction to traveling alone. I’m never harassed in Thailand, and can’t say that I’m scammed more or less depending on whether or not I’m alone (as opposed to, say, India, where traveling gets significantly more difficult when I’m alone).

Thanks for commenting!

Lindy June 6, 2011 at 5:09 am

Having been to Thailand five times, I would say that travelling alone for the first time would be rather scary! I mean, especially if you haven’t travelled before. Fine if you’re a seasoned traveller but certainly not beginner. I would think you’d get scammed and harassed far too often for it to be enjoyable…. well that’s if you’re a female. It may be a different experience for men!

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