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Best Backpacking Destinations in Thailand

Thailand is on every backpacker's list, it is full of many wonderful sights to see, cities, islands, and endless adventures. This list includes the top 10 best backpacking destinations in Thailand, with so much to see and do when backpacking this vast and vibrant country you can use this list as a basis to build an unforgettable trip to Thailand.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is located in the North of Thailand and is the second largest city in Thailand, this city is ancient and is completely opposite to the capital, Bangkok. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and a lush green landscape, this city is used as a base for backpackers who wish to visit mountain temples, get up and close to local village tribes and bathe rescued elephants at Chiang Mai’s famous elephant sanctuaries.


Pai is a small and remote hippie village, situated by the peaceful river, life moves slowly here. Although don’t be fooled by the bohemian lifestyle, Pai is becoming backpackers paradise, with a lively nightlife and one of the tastiest street food markets you can find. Take a dip in the nearby waterfalls, thermal baths and visit the impressive Pai canyon for sunset.


Thailand's capital cannot be missed, it is a city that must be visited and experienced - at least once in your life! This is a city that truly does not sleep, with a nightlife from rooftop bars to backpacker bars on Koh San Road. Zip around the city on a Thai 3 wheeled tuk-tuk, get a feel for the local way of life at one of the floating markets, witness locals selling their goods out of their boats. Visit one of the hundreds of temples, Wat Phra Kaew Temple is one to visit, being home to the Emerald Buddha.


Only two hours from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok is the quaint town of Kanchanaburi which has a great backpacker community. It is the ideal place to stay if you wish to visit the amazing Erawan National Park, where you can swim under cascading waterfalls, gaze at the turquoise blue waters whilst hiking through the natural park. When visiting Kanchanaburi, visit and pay remembrance to the harrowing history of the Burma Railway aka, Death Railway, which passes through the town and stroll along the bridge on the River Kwai.


Ayuthaya is a breathtaking city and has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with an abundance of temples ruins and palaces waiting to be discovered. It is said the Ayutthaya is one of the closest things to Cambodia's Angkor Wat, in Thailand. Here you can take discover the Thai history and culture by cycling around the city and explore the ruins by bike. Once you’ve seen enough temples for the day, visit the traditional Chao Phrom Market and stroll along the Pasak River.

Khao Yai National Park

This is a place for all of the hiking and nature lovers, you can trek through exotic forests, and cool off in one of the many secret waterfalls and discover all sorts of Thai wildlife. Khao Yai National park is home to wild elephants too! This national park is peaceful and serene, and one of the best in Thailand.

Koh Tao

Koh Tao is an island that is popular with divers, mainly because it is so inexpensive to gain your open water diving certificate here, its a real backpackers hot-spot. Here you can dance the night away if you wish in one of the beach bars and clubs. Sairee Beach is the largest on the island and is dotted in beach shacks and calm waters. Take a traditional long-tailed Thai boat ride to Koh Nang Yuan, and hike to the top of the tiny island for the best panoramic views.

Koh Phi Phi

The island is most well known for starring the movie The Beach on a neighboring island. Unfortunately, the now infamous Maya Bay is indefinitely closed due to over tourism as of writing this in March 2019. Nevertheless, Koh Phi Phi has lots to do! Hike to the stunning Phi Phi viewpoint with idyllic sunset views. Charter a Thai boat with a group of friends and snorkel at the beautiful Bamboo Island, then take a visit to the Monkey Beach, get friendly and feed the monkeys before ending your day watching the sun go down. For scuba divers, hit up one of the many dive shops to schedule some diving on nearby reefs and islands.


Chiang Rai

This backpacker-friendly town is the perfect place for backpackers looking to escape the crazy crowds. You can explore the vast mountains and trek into the Thai countryside and learn first hand about Thailand's hill tribes and minorities. Immerse yourself in history and visit the white temple and black house, which will have you blown away.  


Railay is a coastal beach town that could easily be mistaken for a tropical island. However, it is on Thailand's mainland surrounded by dramatic mountains and can be reached by boat in Krabi's main port. This is a great spot for rock climbers of all levels who make the most of the jutting limestone rocks and cliffs. The scenery is beautiful and is a place where you can take in the natural beauty and trek through the jungle and see the spectacular white sandy beaches and coves.

When you finally book that Thailand ticket, make sure to get the right accessories to bring home your favorite memories.

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About the author:  Melissa Giroux is a full-time traveler who decided to base herself in Bali, Indonesia. You’ll probably find her in Southeast Asia while she is enjoying her life and sharing it with the world on her travel blog.

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