(Last updated on: 22/08/2022)
There are plenty of reasons why tourism in Thailand is becoming increasingly popular over the years. Thailand is an amazing destination for a huge variety of people – whether you want a relaxing luxury holiday, an exciting backpacking adventure or a bustling city break, Thailand has it all! Read on for all you need to know about tourism in Thailand.
- Tourism in Thailand
- Why is Thailand a popular tourist destination?
- The history of tourism in Thailand
- Who needs a Thailand tourist visa?
- Is it safe to travel in Thailand?
- Medical tourism in Thailand
- Dental tourism in Thailand
- Ecotourism in Thailand
- Adventure tourism in Thailand
- Wellness tourism in Thailand
- The top Thailand tourist attractions
- Tourism in Thailand packing list
- Tourism in Thailand- Complete Thailand Travel Guide- further reading
Tourism in Thailand
Out of all the destinations in the world, Bangkok is the most visited city – with a whopping 22.7 million visitors in 2019 alone! It is the capital of Thailand and has 69.63 million people living there – and as you can guess, because of this, it is a very lively city with plenty to do.
Tourism in Thailand is worth over 22.97 billion GBP, so as you can see, it’s worth a lot to the economy as tourism in Thailand has created jobs and given opportunities to businesses in Thailand to expand in the tourism sector. Since 2017, over 4 million people have worked in the tourism sector in Thailand, so you can see how vital tourism in Thailand is!
The tourism sector doesn’t just rely on international visitors, but domestic tourists are also very common within Thailand. In 2019, there were 167 million domestic travellers in Thailand – which is a staggering amount! However, compared to inbound travellers, domestic tourists were more likely to have shorter trips and spend less money.
Some other popular destinations in Thailand are:
- Phuket – Located in the south of Thailand, Phuket is known for its golden beaches and large Chinese influence on the culture.
- Chiang Mai – This province attacks millions of tourists each year due to its breathtaking temples and cultural activities, it’s also one of the best fairytale destinations in the world.
- Chon Buri – This is the nearest seaside town to Bangkok and hosts an abundance of nature and regional delicacies.
- Khao Sok National Park – Best known for being one of the best natural highlights of Thailand – there are so many animal and plant species to spot here.
Why is Thailand a popular tourist destination?
In 2019, 39.92 tourists visited Thailand for reasons such as adventure tourism, ecotourism and wellness tourism – but we’ll get onto those in a minute! In 2018, the majority of the tourists were from mainland China, which made up 27.5% of tourists in total, followed by Malaysian, Japanese and South Korean tourists. In Europe, the most popular countries to visit Thailand from were Russia, the UK and Germany.
Tourism in Thailand is popular for many reasons – one big reason is that it is a great gap-year destination and a hotspot for backpackers! This is because Thailand is very accessible – there are night trains, night buses, 11 international airports and lots of other transport options such as tuk-tuks to get around very fast and very cheaply. Many people choose to take their gap year and backpack in Thailand as there are also a lot of hostels – Bangkok has over 530 hostels alone! Visiting Thailand on a budget is also very do-able, which makes it a very popular destination for people who want to make the most of their money.
Thailand is also very popular for its Full Moon Party. If the name didn’t give it away, this event happens every full moon and is very popular for younger tourists who like to party, and has around 10,000 – 30,000 people each time. It’s even known as the ‘Number 1 Party in Asia’ according to their website, but you can be the judge of that yourself!
Many tourists also want to visit Thailand to experience the nature and animals there as Thailand is known for its elephants and tigers; however, if you do want to visit any of these attractions, it’s vital to know what’s ethical and what isn’t as, unfortunately, Thailand hasn’t always had the best animal rights records.
Tourism in Thailand is known as very cheap for Western tourists in particular, which is another reason why Thailand is a popular destination. The Thai currency is known as Baht. For example, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Thailand costs around 65 Baht, which is 1.49 GBP, a one-way transport ticket about 0.65p and a 1.5L bottle of water is about 0.37p – this is very good value for money if you are from a western country.
The weather is also a very big reason why tourism in Thailand is very popular. For instance, the average temperature of Thailand ranges from 18 to 38°C throughout the year. Due to this, many tourists view Thailand as a good destination to visit almost every month of the year, meaning that even during the off-peak season, tourism in Thailand will still be an option for tourists wanting to visit. However, there is a wet season in Thailand which is from June to October. This means that if you visit during these months, it’s more likely to rain; however, the weather is still good most of the time!
The history of tourism in Thailand
Tourism in Thailand started becoming popular in the late 1950s. During this time, Thailand had approximately 40 thousand international tourists per year, mainly due to the Vietnam War in 1955. The Vietnam War had a significant impact on tourism in Thailand due to many American soldiers indirectly inducing an influx of foreign direct investment boosting the growth of the industry in Bangkok, as Thailand became an ally with the US after WW2. This meant that the hotel and rail industry also grew rapidly due to the tourist demands, as over 40,000 US troops were assigned to bases in Thailand, and many came to Thailand to rest and recover from the ongoing war.
The 1970s were a decade more infrastructure and branding in Thailand. Much more hotels were constructed, airports were improved, and transportation developed further. Additionally, Thai restaurants became increasingly more popular in many places around the world, which led to an increase in tourism in Thailand as people familiarised themselves with Thai food and wanted to visit the country it originated from.
Now, in the modern-day, many tourists are also inclined to visit Thailand because of the social media presence there. Tourism in Thailand has helped become more popular because of social media, such as Instagram. Currently, #Thailand has over 73.8 million posts – that goes to show how influential social media has been in making others want to visit Thailand! If you have any social media, chances are you’ve seen the famous picture of what’s known as the ‘James Bond Beach’ in Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi. Maya Bay was such a popular tourist destination that, due to overtourism, it had to be closed down in 2020 to allow the wildlife to be rehabilitated.
Who needs a Thailand tourist visa?
Who needs a tourist visa for Thailand? Luckily Thailand has a very useful visa system for citizens of many countries who want to visit for tourism in Thailand.
There are 3 main types of tourist visas in Thailand. These are:
- Single-entry Tourist Visa: Valid for 3 months and permits one entry. You can stay in Thailand for up to 60 days within three months. If you leave, you cannot re-enter even if you haven’t spent the maximum duration of days.
- Multiple-entry Tourist Visa: Valid for 6 months; during this time, you can enter Thailand multiple times, but for only up to 60 days each entry.
- Visa On Arrival: You can stay for up to 15 days.
If you are from the following countries, you can stay in Thailand without a visa for 30 days:
- Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.
If you are from the following countries, you can stay in Thailand visa-free for 90 days:
- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Korea, and Peru.
If you are from the following countries, you can get a visa for tourism in Thailand on arrival, and these visas are only valid for 15 days:
- Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu.
Can I Get a Visa for Thailand Online?
Currently, only citizens from China, Britain, and France can submit their visa applications online.
Do I Need a Visa for Transitting in Thailand?
If you need to have a visa for Thailand, then yes, typically, you will need a transit visa for transmitting in Thailand, unless:
- Your connecting flight is in under 12 hours.
- The connecting flight is booked on the same ticket.
- You do not leave the airport transit area.
- You have the documents for the final destination.
How much is a visa for tourism in Thailand?
The cost of a visa for tourism in Thailand is different in every country; however, it usually ranges from £30 to £200.
Is it safe to travel in Thailand?
Is it safe to travel in Thailand? Yes! Tourism in Thailand is generally very safe for all types of tourists. Chiang Mai has the lowest crime index of 24.04, and Bangkok has a crime index of 41.23. However, the most common types of crimes in Thailand are petty theft and bag snatching, particularly from people on motorbikes who can get away fast. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep your bags and valuables close to you at all times – this anti-theft bag will help stop you from worrying about that!
When travelling on or crossing the road, be very vigilant as over 13,000 people are killed every year due to road traffic accidents in Thailand. A recent study found that 80% of road traffic accidents in Thailand are related to cars cutting in front of traffic. Therefore, if you are travelling by the road, then make sure that you are travelling in a vehicle with modern safety equipment such as airbags in order to help minimise the risk of injury.
Malaria is also prevalent in some parts of Thailand; however, it is mostly in the jungles within the borders of Thailand. If you are going to visit these areas, it is highly recommended that you sleep with netted bedding, keep your skin covered and have mosquito spray – this one works wonders!
It’s recommended that tourists in Thailand get a tetanus, hepatitis A and sometimes a yellow fever vaccination before travel as there is a risk of contamination of these diseases in Thailand. It is also quite common for tourists to sometimes get food poisoning in Thailand. Therefore, you should be cautious about where and what you eat.
Medical tourism in Thailand
Medical tourism in Thailand has become increasingly popular over the years for plenty of reasons. As a whole, Thailand is a major shareholder in medical treatment throughout Asia, which means that it’s very common for this type of tourism.
Even with the cost of the flights, hotels and transport – medical tourism in Thailand often works out much cheaper for inbound tourists than it would be in their own country. Here’s an average price comparison of treatments in the UK compared to treatment costs in Thailand:
|Procedure||UK Cost||Thailand Cost|
|Heart Valve Replacement||£20,000||£13,000|
Just because the prices are significantly lower, this doesn’t mean the facilities or treatments are any worse, as many of the hospitals also offer amazing service. For instance, they will often include:
- 5* apartment-sized rooms.
- Highly skilled surgeons.
- State-of-the-art medical equipment.
- English speaking staff.
Not only do they just sell by procedure, but another advantage of medical tourism in Thailand is that they often sell packages instead of just one single procedure. This is an advantage as it combines the overall cost into one single payment and often means that it’s vastly cheaper for the patient.
If this hasn’t convinced you yet, then a large majority of the Drs, surgeons, dentists, etc. have trained abroad in Western hospitals and are almost always certified by at least 2 international medical institutions.
Dental tourism in Thailand
Dental tourism in Thailand, just like medical tourism, is another huge type of tourism in Thailand. Bangkok and Phuket are known to be the main hubs of dental tourism in Thailand due to many of the dental surgery catering to tourists here the most; however, many other surgeries around Thailand also take in tourists travelling for dental tourism.
Here are the main reasons why you should consider dental tourism in Thailand:
- Compared to dental treatments in Western countries, dental treatments in Thailand are around 60% cheaper.
- Many dentists have international training to very high standards.
- There is very high treatment quality, and the patient’s health and safety are the top priority.
- High-quality equipment is used to carry out all dental procedures.
However, with all medical and dental procedures, it is highly recommended that you do your own research beforehand.
Ecotourism in Thailand
Ecotourism in Thailand has never been so successful! It is one of the most ethical and sustainable ways to explore and is designed to help tourists learn about nature without harming it. Many of the best national parks in Thailand are also very focused on ecotourism, and as a country, Thailand is becoming very focused on prioritising ecotourism for tourists as Thai people feel that it’s vital to their culture. Here are some amazing activities to do that involve ecotourism in Thailand:
- Rice Farming at a Unique Eco-lodge. This once in a lifetime experience allows tourists to understand and get involved in the fascinating art of rice farming. You will even get your own fresh, handmade lunch that includes the rice from the farm.
- 4 Waters Eco-Adventure Trip. A guaranteed fun-filled trip allows you to explore the beauty of Thailand from a different perspective. During the tour, you will get to meander through the jungles of Thailand, viewing spectacular waterfalls, sea, hot springs and ice-cool pools – it’s perfect for you if you want to explore Thailand off the beaten track!
- Koh Samui Jungle Safari Eco Tour. An amazing full-day tour that will take you to all of the prime attractions in Koh Samui in the most eco-friendly way. You will get to ride in an authentic ex-army jeep and go off-road to see all the best-hidden gems Thailand has to offer.
If you’re thinking about travelling to Thailand for ecotourism, here are some great sustainable places to stay:
- Tiki Beach Koh Phangan. This sustainable resort is amazing to suit all your relaxation needs whilst being eco-friendly at the same time. They even have a private beach and outdoor swimming pool!
- Kongkarn Resort and Farmstay. A stay at this idyllic resort is perfect for you if you love fresh food and would appreciate a stunning wooden resort located in the middle of breathtaking nature with amazing views! There’s plenty for guests to do, such as cycling and hiking in the area.
- Villa The Spot Koh Samui. This luxurious hotel offers charming accommodation for guests, complete with hot tubs, pools and even a garden to unwind in. It is perfect for tourists wanting to experience ecotourism in Thailand.
Adventure tourism in Thailand
Adventure tourism in Thailand is another big reason why Thailand attracts the number of tourists it does. There is so much to do here to push you out of your comfort zone and experience something exhilarating.
- 2 Hour Koh Samui Quad Bike Tour. What better way to explore Koh Samui than by quad bike? Experience heart-stopping thrills as you power through the jungle, taking in everything that nature has to offer!
- Phuket Jet Ski Tour. This exciting jet ski tour will give you such an adrenaline rush as you zoom through the waves in Phuket’s crystal clear sea. The tour takes you to 7 different locations in order to show you the best secret beaches.
- Phi Phi Island Snorkelling Tour and Speedboat. You can’t go to Thailand and not go snorkelling! Luckily for you, this amazing snorkelling and speedboat tour has you covered. This is a full-day tour that will pick you up from your accommodation and then allow you to enjoy some amazing snorkelling.
- Chiang Dao Kayaking, Caving and Jungle Tour. Enjoy a full day of action-packed adventure kayaking along Mae Ping River, discovering the Buddhist shrines in Chiang Dao Cave and the exotic jungle scenery – it’s the ideal tour for you if you want to have the memory of a lifetime!
Wellness tourism in Thailand
Wellness tourism in Thailand is very popular as Thailand offers the perfect place for tourists to de-stress and fully unwind properly. There is so much on offer regarding wellness tourism in Thailand, so there will definitely be something to suit your desires. Here are the some of the best activities for wellness tourism:
- 4 Hour Luxury Spa Package for a Couple. This luxury spa package is perfect if you want to unwind with a friend or a partner. Forget about the world for a while whilst you experience serenity. The package contains a foot massage, gold body scrub, aroma oil massage, choice of herbal ball or spa facial and a head massage to allow you to feel truly pampered.
- 2 Hour Thai Balm Massage. Lie back and feel at peace for a couple of hours whilst you are indulged in a soothing Thai Balm massage. It is proven to help aid in the relieving of muscle pains and aches as well as helping heal bruises and making you feel revitalised afterwards.
- Re:leaf Spa and Massage. Escape from bustling Bangkok and allow your mind to calm down whilst you let Re:leaf Spa take control for a few hours. Be catered to by a wide range of treatments that will allow you to feel total relaxation.
Not only does Thailand offer fantastic activities regarding wellness tourism, but there is also a huge range of accommodation to suit all you could ever dream of! Here are just a few of the amazing places I highly recommend that you stay:
- The Legacy River Kwai Resort. This resort is perfect for anyone wishing to unwind and experience total bliss. Guests are free to enjoy the wide range of facilities on offer, such as the fitness room, sauna, pools and yoga classes – what more could you want?
- Samui Paradise Chaweng Beach Resort & Spa. Feel at ease in this perfect piece of paradise. Guests staying at this stunning resort can participate in traditional Thai massages, lounge on the sunbeds as well as soak in the heated pool – it’s the perfect escape from reality.
- Island Escape by Burasari. Immerse yourself in luxury at this heavenly island escape. This astonishing 5* resort presents a tranquil private beach area, à la carte breakfast options and plenty of activities to participate in.
The top Thailand tourist attractions
When you visit Thailand, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to all the attractions you can visit in this phenomenal country. Due to there being so much to do, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose – so here are the top attractions for tourism in Thailand:
- Wat Pho. One of Thailand’s most awe-inspiring attractions to visit, Wat Pho will definitely exceed your expectations. It is home to one of Thailand’s most iconic Buddha statues – the reclining Buddha. Built in 1832, the Buddha here is 15 meters tall and 46 meters long – you’ll have to see it to believe it! I highly recommend booking a tour when visiting Wat Pho as it’s best enjoyed with a guide so you can understand the whole history of the temple.
- White Temple. If you have Instagram, chances are you’ve seen this gorgeous temple! It is an amazing place to visit if you want to see something unique, and be sure to remember it. The temple is officially known as Wat Rong Kung, however, it got its nickname from being painted entirely white by the artist who designed it as he believed that “gold is the colour of people who lust for evil deeds”.
- Ayutthaya. Home to one of the most spectacular temple ruins in the whole of Thailand, Ayutthaya was built in the 14th century and looks just as amazing today as it did back then. This UNESCO world heritage site is a must-see for anyone wanting to visit Thailand as it is filled to the brim with history for you to discover.
- Bangkok Floating Market. A must for anyone coming for tourism in Thailand is to visit a floating market! You’ll most likely never get the opportunity to do this back in your home country if you’re from the West, so make sure you put it on your list of things to experience whilst you’re here! You’ll be able to try a wide variety of different foods and buy stunning clothes and other cultural items.
Tourism in Thailand packing list
When visiting Thailand, it can be a bit confusing about what to pack – but I’ve got you sorted with a list of essential items you don’t want to forget!
- Pashmina Style Scarf. This is a must for any type of tourism in Thailand, as you will most likely visit a temple during your visit. Make sure you’re not caught out by having to spend an extortionate amount on renting one at the temple by getting this beautiful scarf beforehand!
- O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet. Maybe a bit of a weird one – but let me explain! When visiting houses and temples in Thailand, it is customary to take your shoes off; therefore, you want to make sure your feet are in good condition at all times, and this cream is brilliant for helping rescue them.
- ZhaoCo Women’s Wallet. In Thailand, you’re going to need to carry some cash with you if you go to a floating market or to tip people. This women’s wallet is perfect as you can secure it, which helps make it harder for you to become a target of theft. It even comes in a large range of colours for you to choose from! There are similar wallets for men too.
- Creme of Nature Anti-Humidity Gloss & Shine. You’re definitely going to need this product if you want to tame your hair in Thailand’s humidity! It’s a lifesaver when it comes to knowing that your hair will look picture perfect!
Tourism in Thailand- Complete Thailand Travel Guide- further reading
I hope this Thailand travel guide has helped you learn something about tourism in Thailand! What is the most interesting thing you’ve learnt about tourism in this post? If you’d like to read more interesting posts, then I highly recommend these: