Ah, Thailand. The enchanting country that inspires visions of crystal blue waters, vibrant cuisine, awe-inspiring temples, and dizzying information spread across several tabs? Wait, one of these doesn't belong.
Planning a tour of Thailand shouldn't be rocket science. That's why we're cutting to the good stuff with everything you need to know about the Land of Smiles. Give your search engine some much-needed rest and discover what awaits whether you decide to visit bustling Bangkok, or stay tucked away in the fields of Chiang Mai.
Thailand is the 8th most popular tourist destination in the world, thanks to its vibrant culture, mouth-watering food, and breathtaking landscapes. It's no wonder why they received 39.9 million tourists in 2019. Though they suffered a dip in 2022 with only 11.8 million tourists, they're recovering quickly.
In fact, Thai tourism is set to make a comeback in 2023 with an estimated 25 million tourists projected to flock to the peninsula. Could you be one of them? Keep reading to find out if our GoWithGuide Thailand private tours are in your immediate future.
At A Glance: Top Ten Tourism Statistics In Thailand
- 25.8 million - The number of tourists that visited Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city
- 167 USD - The average amount of money a tourist spends per day
- 9 days - the average time tourists spend in Thailand
- 117.5 billion USD - The amount in dollars that tourism contributed to Thailand’s GDP for 2019
- 21.9% - The percentage that tourism and travel contributed to the nation's GDP
- 40,000 - the number of temples in Thailand
- 3000 - The number of elephants used for tourism purposes
- 71.8 million - Thailand’s current population, an increase
- 0.56 - the number of tourists per resident in Thailand
- 513,115 square km (198,115 sqm) - The size of the country, meaning you've got a lot to explore!
Why We Love Thailand
So what makes Thailand a popular tourist destination? Let’s find out.
The Sites - as one of the world's most visually stunning countries, Thailand's cities have the perfect blend of outdoor enchantment and architectural awe. What's Thailand's most distinctive trait? Let's take a look.
- Bangkok - the capital city is home to amazing structures like the Grand Palace, the Wat Arun temple, and our Damnoen Saduak floating market tour where 10,000 boats are masterfully navigated by vendors selling fresh Thai ingredients.
- Phuket - Thailand's largest island drifts along the Andaman Sea, with nearby beaches drawing in visitors thanks to its thriving water sports culture.
- Chiang Mai - Welcome to the largest city in Northern Thailand! Millions flock to this province for various reasons, including the 117 temples, and vibrant nightlife.
- Chon Buri - Not too far from Bangkok (80 kilometers), this seaside settlement is a seafood lover’s dream.
- Ayutthaya - This UNESCO World Heritage center is home to several ruins of the Siamese Kingdom. Touring this archaeological site takes you back to the 14th-18th century.
Travel Q&A: What is the number one best tourist destination in Thailand? The Grand Palace in Bangkok, also known as the former residence of Thailand's royal family, is one of the most frequented structures in the world, drawing in 8 million visitors yearly.
The Food - It's no secret that Thailand is the King of street food. It's so beloved that most residents prefer eating out to cooking at home. Here are some Thai treats to add to your culinary bucket list;
- Pad Thai (Thai fried noodles) - This world-famous dish has its roots in Thailand. With tender flat rice noodles, sweet sauces, umami flavor, and crispy fried eggs, it's often considered Thailand's signature meal.
- Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad) - Popular throughout the country, this Northern Thai classic highlights the crunchy and sharp green papaya mixed with carrots, chilies, lime juice, green beans, and so much more!
- Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai green curry) - Coconut is a beloved Thai ingredient that shines bright in this savory, slightly sweet, and fragrant curry.
- Khao Niew Mamuang (mango with sticky rice) - Cleanse your palate with this traditional sticky rice dessert. Thailand’s staple grain is enhanced with creamy condensed milk and fresh mangoes.
- Satay (skewered meat) - You'll find some form of skewered, fire-roasted meat on every corner. From sweet and sticky pork to chicken heads, there are enough flavor combinations to last a lifetime.
Travel Treat: You may have seen dramatic videos on the internet highlighting Thailand’s exotic snacks, but it’s all true! Thai people take pride in knowing how to transform critters like cockroaches and grasshoppers into savory delights. Talk to your private guide about an in-depth GoWithGuide food tour.
Nature - Nowhere else will you find a landscape so diverse it houses both the second largest land mammal (Asian elephant) and the smallest one (the adorable bumblebee bat). Looking to enjoy Thailand's beautiful nature? Here's how.
- Jet Skis and Beach activities at Saigaeo
- Elephant Trekking in Phuket
- Catamaran Yacht Ride in Pattaya
- Waterfalls & Caves in Chiang Mai
Travel Q&A: Is Thailand one of the most visited countries? Yes! Thailand was ranked the 8th most visited country in the world in 2019, beating out Germany and the United Kingdom.
Who Else Loves Thailand
Okay, so everybody loves Thailand, but who can you expect to run into while touring this brilliant country? Here’s the tourist breakdown by nationality (pre-pandemic).
- China - The Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports reported that in 2019, over 11 million tourists came from mainland China, contributing to 28% of Thailand’s tourism.
- Malaysia - Coming in is Malaysia, Thailand’s border mate with 4.2 million visitors and 10% of the tourism share.
- India - Over 1.9 million Indian residents visited the Southeast Asian jewel in 2019. Indian visitors made up 10% of tourist shares in 2022 due to China's total lockdown.
- Korea - 1.8 million Koreans touched down in Thailand throughout 2019.
- Laos - Neighboring Laos brought in 1.8 million visitors.
- Japan - 1.7 million
- Russia - 1.4 million
- Singapore - 1.1 million
- The United States - 1.1 million
- Hong Kong - 1 million
Travel Bonus: Is Thailand visa-free for U.S. citizens? Yes! No need to book appointments or go through long processes for a visa. You can travel for up to 29 days without one!
Quick Thailand Travel Trends
A speedy look at Thailand’s monthly tourist visiting trends
January to February - The Chinese new year is set to attract 30,000 Chinese visitors and 500,000 international travelers (2023).
March & April - 543,000 guests flew in for The Songkran Festival. Most of them were from China, looking to splash in the traditional Thai new year with plenty of lighthearted water fights (2019).
May - Thailand's monsoon season starts, decreasing tourist activity significantly, and some hotels along the coast shut down.
June-September - This is Thailand's low season, with heavy trains affecting most day-to-day activities and tour highlights.
October-December - As monsoon season wears off, travelers flock to enjoy Thailand's cool breezes and steady weather patterns. The peak season ranges from November to March drawing in visitors to Chiang Mai to celebrate the floating candle festival.
This vs That -Thailand's Tourism Recovery (2019 vs 2022)
Has Thailand's tourism recovered from the pandemic? Yes and no. Tourism was the industry hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Thailand went from 40 million tourists in 2019 to just over 11 million tourists in 2022. Though that's a drastic drop, it’s a rapid improvement, as the previous year saw only 428,000 visitors. Though around 25 million travelers are expected in 2023, it will take some time before Thailand sees record highs again.
Travel Truth: The Land of Smiles is enchanting, but what are the disadvantages of tourism in Thailand? The Thailand Development Research Institute cites coral pollution due to littering from excessive beach parties, environmental strain from over-tourism, and troubling practices within Thailand's controversial sex tourism industry as some of the few pitfalls of the highly successful tourism industry.
Explore Thailand responsibly and avoid adding to the negative side of tourism by hiring a local private guide who tailors your itinerary to match your desires while keeping local travel standards at the forefront.
Life in Thailand: What To Expect in The Land of Smiles
You might be a guest, but Thailand is the best place to experience local living. Here are some things to keep in mind while living within this Southeast Asian jewel;
Getting Around - Transport can be tricky in bustling metropolitan areas like Phuket or Bangkok, but these methods are sure to get you where you need to go.
- Tuk Tuk - this staple of Southeast Asian travel is so prevalent in Thailand that there are over 35,000 three-wheelers in operation. Keep your guide close as foreigners can sometimes be tricked into paying high fare prices. Travel Bonus - Want to add some fun to your Thai transport experience? Try our nighttime Tuk Tuk tour filled with tasty street food stops along the way
- Taxi - Taxis are plentiful in nearly all major cities, but they can be quite expensive.
- Motorcycles - Strap in and make sure you have a helmet because these guys are fast, especially when zipping through traffic.
Weather Check: Your Guide To Thailand’s Climate
Thailand is known for its diverse climate and blooming ecosystems that give us unique wildlife and weather. So what is the best time to visit Thailand? Let's look at what the weather has to say.
- April tends to be the hottest month for those arriving in Bangkok, with average highs of 30.5°C (87°F). Overall, Thailand has annual highs of 37°C (98.6°F). This is considered the peak of Thailand’s March-May hot season.
- December brings about the year's lowest temperatures at 21°C (69.8°F). This is the lowest stage in Thailand's November to February cool season.
- June-October is when the rainy/monsoon season kicks off with highs of 252 mm rainfall in September.
- January holds the highest average for sunshine with Bangkok recording 273 hours of sunshine.
Do’s & Don'ts
Is Thailand friendly to tourists? Yes! There's a reason why they're known as the land of smiles. Thai people are hospitable and kind, but if you want to keep your trip hassle-free, consider these daily practices.
What To Avoid: Red Flags For Travelers
As friendly and accommodating as this nation is, the Thai government has pointed out several safety gaps that need attention. Here are some red flags you should look out for.
- Join the Thai nightlife with caution - Though it can be an amazing experience, night touring opens you up to several tourist traps, such as drug/sex peddling, both of which have serious legal consequences.
- Large, rowdy crowds - With civil unrest becoming common, it’s best to stay away from large, energetic crowds. A mild skirmish can become violent quickly, especially in political hot zones. Talk to your guide about where to go and where to avoid.
- The taxi scam - As you leave your hotel, some taxi drivers might offer special tours but instead take you to places where you can purchase items from vendors. Don't get into any vehicle that your tour guide hasn't cleared as legitimate.
Okay, if that last bit overwhelmed you, don’t freak out. You can still have a wholesome Thai adventure without the scary safety concerns and dizzying public transport maze to conquer.
That’s where we come in. GoWithGuide’s selection of local private guides who know the nation’s ins and outs will help you bypass any confusion and avoid annoying travel downers like;
- Large tour groups
- Unsafe tour areas
- A rushed schedule influenced by strangers
- A heavy language barrier
- Getting lost at hectic or crowded venues
- Embarrassing or legally damaging cultural missteps
Ready to leave the stress behind and plan your personalized Thailand adventure? Get in touch with a local guide and put the smile back into travel planning.
P.S. Looking to travel with companions? The more the merrier! Share this post with your friends and get them as excited about touring Thailand as you are.
Phi Phi Islands- Freepik Image
Wat Arun, Bangkok-Freepik Image
Chiang Mai Rice Fields- Pixabay
Ayutthaya Temple- Freepik Image
Chon Buri Tuk Tuk- Pixabay Image
Bank of Thailand (Statistical Data) EC_EI_028_S2 Tourism Indicators
Thailand Tourism Statistics 1995-2023 | MacroTrends
Development and importance of tourism for Thailand
Tourism in Thailand - Wikipedia
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Thailand Travel Advice & Safety | Smartraveller
National Geographic Kids - Thailand
Thailand | History, Flag, Map, Population, Language, Government, & Facts | Britannica
Thailand - The World Factbook
Most popular resorts in Thailand
Covid: Thailand tourism up but still below pre-pandemic level - BBC News
National Courtesy Month: Thai Cultural Do's and Don'ts - Thailand Insider
Most Visited Countries 2023
Thailand saw 10.9 million tourist arrivals so far this year: Official - CNA
Recovery of Thailand's tourism industry | Economist Intelligence Unit
COVID curbs over, China's tourists hit Thai beaches for the first time in 3 years | Reuters
Thailand Travel Restrictions 2023 | ThaiEmbassy.com
Historic City of Ayutthaya - UNESCO World Heritage Centre
Tales From The Banana Trail