At a first glance, Thailand appears as a small country situated in the heart of Southeast Asia. However, within this country, lies a diverse array of bucket list must-do’s. Here’s an encompassing list of the best 25 things to do in Thailand as a solo female traveler!
1) Visit famous temples around Bangkok
Some of the most unique and astounding temples reside in Thailand’s capital city. Marvel at the reclining Buddha of Wat Pho, or Wat Arun for its fascinating architecture. Exploring the intricate grounds of The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha are absolute must do’s for solo travelers in Thailand – how can you miss these iconic spots?!
2) Chatuchak Weekend Market
The largest and most diverse market in all of Thailand, Chatuchak Weekend Market is perfect for every solo traveler’s shopping and eatery needs. Don’t be afraid to bargain prices (as long as they don’t have a set price tag)! If you see something you like, BUY IT, because you probably won’t see it again.
Beware of the live animal section of the market! If you’re sensitive to that nature, avoid zones 9, 11, 13, and 15 (next to the furniture).
3) Khao San Road
Where backpackers around the world join to experience the epitome of Bangkok’s nightlife, Khao San Road is infamous for its party scene and unique eats including: durian, tarantulas, alligator, and scorpions. Shops are stocked with the most popular souvenirs, from elephant pants and knock-off clothing, to sex toys and erotic bottle openers.
4) Bathe Elephants in Chiang Mai
Spending time with elephants is one of the most incredible and surreal experiences you’ll ever encounter! Do your part as a solo traveler to research an ethical sanctuary that ensures the animals are well taken care of both in the public eye and behind the scenes! Be sure to read my post on how to choosing an elephant sanctuary in Thailand (Yes, it’s that important, I’ve linked it twice)!
5) Discover the history of Old Town in Chiang Mai
History is prominent throughout Chiang Mai, and within the walls outlining the old city, are a plethora of temples for solo travelers to enjoy. Wat Chedi Luang (known for its ruins), Wat Phra Singh (gold temple), Wat Chiang Man, Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang, and Wat Rajamontean are some of the best ones! While in Chiang Mai, make sure to try some Khao Soi (noodle soup native to North Thailand) and check out the Sunday night walking street!
6) Spend a weekend in Pai
Tucked away deep in the mountains is Pai, one of Thailand’s hidden gems. You can take on the windy road either by motorbike, or a 3-hour bus ride from Chiang Mai. Backpackers gather to escape the city life, and explore the terrain. I recommend joining a day tour to hit up the main spots of this town, including Pai Canyon, Chedi Phra That Mae Yen (large white Buddha), Yun Lai Viewpoint, the Land Split, and more!
7) Explore Railay Beach
With so much to do on the little peninsula, Railay is the best place for solo backpackers seeking an adventure-filled day. Rock climb limestone cliffs, or admire the formations in Tham Phra Nang Nai (Diamond Cave). Railay also has the infamous Phra Nang Cave Shrine (commonly known as the phallus shrine) and beautiful beaches to lay out on.
8) Go Island Hopping out of Ao Nang
My favorite adventure in Krabi was a snorkel tour of the nearby islands. Several tours are offered that explore a variety of islands and beaches, but this was the one I did. Aside from snorkeling we had drinks, paddle-boarded, swam with bioluminescent plankton, and enjoyed a delicious Thai dinner. Whichever tour you choose, island hopping in Krabi is something not to be missed!
9) Sightseeing on Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan
Rent a motorbike and cruise around to John-Suwan viewpoint for the best overlook of the island. Then take a quick long tail boat ride to Ko Nang Yuan, an island just off of Ko Tao. This island had the clearest water, and a stunning view!
Also, join other solo travelers in the Ko Tao bar crawl! Included is a free bucket, cabaret show (you must purchase a drink there), pool party, and fire show. Out of every bar crawl I did in Thailand, this one is definitely at the top of the list.
10) Snorkel (or dive) in Ko Tao
Ko Tao is famous for its pristine waters and perfect conditions to get diving certified. If you’re not planning on diving, snorkeling is a must for every solo traveler!
Either on a boat tour, or motorbiking around the island, there are numerous beaches to enjoy. Be sure to check out Shark Bay, Freedom Beach, and Tanote Bay.
11) Party on Koh Phi Phi
One of the most iconic spots for backpackers to party at is Koh Phi Phi! Soak in the warm waters, kayak to monkey beach, hike to the viewpoint, or attend the Ibiza Pool Party during the day.
At night, the beach comes alive with fire shows, glow-in-the-dark gear, free shots, jump rope, limbo, and so much more!
12) Moon Parties on Koh Pha Ngan
Koh Pha Ngan is home to the Half Moon, Black Moon, and Full Moon parties (the most popular on Haad Rin beach). Backpackers gather for an unforgettable time with buckets of alcohol, neon paint, fire spinners, and raging music.
While the Full Moon Party is free, Half Moon and Black Moon require an entrance fee, equating to its smaller/more contained crowd. Click here for festival dates.
13) Attend a Drag Show
An absolute must-do for all solo travelers is attend a drag show! My favorite (and the most popular) is The Stranger Bar in Patpong. Different entertainers are showcased every night performing variety of dances with the best audience engagement I’ve seen!
They aren’t afraid to hold back – every dancer elicits the vibe that they truly enjoy their art and love what they do. I’ve been there three times and highly encourage everyone to stop by!
14) Venture Down Bangla Road
Notorious for Phuket’s nightlife, Bangla Road is filled with countless rooftop bars, night clubs, live music bars, and go-go bars! Join other solo travelers on bar crawl and explore all the street has to offer from ping pong shows, to souvenir shopping.
Some of the best spots are: White Room, Illuzion, Barfunk, Backpacker, and Sugar. Keep in mind – drinks and souvenirs will be much pricier due to its bustling location.
15) Watch a Fire Show on Ko Samet
While you can find fire shows almost anywhere in Thailand, Ko Samet had the craziest one with the most audience engagement! Aside from typical fire twirling, they spun massive flames on the water, and also played fire limbo!
Those who dared were carried under the limbo’s flame by fire spinners as low as they could get. Other travelers were handed fire batons to dance with.
16) Get a drink atop Sky Bar (Lebua State Tower)
Infamous for its filming location of The Hangover, Sky Bar comes with an incredible view overlooking Bangkok. As a budget backpacker, this spot is quite pricy ($20 to $30 USD for a cocktail), but it’s well worth treating yourself for a night (take a break from budgeting and splurge a little)! Nothing beats getting mesmerized by the city lights glistening below while sipping a fancy cocktail.
17) Get a Thai massage
Where else in the world can you get an hour long Thai & oil massage for $5?! This is a STEAL for solo budget backpackers! A typical massage includes a change of clothes, house slippers, washing of the feet, and complimentary tea. You can find massage studios anywhere, but be sure to check their reviews to ensure cleanliness and safety.
18) Sample Street Food
Naturally you’ll be enjoying as much Thai food as you can, but for all you solo travelers – be on the look out for street vendors! They offer the best deals for delicious Thai food!
Ones you absolutely MUST try are: mango sticky rice, durian, som tam (green papaya salad), massaman curry (my favorite!), and pad see ew. Also, be sure to stop by 7/11 for an infamous toastie (the best snack after a night out)!
19) Ride a Tuktuk
Traveling short distances is quick and convenient with tuktuks! You’ll see these three-wheeled open-air vehicles at just about every corner in the larger cities. Although they may charge more than a regular taxi (in relation to distance), it’s worth experiencing navigating the city as many locals do.
20) Enjoy a Fish Spa
Another spa treatment for solo travelers to experience in Thailand is watching tons of fish nibble at your feet! For as little as $5, these fish eat away at your dead skin leaving them soft to the touch. If you’re easily tickled, this may not be for you, but if you can withstand it for 15 minutes, it’s well worth the baht!
21) Experience Songkran Festival (April 13-15)
Every April, Thai’s celebrate their New Year unlike anywhere else in the world. For two days, people gather to spray water guns and throw buckets of water on each other. Locals and tourists alike partake in this thrilling event – a perfect occasion for the peak of their summer. Check out this article for the lowdown on Songkran.
If you’re traveling Thailand solo during this event, you CANNOT miss it! What’s better than a festival full of water guns?!
22) Loi Krathong/Yi Peng Festival
Loi Krathong is a Siamese festival celebrated throughout Thailand. Thais create little baskets out of banana tree leaves and flowers, and set them afloat as means of giving thanks to the water goddess. In Chiang Mai, Yi Peng (native to Northern Thailand) coincides with Loi Krathong, where floating lanterns are released, lighting up the nighttime sky (just as you see in Disney’s Tangled!)
Backpackers are encouraged to take part in this annual celebration by lifting a lantern into the sky, or setting a basket afloat. You’ll learn so much about this holiday just by actively participating!
23) Chiang Rai temples
Thailand has SO many temples to choose from, however, the White and Blue Temples in Chiang Rai contrast to the common gold temples throughout the country. These temples are vibrant with the most intricate details that represent the purity and wisdom of Buddha. Backpackers all over the world come to visit these!
24) Visit a National Park
Thailand has several national parks that are incredibly serene. Many solo travelers visit Khao Yai or Khao Sok, but there are dozens to choose from, each full of rich history and breathtaking views! Be sure to visit outside of the monsoon season (May – October).
The ancient capital of Siam, Ayutthaya, still stands with its ruins beautifully preserved. Just north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya was a thriving trading port for centuries until the Burmese invasion in 1767. Today, you can tour Ayutthaya’s palaces, shrines, and temples that inspired some of Bangkok’s development.
This is a perfect day trip for solo travelers looking to escape the city and learn more about Thailand’s rich history!