Thailand for Millennials: travel lifestyle of the broke and free-spirited

For the past few years, Thailand effortlessly became a tourist hub not only for backpackers but also from around the world. It became one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia and here’s some of the many reasons why: The Land of Smiles is the gateway to the neighboring countries of the region, it has a little bit of everything you need to tick our bucket list off, it’s culinary scene has amazing burst of flavors, going around in the country is easy and pretty accessible, cost of living is impressively cheap, affordable to high-end accommodations are everywhere, it is a safe country to wander in, and it is probably the best country to start off your solo adventures.

Thailand is a mix of exotic, fun, and adventurous. You won’t fall short with activities and food to try, people to meet, and destinations to take your breath away.

Here, allow me to lead you to Thailand’s whereabouts.

#1 – Staycation

Getting a safe and sound sleep just might be what you need to kick off your Thailand exploration. And while finding a good accommodation wherever your wandering soul may be is yet a challenge to hold, Thailand rental homes are here to pacify you with rooms and villas you deserve without having to leave the peripheries of your comfort zone. And did we mention they have infinity pools with a tropical view? Ahhh, definitely a bang for your Baht!

#2 – Free walking tours

Thailand does not fall short with shenanigans to be ticked off. There are underwater explorations, market shopping, forest trekking, national park, temple and museum hopping, and binge-eating of street foods. Most of these can be done through day tours that range from 500 to 1,700 THB, depending on the opted activities. Though this might sound steep, know that joining group tours will always help you save more! Plus, group tours give more chances of gaining new friends to share the grandeur of Thailand with.

While packaged tours are going to be death of your arm or kidney, free walking tours are also a good alternative to try. And by free, meaning you won’t have to pay for your guides anymore, but you will otherwise pay for food that will cost about 300 THB. Just be generous enough to tip them for a job well done!

#3 – Island life

It’s not a secret how prevalent Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certification course is in Thailand. After all, who wouldn’t plunge in its breath-taking underwater world? Joining this course will cost you for about 10,000 THB, which probably comes with an accommodation. Ko Tao is said to be the cheapest place to scuba dive, while Siliman Islands is the best diving spot.

Meanwhile, beach bumming in the pristine islands of Similian Ko Samui, Ko Taruato, Ko Lanta, Ko Samet, Ko Chang, and Ko Jum shouldn’t also be missed. The mermaid in you surely won’t be disappointed!

#4 – Where to go shopping

Chiang Mai holds a lot of markets for you to shop from, four of which are Warorot Market, Morning Market, JJ Market, and Kad Rincome Fashion Market where you can buy artisan items, spa products, clothes, antique finds, ceramics, handicrafts, and authentic Thaid food, to name a few! Markets here open as early as 4 AM, which paves way for photo opportunities while the strip is still free from tourists. Chiang Mai market is also a good spot to people-watch, observe Thai’s everyday living, see monks, and to be entertained with good music and Thai dancers.  

Chatuchak Weekend Market is also a hefty place to shop in for some lamps, Siamese cats, wares, silks, and provocative wildlife pieces like hornbills and gibbons.

#5 – Go on adventures that matter

The elephant tourism in Thailand is probably one of the most controversial tourism practices in the industry because of the harm it brings to these gentle giants. Thus, a better way to have a close encounter with them is by volunteering in places like Elephant Conservation Center. Here, you will not only be entertained by their cleverness, but you will also be educated on how to properly treat them and to help them recover from the pain they have been enduring.

#6 – Heed the calling of the mountains, it’s the best cardio

Okay, we can’t deny it. Thailand is blessed with the best of both worlds. It has a fair share of beautiful islands and mountains. And while you are more of a mountain baby, Thailand has got you covered from easy to intense, to remote, to jungle-filled, and to hilltribe trails with sightings of caves, lakes, rivers, limestones, and wildlife. So, where are the best places to trek then?  Prep up your legs for Soppong, Khao Sok National Park, Khao Yai National Park, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ko Tarutao, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Doi Inyjanon National Park, and Um Phang, among others. You got a lot of work to do here, I tell you.

#7 – Stuff yourself with street food

Street food options are infinite in Bangkok! Name it and they probably have it: boat noodles, grilled banana, roast duck, grilled pork, chicken curry, catfish salad, shrimp tom yum noodles, Thai green mango salad, green papaya salad, sticky rice, coconut grilled cakes, kanom buang, fruit shakes, and refreshing cup of durian juice, anything!  The best spots for street food strips are located outside terminals, shopping centers, hospitals, and universities. After all, all roads lead to where the food is, right? If you are on a different diet, there are a lot of vegan restaurants to try in Bangkok, too! 

#8 – Festival fever

Be sure not to miss three of the most anticipated festivals in Thailand: Full Moon Party where over 20,000 locals and tourists alike party under the ‘most beautiful moon’ on Haad Rin and Phangan Beach.

Another one for the road is Songkran Festival or Thai’s New Year’s Day where a fun-filled water fight all over the country happens every April 13 to 15.

During the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, Chinese devotees fast in the form of well, vegetables during Taoist Lent to test their spiritual strength for nine days. The festival is also packed with parades, food stalls, shows, and processions.

#9 – Adventurous nightlife

The famous red light district of Patpong is perhaps the busiest spot when beer o’clock strikes. Being a sex business hub in the country, entertainment on bars, clubs and markets here are often led by women who dances and do creative stunts in nude. It is most especially catered for men, foreigners and expats.

More so, here’s a tip: if you want to avoid shelling out large amount of money for a drink or two, make the most out of happy hours or head on to the nearest 7 Eleven. Beers and liquors can be quite cheaper there than in any other establishment in the country.

#10 – A digital nomad’s haven

For when you want to veer away with the crowd and refuel with your daily coffee grind, Toby’s Coffee, Un Fashion Vintage Café, and Rocket Coffeebar are good providers for your fix, while Casa Lapin is the best place to keep up with your work. It is a hostel, a co-working space, a coffee shop, and a flower shop all housed in one building, whimsically designed with brick walls and lushes of greens.

#11 – Try cooking classes in Chiang Mai

Aside from the engaging in the buzzing markets in Chiang Mai, another activity worth trying for here the cooking classes. There’s Thai Farm Cooking School, Zabb E Lee Thai Cooking School, Green Mango Cooking School, Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School, and Thai Organic Cookery School that’s waiting to hone you the inner chef in you.

#12 – Rest your bones with some traditional massage

Other than curling up yourself to sleep, having a traditional massage is totally a rejuvenating way to cap off your tiring Thailand exploration. With the combined power of yoga and acupressure, I bet you’ll be well-prepared for your next backpacking trip after this!

#13 – Have a picturesque road trip via Death Railway

Riding in the Death Railway is the most picturesque and historic road trips in Thailand you will ever have. In two hours’ time, you will lay eyes on the beauty from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok. Be sure to stop by the Thailand-Burma Railway Center for a gist on its historical background. I’ll surely trade sleep over sceneries for this kind of ride!

#14 – Bike through the ruins of Sukhothai

Roam around Sukhothai like a pro by exploring it via bicycle. This structure once became Thailand’s capital, but unfortunately got abandoned. However, Sukhothai has a coping mechanism of its own. It is now one of the most visited historical sites in the country that speaks of a beautiful disaster and offers a great sunset view.

#15 – Pay Wat Phra Kaew a visit

Located in The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew is dubbed as the most beautiful temple and the holiest Buddhist site in the country that houses the image of the 26-inch tall Emerald Buddha. Before visiting the temple, be sure to wear a modest attire as this is a sacred place.

#16 – Set foot in a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The historic city of Ayutthaya shows the past splendour of Thailand with its prangs and towering Buddhist monasteries. Why not take a stroll here for a magical sunset show, photo opportunities on its red brick walls, or have some down time on the grass?

#17 – Hang out with the Reclining Buddha

Just when you think we’re done with temple runs, a few stone’s throw away from the Emerald Buddha is Wat Pho, one of the largest and oldest temples in Thailand. The Buddhist temple complex houses the 46-meter long Reclining Buddha and another multifold number of Buddhas, statues, and artifacts inside!

#18 – Head down south for rare finds

Little did we know, Nakhon Si Thammarat is bustling with its gustatory cuisine and handicrafts. Your mom and the adult in you will surely rejoice with lots of intricately designed hard and basket wares, silver and gold jewelries, and other furnitures that can be bought here! After shopping, pave your way to Khao Luang National Park and the cascading waterfall of Krung Ching.

#19 – Rock-climb in Ko Yao Noi

For the adrenaline junkies, rock climbing in Ko Yao Noi is something you shouldn’t miss. Every step you’ll take through its peak shows a magnificent view! ALternative points of interests to do are swimming, kayaking, and delving into the wilderness where cobras, monkeys, and pied hornbills await your coming!

#20 – Dive in the beauty of Ko Kood

Ko Kood is yet another virgin island in Thailand. It has a very inviting clean and clear water  that’s waiting to be plunged in. Ko Kood is also bursting with vegetation, mangroves, tropical rainforests and has a number of waterfalls like Nam Tok Khlong Chao. Sea you, yes?

What are your top things to recommend for millennial travel in Thailand? Leave it on the comment box below!

Mikee is a Filipino travel and lifestyle writer who is gradually shifting from a sedentary life to a nomadic one. On a personal note, she dreams of traveling to all 81 provinces in the Philippines, and having her own travel book, hostel, and restaurant someday. Keep track of her world through her words at


  • January 7, 2017

    I like your elephant conservation idea, much better than riding them. Thailand also has some of the best street food in the world! I’m very jealous.

  • January 8, 2017

    I would have loved to see pictures of Ko Kood as its sounds nice and I’ve never heard of it.
    The reclining Buddha is a lovely sight to see

  • January 8, 2017

    As above, would also love to see photos of Ko Kood. Sounds very yummy to me. Great write up

  • January 9, 2017

    Looks like an interesting lifestyle. Ah, to be young and carefree again. Enjoy!

  • January 9, 2017

    Cheap and plentiful street food is one of my favorite things about Thailand! As you mentioned, there is so much to love about the country–the mountains, the islands, the temples etc. I’d like return to Thailand to get PADI certified. Cliche? Maybe. But it just sounds like such a great deal!

  • January 10, 2017

    I would have gone to Thailand a couple of weeks ago but then after 16 years my relationship ended and so we ended up not going, but spending time at home arranging the break up. I’d have loved to go but with the flooding in the south (the region we planned to go to) I think we made the best decision not going. I will definitely be back one day because I’d love to see the mountains and venture out on some great hikes 🙂

  • January 10, 2017

    I didn’t realized there were free walking tours in Thailand. But I guess at 300 Bhat, it’s really not free… I’ve only been to Bangkok, there’s so much more I want to see like Phuket, etc. Rock climbing in Ko Yao Noi sounds like fun.

  • Chrysoula
    January 10, 2017

    I have never been to Thailand but after reading this, I have found many reasons to go. Their cuisine is amazing and infinity pools and massages is all I want for a relaxed holiday!

  • January 11, 2017

    This list is making me want to be in Thailand right now instead of here (Montreal) in the snow! Thailand has so much to offer for every taste it’s hard for someone not to like it.

  • January 12, 2017

    I tried cooking class in changmai by paon. She’s too funny and the menu was spectacular

  • Tyler Kelly
    January 15, 2018

    Going to Thailand next week
    This article will definitely be me plan my solo trip.


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