Is unstructured travel in northern Thailand during high season feasible?
July 8, 2013 4:39 AM   Subscribe

My days of tramping around Thailand are long over so I must turn to Ask MeFi for help. Friends from the Czech Republic want to visit northern Thailand for two or three weeks sometime between this coming December and February next year. They do not speak Thai. It will be low cost holiday, no luxury hotels, no expensive restaurants. They want cheap hostels or tenting, bus or bicycle travel, partake of rural life and culture in the north, eat food from the markets, and perhaps some forest trekking. They are looking forward to an impromptu type of holiday with little planned itinerary. Is this type of trip even feasible during Thailand’s tourist high season? Has anyone undertaken such an unstructured adventure? Was it what you hoped? What downsides did you encounter? Any advice I can pass along would be very much appreciated.
posted by thaivagabond to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (8 answers total)
I don't think that there would be any problems. I'm not sure what problems you are anticipating. Hostels being fully booked or something? No available buses? I have spent a lot of time in Northern Thailand, and until I got married and had a baby never reserved anything. I can't imagine that there would be any problems even in the highest of the high season.

Northern Thailand, although less touristy than the south is still incredibly tourist oriented. Every guesthouse offers trekking trips that can be booked directly through them, and everything is made easy for tourists to get around and get along.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:35 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Any advice I can pass along would be very much appreciated.

"Just go."
posted by pompomtom at 6:34 AM on July 8, 2013

I'd say you'll have no trouble. Even in Chiang Mai during Songkran, I had no trouble finding a place to stay. Even booking a bus trip wasn't an issue, and booking a cooking class or a trek was no problem at all. Thailand is a well oiled tourism machine, in my opinion. The trip they have planned sounds exactly like what the majority of foreigner's are doing when travelling in Thailand.

I didn't book ahead for anything on my trip and it was perfectly fine. I had places recommended by fellow travellers, and for the most part I never had trouble booking a bed where I wanted (one hostel I wanted in Bangkok was booked, but there were countless others to choose from).
posted by backwards guitar at 7:02 AM on July 8, 2013

Thailand is so well-set-up for independent travel. I can't imagine this being a problem.
posted by lunasol at 8:32 AM on July 8, 2013

They'll be fine.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:53 PM on July 8, 2013

I did this in 2009-2010. No problems at all.
posted by sacrifix at 4:56 PM on July 8, 2013

Many thanks, all, for your input!
posted by thaivagabond at 4:37 AM on July 9, 2013

I have done this recently. I spent the month of January going around the north with no plan. As said above, totally doable. There are tons of cheap places to stay there. The food is very cheap and tastes great. You will struggle to spend your money. Even around ney years and Songkran.
posted by drugstorefrog at 3:45 AM on July 10, 2013

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