Hitchhiking in Thailand is not as common as in European or American countries, but it is certainly possible. People in Asia are so friendly and curious why a foreigner is standing at the side of the street, trying to stop the passing cars. So it won’t take long until someone stops to ask what you are doing. But making them clear what your intention is, is a lot more difficult. After riding our car from Belgium to Mongolia, taking sleeper trains in China, riding a motorbike around Vietnam & Cambodia, and taking local buses in Laos, we decided to hitchhike our way around Thailand.
To save some money so that we can stretch our travel budget a little bit, we decided we should try to hitchhike through Thailand. Although taking long-distance buses and trains are relatively cheap here, travel costs can build up quickly. Especially when you’re planning to see the whole country. We also heard some horror stories about stealing things out of backpacks in overnight buses and trains. So why not hitchhiking instead?
OUR HITCHHIKING EXPERIENCE
We both hitchhiked in Norway and Myrthe has hitched rides from Belgium to Spain multiple times. Having heard that Thailand was one of the easiest countries in Asia to hitchhike, and because we travel on a budget, we just had to try it!
We started in Bangkok by first taking the train to Ayutthaya. A 3rd class seat costs 20 baht (less than 60 cents) for a 2 hours ride. It isn’t advised to start hitchhiking in Bangkok city because only tuk-tuk’s and songthaew’s (shared tuk-tuk) will stop probably.
Most of the people in Thailand don’t understand why two farangs (foreigners) are standing on the side of the road while a bus can take you everywhere. So most of the time, they opt to bring you to the bus or train station. Because of this, we’ve made a hitchhiking letter in Thai. This piece of paper is gold for us. It explains who we are, what we are doing and why. We don’t just hitchhike to travel cheap, but more to do something adventurous, get off the beaten path and meet people we would otherwise never meet.
Hitchhiking in Thailand is pretty easy, at least in the north. Wherever you are, get out of the city center and pull your arm out to stop the passing cars. Most of the time, it didn’t take more than 20 minutes until someone stopped to ask where we wanted to go. Prepare to sit in the back of pick-up trucks a lot! We even shared a pick-up with monks. 🙂
Every single person that has stopped was genuinely kind and wanted to help us in some way. They offered us money (we refused obviously), we got water, coffee, and food from random Thai that saw us standing at the side of the road. We met so many friendly people!
PROS & CONS OF HITCHHIKING
- It’s more fun.
- Meeting local people.
- You see that people can be genuinely friendly.
- It’s cheap.
- Gain crazy stories.
- More adventurous than public transport.
- Easy to get off the beaten path.
- Free to go wherever and whenever you want.
- Learn more about local cultures and language.
- Often faster than the bus.
- You master your gesture communication skills.
- You need to be flexible with your destination.
- It can be dangerous for women traveling alone.
- Be patient.
- A driver can be a weirdo.
- You probably don’t eat on regularly hours.
- You have to be social.
TIPS FOR HITCHHIKING IN THAILAND
- Don’t hitchhike with your thumb up, instead hold your arm out with your hand palm to the ground.
- Take a map with you, if you don’t have a paper map, Maps.me works well too!
- Learn standard words like “hello”, “thank you” and “I want to go to…”.
- Make a hitchhiking letter that explains who you are, what you’re doing etc.
- Be prepared. Bring a poncho or jacket in rain season and enough sunscreen in summer.
- Wear a hat when sitting in the back of a pickup.
- Start hitchhiking out of the city center.
- Stand in a place where there’s enough space to see you and to stop at the side of the road.
- Don’t do crazy things and stand in a safe place, for example not in the middle of the highway.
- Always smile. 🙂
- Dress appropriately.
- Don’t just say your primary destination. It can help if you mention the towns or cities in between.
- Travel smart! If a person stops, you can choose if you want to ride with the person or not.
Check Hitchwiki if you want more information about hitchhiking in and out of certain cities.