Thailand Travel Guide Books: How to Pick Your Best Thailand Guide

The 29 Best Thailand Travel Guide Books: How to Pick Your Best Thailand Guide Book for Travelling Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and beyond. Click through to read more: | #bangkok #thailand #phuket #kohsamui

Months before you book your flight, buying the travel guide is the first promise to yourself that this vacation is happening. Ready to commit to Thailand? While Lonely Planet books tend to be ubiquitous best-sellers, Thailand is rightly a popular country with plenty else on the shelves.

Which travel guide should you choose?

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Top 4 Thailand travel guides

1. Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet Thailand (current edition – 2016)
Lonely Planet Thailand (pre-order for 2018)

A great starting point to get to grips with Thailand. Lonely Planet chases down the cool kids with liberal use of “kinda” and derisory references to strutting “middle-aged men”. Are you a cool kid? A very good Thailand primer section helps you to choose where to go, when and for how long. There’s some needed simplicity when you’re trying to choose between a dozen beach destinations. A thick section is devoted to Bangkok. The book makes excellent use of sidebars, colour-coding and bolded bits. Half an hour with it and you’ll have extracted all that you were looking for. Too simplistic in parts? Maybe. But a very dependable shortcut. As for size, you’re not going to want to carry this book in your handbag. It’s a brick. There’s a Kindle version, though!

2. DK Eyewitness

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Thailand

300,000 temples. 282 mammal species. Nagas are believed to control rainfall. There’s a museum with the preserved remains of a man who ate 7 children. Rafflesia flowers are insane. I’m a walking Thailand ‘Rain Man’ thanks to DK Eyewitness. Expecting tidy lists of travel minutia? What you get instead is 880 pages of small font and huge interest. See my full review of DK Eyewitnes Thailand.

I read both this travel guide (and its companion, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Thailand’s Beaches & Islands) cover to cover. They’re fascinating, and – no matter your Thailand plans – you need at least one.

3. Fodor’s Travel

Fodor’s Thailand: with Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia & Laos

More a book to read than Lonely Planet’s skim-through. However, photos on every page keep it interesting. Sections like “What’s hot in Thailand right now” (teenagers “tapping their feet to J-Pop”) suggests Fodor’s audience is Baby Boomer Plus. It feels – dare I say it – slightly uncool. Do you own a Tilley hat? Not quite as hyper as Lonely Planet, I find there’s more to read in Fodor’s. The content is wider-ranging as well, with details on Thai history and a great FAQ on how to eat street food (“What are all the condiments for?”). Intro pages have a great range of itinerary suggestions. Portable? No. It’s a great book for doing your research in advance, but plan to leave at home.

4. Insight Guides

Insight Guides Thailand

Gorgeous photos on every page, and helpful colour-coding make this book easy to skim and navigate as you go. I consider this travel guide to be an amalgamation of the best qualities of the three above: it’s engaging, has good ‘Thailand 101’ content and top-to-bottom coverage for any itinerary.

Thai language and culture guides

Thai language guides

Lonely Planet Thai Phrasebook & Dictionary

If you’re going to do something badly while in Thailand – why not try to speak Thai? Most every tourist quickly masters ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Thai, but a third, fourth or fifth phrase would earn high praise. Get a head start on a few words in this (quite tricky) language with this highly praised pocket reference book.

More questions? See our tips for learning Thai.

Also consider:

Thai culture travel guides

Dos & Don’ts in Thailand

Essential stuff! It’s easier than you think to cause offence in this polite country. We agree with reviewers: “It prevents embarrassment. It can deflect even a disaster.”

Don’t miss: How to be Thailand’s rudest tourist.

Let’s Go Thailand: The Student Travel Guide

This travel guide is a surprise favourite, particularly for its Thailand introduction sections. As it’s now eight years old and only available in used paperback, grab a cheap secondhand copy for its great cultural tips. Sections on how to bargain (“a cheerful face may prove your best weapon”) and its ‘Life and Times’ section should be on every tourist’s reading list. Of every Thailand travel guide I’ve reviewed, it has the only opening sentence that doesn’t make me want to pull out fingernails. I didn’t expect to, but I really like this book! (And even learned a bit). It’s printed on newsprint in black and white, but there’s a lot of detail in place of pretty pictures. If you see a reasonably priced secondhand copy on Amazon – snap it up!

Also consider:

Regional Thailand travel guides

Thailand Travel Guide Books: How to Pick Your Best Thailand Guide

Bangkok travel map

Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok, 27th Edition

Bangkok city guides

Insight Guides City Guide Bangkok

Also consider:

Bangkok things to do

Chiang Mai travel guides

Nancy Chandler’s Map of Chiang Mai, 21st Edition

Also consider:

Phuket travel guides

Lonely Planet Pocket Phuket

Also consider:

Koh Samui travel guide

The Koh Samui Guide: “It blew us away how good the book was. It covered everything.” Get your Koh Samui Guide

Thailand travel guide maps

Thailand beach travel guides

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Thailand’s Beaches & Islands

A 2016 update which consistently sits in Amazon’s top 10 for Thailand travel guides. 3D illustrations set the DK series apart from the travel guide pack – ideal for visual people, or those who need a little extra help with directions!

Also consider:

Niche interest Thailand travel guides

Thailand travel guides for kids

See these recommendations for children’s books about Thailand.

Thai food


Birds and nature

The 29 Best Thailand Travel Guide Books: How to Pick Your Best Thailand Guide Book for Travelling Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and beyond. Click through to read more: | #bangkok #thailand #phuket #kohsamui