33 Things to Do in Thailand: Top Activities & Attractions

Things to Do in Thailand: Thailand is one of the best places to visit for any traveler who may be exploring Southeast Asia for the first time. It is a country with very friendly people; it’s relatively easy to get around, has a mix of lush tropics and city areas, and has beautiful wats or temples everywhere. You’ll be able to stretch your dollar here with 60-minute Thai massages at 350 ฿, which is about $10 USD!

It’s hard not to like Thai food, as flavors are well-balanced with fresh greens, spices, savory sauces, and more. Domestic flights are also reasonable– from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for $57 (one way), Chiang Mai to Phuket for $75 (one way), and Phuket to Bangkok for $65 (one way). Read on for our guide on things to do in Thailand while you are in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. We also recommend you to check out these Thailand Packing List before aheading to Thailand.

A valuable resource for your back pocket: 8 Things to Know Before Going to Thailand

things to do in thailand

Things to Do in Thailand

  • Feel the wind in your hair and the pulse of the city by riding in a tuk-tuk.
  • Work out those knots you never knew you had by getting a foot, oil, or Thai massage.
  • Awaken your inner chef by taking a Thai cooking class.
  • Admire the remarkable handiwork and unique qualities of each wat (temple).
  • Fall in love with mango sticky rice. Once that happens, learn to make room in your heart for durian sticky rice.
  • Visit an elephant sanctuary
  • Break a sweat and live out your Thai boxing fantasies through a class.


Things to Do in Bangkok

  • Snap away with ample photo opportunities at one of the many floating markets in or around Bangkok.
  • Get absorbed in the maze of chaos and noise on Yaowarat Road, also known as Bangkok’s Chinatown.
  • Dance all of your cares away at Onyx or one of the many nightclubs in RCA (Royal City Avenue).
  • Take a ride on the Chao Phraya Express boat and stop in the Thonburi district to explore temples, museums, and mini-floating markets. Hop back on the boat and northwards to the last stop at the Nonthaburi Market to wander in a local market free from tourists.
  • Experience a real-life foodie wonderland by eating in one of the most magnificent food courts, Eathai, in the Sukhumvit area.
  • Let the big city dissolve away by visiting the ko ratanakosin (the old quarters). You’ll also find the Grand Palace and Wat Pho here.
  • Check out one of the world’s largest markets at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Interestingly enough, this is also notorious for illegal animal trading.
  • Find yourself with extra time for a day trip? Visit the floating markets of Amphawa just outside of Bangkok.
  • A small emerald Buddha with a big story at Wat Phra Kaew.
  • Let the cool night sky wash over you on one of the many rooftop bars in Bangkok.


Things to Do in Chiang Mai

  • Inhale a bowl of Khao Soi (traditional cut noodles) as soon as you arrive. Why? You’re going to want more throughout your time in Chiang Mai, so it’s better to start early.
  • Get the twinkle and charm of Chiang Mai by staying in the old city.
  • Visit the food vendors at the North Gate and order a plate (or two) of stewed pork and egg from the cowboy hat lady (also visited by Anthony Bourdain).
  • For a completely immersive experience, make some time to go on a one-night or multi-day trek.
  • Witness standing history at Wat Chedi Luang, chat with a monk, or get a sacred white thread bracelet for protection during your travels.
  • Gape in awe at the golden Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
  • Contemplate the things that you need versus want at the Talat Warorot — the oldest public market in the city.
  • Sway to the best live music venues at the North Gate Jazz Co-Op.


Things to do in Phuket

  • Take a full-day excursion or even opt to stay overnight at one of the nearby islands: Phi Phi, Krabi, James Bond, and more.
  • Get your tan on at one of the many beautiful beaches in Phuket! Karon Beach is a little quieter with more shade, and Kata is a lively place to be.
  • Lay back in a hammock and devour baskets of mangosteens or longans on the beach.
  • Rent a motorbike and cruise around town.
  • For the climbers and daredevils, try deep water soloing at Tonsai beach in Krabi.
  • Explore limestone formations at Phang Nga Bay.
  • Canoe Cave Explorer Phang Nga Bay Tour from Phuket
  • Go for a night out on Bangla Road in Patong.


Thailand is a country with an abundance of experiences and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From bustling cities to tranquil beaches, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to explore ancient temples, indulge in delicious street food, or simply relax and soak up the sun, Thailand has it all. Some of the top activities include visiting stunning national parks, experiencing the vibrant nightlife, shopping at bustling markets, and trying out adventures.

And, of course, no visit to Thailand is complete without trying out the local transportation staple, the tuk-tuk. With its rich culture, beautiful scenery, and friendly locals, Thailand is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. So pack your bags and get ready to experience the magic of Thailand!

We hope you got the details about things to do in Thailand. So what do you say? Which kind of things do you think you’ll be doing in Thailand? Let us know in the comments.

Trekking Northern Thailand – What to Expect

If you’re looking for an adventure that combines breathtaking scenery, cultural immersion, and physical challenge, trekking Northern Thailand might be just what you need. With its lush jungles, terraced rice paddies, and traditional hill tribe villages, Northern Thailand offers a unique and unforgettable trekking experience. In this region, you can expect to encounter diverse wildlife, interact with locals, and explore ancient temples, all while pushing your physical limits.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, treks of various lengths and difficulty levels are available, and you’ll have the chance to customize your itinerary to suit your interests and preferences; however, we recommend you look at 8 Things to Know Before Traveling to Thailand. So, get ready to step out of your comfort zone and discover the stunning natural beauty and cultural richness of Northern Thailand (12 miles through the jungles of northern Thailand to the Karen Village).

trekking in northern thailand

Pro Travel Tips for Trekking Northern Thailand

  • Protect: Jungle Juice mosquito repellent
  • Bring: Lightweight Towel and close-toed shoes
  • Eat: Everything offered to you
  • Stay: Overnight in the Karen Village


Your guide will dictate the experience

There are dozens of similar tours in the same location following a similar itinerary. The key difference is selecting a guide and group size that will enhance your experience. If you are traveling with a few friends, we would recommend arranging a private tour. If you are traveling solo or as a couple, try to get an understanding of how many others will be joining the tour. If you want a guide that will take you to a unique experience, it’s best not to skimp out by signing on to an overcrowded “cookie cutter” tour.


An elephant ride

An elephant ride is a popular activity in Thailand, but it’s also a chance to experience the strange and unexpected. As you climb onto the back of these gentle giants, you can feel the power and strength of these magnificent creatures beneath you. The journey takes you through lush jungle scenery and past shimmering rivers, but it’s the unexpected moments that really make the experience unforgettable.

Perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of a family of monkeys swinging through the trees or spot a rare bird flitting overhead. Or maybe you’ll feel the elephant’s trunk brush gently against your cheek as it reaches for a nearby leaf. Along the way, your mahout, or elephant trainer, will share stories and insights about the life of these majestic animals, giving you a new perspective on their importance in Thai culture. It’s a chance to connect with nature and experience the world in a different way, all while enjoying the strange and unexpected moments that make northern Thailand such a unique and captivating destination.


Chiang Mai’s temples

Chiang Mai’s temples are a treasure trove of strange and unexpected sights, sounds, and experiences. From the glittering gold spires of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep to the serene beauty of Wat Chedi Luang, each temple has its own unique character and atmosphere. Visitors can marvel at the intricate carvings and paintings that adorn the temple walls or witness the daily rituals of the monks as they go about their spiritual practices.

But it’s the unexpected moments that can truly take your breath away – the sudden burst of incense as you round a corner, the fluttering of a hundred paper prayer flags in the breeze, or the sound of a distant gong calling the faithful to prayer. And while the temples are steeped in history and tradition, they are also living, breathing places that continue to evolve and adapt to the modern world. So take your time as you explore the temples of Chiang Mai, and be open to the strange and unexpected moments that are waiting to be discovered amidst the ancient stones and sacred spaces.


Experience the local culture of Karen Village

As a traveler, experiencing local culture and connecting with locals can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your trekking Northern Thailand. When staying in a Karen Village, take the time to interact with your host and the community. Joining in on activities such as a campfire is a great way to bond with the locals and learn more about their daily lives and beliefs.

Be open to trying local foods and drinks, and don’t be afraid to contribute and share your own experiences. You may be surprised at the commonalities you find and the new perspectives you gain. By engaging with the community, you can gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the culture you are visiting.


Schools of the Karen Tribe

When trekking Northern Thailand, consider visiting the schools of the Karen Tribe and bringing along some small gifts such as school supplies, toys, or candy. It can be a highlight of your trip, as the children are often excited to receive visitors and share their culture with you. You may even be invited to participate in classroom activities or join in on a game of soccer. Bringing some songs or games to share can also be a fun way to interact with the children and create memorable experiences.


We would suggest seeking out experiences that take you off the beaten path and allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture. Embrace the unfamiliar and be open to new perspectives and ways of living. Take the time to learn about the history and customs of the places you visit, and engage with the local people to gain a deeper understanding of their way of life.

Remember to be respectful of the culture and traditions of the communities you visit, and show gratitude for their hospitality and kindness. Take the opportunity to try new foods, learn new languages, and explore new landscapes. And most importantly, keep an open mind and be willing to step outside of your comfort zone.

Travel can be a transformative experience, and by seeking out meaningful and authentic experiences, you can gain a greater appreciation for the world and the people who inhabit it. So go forth with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn, and you may just find that the most rewarding adventures are the ones that take you off the beaten path.


8 Things to Know Before Traveling to Thailand

Things to Know Before Traveling to Thailand: When preparing for an upcoming trip, it’s easy to get caught up in closing work responsibilities, buying travel necessities, compiling a packing list, and arranging responsibilities for your home, pets, kids, and more. The chaos of working until the last minute can be overwhelming, and it always seems like there’s one activity after another until you’re rushing to catch your flight.

If you don’t have time to read a Thailand travel book, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many people find themselves in a similar situation, exhausted and mentally drained after a long day of work or travel. Fortunately, this guide on 8 things to know before traveling to Thailand and Thailand Packing List can help you be more prepared for your trip.

traveling to Thailand

Hello, and Thank You

For women: Hello is Sawasdee ka, and thank you is Khob khun ka

For men: Hello is Sawasdee krab, and thank you is Khob khun krab


Learning how to greet someone and say thank you is mission-critical in any country. It is a universal sign of respect to show you have made some effort to learn the native tongue (no matter how poor your pronunciation might seem). Thai people are very nice and more than happy to converse with you! Don’t be shy to ask someone how to properly pronounce a term if you are having trouble.


$300 usd or ~10,500 ฿ (baht) per Week

This is a solid range of cash to have for the average person traveling to Thailand on vacation. Note that this amount does not include accommodations or special activity excursions (such as a speed boat tour, scuba diving experience, etc.). The average traveler typically eats at mid-range restaurants and street food stalls and enjoys snacks, juices, coffees, and high-end dining establishments once or twice.

They usually rely on taxis, tuk-tuks, and public transportation and may opt for a few Thai massages. If you prefer to spend less, it’s possible to stick to street food and public transportation. If you prefer to spend less, it is highly attainable by sticking to street food and public transportation. It’s relatively easy to find ATMs and use credit cards in major cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai. If you feel that your cash is running low, consider paying for larger meals by using a credit card that does not have international fees.

Note: Traveling by tuk-tuk is a great way to explore the sights, smells, and feelings of the city with a group. Be sure to agree upon a price with the driver before heading off for the ride.


How much should a ride from Suvarnabhumi (BKK) airport cost?

Hailing a cab at a major international airport can make you look disheveled after a long flight, and as a taxi driver, it’s common to try and get some extra profit from travelers. It’s important to agree upon a price upfront and ask for the driver to use the meter to avoid being overcharged.

Paying toll fares out of pocket is also recommended. If the driver isn’t willing to negotiate, it’s always possible to find another taxi; the ride could be as cheap as 450 ฿ from the airport. Ask for the driver to use the meter. Tell them you’ll pay the toll fares, etc., out of pocket. If the person isn’t willing to negotiate, you can always find another taxi.


What kind of food should I absolutely try?

  • Spicy cockle salad and other papaya salad variations
  • Morning glory with crispy pork
  • Fresh watermelon or passion fruit juice
  • Mangosteens and longan fruits
  • Mango sticky rice (with bonus points if you try durian)


How to flush an eastern-style toilet?

If you have any intention of traveling outside of the major city center or eating local street food, there is a good chance you will encounter an Eastern-style, or “squat” toilet. This rings true of many other places in South East Asia. For the ladies, this certainly takes some getting used to– as the name implies, you need to finagle your body into a squatting position.

Feels awkward but totally doable. In these situations, there is almost always a bucket of water nearby with a large cup or bowl in it. The proper way to flush the toilet is to scoop a large cupful of water into the toilet vessel, so the water pressure pushes your business down. Toilet paper is also fairly common in modern establishments, but be sure to bring some for the moments you might be off the beaten path.


How can I stay connected to the internet?

Beyond accessing WiFi in hotels and modern establishments, you can stay connected by supplying your own signal. We suggest renting a mobile hotspot device through SkyRoam or Tep Wireless before your trip. You can also buy a data sim card for your phone at any local 7-11 store or kiosks at the mall or airport. Be sure to run on airplane mode only to avoid roaming charges.


Tipping Etiquette

Tipping in Thailand is not customary, although it may be a gray area due to the increase in tourism. In certain areas, people (especially tourists) may tip larger amounts more frequently. You should expect to give a small tip of 30~50 ฿ for any help or services offered, such as massages, hotel porters, tour guides, and waiters.

When dining out, it is acceptable to round up the bill or leave roughly 10% for exceptional service. Make sure to give a tip directly to the person helping you, as it is unclear whether the restaurant manager splits tips with their employees. Taxi drivers negotiate their own rates and typically round up. You can tip extra if you have had a great experience, but this is not mandatory.


Cover your shoulders and knees at the wat

Undoubtedly, Thailand has an impressive collection of Buddhist temples (also known as wats). In fact, there are over 40,000 wats spread throughout the entire country. It is important to note that you must cover your knees and shoulders out of respect when visiting these sites. Major wats may have wraps that women can borrow to cover themselves; however, it’s best to BYOW (bring your own wrap) if possible.

Tuck a lightweight scarf or button-up shirt into your daily bag in case you serendipitously visit the temple. We recommend dressing for the day by having at least one region covered, so you only have to worry about one area. Maxi dresses and long skirts are great choices.


Thailand is an incredible country with exceptional street food, colorful events, and astonishing temples. We do not doubt that you’ll ease right into a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle as soon as you arrive. We encourage you to follow your curiosity– take a walk down the winding alley of street vendors, eat food where other Thai people eat (even if the sign is not in English), and ask questions to uncover stories from the people you meet along the way. We’d love to hear about your experience in Thailand, too! Do you find this country as captivating as we do?

Galapagos Islands Itinerary – 7 Days Travel Plan

Galapagos Islands Itinerary: It’s a common misconception that enjoying the Galapagos islands can only be done if you spend thousands of dollars. We are proud to report that we’ve personally debunked this myth without skimping on world-class snorkel tours and consuming as much seafood as possible

A 7 days trip to three islands in the Galapagos was accomplished for an incredible value of $1111, including the flight. For all tips, check out our full guide on how to travel the Galapagos on a budget. In this article, we are going to share a detailed Galapagos Islands Itinerary of where we stayed, what we ate, and the tour companies we used so you can do the same. However, rate and fair may vary with time and date.

Galapagos Islands Itinerary

Tip: Traveling with a friend can help immensely when it comes to sharing taxi and accommodation costs.


Day 1: Quito to San Cristobal

  • Obtain the Galapagos transit control document at the airport before departure (it should cost around $20)
  • Fly from UIO to SCY
  • Pay a $100 Galapagos visitor fee upon arrival at the airport
  • Short taxi ride to the hostel
  • Book Kicker Rock snorkeling tour and arrange ferry tickets with Galapagos Fan Dive
  • Taxi ride (or walk) to La Loberia (free) to view sea lions, birds, and marine iguanas
  • Ask your taxi driver if they can wait for you or if they can return at a specific time since there are limited taxis in the area
  • Grilled lobster skewer dinner at El Rincon De Sebas
  • Buy pastries for breakfast the next day
  • Stay overnight at Hostal Los Algarrobos


Day 2: Kicker Rock from San Cristobal

  • Kicker Rock snorkeling tour from 7:15 am – 2:30 pm with Galapagos Fan Dive
  • Walk to Centro de Interpretacion (Interpretation Center) to learn about the history of the Galapagos islands (free admission)
  • Soup, juice, and hamburger daily dinner special at Restaurante Lucky
  • Buy pastries for breakfast the next day
  • Stay overnight at La Casa de Jeimy (I preferred this place over Los Algarrobos)


Day 3: San Cristobal to Santa Cruz

  • 7:00 am departure for a 90-minute ferry ride from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz
  • Taxi to El Chato Dos giant tortoise reserve ($5 entry fee) and free lava tunnels (ask the driver to wait for you for the entire duration of your visit because there are few taxis available in the area)
  • Walk to the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about giant sea tortoises, visit Lonesome George, and learn more about animal conservation efforts
  • Seafood pasta dinner on Santa Cruz’s restaurant street called Los Kioskos
  • Stay overnight at Hostal Morning Glory


Day 4: Santa Cruz to Isabela

  • Breakfast at Hostal Morning Glory
  • 7:00 am departure for a 120-minute ferry ride from Santa Cruz to Isabela
  • Book next day Los Tuneles snorkeling tour with Pahoehoe Galapagos Tours
  • Rent a bike for half day from Galapagos Bike and Surf
  • Bike to the Muro de las Lasgrimas or “Wall of Tears” with a short excursion off of the trail to walk up to the Cerro Orchilla vista point for a beautiful view of the island
  • Stop by the Playa del Amor to enjoy the beach and see marine iguanas on the route back to Puerto Villamil
  • Buy pastries for breakfast the next day
  • BBQ seafood platter dinner at La casa del asado de Anibal Garcia
  • Stay overnight at Hotel Sula Sula


Day 5: Isabela

  • Los Tuneles snorkeling tour from 7:30 am – 1:30 pm with Pahoehoe Galapagos Tours
  • Breaded shrimp lunch combo at El Velero
  • Back for BBQ seafood platter dinner round 2 at La casa del asado de Anibal Garcia again because it was that good
  • Drinks and music at Beto’s Beach Bar
  • Stay overnight at Hotel Sula Sula


Day 6: Isabela to Santa Cruz

  • Breakfast at an outdoor food vendor
  • Rent a snorkel mask (no fins needed) at Galapagos Bike and Surf
  • Self-guided snorkeling to see tortoises, marine iguanas, and sea lions at Concha de Perla (walking distance from Puerto Villamil; free attraction)
  • 3:00 pm departure for a 120-minute ferry ride from Isabela to Santa Cruz
  • Coconut lobster dinner on Santa Cruz’s restaurant street called Los Kioskos
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Stay overnight at Galapagos Dreams Hostal


Day 7: Santa Cruz to Quito

  • Breakfast at Galapagos Dreams Hostal
  • Taxi ride (30-minutes) from hotel to Baltra island ferry dock
  • Ferry ride (less than 5 minutes) across the waterway
  • Airport shuttle bus ride (5 minutes) to GPS
  • Fly airline from GPS to UIO


Galapagos Islands Itinerary: Budget breakdown

There aren’t many ATMs located on the islands, so it’s best to come prepared with enough cash to cover your lodging, tours, and accommodations. There is an ATM in Santa Cruz, and you might be able to use your credit card in some places, but there may be an extra service fee to do so.

Ferries $90.00
Flight $293.43
Food $133.35
Gear Rentals $15.00
Taxis $34.00
Tips $25.00
Visitor Fees $135.00
Tours $230.00
Hotels $155.67
Total: $1,111.45


Visiting the Galapagos is truly a trip of a lifetime because of the unique animals that exist only in this one place. It is an opportunity to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and repairing the damage caused over time. All creatures– from giant tortoises and blue-footed booby birds to finches need our help to protect the ecosystems they greatly depend on to survive.

Coming to the Galapagos is more than just diving or seeing rare animals. It is living proof that we must do everything we can to preserve the beauty of our planet. If you’re ready for the next step in planning your trip to this unforgettable place, check out our Galapagos packing list.

Do you have any other questions or want to know more specifics about Galapagos Islands Itinerary? Feel free to ask in the comments below.

Galapagos Packing List

Galapagos Packing List: The Galapagos islands are famous for being giant sea tortoise havens and the home to other endemic species, such as the flightless cormorant. It’s one of those unbelievable “bucket list” places that you binge-watch on TV anytime a special comes on.

If you’re an avid traveler and animal lover, it’s likely the word “Galapagos” is written down somewhere or pinned to your dream board. Visiting the Galapagos was once believed to be an expensive endeavor, but it is possible to experience the archipelago on a budget without sacrificing any of the fun activities, delectable seafood, or comfortable accommodations. We broke it all down in our guide on traveling to the Galapagos on a budget, so you can do it too.

Galapagos packing lis

While you are in the Galapagos, we recommend mixing up your daily itinerary. Spend some days in the water snorkeling or diving and other days on land exploring tortoise reserves, hiking, or enjoying the islands on a bicycle. If possible, alternate your water and land activities, so you can enjoy each island at different times of the day (most tours leave early in the morning and don’t return until the afternoon).

Many places of interest are also within walking distance of the main town. Plan for a little extra time to get to each destination because you are sure to see interesting things, such as brown pelican birds plunge diving over the waters or red sally lightfoot crabs scuttling among the lava rocks that you’re going to want to take pictures of.


Galapagos Weather

The weather in the Galapagos stays fairly stable between 69 – 84°F, which makes it a wonderful place to visit any time of the year. There are slight differences between the seasons, with the warm “peak” season, which runs from December to May, and the cooler season (preferred condition for divers and marine-life viewing), which runs from June to November. Unlike other islands you may be accustomed to visiting, the Galapagos does not have a tropical atmosphere with high humidity. Evenings can get cool, and you’ll want a jacket or warm layer to wear.

The water is also colder because three main ocean currents pass through the islands– the cold Peru Current from Chile and Antarctica, the chilly Cromwell Undercurrent, and the warm Panama Current. These currents bring special nutrients which contribute to the special ecosystem found in the Galapagos.


Quick tips for travel to the Galapagos

  • Sunscreen is extremely expensive. Bring what you’re going to need from home.
  • Tap water is not safe to consume. There are plenty of filtered water jugs available at most tourist offices and your accommodation, so you should always be able to refill your water bottle.
  • The waters can get chilly, even close to the shore. Wear a rashguard for extra warmth and negotiate a full-length wetsuit even for snorkeling.
  • Wifi can be painfully slow in many areas. Save yourself some connectivity rage by downloading offline maps, having a printed (or screenshot) itinerary, and getting all of your research done before you go.
  • Many of the boat rides (especially the ferries) are bumpy. Arm yourself with motion-sickness medicines if you’re prone to nausea.
  • Of course, you’re going to want to capture photos of these amazing animals! Just remember to keep a respectful distance from them, do not disturb their habitats, step on coral, and dispose of all your trash in the right place.


The Galapagos Packing List for a traveler

The following Galapagos packing list is suitable for Galapagos travelers who are interested in a variety of activities, from snorkeling and diving to more relaxed options. The dress code on the local islands is generally casual, with some residents even opting to go shoeless throughout the day. During the daytime, it is common to wear shorts, sandals, and a tank top, while it may be necessary to wear pants and a light jacket during the cooler evenings.


Travel Necessities

  • Passport
  • Travel Insurance
  • Cash (US Dollar), as there is only an ATM on Santa Cruz Island; keep in mind there is a $120.00 visitor entrance fee upon arrival to the airport



  • Travel adapter
  • Chargers and cables
  • Smartphone – Airplane mode on to avoid roaming charges with wifi on and offline maps for every town pre-downloaded (Instructions in point #7 on downloading offline Google Maps)
  • Kindle E-reader or book (optional)
  • Headphones // wireless earbuds (optional)
  • GoPro adventure camera (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Power bank (optional)



You will want clothing that can dry quickly or is easy to change into after a day in the water.

  • Underwear
  • Sports bra (women)
  • Sleeping clothes
  • Long sleeve shirts for sun protection
  • Short sleeve shirts
  • Athletic tops
  • Jacket
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Athletic bottoms (shorts are helpful after diving)
  • 1 hat with brim or bill for sun protection
  • 2 swimsuits (alternate every day)
  • Rashguard (extra warmth in the waters; women’s and men’s)
  • Sandals (ankle straps are helpful; women’s and men’s)
  • Close-toed walking shoes (women’s and men’s)



  • 5 to 2L refillable water bottle
  • Lightweight backpack
  • Waterproof dry bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Quick drying and lightweight microfiber towel
  • Sports wristwatch with alarm (optional)


Toiletries (travel-friendly)

  • Daily skin moisturizer with SPF
  • Waterproof Sunblock
  • Face cleanser
  • Medicine (general assortment)
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
  • Shampoo & Conditioner, or pack your own in these reusable bottles
  • Comb
  • Contact solution and lens case
  • Deodorant (women’s and men’s)
  • Chapstick
  • Optional: face wipes, q-tips, hair ties, bobby pins, stain remover pen, antibacterial gel
  • Travel-sized tissues
  • Motion-sickness medicine (optional)
  • Small notebook and pen (optional)


You should be well-equipped for your trip to the Galapagos with these items. Don’t worry if you happen to forget anything, though, as there are little shops in San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela in case you need additional supplies. If you’re considering day-to-day logistics for your trip, check out our 7-day itinerary for the Galapagos. We are thrilled that you’ll be seeing this magical place for yourself. If you have any questions related to the Galapagos packing list, feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Travel To Galapagos Islands On A Budget

Travel To Galapagos Islands On A Budget: Visiting the Galapagos islands may seem like a faraway dream, accessible only to those with deep pockets, as Galapagos cruises are priced at several thousand dollars. However, despite this assumption, it is possible to travel through South America, Southeast Asia, and other parts of the world for months for several thousand dollars.

So, is the Galapagos really worth it? The answer is a resounding YES. It is a place unlike any other and planning a trip on a budget while still enjoying excellent tours, private accommodations, and good food can be a fun challenge. Exploring the islands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela, swimming with sharks, paddling with marine iguanas, admiring giant tortoises, and relaxing on the sand next to baby sea lions are some of the incredible experiences that you can expect on the travel to Galapagos Islands.


travel to Galapagos Islands on a budget

Galapagos History

The Galapagos has a fascinating story to tell, from its volcanic genesis to the various types of people who have inhabited the islands throughout time. The islands have a unique ecosystem due to their isolation from other continents, a community of rare species, and volcanic rock landscape, and they sit at the junction of three major ocean currents that bring nutrients. At one point in time, the islands were even a haven for ancient pirates and then used as penal colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Sadly, the abundance of animals in the Galapagos also drew unwanted attention from hunters who desecrated entire populations of tortoises to make oil and food during long ship voyages. It’s worth reading the story of Lonesome George, the world’s last Pinta tortoise from the Galapagos islands. It is a somber reminder of the importance of humans proactively protecting creatures on this planet.

In 1835, a young Charles Darwin stepped foot on the islands and observed how creatures of the Galapagos had adapted to their surroundings. His time spent in the Galapagos was heavily attributed to the development of his theory of evolution. We highly recommend spending some time at the Centro de Interpretacion (Interpretation Center) on San Cristobal island, which has an impressive gallery of Galapagos island history. The Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz also has valuable information on conservation efforts and is the final resting place for Lonesome George.


Animals in the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos tortoises

One of the main attractions of the Galapagos islands is the incredible collection of endemic animals that inhabit the area. The sight of marine iguanas swimming in the water is an unforgettable experience, almost like encountering legendary creatures from the Mesozoic era when reptiles dominated the earth.

The Galapagos is home to an impressive array of wildlife, including Galapagos tortoises, sea turtles, yellow warblers, blue-footed booby birds, waved albatrosses, Galapagos penguins, fur seals, sea lions, bottlenose dolphins, beaked whales, hammerhead sharks, whitetip reef sharks, and spotted eagle rays. Whether you are on land or in the ocean, you are guaranteed to be in the presence of many of these amazing creatures.


Why should you Travel to Galapagos Islands as soon as possible?

It’s not surprising that many people have the desire to visit the Galapagos islands, as it’s one of the few places where you can see many endemic species in their natural habitat, relatively untouched by urban development. Despite various conservation efforts, the impact of human activity is still a concern. The population of the islands has grown significantly over the years; in 1972, there were fewer than 4000 residents, but in 2010, that number had risen to over 25,000. Locals express concerns about the overly touristy vibe of Santa Cruz Island but acknowledge the importance of tourism in protecting the Galapagos ecosystem.


A note on Best Budget Galapagos Cruise

You can absolutely see the Galapagos by organizing your own trip. Regardless of how you get around between the islands, you will need to fly from Quito or Guayaquil to either of the two airports on the island– San Cristobal (SCY) or Santa Cruz (GPS). While cruises are heavily marketed for the Galapagos, it’s not necessary to book one in order to experience the islands.

They’re worth considering if you want to do a specialty trip focused on scuba diving or seeing certain animals; however, there’s plenty to do (and see) if you plan your own itinerary. It’s fairly easy to book day trips to any of the smaller items you may want to visit. Ultimately, the most economical route is to skip the cruise and travel independently.

Most decent cruises will cost $280 per night, and the fees don’t even include the airfare to get to the islands. As food for thought, the G Adventures Galapagos island hopping cruise (one of the relatively inexpensive 7-day cruises you could find) costs $2099 to visit three islands without all meals included. While it’s possible to find deals in Quito or Guayaquil, it’s important to be cautious when booking a cheap cruise, as there may be underlying reasons for the low cost that could affect your experience.


How can you Travel to Galapagos Islands on a budget?

Once you are in the Galapagos, you can organize day trips, tours, multi-day tours, bike rides, gear rentals, and hail taxis (white trucks) to take you around and travel via ferry between the islands. We recommend arranging your flight so that you fly into one island and out the other. During low-visitor season (June to November), it is easy to organize tours the day before you want to set off. During peak visitor season (December to June), you may want to organize a few days before or have a longer list of alternatives for companies you’d like to work with.

The wifi on the Galapagos islands isn’t great. Don’t waste your precious time by doing painfully slow research on your phone– do as much as you can beforehand. Have a list of what type of tours you want to go on, which company you’d like to travel with, and an idea of how much it costs. Once you are on the islands, it’ll be easy enough to refer to your list and talk to the tour company in person. There are hoards of tour companies that operate all year round, so you should always be to do what you like.


Using the ferries in the Galapagos

The islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal are conveniently connected by daily ferries that run between them (typically morning and afternoon). They cost a fixed rate of $30 for a 90 to 120-minute ride on adventurously bumpy waters (take motion sickness pills if you’re prone to nausea).

You can buy your ferry ticket the morning of or pre-arrange a few days before with a tour company. Remember to show up at least 20 minutes before departure time because your belongings will need to go through an agricultural inspection. While most people choose to travel to the Galapagos with backpacks, you will do just fine with hard luggage as well.

Note: Santa Cruz and Isabela use water taxis to charter from the ferry to the dock, so have some small changes readily available in your pocket.


What are some cool, low-cost activities besides tours?

There are many affordable activities to do on the islands, such as self-guided snorkeling, bike rentals, walking to beaches, and taking taxis to get around. Additionally, many attractions are within walking distance of major towns, where most visitors stay. Most museums, conservation centers, and similar buildings are free, but donations are appreciated. Keep in mind that the waters can be cold, so if you plan on snorkeling or diving, ask for a full-length wetsuit. We highly recommend visiting one of the Santa Cruz tortoise reserves or the Isabela hatchery, which costs some money but is worth it.


Eating well and finding cheaper food

Food on the Galapagos can be notoriously expensive compared to mainland Ecuador. Practically everything needs to be brought by boat, which drives up the costs of ingredients. While in Quito, travelers can find a plethora of meal options between $2.00 – $4.00 but may have to do more digging on the islands to find food with good value (some meals can be in the $25 – $30 range). Pescado (fish) is a cheaper local resource and is widely available in the form of fish steaks or soups such as encebollado de Pescado (a delicious must-try item).

Generally, the eateries close to the port or along the main roads near tour agencies are going to be more expensive. Try walking a few streets behind the main areas, keep your eye out for places where locals are eating, and you’ll be sure to find gems such as perfectly prepared BBQ seafood platters of octopus, fish, shrimp, and lobster for $15.00 at La casa del asado de Anibal Garcia on Isabela, the $4.00 daily dinner special of soup, fresh juice, and a main course at Restaurante Lucky on San Cristobal, or massive grilled lobster at one of the many eateries in Los Kioskos in Santa Cruz.

This street holds a boggling number of open-air restaurants that all vie for your patronage with competitive prices.


What other ways to save money in the Galapagos?

  • Bargain for your tours. Most companies will be willing to negotiate with you, and you’ll have much better leverage if you visit during the non-peak season.
  • Buy groceries for breakfast. Many of the tours leave early in the morning, so you might have to skip breakfast at your hostel, or it may be difficult to find restaurants at that time. Buy fruit and pastries for breakfast instead of eating out, which should save you a few dollars every day.
  • Split expensive taxi rides. Ask around at your hostel to see if anyone might be going to the same destination as you. You can split costs such as going to/from the Baltra airport or to the tortoise reserves in Santa Cruz.
  • Buy your flight to the Galapagos as soon as possible. As you get closer to the departure date, prices can climb past $500.00.

For a 6-day trip to the Galapagos, where you can visit 3 islands, do two full-day snorkel tours, eat well, and sleep in nice private hostel rooms, you can expect to spend around $1111.45. That would be an average of $185.24 per day, which is a great deal considering it’s much less than the cost of the average Galapagos cruise. Plus, you can enjoy the freedom to choose your own restaurants and places to stay and plan your own itinerary. Check out our post-travel itinerary for more details.


Galapagos budget breakdown

There aren’t many ATMs located on the islands, so it’s best to come prepared with enough cash to cover your lodging, tours, and accommodations. Santa Cruz does have an easily accessible ATM, but it is hard to find any in San Cristobal or Isabela.

Ferries $90.00
Flight $293.43
Food $133.35
Gear Rental $15.00
Taxis $34.00
Tips $25.00
Visitor Fees $135.00
Tours $230.00
Hotels $155.67
Total: $1,111.45


The Galapagos is a friendly place where locals are willing to share their knowledge of good food, tour guides are helpful in booking arrangements across islands, and taxi drivers negotiate fair prices. Almost every hostel and tour company also has wifi and large jugs of drinking water that can be used to refill water bottles. But most importantly, visiting the Galapagos makes one stop and consider how crucial it is for people to help preserve these precious species of animals and plants. Without focused effort, many of these incredible creatures will not be able to thrive, and future generations won’t be able to appreciate them.

Every little bit counts– from a small donation at a conservation center to reusing water bottles, limiting the use of plastic bags, to picking up bits of litter on the street, so it doesn’t wash into the ocean… all of this matters more than you know. With some planning and research, you will be able to cook up the ultimate travel to Galapagos Islands and experience these things for yourself. If you’re ready to start preparing, you can check out the Galapagos packing list that will get you ready for the islands. Let us know if you have any other questions related to the budget travel to Galapagos Islands!