Why Travel to Thailand?
Thailand as you may already know, has become an increasingly popular destination to visit, and rightly so! Thailand is the stomping ground for many travellers alike for its post card like beaches, steamy elephant filled jungles, and a culture that lies deep in every single Thai local you meet. Thailand is also famed for its food. It is a unique but complex blend of Indian curries, Chinese influenced noodle dishes, and spicy Thai ingredients that go together so perfectly. After you indulge in the food and the natural scenery, Thailand has a plethora of activities for you; try world class scuba diving or jungle elephant safaris. If that’s not for you than find that perfect piece of heaven on one of Thailand’s many secluded island paradises. Thailand is full of adventure waiting and a travelers dream.
Language – Thai
Visa – On Arrival for most Nationals
Religion – Mainly Buddhist
Currency – Thai Baht THB
1 USD – 35 THB (Feb 12, 2016)
Typical Costs and Getting Around Thailand
Accommodation – Thailand has an extremely large variety of accommodations. From the past few years’ tourism boom; accommodation can range from a 150 THB dormitory to a 15 000 THB beach resort. To give an exact amount of how much you will pay depends also on season; for example, I have seen beach accommodation in the south and jungle camps in the north double in price for the high season (November – March). For an average price expect to pay for a budget guest house 350 – 700 THB and a flashy midrange hotel 850 – 1450 THB. If you’re on a budget it’s a good idea to stay away from western style hotels but if you need that western comfort 3000 THB will get you it. Thailand’s thriving tourist industry makes looking online for discounts easy or just check more than one guesthouse in each location.
Food – Thailand is a food lover’s dream; its smorgasbord of local fare that is cheap and delicious. The food varies by region; for example, in the north, pork is king. Head down south and burn your tongue off with the spiciest of seafood curries that Thailand has to offer, or to Bangkok, home to Thailand’s largest street food options. If you are traveling on a budget, a simple noodle soup or rice with meat will cost as low as 50 THB. Walk into a Thai style local restaurant and a curry with rice and a beer will cost about 150 – 350 THB. Try to avoid restaurants in tourist areas like Kao San Road in Bangkok or on many island beaches as the food here will be lower quality and expensive catered mostly for vacationer’s whose budget is much higher and knowledge of authentic Thai food is non-existent. If you’re more flexible with money Thailand has a growing Asian fusion restaurant scene making some very nice modern style dishes.
Transportation – Transportation has changed greatly in the past few years in Thailand. The days of riding buses with chickens and other farm animals are long over and have been replaced with a modern transport line that connects to all corners of Thailand. If you’re looking to go south towards Malaysia or directly North to Chiang Mai then your best option is to take the train. There are three classes 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. There are also different types of train’s, there are sleepers, which have a small bed and sometimes a curtain, and non-sleeper, which is soft padded chairs good for shorter distances. The train is usually good value and prices depend on distances but for a ten hour train I paid 980 THB in 2nd class. It’s advisable to book your train a few days ahead because they fill up quickly, especially in high season. Thailand’s bus network is incredibly efficient. Its buses can get you pretty much anywhere in Thailand, sometimes faster than the train. They now have luxury buses that have WIFI and reclining chairs making life much easier than it used to be. A bus will range from about 400 – 1000 THB for a five hour journey depending on the quality and company of the bus. If you’re looking to get around Thailand fast there are many new airports allowing you to fly to many of Thailand’s popular destinations. Cheap airlines like AirAsia makes it sometimes cheaper than taking the train or bus, but it’s almost cheating as you miss lots of Thailand’s beautiful country side and smaller communities.
My Favourite Places in Thailand
Bangkok – Bangkok is Thailand in every way, its temple lined streets buzz with energy and the markets spill into the streets adding so much color to this beautiful and chaotic blend. What I love most about this city is its mere size. Every visit to Bangkok I discover a new hidden temple or restaurant that keeps me coming back to this fast paced city. Another big part of why Bangkok is so amazing is its people; approach anyone in the streets and they will greet you with a smile and treat you to Thai hospitality.
Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai is another obvious choice to visit; this vibrant city offers gorgeous temples and nearby elephant inhabited jungle opportunities. I love Chiang Mai for one reason and that is food. Chiang Mai to me has the best food in Thailand; it’s incredibly complex and the wide variety keeps you trying new dishes every day (Chiang Mai pork sausage are my favourite). After I have eaten to my heart’s content it’s nice to take a stroll around. Walk the streets of Chiang Mai and you are guaranteed to see tribal people still wearing traditional outfits and you can hear many different dialects being spoken.
Sukhothai – Thailand has many ancient sights but none compare to Sukhothai’s large array of crumbling temples and Buddha effigies hiding in even the smallest of places. Cycle around the city limits to countless historic temples and palaces to discover Thailand’s rich history and of course snap those needed pictures of monkeys running along a 1000 year old wall.
Koh Phi Phi – Everybody who has been to Thailand has there biased view of which is the best island; I’m not here to tell you Koh Phi Phi is the best; it’s just my favourite simply because of its beauty. Yes many MANY tourists come here, but think to yourself.. maybe there’s a reason for that. Stay long enough in Koh Phi Phi and realize that most tourists only stay here long enough to get that quintessential Thailand beach picture and then ship out. Stay here past that and discover Koh Phi Phi’s hidden beaches; only found through hard to find jungle paths. You just might find yourself on your own private beach through one of these hidden passages. Koh Phi Phi also has some of Thailand’s best snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities that even the most advanced diver will appreciate.
Thai cooking course Chiang Mai – Learning to cook Thai food is important, why you ask? When you return home you will crave this food, you will crave it so much that all you will do is think about why you didn’t take the time to learn how to make it. If you do choose to take on this opportunity; there is a wide variety of cooking schools in Chiang Mai that are fun and include a trip to the local market to learn about the ingredients that go into Thai cooking.
Scuba Diving – Thailand is a scuba divers paradise; it has so much rich marine life and different kinds of dive sites from drifts to wrecks. If you are new to scuba diving then head over to one of the well-known islands and take your first dive and become addicted to this insanely fun sport. Thailand’s diving industry is also very affordable and easy to arrange dives. So get out there and maybe you just might see that whale shark everyone talks about.
Scooter Life – Renting a scooter in Thailand is such a great experience! Get out there off the beaten track with your scooter. In the north you can drive out to minority villages passing by emerald green rice fields being plowed by elegant buffalo. In the south you can circle most islands in a day and find perfect hidden private beaches. And if you’re really a thrill seeker, take on the suicidal streets of Bangkok.
Relaxing in a Temple – Thailand has so many temples that are all unique in their own way and leave you with an unforgettable experience. Look past the main temples that everyone visits and you can discover more traditional temples. Learn about Buddhism and how it ties deep into Thai culture in one of these amazing temples. They are also incredibly peaceful and great places to relax. Sit back and watch the line ups of orange robe monks do their prayers and maybe even get the chance to get a Sak Yant (magic tattoo) from a monk.
Top Travel Tips For Thailand
- Don’t point with your feet, it’s considered rude especially pointed towards a Buddha figure
- Do not touch anyone’s head, it is also considered very rude
- Be adventurous. Try all food even if it looks strange
- Donate to the elephant sanctuary, they are doing great things there
- Be careful with tides while snorkelling
- Sunscreen is probably a good idea here
- Learn some useful Thai phrases and earn respect
- Learn about Buddhism and visit temples
- Try to interact with northern minorities by conversing and not just taking photos
- Tuk Tuk’s don’t tell the truth in Bangkok, monks are not on holiday.. trust me
- Tuk Tuk’s will stop more than once at a gem shop.. trust me
- Tuk Tuk’s…. ok take them once for novelty.. but they are scams
- Pink taxis in Bangkok are metered
- Beer at 7-11 is very cheap… so is the Whiskey
- Did I mention that 7-11’s beer is the cheapest?
If you are new to travelling, I recommend at the very least grabbing a guidebook to help you out with exploring a new country. They have made my travelling experiences go much more smoothly than they probably would have otherwise. Grab one on Amazon and help support the blog at the same time, at no extra cost to you!
Or if you are interested in a more guided adventure that will also give you the chance to meet many new friends along the way have a peek at some of the trips offered by G Adventures for Thailand.