Don’t let anything get in the way of creating the trip of a lifetime in the magic country of Thailand. Strategic planning will allow you to maximize your travel experience and make it as smooth as a relaxing vacation should be.
Below you will find 12 tips that will help design your perfect Thai vacation.
1. Make a list!
Make a list of places you want to visit while setting a vague timeline you would like to follow. It is impossible to visit all the spots you see online, but by making a list, you can prioritize and spend as much time as possible in each place maximizing quality time and enjoying to the fullest. Thailand is not a one-off country and you will want to revisit again and again so keep that in mind
2. Experience traveling in different ways, save money and time by skipping the norms.
After making the list of places you want to visit start planning on how to get from A to B. Giving the fact that Thailand is a relatively large country moving from place to place has to be planed in such a way that no time or money is spent on anything that doesn’t create an experience. Don’t hesitate to hop on night trains, night coaches, or a plane (cost of domestic flights is low) in order to save a day traveling. One of our best experiences was traveling 2nd class on a night train. The seats are transformed into beds after 19.00 and the whole train suddenly becomes a dorm. Tickets for the train can be found online (slightly more expensive) or at any given train station. Maybe the most important decision to think about before planning anything is whether the airport you arrive in is the one you are going to depart from in order to avoid any unnecessary travel and going around in circles.
3. Don’t rush to make all your hotel bookings!
As I mentioned previously, you should have a vague plan of where to go and what to see so the chance of a place impressing you or disappointing you more than expected is a possibility. You might want to stay more or less in a spot so a hotel reservation might hold you back. Plan as you go, especially when visiting the islands.
4. A backpack with a few stuff is more than enough!
The most convenient luggage to take with you especially if your visiting the islands of Thailand is a backpack. Large suitcases will just be a hassle and very hard to carry through the sandy beaches or from the wooden piers to the boats. It will also save you money because taxis at the piers/airports/train stations are usually much more expensive than normal taxis but instead of that, you just hop on a scooter and drive away! You will be spending most of your time in your swimming costume anyway so no reason for a full suitcase!
5. Bug repellent is absolutely necessary!
Mosquitos are everywhere so having a strong bug repellent will come in handy especially when visiting the islands or the northern part of the country such as Chiang Mai!
6. Appropriate clothing when visiting temples!
In all temples around the world despite religion there are always the same basic norms concerning respect when it comes to clothing. Thai people especially give notice to whether or not women’s shoulders are covered or not and, in some cases, they are strict when it comes to torn jeans for men too. A perfect example of a strict temple is the Grand Palace in Bangkok, after waiting in the long line for quite a while, if you are not allowed in, your only option is to purchase clothing from their store and as you can understand, the prices are sky-high. In some temples they supply you with appropriate clothing at the entrance at a small cost or even for free but plan ahead and prepare so you don’t have to spend extra. Lastly be aware that you are not allowed to wear shoes or flipflops inside the temples so if you don’t want to go around bare foot bring a pair of socks to use for those circumstances. In Thailand you will find that in most places (stores/Spa’s/Hostels) you will not be allowed to wear shoes so bring more socks!
7. Buy a Thai SIM Card!
As soon as you arrive at the Airport go to one of the various kiosks and purchase a sim card in order to connect to the internet and to communicate easier with local services. If you are two or three people you could only purchase one and use one phone as a hotspot for the rest. You won’t find cheaper sim cards than the ones at the Airport so don’t hesitate!
8. Daily transportation in Thailand
Grab: Similar to Uber, download the application and of you go! Easy to use and very reliable as far as pricing! Unfortunately, it is not available in the Islands but its ideal for Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
Tuk–Tuk: It’s their local taxi. Definitely worth trying a couple of times since its unique but be prepared to pay extra since it’s a very touristy activity. Also, I would recommend taking a night ride to avoid all the car fumes during the day.
Metro: Bangkok’s Metro is very organized, always on time and very clean, especially the Sky Train. Also keep in mind that in Bangkok you can get to most of the sites with the River Boat that has a lot of stops all along the river. It is very important to choose the right River Boat company as you might end up paying 10 times the price if you choose one of the touristy companies. Always look for the cheapest option there is no difference!
Car/Scooter Rental: Not necessary for the cities but absolutely necessary for the Islands! We rented scooters in every place apart from Bangkok and it was worth every penny. You can rent a scooter either for the reception of your Hotel/Hostel or from most Rental companies you will find at ports or in the towns. I would recommend renting transportation as soon as you arrive anywhere so you avoid the expensive taxis to and from your hotels. All you will need to rent a scooter is to give either a deposit or your passport to guarantee, you don’t have to have a license (!!). Also, don’t forget that in Thailand they drive on the left side of the road.
9. Day trips!
Go for the organized group day tours as you will get the chance to see places you couldn’t have seen on your own even if you know exactly where they are (i.e. various islands or deserted beaches). We booked most of our tours through a company named Klook and didn’t experience any mishaps anywhere even if we booked the last minute! Very organized, reliable, and with many choices.10.Try as much street food as possible!
10. Try as much street food as possible!
Do NOT be afraid to experience the food from small stands at the various local markets you will encounter. The most impressive markets with the largest variety of Street Food stands are at night so go as hungry as you possibly can and try as much as you can! Always remember that the simpler the better, that’s where you will experience real Thai specialties. The biggest myth concerns insect-eating in Thailand, it’s 1000% a tourist attraction, and chances are you will not encounter any such food stands in the authentic markets.
11. Don’t miss the chance to spend a day with the elephants!
It’s impossible to visit Thailand and not dedicate at least a day to these wonderful animals! Do your research before visiting and try and find the most ethical Elephant Sanctuary. There are many tourist traps that do not take good care of the Elephants and take advantage of them. Try to find a sanctuary where you will get to spend quality time with the Elephants in their natural habitat, you can really feel their joy when you feed them or play with them in the river! It’s a once in a life time experience, but you have to do it with respect to these magnificent creatures. All of the sanctuaries have online booking engines and I would recommend, you book it a month in advance.
12. The Land of Smiles!
Thailand is also known as the Land of Smiles so be prepared to receive a tone of smiles from strangers on the street! Give back as many as you possible can because Thai’s as some of the friendliest and hospitable people you will ever meet, even the slightest of looks will bring a bright smile out of them so, don’t hold back!