I’ve made a few trips to Thailand as well as a couple of longer stays over the years and here are some tips. Wouldn’t call myself an expert or something but if you plan to make your first trip to Thailand and made it to this page you might learn something useful, in my style of travel at least.
How long should I stay in Thailand?
The length of your stay in Thailand should vary depending on where you travel from. I travel from Europe so because of the long flight I like to stay at least a month. And if you are going to some remote island or traveling to around a lot you do loose a lot of days just on the road or boat. You should also count in a week or so for jetlag, and to acclimatize if you are not used to tropical environment. Usually two month is perfect for me, then i don’t get bored either. If you are coming from a neighboring country a couple of weeks would probably be perfectly fine.
Check with your local Thai embassy for what Visas you need. This varies dependeing of the lenght of your stay. Some countries get 30 days Visa on arrival. If you plan to stay, let’s say 60 days you’ll need to get a Visa for that at your local Thai embassy before entering Thailand. This 30+30 Visa can then be extended for another 30 days in Thailand if needed.
Where do I book flights?
I usually book flights directly from the carrier, like Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways or Air Asia, for direct and shorter flights. If you want cheaper flights you can check multiple stops at sites like site Flightscanner but then you loose a lot of time and patience in other airports naturally. If you want like a 1-2 weeks holiday in one resort a package deal from a travel agency is probably the better option.
Where do I book resorts, hotels and villas?
I book almost all my resorts and hotels via Agoda.com, the Agoda app or sometimes Booking.com, I think it’s the most convenient way. When I book 6 days I usually get enough Agoda-cash for stay the 7th day for free. A lot of the resorts own website offers good deals as well. If you stay in Thailand already you are able to get lower prices directly in the resort reception in some cases. It’s worth a try and definitely recommended if you plan to rent monthly or longer stays. As far as resorts goes I personally prefer well known brands like Amari, Novotel and Centara, these places have decent prices, are always clean and have the type of service I appreciate in a holiday. Sometimes I also book random places – that sometimes are surprisingly bad – and sometimes surprisingly great as well.
What does it cost to travel in Thailand?
The biggest cost is going to be your flight in, again, depending on where you flying in from. While you nowadays could still get a good deal at accomodation, quality usually costs as anywhere. Currency also variates along with the value you get. If you can live without aconditioner and don’t mind a pretty ”crapy” room by north-western standard you can score a good deal. Currently I probably wouldn’t be able (or want) to stay in Thai resorts + change under 5000 THB per day. If I would rent a condo or villa monthly that would probably be about 1-3000 tHB per day + change.
Where should I go in Thailand?
- Go to Bangkok if you want to eat, shop and party (in smog).
- Go to Pattaya if you want to eat, shop, party and look (not swim) at beaches.
- Go to Phuket if you want a little bit of everything and swim in (most) beaches.
- Go to Krabi if you want more dramatic nature and pretty beaches.
- Go to Samui if you want a little bit of everything and more of an island feel.
- Go to the remote islands for for a more genuine island feel.
- Go to the north or south for dramatic nature and culture.
How much luggage should I bring?
Bring a backpack (5-10 kilos) with your most valuables like electronics and some light wear for quick changes, cold in transportation and rain. Bring it on board and use it as a daypack. I like to bring the rest of my stuff (10-20 kilos) in one soft durable trunk (The North Face Base Camp Duffel size L). This is very practical as it can be carried on your shoulder, or on your back with the daypack on your chest. This is also very useful at remote islands traveling in boats, where a lot of hard cases get otherwise dragged along beaches or get in the water. A hard, wheeled case (together with a daypack) is a better option if you stay at the main islands in quality resorts. Then you can use your daypack at shorter day-trips/boat-trips. Bring enough to have one week of clothing in laundry and one for use. Resort laundry can be expensive but there is often a cheaper laundry shop in area of the most places you go.
Best things about Thailand
- Lots of beaches
- Lots of islands
- Sunrises / sunsets
- Stunning nature scenery
- Plenty of air-con accomodation
- Almost no tourists (in some areas at some times)
- Authentic Thai food
- Authentic Thai smile
- Thai bbq buffet
- The coffee shop Thailand
- Fresh coconut
- Coconut candy
- Coconut oil
- Random weirdness
Worst things about Thailand
- Air pollution / air quality
- Traffic / road safety
- Too much tourists (in some areas at some times)
- Lack of english language skills
- Non authentic thai food (made by non thai)
- Random littering, trash dumping and burning
- Annoying fake Armani type tailors
- Noisy, smelly vehicles on land and at sea
- Stray dogs almost everywhere
- Plastics washing up from the ocean at beaches
- Horrific pavements/sidewalks
- 5-10°C too hot
- Tropical bugs (mosquitos, mini ants) and deceases (malaria, dengue)
Hazards in Thailand?
There are plenty of hazards to your health as a traveller in Thailand, some are; traffic, mosquitos, drowning, jelly fish, heat, humidity, alcohol, smog, moldy accommodation to name a few. Avoid motorbike rental if you can, this is the number one hazard I think. I’ve seen multiple happy holidayers end up in a pool of blood, looking like a mummy or worse. Go with a taxi and agree on price before, or walk (with a flashlight at night). Use mosquito repellent as they spread multiple dangerous diseases. Drink a lot of water, coconut juice and salty food or salt substitutes to avoid dehydration. Go to the beach in the morning and late afternoon, avoid mid-day as the sun will fry you in minutes. Swim with a T-shirt and walk with an umbrella to avoid direct sun. Don’t swim in heavy waves and at red flag as you could get sucked out in the ocean. Don’t swim in rocky parts and walk on corals, you can cut upp your feet as well as kill the corals. The humidity will grow fungus and mould, so wear natural fabrics and bring a towel to dry off. Alcohol is cheap and and can cause many problems, drink responsibly and a lot of water between the shots. Check running water quick with your hand before entering shower or bath, I’ve had electrified water in the shower (at Ban’s Diving, Koh Tao) and I probably would’ve been dead now if I didn’t check first.
Scams in Thailand?
Thailand is pretty famous for all types of scams but I don’t think it’s that bad. There is definitely a lot but just don’t buy in to anything you haven’t planned for. The scams I’ve seen are usually taxi’s, bike- or jetski-rental’s or sneaky people trying to drag you in (or way from) filthy bars. Always agree on price first before doing anything and you should be ok. While they might pop up anywhere most scammers that I’ve met where in Bankok and Phuket around popular tourist-sites. Avoid renting any type of transportation and you will minimize the risk of scams and injuries a lot. As far as other crime goes I’ve never come across it in Thailand. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about my home country, so Thailand is a lot safer in that way. If there is some type of violent situation there is usually wasted farangs (westerners). And if you are dating, please remember a lot of the people you meet are “workers” and/or looking for what is known as “take care”. My advise is for you to relax, have fun and enjoy your trip. And if you want a serious date there is luckily attractive travelers from all the countries in the world in Thailand. If you get home from your holiday and “someone” ask for “take care” you should not send anything unless you seriously want to embrace the culture of taking care someone + someone’s family (parents, brothers, sisters, kids etc.) as well. Of course you should also never leave your stuff out of sight. Bring two ATM-cards, keep one the safety-box at your room and one in you pocket at all times, scratch the code on the back of the card and keep it in you brain. Don’t bring more cash than you can afford to loose. Don’t travel without a proper insurance and don’t rent anything you can pay for brand new (as well as the other wehilcelhe or person you might smash in to). A lot of branded fake products are sold all over, not as much as it used to be but watch out. I rarely buy anything unless it’s in something like a Central mall, stuff at night markets etc. I feel is mostly trash i don’t need at all. Behave polite and stay calm in any situation, like anywhere you go. Keep your face at all times and treat people with respect.
How is the internet?
Internet used to to suck coconut but is pretty good nowadays. There is 4G almost everywhere except in remote places like smaller bays. All hotels usually have free Wifi as well. Personally I never use Wifi except in an emergency for safety reasons. Daily, weekly or monthly 4G packages are sold in airports when you arrive in Thailand. I like True Move‘s monthly deals and the True Move people will help you install the sim-card and activate your package at the airport. If you need, you can top-up at any Seven-eleven. Unlimited packages (fake unlimited) might be slowed down at a curtain gigabyte. That type of scam used to be the same in Europe and I hope Thailand will stop this BS asap as well.
How about the environment?
Your travel to Thailand will have a big impact on the Environment depending on how far you are traveling from. Smoggy air, waste water, heavy plastic-use, over-fishing, dying coral reefs, deforestation, pesticides, trafficking and working conditions are things that should bother all travelers. There is some signs of change as in recycling, beach clean-ups, bamboo straws, eco-resorts with home-grown herbs, vegetables, eggs and such. But Thailand, as anywhere else, has a long way to go towards sustainable tourism. Resorts and producers have to pull some funds plus make travelers pay the full, actual cost of tourism to reach that goal.
Is Thailand paradise?
Errr…not really, at least in many tourist dense areas. I thought it was near paradise on my first trips. Nowadays there is like 30 millions more travelers every year so it’s getting pretty crowded and over-commercialized. Where you used to enter a natural beach with zero people there is now a resort blocking the view or someone charging a fee. It’s understandable, ultimately someone has to cope with the hoards of visitors and littering. I mean it would probably suck a bit if your own hometown was packed with weirdos like in Patong or Pattaya all over sudden. Still, a lot of local people and areas are still surprisingly welcoming and friendly. There is so much more options for accommodation nowadays, so on my recent trips the resorts felt like low season in high season. Night life seems pretty calm and dull compared to before. The pricey Baht and climactical impact of long distance flights are probably part of the change. The vibe is also very different nowadays as western travelers is a minority compared to asian visitors. I wouldn’t say it’s bad thing but just different, a tad more couple and family friendly. I do think there is still a tropical paradise feel in Thailand, just wake up early and stroll the beaches before other visitors and jet-ski’s arrive. And compared to a gray, freezing or sludgy wet winter in the north of the globe – yes, Thailand is still a bit of a paradise.
So either you like Thailand or not, you’ve just got to try it. Despite its notorious flaws I truly love traveling almos yearly around this country. The locals are usually unusually welcoming. Surely a lot people of depend of tourism but I often get more back than what gets put in. Great food, people and geography. Plus there is always an island, beach, city or whatever left to visit, all with its own charm. I do wish it was all silent, fume-free, electrified traveling to get here though.