Sought for and received endless advice for my trip to Thailand back in April, 2015. Some I applied and I’m glad I did while there were few others – I tried but wasn’t much help.
Like most of em, I did my homework: watched a convincing number of videos with travel guides and read few articles online.
Seeking advice to plan ahead is good but don’t keep your hopes high as it’s unlikely all things work as per the plan. In fact, would say no plan is good however, preparation on some basics is a MUST e.g. learning about the culture, dos and don’ts of that particular place can be handy.
I personally believe that no two travel experiences are alike, it’s distinct one way or the other. Experiences after all are guided by factors such as: One’s preferences/plans, interests etc. Also, people you meet along the way and your perception towards it gives it a whole new dimension (each time).
Here I wouldn’t be talking about the things which you can simply Google but will try to enumerate my experience from the trip. Its up to you to see if any of these experiences would be of any help, if you are considering visiting Thailand.
Budget: Thailand has a little bit of everything to offer for everyone. If someone has money burning a hole in their pocket or someone who watches every penny – whoever you are, you can uncompromisingly have a great trip based on the choices you make and there are plenty of options to choose from. just have patience to screen through and be wise with the choices you make.
Hotels vs Hostel: You can find a pretty good deal either ways but if you are a budget traveler and traveling alone, hostel might be the best option. Got a company? Hotels might be a good option as hostel charge per head. At 350 baht per night per person you could get a really good hostel that offers B&B with tidy rooms and although you share washroom they are designed for hostels and are kept clean at all times or at least the one I tried at pattaya Sleep Cafe was super tidy. Staff there were very helpful and friendly. The only debacle was a road side dormitory that didn’t allow us sound sleep. A bad choice when we picked a dorm 😏 – otherwise it was a good experience. Also, if you have only few hours before the flight/bus to catch they even offer a nap room at a reasonable cost. Prices could be less or more depending on how much you can bargain and their mood 😆
Language: You speak English? Great! But not much of a help 😜 Only people who spoke a little English in Thailand was in sukhumvit area (in bkk) and Phuket. But guess what, you can still survive if you learn the basic greetings and few tips as shared in the next point below.
Communication: Basically the conversation you need to initiate will be money related, in that case the trend is to simply punch in a number in your mobile/calculator and say yes/no and negotiate some more 😉 This is useful whether you are out shopping, catching a cab, in the market – buying veggies etc. And yes they surprisingly do understood the numerics if not AB2Z. Would also suggest you to ask for a vCard from the hotel you are staying at and show them at the metro, bts, taxi etc for your own convenience to get back safe. Best to at least learn to pronounce the name of the place correctly (place you want to visit) but if you fail in your attempt simply show them the map in your smart phone or the vCard if you have one. Normally, when you show them the map/card Esp taxi drivers might reply saying they don’t know how to read. In such cases practice pronouncing the name of the place correct in a tone that they can understand.
Modes of Transportation: Basically the answer is in the street/stations itself. If you take sometime to read the signs – it’s all there.
- Taxi meter: in Bangkok and its solely runs through the meter, thus the name. As you sit the meter starts from 35 baht (was when I visited in 2015), rate per distance are clearly mentioned in the list hanging on the front seat (next to driver’s seat). Each taxi has the details of the driver (just double check the photo) and read through the details, you might want to take a picture of it, just in case. Also, traffic during weekends are a huge problem. Driver might ask you for your consent if it’s ok to take a highway to avoid traffic? In this case note that you have to pay 50 baht extra (on top of the total amount). Outside the city even taxi meter runs on bargain turning their meter off (just like we find it in Kathmandu city) 😛 No good, but it’s the truth.
- Tuk Tuk: it’s a good ride for an experience but note that it could get hot as there’s no ac. Tuk Tuk still is a good experience as it does not run through meter but solely on how much you bargain before hopping on it. It’s still a good deal if you know for sure that there’s going to be a traffic and would cost you more if you were in a taxi meter.
- Motorbike taxi: they have a fixed rate and this mode of transportation is usually used for short distance of 10 or 30 minutes walk. However, best to confirm the rates and show them the card to your destination. If you ask me, I did not have a good experience with the ride – as they drove in full speed – I almost gasped for my life but u don’t have much choice, to where I wanted to go and walking 39 minutes in that hot sunny day was out of question.
- Metro/Skytrain/Bus: this is the most convenient way to reach to your destination (not worrying about bargaining or traffic). However, you must know the place you want to get to and the nearest point that metro/skytrain stops at. It could be a little hassle at first but trust me you’ll get used to it and feel like a local n proud for saving yourself some money by utilizing the resources around. Before hopping in, always read the board in each station to ensure you are on the correct side/lane. And as mentioned earlier, answers are there around the station if you take few moments to observe/read.
Food: I’d heard people speaking highly of the street food but honestly I wasn’t a big fan. It could be because I don’t have much choice bring a vegetarian myself. Each time I craved for a real food (rice with curry in my case) I was disappointed. First of all, vegetarian is like yes seafood, which wasn’t true in my case so i survived on few ready made items from 7-Eleven. Also, their food are intended to be spicy and if you are from Nepal you would crave a salt after few days cuz they hardly use one. Probably for your own good, considering the whether in Bangkok. I only got my real deal with street food when I reached Phuket, coconut pudding and papaya salad was simply delicious. If you have sweet tooth, would recommend mango with sticky rice with sesame seed and sour cream.
Grand palace: Beautiful place but be very careful with the scams around. No matter how alert one may be fraudulent schemes spreads like an invisible web, around that area so be extra careful.
Shopping: It’s a shopping paradise, for a reason. If you find sth u like it, grab it and don’t forget to bargain. Do not wait to find the same item someplace else, weigh and bargain (you’ll regret), so I suggest grab what you like then and there.
Best place to stay? I would recommend to stay in Sukhumvit, Asoke where for easy access to transportation and best deals with accommodation, it’s a centre to help you get to main point easily and has easy access to skytrain/bts/metro etc.
Must have? Nothing lol, yeah no kidding. But if you wish to would suggest a good pair of slipper, shawl to cover your shoulders prior to visiting temples will be helpful. Yes, one must cover their knee and shoulder in / around temple. Other than this, leave an empty space for lots of shopping at good deal that might take you by surprise.
Chinatown (Yaowarat Rd): I was this greedy kid that wanted everything once I got there lol – it’s true. Can’t help it KTM is getting expensive day by day. Here in Chinatown one can only buy in wholesale and it’s advised to plan your day early as they wrap up by 4/5 pm. said but also the only place where one cannot bargain you may try though.
Pattaya: This city is quite a hussle! Walking street was dead crazy and I often found myself perplexed:P However, I enjoyed the laid back environment and carefree nature of the people. The breathtaking sun-set was to die for. What impressed me most was people’s positive outlook towards LGBT. Although, people say there’s an ugly side to it but I only witnessed the positive side of it and I respect their tolerance. Phuket on the other hand I would say was a classy version of Thailand.
Overall, I had a great experience in Thailand, Bkk was full of surprises. Pattaya was colourful and Phuket was phenomenal.
Note: Everything mentioned on this blog is truly based on my personal experience / opinion.
Happy Travelling 🙂 $hr!&T