Obviously, I love to travel – – so I have a whole lotta love for a whole lotta places.
Thailand tops that list.
Between the temples, tigers, elephants, food, and festivities – – it’s a one stop shop for culture, adventure, and fun.
I am sure you’ve seen one too many elephant and tiger selfies on your Instagram feed, and kind-of-sort-of know that one person from uni that courageously moved to Thailand to teach English. A South East Asia series seems to be the new “EuroTrip,” and you’re jumping on the bandwagon for a glorious adventure. It’s going to be everything you expected and more.
Give yourself a couple weeks for a sample of one of my favorite destinations in the world. Here’s a few tips from a gal who spent some proper time in the Land of Thai, and reached out to every Brit and Oz who had been to Thailand, for real-life tips before trekking out – – although, I learned many of these mistakes the hard-way.
1. Don’t take the train
Anywhere, ever in the world – – but especially in Thailand. If you cannot afford a flight, opt for a clean, air-conditioned charter bus that translates into a guaranteed seat and stops every four hours (can you say restroom and food?). Trains sell more tickets than they do seats, jerk at your next every few minutes with their frequent stops, are boiling hot with complimentary dirt flying in through the windows to stick to your glistening face, and of course are an easy medium for theft.
2. Ferries do sell out during peak times, as does accommodation
I know winging it sounds amazing… but you won’t feel so fly when you’re stranded or homeless. Google peak times to confirm that you can wing it.
3. Some places have a minimum night stay, take it and book it, even if you aren’t staying the entire time
For the cost of a few dollars, you’ll have a secure location in the given area. Transportation overseas isn’t always easy. You don’t want to be on another island or in a nearby town and stuck. Usually, if there is a minimum stay you should actually stay that long anyways because there are that many great things to do there 😉
4. Thailand is not as “cheap” as you would think
Yes, if you are going to backpack, stay in bungalows, only eat street food, live like a local, and skip all tourist attractions, Thailand can be ridiculously affordable.
But guess what? You’re on holiday so you’ll likely be off on some adventures and having a few drinks. Furthermore, a lot of Thailand’s locations aren’t off-the-beaten path which means they are going to charge you like a tourist. If you’re American, where the cost of living is relatively low to say Australia or Europe, it will seem even less cheap for dining, drinks, and activities at cost to the States ($20 for a casual sit down meal, $10 drinks at the bar, etc). You’ll end up altering between Thai “nice” and “back-packer.”
That being said, accommodation can be very cheap – – or very expensive, per your request.
For a comfortable time, be fiscally prepared – – unless you can hang like a total back-packer and down to eat Pad Thai three times a day.
5. Go to the Full Moon Party – – Plan your trip around making it happen
Stay for five nights. Don’t go all the way to Koh Phangan exclusively for the one night of Full Moon Party; there is more to it.
6. Invest your time outside of Bangkok
Personally, I prefer beaches and tropical jungles to a concrete jungle. To each their own. This city in particular, wasn’t for me.
7. Spend at least five days in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai
I’d argue that there is nothing like it in the world and it’s what gives a trip to Thailand character.
8. Get a SIM card for data at the airport
That way you can use Google Translate, XE Currency, and just google any costs anyone suggests that sounds like a rip off.
Chances are it’s a rip off, so bargain.
9. Pre-game? Pre-Drinks? Buy drinks at 7-Eleven
Thai people love their 7-Elevens… that and “Friends” re-runs.
10. Do the touristy things. Stop being above “tourist”
Yes, you can be a “traveler” and enjoy zip-lining through the jungle with Flight of the Gibbons, receiving hugs from elephants, cuddling tigers, getting Thai massages, and exploring temples.
It’s part of the fun, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone.