All You Need To Know To Organize A Trip To Thailand

It’s yet another morning when you look out of the window with hope. It’s been two weeks since you’ve seen sun. Maybe it’s going to be different today? You sigh, disappointed. It’s rainy and grey out there again. If only you could be somewhere where it’s warm, beautiful and sunny… Your friends sent you some pictures from Thailand recently but how can you organize it if you have hardly any travel experience? It sounds impossible.

But it’s not 🙂

Vacation in Thailand are immensely popular now. Despite that, for some it’s still an exotic destination and a lot of people are still afraid to go there on their own. But there’s nothing to fear 🙂 Even though Asian culture can shock and surprise, Thailand is a country with a well-developed touristic infrastructure and you can easily organize a trip there by yourself. 

What travel tips for planning a trip to Thailand do you need?

Make sure to also check my Thailand itinerary for 14 days. With alternatives and possibility to extend… 🙂

How to organize a trip to Thailand? Traveling tips.

Thailand traveling tips: Visa

traveling tips thailand

Before planning your trip to Thailand make sure if you need visa to enter the country. A lot of nationalities don’t need to arrange anything in advance as long as the visit doesn’t exceed 30 days – this applies to Polish citizens too. Make sure what are the regulations for your country.

If you’re Polish and you want to enter Thailand for more than 30 days check this post to learn what to do (Polish only)

Thailand traveling tips: When to go to Thailand?

traveling tips thailand

High touristic season in Thailand lasts from November till February. It’s a dry season here, the weather is good and the temperatures are pleasant. Hot, but livable 🙂 From March till April there is a hot season and temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celcius. From May till mid-October there is a rainy season. It rains often and intensely but the rain rarely lasts the whole day so you can still benefit.

Thailand traveling tips: Accommodation

traveling tips thailand

It’s best to look for accommodation via booking.com or agoda.com. You can also look for them once you arrive here but from what we noticed – in high season a lot of places is fully booked. Prices and standards are diversified, we usually used the medium ones.

You can find more information on costs and places I recommend further in this post under “Costs”. Click here to go there directly 🙂

Thailand traveling tips: what to arrange before going?

thailand traveling tips

Before planning your trip and booking accommodation you need to take care of the following things:

Vaccines

Before going to Thailand you don’t have to get any vaccines – however, some are recommended and you shouldn’t ignore that. Recommended vaccines are against typhoid and hepatitis A – both diseases you can get by eating contaminated food. Check the vaccines information on local websites for your country as there might be some additional advices specific to you.

Insurance

Make sure to get insurance before traveling anywhere, that’s a general rule. I rarely get sick or hurt myself in general but I wouldn’t risk going anywhere without an insurance, I don’t want to challenge my luck.

Also make sure you have all essentials in your luggage – check this South East Asia packing list for easier reference 🙂

Thailand traveling tips: Best ways to travel in Thailand

thailand traveling tips

Planes

There are a lot of domestic flights in Thailand. If you want to get from Bangkok to the north or south of the country you can take a train which takes around 12 hours – or a one hour flight. Prices are affordable and there is a lot of destinations to choose from.

We flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai using Thai Lion Air and it was a good experience. The plane was better than Austrian Airlines plane from Warsaw to Vienna we took on our way here… 🙂 Thai Lion Air accepts checked baggage up to 10 kg plus a cabin luggage.

Trains

Taking a local train is an experience by itself and I recommend it to you 🙂 The trains are slow, after half an hour you have enough of hard, wooden sits and the air-conditioning in the form of open windows and fans at the ceiling – but you can watch Thai people travel. You can buy fruits, drinks and even the whole lunch in the train, you can see the suburbs and some villages from the window. Tickets are cheap too – a trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya takes 2 hours and costs only 15 THB (1$ = around 30 THB. Use this currency converter to know the exact amounts in USD and in EUR)

In the train you can also get a more comfortable place but I’ve read these are much more expensive. I don’t know the details because we didn’t use it 🙂

Buses

A lot of places can be reached by bus too. A big bus company connecting the most popular tourist destinations is Green Bus. We also used smaller local companies and it was all fine. Just be prepared for 16 degrees C inside the bus…

Thailand traveling tips: Getting around cities

thailand traveling tips

In Bangkok the easiest way of getting around is metro and boats along Menam river which will get you easily to most interesting things to do in Bangkok. In other cities you can also use:

Taxis, Uber, Grab application

Taxi with a meter is a good and not too expensive option unless you’re stuck in traffic for an hour 🙂 There’s no way the driver can cheat you if he turns the meter on. It’s worth downloading an app called Grab. You can order a taxi with it or a GrabCar which works on the same rules as Uber. Uber works too 🙂

Tuk tuk

thailand traveling tips

Tuk tuks are everywhere and if you don’t see any at the moment, wait five minutes and you’ll have one honking at you – their way of asking if you need a ride. Agree the price beforehand and make sure it is ok for you.

Songthaew

These pick-ups adjusted to be able to carry people in touristic places connect the most popular spots. On less popular routes – they are like buses for Thai people. Ask for a price before taking a ride!

City buses

Timetable and routes are usually difficult to understand but it’s a cheap and in some places – the best way to reach some places. In Chiang Rai it is the best way to get to the White Temple. Thee buses are also very well marked.

Thailand traveling tips: Costs

thailand traveling tips

While organizing a trip to Thailand you need to take into consideration the following costs:

Planes

There are numerous planes from all over the world going to Bangkok. An average price from most European destinations is around 500-550 EUR for a round trip. If you hunt a good promotion if can be cheaper. I recommend you checking the price on Skyscanner and turning the price alerts on.

Accommodation

I counted costs of our accommodation and on average we paid 860 THB / night / 2 people. We haven’t used the cheapest options though and we preferred to have a bit more comfort. It’s possible to do it cheaper.

Here’s the map and list of all places we stayed in and liked. Use them if you choose my Thailand itinerary for 14 days 🙂

Bangkok: Miramar Hotel, Chinatown Hotel and Peace Factory Hostel . The two first are in the same price range and offer similar standard. We liked Miramar Hotel much more though – the staff was nice and smiling, they welcomed us with some cold juice. The location was better too. You can reach the most famous tourist attractions and Khao San Road on foot from there. In Chinatown Hotel it was ok but the staff wasn’t that great and to get to Wat Pho or Khao San Road we needed to take a boat.
Peace Factory Hostel is cheaper but also in a great location. Clean, comfortable and with breakfast included – highly recommended! Check it out 🙂

Check availability and prices – Miramar Hotel

Chiang Mai: Jimmy and Jeng Homestay. The room is very basic but it has all you need and the owners make this place unique. They made me want to come back 🙂 I’ve never been so warmly welcomed in any hostel in the world, the first thing we heard was “you can relax, you’re home now”. Agata and Krzysiek from Before We Get Old recommended this place to me and I’m super grateful they did 🙂

Check availability and prices – Jimmy and Jeng

Chiang Rai: Na-Rak-O Resort and Ann Hostel. From these two places we checked we definitely recommend Na-Rak-O more. It’s just a bit more expensive but comfort is much better. Both places are located 200 meters from each other, close to Chiang Rai bus station and night market. If you’re on a budget, Ann Hostel is also good though and there’s nothing to complain about 🙂

Check availability and prices – Na-Rak-O

Ayutthaya: Aiyara House. A pleasant hotel located close to Ayutthaya’s night market and a few famous temples. An amazing breakfast is included, you can also rent bikes there.

Check availability and prices – Aiyara House

Koh Samed Island: Samed Big Tree. A lovely hotel located super close to the main pier and 10 minutes walk from the main beach. Good breakfast is included. I definitely recommend it 🙂

Check availability and prices – Samed Big Tree

If you travel with kids, check this list of family friendly hotels in Thailand!

Vaccines

We paid around 120 EUR to get the vaccines in Poland before the trip. Check the prices of them in your country and don’t save money on that!

Tours to remote places

thailand traveling tips

In Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai we took tours organized by local operators. These were – visiting an elephant sanctuary, trekking in a jungle, biking and kayaking trip, a trip to the highest peak in Thailand or to see a sunrise on a mountain on Thailand-Laos border. It consumed a big chunk of our budget but it as worth every penny! On average we paid 1700 THB / person for one trip. We don’t have any negotiation skills though and I’m sure it’s possible to get a better price if you’re patient enough 🙂 Also if you’re not afraid to rent and drive a scooter there you can get to many of these places by yourself.

Also remember that some activites are more expensive than others – if you go to the south and decide to dive, this might cost you over 2500 THB – check this guide to diving around Phi Phi island.

Food and drinks

thailand traveling tips

You can eat lunch for as little as 25 THB per person in a very local place with no menu in English, you can also buy snacks for 10 THB in little street stands.

A price for lunch in a bit more touristic place ranges from 35 to 80 THB. It was more expensive on Koh Samet island, there prices started from 60 THB and could reach 300 THB per meal.

You can get fresh tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, papaya, jackfruit for 20 THB per portion.

Check this post for a more detailed guide on prices of food in Thailand. Here is another good reference – find out what you can get in Bangkok for 10$.

thailand traveling tips

Juices, local tea and fruit shakes are cheap and they usually cost up to 20 THB per cup. You will pay up to 60-90 THB in touristic places and better coffee shops like Starbucks or a cat café. You often get free water to your meal (or you can buy it for 10-15 THB).

Alcohol is expensive in Thailand – around 100 THB for a 620 ml bottle of beer in a restaurant. The least we paid was 85 THB and the most – 150 THB. In a shop the same bottle costs around 50 THB. Craft beers are super expensive and to get a pint you need to spend as much as 300 THB!

Trip to Thailand as the first time in Asia – what to expect

thailand traveling tips

If the trip to Thailand is going to be your first time in Asia you need to expect a lot of surprises. You’ll need time to get used to Asian reality… 🙂 So – what should you expect?

Shock related to the chaos in traffic

thailand traveling tips

Nevermind how many posts in the internet you will read – if it’s your first time in Asia, the traffic will surprise you and you’ll need a few days to learn how to cross the street. To make it even more difficult, they drive on the left here… 🙂

Well organized public transportation and tourist infrastructure

Before coming here I was stressed that I won’t manage this Asian chaos. It wasn’t necessary at all. There is a reason for Thailand being called an “easy” country to start travelling in South-East Asia. The chaos is manageable here, everything is usually well marked and even if it’s not – you can ask basic things in English.

Smiling, helpful people – and some number of cheaters

thailand traveling tips

Everywhere I look – someone is smiling to me here. If your eyes meet a Thai person’s eyes, he probably won’t turn around but smile to you and greet you with a nod or a “sawadee-kaaa!”. If you pass next to a school – kids will wave and say “hello”. Amazing!

I noticed a trend though that the less touristic place, the nicer Thai people are.

In tourist places you need to watch out for “helpful” tuk-tuk drivers who offer you the best (four times too high) price, fake guides for whom you are just walking money or honest vendors who happen to make mistakes when giving you a change. It is a minority though. Despite a few unpleasant situations I am so enchanted by how sweet and helpful Thai people are.

Learn more about every day life in Thailand in this post: 10 Unique Facts  About Thai People And Life In Thailand.

Tasty food even in the worst looking place

thailand traveling tips

I’ve not eaten a “bad” food here. You can rate Thai food from “good” till “outstanding, nothing below that 🙂 A lot of dishes are spicy but it seems to me Thai people know now what kind of spicy is acceptable for a tourist and we didn’t get anything above that. Prepare to use chopsticks too… 🙂 In the most local places that’s the only thing you get, along with a spoon for soup. Don’t freak out though – after a few days you’ll master and you’ll feel harmed next time they give you a fork… 🙂

Long pants and covered shoulders despite the heat

thailand traveling tips

Thailand is a Buddhist country and to visit any of the temples you need to have long trousers or skirt, covered shoulders, back, your clothes can’t be transparent. Moreover, I haven’t seen Thai people wear shorts or tank tops. In my shorts hardly covering my legs and in my tops with no sleeves I felt… naked. I ended up wearing baggy trousers I bought here most of the time.

So when next time you look out of the window with hope and sigh, disappointed because it’s rainy and grey out there again – improve your mood by planning a trip to Thailand. You can do it, trust me. And you will charge your batteries 🙂

Make sure to check my guide: Thailand – Complete Itinerary For 14 Days 🙂 If you’re curious what it’s like to volunteer in Thailand check the post about my time as an English teacher in Thailand 🙂

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