1: The Basics
Currency – Thai Baht (1 Thai baht is approximately $0.03 USD)
Quick tip: download the Currency app for conversion rates on the go
Adaptors – Most of the power outlets are usually two-prong round or flat sockets at 220V AC electricity.
Quick Tip: A universal power adaptor is a great item to assist you in all your travels.
Passport and Visa – You must have a valid passport that won’t expire at least 6 months after your trip. Make sure your passport is valid or plan ahead to renew in plenty of time before your trip. Upon arrival, most traveler’s will be given a free 30-day visa when traveling by air or 15 days if you cross the border by land.
Quick Tip: Make copies of your passport in case of stolen or lost passport. I always carry one copy and store another in my bag or cosmetic case for safe keeping.
Health and Safety – Be sure to speak to a professional on what/if any vaccines are necessary before you travel. Some require multiple visits, so you want to look into this earlier rather than later. If you’re traveling frequently, you can download the Vaccine app to help keep track and stay up to date on all your vaccines year round. Regarding your safety, it’s never a bad idea to share your trip itinerary with a friend or family member back home just in case of an emergency.
Communication – If you’re staying in another country for more than a week, an international plan with your cell provider can get pricey. Instead, opt for purchasing an AIS sim card upon your arrival. These can run between $20-$40 and will last your entire trip. Also, wifi can be found easily in coffee shops, cafes, airports and hotels. For all my international travels, I always use Whatsapp and/or Facebook messenger to stay in touch with friends and family back home.
What to Wear – You are about to enter a warm, humid, tropical climate with a high possibility of tropical showers. Pack light, loose, comfortable clothes and extremely comfortable walking shoes (don’t forget socks!). It’s also a good idea to bring items for unexpected afternoon showers.
Check the Calendar – This goes for any place you visit…check all event calendars for annual events, festivals and celebrations specific to that region. Thailand has some amazing festivals that you don’t want to miss. Whether you plan to visit for the celebration or just happen to be there when it begins, be sure to do your research before you book your trip.
2: Flights & Accommodations
I have a few favorites when it comes to finding the best deals on flights and accommodations. However, in Thailand you’ll find that a little bit of money goes a long way. You can stay at the nicest 5-star resorts for around $100 a night or you can easily find hostels or an Airbnb for about $30-$80 per night. No problem! Here’s where I found the best bang for my buck on this trip:
Booking.com – For some off the beaten path options, where I found the most amazing bungalow in Kho Yao Noi, I would search on Booking.com. Although, they have great options in Bangkok too. Some locations won’t even accept payments to hold a reservation, because they accept cash only upon arrival.
Expedia.com – Hands down, this is where I found some of the best flight deals across the board. However, rates can depend on many different factors (time of year, the duration, location, etc), so be sure to check ALL of the comparison sites for the best deals.
Travel Pirates – This site and app offers some AMAZING full package trips for super cheap that can include flights, accommodations or both. If time is on your side and you are flexible with your travel dates I’d highly recommend checking out this site for deals.
Airbnb – This is always a great option to find an affordable place to stay abroad. The first few nights I stayed in Bangkok I booked an Airbnb for approximately $30 USD per night. It was located just on the outer rim of the city, which ended up being fantastic to seeing more of the local areas and learning to get around using the local transit.
Hostelworld – If you’re looking for something even cheaper or if you’re traveling solo and are looking to meet other people during your travels, Hostelworld has got the answers for you. The night before I left Thailand I booked through this app for about $12 for the night. It offers reviews from other guests and highlights all of the amenities each location has to offer. I’d highly recommend to anyone.
3: Getting Around
There are many different ways to get around, but here are my top options:
BTS skytrain (get the rabbit tap card!) – This is BY FAR the most affordable option and was extremely useful in escaping the hot and humid climate throughout the day, because it has air conditioning! It’s only 120 baht for an unlimited one day pass, equalling about $4 USD.
Taxi / Motorcycles / Tuk Tuk – You can always opt to hire a Taxi, Motorcycle or Tuk Tuk to chauffeur you around in Bangkok. The average cost here is around 30 baht. If they ask for more, be sure to negotiate the cost down. You will find out very quickly that they will try to charge you more, simply because you are a tourist. You can also rent your own Motorcycle/Moped on your own if you visit the islands in south Thailand. These cost around 150 baht for one day.
Google maps – An incredibly helpful solution during any traveling is to download a city map for offline use. Be sure to save all of the places you want to visit to easily access your itinerary at any time. You can also make use of a physical map if you prefer or save an image of the city map on your phone for offline use.
Quick Tip: Check out the city map of Bangkok below showing all of the different sections of the city and feel free to right click, download and save for your travels.
4: Learning the Lingo
You’re visiting another country, so take it upon yourself to learn a few key phrases before you go. This is highly beneficial to getting around the city PLUS the fact that you are attempting their language will give you massive brownie points with the locals (AND give you insider tips on the best local places to visit in town). I’ll be honest, it was fairly overwhelming the first day or two getting used to the local dialect, so it’s best to come prepared and know a few basic phrases.
5: Beware of Scams
Be careful of scammers and hagglers, especially around temples and touristy areas. From personal experience, I found that taxi or tuk tuk drivers may say that the temples or buildings are closed when in reality they just want to give you a ride and take your money.
WARNING: Also, please be aware that animal cruelty is especially bad around animal tourism in Thailand, as well as other parts of the world. Do your research wisely and be cautious when booking these types of experiences. If you’re getting that ‘perfect photo’ with animals that are being mistreated, you’re only feeding the fire and the cruelty will continue.
6: Stay Hungry
Some might say “don’t eat the street food,” but I beg to differ. I have a fairly weak stomach and I had ZERO problems in Thailand eating from practically every street vendor stand I could find. You just have to know what to look for and be prepared.
The #1 RULE to finding a good street vendor – follow where the locals go. It’s really that simple. It can be quite overwhelming when you first arrive in Thailand, but out of the hundreds of stands and markets only a small number were actually busy and filled with locals. I can tell you I was not disappointed in my vendor choices. The busier the crowd, the better the food.
Another good rule to follow – RULE #2 – is don’t eat anything that’s not being cooked in front of you. Was it sitting there when you walked up? Ask them to heat it for you or don’t buy it. This goes for fruit as well; anything that has been washed will most likely have used the local (unfiltered) water. Better safe than sorry!
If you’re into researching, a good option for finding great restaurants and great deals (although, to be honest I don’t think I ate at one real restaurant my entire trip) is to check out the Chope app. It’s similar to OpenTable, where you can search for restaurants and reviews in your area and make reservations.
Thailand is a GREAT place to visit if you don’t have a massive budget and you’re looking for that “wow” factor. The food is beyond phenomenal, the people are warm and friendly, and the landscape is jaw dropping. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Looking for a once in a lifetime experience while visiting Thailand? Click here to find out more on my personal experience receiving a Sak Yant Tattoo from an Ajarn Master in Bangkok, Thailand.