Thailand is a traveler’s paradise and one of most popular travel destinations in South-east Asia. Famous for it’s budget friendly lifestyle, Thailand has earned a position in the bucket-lists of nearly all digital nomads and backpackers. While it is economic, Thailand also offers some world-class travel experiences such as stunning beaches, amazing diving and underwater experience, adventure-sports activities, lush green tropical forests, crazy nightlife and mouthwatering food!
- Local Language – Thai. Most of the locals understand and speak English around the prime tourist spots.
- Local Currency – Thai Baht. Cards are accepted in most of the hotels and restaurants but public transportation, street food, local shopping and Thai massages are all cash based.
- Best time to Visit – Dry season that starts from November and stays up to February during which the weather is pleasant and less humid.
A prime share of Thailand’s economy survives on tourism, meaning – you would almost always meet smiling faces and receive hearty welcomes. Thai locals are friendly and helpful. Many tourists who travel to Thailand for the first time get cautious about being scammed or robbed on the street! Honestly, I found the locals extremely receptive, approachable and friendly and as long as you are traveling with a pair of open eyes and an open mind, you wouldn’t really have to worry. Of course I would suggest you to be mindful of the surroundings especially if you are walking through a shady empty road of Bangkok and definitely suggest you to not to trust the local strangers too easily, but do not scare yourself with the thought of being scammed based on internet myths.
Instead what you can do, is take certain precautions. Keep your passport/visa, cash, credit cards and hotel address in a hidden body purse. Do a research about the locations that you are visiting so that in case of any troubles you can reach out to the nearest police stations or tourist help centers. If not in a group try not to get too much drunk or stoned. Don’t show off expensive jewelries or accessories. Keep the emergency helpline numbers handy. The tourist helpline number (police department) in Thailand is 1155 while the tourist service center number is 1652. Thai tourist police department is helpful and attentive and would guide you in every way, if you are in trouble.
Top Things to Do:
Have a blast in Bangkok – Colorful streets, vibrant nightlife, alluring street foods, exquisite temples, floating markets, Tuktuk rides, amazing Skyview experience! Bangkok offers you everything but within budget! If you like wandering around then the streets of Bangkok are perfect. If you like photography or vlogging then take a boat ride to a floating market. Interested in art, architecture, museums or holy shrines? You have numerous places to see such as Wat Arun, Wat Pho, The Grand Palace, Jim Thompson’s house and many more. Just make sure your shoulders and legs are covered when you visit a Thai temple. If you are a foodie, then hop around the streets of Khao San, Petchaburi, China Town market and experience unforgettable treats. Or if you simply want to party then Bangkok has the most happening bars stored for you in Khao San road with loud music, open air dance floors and a full-house vibrant crowd from allover the world. If you want to party in an elegant way visit one of the many rooftop Sky Bars and enjoy a cocktail with skyscape. Lastly, there are Patpong and Nana Plaza stored if you are looking for an adult-themed party time.
Experience an extended beach-time – Few of the beaches in Thailand are so stunning that they would surely make you discover the child within you! You could swim forever in the amazingly serene Thai sea or take a long relaxing sunbath on the pristine sands. The Krabi province of Thailand offers few of the best beaches for relaxing, swimming and snorkeling such as Ao Nang, Railay, and within a short boat ride there are Ko Phi Phi, Hong Island, Maya Bay, Khao Phing Kan and many more. The beaches in Phuket offers world class water sports and diving experiences as well as vibrant nightlife. The Ko Pha-ngan island offers a secluded stretch of white-sand beach with tropical jungle and is famous for hosting full moon parties!
Pamper yourself with a traditional Thai massage – There are plenty of traditional Thai massage shops all over the prime tourist spots in Thailand and almost all of them provide genuine traditional Thai massage. The best time to get a Thai massage is in the evening, when your body is tired. The most popular Thai style treatment provided to the tourists is an hour long foot massage. It is a massage done with herbal oils following a rhythmic compression method that relaxes strained muscles and pain in your feet and legs. There is also a full body treatment that focuses on pressure points starting from feet and gradually moving up towards the head. For a full body treatment you’ll be given overlarge pyjamas and a karate uniform-like shirt. More than a massage this will be an acro-yoga kind of experience. Nevertheless, after an hour you’ll be totally rejuvenated and would definitely be geared up for another long day of hiking, swimming or diving. A foot massage would cost you not more than 100 Bahts and a body treatment would be around 300 Bahts.
Indulge in nature – Though Thailand is mostly famous for it’s magnificent beaches and nightlife, it is also a paradise for nature and wildlife enthusiasts! The lush Thai rain-forest is home to varied species of birds, mammals, insects and reptiles. The National parks like Khao-Yai, Kaeng Krachan, Doi Inthanon, Kui Buri are the examples of such beautiful stretch of exotic nature reserves adorned with natural waterfalls, pools, dense jungle, hills and few of them with virgin beaches. These national parks are perfect for nature hikes, bird watching, safaris or swimming in the magical natural pools. Thailand’s famous “Emerald pool” in Erawan National Park is one of the must sees. For those who want to ride on the backs of the giant Asian elephants, be noted, elephant ride in Thailand is declared as a big “NO” by many wildlife welfare associations. The illegal capture of Asian elephants and using them for tourism have cost a huge threat to their existence and across Thailand the Asian elephant population has decreased alarmingly. So instead of riding them, visit the Elephant Nature Park in the Chiang Mai province of Thailand and hang out with these gentle and friendly giants. Almost all of the elephants in this park are rescued and have undergone immense physical torture while they were trained and tamed before they were brought into this rescue park. Interacting with these gentle creatures in the park is a wonderful experience and I am sure you’ll enjoy every moments spent there.
Underwater adventure – The best part of being in Thailand is that you can swim and snorkel for hours or sail away through the emerald-green sea to scuba dive and experience the magics of the underwater world. The Andaman Sea around Phi Phi island is amazingly clean, serene and rich with colorful corals and marine life and probably is the best place to snorkel or dive. You can buy a boat ride from Phuket or Krabi mainland to Phi-Phi islands for experiencing a life changing diving experience. For snorkeling or diving, if you are not carrying your own equipments, there are plenty of shops that rent them out. If you buy an island hopping day trip ticket by boat, the travel agencies would lend you the required supplies. For the beginners it is wise to know the basics of snorkeling and the local guides would help you to learn the techniques. Snorkeling is not difficult as long as you get to know the basic technique of breathing. If you are not a confident swimmer, your guide would lend you a life jacket to ease up the hit-the-sea fear. But I am sure once you dive in, you would forget what fear is for you’d be overwhelmed by the beautiful marine life. If you are going for a scuba or sea diving you’d be given a one or two days training to learn the process of holding your breath underwater and all other sign languages that you’d use while diving. It is advisable to not to travel by flight within 48 hours of diving as it increases the risk of decompression sickness. So plan your travels accordingly. Make sure that you do not touch or step on the corals and other sea creatures or do not ever feed the fish. The purpose of diving is only to enjoy the underwater life but not to destroy them.
Eat street foods – Thailand offers hundreds of mouthwatering delicacies and the prime tourist spots are full of such eat-streets with food stalls selling various kinds of dishes, most popular being Som Tam or the Green papaya salad, Khao Pad or the Thai style pan fired rice and the famous Pad Thai or the pan fried flat noodles. The streets of Chinatown, Khao San, Bang Rak and Petchaburi are such places in Bangkok where the air is almost always filled with the delicious smell of grilled food and Thai chilli sauces. These streets are usually always crowded and dining here is altogether a very different kind of experience which you should have at least once. Try Sen Yai and Sen Mii rice noodles, Sai Krok Issan, Pla Pao and Gai Bing. Don’t forget to try the delicious desserts such as coconut cream Jelly, Coconut ice cream and Thai Banana treat. On a humid and sunny day, you would be able to find the mobile coconut ice cream carts almost about everywhere.
Visit a floating market – A trip to Bangkok would not be completed without taking a boat ride to one of the many floating markets, the most amazing being Damnoen Saduak. The world famous floating market Damnoen Saduak is a 100 Kms drive from Bangkok city and you have to plan an entire day trip to be there. Hire a Tuk-Tuk or a car to reach there in the morning so that you can utilise your full day enjoying the canals through the mangroves, beautiful local river-side huts, numerous boats selling souvenirs and fresh foods, live musicians, a coconut farm and a handmade art object workshop. These boat rides would last for 6 hours and you can rent a personal small boat for yourself and your family/group at a cost of 2500 Bahts per head approximately. For large groups the per head cost gets negotiable.
Ride a Two-Wheeler – One of the cheapest and most convenient way to travel around the city/town you are visiting in Thailand is riding a 2 wheeler. There are plenty of bike rental shops in almost all tourist spots in Thailand that can rent you a 2 wheeler charged on per day basis. The cost per day starts from 150 Bahts depending upon the model. The roads of Thailand are pretty safe for riding a 2 wheeler and you just need to have your valid driving license from your homeland or even better if you hold an international driving license. If you do not hold a license, you don’t get one in Thailand, and though a lot of tourists ride without a valid license, it is not at all advisable because if you are stopped by the traffic police you’d be in trouble which is going to be quite unnecessary during a vacation. If the bike rental shop asks for any safety deposit of cash or ID cards, make sure that you always opt for some cash deposits and do not hand them over your passport or driving license. Always check if the bike’s registration card is valid or not before renting. A few important rules to follow while you drive a motorbike in Thailand are:
- Wear a helmet
- Do not drink and drive
- Make sure you carry a valid driving license
- In Thailand people drive on the left side of the road, so make sure you know the norms
- Do not speed ride
- Check and validate the bike registration card before renting
- Some rental places offer insurance coverage on physical damage and it is advisable to take one if you are renting for a longer time at a cost of 50 to 100 Bahts.