‘Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries in South-East Asia’, I had heard this quite a few times from my friend Manisha. Coming from someone who has been travelling solo across the world for the last 6-7 years, you’ve got to take notice (Read about Manisha’s intriguing story and her travel escapades here). She encouraged me to take a trip to Thailand while I was evaluating options between Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Thailand. In retrospect, I feel thankful to her and happy about my choice of destination.
Thailand is indeed a country worth spending plenty of time. During my 9-day vacation which I believe is not enough, I had quite a few good experiences and some learning. In this blog, I will share some useful tips which can help you be better prepared for your trip to Thailand, a unique country!
My Trip to Thailand: Itinerary
- Day 1 & 2: Bangkok (Started from base in the wee hours and landed in Bangkok on afternoon of Day
- Day 3: Krabi, Ao Nang beach (early morning flight from Bangkok)
- Day 4: Ko Phi-Phi Island
- Day 5 & 6: Phuket (late night flight from Phuket to Bangkok)
- Day 7 & 8: Pattaya (Bangkok to Pattaya early morning bus)
- Day 9: Return Flight, back to base.
Best season for a trip to Thailand
Oct to April is considered a good time to visit Thailand. However, I went there in July. It’s a rainy season and considered as an off season for a Thailand vacation. You will have to be prepared for change in plans due to interference by rain gods, but it also means that you get better value for money and choice in accommodation. More importantly, it’s relatively less crowded! However, I felt there were just too many people there for an off season. Don’t blame me for a ludicrous desire to have a beautiful beach, all for myself.
Things to Do in Thailand
It’s hard to put a list around things to do in Thailand as no such list can ever be complete or comprehensive. I read articles and watched videos with such lists. However, during my travel, I missed a quite few of those, deliberately omitted a few others and yet had a great time.
First Tip: Treat the below list and others as reference only and try to curate your own plan.
My top experiences in Thailand
In Bangkok, I really enjoyed my visit to the Benchakitti park. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of greenery and a huge lake. Surprisingly, monitor lizards freely roam around the park, which I found unique about this place.
In Phuket, I had an extremely thrilling and memorable experience at the shooting range. Holding a real firearm and firing is scary and adrenaline pumping at the same time. In India, it’s hard to find this adventure sport in open location. There is a variety of weapons to choose from, including an automatic rifle, let that sink in! For 1000-1200 BHT, it’s a tad expensive but worth it.
In Pattaya, shopping in Pattaya central and food trail in Indian restaurants was fun. There are about 50-60 Indian restaurants in the vicinity of Pattaya beach i.e., on the beach road and the road parallel to it. The place reminds you of Delhi! And of course, a visit to Pattaya sans a visit to a Russian club is like a bagel without cheese spread, incomplete!
At Phi-Phi Island, I took a long tail boat tour, and I floated in the middle of the sea for the first time, and that too at a gorgeous location (near Viking Caves). There was no beach close by, just the unending large swathe of emerald colored water and tall limestone mountains. With a life jacket of-course as yours truly can’t swim to save his life.
In Krabi, Railay West Beach and Phra Nang Cave Beach are mesmerizing. The cafes at the Railay West beach are vibrant and fun. I should have spent more time at these beaches, but I reminded myself that when you are left craving for more, it’s a sign of time spent well.
There is more to Thailand than the commercial blitz it’s known for. I spent my time in the south of the country and 9 days was not enough. North of Thailand is also a great place to explore. Quite a few of travelers I met had a visit of north part of island in their itinerary.
Useful tips for planning a trip to Thailand
- For vegetarians, finding food is a challenge, especially if you consider non-Indian cuisine. While I found limited options in Bangkok, Pattaya was beaming with options in Indian food.
- Fruits, coconut water and Thai desserts are a must try. Here is place I recommend if you are in Bangkok
- I carried a box full of dry fruits which I could munch going around. I would recommend doing that.
Local Travel Within Thailand
- Be prepared to walk a lot, it’s best to explore the city and islands walking around. I walked around 60-65 Km in 9 days. My smartwatch celebrated an early Diwali and I shed around 3 Kgs!
- Use public transport, it’s super clean and inexpensive. I used it within Bangkok, for transfers between Bangkok and Pattaya and for travel to airport from Phuket main island.
- Bike Rentals in Pattaya come at risk of penalty. I was stopped in Phuket and the police reluctantly acknowledged validity of Indian driving license. While in Pattaya, it’s not accepted, and you are required to have an international driving permit.
Card Payments in Thailand
- Unlike India, Cash is the King in Thailand! I had a travel card, from Niyo, which turned out be more nuisance than convenience (separate story). Everywhere I paid with card, 3% extra was charged as shopkeepers are reluctant to accept cards.
Luggage & Shopping
- Tiger Balm and Ya dom inhalers are the best buys in Thailand. These are very effective and worth trying.
- You will find a lot of options to buy inexpensive clothing like first copy of branded t-shirts, printed party shirts, shorts etc. Of course, plenty of shopping options in women clothing, especially traditional prints. Avoid carrying too many clothes from base location.
- Don’t carry talcum powder or liquid above 100 ml in your hand baggage, I had to trash a deo and talcum powder.
Popular places you can avoid in Thailand
- In my view, it’s ok to avoid Ao Nang (Krabi) and Patong beach (Phuket). For spending leisure time, I highly recommend Railay beach (Krabi) and Karon beach (Phuket) as alternate options.
Ready to Pack your bags for a Trip to Thailand?
I hope this post gives you a different perspective of Thailand and encourages you to curate your own experience. I would love to hear what you experienced or plan to do in your trip to Thailand. You can connect with me for any additional tips on local travel, flights, accommodation etc. Happy Thailand-trotting, Cheers!