This is a one stop travel guide for your ‘Perfect Thailand Trip’.
After reading this you’ll be knowing everything there’s to know before your Thailand expedition – when to go, places to see, things to do, how to avoid the scams, travel tips, etc.
Everything listed here is based on personal experiences and is guaranteed to give you a hassle free ‘the perfect trip’ experience.
1.Best Time to Visit Thailand
Thailand is a popular tourist destination all year round. Although tourists numbers fall most in September and October when monsoon is on full swing.
November to February: This is the best time to visit Thailand:. Weather is cool and dry. Avg temperature is 20*C. Christmas and New Year celebrations are an icing on the cake.
March to May: Weather is extremely hot especially in the north. Avg. temp. 40*C. It is still a good time to visit S-W islands (Phuket, Krabi, etc.) where avg. temp. Is 20-30*C. SongKran festival is a big tourist attraction in April.
June to October: Its monsoon season in Thailand and a low season in Thai Tourism. In September and October monsoon is on full swing and various services including ferries and island tours may be closed. Although at this time everything from flights to hotels to bars are cheap.
The Thai counterpart of Holi ,it is an annual festival that takes place between April 13th to 15th every year to celebrate the traditional New Year in the country. An event where people drink, dance, and play with water. If you are planning trip in April, don’t miss Songkran.The best and the wettest would be in Chiang Mai. Other popular destinations for this festivals are Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.
2. Places to go in Thailand
Pick destinations that suits your taste.
Thailand has a lot to offer rich culture, beautiful temples, and scenic beaches, bustling nightlife, adventure sports. It will give an experience of a lifetime whether you are on a family trip or solo or group or honeymoon or on bachelor trip. So pick your destination as per your taste:
Bangkok will give you more of a cultural and commercial experience along with a happening nightlife.
Places to see/ things to do:
- Go for a Khlong (canal) Tour which will take you to top attractions like Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha), and the Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha).
- Enjoy the nightlife at Khao San road/ Paptong/ Nana Plaza/ RCA/ Soi Cowboy.
- The Art in Paradise, 3-D ‘trickeye’ museum great for pictures (is there in Pattaya too).
- Shopping at Khao San Road and Chatuchak Weekend Market (coconut- ice-cream recommended).
Transport in Bangkok: Use BTS train system( fast & affordable), boat buses, buses, tuk-tuks,etc. Preferably book a hotel near a BTS Station.
Pattaya has much to offer beyond its naughty nightlife for which it is known in the world.
- Take a half-day tour of Coral Island along with water-sports, avoid scuba-diving or sea-walking in Pattaya, better do it in Phuket.
- Go for a Pattaya day tour and visit: Floating Market (must have experience, there’s one in Bangkok as well), Underwater World (may skip if not a fan), Art in Paradise Museum (must for families), Nongnooch Pattaya Garden (may skip if not a fan), Sanctuary of Truth.
- Visit Walking Street and Beach road in night for being awestruck with Pattaya’s nightlife (may avoid if with family). Avoid going into the sea on Pattaya Beach, the water is real dirty.
- Pattaya hosts an array of shows, here are some must-see one’s, may choose as per your taste:
- Alcazar show (can also see in Bangkok/Phuket)
- Fantasea Russian show (There’s nudity involved so choose accordingly)
- Thai Show (There’s nudity involved so choose accordingly).
It has stunning sandy beaches, crystal clear sea, rain forest, and beautiful mountains.
- Visit the stunning beaches of Phuket Patong beach, Karon beach, etc.
- Visit Bangla Road, small sis of Walking Street in night to enjoy Phuket nightlife.
- Visit to the Phuket FantaSea cultural theme park.
- Half/ Full day trip to Phi Phi Island by a speed boat is a must. The whole view is picturesque throughout the trip. Enjoy the sight of limestone cliffs, discover hidden bays, chill on white sand beaches en-route, indulge in snorkeling, the view of the greenish sea is just breathtaking.
- Phuket offers one of the best scuba-diving experience in south-east asia. You may do it on the Phi Phi island tour itself, if it’s your first dive.
- May stay overnight on Phi Phi Don to enjoy the wild beach parties (especially full moon parties).
- James Bond Island Tour: The island located in the Phang Na Bay is famous since the James bond 1974 Classic ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ . The experience is as amazing yet different from the Phi Phi Tour as you canoe through caves and inner lagoons, admire the limestone cliffs and stop on island en route to chill out.
From limestone cliffs to some of the world finest beaches, Krabi is a must-see when in Thailand. There’s a thriving nightlife scene and a stretch of golden beach surrounded by stunning natural scenery.
- Chill on Railay beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand.The towering limestone cliffs are perfect for rock climbing.
- Party through the night in soi RCA.
- Soak in the nature at Khao Yai and Ao Luek Tai waterfalls. You can even cool down at the Krabi Tiger Cave Temple, Wat Kaew Korawaram, and Wat Sai Thai.
- Go island hopping on the small islands around Krabi.Visit the Mu Ko Lanta and Than Bok Khorani national parks.
- Swim in the emerald pool that changes colour depending upon the time of the day and bathe in the hot water springs.
- Krabi offers Scuba Diving, bungee jumping and rock climbing for you to get high on the adrenaline rush .
2.5 The Eastern Islands
The eastern islands -Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao offer a mini holiday in Thailand itself. If your plan is to explore most of thailand in a week or less, skip them for another time.
How to reach: Take a flight to Koh Samui and further take a boat to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
2.5.1 Koh Samui
- Find beaches of all shapes and sizes, whether you want a more private space or one with water sports and more people.
- Visit the Secret Buddha Garden, the Big Buddha Temple, and the night market at Fisherman’s Village Walking Street.
- Enjoy its nightlife in Chaweng and Lamai, and Koh Samui throws electric Full Moon parties to rival Koh Phangan’s.
2.5.2 Koh Phangan
Is famous for its legendary Full Moon parties that take place once a month. It’s best for the party freaks.
This island off the east coast is set in shimmering tropical water.
- In day chill by its beaches, explore the forested interior of the island with some beautiful waterfalls.
- At Full Moon, head to Hat Rin Beach for the ultimate rave. Fire breathing, glow paint, buckets of cocktails and dancing until dawn on beats of International DJ’s.
2.5.2 Koh Tao
If you are a scuba diving enthusiast then Koh Tao has to be on your bucket list. It has the best and cheapest scuba diving services in the entire country. You can even try a few adventure sports such as cliff jumping and zip-lining while you are here.
2.6 Chiang Mai
In the north of the country,Chiang Mai is the ideal destination for foodie fanatics, anyone looking to find serenity in ancient temples and those looking to get close to nature.
Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple, dating back to the 11th century. Night markets buzz to life as the sun goes down and this is the best place to sample the north’s impeccable food.
The Elephant Nature Park is a memorable experience for an entire family.The park is actually a picturesque animal sanctuary nestled in a lush green valley surrounded by mountains.
Must visit beautiful Wat Rong Khun, or White Temple.
Avoid Chiang Mai in summers and for short Thailand trips.
3. Transportation in Thailand
Getting around Thailand is easy and cheap. Domestic flights are quite inexpensive and the most convenient way to travel around the country if you are short on time else railways is yet cheaper but time taking option. Taking ferries is the best way to get between the islands, and mini-buses (or 15-passenger vans) are the best to travel short distances.
For local travel use BTS in Bangkok (Bangkok’s Metro), Tuk-tuk which is the Thai version of shared auto in India, buses, taxis, mini-buses.
4. Food in Thailand
Thai food is dominatingly non-vegetarian and less spicy, though it is not very tough to find veg and spicy options. Thai street food is pretty hygienic and cheap, it’s the best option if you are on a budget trip.
For Indians, Thai food is not going to feel good to the taste buds. Although there are a lot of Indian restaurants in all the major cities in Thailand, so, there’s nothing to worry about. The cheapest Thali would cost around 200 Baht in most places.
Must Try dishes/ delicacies in Thailand: Pad Thai, Fruit Pancakes, Fried Ice-cream.
5. Budget for Thailand
Thailand attracts travelers with all budgets. Thailand is quiet affordable for everyone whether you are a backpacker, honeymooner or a digital nomad.
A week’s holiday in Thailand would cost around Rs. 30k-40k for a budget traveller and Rs. 50k-1 Lac for a mid range traveller.
Snapshot for general cost:
Flights: From New Delhi to Bangkok: 16k-20k.
Food: Street food: Rs 100 per meal, Budget Indian Food- Rs 500 per meal
Beer : At 7eleven Store: Rs.120/ 600ml
Thai Massage: Dry Massage: 200 Baht , Oil Massage: 300 Baht
6. Scams in Thailand
Tourists face various types of scams in Thailand. Popular ones are Jet Ski scam, MotorBike Scam, Gem Scam, Extra Bills Scam, Tuk-tuk scam, hotel scam, get off the bus scam, rigged tax meter scams. There are many more and need a whole article separately but all of them can be avoided with some general precautions:
- Don’t fall for anything free. It’s a trap, you don’t get anything for free in Thailand.
- Don’t take any precious belongings out, keep them in your Hotel locker. Be conscious of your passport, wallet and phone all the time.
- Get the mini-bar in your Hotel emptied on check-in unless it’s a big reputed hotel.
- Always cross-check your bills.
- Before renting anything duly check its condition, take its pictures and acknowledge anything abnormal to the owner.
- Check the fare of bus/Taxi/Tuk-tuk before boarding it, check your ticket, do not de-board anywhere other than your destination. Tuk-tuk are like shared taxis, the fare is generally under 20 Baht.
7. General Tips:
- Visa: Visa on Arrival facility is available for various nationalities including Indians. Once you reach the airport its a 1-2 hour process unless there’s huge rush. Visa On Arrival fee is currently 2000 THB (~Rs. 4400), taking Visa from India would cost Rs.4000, but Visa on Arrival is a more convenient way. Also, in recent years Thai Government have been waiving off the Visa on Arrival fee from mid-November to mid- January. By planning your trip in this period, you can save some good money.
- Currency Exchange: Carry cash in Thai Baht or Dollars (if travelling to multiple countries or for longer periods). ATM’s, forex cards, credit cards and exchanging INR in Thailand can be expensive. Also, carry your home currency for emergencies.
- Travel Sim cards are available at the Bangkok airport itself at standard rates only or you may buy them from 7 eleven stores.
- Pack as less as you can. You’ll not just feel at ease throughout the trip but also save money on check-in luggage.T-shirts and shorts are enough for pretty much everywhere in Thailand, except for Temples where you should prefer jeans respecting local traditions. Also, if you are travelling by air within Thailand, only hand baggage is free up-to 7 kg in budget airlines.
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