People travel for all sorts of reasons – some do it seeking adventure, others do it in search of themselves. When I travel, I look for specific places to be that suit what I’m feeling at the time. The first time I went to Thailand, I had one thing in mind – to look for and follow the bright lights of the big city. I had many friends who went before me, and from what I heard, it was exactly what I was searching for.
Upon the end of that trip, however, I was stuck in amazement. It had been so much more than nightlife, skyscrapers and cheap, delicious food. What I found was a well-mixed cocktail of parties, culture, food, personalities, and good vibes. Therefore, on my subsequent trips to this wondrous land, I made sure to build upon my experiences and plan accordingly.
Let me share some of my best tips to planning a trip to Thailand with you so that your visits to this unique culture will yield all it has to offer.
Do You Need a Visa?
International travel is always daunting for a whole host of reasons, from loss of luggage to the breaking down of communications due to language barriers. Thailand is no different with its different rules starting from the port of entry.
That is why you need to be thorough when it comes to booking your transport and the subsequent documents you may or may not need to enter. 52 countries are included in the visa waiver list, but the number of days you are allowed in the country may differ depending on how you enter the country. Make sure to check here for the absence or presence of your country on the list.
What Else Do You Need for Smooth Travel?
Make sure your passport is valid through the dates you are planning travel for, plus six months after your exit from Thailand. Thailand is a shopping haven, have you remembered to purchase extra baggage for the trinkets and souvenirs you will buy?Did you have a good daypack or duffel bag? What is or is not allowed to be brought into and out of Thailand?
In the end, it is ease of travel that everybody is after. The harder and more thorough you plan, the chance of you having extra unnecessary cost are minimal, freeing up much more for your travel.
Where Do You Plan to Go?
Thailand is a big country. There are 32 cities and many more towns and townships, spanning over 500,000km2. Unless you have many months to traverse the entire country, plan for a city (or two, maximum) for you to explore. Thailand is a country full of culture and color and rushing through the process will make your travel very unfulfilling.
If you plan on going to popular tourist locations, make sure to check if booking is required – pre-booking can be the difference between entry or otherwise. Many places in Thailand, especially if you are planning on temple hopping (where you can see a lot of Thai good luck symbols), do not require bookings; my top tip for those places is definitely to choose a weekday to visit for minimal crowds.
Where Will You Stay?
Whether your budget is suited to the larger, more luxurious hotels or the smaller backpacker-oriented hostels, Thailand has it all. Map out your budget and plan for excess and emergencies, and use whatever’s left for your accommodation.
Be sure to do adequate research into the place you will be staying in for independent reviews as those are invaluable. Before I make a trip and am in the process of choosing accommodation, I trust the guest reviews on independent websites more than I do the number of ‘stars’ each hotel holds. While ‘stars’ are an indication of the place’s standards, it is but an indication. Safety is paramount.
Where Are You Headed Next?
These days, there is an increase in people doing travel routes from country to country. Most of Thailand is connected to other South East Asian countries, making this very convenient. If you have already mapped out your travel through the region, make sure to plan your Thailand trip in the correct order to reduce unnecessary travel and hassle.
Again, be sure to check about visa requirements and prerequisites of both Thailand and your previous and following destinations!
Now that I have you asking the appropriate questions for and about Thailand, it is time to go into the semantics of planning this trip. It will be different for everyone, but these are the steps I take every time I choose to travel there.
Research & Answer All The Above Questions
Asking without answering is fruitless, so take the time to find out the appropriate answers. If you enter via a land port, chances are that your allowed time will be half of what you are allowed had you entered by air. If you are going to spend a lot of time at a local market and the shops around it, you may want to consider having your accommodation close by.
Safety is so important when you travel to Thailand, as it is inherently not the safest place to be. However, if you do take the appropriate precautions, your travel to this wonderful, culture-rich land will be fun-filled and satisfying. As such, make sure to purchase travel insurance so that there can be absolute peace of mind!
Book Your Tickets & Accommodation Early
The earlier you make the decisions, the lower the prices can be. Thailand is inherently a very popular tourists’ destination, so making decisions early will also help reduce the chances of disappointment. Plus, the earlier you do make those choices and ask the questions, the more time you will have to correct them if something goes wrong or make changes if there is any dissatisfaction.
You will be surprised at the deals and steals you can find if you begin your search early enough.
Learn About The Language & Culture
There is absolutely no need to go too in-depth when it comes to learning about the language or the culture as you will likely pick things up along the way. However, you should really learn the simple things, like ‘Hello’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘How much is this’. Learn about the dos and don’ts of the Thai people and how best to be respectful.
It is pretty obvious to the locals whenever I go that I am not one of them. Their faces do light up when they see I make the effort, however, and it seems to go down a storm with them. Most of the locals are able to speak English as they see many travelers pass by their shores, and out of respect for the people you should learn some of their languages before you travel there, too.
As mentioned before, many people have been to Thailand from all over the world; you will likely have friends who have been there! Find some burning questions and direct it at the people in your life who have been to Thailand and you will find your trip a lot less stressful.
Unable to get the answers you seek? Fret not! The Thai are a friendly, respectful people who will likely understand English. Most will be more than happy to help another friendly face! Failing that, you will probably bump into a friendly face at any of the popular tourist attractions, and you can find your answers there. Nothing beats personal experience.
Make Sure Your Exit from Thailand Is By Air
This makes Thailand’s visa rules quite unique from most other countries. A land exit from the country, for example, a bus ticket, does not count at the port of entry and you will likely be denied entry. There needs to be an air ticket with a specific date and destination for the visa-waiver to be activated at the port of entry. Ensure you have this handy before you leave for Thailand.
Call your local Thai Embassy for any further questions on this/to find out if exemptions can be made for you.
Thailand calls my name almost every time the topic of travel comes about as it is able to provide so much of what I seek. With every trip I make to this beautiful country, I come back a little richer, be it in knowledge, culture or pure, unadulterated fun.
That is why I put pen to paper on this short list, as I hope to inspire you not only to visit Thailand but also be prepared and plan well for it. Meticulous planning leads to a trouble-free travel, which is truer in Thailand than anywhere else. Plan and research and you will be rewarded for it!
Hopefully, this piece is useful to you. If you have been to Thailand and believed I missed something important, let me know in the comments below; and if you know of someone planning to head to Thailand themselves, share this with them so they can be prepared too! Have a safe trip!