Visit and Discover Differently
Thailand is rich in landscapes and tourist destinations not to be missed. Beaches, park, and jungles in the south, mountains in the north, waterfalls, caves, hiking, indigenous ethnic groups, the golden triangle. The rice fields and national park in the center, the Mekong in the east, not to mention the Isan country the largest region that covers a third of the country, the overlooked in terms of tourism, which, however, is not without attractions. Beautiful Khmer temples and countryside, folklore, but above all a very welcoming population.
It is true that today Thailand has become a mass destination, the year of my first trip to Thailand welcomed about 1, 800,000 tourists/year, today nearly 40 million. I remain convinced by my experiences that this country remains to be visited and discovered differently and that it is possible to meet the population and to know more about this country in a few weeks. As you plan your vacation, think not only about what you’d like to visit and do now but also what you’ll enjoy later. Be bold in your choices and replace rushed sightseeing with travel experiences.
In 2018, tourists from the United Kingdom were about 900.00 and from the United States, more than one million visited Thailand. The Chinese with 11,000,000 is the main tourist market for Thailand. Except for Russia, Asian countries occupy the top ten ranks.
In Bangkok, the BTS and the MRT allow you to access “remote” areas, and to stroll in these districts off the tourist trails, Thonburi temples, Bang Kae area, Phra Kanong, Khlong Toei and of course Rattanakosin. Don’t miss a visit to a floating market.
Take a cooking class. Thai cuisine in itself is not “grand cuisine”, it only takes a few hours with a good chef to learn how to cook a few dishes.
The Real Thailand
Stop in small towns/villages away from tourist destinations, and spend time with the locals. You will be welcomed, learn a few common words/phrases, the smile and the good mood of the Thai people will do the rest.
Stay in a small town in provinces “ignored” by tourists, rent a bike to discover the surroundings, you will encounter people. Take your time, go where the locals go to drink a coffee and eat in small local restaurants to taste the local specialties.
Visit the small local markets which are often the heart of life in villages and small towns.
Visit the small traditional craftsmen and local artists, the northeast is where you will be able to find most of them, but all provinces have their own particularities.
Staying in small local hostels or homestay, not always comfortable but cheap and a change of scenery guaranteed.
A trip out of high tourist season from May to October, yes during the rainy season when the countryside is the most beautiful, fewer tourists and cheaper hotels.
Unplug your Smartphone and live at the moment.
Travel the old-fashioned way without a “GPS” smartphone or turn it off. This will sometimes lead you to ask the locals for directions and a more adventurous feeling and accidentally discover places you never thought you’d visit. Write a daily diary of your feelings and if you’re good at drawing, a notebook, and of course photos.
Go by Train rod faï
Punctuality is not the first quality, slow and a little more expensive than buses, however, for long journeys, the train is more practical and comfortable (sleeper) than the bus. There is a restaurant car, and you can order and be served at your place. Booking in advance is recommended especially during holiday periods and Thai festivals, especially for the destinations Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Surat Thani. Bring a sweater – air conditioning is often too strong.
The traveler who really wants to know Thailand and Thai people, it is advisable to travel in 3rd class, forget the comfort and air conditioning, the cars are without windows. Saleswomen go up at each stop (many) to sell their local specialty, a good atmosphere. Ideal from Bangkok for short trips to Ayuthaya, Lopburi, Nakon Phatom, Chachoengsao, Kanchanaburi. Taking the train is still an experience to live.
Due to cheap flights, the bus is less used than a few years ago but is still a cheap and popular means of transport to get around the country. For long distances, you will find day or night routes and different classes and operators of buses, choose the more expensive but more comfortable VIP. The Green bus company and Sombat tour have a good reputation. As the train it is better to plan small wool and to book in advance, the trips are long and tiring and despite the fact that they go almost everywhere I recommend the plane for long distances, and if you book early you will find really “. Book Cheap Flights.
Buses and Local Transport
Ride the local bus (not air-conditioned) to get around a big city, or songthaews also called Rod Daeng (red car in Thai) for short distances, often located near the market, tell the driver where you are going before settling down. Each of them has a specific route and fixed rates. They only leave when they are full, either according to a schedule or when the driver decides to leave. Possibility of renting them as private transportation (negotiated). When there are a lot of people, the luggage is placed on the roof, but it can also be left in the aisle or stowed under the seats. Reds are common in large cities. You will also see yellow, blue, and white ones, which are the ones that will take you out of the city, one experience to do if you are not in a hurry.
An alternative to buses depending on your destination prefers the bus but sometimes you may not have a choice. Minivan drivers do not have a good reputation, their income depends on the number of trips they can make daily and accidents are not uncommon.
In theory, the regulations of the Ministry of Land Transport stipulate that minivans cannot travel more than 300 kilometers from Bangkok and are not allowed to exceed 100 km/hour. Each van must be registered and bear a yellow license plate. Recently security checkpoints have been set up to inspect public transport vehicles, but at the same time, the Ministry of Transport has decided to relax the requirement set by the previous government for the replacement of old vans with minibusses.
I am not a biker and therefore never had the opportunity to rent and of course to drive, but all my expat friends use this means of transport and swear by it and sometimes I am the pillion rider. I would just give you some information and my opinion on the subject.
Unless you are an excellent driver and know a little bit about Bangkok, a motorbike is not an ideal means of transportation. The traffic is hellish as well as the pollution and it’s very hot, helmets are mandatory (fine of 500 baht cash if stopped by an officer). It is true that you will see a lot of expats on motorcycles but they know the city and the “codes” of the driving of Thai people.
On the other hand, it is the best way to visit the islands, Koh Samui, Phuket and also in Pattaya and Chiang Mai. Attention, many motorcycle accidents which are numbered by thousands every year. 73% of the deaths on the road in Thailand involve motorcycles and scooters.
It is easy to find motorcycles and especially scooters for rent, especially on the islands. Never leave your passport, let them take a photocopy. Some will ask you to leave a deposit.
Three models of motorcycles 110, 125, and 150CC. Make sure it has a license plate. Inspect it, take pictures/VDO (stripes) in case of the shop when return it makes a damage claim. If there is some damage, don’t try to hide it. Be honest, face the consequences as stated in the contract, and admit what happened. You’ll probably get away with paying a little less by being nice. Usually, the rental cost is 150-300 baht/day, cheaper if you want to rent for a month. Newer models are a little more expensive. Payment in cash.
Reading the news regularly it is not uncommon to see articles of motorcycle accidents from tourists (especially on the islands) who due to lack of proper motorcycle license insurance companies refuse to pay the bills, some of them have no insurance at all. It is therefore strongly advised to check if your contract covers you in case of a motorcycle accident in Thailand.
Rent a Car
I don’t ride a motorbike on the other hand the car I do, although now with the BTS and MRT more and more rarely in Bangkok. I have also traveled to provinces by car, but these days less frequently. Driving in Thailand is on the left, the price of gasoline is not expensive, the roads are generally in good condition, but it is not unusual to find bumpy roads with many potholes. The speed limit in built-up areas is 50 km/h. Outside built-up areas 90 km/h and highway 110 km/h. but no one really takes this into account. Renting a car is the freedom to go at your own pace, to get off the beaten track and to stop wherever you want. If you travel with several people this can be an interesting alternative, a good road map or GPS is essential. Take pictures/VDO of the vehicle before signing the contract. You will need an international driver’s license, and cash for a deposit.
All gas stations have “dek pam” staff. You only have to tell them which type of gasoline you want and how much you want to spend (or “tem” for the full tank).
Be very careful, Thai people have a confusing and sometimes dangerous way of driving. Thailand is the second country in the World (behind Libya) for the number of deaths in road accidents.
Use a comparison site and book online.
Why not Solidarity Tourism
Prepare Your Trip to Thailand
A trip whatever the duration and destination, take your time to study not only the country but also the budget. I remember my first trip to Thailand where only guidebooks, magazines, or travel agencies were the only source, today the internet offers us in a few clicks the possibility to be well-prepared.
Flights Choose Your Dates/Days in the Month
If, you are sure of your travel dates a reservation made at least 3 months in advance will be an additional guarantee to pay less. Domestic flights can also be busy during holiday periods or Thai festivities, so it’s best to book in advance. According to a very recent analysis made by a booking site “For a long-haul flight, booking a flight 51 days in advance and on a Tuesday allows travelers to save up to 42% compared to booking on the day of departure when flight prices are the highest”.
It says that when booking on the Internet, it is best to do so using a private browser window or a cloud browser. The more you search for a route, the higher the prices will be. Companies have trackers that allow you to follow your search and interest in a route. And the price flies away day after day, even within an hour.
Bangkok and the major cities offer many hotels, hostels, guesthouses, resorts. Also, from the same analysis as for a flight, the more you book in advance the lower the rates are, according to this analysis you will save 69% by booking 115 days in advance. Airbnb is illegal in Thailand but remains operational. Owners also are known as Airbnb “Hosts”, can be prosecuted if they rent their properties on a nightly or weekly basis.
Hotels to Rent Late
Agoda, Booking, have free cancellation policies and payment options on arrival. Find an offer that suits you and then make a reservation, while making sure that the policy free cancellation fee is applied. Then check the price evolution. With these sites, it is possible to cancel on the day of arrival, giving you the freedom to wait until your departure before taking a final decision.
Contrary to a flight, it is true that the longer you wait, the more possibilities you have to benefit from better rates. It all comes down to supply and demand. Hoteliers prefer to fill their rooms at more reasonable prices. The goal is to keep them low rather than leaving them unoccupied or having potential customers stay at a competitor’s place. Taking your time and weighing your options also increases flexibility.
Transport Save Time
You can book your train, bus and ferry tickets in advance. Or if you have time on the spot at the train and bus stations.
And the Security?
Thailand is a country where you can travel in peace without major fears. However, there are rules to be respected. Avoid getting involved in conflicts, stay away from youth gangs, don’t fall into the trap of drinking in a local “bistro” if you are invited, it’s nice but Thai people have “means drunk”. Ladies do not wear provocative clothes and do not walk alone in places too far away or isolate yourself on a beach, there have been several unfortunate cases. Respect the Thai people and culture, smile and you will see that your trip will be a memory and an experience you will not forget. Until now, I’ve never had any serious problems apart from a pickpocket, and that was a long time ago.
- Traveling is always risky. A traveler finds himself in unfamiliar environments and unfamiliar to his/her usual lifestyle, making him/her more vulnerable to local scams. Be vigilant and cautious when traveling, make sure you have adequate insurance and inform a trusted colleague, family member, or friend of your whereabouts and activities.
Useful Numbers for Emergency Services
1155 Tourist Police
191 Police General Emergency Call
1669 Medical Emergency
1554 Ambulance and Rescue
In general, pharmacies are open from 9 am to 9 pm
Carefree travel these tips don’t claim to be must-do’s, but they can be helpful.
From experience, it is very common to go on a trip that is too heavy with clothes that you will never wear. Travel light, one piece of carry-on luggage is sufficient (maximum height 55 centimeters, width 35 centimeters, and thickness 25 centimeters). In Thailand, people mostly wear T-shirts and shorts. A pair of Jeans, one pant and two long-sleeved shirts (both for visiting temples) and short-sleeved shirts do the trick. If, you use public transport (BTS, MRT) no problem and embarrassment to get around. Not only will your luggage not be lost by the airline, which can happen, but it will also save you from waiting at the carousel after a long flight.
Copy of your Documents
Store copies of your passport, ID card, and valuable documents in a Dropbox folder so that it can be accessed from any browser in case of loss/theft. Also, make photocopies of your passport and visa that you will keep with you during the trip.
Ballerinas for lady/miss
Ballerinas are the easiest shoes to put on and take off, making them ideal for security checks. Choose a pair with a cushioned sole. Light and flexible, they don’t take up any space. A pair of low socks for the plane to keep your toes warm.
Moccasins, Slippers for men
The male equivalent of ballerinas, soft, breathable, and lightweight, making them an easy choice for long air travel.
Overcoming the Jet lag
When the plane takes off, set your watch to the local time at your destination, and stay awake until an appropriate bedtime. Similarly, when you arrive at your destination, avoid napping until sunset to reset your internal sleep clock, it’s true but not always easy to do.
Small First Aid Kit
Although in Thailand you can easily find pharmacies, in case of small glitches provide a small first aid kit – bandages, antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-diarrheal wipes, and important, anti-mosquito product.
Maybe you Already Know This?
How to treat a mosquito bite? Disinfect the area by applying soap and water or an antiseptic solution.
How to relieve a mosquito bite? Pass a compress soaked in cold water or an ice cube, it temporarily but effectively relieves itching.
A cloth soaked in warm water, heat has a soothing effect on inflammation and pain. One or two drops of eucalyptus on a handkerchief and apply it to the sting.
Aloe Vera is known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and many other plants or essential oils.
If you’re a low-budget backpacker who spends the night in twenty-bed dormitories or a cheap guesthouse, there’s a good chance that at least one snorer or noisy neighbor will keep you awake.
Suitcase or Backpack
In the past, I used to travel with a backpack but not anymore, age probably. The backpack remains the darling of the traveler, and not only among the youngest. There are positive and negative points
Backpack. Hands-free to take pictures and sometimes allows you to run if you’re running late to catch the train, no problem to move around when the ground surface is bad. Less rigid than a suitcase so easier to fit in transport (train, bus). But clothes are always crumpled, constant weight to carry (back pain) and also very hot and gets dirty quickly. Often a negative image of the “cheap Charlie” poor backpacker.
Choose a cabin backpack that opens flat, clothes within reach, storage. Or with wheels.
If, you prefer a hard side and durable with spinner wheels, no crumpled clothes, and looks classy even if you’re in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flop. More difficult to stow in some transports, sometimes not practical to move around on public transport.
A cross-body bag is safer than a shoulder or handbag it avoids the risk of someone grabbing your bag when running or riding a motorcycle.
Be eco-friendly, bring recyclable bags, and local color with a Thermos, this will prevent you from using plastic bags when shopping and throwing plastic bottles.
Whether you choose luxury, backpacker trip, or a tour package, Thailand despite the tourist’s “invasion” is still an attractive destination. This modest site that I continue to build is a personal touch mainly on Bangkok where I live, I invite you to visit it.
A Bit of Thai
Good morning/afternoon –Sawaddee krap for men – Sawasdee ka for women
Thank you – Khop kun krap/ka
Thank you very much – Khop kun mak
How are you? – Kun sabai dee mai?
I am fine thank you – Phom (men) chan (women) sabai dee, kop kun
What is your name? – Khun chue arai krap/ka ?
May I know your name, please? Khosap chue khun dai mai khrap/ka
My name is – Phom (men) chue, chan (women) chue
Yes – Chai krap/ ka
No- Mai chai krap/ka
Sorry – Kothot krap/ka
Do you speak English? – khuṇ put p̣assa ang krid dai mai krap/ka
Water – Naam
Beer – Bier
Bottle – Kuat
Please, many ways to say it. hai noi, chuay, kor
Dai Prod, Karuna – Dai Prod, Karuna are very formal and are not used in everyday conversation. They are used as signs such as please take off your shoes “dai prod or karuna, thot rong tao” that you will see during your visits, or in some shops and other public places.
In a restaurant/store where the staff is young most of the time, I use this version which is common and therefore perfectly acceptable.
I want – Ao. I would like to have (order) I want one bottle of water – Nong krap ao naam neung Kuat.
Please open it for me – Chuay Peut dooay krap
Nong, which translates as younger brother or sister. If older Pee, which translates literally as an older sibling. if you’re not sure of the age a general rule to follow, so as not to offend the person is to address a man as Pee and a woman as Nong.
In the street, if I ask for directions – Kothot krap, where is…?
Where – Teenai krap/ka
Where is the restroom – Hong naam you teenai krap/ka?
Where is the hotel? pee chuay noi krap Rongraem (name) you teenai krap/ka ?
When – Meua rai krap/ka?
I don’t want – Mai ao
How much – Raka tao rai krap/ka
It is expensive – Paeng! very expensive! – paeng mak !
Left – Liao sai
Right – Liao kwoua
Straight ahead – Trong pai
Good luck – Chok dee, often used to wish people a safe journey
Just a few words for everyday life, to learn more you can travel with this good book “everyday Thai for beginners”
From 1 to 10 – Neung, Song, Saam, See, Haa, Hok, Jet, Pet, Kao, Sip.0 Soon
Then learn the tens
10 Sip, 11 sip-et, 12 sip song, 20 yeesip, 21 yeesip-et, 22 yeesip song, 30 samsip, 31, samsip-et, 40 seesip.
Hundred and Thousand
100, neung roy, 101, neung roy neung, etc, 1000, neung pan, 10000 neug mueun, 11000 neung mueun neung pan, 100000 Neung saen, it’s fairly easy.
6 am Hok mong chao, 7 am Jet mong chao, and so on and so forth until noon, Tiang wan.
1 pm, Bai mong, 2 pm, Bai song, 3 pm Bai sam, 4 pm, See mong yen, 5 pm, Haa mong yen, 6 pm, hok mong yen.
Late Evening and Nighttime
7 pm, Neung toom, 8 pm, Song toom, 9 pm Sam toum, 10 pm, See toom, 11 pm Haa toom, Midnight, Tiang keun. 1 am Tee neung, 2 am, Tee song until 6 am
I hope it will be useful for you to plan your next trip to Bangkok.if, you have any questions, I will be happy to help you.
Your messages of encouragement and comments are always welcome.
Chok dee Krap
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