Thailand is one of the most visited countries by tourists around the globe as it is home to picturesque turquoise beaches, magnificent temples, mouth-watering street food, and rich culture.
The Thai currency is Thai Baht and you can easily exchange at the bank counters at the airport. We lost a major amount during currency conversion as the rate for the day was low. Try to convert from authorized Forex counters from India itself when there is no major fluctuation in currency rates and you may also use your debit or credit card whenever possible. Also, don’t convert bulk amounts in a single stretch unless the rates seem ok. Thai Baht is nearly 3 times our Indian Rupee.
Thailand Visa: People from the India/ Indian passport holders who are visiting Thailand for Tourism can avail a 15-day visa when you enter Thailand by air. Visa on Arrival service is available at the Immigration checkpoints. You have to pay a nominal fee of around 2000 Thai Bhat per person for visa on arrival facility. During the water festival season, the Thai government had waived off fees paid by visitors for visas on arrival. You will have to produce your passport, flight tickets, accommodation booking, proof of sufficient funds, photograph along with the visa application form. Please note that you have to stand in the long queue line and it took around 2-3 hours for visa clearance. I could see a lot of tourists from China.
Thailand is safe but beware of scammers there and just be a little bit cautious. One tip that I would like to share is that never leave home without travel insurance. As mentioned earlier, we didn’t pay any visa fees due to the holiday season and water festival. We booked our flights on Goibibo and chose Thai Air Asia for arrival and Indigo for departure. Our arrival was at Don Mueang International Airport DMK airport and departure from Phuket International Airport (HKT). Thailand is well connected by air and has nearly ten airports. Two-way travel tickets cost approximately INR 45,000 for two persons. Most flights fly to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) as well.
We visited Bangkok and Phuket on this travel and spent around two days in each place. In Bangkok, we stayed in Baiyoke Boutique Hotel, 3 stars located in the Pratunam area. It is nearby Baiyoke Sky Hotel. The area around the hotel was not very clean but the hotel is in a central location and all the main tourist attractions in the city are easily accessible from this hotel. The hotel was crowded when we entered and we had to wait for 3-4 hours in spite of early check-in request. The hotel accommodated us in the reception area and we could keep our luggage also safe. Nevertheless, the staffs were friendly. The rooms were spacious and comfortable considering the amount we paid. The reason we chose this hotel is early check-in/check-out facility for an additional cost, location and Indian restaurants nearby. There are so many shopping areas nearby. We stayed at Sunset Beach Resorts in Phuket. Accommodation costs INR 1500-4500 Per day and we used booking dot com for our staying needs. You can make use of the discount coupons available online to save a few bucks.
For conveyance, we used Grab app and we found it very convenient. GrabTaxi offers a convenient online taxi booking service in Thailand. Rides within the city cost us 50-200 Baht each time one way depending on the distance. Never ride in Tuk Tuks as they tend to cheat you and charge 3X more than Grab. You can also try Songthaew (red jeep) or local transportation buses. We found a very kind-hearted and well-behaved driver during our trip and if you are in Thailand you can call him for your transport needs (Ping me for his contact details). You can easily rent a two-wheeler also. Transportation from one place to the other is comparatively easy in Thailand. Thailand is well connected by sky BTS stations also.
While in Bangkok, we dined at Madras Darbar Hotel which serves authentic Indian food. This Food cost us around 300 Baht each time. Thai cuisine is world-famous and people love street food there. Unfortunately, I am a vegetarian and I couldn’t enjoy much. I really liked the variety of yummy fruits, drinks, pastry, and ice creams though. I had Indian dishes while in Bangkok but I had to survive with noodles, pizza, and milkshakes while in Phuket. I also enjoyed a variety of cocktails. If you’re a massive foodie, I recommend you go on a food tour.
In Thailand, Loi Krathong and Songkran are two festivals with significant celebrations and I am glad I got to experience at least once. Songkran is the Thai New Year’and is known as “Water Festival Thailand”.
For those of us looking to stay connected throughout the trip, buying a prepaid SIM card as a tourist is a necessity. There are three cell networks operating in Thailand – dtac, AIS, and TrueMove. I purchased dtac’s Happy prepaid services. Data allowances were generous, and we got pretty decent speeds and good coverage almost everywhere. Purchasing the sim was very easy. The cell companies have booths in the arrival hall of airports. Happy Sim cost us 100 Bhat. I got a SIM in under a minute.
Coming to the packaging, we carried two backpacks with breathable light weighted clothes, swimming shorts, sunscreen, basic personal care essentials like towels, soap, shampoo and toothpaste/brush, mobile and charger, documents, medication, bank cards, basic fashion/style accessories and a pair of sunglasses. Only Hand Luggage up to 7kg per person was free in Thai Air and you have to pay extra for cabin luggage or if the weight exceeds. Indigo gives 15kg Cabin + 7Kg hand Luggage. Travel Light if you don’t want to pay extra. Also, do not carry any sharp objects, combustible items, and liquid items above 100ml.
The best time to visit Thailand is between the months of November to February. Weather is usually cool during this period. If you visit between March to May, be ready to witness soaring hot temperatures. Thailand experiences offseason between June to October when it rains. We visited during April and the climate was tropical and humid. That is a perfect time to hit the beach though you will get tanned.
Do’s & Don’ts:
- Be polite. I loved the Thai hospitality. People were good and helping everywhere in Thailand except for few scam shopkeepers and tuk-tuk drivers.
- Respect their culture and go covered to sacred places. No disrespect to the Royal family in any way
- Keep your things with you safe especially in busy tourist areas.
- Please feel free to call the Tourist Police for any assistance needed.
- Don’t trust any strangers.
- Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or expensive watches. They tend to draw unwanted attraction
- Don’t get way led by spa massages or any other services.
- Say no to drugs and wildlife/marine parts or products. It’s illegal
- Do bargain and fix a rate before buying anything
- Carry a lot of water to stay hydrated
I had a bad experience at one of those street shops in Patong which got me into an unnecessary argument. The shop keeper lady used sugar coated words, somehow cheated me and sold one of their product for double the cost. After finding out the truth from another nearby shop, I went to the same shop again and the lady behaved rude this time. I had to raise my voices, and finally the cops came. The issue was settled and the cops gave me back a portion of the amount. I would like to mention here that no matter what the provocation, try not to get into any fight with the locals here. You should not forget that you are a foreigner and in a different country. You will never know what will go wrong or what will happen. Stay away from these kind of things and try not to purchase anything if you have any doubts on the shop integrity.
Thats all in this post. I hope you had a quick overview of Thailand Travel covering the key facts and I am sure it will help all first time visitors. Stay tuned for more travel posts on Thailand.