So you’re planning your round-the-world trip, a backpacking tour or just a few weeks away in the Thailand sun. Whatever your reasons for visiting this wonderful country, it’s always nice to have an understanding of what you can expect once you arrive. Luckily for you, I spent some time in Thailand and have some valuable advice and information that could save you a lot of headaches once you’re there and, if anything, give you a general perspective on the Thai way of life.
Do You Need a Visa to Enter Thailand?
Depending on how long you wish to stay and for what reasons you’re visiting Thailand will determine whether you need to apply for a visa or not.
If you’re reasons for travel are solely tourism and you have entered the country via an international airport then you will be able to stay in Thailand for a maximum of 30 days without applying for a visa. If you’re travelling via land across the Thai border (i.e. via bus, train or car) then you will only be permitted 15 days without gaining a visa.
If you’re planning on staying longer than 30 days then you need to apply for a tourist visa. These come in three different forms:
- Single Entry – you are allowed to stay 60 days in the country with the option of extending this by an extra 30 days by paying at immigration.
- Double Entry – you get an initial 60 days with the option to extend it by 30 days then you are able to gain an extra 60 days (plus the extendible 30 days) by crossing the border of Thailand and coming back again.
- Triple Entry – this is just like the double entry visa but you have the ability to do a third set of 60+30 days in the country.
How Welcoming are the Thai People to Tourists?
In general the Thai people are a pleasure to be around and they are very welcoming to tourists, especially on the Southern islands where tourism is their major source of income. The attitudes of the Thai nationals do vary through the different areas of the country though.
Personally, I found the most pleasant people to be around were those in Chiang Mai (the North of Thailand), who were very friendly and always looking to help you out. Koh Phangan, on the other hand, had to be the place where the Thai residents were least hospitably to tourists. I don’t really blame them because it’s where the Full Moon party is held and is full of drunken foreigners hell-bent on getting laid and being as lairy as possible. As a result, there are a lot of scams that happen there; myself being a victim, along with the rest of the group, to the inevitable overcharging of taxi fares. My advice would be to ensure you never travel alone on the island and be always pay for taxi journeys at the end instead of when you get in.
The Thai people mostly have very good English and if you come across someone trying to sell you something that doesn’t seem to speak any English they are usually a lot more linguistically competent than you may think! The only real phrase that we used is ‘kap kun kap’ (if you’re male) or ‘kap kun kaa’ (if you’re female), which means ‘thank you’. You can usually just say ‘kap’ or ‘kaa’, depending on you’re gender, and this will be fine. Try not to get these mixed up because you don’t want to seem like a lady-boy!
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What’s the Accommodation Like and How Much Does it Cost?
Like with many aspects of travelling through Thailand, prices and quality vary across different the areas. When we were down the South coast it was a lot more expensive than up North and inland, except Bangkok. Based on a standard double room, at the time of writing, here’s some rough ideas of average prices you can expect to pay in the different regions of the country:
- Bangkok – 700 Baht / £16 (fan room) / 1,000 Baht / £22 (air-con room).
- Koh Tao – 800 Baht / £18 (fan room) / 1,200 Baht / £26 (air-con room).
- Koh Phangan – 850 Baht / £19 (fan room) / 1,600 Baht / £35 (air-con room).
- Ko Phi Phi – 600 Baht / £14 (fan room) / 900 Baht / £20 (air-con room).
- Koh Chang – 450 Baht / £10 (fan room) / 750 Baht / £17 (air-con room).
- Chiang Mai – 500 Baht / £11 (fan room) / 700 Baht / £16 (air-con room).
What’s the Food Like in Thailand?
The Thai cuisine has to be my favourite of all. Sampling it over in Ko Phi Phi had to be the best place that I ate any though. A little restaurant called Papaya served me up the best curry, and quite possibly the best dish, of my entire life.
The cuisine, as you can imagine is largely focused around rice and curry combinations. The curries come in the form of either soups or fried curries (ones that have been reduced down and have less liquid in them) and will usually cost you around 80 Baht (£2). Don’t worry if you’re not good with spicy food because not all the curries are spice and often contain copious amounts of delicious coconut milk.
If you’re really not a fan of the food then don’t worry either, Western food is readily available across all parts of Thailand. You will often pay double the price of Thai food, which still isn’t that expensive, and be able to get a full English breakfast, a burger, pasta or pizza, along with loads of other stuff. If all else fails then you can take a trip to one of the many 7/11 supermarkets and get yourself something basic to eat there on the cheap.
What Should I Definitely Bring With Me to Thailand?
If I had to recommend some essential items to bring with you then this would be a brief list of them:
- Anti-mosquito spray (and lots of it!)
- Antihistamine tablets/Hydrocortisone cream
- Wet wipes
- High-factor sun cream
- A photocopy of your passport
- Waterproof bag (10 litre capacity)
- The Kayak app for your smartphone
Hopefully this gives you some good advice for travelling over to Thailand and if you have any recommendations of your own then be sure to leave a comment in the box below!