Planning a Trip to Thailand: What You Need to Know

May 22, 2013 by

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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.

Koh Phi Phi Sunset

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.

Hilarious sign at the Full Moon Party

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).

Accommodation in Thailand

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.

Olly Enjoying a Fish

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!

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About Matthew Barby

There are few things that Matt loves more than to be sitting on a sunny beach with a cold beer, listening to a bit of Joy Division. Alongside this he's a big food-lover and a seasoned pescetarian, a complete Twitter-whore and spends far too long in front of the mirror in the morning. Get in touch with Matt through Twitter, Google+ or on either his pescetarian food blog or his digital marketing blog.

  • Nice information. I’d also like to add that the first 4 items on packing list can be found here easily. And for the ladies, a scarf is sooo useful. Great for extra warmth in those freezing buses and trains – also quick coverup when heading into a temple/wat. Cheers!

    • Great points Lani, thanks :) You’re right about the buses/trains, even though it’s boiling hot outside, it feels like you’re in Greenland when your on one of the trains!


  • Aaron Hamm

    I arrive in BKK in one week. I will be searching for an english job. My question is in regards to a visa. I have not had a chance to apply for one in the U.S before leaving (not enough time)……..what are my options upon entering customs…..I plan on getting a teaching job and staying longer than one month (tourist visa) dont want to cause trouble with my visa for going in on a tourist visa but then reapplying for a non imm b after getting a job……………suggestions????????
    Thank you for your time.

    • Alex

      Hi Aaron , I have worked in Thailand for a year now. What you need to do is : You go to the country with your tourist visa , once you are in the country you apply for a job. The school will handle your working visa.They will ask you for documents like police clearance etc. After you get the job you will go on something they call a visa run. You will cross the closest border then return on a new non imm b visa. Thailand is nothing compared to the U.S. The border control is very relaxed and actually very corrupt ( which will work in your favour if your documents aren’t right). Always remember , in Thailand , money talks…a lot.


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  • Nicole Baxby

    Hi – we have paid for all of our accommodation and travel for our trip to Thailand in January. Can you give me an idea of how much we will spend per day on food?

    • I does vary depending on the area that you’re visiting. If you eat Thai food then it will be a lot cheaper than western food (usually around half the price). In general, for a Thai meal you’re looking at between 80-130 Baht (£1.50-2.30).

      If you factor in breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack then you’re likely to spend around 350 Baht (~£6.70). This all depends on how much you budget, of course, but yoou could easily live on that budget :)

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  • Johan

    Hello me and 2 friend are going to thailand to teach english but we dont have a degree, will it be easy finding a job as we only got our tefl 120 hours.
    Please any advise will be appreciated

    • Krungtep Look

      No it will be almost impossible to work with no degree . . .

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  • zett

    I just want to ask about going to Thailand…I am working here in Abu Dhabi and I have plan to go on holiday in Thailand next month.. I am Filipino citizen and my flight will be coming from Philippines ,the thing is I have no idea what will I need to bring there while entering that country aside from passport of course? Do I have any fees to pay in the immigration or what? Thanks