Let’s Plan a Trip to Thailand – An Exotic Beach Paradise
Thailand is a spectacular concoction of sacred spaces, adventure-filled forests, paradisiacal beaches and groovy night clubs. There is so much about this beautiful country to discover, that a single trip can hardly be enough to explore everything that Thailand offers. And with all the touristy places that you may want to visit, there is the pleasure of enjoying authentic Thai Food which remarkably resonates the culture of the country in its dishes – refreshing, flavourful and colourful. Thailand brings exhilaration for the hedonistic traveller and peace to the soul searcher. From its majestic mountains to its fantastic beaches, Thailand’s charm lies in its landscapes, the smiles of the people as you walk past them, the glitter of the resplendently ornate ‘wats’, and the immensely satisfying Thai food. Whether you are looking for a luxurious getaway or an affordable backpacker’s weekend, Thailand will not disappoint you.
Here’s what you need to do to prepare for your trip to Thailand:
Visa on Arrival is available for Indian citizens who travel to Thailand. The visa will be valid for 15 days for a fee of approximately 1000 THB. On the other hand, you can obtain visa in India for almost the same fee and your visa will be valid for 30 days.
I’ve always believed in planning in advance when we travel abroad. Not only does it give you the chance to prepare for your trip, but it also helps you get better rates for travelling to the country. Flights are usually more affordable when you plan in advance. There are quite a few flights that can take you to Bangkok, Thailand from Bengaluru. Since Bangkok is the most common point of entry to the country, we chose Air Asia for a flight to and from Bangkok.
The flight taking us to Bangkok involved a 3 hour 45 minute journey while the return flight was 3 hour 20 minutes long. Our itinerary includes visits to the glittering temples, enjoying water sports at the beaches, exploring the untouched beauty of remote regions, pampering our body to traditional Thai spas and rejuvenating ourselves by taking time away from our hectic schedules to live like there were no worries.
The element of exhilaration that is often very closely associated with travelling can easily turn undesirable if we do not take steps to keep ourselves safe during the trip.
• The biggest and most important travel tip for anyone travelling to a new country is to make sure that they have travel insurance. Travelling often affects our health especially when we experience sudden climatic changes. There may also be accidents and mishaps; when they happen, travel insurance can be of great help for you.
• Thailand is a traveller-friendly country. You will mostly come across people with warm smiles on their face and a friendly attitude towards tourists, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. The Tourism Authority of Thailand advises tourists to refrain from taking up any offers of free shopping or sightseeing help from strangers.
• It is best to read a bit about the local customs and laws of the area in Thailand that you are travelling to. Throughout the country ensure that you actions or the choice of colour of your clothing does not disrespect the royal family, and if you are planning to visit temples then be appropriate attired.
• Research on the place that you are going to stay at. This will help you understand how far it is from the airport, and how easy it is to get other modes of transportation to and from the place. You may also want to check the proximity of the place to other places that you are planning on visiting.
Experience has taught me that great accommodation deals usually come packaged with flight deals. Search the internet for the best package that you can get. Make sure the accommodation you choose is according to your requirements. I am still considering my choices between a hotel, a homestay and a resort. Just like flight deals, it is best to make reservations in advance to avoid being overcharged for your stay. If you are booking the hotel separately, then look for a hotel which is located centrally so that you can easily move around the city when it comes to sightseeing.
Other Essential Information
Time Zone Difference
Thailand is 1 hour 30 minutes ahead of India. I find it particularly easy to set the time on my wrist watch according to the place where I am going to. While I depend on my smartphone for checking the time too, I feel that wristwatches are more reliable.
Thai Time = GMT +7
When to Go and Weather
Thailand experiences tropical weather throughout the year. Cooler climes begin from November and last until March. This is seen as the best time to visit Thailand. The temperatures are comfortable to enjoy a splash in the beach, tour the temples and visit other attractions. The rainy season sets in towards the middle of July and continues until October. Boat rides may get cancelled, and you may have to be a little flexible with your travel plans because the weather can get stormy at times. The months of April, May and June are hot and dry. While the sea breeze provides some reprieve to travellers visiting the temples, going around the city may not be as enjoyable in the hot weather.
The official currency of Thailand is Thai Baht (THB)
1 THB = 2 INR or 1 USD = 35 THB (approximately)
The major cities and towns in Thailand are receptive to travellers which is why most of the restaurants, hotels and stores will willingly accept credit cards. ATMs are also available at most of the tourist places making it easy for travellers. Some remote areas of Thailand may not accept credit cards, so if you would like to explore the lands less travelled then carry cash with you.
Depending on your budget and the way in which you would like to experience the country, you can choose from travelling by bus, car, motorbike, trains, boats or tuktuks. Rented cars and bikes are a great way to travel around the cities but you will require a valid international driving permit and some may even ask for you to show your passport. You must be careful on the road if you are driving a rented bike or car. Read up on the road rules to be aware of the general regulations of Thailand when it comes to driving.
Thailand’s markets are popular not just for the dresses and shoes, but also for the food and ingredients they sell. If you are renting a bungalow with a kitchenette and you plan to cook on your own then head to the markets for local supplies and you will not be disappointed. Thailand’s floating markets are known for fresh supplies including fresh vegetables, fishes, fruits and flowers. The night market is more popular for fashion shopping. While the local stores are great for shopping if you want to go to someplace more organized then head into one of the malls.
Charging PCs and Gadgets
If you plan to stay connected to the rest of the world through your laptop, smartphone and other gadgets, then you must make sure that you find out about the electricity in the country you are travelling to. Thailand uses 220V AC electricity which is the same as India. This means that if your gadgets are built for this power then you should have no problems charging your devices or powering them using an electrical socket at your hotel. Since the wall sockets may differ, all you may want to invest in is an adaptor to help you connect to the wall socket.
How to Call Internationally
The country code for Thailand is +66. If you are going to make a local call, then remember to add a 0 before calling any local number since all Thai phone numbers are preceded by a 0. If someone calls from overseas, then the 0 is omitted. To call a Thai number you must enter the country code followed by the three-digit provincial code and then the phone number.
66 + provincial code + phone number
Purchasing a SIM Card
If you want to buy a local SIM, then the best way to go about it is by buying a phone that has a local SIM in it. You will find it difficult to find a prepaid SIM. A SIM can cost you as less as 50 THB and you can buy recharge cards for a minimum of 10 THB. The most popular service providers in Thailand are AIS, DTAC and TrueMove. The country has 4G as well. You may want to do some online research on the different carriers and their rates before you choose one for yourself. Phones with SIM cards can be bought at various stores across the country. You will also find a store at the airport.
If you do not have to worry about staying connected with the rest then you can always skip the SIM card and enjoy your trip without worrying about your phone ringing constantly. Most of the hotels and homestays have Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can use the Wi-Fi to talk to your loved ones back home.
Since Wi-Fi is easily available at the hotels and homestays or guesthouses, internet connectivity may be limited only when you are outdoors. There are a few internet cafes in Thailand which you can visit but with Wi-Fi becoming more common, the cafes are gradually disappearing. If you have bought a SIM card then you can get a data pack so that you can enjoy internet on the go as well.
You are now all set to explore the effervescent Kingdom of Thailand!