Thailand Travel Basics

Below is a primer on Thailand covering visa requirements, accommodation, food and transportation.

Visa Requirements

Visitors to Thailand must obtain a visa from one of the Thai diplomatic missions unless a) they come from a visa-exempt country or b) one of the countries whose citizens are eligible to obtain visas on arrival.

Thailand currently offers visa-free travel to 57 countries, covering most Western nationals. Now there are some countries, like those from Eastern Europe, that still need visas. In most cases, the visa is issued on arrival at the airport. For a detailed breakdown of countries, visa waivers and visa durations check out the following link.

You should always double check online with the Thai government’s website for visa requirements for your country prior to booking or traveling to Thailand. 

 

Best Time To Visit

High Season: November To March

  • Following the monsoons, the weather is perfect and the landscape is lusciously green.
  • The high season overlaps with Christmas and New Years. So expect to pay premium prices on everything when you visit during this time.

Shoulder Season: April to June, September to October

  • This is a great to time to visit. The weather is generally good, and you avoid the peak season where the islands are overflowing with tourists and everything costs more.
  • Bangkok will be uncomfortably hot and humid. But coastal areas and islands will offer great conditions to enjoy the sand and sea.

Low Season: July to September

  • The monsoon will be in full effect and there’ll be less tourists in the country.
  • You should know that some islands shut down and there may be limited boat service due to stormy weather

 

Accommodations

Southeast Asia is a backpacker’s dream for accommodations. You can easily find rooms in guest houses that rent for 300 THB a night (or less). If luxury travel’s your thing,  don’t worry. Thailand has some of the world’s finest hotels and boutiques offering all the creature comforts you could ever ask for. This is truly a country where both a pauper and a prince can travel and feel like kings.

Below is a break down of the types of accommodations you can find in Thailand:

  • Budget Hostels/Guesthouses:
    • These are shared dorms or basic rooms with no creature comforts: 100 – 400 THB
  • Midrange Guesthouses:
    • These are rooms that offer hotel like conditions. They may include AC, fridge and a safe : 600 – 1000 THB
  • Upscale or Boutique Hotels:
    • You have money and you want to enjoy yourself. There’s a wide range of upscale hotel chains, resorts and rentals you can choose from. Rates start from 3000 THB upwards.


Food

One thing’s for sure. You won’t go hungry traveling through Thailand. There’s much to be had in terms of street food, local delicacies and restaurants; and don’t get me started on the cheap alcohol. Seriously, traveling here will test the boundaries of your gluttony – hopefully in a good way.

Below is a quick guide to how much you should expect to spend on food in Thailand:

  • Basic Thai street food costs around 30 – 50 THB
  • Sit down Thai restaurants, prices can cost from 100 -300 THB (depending on the dishes you order)
  • Bottle of water costs 13 THB
  • Beer (Singha or Chang) from a grocery store is 40 -60 THB
  • Beer from a restaurant or bar is usually priced around 100 THB range

One final note. Prices increase significantly while traveling through popular island locations (Ko Phi Phi is a prime example). These are party destinations and, depending on how much you like to drink, you could easily spend 700 – 1000 THB or more a day.

In Phi Phi they were selling bucket of whisky, vodka and more for 550 THB
In Phi Phi they were selling bucket of whisky, vodka and more for 550 THB

 

Transportation

Getting around Thailand is fairly inexpensive. Within major cities like Bangkok you’ll find plenty of cheap transport including buses and tuk tuks. For long distance you use the ferries to islands and local airlines between cities. Below is a guide to some of the transportation options that you’ll have access to:

  • Local buses: 8 – 20 THB (depending on the route you take)
  • Metro & Skytrain Bangkok: 15 – 50 THB
  • Tuk-Tuks: Normally prices are negotiable, but in Thailand I’ve found the tuks tuks to be resistant to haggling. The drivers seem to prefer to wait for another tourist willing to pay their price.
  • Airplanes: Hands down, AirAsia offers the best prices. This is a discount airline, so you pay extra for EVERYTHING. Still, you can probably score a plane ticket from Bangkok to Phuket for around 900 – 1300 THB.

 

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