Back in November, I decided an international trip was in order and so I packed my one bag and off I went to Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai) for 5 days.
Here are few things I’ve learned along the way:
Flights: Again, The Flight Deal saved my bank account. I found a great deal and paid only $515 (plus a little extra for insurance) for a round trip ticket from LA to Bangkok. That’s a steal! I’ve found flights from LA to NY for more than that.
Hotels: I’m not a fly by the seat of one’s pants kind of girl and so I like to pre-book all of my hotels before traveling. My hotel bookings for international trips are primarily done through Agoda. I pre-pay for the hotels and that means I don’t have to carry more money than I have to while in Thailand. Note that if you’re on a budget, you can definitely book hostels in Thailand. The US dollar is significantly stronger than the baht (1 dollar: 36 baht) and so we decided to splurge a bit.
A few things to bring:
- A strong insect repellant – 40% DEET will do. Anything higher than that will start to melt plastic so be aware. Unless you are blessed with the ability to naturally repel mosquitoes, please bring a strong insect repellant. We also treated our clothes with Permethrin just in case. There are mosquitos galore and you don’t want to be left vulnerable to Dengue fever. Unfortunately, my boyfriend came back ill so do not go easy on the repellant. (He’s good now).
- Light clothing – Yes, November through February is considered Thailand’s cool season, but temperatures still range from 73°F to 86°F. I brought shorts and t-shirts. If a visit to a temple is on your list, I’d bring a shawl to cover the shoulders and legs.
- Bangkok – There are taxis, tuk tuks, boats, a skytrain, and the BTS (bus). While I was there, I took everything but the BTS. It’s hot and humid in Bangkok and waiting around for the bus wasn’t appealing to me. Taxis should always have the meter on. If they don’t, find another taxi that won’t try to rip you off. With tuk tuks, you have to put your negotiating powers to use. Know what is reasonable. They’re a bit faster in terms of getting around the city, but riskier safety wise. The skytrain was absolute favorite form of transport. It’s easy to navigate and there are a lot of signs in English directing you where to go.
- Chiang Mai – Songthaews and tuk tuks are your two main forms of transportation. Songthaews are your way to go though. They’re basically pick up trucks that have been modified to act like a taxi. They’re color coded depending on where you want to go. In the main part of the city, they’re red and it will only cost you a flat rate of 20 baht per person to go anywhere within the city. Do not ask how much. Ask them if they can take you there. If they say yes, then hop into the back of the truck. Once you’re at your stop, give them 20 baht and walk away. If they say no, flag down another songthaew and ask again. If you ask them how much, they will most likely ask for a higher amount. Don’t fall for it. If it’s within the city, it’s 20 baht flat no matter how close or far it is. Tuk tuks are a bit more expensive, but it will get the job done if you’re in a bind and need to get somewhere without a songthaew in sight.
- Getting from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – There are a few options here. Plane, bus, or train. Flying will get you there quicker. A bus will be cheaper, but a lot longer and a train will be somewhere in between with more scenic views. This is completely preference. We chose to take an overnight train because it saved us on a night’s stay and it was also nice to wake up to the countryside.
If you are going to Thailand, hopefully these little tips will help you out a bit. If you’ve been, what did you bring? Did I miss anything? I’d love to know in case I go back for round 2. Stay tuned for a post with highlights of my Thailand trip!
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