Most peeps call Thailand the Land of Smiles – and they’re not wrong! The locals are super friendly, the islands are incredible, the party never stops and there’s adventure everywhere. Before you go, take a look at some of our handy tips and inspiring ideas to get the most out of your Thailand holiday.
1. Do all the things
There are so many amazing things to see and do in Thailand – it would take more than one article to list them all. So here are just a few cool ideas to get you started. Wander down crazy Khao San Road in Bangkok. Visit the Grand Palace and Wat Pho with its giant golden Buddha statue. Chill out on Thailand’s many, many gorgeous islands like Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi. Grab your glow sticks and go wild at a notorious Full Moon party on Ko Phangan. Go trekking in the lush jungles near Chiang Mai. Scuba dive in the stunning Similan Islands. Learn how to make the perfect Phad Thai on a local cooking course. Volunteer at the amazing Elephant Nature Park with elephants that have been rescued from the tourist industry. Shop at the floating markets or feel the vibe at the buzzing night markets. We could go on and on…
2. Om nom nom
Pretty much everyone already knows, but we’ll say it again: Thai food is awesome. Sweet, sour, spicy and fresh – it’s everything you love in a dish. Sip cool coco locos while chilling on the beach. Grab a chicken satay skewer at a street market, followed by a deliciously sticky chocolate and banana pancake. You’ve never tasted green and red curries like this before. And don’t even get us started on the noodles! Roasted suckling pork and crispy duck in tamarind sauce, stuffed giant peppers, coconut cakes, and so much more. You def won’t go hungry on your travels in Thailand.
3. Know your budget
Want to know the best thing about a holiday in Thailand? It’s super cheap! 1 ZAR is equal to 2.26 Thai Baht so your budget will go quite a bit further. Accommodation will set you back about R150 per night in cities and R100 per night in the countryside. Things are somewhat pricier on the islands though, so keep some extra cash in your budget for beach time. A freshly made Phad Thai from a street market will set you back about R20, and you can wash it down with a local Singha beer for around R25. Day tours cost anything between R250 to R650, while most parks and museums cost around R40.
4. How to stay thrifty
Even though things are pretty cheap in Thailand, it still pays to know where and how to save a little extra cash where you can. Be sure to eat local food from street stalls or open-air Thai restaurants (you’ll pay a lot more for Western food like burgers and pizza). Don’t be afraid to bargain at markets for the best price. Transport by bus is cheap. Tuks tuks are fun but pricey. Taxis can be affordable, just make sure to choose a metered one – otherwise, the driver could try to rip you off. Renting a scooter is also a fun, affordable way to get around. Drink local beer and spirits – plus make the most of happy hour (you’ll find these at pretty much every restaurant, bar and hostel). Booking a group tour is way cheaper than going it alone, so make some new besties before you book. Bottled water is pretty cheap, but you can still save some money (and the planet) by bringing one of those nifty purifying water bottles that you can refill at a tap.
5. Keep safe
Thailand is a super safe place to travel – even if you’re on your own. The worst you’re likely to come across is a pickpocket (some monkeys are trained by their owners to steal your stuff too!). So hang on tight to your bag and don’t wear jewellery or expensive sunglasses. There are lots of tourist scams including dodgy money exchangers, taxis that overcharge, and unofficial tour guides. But if you keep your wits about you, you’ll be fine. One thing you can’t afford to be without is good travel insurance though. If you’re injured or something else goes wrong, it’s a great way to make sure you’re covered.
6. Gear and packing list
Less is more. Remember, you’re going to be spending most of your time in a bikini or boardies. Bring some long-sleeved shirts and pants in case the weather takes a turn (but mostly to keep the mosquitoes from feasting on your arms and ankles). Definitely use a backpack not a suitcase. Also, don’t pack too much. The markets in Thailand are awesome and you can bargain for just about anything. Some must-haves include swimming gear, suntan lotion, sarong, a warm top, sun hat, light rain jacket (for thundershowers), flip flops, closed shoes for hiking, phone/laptop chargers, a lock for your valuables, water purifying bottle, zip lock bags, any chronic medication you need, and a medical aid kit.