Hello there!! OH MAN has it been a long time!!
I know I fell off from “blogging” and keeping up with this site in 2019 due to a very busy work schedule…and I didn’t want to come back with a new post without at least mentioning it.
(I would also like you to know I have made 6 typos already that I am about to go back and fix, which is a sign that I am rusty AF so bear with me LOL).
This year I am going to put up 2 blog posts a month. That is my goal. And as always, please feel free to write to me about topics you would like covered. Even if you have written to me about it in the past- please do again because it has been a minute and I want to make sure I am still covering topics that feel relevant to all of you! Either way, I will write about what I think will be interesting- that I can guarantee. I am also going to do more travel guides, with breakdowns about how expensive certain places are, where to save money, where to splurge, lay out how to get around…just ALL the tips that I want to know before going on a trip that I can NEVER seem to find all in one place. I will also break down price ranges of flights and hotels for the time in which I went on the trips- any hotel prices I list will be the ones I stayed at or ones I saw that looked nice (usually 4 stars or higher- I am a bit of a hotel snob haha).
I thought Thailand was the perfect guide to make in this new fashion. We had a bit of a difficult time figuring out what to do and where to stay in Thailand. I had read countless blog posts and articles about all things Thailand and I still only found the same few things listed over and over again OR the posts/articles were confusing and I couldn’t wrap my head around what was where and when and how. So here I am to break it down for you as simply as I can- the great, the good and even the not so good. This blog post is such a great one to come back with and I hope it brings anyone planning a trip, or even thinking of planning a trip, to Thailand a lot of good information. So let’s get right into it.
Thailand Travel Guide
Duration of trip: 14 days. (12/28/2019 — 1/11/2019)
Flights: Expensive. $1,000-$3,200 roundtrip LAX to Bangkok (depending on whether you chose economy, premium economy or business for this time of year)
Cities Stayed in: Bangkok (4 nights), Chiang Mai (4 nights), Krabi (4 nights)
Hotels: SO affordable: $40- $400 a night (breakfast included).
Dining: Very inexpensive, whether you choose street food or fine dining.
Transit in Thailand: Domestic Flights- $40- $160 one way. Cabs, cars, tuk-tuk rides: cheap, but you need to know how to make sure you don’t get ripped off.
Activities: inexpensive and abundant. Breakdowns below!
Languages Spoken: Thai, English* (this depends where you are- people in the service industry will speak english, but obviously not as well as an American so please be as prepared as you would be when visiting any other non-english speaking country.)
Ease of Getting Around: Have a plan. Have the hotel staff write you notes in Thai to give to drivers, track things on Google Maps when you are out and about. The streets can get confusing if you don’t pay attention.
Crowd Levels: High- lots of international tourists from all over the world
Medical Notes: Getting a Hep A and Typhoid shot a week or two before your trip is recommended. Bring Claritin if you get sensitive to allergens in the air- we took it daily because we experienced allergies from the moment we landed.
Travel Agent Needed?: No. Once you figure out where you want to go, it is pretty easy to do Thailand. Things are very easy to book and very inexpensive across the board. Save money by taking cabs when available or use the hotel transportation services- fancy transfers not needed. This travel guide will help!
Favorite Place: Chiang Mai
The easiest place to fly into is Bangkok. Start your trip there. Spend a couple of nights and get out- you don’t need a whole lot of time there if you want to see Thailand in the way you think about the country.
Up north is Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. We stayed in Chiang Mai and it was our favorite place. I haven’t been to Chiang Rai but I have heard its similar to Chiang Mai in many ways (both being norther jungle cities with access to elephants and lots of hiking) but it is less populated.
South Thailand is where all the stunning beaches are that you think about when you envision THAILAND. These places are crowded. Everyone I know told me to skip Phuket, so we skipped it- it’s been described as the “Miami of Thailand” and that was enough for me to give it a HARD PASS (Miami is not my jam). There are many places to go in the south and while we stayed on arguably the most stunning beach I have ever seen, there were a couple of things I found annoying while we were there. It is insanely beautiful and we saw things every day that were pure magic, but we saw them with 698693093 other people standing in front of us, behind us and to the side of us. Not exactly what I was hoping for, you know? We did go during a very busy time of year, so maybe that’s part of it. I will go over other beach destinations I can suggest from word of mouth since going.
Now lets get into all the nitty gritty.
First Leg of Travel
The International Flights:
We flew out of LAX in the evening, which was a great move because the first leg of our flight was 15 and a half hours, so flying out late meant that we could settle in, have a couple of drinks, eat some dinner, watch some movies, and then fall asleep. Because the flight was SO long from LA to Thailand, I opted to book business class seats on American by using a combination of miles and my own money. This is actually the first business class ticket I have ever purchased for myself so it felt like a very big deal!! I get to fly first/business for work very often but I’m admittedly kind of cheap and don’t like to spend that kind of money on flights when it’s my own dollar. But when I was looking at the cost of flights, I realized they were all pretty pricey across the board. So because of that, I figured I should just go for it- book the fancy seats, get a ton of sleep on the plane, arrive feeling as refreshed as possible and kick jet lag to the curb. For the most part, this plan worked- it only took me a full 24 hours to feel like myself again, which is pretty damn good when traveling across the world.
We opted for short lay over flights, but another way to do it is to spend a night in another city- Japan and South Korea are popular layovers- and get to see another city during your trip. Our layover on the way to Thailand was for 100 minutes in Hong Kong. The flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok was 3 hours.
On our flight home we had a layover in Tokyo for 2 hours. We kind of wished it had been longer because by the time we got through security we only had about 15 minutes before needing to run to the gate. Flights home were shorter- 5 hours to Tokyo, 10 hours from Tokyo to LA.
Domestic Flights and Ground Transportation:
Domestic flights in Thailand are cheap and easy to book. The cheapest one we took was $40 and the most expensive one we took was $125 (all one way flights). These local airlines do try to nickel and dime you a la Spirit Airlines (although NOTHING is as bad a Spirit in my opinion haha). They will charge you for checked bags and for rolling carryons, especially if they are heavy. We opted for airlines that wouldn’t do this just to save the headache and hassle of figuring it all out at the airport. The airlines we discovered were the best to use are: Bangkok Air, Thai Airways, Thai Smile and AirAsia.
As for ground transportation, use cabs to and from the airport. The most we spent on a one way trip for this was about $15 USD (500 baht). Make sure you agree to a price before you start driving to your location and get yourself familiar with the local currency- the Thai Baht- so you know how much you are paying. You can also ask the hotel staff how much it should cost to get you to wherever you’re going- they will often speak to the drivers on your behalf so they can work out the price for you before you leave. And when you are not at the hotel, remember to haggle. Tell them what you would like to pay and then come to a middle ground- its just how it works when catching a cab or tuk tuk in Thailand.
If you prefer a more streamlined approach to all of this, you can download the app “Grab” which is the “uber” or “lyft” of Thailand. The rides will be more expensive and you may have to wait a bit for your driver to get there, but it makes everything easy because a price is created ahead of time based on distance, mileage etc and the driver will know exactly where to take you so you skip the explaining part. Tuk Tuks are fun and will cost a bit more than a cab, but a must do. We took them all the time and it can be a wild ride in the best way!
Bangkok is a big, crazy, cool city. There are over 8 million people who live in Bangkok and it feels like it. We stayed here for a total of 4 nights- our first 3 nights of the trip and our last night of the trip, before we flew back to LA. If I did this again, I would only stay in Bangkok for 2 nights.
For the first 3 nights we stayed at the Anantara Bangkok Riverside ($135 a night) which is a little bit further away from the main center of the city. The location is good if you don’t want as much hustle and bustle, but you will have to take more cab rides (which only end up being $3-12 USD each way so it’s not going to break the bank). The hotel is very pretty with more of an island resort vibe, which is cool given the fact it is in a big, crowded city. Its sister hotel, Avani Riverside, is right next to where we stayed and is super modern and has a STUNNING rooftop restaurant/bar that overlooks the whole city.
You can also take the hotels long tail boat from the dock on the property to the other side of the river and easily get to a night market, a popular temple and a bit closer to the main central part of the city. Plus, the boat rides are just fun!
We arrived in Bangkok on New Years Eve. We didn’t have plans and were super jet lagged, but determined to stay up. We decided to just go for it and went to Khao San Road. Looking back, I don’t think this was the best idea for us but it was cool to see. It’s a long road that is just one gigantic party and it is crowded beyond belief. There are vendors everywhere too so in a lot of ways it was a great place to see on our first day, but also a little much especially for someone like myself who doesn’t love a big crowd. We ended up bailing at around 11pm and getting back to the hotel about 30 minutes before midnight. We *sort of* crashed a party the hotel was having on the riverfront and watched the amazing firework display there…but by that time everyone seemed drunk and happy so the more the merrier. The next day, we slept LATE.
Khao San Road. Shop my Dress Here.
Avani Rooftop bar/restaurant. Shop my romper here.
In Bangkok, it’s all about visiting Temples, going to chic rooftop bars and walking around the most luxurious shopping malls I have ever seen. (You can see why after a few days, we were ready to move on to something else).
As for those Bangkok Temples, we went to the main, most popular ones: Wat Arun, The Grand Palace and Wat Pho. All of these are fairly close to one another and can totally be done in one day. Although, after going to 3 temples in one day, you’ll probably find yourself “templed out”. We went to Wat Arun alone one day, and the other two another day ONLY because we had so much time in Bangkok and didn’t want to do EVERYTHING in one day you know? But looking back, I would just bop from one to the other and see all three in a day. The Grand Palace is by far the most impressive, so if you only go to only one, go to this one. You do not need a tour guide to take you to these temples. It is VERY easy to walk around by yourself. If you do want to hire a guide to learn more about the history etc, I recommend doing so for the Grand Temple. We did not hire a guide, but a quick google search will help you out on this front. OH! Also! Do not listen to the tuk tuk and taxi drivers outside of the temples who tell you that the temple is closed….and do not let them convince you to go somewhere else. Its a scam…just ignore and move on!
Here is a great article that helped me with planning visiting temples in Bangkok.
As for Bangkok rooftop bars, we went to Avani rooftop twice and loved it. We also went to Sofitel and it was OK- kind of a weird space but the cocktails are fab. The most popular is Above Eleven, but I didn’t make a reservation in time so we didn’t go to that one. Boooo.
The Grand Siam Mall is insane. It is the biggest, most luxurious shopping mall I have ever been to. There is a whole floating “night market” on the bottom level serving every type of street food you could imagine and the Apple store has its own impeccably maintained rooftop lounging terrace. The sheer size of this mall is overwhelming but very cool to look around. I’m not much of a mall person, but I have to say I was thoroughly entertained by walking around this mall for a couple of hours.
I also got a massage in Bangkok every day I was there…wait scratch that, I got a massage almost every day I was in Thailand!! They range from 250-450 Baht for an hour massage which is about $7-$15 USD. Oh, and they were all the BEST massages I have ever had in my life. The Thai massage is crazy good. Definitely not to be missed!
Chiang Mai was our absolute favorite place we went in Thailand. It is the second biggest city in Thailand, but something about it just feels way more cool and local…less of that crazy hustle bustle vibe that Bangkok has. We stayed in Chiang Mai for 4 nights, but could have easily stayed for a full 6-7 nights to be honest. There were plenty of things we wish we had more time to do.
We stayed at the Anantara Chiang Mai, which was by far the best hotel on our Thailand trip. Everything about the hotel was perfection. The location was on the river, steps away from the night market, a short drive to old town, surround by incredible massage places…yet it felt remote, serene and lux. The hotel itself is impeccable from top to bottom. The decor is chic and stunning from the lobby to rooms to all the common areas- very modern yet cozy and luxurious. Modern, Asian, minimalistic glamour through and through. Being in these kinds of surroundings truly made me sad that it would have to come to an end eventually. This got me thinking about looking into purchasing a Koh Samui Property, so this may be something I will consider more seriously in the future.
Oh and the service!! The service was absolutely top notch at every turn- very much like a Four Seasons- and I am a huge fan of a hotel with incredible service. We stayed in one of the Kasara suites that faced the Mae Ping river. This room was incredible….maybe my favorite hotel room of all time- it’s stunning, comfortable beyond belief and so amazing that I wanted to just spend an entire day lounging around in it (which is NOT typical vacation me lol!).
If I’m being honest, this hotel is one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in…top 3 for sure. That being said, it was also more pricey than other options in Thailand (way less expensive than a hotel of this status in Europe or the US, but still pricey). The suite we stayed in averages at $400-ish a night at the time of year we went, BUT it does include access to the incredible Kasara Lounge where you can enjoy complimentary breakfast, food and snacks through the day and a lovely happy hour of wine and cocktails in the evening. It’s the little things like this that make the stay extra special in my opinion. Also, the gym here was incredible…and I LOVE a chic hotel gym with all the things, you know?
The pool is also super chic, quiet and just absolutely lovely. There were always spots available and it was tranquil and beautiful.
Anantara Pool. Shop my one piece here.
Anantara at night. Shop my dress here.
Now, once we pried ourselves away from the stunning property of the hotel…we fell in love with Chiang Mai. The Night Market is steps away down the street and is THE place to go for food and fun in the evenings. Our first night we got a full dinner of 2 orders papaya salad, 2 orders of Pad Thai, a beer, a wine and mango sticky rice for a grand total of $9. NINE DOLLARS USD. Let that little number sink in for a sec. Also, the market is just plain fun to walk around- there are shops, food stands everywhere, massage places, live performances and music. It is just fun. I also loved that you can get different food from different vendors and create your own dining experience…plus if there was something you didn’t love, you could go to the next stand and find something else super easily. We ate here most nights to be honest. If we had stayed longer we would’ve tried other restaurants in the area.
The restaurant at the Anantara hotel, The Service 1912, was amazing too- the theme is super fun and the food was incredible Thai food elevated and made unique. If you don’t opt to stay at the Anantara in Chiang Mai, definitely swing by for a cocktail and some dinner- you won’t be disappointed.
One of the best things we did on this trip was a cooking class with Yummy Tasty Cooking School. The owner of the company, who told us to refer to her as “noodle”, picked us up in the morning, handed us a paper filled with options for dishes we could learn to cook, and took us to a very local food market to buy ingredients and supplies for the dishes we chose. Each person gets to chose an appetizer, a soup, an entree, a curry and a dessert- you get to learn A LOT. We ground our own curry paste, made Pad Thai from scratch (which is super easy actually) and walked away with a cute cookbook that had ALL the recipes for all the dishes that were available to learn via the cooking school. Noodle was the best. Not only is she a young woman who started and personally runs her own successful cooking class business (which I LOVE), she was fun, funny and very informative during the whole process. We both had SO much fun doing this and would 100% do it again.
As for those recipes we learned, I haven’t dabbled in making any of them since we have come home because, to be honest, I was a little Thai-Food’d-Out after two weeks of nothing but Thai. I LOVE Thai food but still, you know? I am just now ready to get my Thai Chef hat back on. This next week I am going to stop by a Thai supply store in LA that Heather Tom (my coworker at B&B told me about) and I will be whipping up green curry, vegetarian Pad Thai and papaya salad in no time. I will share this on IG stories for al those wanting to know more!
There is a lot of hiking to do around Chiang Mai. If we had stayed longer, we would’ve gone to ** and done a full day excursion up to waterfalls and the Palace** at the top. We had so much to do in Chiang Mai that we just didn’t have a full day to commit to all of this, which was kind of a bummer and I hadn’t heard much about it until we were already in the city. Again- I don’t understand why it was so hard to get a ton of detail about WHAT to do in Thailand beyond the very basic stuff.
Anyway…what we did instead was a half day hiking adventure on the Monks trail to Wat Pha Lat, then all the way up the mountain to the stunning Doi Suthep Temple. You hike through the jungle foliage until you get to a BEAUTIFUL temple seemingly out of nowhere. The views are insane and the area is lush, vibrant and has a very old world vibe to it. It looks abandoned in most areas, but it is in fact still a functioning temple with monks and worshipers in the main buildings.
Wat Pha Lat via the Monks Trail.
Now, after you take in the views of this beautiful location and feel like you need more (like we did) you can keep going up to the BIG, very impressive Doi Suthep Temple. There is a trodden path, and you will have to cross a very main road at one point but it’s no biggie. Make sure you have you’re maps app out at the start of this trek so you can keep an eye on your route- it gets a bit difficult to figure out where to go at certain points. A lot of it will feel like you’re not in the right place, but you are. Here’s an amazing article that breaks down all the twists and turns SO well.
Passing through the Monks housing area on the way to the top.
One you get to the top, the temple is gorgeous and the views are pretty damn epic. Take a taxi down- not a communal red tuk tuk (unless you don’t care about being smashed next to 12 other strangers for an hour, while all of your extremities start to lose feeling in the most car-sickness-inducing ride of your life). For real. I thought I was going to vomit the whole time, it was hot, I was smooshed next to sweaty bodies I did not want to be smooshed against while we went back and forth and back and forth down this huge mountain. I thought it would be fine, but regretted the decision more than anything on the whole trip LOL. Use the GRAB app and call a taxi, it is worth it, trust me.
This was incredible. I had never seen an elephant in real life before this and they certainly did not disappoint. They were magnificent. Here’s the thing though: there has been a long history of elephant abuse in Thailand and I’m pretty sure there are no longer any wild elephants roaming the country (unless they are on a park reserve). There are still SO many elephants kept captive in horrific conditions who suffer abuse for the sake of tourism every single day. I won’t get into the details but just know that when you are looking to visit elephants in Thailand, you MUST go to an ethical sanctuary and do your research. NEVER RIDE AN ELEPHANT. Any place that allows you to ride them, get picked up by them, has them do tricks for you etc etc is NOT ethical and those elephants are most likely abused behind closed doors. Would it be cool to ride an elephant? Hell yea! But is an hour of your joy worth all of their days of suffering? Absolutely not.
For those who do not wish to do the research, I have laid out a list below of the top 3 sanctuaries to go to from the research I had done. These sanctuaries rescue elephants from the bad riding camps, circuses and from native tribes who can no longer care for their elephants.
When you go to these sanctuaries, you can expect to see elephants, watch them roam, play, bath and eat. You can feed them bananas, take photos near them, and pet the ones that allow you to. Elephants are very smart creatures and their temperament has been likened to that of a dog- highly emotionally connected and observant. Since most of the elephants in the sanctuaries are rescues from bad camps where they were taught to perform and be around people, they actually like people and some of them like to show off and be playful. In the camp we were at, there was a baby elephant who was such a funny little rascal. He would annoy the other elephants, run into them for fun and toot his trunk to get all of their attention when the attention wasn’t on him. He wasn’t the biological child of any of the elephants in this camp (his mother died from abuse in a riding camp and he was taken to a safe haven) BUT they all treated him like he was their baby and would run to his protection any time he made a noise. It may have been the sweetest thing I have ever seen to be honest.
We chose to do a half day, which was plenty of time and cost $78 a person. Bring a change of clothes and a pair of sandals to change into- it can get a little muddy and you don’t want to be stuck in icky clothes all day.
Most ethical sanctuaries put the majority of their income back into feeding and caring for the elephants, as well as saving elephants who are stuck in bad situations. Make sure your hard earned money is going to the right places!
The third and final leg of our trip was in the South of Thailand in Krabi.
Krabi is beautiful.
I do have to say this though, and I heard this before going, but I didn’t really GET it until we got there: you need to know what to expect when you go to Krabi. I thought it was the most beautiful beach location I have ever been to, and it is a great place to visit…BUT I do not think the beach destinations we went to are fully equipped to handle the amount of tourism that flocks to the area. Most of these areas are only accessible by boat, which makes getting supplies and maintenance to the hotels difficult and, in turn, more expensive for the quality of what you’re actually getting. As long as you know that before going, you will be good to go! That being said, we both loved this part of the trip and experienced so many amazing things we had never seen or experienced before. The location was the stunning paradise I had hoped for and beyond.
We stayed at a resort on Railay Beach, which may be the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. We flew into Krabi and took a cab to a dock where our luggage was loaded into a long tail boat and we were taken to Railay Beach. And like I said, most beach destinations in Krabi are only accessible by boat, so keep that in mind when deciding when and where to travel, as it is an experience. Use the hotel to book your transportation from the airport (car and boat) so it’s less of a hassle to figure out.
Krabi Island Hopping! Shop my swimsuit here.
The rock formations and landscape as a whole are just breathtakingly gorgeous and there are so many amazing things to do via boat, which makes staying here fun and adventurous. It does get crowded here though, so there really isn’t that serene, island feel you might expect.
Railay is not as busy as Ao Nang, which the closest main town area with more hotels, restaurants etc, but it is still busy. Ao Nang is a 10 minute long tail boat ride away- it costs about $5 roundtrip per person. We went to Ao Nang a few times for food and drinks just because there were more options.
On Railay there is a very cool, hippy-ish town area where there are restaurants, bars, shops and live music but it is limited. This may just be a personal preference thing, but I didn’t love the feeling of only having a few options every night. The food here was a far cry from the amazing food options in Chiang Mai. Its not BAD by any means, it’s just limited and a small space so there isn’t as much at your fingertips.
Railay Beach town.
Railay Beach has the most incredible sunsets. Shop my shorts here.
The hotel we stayed at is called Railay Bay Resort and to be completely honest, we did not love it. Technically it is a 5 star resort, but it was not a 5 star resort. The service was bad, the whole place needs a lot of love, the staff couldn’t have cared less about everything, the food wasn’t good and they wanted to up-charge for every single little thing. There was even a laminated list of “rules” in the hotel room and a plaque in the bathroom that stated guests would be charged if any of the hotel towels had makeup, dirt or any other markings on them! I know I have high standards, but I also know this was straight up crazy talk. Heres the thing though- I get the vibe that all of the hotels in this area just have a lower quality of service and upkeep because…well… location, location, location. The location can’t be beat. We would wake up and be on the most stunning beach ever, every day…so you live with the fact that everything won’t be top notch and you just get out there and enjoy nature. Which is exactly what we did.
There are monkeys everywhere!! I repeat: WILD MONKEYS EVERYWHERE!! This was so freaking cool. I mean, they are pesky little sneaks but so damn cute and fun to watch. Just mind your stuff, they are known to snatch food, a phone and handbags if left unwatched! I loved walking around Railay and seeing the families of monkeys swinging around in the trees with zero care in the world.
If you stay on Railay or visit it by boat, you can walk a little jungle path and get to Phra Nang beach. This beach is so beautiful and you can walk through beautiful cave inlets and out to a huge rock formation at low tide. This is also a popular rock climbing area and it looks super fun. We didn’t do this because we didn’t have enough time.
On our second day, we hired a private long tail boat ride to 4 islands. We payed a total of $80 for two people, which included the fees to the national park (these remote islands are technically on national park territory). It was super easy to do- there will be a boat hire kiosk at any major beach front and you just book it the day before. Our boat dropped us off at 4 different islands and we hung out/ explored for about an hour on each. At one island, he anchored the boat so we could jump out and swim with the beautiful, colorful fish. This day was very cool and very fun.
From this part of Thailand, you can take an hour and a half boat ride to the Phi Phi Islands and spend the day there, OR stay there for a few nights. We didn’t do this, but have heard its also very beautiful way to make this leg of the trip a little more exciting. Our personal South Thailand adventure consisted of a lot of boat riding, monkey watching, laying on beautiful beaches and going at a slower pace than we did the rest of the trip.
If you want more of a fun vibe, without the craziness of Phuket, I have heard that Koh Sumai is a great beach destination. Other place I have heard a lot about is Koh Kood and Ko Lipe . There are either Anantara resorts or other incredible resorts in all of those destinations and they seem less isolated than the beach destinations in Krabi, so I am sure the hotel experiences will be much better. Obviously do your research- I just wanted to be able to point you in the right direction!
The Trip Home
Like I said at the way way beginning of this post, we stayed one additional night in Bangkok before flying back to LA- this was sort of because I messed up and didn’t take into account getting from Krabi to Bangkok before our 9 am flight back to LA. We stayed at The Dream Hotel and loved it. We were only there for one night but the room was amazing, the hotel was super clean and beautiful, it was smack dab in the middle of the cosmopolitan part of the city, the rooftop was pretty and the breakfast we had in the more morning was delicious. Oh and a spacious, amazing suite was only $80 a night!
We flew on economy on Japan Airlines from Bangkok to Tokyo and OMG- JAL economy class is WHERE IT IS AT YOU GUYS. Full free (actually good) meals, plenty of snacks, free entertainment similar to USA first class, FREE ALCOHOL and so much leg room. Then from Tokyo to LA it was about a 10 hour flight in business class, which we both slept for most of. I wish we had a longer layover in Tokyo because the airport was really cool.
Things to Know/Note:
-Everyone in Thailand is incredibly nice and polite. The people are happy and kind, more so than any other place I have visited (Hawaii may be neck and neck with Thailand here)! They also don’t seem to have that “ugh stupid tourists” mentality that other places do- you know that I mean. And that is refreshing and helpful.
-Tipping is not customary or expected at all.
-Bring an unlocked smart phone with you and buy a Thai SIM card at the airport when you land. We used my old iPhone for this and it was super easy to do. This allowed us to have internet access outside of the hotels so we could look up directions, translate things, use iMessage, emails etc. If your iphone or smartphone is UNLOCKED (ours aren’t) you can buy a SIM for your normal phone…if they aren’t unlocked, you won’t be able to swap the SIM. There are videos on YouTube about this if you need more info.
-Get massages every day, it is the real deal. Thai massage 60 minutes was my jam.
-Most public bathrooms do not have soap or toilet paper so always bring your own. I took a hotel bar of soap and put it in a little container in my purse to use in the public bathrooms. I also always had a pack of tissues and hand sanitizer with me at all times and used them often.
-Bring Claritin for allergens in the air.
-Bring modest clothes for visiting the Temples- cover your thighs and shoulders.
-Ladies, bring ONE pair of heels. The streets can be difficult to navigate and walk through, so adding heels to the mix sounds like a nightmare to me. BUT some nice restaurants and bars won’t allow sandals, so bring one pair. Men, bring a nicer pair of closed toed shoes, sneakers don’t count. Honestly, if you’re a grown man, you should’t wear shoes where I can see your toes anywhere other than the beach anyway so…don’t be gross. Moving on.
-Crossbody bags that are small yet can fit a bottle of water. Also bring a small backpack for hiking.
-It is hot and pretty humid, so light fabrics are the best. I basically wore denim shorts, tank tops, rompers and light dresses the whole time. I brought white linen pants and a linen jumpsuit for the temples and re used the pants at night with cute tank tops.
-Travel light. We did laundry half way through our 2 week stay which was a savior and meant we didn’t have to pack as much. There are places you can drop your laundry off to that will wash, dry and fold your clothes on the same day for insanely cheap (I’m talking less than $15 USD for a weeks worth of two peoples stuff). For those who don’t want to bother going outside of the hotel for this, the hotels we stayed at also offer laundry service and it is MUCH less expensive than anywhere else I have traveled.
-There are street dogs everywhere, and for a dog lover like myself, that can be hard to see.
-There are no public, government sanctioned trash bins anywhere (from what we saw), so there tends to be a lot of trash around on the ground, which is sad. Don’t add to the problem- bring a paper bag from the hotel and keep it in your backpack etc or go into a restaurant/store and ask if you can throw your trash out there. Leave the land as you found it always!
-In Bangkok, especially, the telephone lines are CRAZY. Stop and look.
-Driving in Thailand is fucking nuts. It is a wild ride and there seem to be no rules beyond red means stop and green means go. So for all the people out there who like to press their imaginary car break and gasp everything time you get too close to another car, get ready honey!
Thailand was incredible. It was different than I was expecting in some ways, but SUCH a cool trip. It was a totally new cultural experience that I loved so much.
DISCLAIMER: Due to the Coronavirus outbreak in China, I would personally not travel to Thailand for the time being. The CDC has not issued any major restrictions for those traveling to Thailand, but use common sense here. If you are traveling there, take precautions until this outbreak is under control.