Insight into what the Land of Smiles has to offer and how to navigate it!
Thailand is an absolutely stunning country full of elaborate temples, white sandy beaches, and excellent cuisine. There is so much to see, you're bound to miss out on some stuff so be sure to prioritize what your "must sees" are.
Always allow for what I like to call "Thai time". Everything seems to take longer than expected in Thailand. If they say it'll take 30-45 minutes to get to the airport, leave yourself AT LEAST an hour. I've had "3 hour ferries" take 5 hours and a 5 hour bus/ferry combination take over 8 hours. So keep that in mind when planning your travels and be sure to pack your patience, it's all part of the experience!
There are many means of transportation in Thailand and I would suggest trying the various forms! It allows you to see more of the country and rounds out your overall travel experience. If your trip includes northern Thailand, I would highly recommend the overnight train to/from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It's cheap and allows you to lay down fully as opposed to just reclining in a chair on the bus. I had a great nights sleep and was able to see the countryside in the North.
If you intend to go to any of the islands, ferries will be nearly unavoidable. They are cheap and a great way to see different sides of the islands.
When in Bangkok, beware of Tuk Tuk drivers promising to take you to any of the major attractions (Grand Palace, Wat Pro, ext), as they might try to drop you at an expensive travel agent or boat which they get a kick back from. I've also heard of Tuk Tuk drivers taking tourists to markets when they knew they weren't running (for example: the floating market is only during the week and the Chatuchak market is only Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Do your homework and ask locals or your hostel/hotel front desk which attractions are open when.
Also to avoid being overcharged always ask the Taxi to turn the meter on, or if using a Tuk Tuk taxi ALWAYS negotiate the price prior to getting in.
Temples, Temples, Temples
In Bangkok I would highly recommend going to the Golden Mound, it is one of the cheapest temples to visit in Bangkok and has a stunning 360 degree view of the city. Well worth the stairs up!
Don't forget that there are clothing restrictions for visiting temples. You must have your knees and shoulders covered for most temples, especially the Grand Palace. Some temples will provide you with free skirts and/or pants to cover if you forget, while others charge you a rental fee for the appropriate clothing. Here is a picture of me at Wat Rong Khun (aka White Temple) in my temple-acceptable clothing. I chose light-weight, breathable materials and was much happier to be in my own clothes rather than borrowed clothes from the temple.
Drink, Drank, Drunk
If you're looking to party in Thailand, it won't be a difficult task. Khao San Road comes alive at night and is the place to be in Bangkok on a Saturday night (or really any night of the week). As for the islands- Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi were my favorite "party islands." Koh Phangan is home to the famous Full Moon Party, Half Moon Party and Jungle Party. Check your dates and see if you'll be in town for any of the big parties, even though they are horribly touristy, they're a lot of fun and worth checking out.
Koh Phi Phi is cluttered with party hostels, booze cruises and buckets (giant drinks served in children's beach pails). The beach has plenty of dance parties and fire shows every day of the week. There are also pool parties at some hotels. If you fancy yourself a game of beer pong I would suggest Banana Bar, a rooftop bar that has beer pong tables!
Food for thought
I would urge you to do some research prior to attending some of the popular tourist attractions in Thailand. I would stay away from tiger temples as the animals are drugged and abused in order for tourists to be able to take selfies with the tigers. Elephant riding is still legal in Thailand but severely hurts the large, majestic animal. They are tied and beaten in order to domesticate the wild animal. The infamous ping pong shows on Khao San Road support sex trafficking. When entering a new country, is it within our hands to choose how we spend our money and responsible tourism promotes positive change amongst the tourist industry and hopefully urges a shift in what's acceptable and puts an end to horrible habits.
Must try food:
Mango Sticky Rice
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