20 things to know before planning a trip to Thailand

Thailand remains one of the most popular tourist destinations for Indians. Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, and Bangkok are on the list of many a honeymooners. Apart from newly married couples, bachelors too head there for reasons of their own. We too visited Thailand in 2018 and loved the entire experience. Ours was a 10 day long trip that ended on the New Year's Eve. If we had known better back then, we would have planned to stay on for at least a couple more days. I wish someone had written this blog for us back then. :) Anyways, following are the 20 things you should know before you plan a trip to Thailand:

Thailand remains one of the most popular tourist destinations for Indians. Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, and Bangkok are on the list of many a honeymooners. Apart from newly married couples, bachelors too head there for reasons of their own. We too visited Thailand in 2018 and loved the entire experience. Ours was a 10 day long trip that ended on the New Year's Eve. If we had known better back then, we would have planned to stay on for at least a couple more days. I wish someone had written this blog for us back then. :) Anyways, following are the 20 things you should know before you plan a trip to Thailand:



1) Visa on Arrival isn't as convenient as it sounds. You may end up spending considerable amount of time in the queue for this. So plan your connecting flights accordingly. Click here to read about our experience: https://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2019/01/tips-for-visa-on-arrival-in-bangkok-thailand.html

1) Visa on Arrival isn't as convenient as it sounds. You may end up spending considerable amount of time in the queue for this. So plan your connecting flights accordingly. Click here to read about our experience: https://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2019/01/tips-for-visa-on-arrival-in-bangkok-thailand.html

2) Domestic flights may charge you for check-in luggage. We were in for a rude surprise when we checked in to our flight to Chiang Mai. Our one bag costed us an additional 900 Bahts.

2) Domestic flights may charge you for check-in luggage. We were in for a rude surprise when we checked in to our flight to Chiang Mai. Our one bag costed us an additional 900 Bahts. 


3) If you have used Booking.com, it is better to interact with the hotel at least once through their app or on phone in order to check whether they have actually received your booking. We landed in Chiang Mai only to find that Yin Yang Guesthouse, the place we had booked through booking.com, had no record of our booking. They then made alternate arrangements for us, which was not really ideal, but we had no real choice then. Click here to read about our experience: https://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2019/01/mystery-of-missing-hotel-booking-day-1.html


3) If you have used Booking.com, it is better to interact with the hotel at least once through their app or on phone in order to check whether they have actually received your booking. We landed in Chiang Mai only to find that Yin Yang Guesthouse, the place we had booked through booking.com, had no record of our booking. They then made alternate arrangements for us, which was not really ideal, but we had no real choice then. Click here to read about our experience: https://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2019/01/mystery-of-missing-hotel-booking-day-1.html

4) There are places other than Pattaya, Phuket, Bangkok, and Krabi that are worth visiting. We don't blame you if you have never heard of them. We planned our itinerary such that we had a mix of the regular and some exotic locations. In fact, our favourite place was Chiang Mai, which was the first city we had visited. It was pretty, pleasant, and vibrant. It had the best night market and some amazing food options. It is here that we discovered the pleasure of eating at regular road-side places where locals have their lunches. Our second favorite place was Ayutthaya, where we saw the Buddha in the Banyan Tree and countless beautiful birds.


4) There are places other than Pattaya, Phuket, Bangkok, and Krabi that are worth visiting. We don't blame you if you have never heard of them. We planned our itinerary such that we had a mix of the regular and some exotic locations. In fact, our favourite place was Chiang Mai, which was the first city we had visited. It was pretty, pleasant, and vibrant. It had the best night market and some amazing food options. It is here that we discovered the pleasure of eating at regular road-side places where locals have their lunches. Our second favorite place was Ayutthaya, where we saw the Buddha in the Banyan Tree and countless beautiful birds. 

5) You can purchase liquor from 24*7 and other grocery stores. You can walk with a beer bottle in your hands, coolly sipping from it as if you were having a cola. But you cannot create a ruckus while doing so.


5) You can purchase liquor from 24*7 and other grocery stores. You can walk with a beer bottle in your hands, coolly sipping from it as if you were having a cola. But you cannot create a ruckus while doing so. 


6) Tropical fruits are fresh and heavenly. On many occasions we snacked on cut pineapple on a stick and sweet, juicy mango slices purchased from a regular street vendor. This is one of the healthiest and tastiest way to keep yourself satiated and hydrated.


6) Tropical fruits are fresh and heavenly. On many occasions we snacked on cut pineapple on a stick and sweet, juicy mango slices purchased from a regular street vendor. This is one of the healthiest and tastiest way to keep yourself satiated and hydrated. 


7) Every drink comes with a straw (including water). If you purchase a water bottle, chances are that you will get a plastic straw along with it. Feel free to say no to it. Thailand seems to have missed the memo about reducing the usage of plastic.

7) Every drink comes with a straw (including water). If you purchase a water bottle, chances are that you will get a plastic straw along with it. Feel free to say no to it. Thailand seems to have missed the memo about reducing the usage of plastic. 


8) Street food and that in dhaba like restaurants is cheap, tasty, and hygenic most of the times. In fact, the only time we ate at a fancy restaurant was on our first day in Thailand. We had just fought Visa on arrival, sleepless night, and missing hotel booking battles, and we were really hungry and not in a mood to search too much for a good place to eat. But we don't really regret that because we had the best Khao Soi there.

8) Street food and that in dhaba like restaurants is cheap, tasty, and hygenic most of the times. In fact, the only time we ate at a fancy restaurant was on our first day in Thailand. We had just fought Visa on arrival, sleepless night, and missing hotel booking battles, and we were really hungry and not in a mood to search too much for a good place to eat. But we don't really regret that because we had the best Khao Soi there. 


9) Night markets everywhere are different. Each one is an experience in itself. The one we liked the most was at Chiang Mai. It was endless with some really interesting shops. And it has the massage stations that give the best possible foot massages. Click here to read about our experience. In contrast, the night market at Ayutthaya was more about food than anything else. It was nice too in its own way. We enjoyed some rich sausages and Pad Thai noodles here.

9) Night markets everywhere are different. Each one is an experience in itself. The one we liked the most was at Chiang Mai. It was endless with some really interesting shops. And it has the massage stations that give the best possible foot massages. Click here to read about our experience. In contrast, the night market at Ayutthaya was more about food than anything else. It was nice too in its own way. We enjoyed some rich sausages and Pad Thai noodles here.  


10) You will get sun burnt or at least badly tanned no matter what. We discovered it the hard way. Despite layering ourselves with sunscreen and putting on hats and sunglasses and full sleeves clothes whenever we could, I was sporting a sunburnt nose and VJ a deep tan on his arms by the time we reached Ayutthaya. We weren't even close to the beach by then. So, take necessary precautions, but also accept this as inevitable.


10) You will get sun burnt or at least badly tanned no matter what. We discovered it the hard way. Despite layering ourselves with sunscreen and putting on hats and sunglasses and full sleeves clothes whenever we could, I was sporting a sunburnt nose and VJ a deep tan on his arms by the time we reached Ayutthaya. We weren't even close to the beach by then. So, take necessary precautions, but also accept this as inevitable. 


11) Thai green and red tea are amazing. And the way they make it with cold milk and sugar, it was my drink of choice throughout our stay. Refreshing and filling, this can be another snack that works well in this climate.


11) Thai green and red tea are amazing. And the way they make it with cold milk and sugar, it was my drink of choice throughout our stay. Refreshing and filling, this can be another snack that works well in this climate. 

12) Everywhere you go, there is a cheaper way to get there than the one you used. We tried every possible mode of transportation - domestic flights, trains, sky train, Songthaew, autos, local buses, intercity minivans, night buses etc. But whatever we chose, there was a cheaper alternative. However, decisions are sometimes made for reasons other than money and at the end of the trip we felt that we had chosen the best option everywhere.


12) Everywhere you go, there is a cheaper way to get there than the one you used. We tried every possible mode of transportation - domestic flights, trains, sky train, Songthaew, autos, local buses, intercity minivans, night buses etc. But whatever we chose, there was a cheaper alternative. However, decisions are sometimes made for reasons other than money and at the end of the trip we felt that we had chosen the best option everywhere. 

13) The tour buses may not arrive on time to pick you up. Usually, we have found that the companies that provide guided tours are very punctual because any delay at one point makes them late everywhere else. But in Phuket, where we had booked a day tour to Phi Phi islands, our tour operator made us wait for a whopping 1.5 hours before picking us up. It was really upsetting for us at that point in time.


13) The tour buses may not arrive on time to pick you up. Usually, we have found that the companies that provide guided tours are very punctual because any delay at one point makes them late everywhere else. But in Phuket, where we had booked a day tour to Phi Phi islands, our tour operator made us wait for a whopping 1.5 hours before picking us up. It was really upsetting for us at that point in time. 


14) Night buses are a cool and convenient way to travel, provided you choose the right service provider. We chose Bus Express and Phuket Travel. They were punctual, comfortable, and convenient. In fact night buses are a great way to avoid wasting a day travelling and to save on overnight stay at a hotel. We saved for 2 nights stay in this trip because we chose night buses from Bangkok to Phuket and back.

14) Night buses are a cool and convenient way to travel, provided you choose the right service provider. We chose Bus Express and Phuket Travel. They were punctual, comfortable, and convenient. In fact night buses are a great way to avoid wasting a day travelling and to save on overnight stay at a hotel. We saved for 2 nights stay in this trip because we chose night buses from Bangkok to Phuket and back. 


15) The experience can be as normal or overwhelming as you want it to be. It depends entirely on where and how you spend your time. We had heard a lot about Thailand, but after our trip we can say that the place is much more sane and safe than most places in India. You see people from all genders integrated in the workforce. You see girls and boys having a great time in pubs and bars. You see glamorously dressed bar tenders and hardworking middle aged women earning their living. It is a very interesting place indeed. And if you experience it with an open mind, you are sure to come back with a much more wider view of the world.


15) The experience can be as normal or overwhelming as you want it to be. It depends entirely on where and how you spend your time. We had heard a lot about Thailand, but after our trip we can say that the place is much more sane and safe than most places in India. You see people from all genders integrated in the workforce. You see girls and boys having a great time in pubs and bars. You see glamorously dressed bar tenders and hardworking middle aged women earning their living. It is a very interesting place indeed. And if you experience it with an open mind, you are sure to come back with a much more wider view of the world. 


16) If you plan to get a tattoo, this may be the right place. Also for braiding. I wanted to do both, but in the end did neither. On the other hand, we have friends who did both in the same trip. Especially when it comes to tattoos, do some research before you choose to get one. Choose a reliable parlour.

16) If you plan to get a tattoo, this may be the right place. Also for braiding. I wanted to do both, but in the end did neither. On the other hand, we have friends who did both in the same trip. Especially when it comes to tattoos, do some research before you choose to get one. Choose a reliable parlour.  

Related Blogpost from Bangkok, Thailand - Bangkok Flower Market - Pak Khlong Talat, Thailand


17) There are beautiful tropical birds and flowers everywhere. Honestly, there were beautiful orchids of all colours at every shop and restaurant. And what can we say about birds. It was a treat to us bird lovers. Ayutthaya was especially generous as we came across so many beautiful species. Click here to read about our experience.

17) There are beautiful tropical birds and flowers everywhere. Honestly, there were beautiful orchids of all colours at every shop and restaurant. And what can we say about birds. It was a treat to us bird lovers. Ayutthaya was especially generous as we came across so many beautiful species. Click here to read about our experience.   

18) If you are going to Bangkok around new year, spend the night in the city. We regretted flying out on New Year's Eve. The city was unbelievably happening on that evening. There were music concerts on the streets. Buildings were lit up and there were happy faces everywhere. I would have given anything to be able to delay our flight for a day or two. But that wasn't possible anymore.

18) If you are going to Bangkok around new year, spend the night in the city. We regretted flying out on New Year's Eve. The city was unbelievably happening on that evening. There were music concerts on the streets. Buildings were lit up and there were happy faces everywhere. I would have given anything to be able to delay our flight for a day or two. But that wasn't possible anymore. 


19) It is okay to skip a few Wats or temples. Because to be honest, they do get repetitive and monotonous after a while. Do some research on the must-visit ones in every city and stick to those unless you are religious and genuinely want to visit all.

19) It is okay to skip a few Wats or temples. Because to be honest, they do get repetitive and monotonous after a while. Do some research on the must-visit ones in every city and stick to those unless you are religious and genuinely want to visit all. 


20) Respect Buddha. And I feel this is a very valid ask. I too find it weird how it has become acceptable to have Buddha images anywhere. On clothes, in paintings, and in some cases it is just the Buddha head that is used for decoration. We might find it okay, but Thai people expect you to respect Buddha. I feel this is anyways the least one can do.     And apart from all this, don't forget to let your hair down and enjoy your stay. Thailand has a lot to offer.

20) Respect Buddha. And I feel this is a very valid ask. I too find it weird how it has become acceptable to have Buddha images anywhere. On clothes, in paintings, and in some cases it is just the Buddha head that is used for decoration. We might find it okay, but Thai people expect you to respect Buddha. I feel this is anyways the least one can do. 


And apart from all this, don't forget to let your hair down and enjoy your stay. Thailand has a lot to offer. 

Related Blogpost from Thailand - Train Journey from Bangkok to Aayutthaya in Thailand

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