Travelling to Thailand soon? Check out this useful guide before your trip! Last Updated: November 14, 2022
Thailand is a year-round destination. Since it is a tropical country, the weather is favourable for travel almost throughout the year.
You will notice frequent showers in different parts of Thailand between July and October but you can still travel during this time as the weather is favourable enough to travel around the country.
A few fun facts about the Kingdon of Thailand that you may or may not know:
- It is home to the World’s Largest Solid Gold Buddha
- It is the birthplace of the energy drink ‘Red Bull’
- It is the first Asian country to legalize cannabis
- Rice is an essential part of their staple diet
- 95% of the Thai population is Buddhist
- It is the only South Asian country that was never colonized by Europeans
There are 19 countries in the world that can avail of the visa-on-arrival facility in Thailand. If you are from one of these countries, keep reading!
1. Visa On Arrival (Documents needed, validity and cost of VOA)
As an Indian passport holder, I was eligible for a Visa on Arrival facility. So even though I flew into Thailand from Indonesia, I could still apply for a visa on arrival when I landed in Bangkok.
Here are the documents required for Visa On Arrival:
- A valid passport with an expiry date of more than 30 days
- Proof of confirmed return flight ticket within 15 days from the date of entry
- Proof of accommodation during your entire stay in Thailand. Hotel / Airbnb / Hostel allowed
- Proof of funds of at least 10,000 THB for single travellers or 20,000 THB for groups during your Thailand stay
Visa validity: 15 days
Cost: 2000 THB, must be paid in cash and only in local Thai currency
2. Getting around Thailand
The cheapest way to get around Thailand is by buses, trains or ferries. For example, if you want to go from Phuket to Koh Samui, you can choose to fly or take a bus/car to the ferry terminal and then take the ferry to Koh Samui.
The first option is at least 8x more expensive but the journey time is only 1 hour. The latter is quite cheap but the journey time is 7 hours.
There are frequent flights between touristy locations like Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Bangkok. If you are okay to spend more money and save time, then flights would be a good option for you.
My suggestion would be to take local transport like ferries and buses for short distances and flights for long distances like Krabi or Phuket to Bangkok.
3. Currency Exchange
Thailand’s local currency is Thai Baht (THB). It is always good to carry the local currency with you in cash before you land as you will need 2000 THB for a visa on arrival if you’re eligible for it. It is also easier to have some cash handy for the taxi from the airport to your hotel.
Avoid exchanging money at the airport as the exchange rates are higher.
Debit cards and credit cards are widely used in Thailand but you may be charged a fee of at least 2% depending on which card you use.
If you plan to use your card, there are 2 travel cards that I would recommend:
- Niyo Global: This is the first time I used Niyo Global. Although I majorly used cash, there was one instance where this card turned out to be super useful. It has zero mark-up fee and you also get free international lounge access in India
- ICICI Forex card: I have been using this for many years now. I didn’t get a chance to use it on this trip but it has worked really well for me in the previous years
In my opinion, keeping a mix of cash and card would be useful.
4. Packing tips
Thailand is a tropical country so the weather is almost always hot! You will mostly need summer clothes and maybe a light jacket for the evenings when it can get more pleasant during the winter months (November – March).
Here’s what you can pack:
- Summer tops (for ladies)
- Flip flops
- Trekking shoes
- Summer dresses
- A small backpack
- A sarong or a long skirt (this is for ladies – as the temples in Thailand expect you to cover your legs entirely. It is not mandatory in all temples but out of respect for Thai culture, it is recommended to follow the norm)
- A long sleeve top/t-shirt for ladies – same reason as above)
You can always shop in Thailand when you need anything but it is good to be prepared in advance to save time and cost.
5. Travel insurance
I will ALWAYS recommend carrying travel insurance with you irrespective of whether it is required for visa purposes.
Travel insurance has been my saviour a few times in the recent past. I have had two scary accidents on my travels before and have had to go to the hospital abroad.
Although the hospital bills were steep, my insurance covered me.
So please get one! You cant anticipate unforeseen circumstances.
As of now, I doubt it is required for VOA in Thailand (I wasn’t asked for it) but in rare cases, they may ask you so always keep it in handy.
Here are two Travel Insurances I recommend:
6. Sim card
I personally didn’t buy any SIM cards during my 2 weeks in Thailand. It wasn’t really a big problem since I had wifi in hotels and restaurants anyway.
Getting international roaming from your home country is another option but it is much more expensive than buying a local SIM card.
3 main phone operators are widely used in Thailand – AIS, DTAC, and True Move. If you are planning to get a SIM card in Thailand, you can opt for either of these.
Thailand has some really good options for all kinds of travellers.
Depending on which season you visit the country in, the prices might change.
If you are a large group, booking an apartment or a villa on Airbnb might be a good option besides hotels.
For solo travellers and backpackers, you have the option to stay in hostels or book budget hotels too.
8. Thai food
Thai cuisine is delicious – it is full of flavours. There are multiple local Thai restaurants where you can find authentic food that is super cheap.
If you are a vegetarian, you really don’t have to worry too much as there are multiple options for you to try as well.
I was blown away by the vegetarian options that I had. Some of the local vegetarian dishes to try to include Pad Thai, Som Yuand, Pad Phak, Thai Curry etc.
I will probably write a separate article on the vegetarian things to eat in Thailand 🙂
9. Places to visit
While Thailand has a lot to offer, I would recommend some places that are quite commercial but still worth it – Phuket, Phi Phi, Krabi, Koh Samui and Bangkok.
There are 2 more places that are slightly offbeat:
- Koh Phanghan: This place is known for the Full Moon Party which takes place once every month. Even if you don’t end up going during the party dates, it is still a great place for a relaxing getaway. You will find tons of cafes serving vegan and vegetarian food
- Chiang Mai: A great place for digital nomads in Northern Thailand. Also great for a short visit. The scenery is very different here as compared to the other islands and cities in Thailand. You will find more mountains here which are good for trekking and other activities. Again, they have great cafes too!
10. Thai language & Thai people
English is not widely spoken in Thailand. You may find it easy to get your way around in big cities like Bangkok and Phuket but it is always good to know the basics of the local language.
There are several apps to translate for you but that is more time-consuming so learning a few words or sentences by heart in Thai would be useful.
I recently made a short video on 5 words/ sentences that you should know when you are in Thailand. You can check it out here.
The people of Thailand are friendly and helpful in most cases, especially in touristy areas. They are also very hospitable and welcome tourists with open arms.
Hope this started guide to Thailand helps you plan your trip better.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment below or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org