What do you need to know before you visit Thailand?

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Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia known for its tropical beaches, exotic islands, ultra-modern cities, fascinating tribes, rich culture, and innumerable temples.

It is very easy to discover the beauty of this country on your own and we hope that this guide will help you organize your holidays in the “Land of Smiles”.

We wrote about the places we liked most in Thailand in this article and about Bangkok, the charming capital of Thailand here.

How to get a visa for Thailand?

Visa-On-Arrival

You can check here if you need a visa to visit Thailand.

If you need a visa and you plan to travel to Thailand for tourism purposes for a maximum period of 15 days, you can get a visa online (eVisa) or directly at the airport (Visa-On-Arrival).

eVisa is available only if you enter Thailand through one of the following airports: Don Muang Airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport, Chiang Mai International Airport, and Phuket Airport.

Documents you need to get Visa-On-Arrival:

  • Passport valid at least 6 months after leaving Thailand;
  • Return airline tickets;
  • The completed form (you will receive it directly there or you can find it online)
  • One 4×6 cm photograph for each applicant.

When to visit Thailand?

The best time to visit Thailand is from November to April (with the least chance of rain in January and February) and the worst period is in the rainy season, from May to October.

However, the weather can be unpredictable and short rains can often occur.

In Thailand, there are 3 seasons: hot, cold and rainy and the weather differs from region to region.

Central Thailand: Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, and Lopburi

The best time to visit this part of Thailand is from December to March, and the most unfavorable in the rainy season, which runs from May to October (with the most frequent rains in September and October).

East coast – Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao

In this area, the most suitable weather for a visit tends to be from January to March.

West coast – the Andaman Sea and Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta, and Koh Phi Phi Islands

The best time to visit the most popular destinations in the country, Phuket and Krabi, is from November to April.

If your visit takes place between September and December, you have the chance to see whales near the coast of Thailand.

The northern Thailand: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Pai

The best time to visit this charming region is December – March.

How much does a holiday in Thailand cost?

Thailand is a very popular holiday destination considering the stunning landscapes and the affordable prices.

We started planning our holiday about 4 months in advance and it only cost us 1100 Euro / person, a very low price, considering the fact that we have visited many beautiful places and enjoyed great experiences.

We spent 15 days in Thailand and visited the central region (Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and Kanchanaburi), northern Thailand (Ching Mai, Chiang Rai, and the Golden Triangle) and a few islands in the south of the country (Phuket, Similan Islands, Phi Phi Islands, and Phang Nga Bay).

We wrote an article about the places we liked most in Thailand and you can read it here.

How do you get to Thailand?

It is very easy to get to Thailand, as there are countless flights departing daily to Bangkok, Phuket or Chiang Mai airports.

We flew with Turkish Airlines on the route Cluj Napoca – Istanbul – Bangkok and back Phuket – Istanbul – Cluj Napoca and both flights had a short 3 hour layover in Istanbul. We bought the tickets a few months in advance and they cost about 500 Euro per person / round trip.

However, we advise you to use Skyscanner to find the best deals for your visit.

Which companies to choose for domestic flights?

For domestic flights, there are a lot of economical options available too.

We flew with AirAsia in Thailand and the ticket price was acceptable (30 Euro + 385 Bath checked baggage for the flight Bangkok – Chiang Mai and 60 Euro + 385 Bath checked baggage Chiang Mai – Phuket).

We flew to several countries in Asia with AirAsia and we also flew to Perth – Australia with them and had only pleasant flights.

The most important airports in Thailand:

Bangkok is the main gateway to the country and the starting point for other parts of Thailand.

There are 2 airports in Bangkok: Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK).

How do you get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Don Mueang Airport?

Bus number 554 connects the two airports, it is free and runs from 5 AM until midnight.

The bus departs from the Public Transportation Center where you will arrive with a free shuttle bus from Suvarnabhumi.

Bear in mind that you will need at least 2 hours to get from one airport to another.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)

It is the newest and largest airport in the city and most international flights arrive here.

We flew with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul and arrived at this airport.

How can you get from the airport to the city?

Bangkok Airport Rail Link

Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link connects the airport with Makkasan Station (near Petchaburi MRT Metro Station) and Phaya Thai Station (BTS Skytrain – the main public transportation system in the city).

The trip costs between 15 and 45 Bath, depending on the distance and the bus runs every 10-15 minutes.

Tickets can be purchased from the ticket machines located in the stations and can be paid using coins (1,5 or 10 Bath) or banknotes (20,50,100 or 500 Bath).

The train has a total of 8 stations and when you buy your ticket, you have to pick the name of the station which is your destination and the cost of the ticket will be calculated automatically.

Hours: 5:30 AM – 24:00

By taxi / Grab

Due to the fact that we traveled with a group of friends, we took the taxi from the airport and paid 200 Bath.

Since April 2018 Uber is no longer available in Thailand, but you can use the Grab app to order a taxi.

By bus

There is a bus that transports passengers free to the Public Transportation Center, from where you can take another bus to any area of the city.

Don Mueang Airport (DMK)

It is the city’s old airport and hosts low-cost companies in Thailand. We flew with AirAsia to Chiang Mai from here.

How can you get from the airport to the city?

By bus

Bus A1 (Airport Limo Bus Express) connects the airport to the Mo Chit Bus Station. The bus leaves every 5 minutes and the ticket costs 30 Bath. Hours: 7 AM – 24:00

The second option is the Airport Limousine Bus Express which connects the airport to the Khao San Station and costs 150 Bath. Hours: 10 AM – 11:30 PM

From both stations (Mo Chit Bus and Khao San) you can reach the city center by metro or BTS Skytrain.

By taxi / Grab

We took the taxi to the airport and paid 220 Bath.

Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX)

It is the main airport in the north of the country. We flew here from Bangkok and from here to Phuket, both flights were operated by AirAsia.

How do you get from the airport to the city?

The airport is about 10 minutes away by car from the city.

Chiang Mai Airport Bus

It only costs 20 Bath, it is the cheapest option and the bus runs every 20-30 minutes between 6 AM and 10:30 PM.

The 2 routes reach the city and have stops at Nimman Road, Chang Phuak Gate, Three Kings Monument, Tha Phae Gate and Night Bazaar.

By taxi / Grab

The trip costs between 100-200 Bath, depending on the distance.

Since April 2018, Uber is no longer available in Thailand, but if you want to order a taxi using an app, you can use the Grab app.

By Songtaew (shared taxis)

Generally, the trip costs around 40-60 Bath / person.

With the tuk-tuk

The tuk-tuk trip costs around 150 Bath.

By minibus:

The minibus trip costs 60 Bath, but it does not have a fixed schedule and leaves the station only when it is full.

Phuket International Airport (HKT)

It is the entry point to the paradise of tropical beaches. Which is why it is the second busiest airport in the country. The distance between the airport and the beaches is between 21 and 47 km.

How can you get from the airport to the hotel?

By bus:

There are 2 routes, one to Phuket Bus Terminal and the second to Karon, Patong and Kata beaches.

The ticket to Phuket Bus Terminal costs 100 Bath, to Patong 150 Bath and to Kata or Karon 200 Bath.

The bus runs from 8 AM to 8 PM, which is why it was not a variant to consider for us, given that our flight was about to arrive near midnight.

By minibus:

The tickets cost 100 Bath to Phuket Town, 150 Bath to Patong Beach and 180 to Kata or Karon Beaches.

The minibus has no fixed schedule and does not operate at night. It leaves the station when it is full, the journey takes about an hour and the driver will leave all passengers directly to the hotel.

By taxi:

The taxi ride takes about 55 minutes and costs around $ 25.

Hotel Transfer:

Since our flight arrived so late, we opted for this option. We paid 20 Euros and the car waited for us at the airport and took us directly to the hotel.

By Airport Limousine

They are a kind of taxis, but they have newer cars and the prices are fixed, depending on the distance (at our visit, the fares were between 20 and 40 Euro).

What means of transport can you use in Thailand?

We traveled by taxi, plane, subway, train, Songtaew, tuk-tuk, boat and Skytrain.

By plane

Travel by plane is the fastest but also the most expensive option. Although it is the most expensive option, it is still accessible, most flights cost between 20 and 200 euros (depending on the time of year and destination). The most expensive destination is Ko Samui.

By train

Train travel enjoys great popularity in Thailand.

1st class exists only on night trains, and the conditions are excellent.

The conditions in the second class are also good, the trains have air conditioning and seats that turn into beds, and the tickets are much cheaper than in the first class.

3rd class trains have no air conditioning, but the temperature is acceptable, and the seats are comfortable. We traveled a short distance (Bangkok-Ayutthaya) on 3rd class and we did not find the conditions bad and the ticket only cost 30 Bath (1 USD).

Travel by train can take a long time, so if you are in a hurry, it is better to opt for the plane.

If you want to take the night train, we advise you to book your tickets a few days in advance. We tried to buy tickets for the night train that runs between Bangkok and Chang Mai a week in advance and there were no free seats on 1st class (reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance).

On day trains, you will find free seats and you can buy tickets directly from the train station.

By bus

Buses arrive in more parts of the country than trains and are quite fast, especially night busses.

There are public buses, which have many stations and run slowly but are cheaper than express buses (VIPs), which usually travel at night, make fewer stops and are faster.

By ferry

It is a good option to consider for those who want a beach holiday and want to visit the wonderful tropical islands. Prices are around $ 25.

Which SIM card to use in Thailand?

We bought a 599 Bath SIM card from AIS (AIS TRAVELER SIM). The package included unlimited internet for 15 days and 100 Bath credit. We made Hotspot on the phone and connected all the devices to the Internet.

What are the most important festivals in Thailand?

Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai

The festival usually takes place in mid-November in Chiang Mai, when people release thousands of floating lanterns into the night’s sky over Peng River, as a symbol of looking to a better future and leaving the problems of that year behind.

Phi Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)

The festival takes place in Dan Sai and the event combines religious traditions with the party atmosphere, artisan costumes, and masks.

Chinese New Year

You can take part in this festival in the Chinatown district of Bangkok when the neighborhood is lively, and the party spirit reigns on every alley. You will see dancers, dragons and parades and the neighborhood is beautifully decorated. The festival is celebrated on January 25th.

Full moon parties on Koh Phangan Island

They are some of the biggest parties in the world, considering that about 30,000 parties gather on the beach. It is a good opportunity to spend time with your friends, and even if you are not a big fan of parties, it is worth attending this event, at least for the sake of experience.

Thai New Year Festival – Songkran (13-15 April)

Thai New Year is on the 13 April every year. One of the traditions is the water fight, which symbolizes the removal of bad luck.

Driving license and car rental in Thailand

In Thailand, you drive on the left side of the road. If you want to drive legally in Thailand, you will need to have an International Driving Permit or a driving license obtained in Thailand

Even driving a scooter without an International Driving Permit is not legal, but most scooter rental companies do not even ask you to show a driving license.

If you rent a scooter and do not have an International Driving Permit if you are stopped by the police, you will have to pay a fine of 500-1000 Bath, but to reduce the number of accidents, fine may increase considerably in the future.

Scooters rental is very cheap (4-7 Euro / day), which is why many tourists choose to risk and rent one.

International Driving Permit is a translation of the driving license into 7 languages.

The speed limit is 120 km / hour on the motorway and 50 km / hour in the cities.

Where to stay in Thailand?

Accommodation in Chiang Mai

When it comes to hotels, the little hotel we stayed in Chiang Mai is the first recommendation we think about.

Little Guest House Hotel is owned by a wonderful family. We were greeted with a big smile and we received tips and recommendations on places to visit and a map of the sights in and around the city.

They are very nice people, and if you arrive in Chiang Mai, we recommend this hotel with large and clean rooms, located in a very good area, close to the old town.

Northern Thailand is our favorite region in the country. Here we realized for the first time why Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles”.

Accommodation in Phuket

The accommodation offer in Phuket is very generous and you will certainly find something that suits you, especially if you book early.

We stayed at the Bliss Hotel, which is located very close to the beach, and nearby you will find everything that might interest you.

Accommodation in Bangkok

After reading a lot about the best places to stay in Bangkok, we chose 4 neighborhoods that we thought were best suited: Khao San (the choice of solo travelers, cheap accommodation, famous for active nightlife and street-food, it is about a 30-minute walk from the Grand Palace or Golden Mount), Silom (a modern neighborhood, here is the Lumphini Park, you can get here by metro or Skytrain), Siam (a modern neighborhood with many malls, here is Jim Thompson`s House and Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World) and Sukhumvit.

Sukhumvit

We chose to stay in Sukhumvit, an ultra-modern neighborhood in the central area of the city that stretches along Sukhumvit Street.

It is very convenient to stay in this area since the subway and Skytrain pass here. In addition, in the area, there are several shopping centers, markets, and restaurants with food from all over the world.

The neighborhood is also known for the active nightlife, clubs, and Skybars.

How did we spend half a day looking for accommodation?

We initially rented a 2-bedroom apartment in a very nice building with Skybar and a rooftop pool on booking.com. The day before we arrived, the host asked us to confirm the time we will arrive at the accommodation to wait for us.

The day we arrived in Bangkok; the host didn’t answer the phone. When we arrived at the reception of the building where the rented apartment was, there was nobody waiting for us, and there were even some big posters that said that renting apartments for short periods is forbidden in Thailand if the owner does not have a hotel license.

After waiting an hour, we decided to go and look for accommodation elsewhere.

We went to the closest variant we found on booking.com, without making a reservation this time. And here was also an apartment building, with a very elegant reception.

Luckily, they had a 2-bedroom apartment with a beautiful view available, and we rented it for the next 3 nights.

It was a very unpleasant experience to walk around the city and look for accommodation and most of all we regretted that we lost half a day with it.

Booking.com contacted us as soon as we announced what happened and they refunded us the money for the accommodation and the difference we paid in addition for the accommodation we booked directly there.

The M Pool Villas Bangkok

For the last 2 nights in Bangkok, we stayed at The M Pool Villas Bangkok just 500 meters from the Skytrain, in a small bungalow with a private pool.

Where to eat in Thailand?

Thai cuisine is known all over the world for its intense flavors and aromatic taste.

Of the Thai recipes we tried, we liked the most 2 chicken recipes (Kai Med Ma Muang – cooked without mushrooms and Pad Krapow – with chicken, rice and egg).

In the big cities, you will find restaurants with specific from all over the world.

You’ve probably heard of Thai Street food, the food that is cooked directly at the street stalls and is very cheap. It is said that a visit to Thailand is incomplete if you don’t try the food here. The offer is very diverse: soups, pasta, rice dishes with meat, steaks, etc.

We only ate fruits, fruit salads, fresh juices and ice cream from the street.

Fruits you should try in Thailand:

More and more exotic fruits are beginning to be available on the markets in the entire world, but they are definitely better fresh.

  • Coconut – you will see this fruit all over the country, they are available throughout the year and are known for their refreshing juice. The fruit is also used in the preparation of many Thai recipes.
  • Durian – the fruit with a strong smell that is sold at every corner.
  • Rambutan – As we stayed in Chiang Mai, we bought almost daily strawberries, bananas, and rambutan. Rambutan is a juicy fruit with a sweet-sour taste.
  • Other fruits you can try tamarind, lychee, pitahaya, mango, carambola, mangosteen, langsat, passion fruit, papaya, kumquat (Thai oranges), etc.

What to visit in Thailand?

If you arrive in Thailand, we recommend you spend a few days in the fascinating capital of the country, Bangkok, a huge and charming city, with attractions waiting to be discovered on every corner.

We wrote a complete guide for visiting Bangkok here and in this article, we wrote about the attractions in Thailand that we visited and liked the most: tropical islands, impressive parks, floating markets, and special temples.

Other things about Thailand

  • The official language in Thailand is Thai, but many people speak English.
  • Bath is the official currency of Thailand (100 Bath = 2.97 Euro).
  • No vaccination is required for Thailand.
  • The national religion of Thailand is Theravada Buddhism.
  • If you visit the temples, cover your shoulders and knees, especially in the temples in the central and northern parts of the country. Phuket and Krabi have become very touristy areas and the conditions do not seem to be so stringent … however, in respect to their culture, dress appropriately.

If you arrive in Bangkok and do not know what to visit, draw your inspiration from this article and if you have more time to explore this beautiful country, read in this article what are the main attractions in Thailand.

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