The Kingdom of Thailand, the Land of Smiles, a mystical, beautiful country in South East Asia, a country where flocks of travellers visit each and every day, year in, year out; to lay on the beaches, explore the cities, taste the amazing food and throw themselves into the culture. As well as all of these amazing aspects of the country, Thailand has also become the party capital of South East Asia; twenty-something backpackers flood to the beaches to get a taste of what it’s like the party under the milky way with the warm sea at your feet, The Land of Smiles really has something to offer everyone. It’s really no surprise that last year 26million of us went East side to explore the stunning country, I was one of those 26 million, heading there a year and half ago for the first time on my first solo trip; I backpacked down from Bangkok to the Gulf, where I ended up on Koh Tao, it was love at first sight when I landed on that island. A month after I left Thailand I returned back there, to live on Koh Tao for two months; it was the most amazing time of my life. I adore Thailand, not only is it beautiful, but it’s where I found my feet, where I first realised my dream of travelling and it is where I finally felt at ‘home’, I will always love it there and I am positive that I will return over and over again (my next trip being in the early part of 2015).
Over the past year there have been so many people who have messaged me to say that they’d love to go to Thailand, but they’re worried or nervous about it. Some people who I have spoken to had already booked up their trip, but have qualms about what it’s going to be like; so I thought I’d put together a little prep before-you-go guide with some of the questions I’m asked most often:
I want to go to Thailand, but I’m too worried to go on my own:
Firstly, don’t be worried about going on your own. Thailand is a brilliant country, the people are friendly and because tourism and travel is such a big trade over there, there are always many people to talk to, you’re never truly alone there if you don’t want to be. If you’re still in doubt then I highly recommend using a tour group, there are so many to choose from, but I went for Real Gap. They’re a brilliant and respectable company who offer a number of amazing tours throughout the world, I went for the ‘Bangkok to Beaches’ package for two weeks, but they offer much longer trips at brilliant prices. I flew on my own, met my guide at the airport and met up with the entire group that night; take a look-see at their website, I guarantee you’ll find that there will be something to satisfy your wanderlust.
Okay! I’ve booked! Shit, what the hell do I pack?
I’m going to tell you a piece of advice that every other travel website and blog will tell you, a piece of advice that every single person who has backpacked will tell you, you DO NOT need as much as you think you do. Now please bear in mind that I don’t take this advice myself, I always, constantly over pack and I end up resenting my backpack by the second day. So, I’ll tell you a few things that you should most definitely pack… firstly, long sleeve shirt and trousers, “what!” I can hear you shout “it’s 34 degrees in BKK” yes, yes it is. BUT! You will be refused access to the temples if you don’t have your arms and legs covered then you won’t be seeing the golden temple, or the reclining Buddha, or many of the other amazing temples and sacred places in Thailand – and trust me, those are memories that are worth making. As well as this take a few t-shirts and shorts, a pashmina, and a pack a towel, also your own sunscreen and deodorant, unless you want your skin bleached, 98% of Thai products contain skin bleaching ingredients. Other bits you can buy over there for a third of the price and won’t have to lug them across the world.
I end my trip in the gulf/down south, how do I get back to BKK?
Honestly, you won’t believe how easy it is to travel in Thailand. Once you’re at your final destination go to one of the very many of the travel agents and book your trip back to Bangkok, they will arrange the boats, the transfers, the bus and sometimes the train. Now, this is important, if you get the bus from Chumphon you won’t end up back in BKK until midnight, you will then have to wander around trying to find a place to lay your weary head. I’d suggest getting the night train, sleeping on the train and waking up in BKK semi-refreshed. I’ve not done this option yet (I will be upon my return) but I’ve got friends who have gone this route and have said how easy it was, all for a few Baht more.
How much spending money do I need?
You can do things pretty cheaply over there, hostel rooms start from a couple of pounds; or you can get a decent private room for about £20 a night. It’s a good thing to remember that the less you pay the more uncomfortable you’ll be, there will only be a fan and a cold shower, but for the price of being in paradise who cares? Am I right?! Food and drink spending money, this is where it gets tricky, in BKK you can eat quite cheaply, Pad Thai costs a few pence, as do rice dishes or street food, all of which are amazing. Alcohol, well it depends on how much you drink, beer is super cheap, as are the potent cocktails, budget travel in Thailand gets you a lot further than you can imagine. However, the prices go up the closer you get to the coast and islands.
When can I book?
Now! Do it now!! Ring up real gap, or go solo, either way; I promise you, you will have the time of your life.
I adore Thailand, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of it ever since I was a child and now, the obsession and love is even stronger, I’ll be writing a note or 10 about Koh Tao in the future, how I found my centre on a tiny island in the Thai gulf. if you want to talk anything Thai related drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve mentioned Real Gap quite a lot in this post, I think it’s important to note that they did not ask me to rave about them or their trips over here; I just really love the company this much. They’ve been my inspiration and go-to Travel Company for years, Hannah recommended for sure.