Thailand: Your Next Bucket List Item
Travel, not to escape life, but so life doesn’t escape you – Unknown
Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries I have visited, and I definitely think you should consider it for your next vacation!
Thailand is often called as the “Land of the Smiles”, which is fitting because it is a happy place to be, for the locals and the visitors! You definitely will be smiling if you go there whether it be because of the endless beaches, the party atmosphere, or the great food. Since going to Thailand in 2015, I have been looking for an opportunity to go back, that’s how enjoyable the trip was!
We chose to visit Thailand through a Free&Easy 20-day trip in May 2015. This was a great option for us because it was our first major trip to a developing country and we booked it without much time in advance. So we felt better going with a predetermined itinerary – less thinking on our part!
Fights to Thailand from Canada are fairly long, so expect long travel days. We flew from Calgary to Vancouver, over to Taiwan, and down to Bangkok. It took us about 30 hours travel time by the time we made it to our accommodations. Flights were around $1500 CDN a person. Not quite the best deal, but given we didn’t book with that much time in advance, I thought they were alright (I have seen flights for $1800 or more).
When we landed in Bangkok, we exchanged some money into the local Thai currency (baht) right at the airport. We found that in the 20 day period, we exchanged money at ATM’s about 3 times. This way we never had an excessive amount of money on us, but we also had enough to last about a week and a half each time. We then met up with our group leaders and made our way to the first accommodation location.
Our accommodations throughout the trip were mostly bungalows, which were incredibly cute! You can get accommodations in Thailand for extremely cheap, so there is not too much to worry about in regards to your budget. I also think it is fairly easy to walk into places and get accommodations. This is great for backpackers because they don’t always know how much time they are going to be spending in a particular area, so having a bit of flexibility is nice.
We stayed in Bangkok for a couple nights, which was a good introduction to city life and the culture. The heat was incredible. Being Canadian, we are used to cooler temperatures! The temperatures during our time on this trip ranged from 36 – 44 degrees Celsius (Picture someone melting. That is what it felt like). During our time in Bangkok we checked out the MBK mall (it’s 7 stories high), Khaoson Road where we could buy souvenirs, and the large sleeping Buddha temple. If you have spare time, I would recommend checking these places out because they give you great insights to Thai culture.
After Bangkok, we took a night train down to Koh Phangan. This island is where the famous Full-Moon parties take place. We unfortunately were not on the island during a Full-Moon party, but I can see how they would be fun. The island was incredibly beautiful, and was just generally a relaxing place to be. I would love to come back here someday!
Next we traveled over to the Khao Sok National Park. I think this is a must-see for people visiting the country. There are tons of water bungalows that you can book and get boat rides out to. It is an incredibly peaceful area, and it really lets you immerse yourself into nature. In the mornings we woke up to the sound of monkeys chattering, as well as a variety of birds. We also were able to take part in a bat cave excursion, which while slightly questionable, was an awesome experience!
From the Khao Sok National Park, we traveled to Koh Phi Phi. Again, this island is a MUST if you are travelling to Thailand. It has a lot going on! There is a huge market with tons of souvenirs and other locally made goods that you can check out. Because the island has so much beach space, you can walk down the beach at night and bar hop. Koh Phi Phi also has some amazing scuba diving excursions, as well as options to go out and visit Maya Bay, where The Beach was filmed in 1999.
Finally, we traveled to our last destination; Railay beach, which is part of Krabi. Railay beach is one of the most stunning places I have ever been too. The sunsets each night are like no other. During our time here we rock climbed, rappelled down a mountain after a hike and had a lot of beach and pool time. Also a short walk away is Pranang Cave, which is a phallic shrine dedicated to a goddess in Krabi. The cave supposedly helps with safe sea travel, as well as increasing ones fertility if they touch anything in the cave. It is definitely worth checking out! Overall, the Railay beach sunsets are part of my internal motivation to get back to this country because they were so gorgeous.
When we moved from island to island, or island to mainland, we took either a ferry or small boat. I have done a little research online and have found that booking a ferry from Phuket, or between Koh Phi Phi and Railay seems fairly easy to do. So I would recommend looking into it and not missing out on these wonderful spots.
Things to keep in mind: Thailand required us to have our vaccinations up to date. This included Hep A and B. We also looked into taking Malaria pills with us, but decided against it because the side effects were pretty severe and we were not going to be spending much time in areas that had malaria. If we had decided to go to Laos, we might have reconsidered because they have a higher rate of malaria. Also, I would expect to get sick. We took Imodium and a general antibiotic with us, but we both still felt the effects of food sickness. My stomach felt uncomfortable at some points, but my boyfriend got full on food poisoning. So it was good we had medication with us in preparation for that! If anything I think this trip brought us together more because now we really know everything about each other…
That being said, the food in Thailand was amazing! I highly recommend going out and getting street food during the day. You are able to watch them cook it right in front of you and it is very quick. I think the street Pad Thai was the best Pad Thai I have ever had. But in general, their curries, stir-fry’s and other dishes are extremely yummy! The only things that we found bothered us were milk products (milkshake), and the burger that caused my boyfriend to get sick. We also were told that when you go to Thailand, it is best to eat food that they are good at making, not American-ized food because it is processed differently – hence, it makes sense why the burger caused food poisoning.
Extra tidbits: You are going to need sunscreen. There is no way around it. So buy lots in advance! Also, some of the temples require you to cover your shoulders and knees, so it is good to grab a beach covering or sarong because you can throw this over your shoulders and go into the temple. Its also great to have a beach covering when you need to cover those sun-burnt shoulders!
You will encounter monkeys. I was not scared of monkeys until I went to Thailand only because I found out they hang out in little monkey-gangs and will take whatever they can for you. The best advice I can give you is to cover up any snacks, beers, water bottles that you are carrying because if they see it, they might try to grab it. I believe if you get scratched or bit you need to get examined for rabies which would not be fun! The best way to deal with monkeys throughout your travels is to leave them alone, give them space, and continue on your way.
Also, get as many massages as you can. They are like $8 CDN.. Need I say more?
Lastly, expect to have ridiculous amounts of fun. Thailand is an amazing place to visit, and I think everyone should get to experience it. If it is not on your bucket list, put it on there right now!
I hope this information helps you in your trip planning. There are so many places to go and things to do in Thailand, you will definitely have fun. If you have any questions about Thailand, or travelling, please let me know!