Thailand – Costs & Essential Information

Thailand gets a bad reputation with long term travelers for being too busy and too westernised, it’s also more expensive than the rest of south east Asia when it comes to food etc.

But we were really impressed with Thailands beaches and landscapes, it’s no wonder that Thailand has so many visitors each year. (Yes we did get sick of the crowds from time to time, but it wasn’t enough to make us want to leave.)

Costs:

We spent £67 per day in Thailand including accommodation, transport, food and everything else. Hotel rooms were pretty good and worked out at an average of £27 per night but rarely included breakfast.

Getting Around:

Public transport is fantastic in Thailand and getting around is really easy and cheap. It’s better not to book online, you can pre-book ferry and long distance bus tickets at the terminal the day before you travel. (Or at any travel agent, there are loads of places dotted around the main touristy areas.)

Visa:

UK passport holders don’t need a visa as long as they plan on staying less than 1 month.

Vaccinations:

At the time of writing (March 2018) there are no specific vaccinations and malaria is only present in certain areas, there is no malaria along the coast line or any of the islands.

Money:

The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht. ATM’s are absolutely everywhere although a few did reject my UK issued MasterCard. Exchange rates in March 2018 below:

£1 (GBP) = ฿43.84

$1 (USD) = ฿31.21

€1 (EUR) = ฿38.46

Hope you found this useful.

Click HERE for some more travel tips and itinerary ideas.

xxx

Thailand – Our Itinerary

We absolutely loved Thailand, breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches and we got to see lots of friends from home, which was a massive bonus.

The first stop was Kanchanaburi, known for it’s stunning waterfalls and nature reserves. Then we headed to the crazy capital city, Bangkok.

Krabi Town was our next stop before a little bit of island hopping to Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket.

We flew to Pattaya for a few nights then ended our Thailand journey with a night close to Bangkok airport.

Click HERE to read about planning your trip to Thailand, everything you need to know about visas, getting around, currency etc.

The month flew by, and even though there are more places in Thailand that we would have loved to visit, seeing our friends was our priority and took up a lot of our time.

Pattaya – Thailand

Another place in Thailand with very mixed reviews. It is super busy and a bit sleazy in places but Pattaya certainly has plenty to offer, even if your not a booze seeker. (Just be sure to stay away from the walking street area.)

We had a very short stay in Pattaya to meet up with Sean’s friend (who recently moved to Thailand from the UK) and his lovely family.

Things To Do:

Our favourite thing to do in Pattaya was to visit the viewpoint, it’s free to walk up and it’s a pretty easy walk. The views over the harbour and the city are beautiful. The viewpoint is a good place to watch sunset.

Next to the viewpoint is the Big Buddha which also has some amazing views over the city. You will need to cover your knees and shoulders ladies.

The beaches in Pattaya are beautiful, even if they are super busy. The best beach is the one at Jomtien Beach, there is a thick line of palm trees at the back of the beach which provides plenty of shade, there’s nothing worse than a beach with nowhere to hide from the blistering sun.

The night market at Jomtien Beach is open daily. All the night markets in Thailand were pretty good.

Where To Eat:

Mikes Mexican was reasonably priced and really good food. They do smaller size meals if you’re just after a lunchtime snack, otherwise portions are huge.

Getting There:

Pattaya has its own airport, its about 1 hours drive from the city centre and a mini bus transfer will cost 250B per person with drop off at your hotel.

Alternatively, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport is 1 hour and 30 minutes away but a coach transfer will only cost 120B, the bus leaves every hour and drops you next to the Grande Caribbean Resort.

Where To Stay:

We stayed at Hotel Zing, it was perfect for the price range. It had 2 swimming pools, one on the roof, clean modern rooms and it only cost £15 per night on hotels.com. Breakfast was an extra 180B each.

Karon (Phuket) – Thailand

Karon beach is a popular holiday destination for European families, it has everything you need for a family holiday. The nearby Patong is busier and has a much more party feel.

I hadn’t really known what to expect from Phuket, we had heard a few mixed reviews. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was, yes it was busy but it was still clean and felt very safe.

Our main reason for visiting Phuket was because our friends were getting married there. The wedding day was beautiful and I think they chose a really good location.

Things To Do:

The beach is the main attraction, even though it gets really busy every single day, it’s still spotless. Teams of people are employed to clean the beach every night. There is a wide range of water sports available at the beach.

The Big Buddha statue is still under construction, though the view from the top is amazing. It’s a long walk to the top, we took a shortcut through Patak Soi 12, it took around 1 hour to get to the top.

On our way back from the Buddha we took the main road and ended up at Chlong Pier (on the wrong side of the island), the scenery was gorgeous and a taxi back cost us 450B.

Karon beach is on the west side of the island, meaning that it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset, every single night was incredible.

The lake at the north end of Karon is perfect for a nice stroll after dinner or whenever you need a little bit of silence in amongst the busy town.

Where To Eat:

There are only 2 restaurants in the world that we’ve been so blown away by that we’ve returned night after night, the grasshopper in HoiAn (Vietnam) and the Friendly Restaurant in Karon.

Getting There:

We took the ferry from Phi Phi island, tickets cost 350B per person and it takes around 90 minutes. The pier is about 1 hour away from Karon beach, we bought transfers on the boat for 150B per person.

From the airport a taxi costs around 1,000B to 1,200B and takes between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes depending on traffic.

Where To Stay:

Because our friends were getting married we decided to splash out and stay in their fancy hotel, we were really lucky because at the time we booked hotels.com had 81% off the usual price! It was meant to be.

We stayed at the beautiful Phunawa Resort for only £33 per night including breakfast.

Cost:

Phuket is Thailands most visited island, therefore it’s a bit more expensive than everywhere else, for example taxis are expensive and there’s isn’t as many budget restaurants around.

Koh Lanta – Thailand

Koh Lanta is a family oriented island on the west coast of Thailand. It has a relaxed feeling and plenty of things to keep kids happy.

Things To Do:

After a hectic few weeks we really loved sitting back and enjoying island life. We spent most of our time on Klong Dao Beach, it wasn’t ever too busy and you always had space to yourself. The sea was calm and perfect for kids playing on inflatable toys.

Sunset was amazing every single night, we spent every evening on our balcony and thinking about how lucky we were to be here.

The was a Golf Driving Range just a few minutes from our hotel, we were the only people there. Club hire and 60 balls cost 160B.

Where To Eat:

There is a small night market in front of the main pier, technically a walking street but nobody seems to pay attention to that. There is one stall set out like a buffet, you pay 50B and put whatever you want on your plate, if you want a seconds then it’s an extra 50B. Hands down the best street food we had in all of Thailand. If your in Koh Lanta, do not miss this.

Sole Mare Pizzeria make real Italian pizzas, if your in need of home comforts then this is the place to go.

Getting There:

From Krabi Pier the ferry takes 2 hours 30 minutes, there’s no need to pre-book but if you do book in advance you get free hotel pick up. Tickets cost 300B and ferries leave twice per day. Check at the ticket office for the latest schedule.

From Koh Phi Phi the express ferry takes just over 1 hour and departs a few times per day. Tickets cost 350B and you’ll need to walk to the pier. Check at the pier for the latest schedules.

Where To Stay:

The Lanta Garden Home is beautiful, right on the sea front with an infinity pool looking at the ocean. It’s about 30 minutes walk from the pier and the night market.

We booked a fan only room on hotels.com for £22 per night, although in hindsight we wished we booked the A/C room for a little bit extra.

Koh Phi Phi – Thailand

Phi Phi island is by far one of the most beautiful places in Thailand, the sea is the brightest blue and so clear that you can see the coral and the fish underneath clearly even after swimming out as far as you can.

The island is very developed and you’ll be hard pushed to find an isolated spot anywhere, but with an island this beautiful its easy to see why so many people flock to the paradise of Koh Phi Phi.

Things To Do:

The Island Viewpoint on the East side of the island is fairly well sign posted, the walk will take around 30 minutes and you will be rewarded with panoramic views over the whole island, if your lucky you’ll see a monkey or two on the way. Entrance costs 30B and there is a little shop and a cafe at the top.

The calm waters around the island are perfect for kayaking, stay in the shallows and keep looking down to see all kinds of fish and sea life. Rental costs 200B for 1 hour, 100B for every hour after that. The price includes the use of a dry bag for your stuff.

There are a few different fire shows on Phi Phi island, the best one by far was the one at Hippies Bar, it starts at 9pm every night and is completely free, definitely the best fire show we’ve ever seen.

Boat trips around the island start from 1,200B depending on the type of trip you take and the boat company. The boats will all go the same or similar route and it gets really crowded. There is an early bird option starting at 6:30 am which promised to be less crowded, though we didn’t take that one so can’t vouch for its quietness.

Earlier I mentioned they it was ALMOST impossible to find a secluded spot on the island, the walk to long beach takes around 40 minutes from the town centre, long beach is usually busy but along the way there are a few smaller, less busy beaches, if your lucky there’s a chance you could have one all to yourself.

Where To Eat:

The island is a little bit more expensive than the mainland but there are still some budget options out there.

There’s a small night market not far from the pier where a curry will only set you back 70B, doughnuts are 15B and lots of other bargains available.

For a proper sit down meal, Dow Vegan restaurant was lovely, curries starting at around 120B, or the normal Dow restaurant opposite (serving meat) also looked good and similar prices.

Getting There:

Phi Phi is a tiny island without an airport, it’s only accessible by boat.

The ferry from Koh Lanta takes 1 hour and costs 300B. This includes hotel pick up but they forgot about us and we ended up running to catch the boat. The ferry to Phuket costs 350B and takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.

There are no cars on the island and you need to make your own way to the pier, but Phi Phi is so small that you’re never far away.

Entrance to the island costs 20B, you will pay when you get off the ferry.

Where To Stay:

Everywhere on the island is walking distance, there are no cars but some of the fancier hotel will arrange pick up from the pier with a man and a wheelbarrow to carry your bags for you.

We stayed at the Gypsy Village 2 hotel, I’m not going to rave about the rooms, they were pretty grubby but seem average for the price range in Phi Phi if you don’t fancy a dorm room. However the big bonus with the room was that you got free access to the pool at the nearby Gypsy Sea View Resort, which was beautiful and peaceful. We paid £21 per night through hotels.com.

Krabi Town – Thailand

Krabi Town is the perfect place to relax and unwind. While the town is quite busy it never feels too crowed or hectic.

If you don’t have a lot of time in Thailand, Krabi is the perfect place to base yourself for day trips to the stunning Thai islands, such as Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.

Things To Do:

Our favourite thing about Krabi was the Tiger Cave Temple (don’t worry there are no tigers there), it’s an exhausting climb to the top, 1,237 steps in total. (Stupidity we decided to do this during the mid day peak heat.) it’s free to walk to the top and you can catch a bus from the main road, on the opposite side of the crab sculpture, the bus costs 50B and takes around 45 minutes.

There are some incredible beaches close to Krabi, most people chose to stay there rather than in town. Ao Nang Beach is the most popular, from there you can also walk to the private beach at the Centara Beach Resort, they let you use the beach for free but you need to sign in and out at the security check point. The bus from Krabi Town costs 50B and takes around 30 minutes, you can catch the bus outside the Vogue shopping mall.

Thara Park runs along side the Pak Nam river, it’s a perfect place for a relaxing stroll. To walk from one end to the other takes about 1 hour then the same to walk back again.

There are night markets every day of the week in Krabi Town, but on a weekend the market is extra special. They have a stage set up in the centre with a variety of performances, and stalls selling all kinds of food, clothes etc, mostly aimed at tourists.

Where To Eat:

We didn’t eat in a single restaurant over the 5 days we spent in Krabi, the night markets and street food were just too good. The average meal is around 40-50 Baht.

Getting There:

A flight from BKK takes 1 hour and 10 minutes, there are no public buses from the airport. A shared tourist shuttle bus costs 90B per person and takes about 30 minutes.

Where To Stay:

We paid £23 per night to stay at the Green House Hotel. It was clean, comfortable and had great wifi, it was also in the heart of town. We booked through hotels.com as usual.

Bangkok – Thailand

The capital of Thailand is just as crazy and hectic as you would imagine, traffic flows at frightening speed and the noise of the big city will overwhelm your senses. That being said, Bangkok’s unique character is quite charming.

We didn’t do much of the touristy stuff in Bangkok because we spent one full day with my friend from home and her beautiful new born baby, it was nice to spend the day with British expats and see a different, more relaxed side to the city.

Things To Do:

The Golden Mount is the only really touristy thing we did in Bangkok, the views over the city were fantastic, there was a vague dress Code but wasn’t strictly enforced. Entrance is 50B per person.

To escape the chaos we spent an afternoon in Chatuchak Park, it’s perfectly manicured gardens and stillness are a million miles away from the rest of the city’s fast pace.

We went to the cinema inside the terminal 21 mall, it cost 180B each and was more comfortable than UK cinemas. Be prepared to stand up and sing the Thai national anthem before the movie starts and bring a scarf with you, it gets really cold inside.

The railway market (next to the Thailand Cultural Centre subway station) is open every night and a great place to spend a few hours, there are so many food choices that you’ll be spoiled for choice. It’s also a great place to pick up souvenirs.

Getting Around:

Getting around Bangkok is fairly easy, there are lots of different options including an extensive subway, frequent buses, tuk-tuk’s, canal ferries and more, all options are cheap and reliable.

Airports and train station, even the major bus stops all have English speaking staff to help you onto the right bus or train.

Where To Eat:

The Royal Oak Pub does an amazing British Sunday Roast, it’s quite expensive but really worth it.

Other than that we ate mainly street food at the night markets. Everything we tried was delicious and cheap.

Where To Stay:

A lot of Bangkok has a reputation for being sleazy, we didn’t think that at all, the area around Asok was beautiful and felt like any other city in the world.

The Case Study Asok hotel was perfect, a very small hotel just above a coffee shop, the rooms were spotless and comfortable. We booked through hotels.com for £24 per night. The hotel was right next to the subway line and a direct train to the airport.

Kanchanaburi – Thailand

Kanchanaburi is a small town a few hours from Bangkok, its popular with European tourists looking to explore the nearby countryside, but it doesn’t have the same crowded feel that a lot of Thailand’s tourist spots have.

We didn’t spend long exploring the town centre, although Kanchanaburi was the perfect base for 2 amazing day trips:

Day 1: Erawan Falls,

This was such a fun day, the water in the falls is so warm and clear. The pools are filled with tiny fish that nip away at your dead skin. The waterfall itself is split into 7 levels. The first two are really busy and it gets less crowded the further you climb (about 2KM to the top).

Entrance to the national park costs 300B per person, I thought that was expensive until we reached the first waterfall and all my hesitation melted away.

There are toilets at level 1 and 2 and in the main car park. If you plan to walk all the way to level 7 you will be better off in trainers. We did it in flip flops but there were a few near slips.

I’ve attached a photo of the latest bus time table below, (taken March 2018) the bus costs 50B each way and stops at Kanchanaburi main bus terminal.

Day 2: Elephants World,

After an internet search for the most ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, we settled on Elephants World in Kanchanaburi, it was between this one or the bigger one in Chang Mai. (Chang Mai was fully booked so that was an easy decision for us.)

Elephants are either rescued or donated by their owners, the medical team will help any elephant and they never turn one away. The staff and volunteers at the sanctuary were all very passionate about their jobs and loved the elephants. If your in Thailand then this really is the best way to see elephants and know that they are fully taken care of.

When visiting the centre we were able to help cut down food for the elephants and hand feed them, we watched their daily mud bath then got in the water with them as they took their afternoon swim.

A full day experience cost 2,500B per person including hotel pick, lunch and all activities. You can book online through their website and pay when you get there. (www.elephantsworld.org)

It was the most expensive thing we did in Thailand but was certainly worth it to get up close to these beautiful giants, plus it’s all for a good cause.

Where To Eat:

I mentioned the night market earlier, it’s just outside the train station (not the bus station) and it’s open every night. For budget backpackers like us it was perfect.

Getting There:

From Bangkok Northern Terminal there is a mini bus that leaves every 30 minutes, it costs 120B and takes just under 3 hours.

Or, you can take the train, it’s slightly cheaper (100B) and much more scenic but takes about 4 hours. You can’t catch the train from Bangkok Main Station, you’ll need to get to Thonburi Station first.

Where To Stay:

We stayed at the beautiful LKP Apartments just outside of town, we were about a 30 minute walk from the main restaurant/bar area and about 15 minutes walk from the bus terminal. The hotel was perfect if you don’t mind a walk. We paid £19 per night through hotels.com.