Updated: Sep 27, 2018
It was two years since my last solo trip to anywhere. I was definitely in desperate need of a break from work. All my friends were vacationing abroad and I had never even set foot outside the country. And I was constantly searching for places that I could visit alone, Sri Lanka? Nepal? Bhutan? My options for a budget friendly trip to a near by destination were limited and then I stumbled upon a list of visa on arrival places for Indians and there it was "Thailand" - The Land of Smiles!
So getting toHow to Thailand
1. Find the inspiration!
Thailand is notoriously known the world over. It's the go-to place for frat boys from Canada, Australia or India alike. What's important to know is apart from the "boom boom" Thailand is a beautiful country and has a lot of amazing sights to offer. You just need to look in the right places. Affordable food and drinks, amazing hotels, views of the bay/ocean.
My main inspirations were the Full Moon Party, Koh Nang Yuan and the Beaches!
2. Fix your plan. Don't keep waiting.
Since I have always been interested in travel destinations I had read about the Full Moon Party and Phi Phi, Phuket and other places in Thailand before I decided to book this trip. I never acted on it, else I could have visited this land of smiles sooner. I booked my tickets almost two and half months in advance. A Mumbai - Bangkok return flight at ₹11,000 was as good as it could get and I knew if I waited too long I would never leave. I booked my flight tickets 14 days apart, well because Thailand Visa on Arrival for Indians permits you to stay in the country for a maximum of 15 days so why not! and what if I slept of at the airport and missed my flight I'd need a day buffer day right? (Well that almost happened, more on that later.)
3. Plan your itinerary. But keep it flexi!
Nothing against a travel agent or company planning itineraries but I personally feel like being my own boss on a trip. So I do that by investing time in reading, watching videos/vlogs about the places I would want to visit. And I soon find the inspiration I need and my itinerary is all set eventually. If you need to book hotels, go for reserving them with minimum payment possible like the MakeMyTrip book for ₹1 option. For traveling within Thailand you can always book your bus, train or ferry while in Thailand at the airport, docks or travel agent offices.
Time for the bonus!
Quick Guide on Thailand
Currency: Baht (1Baht ~ 2 INR)
Thailand Visa: People with US, UK and EU passports are given free 30 day visa if you enter by air and 15 day visa if you enter by land. For Indians, a Visa on Arrival for 2000 Baht is issued valid for 15 days. If you plan to stay longer, you can apply for a 60 day tourist with the Thai embassy.
Safety: Generally speaking, Thailand is a safe country to travel. You can often find male and female solo travelers charting their way across the country. But it's advisable to leave home with a Travel Insurance covering the entire duration of your stay.
Language: If you're visiting the touristy places, chances are they would know conversational English. If you're in remote parts of the country you can have your game of charades explaining what you need. You'll always be answered with a smile.
Festivals: Loi Krathong and Songkran are two festivals in Thailand. Experiencing one of these is on my bucket list 2019. Imagine an entire city splashing water on each other with water guns or looking up to a sky full of paper lanterns.
Transportation: Intercity transport is fairly convenient so don't fret about booking that Bangkok to Phi Phi transport just yet. You'd be surprised with the cheap airfare, or the bus and ferry combined ticket prices. You can find the best prices on Skyscanner or 12Go websites.
Weather: Much like India, Thailand also experiences three seasons. The year can be pretty much broken down into three parts: Rainy (May-Oct), Cool (Nov–Feb), Hot (March-May) Other than that travelling around the islands can be pretty warm. I visited on the off-set of Monsoon. The rain don't stop me!
Budget: Excluding your airfare you can survive the day with good meals and getting around at $30/₹2500.
Accommodation: Depending on your budget you can travel cheap or luxe. You can choose staying at Hostels if you're on a tight budget, most hostels come with a comfortable bed, a locker and a clean bathroom starting at $6/₹500.
So my itinerary for Thailand was
Day 1-3: Bangkok
Day 4: Surat Thani
Day 5-6: Koh Tao
Day 7-9: Koh Phagnan
Day 10-11: Koh Samui
Day 12-14: Bangkok/Ayutthaya
For visa purposes I booked my hostels with hostelworld by paying the minimum fee just in case I changed my route. I did end up taking the route almost as planned.
Come explore Thailand with me!