Monthly Archives: November 2011

Thailand Lessons Learned

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Oh my that must be some of the Kiewit culture still in Aarissca speaking, lessons learned oh my.  Here’s our list of lessons learned and tips picked up from our time in Thailand.

General Tips

  • For the most part, if you are travelling in low season don’t book your accommodations in advance unless it’s a highly popular place.  The people we found who got the best deals just showed up to the hotel, Koh Phangan during the Full Moon included.  Doing this during high season might be risky.  Also if you book in advance spring the question when you check in of if they have any deals on right now.
  • If money allows, spend some nights in one of Bangkok’s 5 star hotels. They are reasonably priced and some of the best in the world.
  • Northern Thailand is worth a lot of your time.
  • The Full Moon Party has encompassed the party part and is really overrated in our eyes. We thought  Ton Sai &  Loh Dalum on Koh Phi Phi were better party scenes.
  • Koh Phi Phi is really as beautiful as everyone says.
  • Koh Samet has beautiful beaches but they are pretty developed.  Also watch out it gets really busy on weekends from all the Bangkokers escaping the city.
  • Tourist Police can be super helpful.
  • Koh means island and Ao means bay in Thai.
  • Thai is a very tonal language (think yes. versus yes?) so just give it a go and practice.
  • The Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok and Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar were are two favorite markets.

Getting Around Tips

  • This one is a double edged sword, book flights well in advance because they are dirt cheap.  However don’t plan your trip to the littlest detail, you will like certain places more and others less.  A rule of thumb that worked for us well was, take a guess on how many days it will take to do the things that interest you and add 3 days on top.
  • If you are travelling by bus make sure not to get on any private buses that aren’t sanctioned by BKS, they are shady and huge scams.  BKS is the government bus transport commission.  Read about our private bus encounter here.
  • Research what local transport should cost then barter till you can’t barter no more.  Because there will be a time when Thailand bartering will break you.
  • Cheap tuk-tuk drivers are too good to be true, they will stop at many shops in hopes they can make a commission off you.
  • If a driver tells you something is closed for repairs, holiday, out of business they are trying to scam you.
  • Always insist on using the meter in taxi’s that have them.
  • Renting a scooter is a good option in most small towns & islands.  Just make sure your travel insurance covers it and you are a decent driver. We saw way too many hurt tourists from crashing them.
  • Walking in most places is tough due to traffic, so having a hotel in a good location is a great idea.

Staying out of Jail Tips

  • Carry a copy of your passport and visa stamp.
  • Keep your Visa dates in mind, you automatically get 30 days on arrive via air and 15 days on arrival via land .  It’s a big deal in Thailand to over stay your visa. 500 Baht a day penalty when you exit and if they catch you on the street with an expired visa that is ‘uh oh’.  You can apply for 60 day visas and 7 day extensions.
  • They do ask for proof of onward transit from Thailand sometimes, so have e-ticket for a flight or bus ticket in hand just in case.

Culture Tips

  • It’s impolite to sniff food before eating it.
  • In public places they play the national anthem at 8am and 6pm, stand up for it.
  • The head is view as the holiest and feet as the dirtiest on the human body.  Never touch a Thai on the head and if you do apologize immediately.  As for feet don’t point at or touch people with them and stepping over someone’s feet is a no-no.

We used Fodor’s and Lonely Planet’s travel books both did the trick, but we preferred Fodors.  Other then that, that is all we have for you folks.

Safe Travels,

Aarissca.

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