Me and 4 friends backpacked trough Thailand for 17 days, saw, experienced, and most of all learned so many things I want to share with you now:
1.) Don´t prebook your accomodation
If you’re not up to a one-week-resort-holiday but rather want to go exploring and save tons of money, you should definitely just book the first night after your flight (you’ll be way too exhausted to search for a hotel that day).
On every pier at every island there’s loads of people waiting for you to organise you a hotel room and if you bargain a little you get amazing deals! The only exception to this advice is Bangkok, because it’s simply way too dangerous…but on the islands we were never betrayed or anything, the people there are just so honest!
2.) Mosquito spray is your best friend
As a European, we were definitely not prepared for the thai mosquitos! They ate us alive, and the spray we brought from home was worth nothing, so we had to buy one there, which was probably a real chemical bomb, but we didn´t care, we just couldn´t take it anymore. Also, in rooms without air-con, mosquitoes will come in trough countless openings, under doors and so on. We always handled this problem by putting the fan on the edge of the bed and afterwards closing the mosquito net thightly around it and sticking it under the mattress.
3.) Toilet paper
Thai people don´t really use toilet paper, but every toilet has a small hand-shower attached to it to clean your butt with. The most modern hotels we stayed in had toilet paper, but only so little we had to ask for more several times, and many bungalows didn´t have it at all, so if you´re about to go into the middle of nowhere, definitely buy some toilet paper at the last super market you stop by!
They are everywhere: One evening, we got ourselves two coconuts from a tree and left them in front of our door for the next morning, only to wake up and find them opened up by a monkey! The following day, we spotted this cute guy behind our bungalow:
And while driving around on scooters in Koh Lanta, we saw that happen:
In Thailand, you also give the usual 5-10% tip, which usually is about 20 or 30 baht per meal. As a European, you might want to give two Euro, like at home, but this would be nearly 50% of the costs of your meal, so definitely to much 🙂 But giving no tip at all is really rude, too.
6.) Thai people are reluctant to touch other people
Apart from the countless red-light districts, Thai people will never really touch you. For example, at restaurants, you always get the bill on a little plate, and Thai people would never shake hands or something similair. Keep that in mind when you are in Thailand, you don´t want the locals to feel uncomfortable by shaking their hand or something.
7.) Go there in low season
When it´s winter in Europe and North America, loads of people want to escape the cold and go to Thailand: That´s when there´s high season there, from october to april. From May until september, people are afraid to go because of the monsoon, but this is nothing more than half an hour or an hour of rain every second day, sometimes during nighttime, so nothing to spoil your holiday.
The advantages of going in low season on the other hand are huge: cheap hotels, less tourists on the beautiful beaches, cheap Longtail rides, more chances on bargaining at clothing stalls, cheaper entry fees for National Parks, no problem with finding a room…and much more! So for anyone on a budget, May until September is the time to visit Thailand.
On the islands, you can usually get the prices down about 10-20% on anything: Hotel rooms, ferry tickets, clothing…just not at restaurants 🙂 Just be careful not to start to low, because Thai people could get offended it you offer them less than the half of the price they want, and simply ignore you. A total different spot is Bangkok, where you can bargain much more at some market, especially the famous floating market starts at crazy prizes! Here you can go down more than 75% of the original price!
9.) Go away from tourist bastions like Phuket & co.
Unless you want dirty, overcrowded beaches and overprized hotels and lots of criminality.
If you want to explore the southwest of Thailand, you´ll have to fly to Phuket, but we only slept in a cheap hotel in the city center the night after our arrival to get rid of the jetlag, and left this city immediately to go to Koh Phi Phi, and from there to Kho Lanta. Both are to beautiful islands, the prizes are half from Phuket and the numbers of tourists even less than the half. All those lovely pictures of white beaches with turquoise water are not taken in Phuket, but on quiet spots on those two islands or the small islands around it.
10.) Getting around
In Bangkok, you can choose between getting a Taxi or a Tuktuk, which one´s cheaper depends on your bargaining skills and on the number of people. As we were a group of five, taking one Tuktuk was always really uncomfortable, so we would have to take two, usually. And taxi drivers never minded taking 5 passengers, which was still uncomfortable for us, but not that bad. We even fittet in all our backpacks and stuff when going to the airport! So, once we got a 10 minute ride for 20 baht all together (4 baht each!!!), and from the airport train stop to our hotel near the Grand Palace we paid 200 baht all together, which was great too.
If you have a nice receptionist at your hotel, just kindly ask them to get a taxi for you, because they always ask them to drive on TAXOMETER, which is always, always, always cheaper! Just don´t ask yourself, because then the driver might be tempted to go in circles without you knowing it….
So, I hope these tips & tricks were useful for you and you enjoy your visit to Thailand!
Have some of you already been to Thailand? Let me know in the comments about your experiences!