Backpacking Thailand 101
I quit my job and left for Thailand. This was by far the best decision I ever made. I bought my ticket, packed my bags and fled for adventure. For two weeks, I took on Asia solo and ever since I feel like I grew a little closer to self enlightenment.
How to get around
The best way to get around the busy and crazy-packed cities in Thailand is via tuktuk or renting a motor bike. I tried just taking a taxi service and not only did I find it more expense, but also inconvenient. Thai people are always on the go, so traffic is a way of life (especially during the green season). A motorbike rental can run you anywhere from 100-250BHT a day, depending on who you're renting from and if you're in a tourist area or not.
The average taxi fare from the airport to, say, my hotel (which was literally across the freeway from the airport) was almost 90BHT - way to expensive. Tuktuk's can be kind of tricky, you have to be ready to haggle also. Most tuktuk drivers will tell you that you have to rent for 300BHT per hour, this is a scam - beware. You can haggle the price down as low as you can get the driver to agree - and then split it with other travelers or friends.
Another alternative is city buses, now this is my favorite way to see Thailand; it's the cheapest, probably the fastest if you aren't renting a motor bike, and the best way to experience the country as a local. You're only looking at paying 10BHT or less per trip, but that can vary depending on which line you take and where.
Where to stay
There are a handful of options when staying in Thailand, and for every budget travelers needs. You can choose to stay at a bungalow, hostel, resort, hotel, or even on the beach. Yes, people pitch their tents and camp out - i wouldn't recommend since its crazy humid in Thailand, especially in the green season.
A hostel will only run you 5-10USD, hotels can also be very cheap, about 10-25USD per night or upwards of 100USD if you're staying at a resort or hotel with extra perks and amenities. However, some resort prices can shoot as low as 50USD a night! This is most widely seen depending on the season of travel or who you book your room through. I was lucky enough to stay at two, with prices well under 100USD. Keep an eye out on my blog to find out how.
What to eat
Thailand is a melting pot for eclectic eats and drinks. Street vendors are found all around Thailand (and at all hours), you can grab a quick bite for 5-10BHT. To sit down in a mom and pop store for a simple bite to eat, you're looking at 20-60BHT. For a nicer meal with drink, expect to pay 60-100BHT depending on sides, dessert or alcoholic beverages.
Still, with the current exchange rate, a 50USD p/day budget will get you 1,600BHT per day - plenty to eat and drink like royalty.
What should I budget?
If you're buying groceries and cooking your meals, eating street food, staying at hostels and taking public transportation, you can definitely trek around Thailand for 20-30USD a day. If you're more into sitting down at nicer restaurants, participating in water sports, going on tours and staying at nicer hotels, expect to budget 50-60USD per day.
This is just based off of my personal experiences in Thailand, if you want to shop, participate in water sports and island hop, then included those potential expenses in your budget.
- Watching the sunset or sunrise at Kata Viewpoint is a must-see. It was absolutely breathtaking. Rent a motorbike for 150BHT for 24hrs or just catch a taxi, either way you won't be disappointed.
- Ever had fresh-made coconut ice cream served to you straight out of the coconuts shell? For about 10-20BHT you can anywhere in Thailand.
- Island hopping is a tour any Thai newbie has to experience. Book through your hostel for the lowest prices, tourist traps are everywhere.
- I wish: I was not fortunate enough to party on Phi Phi but if you can, be sure to hydrate and stretch - it's supposed to be one of the hottest party destinations out there.
- I wish: Go to a Full-Moon Party if you get the chance. I read that its a top 5 things to do while in Thailand. When i went in October, it was canceled for the month due to the passing of their king.
- Be sure to hit Bangla Rd if you're in Phuket, it's the nightlife capital of the city and you're guaranteed a good time.
- Take a day trip to Chiang Mai. You have the option to drive, fly, or take a day train trip. This is very inexpensive and offers amazing views of the country you couldn't get anywhere else.
- Enjoy a day at an Elephant Sanctuary. I personally signed up for a tour that I thought was at a sanctuary, but was fooled. Oh well, I ended up feeding and playing with Miss Lulu rather than going through with my ride. It was worth it.
- Have you tried Pad Thai yet??? If not, better put that on the top of your list.