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Thailand Travel Tips

Head over to my IG if you came here for the photos: https://www.instagram.com/gonewithcua/
Ticket cost: $627.06 on my no interest til Sept 2017 card
Travel Dates: Tuesday, June 13-Monday, June 26, 2017; monsoon season 2 weeks, any more is too much. “Best season” to travel is December-January. It rained everyday around 4pm, but we didn't mind
Getting to Airport: Took a coach bus from Madison to ORD for $31 each way, $55 if buy online roundtrip. This saved everyone’s labor, time, and cost. This is only worth the money if it's just one person traveling. But if you are traveling in a group, definitely drive together and get dropped off.
Airlines: United - ANA and then HK-United, roundtrip from ORD
Time purchased ticket before departure: May 17th, about 1 month, which was a Wednesday, however prices were very close when Bao bought her ticket 1.5 weeks before departure.
-I just googled the airports “ORD - BKK”
--in Thailand: VietJet, Air Asian, and ThaiSmile
Cities visit: Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Krabi

Quick shout out: Lots of love, thanks, and credits to my friends: Chong Her for ultimately planning the trip and Bao making other plans and verifying things to do. This was truly a stress free trip at a last minute. I am known as a planner and researcher, but I did barely any of that on this trip and I have my friends to be extremely grateful and thankful for. I literally bought my ticket and went. Alright, lets get to the topics

MUST APPS/TIPS:

-Watch over tipping; we were “super generous” in our tipping. Although it’s ¼ of tipping in the US, the proportions were considered high. For example, our meal would be 300 THB and we’d tip 100 THB, which is ~$3 USD, and the average in the US is $5+. I just did it because it took less out of me to earn what they earned. But if you’re on a budget, you can just tip accordingly.

-BYOTP: Bring your own toilet paper; you will pay between 2+ THB to use bathrooms too. Sometimes, there won’t be any TP or hasn’t been restocked.

===Apps

-Use UBER. So you don’t feel obligated to tip. Please consider using my referral. You wanna get this app on your phone before you go because you'll have to verify with a code sent by text. FREE Uber ride (up to $10). To claim your free gift, sign up using this link: https://www.uber.com/invite/chouak5ue

-Yes, GoogleMaps works there.

-Trip Advisor if there is one. We got a lot of our information on there

-Your airline app; mine was United and the app offered free movies to watch on your device once the plane is in motion. Not just that, if you have an account, it will store your flight info. Sometimes, the transfer gates won’t show up as you arrive to an airport, so having the app will give you instant access once it’s updated.

-Please make sure you have all these apps installed. Most of the registration will need your working cell phone # to confirm. So if you’re already oversea and don’t have international coverage, you will not get that code to confirm to use the app.

Money/Currency Exchange: According to Google, the rate is $1 USD = 33.97 baht, so you want to get as close as possible. I took $677 USD and eventually exchanged it all at 3 different times just to check out the rates. $400 at 33.43 in Bangkok at a bank, then $200 at 33.77 in Chiang Mai near the street market, and 33.88 off a booth on the street vendors.

However, I believe the best exchange rate may be with your ATM debit card, but then again, those foreign fees might just end up making it the same. ATM withdrawal is at least safer, assuming you’re not making a daily withdrawal. How do you know for sure? I don’t know, I just read that it was. I didn’t do this myself personally.
Transportation:

Skytrain: Basically a subway, but not underground, hence the ‘sky.’ We took the Skytrain most of the time in Bangkok because we didn’t find out UBER was compatible until we went to Chiang Rai. It was about 57 THB/person each way so the 3 of us would’ve been 171 THB, which was a fair price when the supply is high on UBER. I would’ve paid that price for safety and convenience. It was about 30+ mins per trip using the subway. Once we got off the subway, we walked to our destination or took a taxi or tuk-tuk. Again, using UBER will help you avoid getting ripped off.

Taxi: Sometimes the taxi will run a meter and with you not knowing your way, it might take a longer route.

Tuk-Tuk: You should be able to set a price wtuk-tukstuks regardless of the distance.

Uber: This was mainly used in Chiangmai because our hotel wasn’t where there was a lot of traffic. Thank goodness the receptionist told us about it or we would’ve walked half a block out everyday to catch a taxi and get overcharged. If you’ve used an UBER before, it works the same. The only difference is that you’ll be charged the currency of the country, which means foreign fees to your payment method if it has any. If you’ve never used it, it’s really simple. The app will ask where you want to go, show you the cost, and then accept it or wait later or walk to a busier area for the price to decrease. Not just that, the price you pay on uber is the price for the 1-4 people together.

I would recommend getting a prepaid international card ahead of time if you’re thinking about doing this. Not only is it good for traveling, but also reservations that require a credit card.

Personal Driver: We paid 1000 THB/person for a personal car + driver to the Elephant Sanctuary 2.5 hours from Chiagmai. You can go with a group for less, but we wanted the royal treatment :D. JK, we just didn’t want to be on a long car ride with other smells.

Car Rental: We didn’t do this because Thailand drives on the left side. But if you’re up for an adventure, you can totally rent your own car. But I feel like it’ll end up being the same, just labor on your end.

Lodging: Chong made all of the reservations ahead of time. She booked 2 AirBnb for 3 days each and 4 days at the Krabi resort (how does that add up to 14 nights? idk). We were dropped off at this wrong location, but it was next to a fancy-ish hotel, so we stayed there for one night. It was reserved through hotels.com for $48 USD, and valued at $100+ if booked directly with them. Here's a summary of where we stayed: (1) Supailai City Home, Bangkok (2) TF Hotel, Chiangmai (2250 THB or $65 total for 3 nights) (2a) Duangtawan Hotel, Chiangmai ($48 USD/night) - booked through hotels.com, so the charge is in USD and not THB, which means no foreign fee for you. We booked it literally 2 hours before checking in and ditched the creepy TF Hotel, lol. (3) Aonang Cliff Beach Resort ($48 USD/night) - where the Infinity pool is. We had the 'Romantic View' which included an outdoor tub we didn't use :(. But it was a good location to scout the street vendors and walk to the beach. Here's top 10 Hotels in Krabi: Ao Nang Phu Pi Maan Resort & Spa looks really pretty https://www.tripadvisor.com/SmartDeals-g297927-Krabi_Town_Krabi_Province-Hotel-Deals.html
Other Airlines: We flew out to other cities from Bangkok by plane too. They were pretty cheap, about $30 one way way. One thing to be prepared is the luggage fees. Some of them have a general guideline of 1 carry on + personal item. The max weigh for a carry on is 7kg ~ 15 lbs. Vietjet charged 500 THB and AirAsia charged 900 THB. I think Thai smile didn't charge at all; at least for us. I personally didn't get hit with any fees because my carry on was under 7kg
Wifi: Chong and Bao purchased a wifi pocket at the airport for a 2000 baht deposit and was 3200 baht ~ $95 USD/$32 per person for 2 weeks worth. That's more than my phone bill, but it was crucial for all of us to have wi-fi at all times. Bao and I needed that to Face time our boo-thangs. And we literally Googled everything, so we needed good internet at all times. The wifi pocket was always charged whenever we were 'home' and it lasted all day until 8-9pm, which we were already back home by that time.

Packing essentials: I packed a pair of tennis shoe because we planned to climb a mountain, but it was 1500 THB at the end of the entire trip that we just didn’t want to spend. Other than that, I wore my Nike sandals the whole entire trip.
  • Lots of shorts. I packed 3 pairs of shorts, which I should’ve packed more.
  • light weight tops
  • Underwear for each day if you don’t plan to do laundry (some hotels have a washer + dryer that you can pay to use)
  • headphones - sometimes the planes do provide them, but you’re better off having a set at all times
  • One good hat for shade
  • One good pair of sunglasses
  • 1 or 2 swimsuits
  • Garbage bag for dirty clothes
  • Extra duffel bag for souvenirs!
**USE A CARRY ON: It depends on how long you're going of course and what you plan to buy. I know that on the way back, United Airlines allows 2 FREE CHECKED BAG. What does that mean? You can stuff a duffel or buy a suitcase with souvenirs on the way back and it'll fly directly to your final airport. If you plan to fly other airlines, be conscious that you may have to pay for those bag fees too.

I waited until the final days to start buying souvenirs because I didn't want to haul it during the trip. In addition to that, think about the hotels or places without and elevator. You will have to carry that!

On the way back, I checked in my 2 bags. Although I was hands free at my one stop in Hong Kong, it wasn't so convenient when I landed in Chicago. If you don't mind waiting for bag when you arrive, do the check in bags. If you just wanna be gone right away when you land, just keep your carry on with you.
Questions throughout my social media:

How much should I bring? I brought $650 and that was enough for me. I got some little gifts for family at home. Feel free to bring more; the more you have, the more you’ll spend. Keep in mind, the street vendor food are $1-$2 per plate, which is enough for a meal. If you want to go to fancier restaurants or buy expensive items, you will need the dough ($$)

Where's a good mall? The only mall I went to was Siam Center in Bangkok. It was just a mall with modern clothes. If you're looking for elephant pants or traditional Thai clothes, you'll need to go to the markets.

Where are the street markets? We went to 3: Khao San Road in Bangkok, Chiang Mai Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, and Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. Chatuchak Weekend Market is the best one with a variety of vendors and the lowest prices of them all too. It's only open on weekends.

What were the main things we did?  Elephant Sanctuary for about 1700 THB ~ $50 USD/person, Grand Palace 500 THB ~ $15/person.

Where did my money go? Lots of it on food. The 1 hour long massages ranged 200 THB to 800 THB. Don’t pay more than 300 THB, please. If you have the money for it, do them daily. You will regret you didn’t pamper your massage enough.

I will update this post as I go and people ask questions. I’m in the process of making a video with all these comments, but maybe I’ll do it once I get more questions. Thanks for reading.

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2 comments:

  1. "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..."
    Mark Twain

    I enjoyed reading your blog.

    ReplyDelete