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Travel wisdom on Thailand, Cambodia,Laos?

Travel Forums Asia Travel wisdom on Thailand, Cambodia,Laos?

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1. Posted by maptapmap (First Time Poster 1 posts) 10y

hello.
backpacking from 3rd july to 22 August 2006 around Thailand and considering going to Cambodia and Laos for some of the time.Have been reading up but prefer first hand advice

Was hoping for some general travel advice.
What areas are must sees? Where should we avoid, plus what effect the flooding had? Visas, budget,transportation, basically any wisdom of any sort would be appreciated?

Thanks.

2. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1589 posts) 10y

Quoting maptapmap

hello.
backpacking from 3rd july to 22 August 2006 around Thailand and considering going to Cambodia and Laos for some of the time.Have been reading up but prefer first hand advice

Was hoping for some general travel advice.
What areas are must sees? Where should we avoid, plus what effect the flooding had? Visas, budget,transportation, basically any wisdom of any sort would be appreciated?

Thanks.

Lots of backpackers swear by the Lonely Planet Travel Guide, take one with you.

You can get a 30 day stamp in your passport, for Thailand, for FREE at the airport when you arrive. Plan your trips to Cambodia and Laos before the 30 days expire and you can get another FREE 30 days when you return to Thailand for your trip home. Cambodia and Laos visas are not free.

Bring a Lonely Planet Travel Guide with you to help you choose some hotels and areas to visit. Most young people head over to Khao San Road (KSR) for their lodging. There is an Airport Bus that can take you to that area for 100 baht. You get the Airport Bus outside the arrivals hall near the taxi kiosk. If you take a taxi you will be expected to pay the toll fee too! Make sure you get some small bills for paying taxi cabs and street vendors. Baht notes of 1000 baht or 500 baht may be too high for some vendors to make change for.

When you take a taxi in Bangkok tell the driver "meter only" because using the meter will be cheaper than bargaining. AirConditioned taxi cabs, using the meter, will be cheaper than Tuk-Tuks unless you speak Thai. Avoid taking the parked taxi cabs outside hotels and bus stations, they will want to bargain and be more expensive - hail a moving taxi on the street - there are thousands!

Another part of Bangkok that some young backpackers stay at is the Suk 11 Hostel. This is located on Sukhumvit Soi 11, not far from the Nana Skytrain stop. There is no nearby Skytrain stop in the KSR area. The Skytrain easily connects you to the Ekamai Bus Station, the new subway, and lots of popular areas of Bangkok. The subway connects you to the national railroad station for long distance trains.

There are cheap city busses, you have to get your own info on those, figure around 20 baht or less for a ride. Becareful of negotiating long distance busses or van transportation in the KSR area. Some young people complain of being ripped off on long distance transportation. My advice is go to the main bus stations for your inter city travel. Always keep valuables with you inside the bus or train when travelling. Don't put important stuff in your checked in bag.

Unless you need a laptop for business leave it at home. There are lots of cheap internet shops all over Thailand. Don't bring a lot of expensive stuff with you, don't bring something that you would shed big tears over if it was stolen. You can store some important stuff on the internet, simply write what you want to save in an e-mail to yourself and save it. Don't use a password that everyone knows if you want to keep your info private. Some stuff I store on the internet is Traveller Checks serial numbers and contact info, important telephone/emergency numbers, serial numbers of $100 bills (in case they are stolen, probably won't help much, better than no info) and your E-ticket itineraries and trip locator numbers.

Thailand is probably safer than your hometown. However, young people SOMETIMES drink too much or indulge in drugs and get in trouble with the police. You won't like a Thai prison, but the guards will like you! Becareful of who you trust with your hotel key. There are people living in Bangkok that make their money off lonely young backpackers. Be careful who you trust, if some stranger or someone you recently meet is VERY friendly - be VERY careful!

Only carry enough cash with you to see you through a day or two of shopping expenses. My advice is to stay in decent hotels with security boxes to store your valuables, tickets, and money. But most backpackers go cheap and stay in flops and dorms. If something comes up missing - don't first blame the hotel staff! Your fellow traveller is more likely to rip you off than the hotel help. Make a copy of your passport info page in case you lose your passport. Some travellers scan the passport and save that on the net.

If you use an ATM for money take enough out to last a while because you are charged a fee for every withdrawal plus interest. You can get travellers checks from many credit unions free of charge if you are a member. Only take large $100 or 100 Euro amounts because there is a fee to cash EACH check. (Don't take $5, $10, $25 amounts with individual fees.) The fee to cash a TC is cheap though, only 33 baht each (cheaper than ATM fees.) Excess Thai baht can be changed back into your home currency at the airport when you leave. Convert money from Laos and Cambodia while you are in those countries - hard to exchange after you leave. U.S. dollars widely accepted in Laos and Cambodia but you will need small local currency for inexpensive purchases. Some places in Cambodia and Laos close to the border will also take Thai baht.

Your daily budget will help to determine what hotel you stay in and where and how you travel. You have to have a rough idea of how much you can affore BEFORE you leave home.

Good luck.

3. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 459 posts) 10y

I've posted this before and Krasyal doesn't agree with a lot of it but he freely admits he's an old fart!!!! It's not a complete guide and I'm assuming you have a modicum of common sense so here’s thirty things to think about…

1. Bring a cell phone “unblocked” and buy a Thai SIM card for it on arrival..

2. e.g. - International calls to UK are about 8baht per min…

3. Don’t bother with Travellers checks in any currency…they are to much hassle

4. Bring ATM and/or credit cards.

5. Very little cash – you tend to get a better rate of exchange here than any home country. Just enough to get you out of the airport to somewhere nice for the first night

6. Very few clothes – they are so cheap here and you’ll only bring stuff that is too warm.

7. Very little luggage – this makes you more mobile if you need to be and less vulnerable to taxi touts and undesirable men….

8. Before you go home you can buy any extra luggage (cheap) to take souvenirs etc.

9. There are baggage storage facilities at Bkk airport…

10. Mozzie spray – especially if you have the stuff from Oz.

11. Good quality sun-cream – especially the stuff in Oz.

12. Get some travel insurance – hospitals/medicine is cheap but why pay?

13. Check out a few “jabs” – don’t bother with the malaria ones – too heavy!

14. Internet access is everywhere – even on the beach…

15. Thai food is very unlikely to give you food poisoning but can contain more chillies than you ever thought possible…

16. Western (“farang”) food is extremely likely to give you food poisoning – fridges are not part of Thai cooking lore yet…

17. Use common safety sense – it is easy to relax too much here…when it comes to petty crime the rate is certainly lower than in places like the UK…but every country has its share of con-men and psychopaths…..

18. Get a phrase book – lonely planet is good as is their guide to Thailand (better than the rough guide)….

19. Make a friend on the plane and safe money on a taxi to your hotel when you arrive in Bkk. Check out the ways of getting out of Bkk airport.

20. Avoid spending your first night or few days in Bkk – go there at the end of your stay –its better once you’ve acclimatiz3ed, and the airport is about 45 min from the centre.

21. Don’t be afraid to go to Pattaya – it is the sex capital of Thailand but they don’t jump out at single women and has good, cheap hotels, shopping and food. Not a bad place to start off for Koh Chang, Koh Samet or Cambodia.

22. Remember Thailand is more than beaches – there are beautiful cities, national parks, forests and lakes up North – your guide book will help you there…

23. Bring an international driving licence – although most national ones are accepted by motorbike and car hire companies and anyone else who wants to hire you something….

24. check up on Thai manners and customs – this will earn you more respect from the locals.

25. Keep up some dress sense – how you dress in Thailand is quite important.

26. Don’t go topless without checking out if it’s acceptable where you are – usually it’s frowned upon.

27. You’ll notice that Thai women (even sex workers) are very modest in public –they usually swim fully clothed.

28. Check out table manners – Thais tend to eat from communal dishes in the centre of the table – don’t pour everything onto your own plate!

29. Don’t knock the royal family – even in jest.

30. Don’t point your feet at people – the body is seen as hierarchical and the feet are the lowest part and should not be waved about (this is like a “fingers up” sign.

4. Posted by gianfu (Budding Member 14 posts) 10y

Whoa... those two are great !!

Their advise is sound. No corrections from me.

I would suggest that you take time to read from the free site "Bangkokbob.com" - - Lots of Tongue in Cheek... but way too much local knowledge to not invest a few hours... over 100 pages of info on EVERYTHING !!

good luck... have fun...

My best advice....ride the "skytrain" all over bangkok to get a feel for the city.... station by station.. it is cheap... and the city unfolds underneath you !!

Eric

5. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 459 posts) 10y

Yes sky-train is great, but it doesn't really cover all of Bangkok.
It's very useful for orientating yourself and you get great views of the city. there's also the subway and the river!

6. Posted by cikusang (Respected Member 1361 posts) 10y

and most of all, get your jeans with an extra pocket to 'divide' your money in case your wallet is stolen among the 'sandwiched' crowds.

This saves me a lot! But do not being too excited till you'll lose fun along the journey!

7. Posted by suwannaphu (Budding Member 51 posts) 10y

Cambodia :
-Exit from Thailand to Cambodia : You can fly from Bangkok direct to Siem Reap -home of the Angkor Temples. Many flight per day operated, but by only Bangkok Airways - so expect to pay the pricey fare! Many airlines operate several daily flights between BKK and Phnom Penh, including the low cost airline - Air Asia (airasia.com). You can then travel by bus or speed boat from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. More adventurous option (and more fun, too) is travelling from BKK overland to Siem Reap by enter Cambodia at the Aranyaprateth/Poi Pet crossing. Check out in talesofasia.com for more info on this. A thirty day tourist visa is available on arrival at all above entry points at USD20. Bring along photos.
-Itinerary in Cambodia : If you start from Siem Reap, then you may want to go to Phnom Penh - the capital of the country. Use Phnom Penh as a base to discover more of the country : the wild northeastern part (Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie, Stung Treng), and the beach towns (Sihanouk Ville, Kep, Kampot).See more advice at canbypublications.com for more practical info.
-Moving around Cambodia : Siem Reap and Phnom Penh - you can go by bus, taxi, boat, and air. Phnom Penh and Ratanakiri - by air (Mon and Wed), and by bus&taxi (see more in yaklom.com on how to get there). Phnom Penh and Sihanouk Ville - by bus and taxi.
-Money : ATM is available only in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Same for the use of credit cards (visa. mastercards, jcb, amex)Traveller checque accepted only in the main cities. Currency widely accepted : Cambodian Riels and USD. In fact you can carry USD to (almost) everywhere in Cambodia, but make sure you keep the small denomination for small transaction. The Thai baht is accepted at border towns with Thailand.

Happy travelling........

8. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 10y

Quoting wildfk

Yes sky-train is great, but it doesn't really cover all of Bangkok.
It's very useful for orientating yourself and you get great views of the city. there's also the subway and the river!

I found getting around by boat in Bangkok so much fun! You get to see everything, stop at China town, explore the markets, see the grand palace, talk to monks etc. You really get what Bangkok is all about. It's a cheap & effective way of getting around Bangkok, and you'll beat the traffic!

9. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 459 posts) 10y

In Cambodia make sure you arrive with a wad of one dollar (US) bills!!!! as all your change will be in Riels.

It is virtually impossible to change Riels outside Cambodia.

Many banks won't have one dollar bills so get sorted before you go

10. Posted by cikusang (Respected Member 1361 posts) 10y

Quoting wildfk

In Cambodia make sure you arrive with a wad of one dollar (US) bills!!!! as all your change will be in Riels.

It is virtually impossible to change Riels outside Cambodia.

Many banks won't have one dollar bills so get sorted before you go

And do not forget to bargain as they would double up the charge for every foreign tourist! (but not too extravagant!)In Phnom Penh you can get 1000Riel for one big mineral water but in Siew Reap you may have to pay 1500Riel(some Riel2000! = 0.5USD) per bottle. Anyway, Cambodians are friendly people. Nice to talk to.