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First trip to Thailand in March 2007

Travel Forums Asia First trip to Thailand in March 2007

1. Posted by 617jetset (Budding Member 32 posts) 9y

617jetset has indicated that this thread is about Thailand

Hello (sawatdee), I am taking a trip to Thailand for the first time in March of this year. It is a place I have ALWAYS wanted to go and since I found a return ticket for $878 from BOS to BKK, I decided to jump at the opportunity. My flight also includes a 5 hour layover in Tokyo on the way home which I have heard from many sources is enough time to leave the airport for a couple hours and see the nearby temple and village. I have never been to Asia before and although I'm quite used to flights to Europe and various other places in the U.S. and Caribbean, I don't quite know what I'm in for as far as this EXTRA long flight is concerned. Does anyone have any tips on how to handle it? I take Valium for anxiety which will help me sleep on the flight as well. Does anyone know if this is an okay medicine to bring into Thailand? (I don't want any problems at customs, esp. with drugs!) Also, if anyone has any MUST-DOs for Bangkok (I will only get to be there for 6 days) or any 'layover in Japan' ideas they would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. :)

-D

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

So long as they are bona fide 'scrip drugs there should be no problem.

Here are 40 things to think about when visiting Thailand…

1. Bring a cell phone “unblocked” and buy a Thai SIM card for it on arrival, they’re cheap (apprx. 250 baht) and include some credit already on them

2. e.g. - International calls to UK are about 5 - 8baht per min…

3. Don’t rely just on Travellers checks in any currency…they are too much hassle - I have witnessed a friend being refused.

4. Bring ATM and/or credit cards. - check fees and tell your bank your are going abroad.

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 - avoid carrying large amounts of cash...you’ll lose it when drunk or get it nicked.

6. Beware! - The 1000 baht note looks very similar to a 20baht note. You might give an overlarge tip!

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

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

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

10. There are baggage storage facilities at Bkk airport…and elsewhere - hotels etc.

11. Mozzie spray – especially if you have the stuff from Oz. Anything with DEET. You can get “OFF” here.

12. Good quality sun-cream – especially if you have the stuff from Oz. Something that stays on in water, you’ll burn your shoulders in the pool.

13. Get some travel insurance – hospitals/medicine is cheap but why pay? Trailfinders is good.

14. Check out a few “jabs” – don’t bother with the malaria ones – too heavy! You can get tetanus or rabies here if you’re bitten by a dog - it’s cheap.

15. Internet access is everywhere – even on the beach… you can get all your photos copied to CD

16. If you have a lap-top you can connect it (broadband) at most cafes.

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

18. Western (“farang”) food is much more likely to give you food poisoning – fridges are not part of Thai cooking lore yet…beware of Western Fast Food outlets and hotel buffets - food that has been out for over an hour or so. Thailand is not used to fridges/chill-serve etc.

19. 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…..

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

21. The new airport is now open...this is about 30 min nearer Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard. Taxi fare about 105 to 1300 baht to Pattaya (1.5hr)

22. If you’re travelling further than Bkk, make a friend on the plane and save money on a taxi to your destination. This requires caution and common sense; it is most useful if you’re going further e.g. Pattaya.

23. If you can, avoid spending your first night or few days in Bkk – go there at the end of your stay –its better once you’ve acclimatized, and the airport is about 45 min from the centre. You can fly straight on to Samui Phuket and several other destinations or get a bus or taxi to Pattaya, Koh Samet. Etc.

24. 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.

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

26. 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….you may not be insured without an IDL!

27. In Thailand they drive on the left - cars are Right-hand-drive. However driving is really only for the experienced. Be especially careful on a motorbike - Samui has the highest accident rate in Thailand.

28. Public transport is cheap. Planes, Trains, Buses, Minibuses, Taxis, from town to town.

29. If you’re in a minibus or taxi tell the driver you’ll tip him if he keeps the speed below 90/100 kmph! National speed limit is 90kph (120 on motorways)

30. Around Bkk try to use meter taxis with the meter on...it’ll be cheaper than the tuk-tuks.

31. Take a tuk-tuk once for the experience then use meter taxis.

32. Don’t let the drivers take you out of your way...they’ll try to take you to some store where they get commission.

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

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

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

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

37. 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!

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

39. 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.

40. It’s not necessary to “Wai” people - the Thai greeting - as you’ll probably get it wrong. If they Wai you, you might wai back.

3. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Hello Jetset

The way I sometimes handle long flights, is to go out all night the night before. Then I sleep for most of the flight.
But there is really no need to be nervous. I have flown probably hundreds of times and never had even one incident.

I am not sure if u can take vallium, into Thailand. My guess would be that u can take most medication, and they wont even check.

Things to do, in Bangkok
Ride up and down the river, on the passanger boats
Have a few drinks, on the Khao San Road
Go to the weekend market
Visit China town and the Indian district
If u want, u could take the bus, to Kanchanaburi. It is only around 3 hours, from Bangkok. U could visit the Kwai river bridge, see the allies pow cemetary and the railway war museum.
Well, there is lots more to do, in Bangkok. I just listed the things I like.

Mel

4. Posted by 617jetset (Budding Member 32 posts) 9y

Thank you both for your tips! I'm sure they will come in handy whilst on my holiday. I just can't wait! I'm so excited! :) :)

-David

5. Posted by claireh (Respected Member 318 posts) 9y

I recently met someone who got randomly searched and arrested in Bangkok for carrying Valium without a valid prescription with him, so beware...

6. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Wow Clairah
That is terrible.
How long did they keep the person for?

Mel

7. Posted by frosty (Full Member 107 posts) 9y

Quoting 617jetset

Hello (sawatdee), I am taking a trip to Thailand for the first time in March of this year. It is a place I have ALWAYS wanted to go and since I found a return ticket for $878 from BOS to BKK, I decided to jump at the opportunity. My flight also includes a 5 hour layover in Tokyo on the way home which I have heard from many sources is enough time to leave the airport for a couple hours and see the nearby temple and village. I have never been to Asia before and although I'm quite used to flights to Europe and various other places in the U.S. and Caribbean, I don't quite know what I'm in for as far as this EXTRA long flight is concerned. Does anyone have any tips on how to handle it? I take Valium for anxiety which will help me sleep on the flight as well. Does anyone know if this is an okay medicine to bring into Thailand? (I don't want any problems at customs, esp. with drugs!) Also, if anyone has any MUST-DOs for Bangkok (I will only get to be there for 6 days) or any 'layover in Japan' ideas they would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. :)

-D

I often fly from Boston to BKK or MNL with Northwest, I guess I am used to the long flights a little. I have a NWA flight next week on the 23rd for $871.45, this will also give me 125% bonus miles too! I think anything from $790 to $900 out of Boston is not too bad, especially if you save freq. fly miles.

A couple things you can do while you are still home is to start changing your routine a little to match the the same hours as Thailand. This is easy for me, I don't have to work anymore and I adjust my sleep routine by 6 hours. Closer to my departure date I try to match Thai time. Thailand is now 12 hours off from EST, noon is midnight. I adjust to flying to Thailand better than flying back to Boston.

Since you are used to flying a lot you probably have at least a silver card by now. Use that privilege to choose your seats ahead of time so that you don't have lousy seats. When I fly on NWA with my gold and sometimes platinum card I get free upgrades for domestic flights pretty often and sometimes even for the Asia flights, don't be afraid to ask if you qualify.

Choose your seats ahead of time and not be stuck in the middle of long row. I like aisle seats and sometimes ask for the emergency door seating so I can stretch out more. If you are wide bottomed you will find that the seats that have pull out trays, the ones that come out of the armrest, will be around 1 to 1.5 inches narrower!

If you wait until you get to the airport to choose your seats, you will probably lose out and get stuck with the leftovers. Also, the last seat in a row may not recline as far as other seats, same for seats with emergency window escapes behind you. Seats in front of bulkhead/walls bug me, so I avoid them, also they usually do not have underseat storage. With your silver/gold card you can board in the first wave, this is great because almost all of the overhead bins are still empty near your seat.

Except for adjusting my hours and trying to sleep ahead of time I don't do any kind of chemistry! I have my normal prescription meds in my carry on bag. In the little quart size plastic bag I can cram in some saline nasal spray, toothpaste, aftershave, chapstick what ever else that is liquid and fits.

During the flight I get up often to avoid any cramps. By the way, there is almost always one toilet on board that is larger than the others, probably for wheel chairs. I have books to read and when I get sleepy I catch some Z's. I do use a blindfold sometimes and ear plugs. When I get to Bangkok (especially when the flight gets in around midnight) I unpack and go out and walk a bit, have a couple beers and then hit the rack. I rarely sleep past 8 in the morning. Eat a good breakfast and hit the road when I next sleep it is late at night - matching Thai time.

All of the previous suggestions the posters have are pretty good. A couple differences, just personal differences, are that I have never been sick eating Farang (Western) food - when it is cooked in restaurants and hotels that have running water for the cooks and service help to wash their hands with. I have been sick a little eating Thai food, so I don't do a lot of experimenting now - I stick with fried rice, chicken curry a lot and boiling hot soup and noodles. (McDonalds, KFC, Burger Kings and lots of familiar fast food places are all around Bangkok and big cities.)

Pattaya is a good choice, cheap hotels, cheap restaurants, cheap transportation, etc. In Pattaya you can find many hotels with "all you can eat buffets" for breakfast and supper - really cheap! Hotels in Pattaya may be quite a bit cheaper than Bangkok, even some of the cheap hotels may have pools.

I take travellers checks (only get big denominations like $100 size,) the fee to cash one is 33 baht, cheaper than an ATM fee. I have never had a problem with a travchecks, if I head out into the boonies I change my checks over before I go there. Pattaya and Bangkok have plenty of mini-banks that change travchecks for you, you need your passport for identification.

If you don't need your laptop for business - leave it home! A laptop is just something else to worry about losing or breaking! There are lots and lots of cheap internet shops all over Thailand, especially Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiangmai and even Phuket. If there is information that you must have - you may be able to transfer some of the info into to a flash drive and use that at the internet shops. I started using a flash drive a year or two ago, I have portable Firefox (free downloads for flash drives) that duplicate Firefox from my home computers. With the flash drive and firefox it's almost like having my desktop with me!

Have fun on your trip. Oh yeah, most of the hotels in Thailand will have safety boxes at the front desk or a safe in your room, even cheap places - use those safety boxes. If you get ripped off it's probably a fellow tourist from one of the other hotel rooms.

8. Posted by 617jetset (Budding Member 32 posts) 9y

Frosty:

Thank you SOOO much for all those great tips!!! I will most definately keep them all in mind! I did however hope to take my laptop with me since I like to go online whilst in the comfort of my hotel room, in my pajamas with a cigarette before I go to sleep LOL. I heard that many (nicer) hotel rooms have room safes that are large enough to fit a laptop in for added security when you are not in the room. Do you think it would be okay to take it if I am staying in a hotel that provides that? Also, whilst I DO take at least a couple trips a year, I do not have silver status on any mileage programme because I fly regularly with a handful of different airlines, depending on where I am going. I am flying United on this trip however and they let me choose my seats online WHEN I booked my ticket so I am not worried about getting bad seats. :) :) Thanks again for the tips though! If you think of anything else, please feel free to post it or email me. :) :)

9. Posted by frosty (Full Member 107 posts) 9y

I heard that many (nicer) hotel rooms have room safes that are large enough to fit a laptop in for added security when you are not in the room. Do you think it would be okay to take it if I am staying in a hotel that provides that? Also ........

.

FIRST. United has "economy plus seating" where the seats have a little more room for your knees. Usually they give them out to their "elite" flyers or those who ask for them and they are still open. I don't fly with UA any more and concentrate on NWA because they more often have later departure times from Boston than UA and the price is close to NWA's prices. ( 617Jet - I use the T to get into Boston and flights before 0845 are hard for me to reach in time.)

There could be safes in rooms that you could fit a laptop into, but I have never seen any! Maybe the swanky expensive places are geared up to fit laptops, anyway you should email your hotel and see if they can store it for sure. I do stay in cheap AirCon rooms (400 - 600 baht) that do have either safes or a safety box at the front office - they don't appear to have room for normal sized laptops.

Another minor problem, not all hotels have free wifi available in their hotel rooms. Again, some expensive places may offer this service - email your hotel and ask them directly. Recently I have noticed some cheap hotels with wifi, usually it is in the lobby area or some other public area. There are lots of internet shop, unless you are planning to stay out in the boonies there ought to be one near your hotel.

To laptop or not is something you have to decide on. There are thousands of travellers who take laptops, most people are happy - but some do end up stolen or broken. Remember, if something is stolen from your room it may be the guy in the next room who did it, not necessarily the maid.

Good luck.