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Backpacking Thailand

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1. Posted by SoCalShark (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hello all,
My wife and I are planning on a 2 week trip to thailand in december. I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on a few things... We are planning on doing this on a minimal budget and will have no problem staying at hostels and camping along the way. I would like to do a good deal of outdoors activities such as hiking, fishing, etc. but would also like to see the cities and cultural centers. How much should i expect to pay for lodging, food, etc.? I have checked a few sites but i am getting mixed info. Some say that you can be all inclusive on $10 a day, some say that it costs that just for a couple meals. I am looking to stay outside the major tourist areas for a majority of the trip. Thanks alot.

2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3579 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I think you should try to do a loop. There are several things to see on the way to Chiang Mai. Kanchanaburi, Sukhothai,, Ayutthaya. Then either fly or overnite bus back to BKK and then down south for some beach time. I recommend the Krabi area for beautiful beaches/water and cheap places to stay. This site has plenty of information that maybe helpful with your planning.

I think you can forget camping in Thailand. It is Just not worth lugging around your gear to save a few baht. There are cheap places to stay in almost every city. I think a realistic budget will be about $30/day for both of you. There are cheap places to eat everywhere you will go. The Thais certainly don't pay $3-5 for dinner, you don't have to either. Eat where the locals do. Here are several tips to save some baht. Always have your own water bottle in your day bag. That way you don't have to pay for drinks. Some places won't let you do this, most will. I recommend you go veggie for 2 weeks and also forget the beer. This will save you quite a bit over your 2 week adventure. Also take overnite buses whenever you can. You save one nite's accomodation and get there in the am, best time to find a room. With a 200-500 baht rooms and eating with the locals, you should be able to stay around $30/day for your room, food, transport.

I have heaps of Thailand photos in my gallery plus a blog on Pattaya. Send me a PM if you have specific questions. Good luck with your planning.

3. Posted by SoCalShark (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Mike, I will be sure to check that out. I have been reading other posts and was wondering what everyone's input on the instability in the south is? How bad is it really? Are we talking Compton bad or Baghdad bad? I certainly would like to head down that way if its realatively safe. Also... How much is stuff like horseback riding and diving and whatnot? Should I expect to pay US prices or is it good and cheap like most everything else? I have a reasonable budget but am very thrifty and was wondering where to get the best deals. Once again thanks for all the help guys and gals.

4. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3579 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I found the diving costs less than the US, but still quite pricey when you are paying $10 for a room and $2 for dinner. One of the reasons I like the Krabi area is that there are still some low costs options. Phuket is world famous, same with Koh Samui. Prices are higher because of the many upscale visitors that vist both islands. You need to hit the less well know islands to avoid the crowds and higher prices. Koh Lanta is one, Koh Jum is another. Take a look and see if that is what interests you. Lanta has waterfalls, trekking, sea kayaking besides snorkelling & scuba. You can make Krabi town your base and daytrip beaches and nearby islands. I found Railay Beach certainly worth a daytrip You can hire a long-tail boat and visit uninhabited islands close to Railay. A memorable experience. Go into any travel shop in Krabi town and chat with them about places to stay in your budget range. There are not well known beaches nearby that you can stay at for reasonable prices. Worth checking once in Krabi.

Hope this helps with your planning.

5. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 465 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

The problem with Thailand is that it is still quite cheap....but not that cheap....people have a tendency to think that everything is they buy EVERYTHING....and then realise how much they've actually spent.

camping is only available really in National Parks etc...but they provide tents etc.

Hotels can be really cheap especially away from the beach.

here's a checklist that might help.

Here are 20 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. 50 baht) and include some credit already on them - e.g. - International calls to UK are about 5 - 8baht per min…

2. Money - Bring ATM and/or credit cards. - check fees and tell your bank your are going abroad. - Take Travellers cheques only as back-up. Bring very little cash (Baht) – you tend to get a better rate of exchange here than any home country. You can change money on arriving at the airport..

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

4. Very little luggage – this makes you more mobile if you need to be and less vulnerable to taxi touts and undesirable men….Before you go home you can buy any extra luggage (cheap) to take souvenirs etc.

5. Internet access is everywhere – even on the beach… you can get all your photos copied to CD - If you have a lap-top you can connect it (broadband even wi-fi) at most cafes.

6. Food - Thai food is very unlikely to give you food poisoning but can contain more chillies than you ever thought possible….Street food is usually safe (and delicious!), check for numbers of customers and general looks of the stall. 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.

7. Always carry a pack of tissues - they don’t supply free tissues (if there is a vending machine at all!)

8. Drink bottled water - not tap water. Even consider not brushing your teeth with tap water. Ice is usually safe in drinks and for anything else.

9. 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 US/Europe etc…but every country has its share of con-men and psychopaths…..beware of fellow travellers!

10. 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 couples and it has good, cheap hotels, shopping and food. Not a bad place to start off for Koh Chang, Koh Samet or Cambodia.

11. 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! 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.

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

13. Around Bkk try to use meter taxis with the meter’ll be cheaper than the tuk-tuks. Take a tuk-tuk once for the experience then use meter taxis. Don’t let the drivers take you out of your way...they’ll try to take you to some (relative’s) store where they get commission.

14. Medical - Check out a few “jabs & medications” - Hep “A” & “B” require a long course before leaving and are a pretty good idea – 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. Most medicines (including antibiotics) can be bought over the counter without prescription and are cheap. A pharmacist will give you what he considers right for your symptoms but you can just as easily see a doctor at a local clinic for a couple of hundred baht. They usually speak a little English.

15. Check up on Thai manners and customs – this will earn you more respect from the locals. - Keep up some dress sense – how you dress in Thailand is quite important. Don’t go topless without checking out if it’s acceptable where you are – usually it’s frowned upon. You’ll notice that Thai women (even sex workers) are very modest in public –they usually swim fully clothed.

16. 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!

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

18. Body language - 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. Before entering someone’s home you must take off your shoes; this also applies to some shops and businesses. - Never take a shoe off and wave it at someone – this could lead to violence.
On the other hand it is impolite to touch people on the head.

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

20. Remember, this is the Land of Smiles and you will find everything goes much better when you have a smile on your face - whatever the situation….

6. Posted by SoCalShark (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Well, I have been looking around for a few places to stay at and have found quite a few that are pretty reasonable sounding. The places at Koh Jum look awesome. Which leads me to my next question... Would in be advisable to book the rooms in advance since December is so busy or would it be cheaper and easier to just wing it once in country?

7. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3579 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I always wing it, just show up and see what is available. This is in Feb-March. Since you are going to be there in peak season, you might want to book something on either Koh Jum or Lanta. Krabi town has so many places to stay within walking distance that you can just show up and find something. This is the advantage of the overnite bus. You arrive in the morning and someone is always leaving. Make a list of places that are in your price range and you are have your plan once there.

The one problem of booking something beforehand is that you are locked into arriving on that date. I like the flexiblity of changing my plans. You might want to stay one place longer than you thought and that alters when you arrive at your next destination. If you are comfortable with winging it. I would take the chance and find something once you arrive. That is why I recommend you hit Krabi town first. Take the overnite bus from BKK, share taxi to town and hit the hotels & guesthouses you have picked. Book one nite in Krabi, then hit the travel shops and see if you can book Jum or Lanta with them. Or another beach that is not well known but in your price range. I would then catch a baht bus to Ao Nang beach. Then you can take a boat over to Railay Beach. I think you will fall in love with this area and may decide to stay a few days. Take the last boat back to Krabi and you will have had a memeorable day! I like the idea of being able to change my plans, if you do as well, then I would not lock myself into a hotel on a specific day.

Send me a PM if you have any questions.