I have been to Thailand a couple of times, but both trips were far before my days of travel blogging. In 2014 I spent 3 full weeks exploring Thailand and it is still one of my favorite travel experiences. At the time, I had never been to Southeast Asia, so everything about the trip was a brand new adventure– the language, culture, food, everything! Since this was 4 years ago, the specific hotels and restaurants I ate at are probably irrelevant now, but I still have some useful tips for you if you’re thinking about taking a trip to Thailand. Below are some FAQ’s I receive about traveling to Thailand.
Where do I fly into?
Your best bet is probably going to be Bangkok. Bangkok is the largest city in Thailand, and was much cheaper to fly into than the smaller cities we wanted to go to. Once you’re in Bangkok, you can get cheaper flights to the other cities, such as Phuket and Chiang Mai. I remember my round-trip flight from NYC to Bangkok was $800. From there, we got flights to Phuket and Chiang Mai for under $100.
When should I visit?
November- April is the best time to visit Thailand if you’re wanting good weather (and who wouldn’t want good weather?) because you will avoid the monsoon season, which is July-October. However, if you want to take your chances in monsoon season, you will end up spending half as much as you would traveling during November-April. When I visited Thailand, I went for 2 weeks in October and 1 week in November. November 1st is the first day of “high season” and hotels doubled or even tripled their prices. We were very lucky the last 2 weeks of October to only have a little bit of rain, and we saved SO much money because the hotels were at their “low season” prices.
How much should I budget?
It really depends on the type of vacation you’re looking for, but Thailand is dirtttt cheap for Americans to travel around. The exchange rate is crazy, so the dollar goes a long way. The flight to Thailand is going to be your biggest expense and then once you’re there, you’re golden. For example, we would stay in nice hotels equivalent to 4 star hotels for about $50 a night during low season. In high season they were about $100 a night, but again these were NICE hotels. My other friend was traveling for a month and she was on a $10 per night budget and had no problem finding decent accommodations for $10 a night. You can also eat and drink at local spots for about $3-5 a meal. Obviously, if you go to touristy areas and resorts, you’re going to be paying a lot more, but I think the best food is at the little local places and night markets. We ate lots of meals at the markets and bought food from street vendors. They have everything you can imagine at street vendors– Pad Thai, Spring rolls, sushi, fresh fruit, papaya salad, hot dogs, you name it.
What cities should I visit?
Bangkok– You definitely need to pay a visit to the capital if you’re going to Thailand, but to be honest, I wouldn’t spend too much time here. I like to fly in here from America and stay for 2-3 nights to get over my jet lag before moving on to other cities. I talk about some of my personal favorite things to do and see in Bangkok here!
Phuket- This is the beachy area of Thailand. There are several different beach towns, all with their own vibes and feel. We didn’t know which area we were going to like best, so we just booked our first night of accommodations, arrived, rented mopeds and drove all around Phuket to scope out the different beach towns. We ended up staying a couple nights in each area, which was fun. My only recommendations are 1) DO NOT spend your entire time in Patong. It is touristy and dirty and there are much better areas. 2) 100% get the ferry from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands. The Phi Phi Islands were my absolute favorite part of Phuket. We spent about 7-10 days total in Phuket, as it is a beach town and we wanted to relax here for most of our vacation.
Chiang Mai- This is the Mountainous northern region of Thailand and very well known for it’s delicious cuisine. We went to Chiang Mai during the Lantern Festival, which was such an incredible experience. This is also where we went to an Elephant Sanctuary. Chiang Mai is completely different than Phuket and Bangkok and a must see if you’re in Thailand. We spent about 3-5 days in Chiang Mai and it was the perfect amount of time.
Krabi– Krabi is another popular beachy area of Thailand. We did not make it to this part of the country, but I have heard great things. You can also access the Phi Phi Islands from Krabi as well.
Pai– Pai is another region in northern Thailand and is known for it’s beautiful landscape. This is another region that we did not check out on my visit, but that I heard great things about.