The land of smiles. In Thailand you can find everything: very good food, white beaches, old temples, green nature and a special culture and history. One thing is different in Thailand than in other South East Asian countries: it has never been occupied or a colony of another country. That’s what the country is proud of this independence and thankful for the king they had.
When I arrived in Bangkok I still saw the grief for the king who passed away in October 2016. My colleagues at work were wearing black and I adapted. In Thailand I spend the longest time of my worldtrip: two months. I was doing an internship at the Hanns Seidel Foundation and lived in a hostel in Bangkok (video and page links). That’s why you can find a lot of tips for this awesome city and the meaning of Bangkok’s most famous party street Khao San (scroll down).
- When to go: Best time is between November and February to avoid rain season before and super hot season after (from March to June)
- Visa: 30 days for free for Germans, extension for another 30 days possible once per year, Non-Immigrant Visa for 90 days for internship available at the embassy your home country or e.g. in Phnom-Phen (takes 3 days, $80)
- Getting there: Bangkok is the most easiest and cheapest place to reach by plane from anywhere, buses go from Siem Reap and take 10 hours for 10€, Night train are running from Laos via Chiang Mai or from Malaysia via Surat Thani
- Money: 37 Baht = 1€ (April 2017), you can withdrawal money easily but all ATMs charge a fee of min. 200 Baht (7€), even for VISA card holders of DKB (Germany)
WHERE TO GO
- Bangkok – this vibrant city, melting pot of all backpackers, start point for Asian travels and home of great temples. For more, scroll down please. (Blog post: 10 tips for Bangkok)
- Ayutthaya – the old capital of “Siam” and beautiful old temple city 2 hours north of Bangkok, nice to ride a bicycle for 50 Baht through (20 Baht by 3rd class train from Hualumpung station, unlimited tickets, same train route to Chiang Mai)
- Chiang Mai – more known as the capital of North Thailand a popular destination of backpackers and digital nomads with a great night market, the best spot to see or taking a bath with elephants in whole Asia (riding them is not good!) and many many temples in the city center. Easy to reach by overnight train or night bus (about 12 hours) or by plane for about 30€ (1 hour), cheap hostel with a very good location: “Julie Guesthouse” for 99 Baht (3€) a night in a dorm.
- Pai – even more chill-out than Chiang Mai, many backpackers only planned a few days in Pai and stayed for weeks… maybe because of the food grass which is growing there? 😉 Easy reachable by bus from Chiang Mai or if you rent a motorbike to explore the surrounding areas anyway
- Chiang Rai – close to the border to Laos, great for hiking and nature and to get closer to the culture of the mountain tribes
- Krabi – Railay Beach or Tonsai because all other places or Phuket are so crowded of tourists. Stay in Railay if you want to have a nicer beach and more luxurious accommodation and in Tonsai if you prefer nature, simple bungalows and climbing the rocks which are so special for Krabi! (you can also walk from Tonsai to Railay with low tide or through the jungle). There is a great view point and cave with a lagoon to climb in at Railay! Longtail boats bring you from Ao Nang Beach to both of them for 100 Baht (3€) per person.
>> How to get from Bangkok to Krabi by train?
In Krabi there is no train station, so you have to go to Surat Thani and then get a bus or mini-van to Krabi but it is very easy if you know how to do it: We took the overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani which departs around 7pm and arrives around 7am in Surat Thani (nothing to do there, just a changing point to Krabi or Ko Samui). You can buy the tickets at the Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok, but at least two days in advance because for these longer trips they are faster sold out. There you can buy a kombi ticket for the bus to Krabi already.
- 2nd class with air-con: 770 Baht, 2nd class without air-con 540 Baht (still okay because of the fan and the air-con is actually really cold sometimes and you close your bed with a curtain anyway)
- Mini-Van to Krabi: 250 Baht
- You arrive either at the real bus station in Krabi or like us somewhere around Krabi where they only offer you tickets for higher prices to make money with tourist, but from there you can walk to the main street to get a …
- Public taxi “songthaew” to Ao Nang Harbour: 50 Baht
- Longtail boat to Railay or Tonsai (same price): 100 Baht
- Total price: 1170 Baht (32€)
- Koh Lipe – absolutely the paradise of Thailand, long white beaches, you can get from one side to the other side of the island in 45 minutes, still enough restaurants and bars to choose from but gets more and more touristic
>> How to get from Krabi to Koh Lipe?
From Krabi (either Railay, Tonsai, Ao Nang or Krabi city) you can book a kombi-transfer to Koh Lipe. First you have to get to Ao Nammao port from Railay or Tonsai and then jump into a Mini Van to Hat Yai, after 3 hours you reach the port, have lunch and take the ferry another three hours to Koh Lipe. From the boat you have to change to a Longtail boat which brings you to the beach because there is no official harbour (but I think they kind of do that to get more money because I have seen bigger ships driving directly to the beach).
Costs: 1100 Baht (30€) – yes, it is a little bit expensive to go to Koh Lipe but it is worth it
Other island which I got recommended from other travellers but didn’t tried yet:
- Ko Yao Yai, lonely islands between Phuket and Krabi
- Koh Lanta, big island with National Park and waterfalls to drive a scooter around
- Koh Rok Noi
- Tarutao National Park (around Koh Lipe area)
- Koh Bulon Le (very small island north of Koh Lipe)
FAVOURITES IN BANGKOK (>Blog post: 10 tips for Bangkok)
- Best sky bar: “Red Sky Bar” 56th floor with Champagne Bar on 57th floor at Centara Grand Hotel near BTS station Siam or watertaxi station Pratunam (cocktails: 480 Baht, mocktails: 240 Baht)
- Best night market: “Ratchada Train Market” at metro station “Thailand Cultural Center” or taxi with lots of different food and cool bars in the back, Wed-Sun 6pm to 1am
- Weekend market “JJ’s/ Chatuchak market”, best for souvenirs, the biggest in Bangkok with a nice park nearby, only Saturday and Sunday, BTS station: Mo Chit (42 Baht)
- The hipster night market near Chatuchak is “JJ Green”, a clothing market with cheap different food like burgers for 45 baht and bars with live music, Wed-Sun 6pm to 1 am
- Lumpini Park is great to relax or taking a ride by pedal boat (40 Baht), other nice parks near Sukhumvit are Benjakitti Park (big lake) or Benjasiri Park
- Nightlife MUST-DO: Khao San Road with many party-willing backpackers, vodka buckets for 200 Baht, the cheapest sticky mango rice and lots of cheap cloths, music on the street until 1 a.m. – did you know that “Khao San” means unboiled rice?
- Bicycle day trips to little island chill outs: Bang Krachao and floating market (easy to reach by ferry from Klong Toey Port) or Ko Kret (more far away, 1 hour ferry trip on big Bangkok river to Nonthaburi and further by taxi or bus)
- Island for a weekend trip from Bangkok? Ko Samet! (4 hours from Ekkamai Bus Station or via Patthaya – 130 Baht, then ferry to the island for 50 Baht): the only hostel is Olly’s but they charge 400 Baht for a dorm bed, you can find bungalows with double bed for 800 Baht e.g. at Ao Wai Beach
Best hostel to stay in: Monkey Nap Hostel near Sukhumvit – 250 Baht for very clean and separated capsule bed with breakfast, next to BTS but far away from Khao San and temples but in 40 min you can be at Wat Pho Temple with sleeping Buddha via BTS “Saphan Taksin” and watertaxi for 15 Baht
- FOOD MUST-TRY: Pat Thai – the most famous sweet noodle dish with shrimp, egg, bean sprouts and peanuts, aroi mag (very yummy)!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or write me through Facebook.