- If you are going by train and your destination is more than a few hours but less than eight hours, 2nd class trains with chairs and no a/c are where it’s at. Less than a few hours, save some money and take a 3rd class seat. If more than 8 hours and you want to get some sleep and can handle a little heat, go for the 2nd class sleeper. Me, I need a/c when I sleep.
- When buying tickets for ANYTHING, buy them there. If you book through a agency you will spend more than you have to. I wanted to book a train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok with several stops and I was quoted a few thousand Baht. Booking at the station I only had to fork over about 800 baht for all of my stops.
- Drinking water is key. If you don’t drink tons of water, you won’t feel good and things will just be bad. When you buy water,buy it from 7-11. A huge 1.5 litre bottle will cost you somewhere around 20 baht. Once you drink that down, find a water refill station. You can refill your 1.5L bottle for 1 to 5 baht. It’s not cold, but if you write your name on your bottle and you ask nicely, I bet your guest house will let you keep it in their fridge.
- Tuktuks can be fun! I even was able to talk two tuktuk drivers into a race across Bangkok with some friends! However, if saving money is in your plan, take a taxi instead. Just make sure they run the meter. No meter, no ride. If taxis aren’t your thing, then look for a scooter taxi. You can get most places for around 20-40 baht but as with almost everything in Thailand, don’t be scared to negotiate. Like I said, if you’ve never been in a tuktuk, its worth the money at least one time!
- Trains and buses are almost never one time. My train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok was only 4.5 hours late getting in. If you need to be somewhere for an appointment, make sure you have PLENTY of time to get there.
- When traveling alone, the best place to meet people is hanging out in a hostel. Having a private room in a guest house is nice, but it’s much harder to make new friends.
- I found that when eating street food there is a simple strategy to find the cheapest and best tasting food. Find the place with no other tourist and if they have a menu, make sure there isn’t any English to be found. Using this simple tip has led me to some of the best food I’ve had since being here.
- If you ever crave something from back home like a juicy burger or some french toast, don’t expect much here. To be honest, the “western” food sucks. However, I think I’d be a bit worried if it didn’t. I’m on the other side of the planet. If I wanted to eat great western food, I would have stayed home.
- In all the time I’ve spent on the train, I’ve noticed something. The people who work for the railway are some of the nicest people! They are always willing to help and go out of their way to answer any question you have. They’re even nice enough to come by and poke you when your stop is up to make sure you don’t sleep through it.
- Not sure if you want to stay more than 30 days in Thailand? Don’t count on always doing a visa run to Laos. Sometimes you won’t feel like it. If you want to extend your 30 day courtesy visa, you can only do so for an extra 7 days at a hefty fee. Just bite the bullet and get a real visa before you go.
- I packed my 40L backpack ¾ of the way full. I quickly found out what I needed and what I didn’t. Don’t pack too much stuff. People with much more than I have just look miserable!
- People from the immigration office in Bangkok aren’t very friendly. If you go, make sure you have all your ducks in a row! ( Yes, I know that rhymed)
- Finally, when in doubt, do as the Thai people do. If you’re confused, just watch and pay attention, you’ll figure it out.
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Tips from readers!
Don added…don’t make hotel reservations in advance online. You will probably pay too much and I have been able to find a place to stay anywhere in the country, even during Chinese New Year. I just had to walk around a little longer than usual to find a bed for the night.