Travel-friendly Thailand: Part I

When my husband said he was up for Thailand, I could not contain myself. I wanted to see it all! We had nine days to plan so I rushed to the computer and discovered…Thailand is huge–HUGE– and like every country, each city offers an endless scroll of unique experiences from bathing elephants to island hopping. I didn’t want to skip or miss out on anything. Go big or go home, right? But then I wondered, could we really explore Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the Phi Phi islands all in one trip? Or was our itinerary a jam-packed nightmare? In the end, I look at this map and see our memories all over Thailand.

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Part I is for all the hustle and bustle that comes along with international travel. I hope the following suggestions help ease the packing and planning process of your future trip.  

Travel Prep

I regretted my overstuffed and overly excited carry-on. I brought way too many clothes! Bangkok and especially Chiang Mai are very cheap so leave space for shopping. We also didn’t realize that local flights charge a fee (about $30 on Thai Airways) for a heavy carry-on. 

Packing

Packing is hardly fun but do 

  • Pack conservative clothing. You’re likely to visit at least one temple in Thailand. Conservative clothing is a must in order to visit any temple or historic site including Bangkok’s Grand Palace, the Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddah), and the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. Pack clothes that cover your shoulders as well as the majority of your upper arms. Women especially were rejected at the Grand Palace entrance because their t-shirt sleeves were too short. Knees cannot be showing either. Ladies, I suggest bringing a light shall or sarong if  your shoulders are bare or the hemline rests above the knee. Or you can always hand your money to the street vendors in exchange for approved clothing…( ;

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  • Pack light. I cannot emphasize this enough. Light. Try to arrive with half empty luggage. At most, bring an umbrella or rain jacket for rain. The markets are cheap–SO CHEAP– and offer wonderful birthday presents and Christmas gifts. My favorite sandals and pajama shorts are from Thailand. 
  • Pack loose pants. The website below helped me prep for sun burns but I didn’t realize my blood might as well be sugar for the mosquitoes. Comfy pants covered my itchy, red bumps and protected them from more bites.    
  • Helpful website:

https://www.kohsamuisunset.com/packing/

Organize your Documents

When there’s more than one flight, hotel, and location, the bookings can get a little out of hand. These tips helped my husband and I remain on the same page. 

  • If you plan on hitting up more than one location in Thailand, it’s smart to stay organized. I recommend printing all flight arrangements and hotel bookings, then label the top of the page with a colored pen. Designate one color for flight tickets and another for lodging such as “Flight to Bangkok” in blue and “Bangkok Airbnb” in red. My hubs did this and saved us so much time searching for the right papers.
  • Print a calendar layout of your trip. I always forget the days of the week when traveling. This was another practical and helpful way of keeping us on track. You can design a table on Word or print a blank Calendar/Daily Week sheet and fill it in as you plan.
  • If you’re traveling to Bangkok, scan and make copies of your passport or take pictures from your phone. I’ve read this advice on other blogs and it’s true that policemen are likely to stop tourists for papers. Officials requested our information before entering festivities for the King’s birthday.

Before you leave the Airport…

Once you arrive to Thailand, don’t pass up any of these opportunities at the airport!

  • Exchange your money to the local currency, Baht. You can exchange at a kiosk or the ATM. Depending on your bank fees, one or the other may be more beneficial. We pulled out a chunk of bills for the entire trip. Taxis don’t take cards and you’ll need the cash for local markets and food vendors. Cash is best! 100 Baht is about 3 USD.
  • Buy a SIM card. The SIM card allows you to travel Thailand without having to rely on wifi for an internet connection. It’s super affordable. We bought a “$15 for 10 days” deal. Google Maps and Yelp apps work well in Thailand. It was so nice to search for nearby activities without having to track down a wifi password.

Read Travel-friendly Thailand: Part II here.