I have been to Thailand only twice but it felt like I’ve been there several times. The place has so much to offer that it inspired me to share some insider tips and hacks that may help you while backpacking in Thailand.
1. ON CONVERTING YOUR PESO INTO BAHT:
Before travelling to Thailand, change your bulk Philippine Peso into US Dollars in a BANK or a SPOT MONEY CHANGER. When at the Thai airport, change a fraction of your dollars into Thai Baht. When at a mall or pawnshop in Thailand, change a larger chunk of your dollars into baht. Never convert your pesos directly into baht when in Thailand as you will incur considerable losses.
2. ON TRAVELING FROM AIRPORT TO THE CITY:
Unless you’re travelling in groups of 3 or more, skip the taxi and take a walk from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the Airport Link instead to take you to the city proper. It can save you more or less 200 Baht — that’s already worth two shirts! The Airport Link runs from 6 AM to 12 midnight everyday so choose to arrive in (or depart from) Bangkok at those times.
3. THE ESSENCE OF PRINTING MAPS:
Maps are a must when strolling in Thailand especially when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi. Printed maps of Bangkok Mass Transit, Chao Phraya River Pier Guide, and the Attractions Map of Ayutthaya, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai would be of great help.
4. COMMUTING IN AND AROUND BANGKOK:
While I mentioned how great trains are, public buses are even better choices to travel around Bangkok as it can save you around 60 to 80% of your transportation allowance. Just make sure you’re hopping on the right bus by checking out the bus routes HERE. And unless you really want to ride one, pass on riding a tuk-tuk because it could get pricey and it would be difficult to negotiate with the drivers if they realize you’re a tourist.
5. CHOOSING WHAT DAY TO GO WHERE:
Thailand is packed with visitors all year-round so deciding whether to go on a “high” or “low” season would not make a difference. Allot a Saturday or a Sunday to go shopping in Chatuchak Market or any floating market (I prefer Damnoen Saduak) when they come to life; allot a weekday (Mon-Fri) to the temples just as they opened to prevent the crowds, especially in Ayutthaya.
6. THE IMPORTANCE OF BOOKING TO ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE:
Want to visit an amusement park or see a cultural show in Thailand? Save a lot by booking your tickets a few months in advance. You can even get discounts when you book in groups. And did I say their Siam Niramit show and Amazone Waterpark are A-mazing?
7. HAGGLING TIPS!
It’s extremely tricky to haggle nowadays in Thailand especially if sellers know you’re a visitor. And it annoys me whenever they say “cannot”! Solution? Bargain hard and ask for the lowest price. If he or she says “cannot”, leave. This way you may have the slightest chance to get called back and get a done deal. If this doesn’t work, try buying more than one item and ask for price cuts. Or better yet, just bring a Thai friend with you.
8. FOODS FOR PASALUBONG
Head out to the nearest grocery store for food items that Chatuchak or other open markets are lacking. There are many cheap local food items and spices in the supermarkets for you to choose from. Some of them have promos while others have great discounts.
9. CHOOSING WHAT TO EAT:
You’ll never go hungry in Thailand with all the food stalls serving cheap authentic Thai dishes. Try their chicken or pork skewers, sweet sticky rice with mango, or coconut ice cream. I swear you’ll thank me for it.
10. GIVING YOURSELF A NIGHT TO RELAX:
While it is ideal to stay at a cheap hostel or motel in Bangkok, pamper yourself at least for one night at a comfy decent hotel, ideally near the airport. At least you’ll get a good night’s sleep plus free breakfast before heading home.
Know more tips and tricks you can share when in Thailand? Let us know in your comments below.