Thailand attracts many backpackers each year. It has got all the ingredients for easy travelling around. Perfect, if you are just starting to discover what it’s like to go backpacking, especially on your own. In general, travelling through Thailand isn’t hard. Everywhere you go, you will find lot’s of facilities to make your life more easy. In this chapter I will give a quick overview what to expect.
Where to go?
Honestly, there’s so much about Thailand to find online, you can plan all from day to day. I didn’t do that, but there were some places we definitely wanted to see and others not so badly. We skipped the Northern part, because it takes some time to travel here. I’m sure it’s beautiful, but as I was also heading to Malaysia, there was no need to go there to see rainforests. I regret missing the cultural experience of Pai, Chang Mai etc though, but I assumed that, as everywhere in Thailand, true authentic villages, tribes and habits, you wouldn’t see. You have to travel far away of the tourist tracks (which are everywhere) to find the réal culture. With that in mind, I focused on visit as many beautiful places in nature and surroundings during my trip of 3,5 weeks. Here you find the places I’ve been: Thailand
Be aware, if music is normally one of your main motives to visit clubs or festivals, you will be disappointed in Thai Party’s. DJ’s repertoire don’t stretch far and the main reason people party in Thailand is because of the ‘Yolo’ and ‘Wild and Free’ spirit. Which is fun and a nice occupation of course once in a while! The famous Thai Buckets (cheap small plastic bucket with your favourite cocktail inside and straws for all your friends) help you to get in the mood. If you drink, everything is fun, especially on a beautiful island surrounded with same minded people. Nice to try, but don’t expect to much of it! Atmospheres are crazy and it will be no exception finding people acting like there’s no tomorrow (as in taking the fun a little too far sometimes). Basically, I found the Full Moon Party more interesting than entertaining.
The many tourist hotspots are easily connected with ferry’s and (mini)buses, but you can also fly or take a train. On every street you will find at least one travel agency, who would love to put you on a package deal (bus + ferry + bus for example) to your next destination. Prices are reasonable, but always much higher (like 150-200%) than when buying your ticket on the bus, ferry or train. Finding bus stops and getting to ferry’s can be hard without help of a travel agent though. So it just depends on what you want during your trip: relaxed no matter the costs, or adventurous on a budget. I tried as much as possible to ‘travel as a local’, but found this in Thailand harder than in any other country visited. It seems like tourist funnels are always there to capture you before you can find your own way. At least I can advise you to buy your train tickets at the windows in the trainstation. Saves time and money!
Don’t worry about this. There’s plenty on offer everywhere you go. Thailand is famous for good priced, clean and convenient bungalows (double rooms). I booked my stays one or two days in advance through Booking or Agoda, just because I found it handy to know where to go, but it’s not necessary ! It was never a problem to add-on extra nights when we were staying somewhere. The only place where I would recommend making a booking in advance, is Koh PhiPhi. This island is so overly popular, that good accommodations fill up quick. You can always find a room somewhere, but chances are it’s just filthy. Common in Asia is the low amount of dorm rooms and lack of common area’s. Because every thing’s so cheap, people rather stay in a bungalow for two, than share a room. This makes it a little harder meeting other people through shared accommodation when travelling alone.
I’m sure that the inhabitants of Thailand are one of the main reasons this is such an popular tourist country. They are just so friendly. Willing to give you the best time of your life, helping and providing service where possible. That said, you can tell in some mass tourist locations, the local people are getting tired of tourists. They will not show this in an active way , but you can tell by their lack of enthusiasm in compare to other, less tourist places. Which I can totally understand. Most of them speak English and proud to show you their country though.
Thailand is an underdeveloped country in compare to the Western world, which results in cheap prices for everything. However, Thai are an enterprising folk and willing to work hard and eager to earn money. This results in finding different prices for locals than for tourists everywhere in the country. This is comprehensible, but it makes it harder for backpackers to travel around on a budget, especially in transport. We spend an average of €36 pp each day. This contains eating out three times a day and paying attention to all spendings (ca. €15 pd), staying in bungalows (ca. €10 pn) and travelled as cheap as possible (ca €10 pd). We did no excursions at all. In compare to our next visit to more Western neighbour Malaysia (€20 pppd) our spendings in Thailand where higher than we expected it to be.
Another reason for Thailand’s popularity. A country as safe as your backyard. Tourists feel like it and act like it, and that’s why their behaviour can be really annoying to local people (and other tourists). Even if they don’t show discomfort by all the parties and other tourist attractions taking over their land, they can still be bothered by it. However, original Thai locals, will not act or say a thing. Fights, thefts and criminality are mainly caused by tourists among each other. Always watch your stuff, keep valuables with you and be careful with what your drink and think twice about challenging a Thai Boxer in the ring.