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Thailand Vacation

Essentials to Help You Plan the Perfect Vacation in Thailand

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Railay Thailand

Picturesque Railay is a great place to begin a Thailand vacation.

Photo by Greg Rodgers

The secret is out: Thailand is a memorable destination, even for short trips. But many people have no idea of how to start planning their Thailand vacation. Don't let the long flight deter you; once on the ground you'll get more bang for your buck than in other destinations such as Hawaii or the Caribbean!

Use this guide to begin planning your vacation in Thailand.

How Much Will a Trip to Thailand Cost?

After airfare, a trip to Thailand can be surprisingly cheaper than expected. The total cost obviously depends on you, your choices for accommodation, how you move around the country, and generally how much luxury you want on your vacation.

Thailand attracts a wide range of travelers; you can easily find a way to accommodate your budget. Backpackers can explore Thailand for as little as US $20 - $30 per day, or you can spend ten times that for a single night in some luxury hotels.

While organized tours in Asia may seem the quick-and-easy solution, you can save money by just organizing transportation and activities once you are already on the ground. Thailand has an excellent tourist infrastructure and numerous travel agencies -- not hard to find in tourist areas -- will gladly help you plan activities or move around.

When is the Best Time to Visit Thailand?

Thailand's driest months are between November and April, however, you'll find nice places to visit with little rain throughout the year. A host of other factors may influence your decision of when to visit Thailand.

Do I Need Vaccinations for Thailand?

The only vaccinations you should really consider for a short Thailand vacation are hepatitis A and B. The vaccinations can be combined and are good for 10 years. Being vaccinated is nice to have anyway and will keep you safe on future trips as well.

The hepatitis vaccinations require a series of shots, so consider getting these early in your planning. You can get by with only the first two shots then get the booster once you return.

You will not need anti-malaria pills for a trip to Thailand unless you intend to spend a lot of time in the jungle areas along the borders.

What to Pack for Thailand?

With great opportunities for cheap shopping in Bangkok malls and markets throughout the country, take less so that you can buy locally made goods to wear and then later bring home.

Money in Thailand

Western-connected ATMs are everywhere in Thailand and typically offer a better rate than exchanging money. You'll be charged the equivalent of US $5 for each transaction; check with your bank for additional charges.

You can use major credit cards at hotels an in some high-end shops, however, you may have to pay an additional commission. Plan to rely mainly on Thai baht for daily expenses.

Negotiation is a part of Thai culture and you should bargain hard for purchases such as souvenirs and clothing.

Where to Go in Thailand?

Nearly everyone arrives in Bangkok, enjoys some cheap shopping and takes in a few temples, then decides to head further afield.

Here are a few top destinations in Thailand to help you decide:

  • The Thai Islands: No Thailand vacation is complete without visiting at least a couple of the beautiful islands. You have two choices for island areas: the islands in the Gulf of Thailand south of Bangkok and the blue Andaman Sea on the west coast of Thailand. From busy party scenes to quiet islands with almost-private beaches, you'll find the best of both worlds on the islands.
  • Chiang Mai: Thailand's northern city is a favorite for many visitors and one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia. While still a big city, the vibe is much different than that in Bangkok. You'll find plenty of activities, culture, markets, and temples to keep you busy.
  • Pai: Located four hours north of Chiang Mai and surrounded by green scenery, Pai has transformed from a quiet, hippie paradise into a major tourist destination. Despite the extra visitors, Pai has retained much of its riverside charm.
  • Ayutthaya: Just a short train ride north of Bangkok, Thailand's former capital is the place to enjoy culture and ancient temple ruins.
  • Railay: Thailand's rock climbing epicenter isn't just for climbers. The towering, limestone scenery is amazing and the beaches boast white, powdery sand. While technically not an island, Railay is surrounded by mountains and must be visited by boat.

See more places to go in Thailand.

What to Expect on a Thailand Vacation

Thailand has a long, established infrastructure for tourism; they are experts at welcoming visitors and accommodating your ideas for the perfect trip!

You'll never have to worry about a language barrier; English is spoken in all tourist destinations.

Once on the ground, you can arrange transportation around the country easily. Assuming that you bargain with the driver, tuk-tuks are fun for seeing sites in the city. Overnight buses and trains of varying luxury will move you across the country, or if time is short, domestic flights are fairly affordable. Read about getting around in Thailand.

Thai people are generally friendly to visitors. You'll quickly understand why the country is often called 'Land of the smiles'. You can learn how to not accidentally offend people by knowing a few dos and don'ts in Thailand beforehand.

Thailand is a Buddhist country and you will inevitably end up encountering monks and visiting impressive temples. Read about temple etiquette so that you can show proper respect on your trip.

Thailand is a safe destination and assuming that you follow the rules of common sense, you shouldn't have any trouble beyond overpaying for souvenirs here and there. Read about illegal drugs in Thailand and how to stay safe on your trip.

Finding Cheap Flights to Thailand

Deals to Thailand can regularly be found online, particularly from Los Angeles, Chicago, and other major hubs.

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