Thailand, the heart of most backpackers first journey, a place which conjours pictures of beaches, good vibes and jungle life. A country which offers everything a new or experienced backpacker would want; friendly people, unbelievable food and beaches, plenty of culture and activities, and it’s still pretty cheap! The path is well done, but each well known stop is worth it, and there are those hidden gems yet to be discovered with a bit of effort. It was the place I started and finished my first 14 month adventure, and firmly sits as one of my favorite places in the world…the saying is Bangkok has you now…and it is for good reason, you will want to return time and time again.
SO WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO SPEND THERE?!
Southeast Asia on a shoe string kind of trip or a luxurious 2 week holiday? Well Thailand excels at both. I personally budget around £1,000 GBP a month for Southeast Asia, although I’ve always ended up spending around £800, without any conscious budgeting at all. I spent just over 2 weeks working my way up from Bangkok to Pai, and then a few months later I returned and spent a month on the islands, where it is definatley a bit pricier (although still very cheap by my normal UK standards!)
ACCOMMODATION – with it being such a popular destination there is a lot of competition on the hostel side of things, this means luxuries such as WiFi, air-con and even free breakfasts are in abundance as a standard at a low price. As I said before the north is much cheaper than the islands, so expect to pay around 350-450 THB per night in cities such as Bangkok and Chaing Mai, and then it depends on the islands if you opt for a basic bungalow or a slightly nicer place, but expect to start at around 600THB. I only stayed in 1 hotel in Thailand which was on Koh Samui, it worked out at £9GBP per night, which felt a complete bargain for what we got, it was a luxury treat for me when my friend from home came to visit!
Some of the hostels I stayed in or visited in Thailand were:
FOOD – food, one of my favourite things in the world, and my god is Thailand good at it. Everything from your pad thai, massaman curry and massive range of street food. I can’t remember not liking one meal that I tried in Thailand (this may have something to do with all the travel weight I gained in Asia?…) Another bonus is that it is really cheap and
always available, so you can try it all! In terms of street food you can spend
as little as 20 THB and be fully fed…which is roughly 40p. 40p!! However your average meal will tend to be around 35-55 THB. You can generally get by each day on around 120-180 THB if you stick to the Thai food. In most cities and some islands you can find all the western food your heart desires, however they do tend to be a little pricier, and of course don’t forget to sample the ye olde faithful ham and cheese toasty from the 7/11, it will sort out that bucket induced headache right away.
GETTING AROUND – as I am sure you have come to expect by now, the transportation is also cheap. There are plenty of local buses and trains for less than 10 THB, like the one I used to go from Bangkok to Ayyutya. Well connected city transport such as the Metro and Skytrain in Bangkok are around 15-55 THB per trip and then with taxis, ensure it’s a metered one, or you agree your price beforehand to get the fairest price. One of the most expensive methods to get around are tuk-tuks as they are not metered and tourists and backpackers alike want to experience the new and exciting mode of transport.
So while I highly recommend jumping in the odd scream inducing tuk-tuk I wouldn’t use them as your main form of transport. There is also the option of travel by boat, especially in Bangkok where there are numerous river taxi boats where you can purchase cheap tickets on board. When visiting the islands what most people tend to do is pop into one of the many travel agents, and buy a bus + boat package, to get from Bangkok/Chaing Mai to the islands, this usually works out cheaper at around 250-475 THB. These journeys can be long, with no option to lie down overnight and sometimes stopping at what seems like a road-side shack for a few hours for no apparent reason, but have no fear, they are usually pretty succesful in getting you to your destination! Just make sure you get off at the right side of the island in Koh Phan Yagn…
WHAT SHALL I DO THERE? – oh man, so much. To name a few you can wash and care for elephants (please research this to ensure it is a safe sanctuary environment for the animals, and not just a cruel money-making tourist spot as per Tiger Temple), world famous beach parties, jungle treks, crazy zip-wire through the jungle experience, numerous national parks, museums and monuments, lose yourself in pagodas, temples and ancient city ruins, get massaged and pampered, take a cooking class, relax on world class beaches and get your PADI diving certificate, or simply spend time wandering around learning a few basic Thai words, walk around the villages, cities and see what sights you stumble across. Enjoy.