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2023 Thailand Travel Tips

A few tips for your next trip to Thailand.

Visas

Canadian’s and nationals from 47 other counties can get a 30 day visa on arrival when they fly into Thailand. Do not go to the area that says visa on arrival, just go through the regular foreigners customs line. If you come in by land you only get a 15 day visa. DO NOT overstay your visa. They will check and it will be a problem. You can get a multiple entry, longer stay visa but you need to get that before you leave home. There is talk of extending the 30 day visa but as of now it has not happened. Check before you go!

Money

You need Thai Baht for day to day expenses. More upscale hotels and restaurants will usually take credit cards, but many places do not take them.

Getting Thai Baht:

  1. You can get some before you go but the exchange rate will be worse than it will be in Thailand
  2. You can exchange US $ almost anywhere and Canadian dollars in most tourist towns. The exchange in the basement level of the airport by the Skytrain into Bangkok has one of the best exchange rates in Thailand.
  3. We generally have no problem getting cash from bank machines in Thailand. Our cards have plus and interact. I would recommend using a machine outside a bank which is open just in case it eats your card. (so far…this has never happened to us)

Phones and Data

Tourist phone plans and data are cheap in Thailand and it’s worth it just to have google maps! You can buy a SIM card for your unlocked phone in the airport. They even have a couple of booths before you get through customs. The rates are pretty similar everywhere so pick a plan and buy a card in the airport. Everyone in Thailand uses cell phones so the coverage is generally good.

Language

Thai is not an easy language for English speakers. Most people working with tourists will speak some English. If you can learn the basics (hello, thank you) it will go a long way. Google translate is very helpful and many Thais will have it on their phones to help with communication. It’s generally pretty good. but sometimes it is completely wrong!Because the two alphabets are very different. Thai words and particularly street names can be spelt differently on maps and street signs. If the name is close you may be in the right place!

Getting around

If you are flying into Bangkok the best way to get into town from the airport is the Skylink which leaves regularly from the basement.

Taxis

Rates vary a lot. If you can get a metered taxi and convince them to use the meter that is the best bet. Many taxi drivers do not speak any English. Google maps can be helpful here. Sometimes we put the location in google and give the driver the phone. It is also useful to get the location of the hotel written in Thai. Some bookings allow you to do that.

Grab

Grab replaces Uber in Thailand. Put the app on your phone before you go. It can be very useful and it’s cheaper than a taxi. They also have grab motorbikes ,but you need to have nerves of steel to ride on one in Bangkok traffic!

Tuk Tuks

They look cool but beware of scams. A cheap ride may involve a trip to “Uncle’s” gem shop.

Public Transit

In general, it’s safe and reliable. People are helpful but it can be easy to end up in the wrong place due to the language barrier. We use google maps to track where we are going while on the bus.

Trains

The trains in Thailand are generally good. We have done a number of overnight long distance trips. We generally use 2nd class, and we occasionally upgrade to 1st class. On a 1st class sleeper you get a compartment for 2 people. In 2nd class you get upper and lower berths. All long distance trains require a reservation which can be made up to 30 days in advance. If you want a 1st class ticket book it as soon as it becomes available. When we can, we book trains after we land at the station in Bangkok. No Thai required.

Planes

Flying between major cities in Thailand can be a good option. The smaller Thai Airlines like Thai Smile, Thai Lion Air, Thai VietJet Air are generally cheap just beware of extra charges. You will not find these on Booking.com or Expedia you need to go to the airline sites. We have had some issues over the years in getting our credit cards to work on some of the sites. If one card does not work try a different one.

Renting a motorbike

In order to legally ride a motorbike in Thailand you need an international drivers license and a motorcycle license from your home country. You can rent one without meeting these requirements, but it’s not a good idea. If you get in an accident you are going to have a real problem. In many tourist areas the police have checkpoints where they will stop you if you are on a motorbike. Generally, you get an on the spot fine. The other warning, if you plan to rent a motorbike. Make sure you take pictures of any damage before you pick-up the bike so there are no “misunderstandings” when you return it.