It took me a few years and a lot of persuasion from my friends to get to the other side of the world: Thailand. The trip itself was intimidating, but also the fact that, I knew – it was mandatory to spend at least two weeks (the equivalent of two European holidays for me, both in money and in time) to get a taste of local culture. And as I’ve always been the fan of a week of vacation at every quarter, it has been hard for me to change that. Meanwhile, I became an Asia fan and … I can’t wait for the next trip there. Finally, the adventure started when we bought the airplane tickets about two months before leaving. Here I followed with interest the offers of the airlines & the application fly4free.com, but also the optimal time to travel to this country.
When to visit
The high season is December-February, the rates are higher and is full of tourists. Subsequently, prices are lower for both accommodation and flights, the beaches are empty, and the rains are scarce from May until October. April was best from all points of view. The weather was not capricious, there was no tourist inflation, and the prices were decent.
Lots of people think that this country has low prices. It’s a myth. Prices are not lower, they are like in Europe. Maybe just the food is a bit cheaper, but the services and products have normal prices, not small. A particularity of this area is that everything, or almost everything, is negotiable.
To visit this country, you need a visa. You can easily take it from the Embassy of Thailand, in Bucharest or at the airport upon arrival. Visa on arrival is given for a maximum of 15 days of stay, and for a longer period of time, it must be obtained from the Embassy (necessary documents). More information can be found on the Embassy website or on Tedoo.
Air travel took about 12 hours, plus a stopover of around 5 hours. I recommend seat cushions for flights like these, they can do miracles. After a sleepless night in the airplane and in Dubai Airport, here we are in Bangkok’s main airport: Suvarnabhumi. Lots of people from all corners of the world, a colorful buzz, an airport like the one in Frankfurt and an excellent organization. I later found out that the airport was built on a swampy ground, in an extremely ambitious project of the king.
The secondary airport, from which all domestic flights and sometimes international flights depart, is Don Mueang. Between the two airports, the authorities provide free travel, with a connecting bus it takes about an hour (approximately 50 km between them). Details of this transfer are here.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – city
The preferred city center connection is the Airport Rail Link, which can be taken directly from the airport. Careful! The subway does not work between 12: 00-5: 00. The journey from the center to the airport takes about 45 minutes. Uber does not come to the airport when requested from inside, but only if you come with it to the airport. The alternative is the taxi which can be taken with order number and for which you have to wait quite a while.
Until we reach the subway/taxi we need to have cash, so exchange is mandatory. Payment with the card is pretty much used, but the taxi can’t be paid by card. For this, you can change EUR / USD or other currency at the airport counter to the subway. There is also a non-stop counter if your flight arrives at night. The best course is at the SuperRich exchange house. EUR 1 varies around 37 Baht.
We preferred hotels in the centre and subway surroundings, for example the Top High Airport Link and Klub hotel. There are many options, booking.com is the best source to get the best price / quality ratio.
The capital of Thailand is a crowded, colorful, extremely lively and highly polluted city. This city does not seem to ever sleep, it is eternally accompanied by buzzing and motion. A fairly large proportion of the population wears masks to protect themselves from smog. Another challenge is the warmth that can reach and exceed 40 degrees due to the greenhouse effect of the smog. What stroked me in Bangkok is the infrastructure of this city with over 8 million inhabitants. I have not seen in the European cities, the infrastructure which Bangkok has.
What to visit
Personally, I would not recommend more than 3 days in Bangkok, as most of the tourist attractions can be visited during this time. Careful! In order to visit the temples, it is imperative to wear garments covering the shoulders, the neck and the whole length of the legs. Entrance to the temple itself is barefooted. The most interesting tourist attractions are:
- Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew – Buddha Temple of Emerald – the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. The two are in the same perimeter. In addition, there is also a museum of the queen’s clothes.
- Program: daily, 08: 30-15: 30
- Ticket price: 400 Baht (12 EUR)
- Visit time: 2-3 hours
- Wat Pho – The temple of the lying Buddha – an imposing statue of a lying Buddha.
- Program: daily, 08: 00-17: 00
- Ticket price: 100 Baht (3 EUR)
- Visit time: 2 hours
- Wat Arun – Temple of the West. It should be visited in the afternoon, offering a spectacular sunset.
- Program: daily, 08: 30-17: 30
- Ticket price: 100 Baht (3 EUR)
- Visit time: 1 hour
- Jim Thompson House – A silk trader fell in love with this area of the world has built a history around it.
- Program: daily, 09: 00-18: 00
- Ticket price: 150 Baht (5 EUR)
- Visit time: 2 hours
- China Town – a walk in this special area is worth it.
- Rooftop Bar – to enjoy a glass of wine in the setting of a special city view. Prices are in line with the landscape.
- Suan Pakkard Palace – a traditional village museum.
- Commercial area in Old Town.
- Floating markets are an essential part of Thai culture. Unfortunately, they are near the city, therefore a visit to one of them takes almost the whole day.
The metro serves the travelers well, but we used sometimes Uber and our favorite vehicle in this part of the world: tuk-tuk. I travelled several times by tuk-tuk. It’s an exciting adventure, but you can expect to pay even a little more than Uber, with all the bargaining. You will also inhale pollution and it will be very warm.
The local Uber alternative is called GrabTaxi and can be used with confidence. There are also ordinary, colorful taxis in which you have to mention right at the beginning to start the meter.
Thailand has one of the most famous cuisines. Whether we ate at the street vendors or the restaurant, the local delights didn’t stop to amaze me. I did not try to explain the flavor of my food, I just enjoyed it to the max.
You have to prepare for spicy, but very tasty food. Generally, salt is absent from the food, but is replaced by sugar. For most restaurants, if you mention at the beginning to the waiter, the food will not be spicy or will be prepared in the required degree of hot.
At first I was afraid to eat from the street vendors, but once I adjusted my mindset (I did not eat if it was dirty, I chose cooked products at high temperatures, I went for the booths with many customers and avoidthe ice in fruit shakes), I tried everything. The main dishes include seafood, chicken or pork. And rice is a constant side dish. The most popular dishes are:
*Tom Yum Soup (shrimp soup)
* Thai Pad (shrimp with rice)
* Mango sticky rice (desert)
* Shake of mango, etc
At every corner of the street there are ready-to-eat fruit. The most popular are: mango, red or yellow melon, pineapple, etc.
Flight Bucharest-Bangkok, FlyDubai: 570 Euro / person.
Accommodation Bangkok: 25 – 30 Euro / room / night.
In the post Islands of the Gulf of Thailand I’ll tell you more about Koh Samui, Koh Tao and so on.