Sawasdeekhaa! (sah-wah-dee-khaa) Hello in Thai!
(Men will say Sawasdeekhrap “sah-wah dee khrap”)
Time of year visited: Early November
Cities/Providences Flown to: Bangkok & Krabi
–-JFK to Bangkok (Roundtrip): Cathay Pacific estimate price $600. Great Staff, the seats were comfortable, they had charging outlets and plenty of movie options to select from. It is also good to note that the food was good and they had free liquor. Ps. You can score tickets to Thailand for less than this through the fares we share on Twitter, but wanted to fly specifically on Cathay Pacific which is why we booked this fare.
–Bangkok to Krabi (Roundtrip):–Air Asia estimate price $85. Good low cost carrier. It was a short flight so we don’t have much to review. Just pay for baggage upon booking your ticket. Their carry-on restrictions are smaller in size that the standard airline.
Reminder: portable chargers, even built in, must go on your carry on luggage not your checked bags. If you have an AWAY bag, for example, remember to unscrew it from your bag if you are checking it in. (When you unscrew the two screws, lift your bag upright and the charger slips out).
-Get $20 Off your first Away order when creating an account with this link here.
-For those seeking to get the travel cubes we featured to help you keep organize and maximize space, you can get them right here.
U.S citizens only need a valid passport to visit Thailand for visits of 30 days or less. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of travel and it must have at least one blank page per stamp. For additional information regarding travel requirements click HERE.
The official currency of Thailand is the Thai BAHT. Currently, 1 USD is equal to 32 BAHT (different from our previous guide because it fluctuates). Keep track of rates by using an app like XE Currency App. Your U.S dollars will get you a lot in Thailand, and rates for exchanges are higher there than doing it here ahead of time. However, check with your bank to see what rate they give you. If its close to the ongoing rate it makes sense to do it with them in advance vs waiting to do it when you arrive in Thailand. Just keep in mind you will need to exchange it as Thailand does not accept U.S dollars. DO NOT DO IT AT THE AIRPORT.
If you want to use a credit card, bigger establishments in Bangkok accept cards. You will have a harder time finding places that take credit cards in certain islands such as Koh Lanta Yai. However, you will come across some ATM machines. If you end up using your credit card, beware of foreign transaction fees. Also, make sure they charge you in the local currency and not in U.S currency.
Suggested Time To Go For
Clients and readers always ask the same thing: How long should i go for? The length of time will depend on how many different places you plan on going to. However, do NOT do less than 9 days. Keep in mind 2 of those 9 days will be spent traveling. It isn’t time efficient to do anything less than that.
Tip: Mobile Passport is a great app to use when entering back into the U.S and going through customs. It will save you time. There’s no need to fill out the blue customs form anymore when going through participating airports.
The cooler months in Thailand are November to February, which is also their “high season”. The hot and dry season is during March, May and June (humidity can get up to 75%). April is the HOTTEST and the most humid. July-October are the months they get the most rain. The weather during our stay was perfect: it was hot but not unbearable or humid. It rained twice at night while we were in Krabi, but that was expected. It only rained for a short time and then it cleared up.
Surviving a Long Flight+ Jetlag
Our flight went from JFK to Hong Kong-16 hours. We had a 2 hour layover and then flew Hong Kong to Bangkok-3 hours. Total flight time including layover: 21 hours. It sounds horrible but it was a breeze. The night before departure I started to time my sleep to avoid Jetlag. Thailand is 12 hours ahead, so i got about 4 hours of sleep the night before. Our flight was at 10am which meant it was 10pm at our destination. I fell asleep around 2pm-3pm and slept about 8 hours on the plane. I was up for about 3 hours after that before we landed in Hong Kong. I was ready to go. I was alert and adjusted quickly thanks to that. I had packed sleepytime tea and liquid Melatonin, in the event i had a hard time sleeping but i didn’t end up needing it thanks to the few glasses of wine i had on the plane. Upon returning back to the states i did the same thing the night before departing to avoid Jetlag upon my return.
We have a full guide to Thailand we released earlier this year HERE. If you are visiting towns not listed or for additional information, please read over that guide. To avoid repetition, we aren’t mentioning things we already listed there.
Airport: Have transportation setup ahead of time. Especially when you arrive at the Bangkok airport as the taxi lines look like the DMV lines; you take a number and wait for your turn to be called. You can set up ground transfer from the airport to your hotel through Expedia or Viator. Uber works in Thailand, but even they had 20+minute wait times for drivers to get to you due to traffic.We had all of our ground transportation setup ahead of time so we didn’t have to go through these headaches. We booked with Tour East via Expedia and would definitely use them again.
When in Thailand: you can rent a moped for the day for $6. If you don’t know how to ride one, we suggest avoiding them especially in the smaller islands where the roads aren’t as safe. Please keep this in mind as we saw a pretty bad accident involving foreigners when we were there. You can also hire a Tuk Tuk driver or a local Taxi cab driver for the day, just make sure you agree on a price ahead of time and always make sure it’s a TOTAL price not per person. If you get on a Taxi, make sure their meter is on. If they claim they can’t, get off and get on another one. In Bangkok, you can also Uber it around town.
-Khao Sand Road: shopping, food stands and souvenirs
-Octave Bar: rooftop bar in the city with beautiful views. Pricer than your average bar in town. If you are on a budget, come here for a drink or two only.
Note: Most bars in Bangkok close at 2am therefore their last call takes place at 1am. Stores stop selling liquor at 12am.
-Floating Markets: there are plenty you can select from. We visited the Damnoen Saduak District one and we were very pleased with the options we saw. We booked transportation via Expedia, which included transportation to and from our hotel & a boat ride into the floating market. Once we were there we paid 50BAH (about $1.50) to take a boat along the water front shops. It isn’t necessary as there are plenty of options on land, but we wanted to get to see it all plus we had extra time.
Reminder: negotiate prices. Example: if they say 600Bahs for a shirt counter offer 250Bahs and see where it goes from there. Prices aren’t set in stone and are up for negotiation.
Note: Please remember we are giving you different options in this itinerary we didn’t mention before on our other guide. Night markets are a great place to get shopping done but also a great place to find multiple delicious food options!
-Sky bar at Lebua: the world’s highest rooftop bar located on the 64th floor. You might remember this from “The Hangover 2”. The drinks are very pricey, for a minute you might think you are in New York, but the views are breathtaking. If you are on a budget you can come here just to shoot some pictures.
Koh Lanta Yai is a small island in the Krabi Providence, between Phi Phi islands and the main land. It has a majority Muslim population. We selected this area because we wanted to experience the town as locals and we wanted to avoid being around large flocks of tourists.
We stayed near old town, in a fisherman’s village at this beach front AirBnb. Although the swimmable beach is not immidiately outside the property, it’s just a quick 15 minute drive away. You will find a few shops and restaurants in Old Town. The pier is also nearby, where you can catch a long boat to other nearby islands. It takes roughly about 20-30 minutes ($12-$16 cab ride) to cross the island, which is where there are more bars and restaurants (yellow area on the map above).
You can also get here and look for lodging. There’s a few places such as “Bee Bee” and “Easy Life Lanta” Bungalows in Koh Lanta that aren’t everywhere online to book. If this works for you, play it by ear and see what places still have space and book it upon arrival.
In Bangkok we go over some good options in this guide. But we also wanted to mention the hotel below because it’s a short 15-minute drive away from the Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), which makes it very convenient to stay in before flying back home. It is farther away from downtown but an Uber ride there was only $13 each way.
Itinerary for Koh Lanta Yai
-Tiger cave temple
-Mae Kaeow Cave
-Outdoor Markets (the location varies by day of the week)
-Haad Phra Ae (Long Beach)
-Haad Nui (Nui Beach)
Tip: if you want to visit all 4 you can do a one day “4 island tour”
-Day Trip to Koh Ngaio Island. We took a 1 hour long boat ride from the Pier in Koh Lanta Yai here. It was our favorite beach, even over Phi Phi. The waters were clear and there were hardly any tourists in the area.
-Bamboo Bay: beautiful untainted beach. Minimal tourists in this beach as well. There’s a restaurant right by the beach where you can eat or buy some drinks at. They also have a restroom. We spent a whole day here.
-Why Not Bar: visit for their fire show at 9pm.
-Aqua Bar: also in the same vicinity, it is super cute and they have good music.
-Mushroom bar: beach front bar. On a Sunday, they had a DJ, face painting, and a neon-glow in the dark party.
-Freedom Bar: another beach front bar with games, good music and good drinks. Bob Marley themed.
Itinerary for Phi Phi Islands
-Day trip to Koh Phi Phi Don Island: The ferry leaves Saladan Pier (in Koh Lanta) at 8am tickets are 350Bah one way ($10) per person and it only takes 1 hour. You can buy an open return ticket incase you want to return that day at 3:30pm or stay the night and the return the following day at 11:30am or 3:30pm.
We played it by ear and ended up staying one night. There are plenty of hotels and hostels you can book once you arrive all ranging in price to fit any budget.
Note: Phi Phi Don is very beautiful but due to the large crowds of tourists, it wasn’t our favorite island. We were happy to visit but wouldn’t have stayed here more than 2 days. It is a great place to party though.
-Shop along the many shops in this little area
-Ibiza Pool Party: if you are seeking a day party, this is your spot.
-Koh Phi Phi Leh: less hectic than Koh Phi Phi Don
-Hike up to View Point to get some gorgeous views of the island.
-Day Trip to Phuket
-Day trip to Maya Bay
-If you are into diving checkout the King Cruiser Wreck
-Reggae bar: for 150bah you can get a drink and view some Muy Thai Fighting. The real pros are at the end.
Some Pricing References
Average pricing for Beer: 60bahts (~$2)
Average pricing for Massages: Thai massage 250bahts (~$7) /Oil massages 350bahts (~$10)
Average pricing for Braids: 200-350Bahs with color ($5-$10)
Average pricing for a manicure: 150Bah (~$4.50)
Average meal prices: 150Bah (~$4.50). Note: these vary depending on preference. Sometimes they were as low as $2)
Things To Know
-Palms together brought up to your nose: hello, goodbye
-Mai pen rai: “Never mind something-don’t worry”. You will see their motto a lot around town
-Thai’s are very accepting of sexual preferences and are very welcoming
-No flip flops, short skirts, or shorts for temples (mentioned on our previous guide but it’s a good reminder)
-Avoid Sombondee Seafood Market (not as fresh as the other areas)
Numbers to Call
-Tourist Police 1155
-Police (General Emergency Call) 191
-Medical Emergency Call 1669
-Tourist Service Centre : 1672
Saving Money for The Trip + Spending Money
Booking Ahead Of Time
Ideally, your airfare to Thailand, or for any other international trip, should be booked about 5-6 months ahead of time. There are always exceptions to this rule, but typically this is the case.
You should already have a travel fund set up so that when a good airfare comes up you have money saved up. If you haven’t created one, read about how we did it here. We also use money from our travel fund to take for expenses. We don’t usually have to pull money from our savings account for a trip because that’s what the travel fund is for.
Using Credit Cards+ Points
We usually book all travel related expenses using a credit card that gives us points and then use those points we earn, towards future travel. Some good credit card options are the Chase Preferred and/or Reserved along with the Capitol One Venture card. If you are just starting on your credit, the Bank Of America Travel Rewards card isn’t a bad option either. Always compare credit card options before signing up for one to see which one better works for YOUR lifestyle and look at the sign up bonus too. A good source to compare credit cards is Nerdwallet. As a rule of thumb, ALWAYS payback what you purchase within the month. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. The last thing you want to do is go on vacation while your credit card is exploding with debt.
Getting Cash Back
Ebates-If you do any shopping online, including any airfare and/or travel packages, make sure you sign up for Ebates so you can get cash back for all that shopping you are already doing online. Plus if you use your credit card that earns you points, you are doubling the rewards!
Yelp-the easiest of them all! Just enroll the cards you use to pay when you go out to eat. When you dine at a participating restaurant you automatically get cash back after you pay. It might not seem like a lot, but it adds up. You’re already going to these places so don’t leave any cash on the table. Enroll Here.
Spending Money in Thailand
US dollars will go a long way in Thailand. How far they can go will depend on you. If you prepay for all, or at least the majority of lodging and tours ahead of time, then all you will have to worry about is spending money. How much you spend will also have to do with how much you drink and how much shopping you do. With that being said, $50/day is a good base average of what to budget for. I always like to over budget, so i did $75/day but i had money left over. Don’t exchange all your money, do about 60% of it and exchange the rest only if you see you are running low. It isn’t necessary to tip in Thailand but the service is so great, we encourage you to do so. Even as little as 20BAH (less than $1) will make someone feel valued.
We hope our itinerary helps guide your next vacation to Thailand. This beautiful country has so much to offer. There are so many ways to go about your trip here. Please don’t forget to tag us on your Instagram pictures and crediting us if we help inspire you to visit any of the places mentioned. We put a lot of hours into editing and gathering information during and after our trips for you. If you appreciate what we do, water us with love, share our article too, we appreciate it!
Have an amazing time in one of my favorite places. Safe Travels!