“Sawasdee Krap/Ka” (men/women) is the greeting of Thailand meaning ‘hello’! The different endings for the words seem to be used in many of their other sayings and are spoken by the male ‘krap’ or female ‘ka’ saying it. Apparently if you are a lady boy you use the ending ‘ha’.
We arrived in Thailand by bus from Malaysia with our first stop being Surat Thani where we spent one evening before catching the ferry to Koh Samui. Our travel route was as follows: Surat Thani – Koh Samui – Koh Phangan – Koh Tao – Bangkok – Chiang Mai.
The intention of this page is to provide links to the various places we went and recommend as well as provide resources that we found useful along the way. We understand that we don’t have ALL the information, but what we do have will be helpful to those travelling to Thailand.
The official currency of Thailand is the Thai BAHT (pronounced – baaht). One baht is divided into 100 satang. Coins come in denominations of: as well as 25 and 50 satang. (You may get some 25 or 50 satang coins in change at a supermarket.)
Banknotes come in denominations of: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht.
The most commonly used coin is the 10 baht and the most commonly used note is the 100 baht. The notes of 20 and 50 baht have changed with a slightly different portrait of the King.
Thai banks charge a 150 or 180 baht fee per withdrawal when you use their ATMs with a foreign card. Previously it was 150 baht for Visa cards and 180 baht for MasterCard cards. Some banks now charge 180 baht for all foreign cards.
- Your home bank may also levy a fee.
- Using ATMs is a safer option than cash and more convenient than T/Cs.
- This may be the way to go if your home bank does not charge high fees.
- ATMs are plentiful and located just about everywhere.
- Most Thai ATM machines will deliver a maximum of 20 banknotes per withdrawal, so the effective limit of an ATM withdrawal is 20,000 baht.
- NOTE: that many ATMs may offer to automatically convert the charge to your home currency. Refuse this option. This is Dynamic Currency Conversion and the exchange rate will be considerably lower (on the order of 5-7%) than the rate normally applied by your home bank.
- Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)
- When paying by Credit Card (hotels restaurants shops etc), insist on being billed in Thai baht.
- Being billed in your home currency, (a practice which has become more prevalent recently) involves both a hidden surcharge and bad exchange rates and can add 5% to the net cost in some cases.
- The best advice is to insist on paying the local currency amount.
- If you are charged in your home currency, someone is going to make a profit on the deal, and it won’t be you.
- If DCC is offered at an ATM machine, refuse, allowing the exchange rate to be set by your home bank at international market rates.
The water in Thailand is not safe for consumption. There are other health risks to consider when travelling to this great country including wild dogs, cats and other animals. Check the resource below for great info on Thailands health risks.
There are many ways to get around the country and even more ways to get around the varying cities and islands. Below are the ones we used and can attest to.
Boat: Getting from Surat Thani to Koh Samui was fairly easy. We booked a two part ticket with a bus from Surat Thani to Donsak pier and a boat to the island. Seatran was the best option to get to the island from land we found. Once on the island, there are other options to go island hopping and on day trips. Lomprayah is a fast and reliable way to do this and we enjoyed skipping along the water in a large catamaran style speedboat although if the weather is rough be prepared for the boat to be rocking! Take something for nausea if you have the slightest inclination of being seasick prior to getting on the boat because chances are its going to be a bumpy ride on open water. We used Lomprayah to get from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan, and Koh Phangan to Koh Tao. From Koh Tao we needed to get to Bangkok so we opted to take Songserm to Chumphon, and then connect by bus to Bangkok. You are able to buy your boat/bus ticket together from Koh Tao and the trip is around 3 hours to Chumphon.
Surat Thani-Koh Samui (Seatran X 2) 500 THB, Koh Samui-Koh Phangan (Lomprayah X2) 600 THB, Koh Phangan-Koh Tao (Lomprayah X2) 900 THB, Koh Tao-Chumphon (Songserm X2) 1200 THB. All transportation can be booked online through the websites above!
Bus: We advise taking buses over planes because they are cheaper and can save you a nights accommodation somewhere if you take the overnight bus. Be sure to dress warm as they like to keep the temperatures nice and cold! Whether you take Lomprayah or Songserm your boat/bus company should be able to provide both tickets in a combined package for you although we purchased our bus ticket at the pier in Chumphon after coming off the boat from Koh Tao. For the rest of Thailand there are many luxury coach bus options and you will find them fairly easily online.
Chumphon-Bangkok (Songserm X 2) 900 THB
Plane: We book almost all of our flights online with Expedia as their rates are at par or better than we’ve found anywhere else, even the airways own sites! Occasionally we will find a better rate on Skyscanner but we prefer the points and usability of the Expedia site. AirAsia seems to be the cheapest and most reliable way to get around Thailand and its a pretty easy thing to choose, just select your destination and the cheapest price!
Bangkok-Chiang Mai (AirAsia X 2) 4400 THB, Bangkok-Yangon 10,800 THB
Taxi: We tried to stay away from taxis as we found them to be the most expensive form of ground travel within the cities and on the islands. We used them most in Bangkok as scooters were not available for rent to tourists. Ask for the meter to be on as the rates are somewhat reasonable or agree on a fixed price before getting in. We rented a taxi for a half day to drive us all around Bangkok for 5 hours and it cost us 600 THB which was great when we were getting our visas in order. It is law in Bangkok for taxis to use the meter. DO NOT PAY MORE THAN 200 THB IN BANGKOK TO GO ANYWHERE!!
35 THB when you get in and 2 THB/KM. Traffic will incur additional surcharge. Average trip is 70 THB.
Tuk Tuk (Islands): As reliable as taxis are they are overpriced compared to this form of transportation and provided you don’t mind riding with locals and other people in the back of a pickup truck, its a great way to get around! You just tell the driver where you want to go and he/she gives you a price. We only used them to get to/from our hotels from the pier as we rented scooters for our day to day travels so when you arrive on the island pass by the mass of people waving signs and maps at you with fixed prices and find one of these bad boys, you’ll be glad you did.
Average cost is between 40-100 THB per person.
Tuk Tuk (Bangkok): These three wheeled beauties will get you just about anywhere you want to get to in a short distance and for pretty cheap too. They get paid commission and in fuel stamps to bring you to local stores such as jewellery and clothing shops. You don’t have to buy anything or even go to the store if you don’t want to but you can get a ride for almost free if you’re willing to take 5-10 minutes to look around the store they bring you to. They are happy to get the stamps, you are happy to get the ride! You will be told its a scam and not to take them due to some politics with the Tuk Tuk’s being called a ‘Cartel’. We were aware of this fact and took them anyway, you’ll be fine in fact our favourite driver was in Bangkok named Add. You can call him for a ride @ +66 0868854055.
100 THB for most locations or relatively free if you go to shops (10 THB)
Scooter: We found the best way to get around to be by scooter when it is an option. They are usually available from whichever place you are staying and if not can be found on almost any street. Be sure to wear a helmet which will come with you scooter rental, and try not to have anything hanging off of you (i.e. purse) while riding around as this can be a target for a quick grab which can be extremely dangerous if you are moving. We easily rode on one scooter together. Also it’s advisable to have a valid International Driver’s License.
150 THB/day for a 125cc or 100 THB for the smaller version. Gas is relatively inexpensive @ 40 THB/L and a full tank will last 3-4 days.
MRT/BTS/ARL (Trains): In Bangkok there are three train routes which will take you around the majority of the city in a short amount of time to keep you out of traffic which can be horrendous most of the day. You simply buy a ticket to your destination which is inserted into the gate to get to your train and you will get it back to insert it into the machine on the way out. We used the trains to get to some of our visa locations as well as to the movies and for food. You can find a link to all the information you will need <HERE>.
20-50 THB per person one way.
Budget Hotels: We happened to be in Thailand shortly after the Military Coup occurred and found a lot of great deals on hotels. There are many options for accommodation in Thailand but we exclusively stayed in hotels. All hotels were booked on Expedia and we cross referenced our options with TripAdvisor to make sure we were going to have a great stay. Also all of our hotel stays included breakfast simplifying our meals and expenses for the day. Many people we spoke with decided to find their accommodation upon arriving and seemed to enjoy what they found in places such as hostels, guest houses and beach huts. If travelling with a partner you will pay the same individually as you would in a hotel by booking a hotel except you will likely have a nicer/cleaner/private room.
Average cost of a 3 star hotel including breakfast 1200 THB/night.
Thailand’s dishes are delicious! Don’t be afraid to eat the local food from street vendors as you will save yourself a ton of money from eating at restaurants and you will leave full as will your wallet. The street vendors are probably different than what you are used to but the food they make is authentic and tasty! We are vegetarian and had no issues ordering food anywhere. Be sure to tell them your level of spice for the dish you are ordering or you may get a surprise however most places will ask. A few of our favourite dishes to try are: Papaya Salad (Som Tam), Green Curry, Red Curry, Masaman Curry, Pad Thai (obviously), and our most favourite dish we found in the north Khao Soi.
Street food will be no more than 60 THB per serving. If you eat at a local restaurant expect to pay up to 150 THB for a dish. Western restaurants, while we didn’t eat there often will start around 180 THB per serving and go up as high as you want from there.
TOURS & ATTRACTIONS:
Thailand has a variety of options that can be arranged for you. Everything from island hopping to a day of snorkelling or even a day with elephants. Most of these can be booked on the street, through your hotel or online. We used all three and had no preference to which option was best. Our favourite tours as always are the ones we take by ourselves and simply get lost on an island or in a city. There are many attractions from temples, football golf, muay thai fights and even a jungle party. Whatever you’re into, Thailand will have something for you.
Free for your own tours. Full day tours will range from 700 THB to 2500 THB.
Laundry in Thailand is quite reasonable to do and we found the easiest way to go about it was to drop it off with the hotel front desk. Typically you will have it delivered back to your room within 24 hours and will be very satisfied with the service.
40-50 THB per kilo.
We were told that the two best cities for Visas while travelling through Asia were Singapore and Bangkok. In Bangkok they have many embassies from all over the world making it a great place to stop and grab the visas you require to get into the other countries you wish to visit. At first we visited a ‘visa specialist’ who asked us for 3000 THB per person per country to do our visas for us. We politely declined and decided to do them ourselves which was much easier than expected. We were able to get same day Visas for Myanmar and also received our Visas for Nepal in a matter of 10 minutes. I understand that some other countries can be more complicated to obtain Visas for (China) however if you visit the website of the country you are trying to get a Visa for and look at their requirements you shouldn’t have much trouble at all and will get a great tour around Bangkok going to get them!
Taxi for half day 600 THB. Visas vary in price depending on the country and your requirements for stay. It’s best to go directly to the embassies website and look up the cost and if you are unable to find the cost you can always call them directly.
CITIES, ATTRACTIONS & RESTAURANTS WE VISITED:
Koh Samui: Our first stay on one of the islands landed us here for 9 nights and we enjoyed every minute. From the sun bathing and ocean enjoyment at Chaweng Beach, to the quaint restaurants and shops at Fishermans Village there is something for everyone here! Grab a scooter and get out there, lots of fun and excitement to be had along with some great places to eat.
THE SUNDAY’S SANCTUARY RESORT (HOTEL)
MANATHAI RESORT (HOTEL)
CHAWENG BEACH (ATTRACTION/RESTAURANTS)
LAMAI BEACH (ATTRACTION/RESTAURANTS)
FISHERMANS VILLAGE (ATTRACTION/RESTAURANTS)
SAMUI FOOTBALL GOLF (ATTRACTION/ENTERTAINMENT)
FLYBOARD BY JAMES JET STAR (ATTRACTION/ENTERTAINMENT)
ANTHONG NATIONAL MARINE PARK (ATTRACTION)
MUMMIFIED MONK (ATTRACTION)
BIG BUDDHA (TEMPLE)
WAT PLAI LAEM (TEMPLE)
CAFE 69 (RESTAURANT)
THE HUT (RESTAURANT)
Koh Phangan: We travelled by boat to Koh Phangan for a 5 night stay and just happened to be there during the infamous Full Moon Party. Lots of people having a good to overly great time dressed in bright colours and drinking excessively however the island is big enough to get away from the crowds and into the beauty of Thailand.
DA KANDA VILLA BEACH RESORT (HOTEL)
KOBRA MUAY THAI BOXING (ATTRACTION/ENTERTAINMENT)
FULL MOON PARTY (ATTRACTION/ENTERTAINMENT)
JUNGLE EXPERIENCE (ATTRACTION/ENTERTAINMENT)
MAE HAAD BEACH (ATTRACTION)
BOTTLE BEACH (ATTRACTION)
HAAD YAO BEACH (ATTRACTION)
THE WORLD’S END CAFE AND BAR (RESTAURANT)
THE MASON’S ARMS (RESTAURANT)
NIRA’S HOME BAKERY (RESTAURANT/CAFE)
Koh Tao: This is the one island we wish we had spent more time on and certainly will be returning to on another trip to Thailand. It’s the #1 place to be certified in open water diving worldwide and with good reason! The water is calm, clear and filled with aquatic life. Truly a beautiful place to visit.
TANOTE VILLA HILL (HOTEL)
DIAMOND DAY TOUR SNORKELLING (TOURS)
TANOTE BAY (ATTRACTION)
AOW LEUK BAY (ATTRACTION)
KO NANG YUAN (ATTRACTION)
Bangkok: Into the major city from the islands and the present day capital city we travelled by ferry to Chumphon and took an overnight bus to arrive in Bangkok the next morning for our 7 day adventure. There is tons to see and do in a city that is 250 km/sq! We really enjoyed Bangkok as far as cities go and it’s certainly one of our favourites thus far.
ASOKE RESIDENCE (HOTEL)
BEST WESTERN PREMIER (HOTEL)
CENTRA CENTRAL STATION (HOTEL)
THE FUSION SUITES (HOTEL)
THE AETAS BANGKOK (HOTEL)
AIRPORT RAIL LINK (TRANSPORT)
PARAGON CINEPLEX (ATTRACTION/ENTERTAINMENT)
TEMPLE OF DAWN WAT ARUN (ATTRACTIONS)
CHAO PHRAYA RIVER TOUR (ATTRACTIONS)
BUMRUNGRAD HOSPITAL (MEDICAL)
ROOFTOP RESTAURANT (ATTRACTION/RESTAURANT)
LUMPINI PARK (ATTRACTION)
CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET (ATTRACTION/SHOPPING)
SOI COWBOY (ATTRACTION/NIGHTLIFE)
KHAO SAN ROAD (ATTRACTION)
MAY’S VEGGIE HOME (RESTAURANT)
SUNRISE TACOS (RESTAURANT)
FUJI JAPANESE (RESTAURANT)
Chiang Mai: Originally we weren’t going to visit Chaing Mai and were going to head directly to Myanmar from Bangkok however after many suggestions and quick deliberation we knew it was a place we couldn’t miss. There are some really incredible things to see in and around the area. We also found our favourite dish in Thailand here, Khao Soi! The Elephant Nature Park is worth the visit alone to Chiang Mai and we had no regrets at all about visiting.
WAT CHEDI LUANG (TEMPLE)
NIGHT BAZAAR (ATTRACTION/RESTAURANT)
WAT PHRA THAT DOI SUTHEP (TEMPLE)
3D ART MUSEUM (ATTRACTION)
SILVER TEMPLE WAT SRI SUPHAN (TEMPLE)
ELEPHANT NATURE PARK (ATTRACTION/TOUR)
MAI KAIDEE (RESTAURANT)
KHAO SOI KHUN YAI (RESTAURANT)