If you are looking for practical information about Thailand click here First trip to Thailand, we answer questions like: Do you need to obtain a visa? – What documents will you be required to enter the country? – Is it a safe country? – Is it an expensive country? …
» Bangkok is a must-see in your trip and a good option as a first stage.
» And what next?
Well, it depends on how many days you’re going to stay in Thailand.
To set an example, if you have 9 days including international flights, we suggest adding just one more stage, with two alternatives, the north/northeast of the country or the beaches in the south.
With 12 days there would be enough time for three stages.
» Chiang Mai is the second most important city and our reference in the north of Thailand. We will stop to provide basic information.
» History of Thailand. If you like historical places, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai are waiting for you.
» Why not a different stage? Getting out of the most common itineraries can be really refreshing.
» Weather also influences, so it’s a good idea to adapt the trip and your expectations for the season in which you plan to come.
» Practical information.
Now we go step by step
Bangkok is a unique city that lives with passion all the extremes, from the beauty of its impressive temples and the deep faith of the believers to the vibrant tropical night in a great capital that never goes out.
The contrast with any western city from which you may come makes Bangkok attractive as a first stage. The second reason to start here is that you make the city tours and excursions when you have a lot of energy, so will be happily busy from dawn to dusk and beyond. There will be time later to rest laying on the beach.
If possible, we recommend that your flight arrives in Bangkok around noon to be able to go through immigration and collect your luggage (1 roughly hour), and move to the hotel (approx. 1 more hour) with time enough to rest, shower and take a walk in daylight.
It will help you to acclimatize more easily to the heat and humidity of Bangkok, as well as the new time zone. Varying a little during the year, it starts to get dark after 6 pm. Around June daylight extends a little longer.
In our opinion, the sights not to be missed are:
– The Grand Palace with the Wat Phra Kaew.
– The Royal monastery Wat Pho, which houses the reclined big Buddha.
– The monastery Wat Arun, next to the Chao Phraya River, is on the opposite shore.
We have to include in the list Chinatown as well, an authentic bit of China, exotic and bustling.
If you want to attend an evening of Thai boxing, we suggest watching this video about this traditional sport. It has been made to be watched just before attending the event and then understanding what happens in the ring.
Beyond the essential visits, the capital of Thailand has many tourist attractions, so it is advisable to spend at least 2 or 3 full days.
Take your time to get information on the sun and beach offer, depending on the season and your own interests.
A family travelling with children looks for a different destination than a group of friends planning scuba diving activities. Not all beaches are the same or have the same services; each has its public and a unique ambience.
As a general criterion, it is better to leave the beaches as the final stage of the trip, that is, start in Bangkok and finish on one or several of its tropical beaches, even combining both coasts if you have enough time and you feel like it.
And between Bangkok and the beaches?
Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand
Chiang Mai is the second most important city in Thailand and is located not far from Myanmar and Laos. Despite that, it doesn’t have a financial district with skyscrapers. Its appearance is closer to a town, cosy and friendly.
The city is also a starting point for touring the northern mountains, enjoying the elephant camps and practising activities in nature such as trekking, rafting or cycling, also get to know the hill tribes or take a Thai cooking course.
In Chiang Mai there are many beautiful monasteries; nevertheless, three of them stand out: the Wat Phra Singh and the Wat Chedi Luang inside the old town and the Wat Doi Suthep located 15 km away on the slope of a mountain in front of the city. Doing the three visits in a single day is easy.
On your first travel draft, you can reserve 2 or 3 full days in Chiang Mai.
Ancient capitals: Sukhothai and Ayutthaya
For those travellers wishing to soak up the Thai culture, there are two unique sights:
If your trip is oriented northwards, we recommend you Sukhothai, the first capital of the new Kingdom. Located halfway from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, it has a nice visit.
But if your trip takes you to the southern shores, then the former capital Ayutthaya is a better option. Close to Bangkok, one day may be enough.
About the history, this guide provides a post with familiar references for Western travellers.
Why not a different stage?
Although it is obviously debatable, the only visit that would be a pity to miss on your trip to Thailand is the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
There are many Buddhist monasteries, palaces, villages, picturesque places and protected natural areas that are worth a visit, and if you miss some of the most famous, you will surely enjoy other equally interesting.
Climate of Thailand
In addition to the personal interests, it’s convenient to take into account the weather of Thailand and adapt the trip a bit to the season in which you plan to come. In Thailand, each new season arrives when the prevailing winds change direction.
It’s easy to understand if you think of your own country, you’d recommend a different plan to visit it in December, May or August. Each season has its charm.
As in any other country, the high season is concurrent with the most favourable season for a vacation and on special festivities. Also, note that prices rise and places of interest have more affluence of visitors.
» Language. Thai is the national language. In tourist areas, English is widely understood. However, taxi drivers do not always speak English, so it is advisable to have the address in Thai or a phone number to call to solve any question.
» Currency. Thai Baht. Most currencies are accepted at exchange offices. To know the current change click here.
» Electricity. 220 volts 50 Mhz.
» Local time. GMT + 7 hours.
» Tourist Police (English, French and German). Phone number 1155.
» Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Call Center 1672
» Climate. The country enjoys warm to high temperatures (19-38 degrees) and high humidity (66-83%) what means that visitors have to plan their trips taking care to keep hydrated, especially at noon.
In general, there are three seasons: rainy (June-October), fresh (November-February) and hot (March-May).
» Religion. Buddhists 94.2% and Muslims 4.6%
» Visa. The Thai government let nationals from 55 countries stay for tourism purpose for up to 30 days without a visa.
Citizens from another 21 countries must apply for the visa on arrival at the immigration desk, not exceeding 15 days of stay.
In other cases you must apply for the visa at source before leaving. Check your particular case at the Thai embassy in your country and/or at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Link 1, Link 2 and Link 3.
For visa extension click here.