Backpacking Tips: Thailand on the fly
Question Hi there, I've never really traveled much before but do have a taste for it and want to get started. I'm a fairly confident male in my late 30's btw. For the next few years, I'm not going to get much holiday time for me (personal family reasons) but have a golden chance to spend three weeks away over the Christmas period. I want somewhere warm (coming from a frozen wasteland (ok London)), somewhere friendly, great culture with lot's to do.
A friend suggested Thailand and the more I read about it the better it sounds. So I'm dead set and about to book tickets.
My Rough Guides is in today so I'm going to have a proper read through that although I've been researching online.
What I want to do out there is spend a few days shopping (mainly clothes to wear in Thailand) and visiting touristy places in Bangkok. Then go for a few treks in North Thailand (jungle treks etc). Ride some elephants, soak in atmosphere and culture. I'll round off by heading South to some beaches and winding down there.
I have a couple of questions though. I'm traveling by myself, and I'm comfortable with that.
But I don't know how much planning I need to do from here. I want to be able to just go somewhere, book into a hostel discover the place, book some excursions with some local companies and then move on. Will that be fairly reasonable? With it being the Christmas and New Years period and all.. I'm quite confident in myself and will do what I want to do, but having not traveled before I'm not wholly sure what I'm letting myself in for.
I do want to plan some stuff but I'm conscious that I don't want to overplan.
Hello Himji, welcome to the forum! :-)
I understand your concerns, and I'm going to answer your questions the best I can!
When it comes to planning in Thailand, the main thing is that you don't need to plan that much, in fact very little... So yes it's fairly reasonable to believe that. This applies whether it's about accommodation, booking tours and treks etc.
There are of course exceptions, and I'm going to focus on these.
As you already mentioned, you're going to travel during Christmas and New Years.
I RECOMMEND to book accommodation in advance if you're spending your time on the islands during the holidays. It seems like you're going south, so please do. I remember when I was stuck with all the expensive accommodations when I arrived in popular Koh Phi Phi during New Year's (2007/2008) - that's because I didn't book any room in advance. Same thing happened the next year in Panglao island, Philippines, the day before New Year's.
Spending Christmas and New Year's on the beaches of Thailand is perfect -- and that's the reason lots of travelers and tourists do this.
I'm not saying that you won't get accommodation at all if you don't book in advance, because there are a lot of sleeping options. But the point is that you have to probably crash the night at some expensive resort because all the cheap and mid-priced accommodations are taken.
The same if you're going for the moon parties on Koh Phangan, Koh Tao or Koh Samui. We got into this problem when finding accommodation in Koh Tao (April 2010). All the good accommodations in Koh Tao were taken right before the Full Moon Party, and we had to spend the night at a shitty guesthouse that didn't had an air-con that worked (and it was the hot season).
When are you arriving in Bangkok from London? If you're arriving late, I also recommend booking a room the first night.
You'll most likely be jet-lagged and awfully tired after a long flight, and the last thing you want to do is looking for a place to sleep in the middle of the night in Bangkok...! You should consider this since you haven't traveled much and haven't been in Asia before (?) There are going to be a lot of impressions, and to ease the situation you can book that one night in advance.
Otherwise you don't need to plan at all :-)
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