Going to Thailand and could use a travel partner and some advice.
November 12, 2006 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Thailand for about a month. I could really use some tips, resources etc.. anything would help, and if you're in Thailand and want to meet up I'll buy you a beer.

I was supposed to go with a friend, and we booked tickets (leaving Orlando dec 12th, coming back jan 17). My friend now can't make the trip and I have to go by myself. I feel it would be good to have a travel partner though. I'm 26, a likable guy and I generally get along well with most people. Let me know if you're interested, and If you're already in Thailand, I wouldn't mind meeting up for a beer or something. Finally, I could use some advice, resources etc.. on traveling through Thailand. Thank you :)
posted by monkeycool to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Just got back from Thailand this morning, you'll love it!!

Presumably you'll be starting off in Bangkok, but I wouldn't bother spending too long there. Best way to see the city is to hire a Tuk-Tuk (small motorcycle drawn carriages). These guys will take you round the city showing you the sites for a very cheap price which you can agree beforehand, but they will also take you to a few places hoping to get you to spend money in different places which is where they make their money really (eg buy a suit or book a tour etc.).

On the Koh San road in Bangkok you'll find the main market where you can buy pretty much anything, make sure you haggle the price for everything.

We booked our travel and accomodation for the rest of our holiday outside bangkok through the T.A.T. which is the tourist authority type place, there's plenty of them around. They were able to book all our accomodation, travel and transfers to all the Islands upfront and booked our diving course which was dead handy.

If you get the chance make sure you're on Koh Phangan for a full moon party, which is glorious madness as they say and I'd also definitely recommend diving on Koh Tao, but I'm not sure if you'll be there in season. Trekking up to Chang Mai is also very popular, and Phi Phi is well worth going to aswell.

There's the usual health and safety precautions such as get all your vaccinations, don't drink water from the taps, take good care of your cash, credit cards and especially passport. Take advantage of safe deposit boxes where possible (most of the places we were in had them in the room).

Finally Chang and Singha beers are particularly nice and a 'bucket' is worth getting at the full moon party. (It's literally a bucket of some cocktail of booze - rocketfuel for the most part).

Anyhoo have a blast over there!
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:04 AM on November 12, 2006

If you get a chance go up north to Nong Khai and go over the border to Laos for a few days.
posted by josher71 at 9:08 AM on November 12, 2006

Assuming you're flying into Bangkok, go to a Thai boxing fight at Lumphini stadium. There's rings at different places in the country, but I think that is the biggest and gives you the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome feel.

Go to Bottle Beach on the north tip of Ko Pha Nang if you feel like laying around in a hammock.

Go to Ao Nang on the west coast if you want to see some amazing sunsets and go rock climbing/kayaking (a bit cheaper than Phi Phi, which I hear is overdeveloped and overpriced)

If you go to Chaing Mai, taking a cooking class. They're fun.

Scuba diving is cheap on Ko Tao, and the dive sites are solid. I used Big Bubble and I'd definitely recommend them.

And if you've got time, take a run into Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. I think in ten years it will be a tourist circus (although maybe it is already), so now is the time. But don't judge the country by that place, it is completely different everywhere else.

Have fun!
posted by Idiot Mittens at 9:12 AM on November 12, 2006

Best answer: For travelling companions, you might try the relevant Lonely Planet forum. Their Thailand forum is also chock-full of info. For guest house reviews and more up-to-date information than the guidebooks, try travelfish.

As for things to do, the 3-day/2-night "treks" that any number of agencies and guest houses will sell you in Chiang Mai are decent value and can be a good way to meet travelling companions. The cooking courses are fun, too.

And if you fancy waking up at 6am to pick your elephant up from its sleeping spot in the rainforest and clambering around its back washing it down in the river before breakfast, book the 3-day homestay at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre.

On preview: and if you can squeeze in Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh, go for it.
posted by rjt at 9:15 AM on November 12, 2006

Allow several hours to explore Chatauchak market... it's a must. Don't be afraid of most street food - it's the best!
posted by kdern at 9:18 AM on November 12, 2006

Best answer: All the advice going around on Thailand and southeast asia in general will make your head spin. Some of it's good (be firm with your destination with taxi drivers), some of it's not.

Off the top of my head…

1. Learn some of the language. Just a few things will make a big difference. It doesn't take more than a couple of days of practice to learn rudimentary basics like "please" or "thank you." Learn the numbers. Learn how to say "How much?" and "No, I don't want."

2. If you want to try and meet up with some foriegners to combat the loneliness, Khaosan Rd. is probably your best bet in Bangkok, but keep in mind that these will be some of the worst examples of "travellers" that you could ever meet. What's the line from Star Wars...You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. That's Khaosan. It's ugly, and not in a good way.

2a. Khaosan has shit digs. There are boatloads of hotels that are actually relatively nice for just a few more Baht a night. For example, the Riverview Guesthouse is a nice, clean place on the banks of the Chao Phraya river in the heart of the Chinese section of town. There's even a restaurant on the top floor with great views of Bangkok. If you get the fifth floor or above, you should be able to see down the river. Approximately 550 baht a night. There are others.

3. Bangkok's bus system is awesome. It's so awesome, in fact, that I'd almost recommend never taking a taxi or tuk-tuk, except for the fact that you have to learn some of the routes and times. Here you go. The BMTA can take you all over Thailand, too. It's the cheapest, most reliable mode of transport in the kingdom country.

4. Don't wei natives. It looks stupid and you're probably doing it wrong, anyway. Just smile. The smile is the universal handshake of Thailand.

5. Be respectful of any and all religious things. This includes giving up your seat to monks on the bus, and never disrespecting an image of the Buddha. Like, if you thought about how funny it would be to have a picture of you with your arm patting the Big Guy's tummy…well, don't. :)

6. Save yourself a whole heap of trouble and stay away from drugs while in the kingdom country. If you need a better reason than me saying so, take a visit to Bangkwang Prison for more illustrative reasons (visiting hours).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:43 AM on November 12, 2006 [3 favorites]

And just a warning. In Bangkok, if someone comes up to you suggesting you go see a temple, or some sort of Buddha monument that is only open that day, keep walking. They are going to try to rip you off. I got warned about this, and then a guy approached me. I probably would have brushed him off in any case, and I expect you aren't that gullible, but just keep your eyes open for that sort of thing.

And I'd also suggest that you take some local intercity buses or trains whenever you get the chance, as opposed to the strictly tourist transport. Thai people are incredibly friendly, and often like to practice their English, so it's a great way to meet some local people and get a better sense of the culture.
posted by Idiot Mittens at 12:12 PM on November 12, 2006

Best answer: I suggest making sure you have time to experience Thailand outside of Bangkok, and not just on an island. There is a huge amount of country with friendly people and unexpected excitements out there, so be sure to do some exploring (and not just Chiang Mai).

You won't find it too hard to meet people if you're generally friendly, just hanging around in hostels and travellers' bars. You may find it surprising, but the atmosphere of friendliness in Thailand, and the camaraderie of travelling makes it easy to make friends.

The only real difficulty you're likely to encounter is if you get drunker than you ought to, so try to be reasonably moderate, especially if you're alone. Treat scammers and suchlike kindly, but firmly and in good humour. Getting angery should not be necessary, and is generally a bad idea.

Most importantly, have fun. Just laugh off delays, inconvenience and the odd $5 you may occasionally get ripped off for. Bad experiences are generally very rare in Thailand, so prepare adequately, enjoy and don't worry about it too much.

There is lots of useful advice under the Thailand tag also, so be sure to read through those threads.
posted by MetaMonkey at 1:34 PM on November 12, 2006

I don't have anything useful to offer about Thailand, but I'm heading over there on January 6, probably moving straight across to Cambodia for a week or two then returning for some Thai adventures. I'm there by myself as well, so if you want to meet up I'd be happy to share a beer with you. I'm a 21 year old Australian guy, e-mail's in the profile if you want.
posted by twirlypen at 1:59 PM on November 12, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great advice. It'll be impossible for me to see everything on my first trip, but I'll definetely check out some of your suggestions. I also think I'll follow Civil_Disobedient's advise and book a hotel away from the khao sarn rd area for my first nights in Bangkok. Twirlypen, I'll send you an e-mail. Thank you all!!
posted by monkeycool at 4:32 PM on November 12, 2006

Seriously give the Riverview Guesthouse some thought. I don't work for them or anything, but after staying on Khaosan for a couple of nights, it was like staying in a lavish resort. The biggest problem with the place is that it's located in the middle of "Chinatown," which means that none of the useful Thai phrases you learn will do you any good. :)

The other problem, which in my mind was a godsend in that it kept the rabble away, was that it was hard as hell to find. The whole area is laid out like a souk—a maze of auto-repair shops and noodle niches. I made the mistake of not picking up the map they offer at the front desk when I first arrived, and spent two hours trying to find the place again.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:52 PM on November 12, 2006

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