Lately I’ve gotten quite a few questions about planning our trip to Thailand, so I thought I would go back and read my journal from the trip and share more info! Today I’m sharing 5 things I wish I had known before going to Thailand and 5 things I researched prior to the trip that I’m glad I knew!
5 things I wish I had known before going to Thailand
one || Pack with a plan. Plan to change clothes at least once a day, depending on what you’re doing. Some days we would go out to do some touristy things and come back to the hotel mid-day before going back out, and I would change my clothes then. Then I’d change again before dinner (into something a little fancier), so I quickly ran out of “day” clothes. Most of our group sent clothes out to be laundered. Because I have such sensitive skin, I couldn’t. But I did bring my own detergent and a clothesline – I just wish I had known it would take longer than usual for things to dry because of the high humidity!
two || Use the conveniences. If you aren’t sensitive to detergents, and if you’ll be in one spot long enough, send your laundry out. The prices were insanely cheap to send out laundry, so many people on our trip did just that when we knew we would be in one spot for a few days.
three || Watch your change. We did a lot of van travel during our trip, so we would stop at 7-11s along the way (yep, those are a thing in Thailand!) to get snacks and drinks. The total came to something silly like 36 baht (equivalent to $1 USD) and I needed to break a 1000 baht bill. Well, the 1000 and the 100 look nearly identical, and they insisted that I had given them a 100 note. (I knew I hadn’t.) Even with my sister-in-law’s native Thai to help translate, I very much overpaid for my snacks of choice. If I went back to Thailand, I would break all of my larger bills and pay with the smaller.
Related post: The Ultimate Packing List for Thailand
four || There are a lot of stray animals. I wasn’t prepared for the number of strays we would see along the trip. Especially in some of the tourist areas outside of the cities, where I’m sure people feed the dogs, there were just so many dogs everywhere! I wanted to feed all of them. One thing that made me feel better about it was that the dogs on the island we visited seemed very well taken care of. One dog on Koh Lipe chose to sleep under one of our beach chairs each day to get out of the sun, and the staff told us that they had a name for him and fed him, which was why he came back. Some nights walking back from a restaurant to the hotel (we would walk along the beach), you’d see packs of dogs just hanging out.
five || The FOOD. Oh, the food! One thing I learned on the trip was that you don’t have to 100% steer clear of the street food. If it’s something being actively cooked in front of you, you’ll probably be okay eating it. Some of the best food we had was just from street vendors!
5 things I planned for our trip to Thailand that I would 100% do again
one || Plan your hotels to make things easier. Stay at the same hotel when flying into and out of Bangkok. Obviously you can’t do this if you’re flying into and out of different cities, but we purposely planned to stay at the same hotel when we first got to Bangkok and when we returned before our flight home.
two || Bring a second bag. I brought a packable duffel bag that zipped into itself in my luggage on the way to Bangkok, and I used this for two separate reasons: 1. Because we stayed at the same hotel flying into and out of Bangkok, we left this duffel at the hotel, full of things we didn’t care about losing (should the bag go missing, as some people advised me it might): dirty clothes, travel books, etc. 2. When we were packing to fly home at the end of our trip, we stuffed all of our dirty clothes in this duffel, making it really easy to separate everything when we got home. I will 100% do this for future trips, because there’s nothing like having to go to the post office halfway through a trip to mail home dirty clothes because you don’t have enough room in your suitcase for souvenirs + what you brought in the first place (looking at you, Seattle/Portland/SF/Napa trip of 2013!).
Related post: Where to Stay on Koh Lipe (Thailand)
three || Pack Gatorade powder and small snacks. I’m a serial pack-snacks-I-trust traveler, so it was no surprise to my husband when I purchased boxes of fruit snacks to bring with us. I had read somewhere that Gatorade powder was a must-have, too, so I got some of those to bring with us. During our first few days in Bangkok, when I had some of these snacks in my bag during the day, I definitely was made fun of by some of my travel companions; but guess where they turned during those 2-hour van rides or feeling lightheaded from being out in the hot Thai sun all day? Neither fruit snacks nor Gatorade powder packets take up a lot of room, and they can make a huge difference in your comfort during your travels!
four || If you’re staying somewhere called Sunrise Beach, get up for the sunrise.
five || Immerse yourself. We traveled for a family wedding, so we got to do and see things that tourists normally wouldn’t be able to experience. Regardless, one of my favorite parts of traveling is to experience the people and the culture.
If we had more time on our trip, I would have loved to take a few days in Chiang Mai, specifically to visit the elephant sanctuary (the real one, not the ones that just claim they are!). A few of the people traveling with us extended their trips and went to various areas: Phuket, Chiang Mai, etc. I guess it just means we will have to go back sometime soon!