Thailand is a common tourist destination. You’re likely to run into many foreigners while visiting Thailand. We decided to compile a short list of the best things to see in Thailand.
Thailand is famous for its great natural beauty, with stunning beaches, amazing animals and beautiful historic sites/artifacts.
- Tigers – There’s a “Tiger Temple” near Chiang Mai where you can go and pet big friendly tigers. You’re put in a cage with them and you have the opportunity to pet and play with them… if you dare.
- Elephant Riding – There are many excursions from Chiang Mai that include elephant rides, you can even go to elephant school and train an elephant.
- Ayutthayah – Ayutthayah is a small city outside of Bangkok with tons of ancient temples and temple ruins. It’s fascinating to see some of the ways the old civilizations had lived and kept their temples as the most important thing in the city.
- Bangkok – A city not to be missed, and one you probably will not miss since most international flights will try to take you through Bangkok. While among international travelers Bangkok has a bit of a bad rep. it’s not a bad city at all. It’s inexpensive, with lots of places to eat full meals for less than $2 or $3. People in Bangkok are friendly and helpful. The city is a bit big and can be overwhelming. Try a Tuk Tuk ride to take you around and just explore the city.
- Chiang Mai – A beautiful village style city which is also not expensive, and gives you access to many of Thailand’s great sites, wilderness and attractions like the Tigers or Elephant rides.
- Cooking Class – We took a wonderful cooking class that taught us how to make 4 different Thai dishes (each). The food in Thailand is delicious and the class was a lot of fun. It was called Asia Scenic cooking class (Chiang Mai).
- At least one beach (Krabi) – If you’ve made it to Thailand, even if you’re not there for the beaches, it would be a shame not to see what all the rage is about. The beaches in Thailand are famous for their beauty, although now a day they may be a bit over crowded… We’d recommend, at the very least making it to Krabi (2hours south of Bangkok and still on the mainland.)
Although the border only recently opened, the country has been hard at work to enable the best possible experience. Traveling in Myanmar is quite easy and the country offers an experience that can hardly be put into words.
Here is my breakdown of a few important things to know before traveling to Myanmar:
The people of Myanmar are very warm and open to tourists. Of course you should be respectful of them if you want to be treated with respect (like anywhere), but honestly they have one of the kindest demeanors I’ve encountered. The kids learn English in school and there are courses all around the major cities for technology, tourism, English, etc. The borders were only opened to outsiders in 2011 and they are working hard to get things ready for prime time tourism. Everywhere we’ve been (guest houses, pagodas, restaurants, trains, buses), doors were opened and an extra effort made to ensure we were happy and comfortable. There is an English speaking expert at nearly every place we’ve been, even taxi drivers will phone a friend just to be sure they are communicating to you properly.
You’ll have plenty of options within cities and between them to get from A to B, but I would recommend being slightly selective on your choices.
To get between the major cities, I would recommend train only as a last resort. The rail lines have not been updated in decades, the cars are quite dingy, the ride is so bumpy you’ll be 6 inches out of your seat every couple of minutes, there are roaches and Mosquitos both in the sleeper cars, no a/c and fan use only if you’re lucky.
So what should you do?
The bus is excellent! In fact I would recommend using bus all over the country if you don’t want to fly. There is one carrier JJ Express which is exceptionally comfortable, air conditioned, offers screens at every seat (if you’re into that) and is the most modern option around. You can book tickets when you arrive at the airport or at the bus station within the city. I would keep an eye around online too, who knows, they could have online booking available soon…
The food in Myanmar is kind of a melting pot. I would say it’s a mix of Thai and Indian for the most part with a fair amount of Japanese options (especially in Yangon). I recommend being overly cautious about meat consumption, and that of raw foods, ice, etc. there are tourist restaurants that will specify that everything is boiled, purified, etc. and in that case you’re probably fine.
The local currency is over inflated, so everything in Myanmar is far more expensive than it should be. You can dig for deals, but it’s hard to find anything less than $15-$20pp per night in ok accommodations – most hotels are insanely priced and certainly not worth the money. Food is still relatively cheap, looking at $2-$3 a plate in a decently priced place, but of course the more touristy places try and charge $6-$10. Again, not even close to worth it. After being in Thailand or any other country in south east Asia you will think it’s quite pricey. Hiring a motorbike for the day will run you $15-$20 or a taxi $30-$45 (depending on your negotiation skills on the street).
Also ATMs were only introduced in Myanmar over the past year, so the bank fees are quite high and many of them have very low limits on withdrawals. Some ATMs will only let you take out $50 and they charge a $5 bank fee to withdrawal money. KGB Bank lets you take out up to $500, so it’s a much better bet.
The country as a whole is somewhat conservative. The vast majority of the population is Buddhist, they pray often and wear very covering clothing, even in the hottest times of the year. As a tourist, I understand we are not necessarily used to wearing floor length skirts and shirts that cover our shoulders in extreme heat, but remember you are in their home. It is absolutely disrespectful to wear shorts and a tank top when visiting their holy sites (which most Pagodas and sights in Myanmar are). Some sights will provide you with a floor length skirt to put over your shorts, some may ask you to go home and others may just look the other way. In all three of those scenarios however, know that you will have offended some percentage of the local population and should make a serious effort not to do so when visiting. General rules are – no spaghetti straps (as they put it), no shorts, and no shoes/socks in any temple (this includes Pagodas). They have places to put your shoes when arriving at the temple, but it is definitely easier to be wearing sandals that just slide on and off when visiting many sites in a day. Just my two cents!
Looking for the best deal on travel? Here are our tips for booking cheap flights anywhere in the world:
There are a number of aggregate searches available out there – our two favorites of the bunch are Kayak and Skyscanner. These two sites will search hundreds of others to find you the best flight based on your search criteria. Some travelers prefer the most direct journey while others have time restrictions or care more about price. These search interfaces will allow you to slice and dice the results any way you please. You can additionally use the flexible dates feature to determine the best/cheapest option within a range of dates. The explore feature on Kayak even allows you to check out options on a map to see if one location may be cheaper than another depending on your plans and flexibility.
So then that’s all you need to know right? Well, not exactly.
Use these aggregators carefully. Kayak was bought by Priceline in recent years and since then, it presents the same potential problem that Skyscanner does – they don’t just aggregate flights directly from the airlines, but also show options from third party services.
What are the potential problems with third party services?