Thailand has turned out to be one of the most popular overseas tourist destinations, mostly due to availability of multiple budget airlines, tourist friendly policies and serene white sand beaches . But, with flocking of tourists, most of places have a risk of becoming too touristy.
So, when we chose to explore Thailand for a short duration, we chose Bangkok and Koh Samui .Bangkok being the suitable entry point to Thailand and the metropolitan face of country, and Koh Samui for its serene beaches and seclusion.
How to Reach
We reached Bangkok via a short overnight flight from Bangalore. You can compare and book using various comparison websites example momomdo, kayak , google flights etc.
You can avail visa on arrival from most countries. The visa fees is usually 2000 Thb -3000 Tbh (In Fast lane) for Single entry of Indians. However they do have various offers to promote tourism from time to time. Approximate waiting time is 1 hour in the queue for general category .You may also avail tourist visa from your home country through official website of Thailand. Please check the eligibility and rates in the link below
Both Don Mueang International Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport have stalls of Telecom operators who provide tourist sim cards ,which costs around 300Thb for a week’s validity with 2-3Gb data and 100Thb calling credits. You have the options to choose from True, DTAC or AIS. All of them have pros and cons, but their signal and 3G coverage is nowadays everywhere the same.
Why buy sim at airport?
- There are lots of phone networks stands in the Arrival hall
- It is going to be right in front of you as you leave – locating the store elsewhere will be a hassle, it will save you hours of time and hassle and will let you find your hotel or hostel and cabs easily
- The staff are super quick at understanding what you want and quick at doing it – 5-10 mins and you will be sorted
How Much Cash To Carry?
The currency used in Thailand is Thb or Thai Baht. As per our experience if you have all your activities, major commutes and accommodation booked in advance , then it will be 1500-2000Thb for a couple per day. We would not recommend you to carry too much Thb but a portion of your requirement split between Thb and Dollars or Euro .As Dollar or Euro both are easily convertible and you will get good rates in most of the places , even at the airports. In Bangkok lot of places will accept your credit cards as well.
Cab and Taxis
We recommend that you download and register local cab operator apps like Uber and Grab Taxi. The availability of the of these app based operators is good and they are cheaper at times compared to local operators .We booked a Grab taxi from airport to our hotel at 1/3rd of price of what was quoted to us by our hotel.
Our One Day @Bangkok
We had booked our hotel on Rajdamnern Avenue, Bavornniwet, Pra Nakhon due to its proximity to major tourist attractions .Our first stop was Grand Palace which was a few minutes walk from our hotel. The palace compound is huge and magnificent. Within the palace complex are several impressive buildings including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Please note this place is usually crowded, especially on weekends and Entry fee is 500 Baht for foreigner , but it is worth it.
Our second stop was the Temple of reclining Buddha, Wat Pho – which is very close to the Grand Palace. Then we crossed the Chao Phraya River using Wat Arun. The ferry stop is opposite to Wat Pho. The ferry rates are very cheap; two way fare is around 6-8 Tbh.Wat Arun was named after the Indian God of Dawn (Aruna) and in honour of the literal and symbolic founding of a new Ayuthaya. Today the temple is one of Bangkok’s most iconic structures – not to mention one of the few Buddhist temples one is encouraged to climb.
Night@Khao San Road – Since we had only one night to spend in Bangkok we decided to explore Khao San Road. This is a perfect place for some drinks ,food and massage .This place is crowded but happening, with street hawkers selling anything from fried insects, snakes and frogs to the tastiest sticky mango rice and pad thai. In short Khao San is exactly what you would have pictured about Bangkok.
Bangkok to Koh Samui- Next morning we were off to Koh Samui. Now there are many ways to reach there
1.Take a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani. Then by bus and ferry to reach there.
2.Fly direct to Surat Thani and then bus and ferry to reach the island. The bus and ferry combination can be booked in advance online .You have many options like Phantip, Seatran and Lomprayah. These travel companies have combo of ac busses and ferries based on the timing of flight or train.
3.Fly direct to Koh Samui. Flights are usually costly though. Hence we would suggest for option 2.
For bookings you can visit respective website of the mentioned travel operators or can check the below website
Our Two Days @Koh Samui
Koh Samui is comparatively one of the bigger islands of Thailand. It is approximately 50kms and attracts much less tourists compared to Phi Phi or Krabi but is serene nevertheless. It’s known for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, mountainous rainforest, plus luxury resorts and posh spas. A ring road covers the circumference of the island and has beaches connected to it.
Big Buddha Temple, Secret Buddha Garden, Chaweng beach , Lamai beach and Fisherman’s village Bhoput are few among the places to visit on the island. One can easily rent a scooty and explore the island on their own @200-250 Thb per day. It helped us explore the island better , and it is convenient and safe. Please check the driving permit policy of Thailand. But being a small island there will hardly be any checking though. Getting a private car can be an expensive option as for our transport itself to and from our hotel near Lamai Beach to Jetty it costed us 300-400 Thb each side .
Lamai beach hosts a small evening food and a flee market which is worth exploring. We stayed in a small resort Palm Coco Mantra, its just a hotel that’s right next to beach. Nothing fancy but with a very beautiful ocean view with a smiling helpful staff.
Day 2 -Ang Thong National Marine Park tour
On the very next day we had pre booked Ang Thong National Marine Park tour. After a lot of research we booked samuilink (https://samuilink.com/) primarily because it was cheaper
(1500Tbh per person) and most importantly they use speed boats ,which saves the time. It is a day trip with pick up and drop from hotel. Ang thong was our best experience in Koh samui. It has serene perfect white-sand beaches , crystal clear water with marine life and cluster of small dense green islands popping up from ocean. It even has a fresh water lake at the top of a peak on a island. The birds eye view from the emerald lake view point will make up for the climb. The package includes snorkelling, kayaking and lunch with free on board soft drinks. We even got time to laze around in one of island’s secluded beaches.
Itenary for Extra Day
It was our day of return, first to Surat Thani then to Bangkok. You can definitely extend your trip to Ko Tao ‘Turtle Island’, a nearby island which is known for its tropical coral reefs, with species including whale sharks and rays. It lives up to its name, being the scuba diving destination of choice in Thailand. It is smaller than Koh Samui but least crowded and has some awesome resorts which will not pinch your pockets much.