Traveling to new places to find happiness is part of human nature. Many people throughout history have thought that they could find happiness someplace else.
For some people it means getting away from an area, or a situation that they are tired of, and for others it means following their dream. When we arrive at this new location sometimes we find out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and then there is the rare occasion when we find our Utopia there.
I found my Utopia in Thailand, which lead to the creation of this website that you are spending your valuable time viewing. I know in my case it wasn’t so much that I found happiness in Thailand, it was more like I realized that I was happier while I was in the Kingdom of Thailand. For those of who want to travel on your own journey to Thailand, even if just for a holiday, I would like to help make that journey a little easier for you.
I had planned for my holiday in Thailand a full 18 months before my first trip there. I had never traveled outside of my home country before then, and wanted to make sure that I was fully prepared for a month long stay in a country far away from what I was used to.
I was somewhat worried about the language barrier before traveling to Thailand, and thought that I should make an effort to learn some of the Thai language just in case I encountered a situation where I needed to be able to speak some of the Thai language. I started off by looking at many videos on YouTube to learn Thai Language. Then I ordered many different books, and CD’s from Amazon to learn Thai language. I also downloaded many apps on my iPod to improve my skills with the language of Thailand.
I think you will find Learn Thai podcast on YouTube very helpful if you want to learn some basic Thai before traveling to Thailand.
When I look back on all of the time, and money that I spent on learning Thai language in hindsight, I find that it was both unnecessary, and yet sometimes very helpful to learn Thai language before traveling to Thailand. Most of the Thai people that I encountered spoke English well enough to communicate with.
I will have to say however, that it is much better to try to speak Thai language with Thai people than to expect them to communicate with you in English. Thai people always seem to like it, and smile when you try to speak Thai with them. You will get more respect if you try to speak Thai, but most Thai people can speak English.
There was a restaurant that I decided to try just outside of the main tourist area, and after entering it I quickly discovered that I was the only non - Thai person in the whole place. The only word on the menu that was written in English was the word Menu on the front cover, which seemed kind of redundant to me. The rest of the menu was written in Thai script, and had no helpful pictures to point at for ease of ordering for non - Thai customers.
When the waitress came over to take my order she only spoke Thai, so my dining choices were limited to which food related words I knew in Thai language. That was one time it was definitely helpful to know some Thai language. That restaurant by the way had some of the best Thai food that I have ever eaten in Thailand. It was definitely worth it to struggle with Thai language to eat there. (I did not have a smartphone for my first trip to Thailand, but now I find them invaluable when traveling in Thailand.)
Do you need to learn Thai language before going to Thailand? No, but you will find it most beneficial to learn some basic Thai language.
Smart phones can be invaluable when traveling in Thailand. Smart phones are not very smart however without an internet connection. It would be a good idea to purchase a SIM card in Thailand to be able to use your Smartphone to its full potential. The Kingdom of Thailand now requires all SIM cards purchased to be registered to the buyer. This means as a foreigner you will need a passport to purchase a Thai SIM card, and that card and number will be registered in your name. This was implemented shortly after the Erawan bombing.
I have only used the prepaid TrueMove SIM cards, and can recommend their service. You can add money to your SIM card by going into a TrueMove store, and doing it there. They have electronic machines there like a reverse ATM machine. You enter your phone number, and then feed money into it to add to your account. You can also go into a 7-11 store to add money to your True Move SIM card, which is my preferred method of adding money to my account.
I simply walk into a 7-11 store, and say to the cashier, “TrueMove top up 50 baht.” The cashier takes my money, and hands me a slip with multiple digits on it. I then enter those numbers into my phone, and 50 baht, and 30 days of service is added to my account. You can add more than 50 baht at a time of course, but I prefer to add 50 baht twice than 100 baht once. I do this because it adds 60 days of service instead of 30. I like to do that until I have reached the maximum 365 days of service time. That way I know my phone will work as soon as I get off the plane, assuming I return to Thailand in under a year. I am sure that you already know, this is an absolute necessity for me.
If you use the TrueMove SIM cards there is a free app called IService. This is a True Move app that allows you to quickly check the status of your account.
You will find your Smart phone useful for such things as Google Translate to help you communicate if you encounter any language barriers. Google Maps is also very helpful in finding places that you are looking for. It would be a good idea to drop a pin on Google Maps while you are in your hotel to tag its location. This will be helpful if you need a taxi back to your hotel, and you need to show the driver how to get there.
Everybody has their favorite airlines when it comes to traveling, and many have credit cards that accumulate airline miles as they use them. If you do not then www.cheaptickets.com has some of the best deals for airline tickets.
The website that I have used to research hotels in Thailand was www.tripadvisor.com. You start by searching for hotels in Bangkok, or wherever you would like to stay in Thailand. There you will find reviews by people who have stayed there to help make your decision about where to stay based on what is important to you. Some people want the best luxury available, and at the other end of the spectrum are those that want the lowest cost possible. For others being close to certain areas is what is most important.
Speaking for myself when looking for a hotel in Thailand, I look for a hotel that is clean, in a safe area, close to public transportation, and low cost (Low cost has a different meaning in Thailand than in western countries).
See more at www.khunGregsThailand.com/Hotels here... Bangkok, Thailand Hotels
If I could only recommend one hotel in Bangkok, Thailand for those of you reading this now. That hotel would be, the Ibis Riverside Bangkok. This hotel is right on the river as the name implies, and has a large refreshing outdoor swimming pool. They also have a restaurant, and bar inside, and you can order food at the bar, or service desk 24 hours a day. It is located in a not too busy, safe area walking distance to the Sky train. They do have a shuttle service to take you to the sky train as well.
There is a mini mall called Senafest a few minutes’ walk away from the Ibis Riverside Bangkok hotel. The architecture of the building is aesthetically pleasing, but there is not much to it. There are various different restaurants there to try different foods, and a few banks as well to exchange your currency for Thai baht, or withdraw money from their ATM machines. Speaking of which, DO NOT FORGET to notify your bank about your travel plans so that your ATM card works in Thailand.
For my fellow Americans take note that banks offer different exchange rates for different denominations of U.S. dollars. $1 - $5 get one rate, $10 - $20 get a better rate, and $50 - $100 get the best rates. Also make sure your money is of the newest series date. I tried to exchange a $100 bill that had a series date of 2005, and nobody would take it. They pointed to the date on it, and said that is was no good. I actually had 3 of them. Luckily I had other money to exchange as well.
See more on our main page www.KhunGregsThailand.com/Currency-Exchange to get the most baht for your buck... Currency exchange in Thailand
The sky train is a popular mode of transportation in Bangkok. If you are going to be in Bangkok for more than a few days, and plan to use the sky train multiple times, it would be a good idea to purchase a Rabbit Pass. The Rabbit Pass is the size of a credit card, and used by waving it over a disc at the entrance to the turn style. You can also purchase a ticket from a ticket machine, the cost is based on how far you want to go. The machine only takes coins, so save your change to feed it. You can also get change if you need it at the service booth, but long lines form during rush hour.
When you are ready to travel beyond Bangkok, there is a table set up in the lobby of the Ibis Riverside hotel that is run by a tour company. They offer day trips to places near Bangkok, and multi day trips as well. I have been on a few exciting adventures booked through them such as a trip to Ayutthaya, Thailand. If you like old ruin type sightseeing, it is definitely worth seeing.
Set travel notices with your bank so that your ATM card works when you get to Thailand.
Check the dates on your currency, and bring the most recent series dates to avoid problems at currency exchange booths in Thailand.
Enjoy your travels, find your happiness, and Embrace Nirvana.