There is a famous quote by Hans Christian Anderson which goes like, “Just living is not enough…. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Don’t you think its actually true. Now a-days the life of our generation is so f****d up and messed up with all the same monotonous work that we are carrying out daily, like getting up – going to college/work – coming back – sleeping – getting up – …. We have actually forgotten the importance of freedom. Recently when this reality poked me I realized that I need a brake and what could be a better place than Thailand, which is very rightly known as “The Land of Freedom.” If anyone needs a refreshing dose of freedom come visit Thailand.
After visiting Thailand I realized that anyone can go to Thailand and that to in a budget. I made this trip with my Partner in Crime (my beautiful wife) and believe me whoever says that Thailand is for solo travelers only, they haven’t seen the real beauty of Thailand. I would suggest that next time whenever you plan for Thailand go with your partner.
People visiting Thailand usually go to Bangkok and Pattaya for obvious reasons..:-) But if you are a couple I would suggest you to go for Bangkok and Phuket. Phuket is just awesome… Ours was a 5 day trip, but one can go for any number of days as Thailand never bores anyone. We had decided to spend 2 nights in Bangkok and 2 nights in Phuket. The whole trip was planned by us only, as personally I don’t believe in tour packages, one, everything is according to them and second, Everything is according to them. But yes of course, if anyone don’t have much time and patience then she/he can book a tour package, there are lot of Thailand packages available in the market and that too at a very reasonable price plus its hassle free. Just before booking from any tour company I would suggest you to go through there itinerary and check the quality of hotels they are offering you. Also check whether you are getting any time for yourself to roam around without they keeping tab on you. Otherwise its no use visiting Thailand if you are giving up your Freedom in the hands of others.
On the other hand, planning everything by yourself is also not easy. At least it wasn’t for me. Planning a trip anywhere in India is much easier than planning a foreign trip because you have to make arrangements of Passport, Visa, all types of bookings, etc. Although it is fun but on the same side it can be troublesome also.
Here, I will be giving the details of my trip, what mistakes I made and how I rectified them. I believe that this blog will help all couples as well as solo travelers to plan their next trip to Thailand and that too in a budget.
1. VISA : According to me whenever you decide to go for a foreign trip the first thing you should do is check the VISA rules of the respective country. The best thing of Thailand is that it provides Visa on Arrival (VoA) facility and getting a VISA in Thailand is not tough just one needs to have all the documents ready. Before departing from India keep a separate folder for all your tickets, passport, photographs, etc. Few things to keep in mind while taking VISA is that you need to have all your tickets like return flight tickets, Hotel Bookings, Passport (not expiring before 30 days after your departure from Thailand).
MISTAKE 1: I was not aware of these VISA rules and booked our flight tickets. After booking I realized that my passport is going to expire at exactly 30 days after our departure from Thailand. Initially I did not bother much but then after enquiring from some reliable sources I came to know that it can cause some trouble. So, I got my passport renewed in tatkal and received my renewed passport in just 7 days. “How to get your passport renewed?” I will be explaining this some other time.
Upon landing in Bangkok you will be receiving a form for VISA on Arrival that you need to fill up. Remember to keep photocopies of all tickets and passport with you. After filling up the form it will be checked by the officials and you will be guided to the VISA counter. There are 2 lines, one, Express Entry line and the other is the normal line. I would suggest that if you can spare some extra money go for Express Entry because they literally treat you as VIP and you will get your VISA in no time. On the other hand, if you have time and patience and don’t want to spare extra money then go for normal line. Usually all the visitors go for normal line because it is cheap, approx. half of what you will be giving in Express Entry and if you are lucky you can even get your VISA in free. Due to less charges, security is very tight and the officers check everything in detail, if anything found wrong you can be denied for VISA.
If you are very apprehensive and want everything beforehand then take your VISA in India only. Check with Thailand embassies in your area and apply for VISA well in advance. At times the rates are very low. At our time we came to know that one of the Embassy is giving VISA in just 200 THB (approx. Rs. 400/-) but we missed the opportunity and the deal was over.
2. Flight Booking: While booking International flight tickets make sure you read the instructions very carefully especially the one in which it is written that “The name on the ticket should be same as in the Passport.” While in India it doesn’t matter if your name is not matching as per the passport because in India you require any Government ID for verification.
MISTAKE 2: While booking my wife’s name I missed this crucial instruction and did not entered the name as mentioned on her passport. When I realized this mistake I immediately called Indigo Customer Care (the Airlines we booked) but they said that I need to cancel the ticket and rebook it. It was going to cost me dearly, hence, I requested them to add a note in my booking so that when I check in at the airport I am able to explain the airport authorities the same. The indigo staff was very helpful and they did add a remark in my ticket. Luckily while boarding we did not face any problem and authorities were happy to oblige us.
I would further suggest to book all flights beforehand. I had booked tickets from Delhi-Bangkok-Delhi and Bangkok-Phuket-Bangkok. All the flight tickets cost was approx. Rs. 40,000/- for 2 persons.
3. Hotel Booking: In Bangkok we stayed for 2 nights in Hotel Indira Regent. There are many good Hotels in Bangkok in all price range. We researched many hotels but as per our schedule this was the best hotel we could find. First, it is in Indira Square, the main market in Bangkok where you can find all sort of things that too at very reasonable prices. Pratunam Market, you can find all the tourists from different parts of world doing shopping here, is just walking distance from this hotel. One can test her/his bargaining skills here. The place is well connected with Ratchaprarop skytrain station (Thailand metro) which can take you anywhere in Bangkok.
MISTAKE 3: While doing shopping I restricted my wife and myself from buying many thangs as I thought them to be costly. But believe me guys when anyone says that Thailand is cheap they are telling the truth. For example, a lady’s purse starts from 200 THB (approx. Rs. 400/-) that too of good quality. You can buy pair of jeans in just 600 THB. Can you believe it? Who bloody gives you a pair of jeans in Rs. 1200/-? So, whenever you go to Thailand next time don’t restrict yourself from buying things. Otherwise after coming back to India you will repent, as I am doing right now.
After spending two nights in Bangkok we headed to Phuket. According to me it is heaven for couples. One must go there at least once. I am sure everyone will love this place. We reached Phuket in the evening and booked a bus to Patong Resort, the hotel we had booked for our stay. We reached at the Resort by 8:00 pm. The Resort is beautifully built. The most important feature of this Resort is that it is situated near the Patong Beach, one of the famous beaches of Phuket. The Resort is also close to many other places like Bangla Market, Jungceylon Mall, shopping area, etc.
Note: This being the tourist favorite area, the local transport is very costly here. Tuk Tuk, the taxi service will cost you approx. 200 THB even if you want to travel just for 2 kms. I would suggest that if you are staying for 2 to 3 days in Phuket then hire a Two-Wheeler, easily available near Patong Resort, in very reasonable rate. Our stay was short, hence, we did not go for it.
You can also book a tour to Phi Phi Island or James Bond Island from any agent located near the Resort. They will quote you 2000 THB per couple but you can bargain it. We managed to buy a tour in 1200 THB. We went for Phi Phi Island as we had heard lot of good things about this Island.
*Detail review of all the places to see in Bangkok and Phuket will be given in my next blog.
MISTAKE 4: I had booked only 1 night in Patong Resort. We could not even unpack our things as we had to check out early in the morning since our tour to Phi Phi Island was booked. Moreover, the next night in Phuket was booked in Centra Blue Marine Resort & Spa, another marvelous Resort. I would suggest everyone that if you are planning to stay in this Resort try and book Ocean facing room. You will be completely mesmerized by the view when you wake up in the morning. Just do not make the same mistake as I did and plan accordingly. Try to spend as much time in Phuket as you can.
Disclaimer: The most important thing to keep in mind. While booking Hotels either in Bangkok or in Phuket from any online portal nowhere it is mentioned that one needs to do security deposit at the reception before check-in. Hence, just keep extra cash or your credit card handy before check-in in any of the hotels. Although, all the staff is very honest and you will get your belongings back during check out.
With this I come to end of my blog. I hope you all like it and will avoid the mistakes that I had made. I hope I was able to help you plan your trip to Thailand more efficiently now. I would suggest everyone who have not visited Thailand till now must visit it once. I will be telling the best places to visit in Thailand in my next blog. For any help in making bookings contact me any time. If you like this blog kindly comment and share.