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Captured By: Brandon Willoughby & Elin Lindvall
Peak Season in Thailand begins mid-October and goes well into February, with temperatures averaging in the (70's℉ / 20's℃ ). During this season, tourism is at its highest, with prices for accommodation, restaurants, and excursions also at their peak. When planning your trip to Thailand, consider the weather, number of expected tourists and seasonal price changes to ensure you’re coming at the most preferable time for you.
Captured By: Kez Chamone
Captured By: Julia McLellan & Brandon Willoughby
Hot Season in Thailand commences in March and lasts until May, where temperatures average in the (90s℉ / 30s℃) with April being the hottest month. Information to consider is that the north and south experience different climates. The northern regions experience dry and tropical savanna-like climate, while the south sees more wind and rainfall. Visiting the southern islands during this time is encouraged as the ocean breeze will help ease the humidity and provide for a welcoming difference. During the hot season, sugar cane fields are excessively being burned, causing smokey air and residue to linger widely in northern and central regions of the country. On a brighter and “cooler” note, Songkran, the Buddhist Thai new year, takes place every April and attracts thousands of locals and foreigners who come together in celebration to share laughs, dancing, and unity in a 3-day aqua infused extravaganza known as the Water Splashing Festival.
Sugar Cane Season
Captured By: Yurada & chiang rai times
Sugar Cane Season occurs year-round but can be more potent to the human body during the hot season (March-May). During this time, extensive burning of sugar cane in central and northern provinces can lead to severe smog and poor air quality, especially in areas with no ocean access, such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, and their surroundings. If you’re spending time in a region that has potential risk, it’s recommended to wear masks where you see it practiced by locals, and it’s also encouraged to spend these months in the south as there is little to no sugar cane production on the islands.
Captured By: Taru Vieron
Captured By: Brandon Willoughby & Joshua Burcham
Monsoon Season picks up towards the end of May and can last well into mid-November. The average temperature during this time is (80℉ / 30℃ ) with high humidity and frequent rainstorms. The rain showers rarely last more than a few hours but have often caused massive floods rising to the height of even cars! Districts in Bangkok, such as Samut Prakan, are among the most notorious areas for this occurrence. These Jumanji-like floods have reportedly swept cars and mopeds away, taking them miles from their parked origin if the rain lasts long enough to overwhelm the drainage systems. Those traveling to the southern islands during monsoon season should also be aware that ferries can often be delayed or canceled if the tides are too strong for departure. Travelers undaunted by the possibility of daily rainfall and those flexible if their ferry is rescheduled or delayed will come to welcome some of the silver linings that these months do bring. Since it's the quietest time of the year for tourism, it becomes a period where most merchants will offer heavily discounted prices for activities, accommodations, and restaurants, making it the most budget-friendly season of the year.
Information To Know
Visa Process With the visa process and regulations changing so often, and eligibility differing based on one’s country of origin, length of stay, and more; it's best to do individual research that is relevant to your country’s entry requirements as the world continues to rebuild from Covid-19 pandemic. The ThaiEmbassy should be reviewed first as it is Thailand's official government website. Another user-friendly platform is iVisa which helps visitors with step-by-step instructions on what is needed to begin their future expedition into this magnificent country.
Captured By: Mateusz Turbinski
Thai Baht is the country's official currency. It is a necessity to have on hand as credit & debit cards aren’t always accepted, especially outside of major populated areas such as Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Krabi. Exchanging your currency before arriving in Thailand is recommended, as expensive exchange rates at the airport are common. ATMs are never far away if extra money is needed; the only downside is the costly withdrawal fees ranging from 150-300 Baht (4-9 USD) per withdrawal. Keep an eye out for AEON ATMs, as they tend to charge the least with a fee of 150 Baht per transaction. For Americans, having a Charles Schwab account could be a beneficial relief as they refund all international withdrawal fees back to your account at the end of each month. As currency exchange rates are constantly fluctuating, it's best to look at the most updated worldwide rates here.
Accommodation in Thailand consists of hotels, resorts, authentic homestays, hostels, and more. When deciding which type of accommodation best suits you, consider the experience you're looking for while also taking into account how much money you're willing to part with. Those seeking the luxury of infinity pools, room service, and privacy may prefer hotels or resorts. However, if lavishness isn’t your priority and you like to socialize with other travelers while also being budget-friendly, then hostels could be a rewarding choice as well. Homestays give that middle ground as they provide seclusion, reasonable pricing, and the experience of living in an authentic Thai home. Some great platforms to view the diversity that’s out there for housing options are Booking, HostelWorld, Airbnb, & Expedia.
Captured By: Sarah Wysel, Brandon Willoughby & Tobias Reissig
Transportation in Thailand comes in many unique configurations, some being more adventurous and others more traditional. Planes, buses, ferries, tuk-tuks (taxi), and more; whichever you choose, you’re bound to feel the true essence of Thailand and the creative methods that have been formulated to get from one place to another. In bigger cities such as Bangkok, Krabi, and Phuket, the commonly used 'Grab' app is an affordable service that operates similar to Uber. Websites like 12Go is another great platform for traveling Thailand and throughout Asia as a whole. Not only do they provide comparable pricing options and means to get there, but they also offer an attentive customer service team that communicates with you via email or 'WhatsApp' regarding any questions you may have about your current or upcoming trip. A notable app for travelers going anywhere foreign is "maps. me". This app allows you to pre-download regions you want to explore, providing access to detailed information on that area without you having to be connected to the internet. Whether exploring by plane, metro, bus, boat, moped, or tuk-tuk, Thailand has an abundance of spontaneous and relaxing transportation options suitable for almost anyone.
Cellphones that are unlocked are the most convenient before traveling abroad, as you can simply insert a foreign sim card, buy the plan you prefer, and have immediate access to both calling and data services. Prepaid sim cards can be purchased at convenience stores such as 7-11 and Family Mart, which in Thailand are always nearby. Data plans typically range from 1-day to 30-day plans, with longer if ever needed. Avoid buying sim cards at the airport as they tend to be priced at a premium. The most established cellphone providers are AIS, DTAC, & Truelove, as they are known for having the most reliable reception. Its recommended to conduct individual research on which carrier is best for the areas you’re sightseeing. Lastly, those wanting to communicate with local Thai people regarding casual conversation, directions, or purchasing goods should consider downloading the 'Google Translator' and ‘Longdo Dict’ app to ensure language barriers aren't an issue when exploring this endearing country.
Plug Adapters vary country-to-country, so it's common and understandable for travelers to forget to check their adapters' compatibility before embarking to a foreign country. You will find several types of outlets in Thailand that are not interchangeable. Most Americans can use their standard chargers without a converter in much of Thailand; just be mindful of the voltage of the devices. Europe, Oceania, Africa, and several countries in Asia, will have to purchase a converting adapter in order to charge their devices successfully. Luckily, there’s always a 7-11 or shop nearby to provide visitors with converters, USB, and charging cables suitable for almost any cellphone or electric device you may have while traveling.
Captured By: Edmilson Monteiro
Captured By: Nick Tisinger, tobias reissig. &, Brandon Willoughby
Travel Insurance is essential before an expedition outside your own country, as it can cover you from unexpected incidences or illnesses that could occur during your travels. When you’re protected during your trip, you can move more freely, knowing that in case of an emergency, you’ll be covered! What I’m about to state is to educate, not frighten; Thailand is no stranger to moped crashes, monkey bites, food poisoning, or contracting a sickness, just like many other travel destinations in the world. However, it’s always wise to be preventative; and if the slight chance this does arise, and you're not insured, it can lead to costly out-of-pocket medical fees. Provided below are some helpful resources that offer travel insurance plans to best protect you before venturing on your upcoming international adventures: InsureMyTrip, WorldNomad, & SafetyWing.
Overpacking for your trip can be a mental, physical, and financial strain on your overall adventures if not planned correctly. Domestic flights in Thailand are cheap; however, many airlines charge higher fees for overweight baggage that can cost more than the plane ticket itself. Those traveling to the southern islands should especially be cautious to never over-pack your luggage. When arriving in paradise, the boat captain will not drop off passengers at their accommodation if not arranged and paid for prior. Uninformed travelers are often left with the option of negotiating a last-minute tuk-tuk price or will otherwise have to haul their own belongings to their accommodation. Some items to consider bringing from home are flip flops, loose clothing, bathing suits, aspirin, stomach relief, proper charging ports, and a few fun nightlife outfits, and assess from there. If more is ever needed, there’s a 99% chance a 7-11 or Family market is right around the corner with everything you may need.
Top Do's & Dont's
Respect The Monarchy
Respect the Monarchy This 'Do' is deemed one of the most important, as visitors can often arrive in Thailand uneducated on the laws and cultural practices in this conservative country. Disrespecting the Thai kings of both present and past is a serious offense, and if caught, it could result in consequences such as fines, imprisonment, or worse. It's vital to never disrespect or deface the king, even unknowingly. For example, if dropped, never step on Thai currency. As in the country's culture, the feet are seen as the dirtiest part of the body, and on every Thai baht is the face of the King.
Captured By: Mac K.
Captured By: Taru Vieron
Practice Modesty while traveling Thailand, and refrain from entering temples or sacred grounds shirtless, in a bathing suit, or with hats or shoes on. As mentioned before, the feet are seen as the dirtiest part of the body, so if ever invited over by a local, never hesitate to inquire about their house rules. If anything, they’ll appreciate you more for asking. If so, gracefully take your shoes off and be mindful never to prop your feet up. On the contrary, the head is believed to be the most sacred part of the body, making it an offense to touch that of anothers. Much in this country will fascinate you to the core; however, please avoid pointing at people or ‘things’ boisterously. Like most other countries in the world, pointing fingers at a person is a no-no, and if caught, it can be even more embarrassing for the culprit. It's important to have fun in Thailand while also practicing modesty and openness to the history and customs of this conservative country.
Captured by: Brandon Willoughby & Mario Landgraf
Animal Handling Elephants and tigers have roamed Asia for centuries playing a vital role in Thailand's history. Some sanctuaries give visitors that one-of-a-kind and cruelty-free experience. However, be mindful that all animal "sanctuaries" aren’t as such. As tourism in Southeast Asia continues to skyrocket, businesses have recognized the increasing demand for personal interactions with these exotic animals. Avoid enabling businesses that advertise elephant riding, or live circus-like performances, as these are huge indicators of an inhumane operation. Tigers also face similar abuse, as many are sedated for selfie-hungry tourists hoping to catch that instagram photo, many of which are uneducated that it's at the expense of these innocent animals. A small selection of ethical animal handling companies do exist, that thankfully, treat their elephants and other rescues to a happy and humane life. It’s just essential to always conduct proper research and to use your best judgment on if a company is genuinely treating these majestic animals with the proper love and care they deserve.
~ Ethical Sanctuaries ~
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, Krabi Elephant Sanctuary Ao Leuk, Elephant Nature Park, Elephant Hills, Elephant Valley, The Surin Project, Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, Burm and Emily’s Sanctuary.
Making Friends overseas is one of traveling's greatest treasures. Whether you're solo, with a romantic partner, or in a group, you’ll likely meet individuals along the way looking for similar experiences as you. Great resources for people uncertain about traveling Thailand solo can go to the Facebook page ‘Thailand Backpackers Group.’ This community page connects you with over 80,000 active travelers who’re planning their trip to Thailand or are currently in the country. I can attest personally that this page alone has changed my life in many ways, and I believe more ways to come. Another helpful avenue for making friends abroad is by staying at hostels. Contrary to popular belief, there are some amazingly designed hostels worldwide with some of the most extraordinary people you’ll ever meet inside. In these social settings, many travelers have met their future travel buddy, best friend, wife, husband, and even started a family. Anything is possible when trying something new, right?
Teaching In Thailand
TEFL Obtaining a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate is a life-changing path for teaching English to non-native speakers. In doing so, you come across other like-minded individuals while also making yourself a more attractive applicant for future jobs. Although some choose the option of online courses, the in-person lessons and the ‘observed teaching’ practice hours are critical if you are dedicated to becoming an exceptional teacher. Most programs consist of 120 classroom hours, and a minimum of 6 ‘observed teaching’ hours where you gather valuable feedback and insight from experienced professionals who know what it takes. It is possible to find a teaching job in Thailand without a TEFL certification; however, it is still encouraged for those that want to feel prepared in the classroom and are looking to stand out amongst a list of other great teaching candidates to go the extra mile. One notable school offering a well-received TEFL program is SEE TEFL, located in Chiang Mai.
Captured By: Brandon Willoughby
Religion in Thailand is very multidimensional. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity are the leading practices, with Buddhism making up the majority. In the early mornings, you will likely witness monks deep in meditation or leaving candles and flowers as offerings to Buddha, which represents transitoriness, light, and wisdom. Please keep in mind although intriguing and extraordinary, these traditions should never be disturbed by the curious as they’re receiving blessings for the day ahead. As mentioned in the “Practice Modesty” column, always make sure to cover up with appropriate clothing before entering temples and to remove any hats or shoes if they’re being worn. Thailand is a conservative country; therefore, it is vital to arrive with an open, respectful, and humble mindset of the traditions and customs held here in such high regard.
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