Today I will explain how and where to book a hotel in Thailand. Note that if you’d like to book a hotel – or hostel – in a specific place, you can skip right to the last section of this article.
Where to live in Thailand – Index
Deciding on the place that would become your new home in Thailand is an important and personal choice that can vary widely depending on many aspects such as age, the reason for moving, your budget, your monthly income and so on.
Nevertheless, to decide on a final destination, there are some questions that anyone who is planning on living in Thailand should consider before leaving:
What is the reason for your move? Are you looking to establish Thailand as your base of operations for traveling through Southeast Asia, or are you looking to work in the Land of Smiles?
Another still is: have you chosen this country as a retirement destination or do you still not have a well-defined plan and in the meantime are enrolling in a school to learn Thai?
- Would you rather live in a city, like Bangkok or Pattaya, or in a smaller place in the countryside like the province of Kanchanaburi? If you’re a fan of the mountains and want to settle in a cool and peaceful place like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai, or would you prefer a life of sun and sea that you can find on the islands?
- What type of climate do you like? Are you a fan of constant heat, or do you prefer mild temperatures that can go down as far as 15 degrees in the winter?
- Are you moving to Thailand alone or with your family? Do you have school-age children?
- How do you plan on supporting yourself during the time you’ll be living in Thailand? Do you have savings or a fixed income, or do you intend to look for work?
An increasing number of people of all ages dream of going to live in a tropical paradise like Thailand. The Kingdom of Siam offers so much in human and landscape terms, as well as completely overturning your life (in a positive way). [Read more…]
Sukhumvit Road a Bangkok – Indice
Unlike Ratchathewi and Pathum Wan, the area called “Sukhumvit” (in Thai: สุขุมวิท) can’t be considered an actual neighborhood, but rather an area that includes several districts within it. Among the most well known are:
- Watthana and Khlong Toei which are on the opposite side of the SkyTrain at Nana, Asoke, Phrom Phong, Thonglor, Ekkamai, Phra Khanong, and On Nut;
- Phra Khanong, or the neighborhood where Sukhumvit Road curves and goes into the direction of Pattaya;
- Suan Luang, famous for its sanctuary dedicated to the legend of the ghost of Mae Nak Phra.
According to a report compiled by the Swiss agency Education First, Thailand places as one of the countries with the lowest level of English in Southeast Asia. Even on a worldwide level it’s position isn’t among the best: 64th on a list of 88 total countries analyzed.
Despite this, in the Land of Smiles it’s not hard to get around without knowing the local language. Paradoxically you can even live in Thailand for decades without speaking or understanding a word of Thai.
If however you plan on settling in the country and integrating with the local people, learning Thai is an added value and not so secret ingredient for better integrating with the community.
Learning Thai in Thailand – Index
The complete name of Bangkok is composed of more than twenty words, which when translated mean “City of angels, the great city, the city of eternal joy, the impenetrable city of the god Indra, the magnificent capital of the world adorned in precious gems, the happy city that abounds in the colossal Royal Palace, which is like the divine home where the reincarnated gods reign, a city blessed by Indra and built for Vishnukam”.
Bangkok, the largest and most populated metropolis of Southeast Asia with its almost 10 million inhabitants, is climbing the toward the top of the list of the most extensive and busiest cities on the planet.
Located on the banks of the Chao Praya River, up until 1782 Bangkok was like any other town. Since then, thanks also to the fact that King Rama I made it the capital of Siam, it began its commercial, political and diplomatic climb.
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Traveling to Bangkok – Index
Opening a bank account in Thailand can be a quick and simple operation if you know how to do it, but it could also be a real nightmare due to local bureaucracy and the decisions that are often left to the discretion of the employee standing in front of you.
The two most curious things about opening a bank account in Thailand are:
- The legend of people being able to open a bank account with just a tourist visa;
- The mystery as to how it’s possible that certain branches (even of the same bank!) ask for certain documents while others require different ones.
In this guide I will try to clarify these points and explain what you’ll need to do in order to open a bank account in Thailand.
How to bank account in Thailand – Index
Koh Samui was “discovered” around 1850, when various Chinese merchants disembarked in search of business in the coconut and cotton sectors.
Up until the 70’s Koh Samui was sort of a backpacker paradise from around the world. With urban expansion and the construction of various resorts, tourism has become one of the island’s economic pillars along with the export of coconuts.
Koh Samui is in fact called “Coconut Island”, in view of the enormous number of coconuts that are transported and sold throughout Thailand each month.
In recent years, Koh Samui has also become a very interesting place for investors from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Thanks to tourism, more and more Asian businessmen have decided to invest in the construction of luxury resorts for foreign tourists.
Today the island has about 63,000 inhabitants, and is part of the province of Surat Thani. The district of Koh Samui is divided into 7 sub-districts: Angthong, Bophut, Lipa Noi, Mae Nam, Maret, Namuang, and Taling Ngam.
The capital of Koh Samui is Nathon, where the island’s largest port is located and where ferries for Ko Phangan, Angthong, and Surat Thani depart. Nathon was chosen as the capital in 1905, when several administrative offices were installed.
Its characteristic little villages, dense tropical vegetation that’s mostly made up of coconut plantations, and white sand beaches make Koh Samui a tropical paradise for all types of travelers.
Thanks to its proximity to the Angh Tong Marine National Park and other popular places such as Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, the island of Samui is a sought-after destination for both international and Thai tourists.
In recent years it has also become one of the preferred islands for expats, where they can work and even open their own business like restaurants and diving schools.
Chinatown in Bangkok is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Founded in 1782 when Chinese merchants were moved off the lands where King Rama I wanted to build his palace, today Chinatown is located within the Samphanthawong District.
The first Chinese merchants had already arrived in Thailand by the 12th century. The Chinese community grew exponentially since the end of the 18th century, when the Thai government encouraged immigration, since they needed lots of people to rebuild the nation’s economy which was destroyed during the wars with surrounding countries.
The integration of Chinese people with the Thais grew toward the end of the 19th century when half of the population of Bangkok had Chinese blood in their veins.
Even though Chinatown is one of the smallest neighborhoods in the city, it’s also one of the most populated: almost 25 inhabitants per square meter. There’s also a high density of buildings in the area, and for this reason buying real estate in Chinatown is expensive, with prices second only to those of the central neighborhood of Pathum Wan.
The first impression you get when visiting this part of Bangkok is that of chaos and frenetic rhythm that revolves around the market, traditional Chinese pharmacies, stores where they buy and sell gold, all mixed with the calm offered by the oases of peace found inside the colorful Taoist temples.
Chinatown is an area that’s different compared to all the others; old and imposing buildings, colorfully bright neon signs, low houses, strong smells and typical restaurants are just a few of the characteristics that make this commercial area even more authentic and alive.
The Chinese community has also “imported” the entrepreneurial spirit: each house in fact has a family-run shop on the first floor, a so-called shop house, where they sell merchandise of all sorts at good prices. The Chinatown neighborhood is divided according to the type of shops; from jewels in gold to shop houses where they repair cars and motorbikes, up to the area that specializes in firearms. [Read more…]
In this guide we’ll discuss everything you need to know in order to plan your trip to Thailand: how to get a visa, why you need an insurance policy and which type you should choose, how to get to Thailand and move around the country, where to stay, what the internet situation is, how the ATMs work, and much more.
Travel to Thailand Guide – Index
- Visas for Thailand
- Tour operator or independent travel?
- Travel insurance for Thailand
- Vaccines and medicines
- Hotels and hostels in Thailand
- Getting to Thailand (by air or land)
- Internet and telephone
- Money, ATMs and credit cards
- Internal flights, trains, buses, boats and taxis in Thailand
- Where to visit in Thailand
- What to bring?
- When to travel to Thailand?
- Scams and safety in Thailand
- How to communicate in Thailand
- Frequently asked questions
Khao San Road (ถนนข้าวสาร, in Thai) is a road that’s approximately 400 meters long in the Phra Nakhon district. Located in the western part of Bangkok, this neighborhood became famous for its Rattanakosin area, which the locals call “Rattanakosin Island”.
The name comes from the fact that the area has the shape of a small island: in the southwestern part it’s surrounded by the Chao Praya River while in the northeast two artificial canals have been built – Saphan Lek and Khlong Rop Krung.
The birth of Rattanakosin Island goes back to 1782, when King Rama I of the Kingdom of Siam decided to move his capital from the Thonburi area south of the river (where the famous Wat Arun Temple stands today), to the north at Rattanakosin. This era is considered to be the fourth after the kingdoms of Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and Thonburi.
Besides changing the location of the capital, King Rama I (the first monarch of the Chakri Dynasty and once a war general) also had the artificial canals built so as to protect the entire area around the royal palace. As a result, the Chinese merchants that lived there were forced to move into the area that today is called “Chinatown”.
Thanks to its history, these days the area of Rattanakosin is what contains the highest number of tourist attractions in the city:
- the great royal palace (Wat Phra Kaew);
- the temple of the reclining Buddha (called Wat Pho);
- the city Pillar Shrine;
- the Giant Swing;
- the national and royal theaters;
- the national and Siam museums;
- the Rama VIII bridge;
- Santi Chai Prakan park with the Phra Sumen fort inside;
- the Rama I, Rama III, and democracy monuments;
- several Buddhist temples (Wat Intharawihan, Wat Sam Phraya, Wat Makutkasattriyaram, Wat Bowonniwet, Wat Chana Songkhram, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchabophit, Wat Ratchapradit, Wat Suthat).
In the heart of the city center, bordering with Ratchathewi, is the Pathum Wan district. This neighborhood covers the entire area that goes from the BTS stop called National Stadium, up until Ploen Chit, going down south to also include Si Lom and the metro stations from Lumphini as far as Hua Lamphong.
The name “Pathum Wan”, instituted in 1914 by the monarch of the time, is derived both from the Buddhist temple Wat Pathum Wataram (which in Thai means temple of the lotus flower), as well as the lotus pond building, Sa Pathum.
The neighborhood has a smaller population than Ratchathewi. In fact there’s no more than 50 thousand inhabitants, spread across a total of a little more than 8 square kilometers.
Bangkok is divided into 50 districts called “khet”, which in turn are subdivided into subdivisions called “khwaeng”. The area of Pathum Wan is no exception; starting from the westernmost part, you can separate them into four sub-neighborhoods: [Read more…]
The best apps for traveling in Thailand – Index
- Hotels, hostels, and apartments: Booking, Agoda, Airbnb
- The absolute best offline map: Maps.me
- Getting around by public transportation: BTS SkyTrain, Bangkok MRT, Grab, AirAsia, Nok Air, 12go.asia
- Food to go or restaurant reservations: Foodpanda and Eatigo
- The Amazon of Southeast Asia: Lazada
- Keeping in contact in with your Thai friends: Line
- Learning Thai: Thai by Nemo and L-Lingo Learn Thai
- How to send money abroad: Transferwise and XE Currency
- The latest news about Thailand: Bangkok Post
- Enjoying yourself in Bangkok: Eventbrite and Major Cineplex Plus
More than once you must have left for a trip or prepared to move abroad and asked yourself how you were going to get around in a given city, or where to stay, or even send money abroad.
In this article I will talk about the most useful applications that will make your life easier during your trip to Thailand.
All the applications you find in this article are available both for the Android operating system and iOS. I have also arranged them by category so that you can evaluate which is the most useful one for you.
The Victory Monument Neighborhood in Bangkok – Index
One of the most stimulating areas of Bangkok is Victory Monument. As the name suggests, this area includes the area adjacent to the Victory Monument, which in Thai is called “Anu Saowari Chai Samoraphum”, and is located in the northern part of the city.
The Victory Monument rotunda has Italian origins. In the middle there’s an obelisk that was erected in 1941 and designed by the sculptor Corrado Feroci. During the 20’s, Feroci was invited to Bangkok to teach Western sculpture at the capital university. In 1944 he was even declared a Thai citizen, and from there he changed his name to “Silpa Bhirasri”.
Before the creation of the obelisk, Victory Monument was a simple rotonda with a lawn and Thai flags. The obelisk you can see today was built in the 40’s to celebrate the Thai army’s victory over French colonials and the later expansion of Thai rule into certain regions of Laos and Cambodia. After Thailand’s defeat in the Second World War, Victory Monument became a symbol of embarrassment for its people.
Today the area adjacent to the Victory Monument is considered one of the biggest transport hubs of the city. Besides the BTS line that connects the northern part of Sukhumvit to the southern part of the city, from Anu Saowari minivans also depart for nearby cities, such as Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Pattaya, the islands of Koh Chang and Koh Samet, and also towards the floating markets of Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak.
On the two sides opposite the rotonda (the one near the shopping malls and the one near the hospital, to be clear), you can take local buses toward almost every district of the city. For a more detailed guide on how to get around by bus and minivan in Bangkok and Thailand in general, read here. [Read more…]
Koh Phangan is the fifth largest island in Thailand; it has an area of just over 125 square kilometers and is located in the southwestern part of the Gulf of Siam. Famous for its beaches and almost untouched tropical nature, Koh Phangan is also a destination known to travelers throughout the world for its Full Moon Party. During this party, celebrated once or twice a month depending on how often the full moon is visible, along almost a kilometer of beach DJ’s from around the world have 30 thousand people dancing.
Koh Phangan is not just music and dancing; in fact it’s also a place appreciated by travelers looking for calm and tranquility. 90% of the island is covered in thick tropical forest, which makes it a suitable place for yoga fans and those looking for a spiritual experience in one of the many retreats.
The island’s spirituality is also quite evident in its history. Up until 1400 Koh Phangan was in fact completely uninhabited, it’s discovery was made by a group of Buddhist monks who decided to build the first temple on the island: Wat Phu Khao Noi.
As a tourist destination, Koh Phangan began to become known starting in the 70’s. Ten years later though it underwent a full tourist boom, and thanks to the Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan in fact became one of the most popular places among young people from all over the world. [Read more…]
The most famous Thai dishes – Index
With its delicate balance that juggles between sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (which in Japanese means “tasty” and is present in foods particularly rich in protein such as meat and cheese) and its beautiful presentation (just think about the plumeria flowers that adorn desserts, or the amazing fruit carvings) Thai cuisine represents a fusion of taste and colors.
Even though Thai cuisine is light and aromatic, its preparation is rather complex, especially due to the balance that each dish requires. An example is papaya salad: a perfect harmony between tart, sweet and spicy flavors, but also the consistency of the ingredients, such as the papaya (soft), the beans (semi-soft) and the roasted nuts (hard).
In the past, traditional Thai cuisine was considered healthy, since it used cooking methods mainly based on boiled, grilled or stewed foods. These days, with Chinese influence, the “less healthy” foods, such as those that are fried have gotten the upper hand.
China hasn’t been the only nation to modify the eating habits of the Thai people; both India and Portugal have played an important role. For example, Thai curry is a modified and adapted version of typical Indian curry, where the clarifying butter is substituted by coconut oil. The spicy pepper, present in the majority of Thai dishes, was imported by Portuguese monks. [Read more…]
Koh Mak is a spectacular paradise island, with a surface area of a little more than 16 square kilometers, located in the southeastern part of Thailand, next to the Cambodian coast.
Even though it has wonderful beaches and almost untouched tropical vegetation, Koh Mak is an island that’s barely known to international tourists. This is actually what makes it a great place for those looking for a relaxing vacation far from the mass tourism so prevalent in places like Phuket or Pattaya.
Its privileged geographical position also makes it quite appealing to all those staying near the island of Koh Chang.
The primary reason why Koh Mak can still be considered an almost untouched island in 2018 is that the families that own it have always steered politics toward its preservation. [Read more…]
Pai is a small place located in a picturesque valley, 136 Km north of Chiang Mai. The town offers a relaxing atmosphere with lots of tourists, especially backpackers.
There’s quite a mix of people that you can meet there: there are western and eastern smiles, old hippies, Rastafarians and artists, and many others. I know that these words strung together don’t say much, perhaps they even sound strange, however I can assure you that they give the place a unique touch, maybe not so local and traditional, but always something special.
I recommend that you visit Pai during the low season since it could be complicated finding a place to stay between the months of October and February, which is during the dry season.
There are though about 350 guest houses and hotels and a high level of Westernization, and you can find simple accommodations in bungalows spread about the fields and along the river, as well as the many farms in the area.
To get to Pai you’ll have to be ready to face 3 hours of curves, 760 curves and reckless drivers. Joking aside, driving in this area is never all that peaceful, and I invite you to take a bunch of pills to prevent car-sickness. Are you ready to get lost in Pai?
How to get to Pai?
There are regular buses and minivans that leave every hour from the central station in Pai, heading to Chiang Mai and vice versa, for a price of 150 Baht. The first bus leaves at 6:30 in the morning and the last at 17:30, but I’d recommend that you handle things personally onsite.
There are also pickups that can accommodate 12 people, which you can take from Arcade Station in Chiang Mai, like the minivans, but cost more, about 1200 Baht and are little more comfortable. [Read more…]
Moving to live and work in Thailand if you’ve never been to the country before or if you’ve never had such a radical change is a choice that requires ample bureaucratic preparation, but that’s not all!
In this article I will describe the necessary steps before leaving, so that you can arrive prepared and without delays; I will also talk about the things you’re required to do once you land in the Land of Smiles:
- Determining an initial budget;
- Which destination to choose;
- Which visa to apply for;
- How to choose an air flight;
- How to find work in Thailand;
- How to get health insurance.
- How to rent an apartment;
- How to get a Thai SIM card;
- How to open a bank account;
- How to send packages from your country to Thailand and vice versa.
Also called Turtle Island, Koh Tao (in Thai: เกาะเต่า), is a small island with a little more than 1,000 inhabitants, located in the western part of the Gulf of Siam.
Its name comes from the fact that in the past Koh Tao was inhabited by lots of turtles, the word “Tao” in Thai in fact means turtle. Moreover, if you look at the island from nearby Koh Phangan, it seems as if Koh Tao actually looks like a turtle.
Koh Tao was “discovered” in the early 80’s, and is today one of the most popular destinations in Thailand, thanks too to its coral reef and almost untouched nature, a habitat for many species of animals. Unlike places like Krabi and Koh Phangan, Koh Tao is an island where mass tourism has yet to arrive, making it perfect for those who wish to relax in the middle of nature.
The best months for visiting the island are from November to March. During this period there are few storms and the dry weather allows you to participate in outdoor activities like diving. Koh Tao was in fact designated as one of the best Asian destinations for scuba diving.
How to get to Koh Tao
Phi Phi Island (in Thai: หมู่เกาะพีพี) is an archipelago of six islands, the largest of which are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh, located in the southern part of Thailand, in the Andaman Sea.
Having been chosen as the location of the Leonardo di Caprio film “The Beach”, Phi Phi Island (even though there are two islands, they are written in the singular) has become a popular destination for international tourists since 2000.
Even though it is possible to visit all six islands, when talking about Phi Phi Island you’re mainly talking about Phi Phi Don, the only inhabited island. The smaller Phi Phi Leh, instead is mainly an afternoon boat tour, where you can admire Maya Bay, the bay where the majority of the scenes from The Beach were filmed.
Phi Phi Don covers some 30 square kilometers. Phi Phi Leh measures just a little more than 6 square kilometers, and besides its beautiful beaches you can also visit caves like Viking Cave, located to the northeast.
The best season for visiting Phi Phi Island is from November to the end of March, since there are few rainy days and the weather is dry. During the high season you can swim at practically all the beaches on Phi Phi Don; but when the monsoons arrive the waves are very high, and not being protected, swimming can become dangerous. [Read more…]