I didn’t get to climb a mountain but I did…
My arrival in Thailand was a bit overwhelming. I had problems at the border and until we actually crossed it I had no idea that Thais use a different alphabet. I was a little bit panicked when I arrived in Hat Yai and couldn’t read any of the signs. I had gotten into the habit of copying signs and phrases into Google Translate in Malaysia. Suddenly that option was taken away from me. My first night in Hat Yai was filled with doubts. Was I going to be able to get through this country? Was I going to have to leave early and waste the money I had spent on the Visa? I had already had to walk 45 minutes to my hotel because no taxi driver I had spoken to could understand where to find it. It wasn’t an easy night. My fears were alleviated when I arrived in Koh Lanta. Suddenly there were other backpackers to be found and menus were in english again. The relief I felt was palpable. Since then I have found Thailand a really easy country to navigate and have become more confident as a solo traveller. In the end I used my visa completely, not leaving for Cambodia until the final day. I can’t believe I’ve spent 60 days in this amazing country already! I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. So this is my wrap up of my two months in Thailand.
Where did I go?
Since I came from Malaysia I started in the South and the Islands before heading north. Not many people seem to travel in that direction though. Everyone I met seemed to be going in the opposite direction. I split my time between the south and the north pretty evenly. The different areas of the country are so unlike each other that it’s almost like being in another country altogether.
Hat Yai – 1 night
Koh Lanta – 3 nights
Koh Phi Phi Don – 4 nights
Phuket – 2 nights
Khao Sok – 4 nights
Koh Pha-Ngan – 7 nights
Koh Tao – 5 nights
Bangkok – 8 nights
Kanchanaburi – 5 nights
Chiang Mai – 15 nights
Sukhothai – 3 nights
Bangkok – 3 nights
How Much Does 60 Days in Thailand Cost?
Well my goal of cutting down my spending kind of went out the window. I’ve become rather indulgent. I eat out for every meal and I’ve been getting massages and going on tours. I even took a massage course while I was in Chiang Mai. You can backpack in Thailand for much less than I have pretty easily so don’t be discouraged if this sounds like a lot.
I knew that I would be travelling into Thailand overland so in order to stay longer than 2 weeks I needed to get a Visa. I was able to get a 60-day visa issued at the Royal Thai Consulate in Georgetown.
Visa Cost $38
I’ve been mixing it up a little bit in Thailand. After my first night staying in a boutique hotel in Hat Yai I remembered how nice it is to have your own room and space. So I’ve been staying in a mix of dorms, small hotels, guesthouses and bungalows. Some places, like Khao Sok, Kanchanaburi and Sukhothai, don’t really have hostels so you don’t have much choice but to stay in a private room. Accommodation in Thailand is relatively cheap anyway. When you get to hang out all day in a hammock on your own bungalow’s balcony and sleep on a real mattress that extra couple of dollars feels like money well spent.
Total Spent for 59 nights $797.64
Getting around Thailand is relatively easy and inexpensive. There seems to always be a bus or minivan that you can catch no matter where you’re going. The ferries between the islands run regularly and aren’t too expensive. Taxis come in many shapes and sizes. From the regular car, to scooters, to tuk-tuks, to songthaews. They all fall under the umbrella of taxi. As a tourist you get ripped off pretty much every time you climb into one of them. Though I did find the tuk-tuks in Chiang Mai to be quite cheap when shared.
Total spent of getting around and out of the country $331.24
Food and Drink
Once again, this is where I am wasting the most money. You can get decent meals with a drink for less than 100baht if you stick to eating street food or in the little local restaurants. I, however, love variety. As much as I’ve come to like Thai food, I don’t really want to eat it for every meal. I would have missed out on some really good places if I had, like the Indian restaurant in Chiang Mai or the Italian one on Koh Tao. Some places I have found myself spending up to 300baht on a meal. While cheap by my standards, it’s exorbitant in Thailand. Food costs add up really quickly when you’re spending a couple of hundred baht 3 times a day. Breakfast is rarely provided in Thai hostels, I had become used to it in Malaysia and it does save a lot of money. It’s also uncommon to find hostels with a kitchen available and supermarkets are few and far between so eating out is often the only option.
Total spent on eating $994.30
I’ve taken a few tours in Thailand. Since it’s high season you can get around the pesky 2 pax thing that is common in South East Asia by simply joining onto a group that is already booked. It’s also a good way to meet people. I’ve been indulging myself as well. I’ve had a few massages and fish spas while I’ve been here. Honestly, how can you pass up getting an hour full-body massage for $10? They cost at least ten times that at home. I even took a 3-day massage course to learn for myself. That was probably my biggest expense and I had to choose between that and the cooking course I wanted to do.
Total spent on the fun stuff $588.38
All the other stuff like laundry, sunscreen, ear plugs and the non-essential stuff like souvenir shopping.
Total spent on everything else $392.10
Total $3050.89 or $50.85 per day
The Highlights and the Not-So-Great Bits
I’ve really enjoyed my time in Thailand and I was sad to leave. That being said it hasn’t been all candy and roses
My #1 Hightlight – Visiting Elephant Nature Park
I didn’t get to volunteer like I had planned but the day trip was certainly the best day of my trip. To be so close to the elephants is awe-inspiring. They have had such hard lives that it is so wonderful to see them now free and happy.
My Favourite Food – Pad Thai on Koh Lanta
I’m not sure what the name of the restaurant was but on Long Beach right next to the paved path to get to the beach there is a cute restaurant and bar with little cabanas to sit in. The pad thai was utterly sublime and it ruined every other pad thai I’ve had since.
The Worst Experience – Getting sick from dehydration and sleep deprivation
It began on the bus on the way to Khao Sok. My tummy was hurting. I was feeling feverish. I was exhausted. The thought of dengue and malaria haunted me. But, luckily, it was just a combination of dehydration and sleep deprivation. I had maybe had a litre of water over the past few days and because I had been on Phi Phi and Phuket I hadn’t slept for more than an hour or two per night for the past week. Typical that I would get sick when I was 40kms away from the nearest doctor. I bought 3 litres of water as soon as I checked in and ate a dry packet of instant noodles for dinner to settle my stomach. The next morning the headache and fever were gone. I kept myself hydrated drinking two big bottles of water per day. After a few days I was back to normal. It did encourage me to start looking after myself more though.
The Strangest Sight – This sign from my hostel in Chiang Mai
I would have thought that was common sense but there has to be a reason that this sign is there
The Craziest Experience – Riding on the back of a motorcycle with all my luggage in Krabi
I’m a thrill seeker, usually. But even this was a bit too nerve-wracking for me. Perhaps if I hadn’t had my backpack and laptop bag with me and perhaps if it didn’t involve weaving through Thai traffic it wouldn’t have been so bad. Still it’s not something that I’m keen to repeat!