Thailand..as we all know is a paradise for beach lovers. This has become a famous tourist spot. People from all over the world are coming here. So why not us.. Indians, when we have Visa on arrival for Thailand and it's not so far from India. It hardly takes about 3 and half hours from Bangalore, even our capital Delhi also takes almost the same time to reach.
Thailand is full of Buddha temples, beautiful beaches, Cabaret shows,night life and everything one can expect from a trip. So, we planned to cover the beaches, spend for Island hopping activities in Phuket and Krabi. We left temple hopping, Cabaret dance show for Pattaya and Bangkok.
How to reach: Bangkok is connected from all the major cities from India via flights. These days there are direct flights available to Phuket as well from cities like Mumbai & Bangalore. But when we booked our tickets, there was no direct flight available to Phuket. So, we had to book for Bangkok first and then the connecting flight to Phuket. We booked in Thai airways till Bangkok which costed us 42k for both the ways for two people. And the flight to Phuket was in Thai smile airways and costed around 5k one way for 2 people (with luggage allowance). We had to finish the visa and immigration formalities at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok and collect baggage and proceed to connecting flight. Luckily, both are same airlines. Hence we were able to check-in for both the flights together at Bangalore airport and collected our luggage at Phuket.
Visa: Even though Thailand offers visa on arrival for Indians, but it's not free. It costs 2000 Baht(₹4000) per person. So, it is better to apply for visa in India and get it done and then visit. This way you save a lot of time waiting in long queues for Visa. Moreover, this is cheap as well, i.e. ₹2000+ the agency charges (VFS global), which will be around ₹2500 per person. As Thailand has waived off the visa on arrival fees till April 2019, we opted for VOA. However, one should be ready to stand in long queues to get a Visa as officials don't have anything organised at Suvarnabhumi airport. Luckily we got our visa and immigration done within two hours of struggle. The experience was worthwhile.
Visa documents: Visa application form, Return ticket, Hotel booking voucher, Thailand VOA card - which is given in the flight itself and a passport photo with white background and clear face.
Pro-Tip: Even though you have a connecting flight, the visa and immigration formalities will be done at the first airport where you have landed in Thailand and not at the destination airport. So, you must have enough time in your hand for the above to be done before you board the next flight. I have seen people missing flights because of Visa thing.
Itenary and Hotels:
I had pre-booked all my hotels. One can choose hotels as per the budget and locality. In Phuket, it is advisable to stay near Patong/Kata/Karon beach. You can book in Phuket town if you are interested for the old architecture. In Krabi, it is better to stay near Ao nang. Pattaya is a small city, better to stay near Pattaya beach. In Bangkok, one should choose the hotel as per the places you want to visit. I was interested in exploring old Bangkok. So,stayed near Khaosan road.
All our hotels are in good locality. Everything was available at a walkable distance.
I didn't want to make my trip too hectic and planned this way and stayed at the below hotels.
Phuket- 3 days-Ibis Styles,Phuket city- ₹10k/3N
Krabi- 2 days- Ibis Styles, Ao nang- ₹10k/2N
Pattaya- 2 days- Ibis, Pattaya-₹7k/2
Bangkok-3 days- New Siam Riverside-₹7k/2N
I read online about the activity booking and found that these might be costly if we buy from the local tour operators post arrival. The good thing with local operators is that you can bargain. Hence, I did this- booked few activities online via Klook.com and Ithaka while few I got there from local tour operators. Ithaka is an app where people can help you plan your trip for free. Their service is limited few countries including Thailand but expanding as I write.
Transportation: They have local taxi, bike taxi, Grab cab, Tuk Tuk or Sangthaw(small truck converted to taxi). If you are using any of the above, don't forget to bargain as much as you can. In Bangkok, Grab cab is cheap and the public transport(bus or metro) is also good. But in other places, you have to use the other options as you can bargain with them. What I felt is, Grab cab was little costlier in rest of the part of Thailand except Bangkok. Every where you get Tuk Tuk. So, need not worry about the transportation at all.
Food: Thailand is foodies' paradise. You get plenty of options to eat. You can get local food in very cheap rates too. Pad Thai, the famous Thai cuisine could cost from 60-80 BHT. Food is very cheap here and there are plenty of options available. The food is not that smelly like Bali and Malaysia. So, I liked Thai food.
Must try dishes: Tom Yum goong soup, Thai chicken curry with coconut milk, Pad Thai, Chicken with cashew nuts, stir fried vegetables and not to forget the Coconut ice cream. They serve it with some tender coconut cream and it's just delicious.
Must try fruits: Rambutan, Longan, Passion fruit, the famous Durian, Mangosteen.
We started at night from Bangalore and reached Bangkok in the morning by 6. Then we had the next flight at 9 to Phuket. Our flight was delayed by an hour and half and we reached by 11. We took a bus from the airport to our hotel which was in Phuket city which costed around 50 BHT per person. It took around an hour and half. We walked from the bus stop to our hotel as it was nearby. We could not do anything this day as we were sleep deprived. So, just took rest.