Going to Thailand from India? Should you buy a Thailand tour package?
So you want to go to Thailand for a holiday and you are an Indian like me. Yes cost is probably a consideration for most Indian travelers . Here I’m gonna cover issues like places to go to, accommodation, vegetarian food and what to eat in Thailand? Where to change your rupees and get a good rate. How to live longer for the price you would pay for a tour package, and of course how to relax and activities in Thailand for an Indian traveler.
What can you see or understand in 4 or 6 days? The better way to travel is let the experience sink in till you see through the haze, explore, see things beyond the boring commercial holiday that anybody can get. It costs lesser to travel slow and it is a great experience.
Thailand Tour package or No tour package – Thailand budget travel for Indians.
A tour package is good only if you are planning a 4 or 5 day trip, it cuts costs and you see what your tour operator wants you to see! It is recommended that you travel on your own alone or with your family. Before you plan your trip to Thailand you may want to get a visa although visa on arrival is an option. To get a Thai visa from India is pretty easy if you follow these steps.
Once you have a Thai visa consider the costs of an air ticket to Thailand. you could get one on air Asia or Indigo airlines and Tiger airways for much lesser than a full service flight like Thai airways or Indian airlines. The cost of a return ticket from Delhi to Bangkok is about 7000 INR (yes return fare on Indigo) you can get similar fare from Chennai to Bangkok on Air Asia or Tiger airways. If you are wondering what is the difference. The truth is there isn’t much difference between a full service flight and a LOW COST AIRLINES. Air Asia now offers a complimentary meal on all its Thailand bound flights from India. Read below for a comparison of a tour package and if you pay on your own.
Accommodation in Thailand for Indians.
Thailand trip will not be expensive if you have budget accommodation this is where Thailand scores over India, you could get an air conditioned room in Bangkok for as little as 450 bahts a day that is approximately 900 INR. The mid range could cost you about a 1000 bahts a day (INR 2000) and that gives you a pretty decent place in Thailand, not even comparable to what you might get for the same price in Delhi, Mumbai,Chennai or even Hyderabad and Bangalore. Most tour operators might put you up at a mid range place like White Orchids in Bangkok. I’ve listed a few areas you might get a great deal in accommodation and be close to the tourist attractions in Bangkok and Chiang mai. read more about Chiang mai and Phitsanulok.
Khao San rd – Bunglampoo district, Bangkok
If you are going to Bangkok I would say take a taxi and go straight to Khao san road, plenty of budget and quality accommodation and some not so good super cheap options. It is close to the grand palace and a nice way to start your Thailand tour. Khao san road also has many Indian and international restaurants you can read my post on Indian restaurants in Thailand where you can read in detail about all the food, especially Jain food and Gujarati food.
Check agoda.com for amazingly low prices for otherwise expensive hotels.
Yoawarat – China town in Bangkok for the Indian visitor.
China town is a must visit. Go there in the evenings and try the Chinese food at the awesome (affordable and a great experience) Hua Seng Hong restaurant. Try the roast duck, dumplings and the soups among other specialties. There are plenty of other street food like roasted chestnuts, noodle soups and Thai food. You can wander around the markets and pick up a few souvenirs. Yoawarat is also home to many Gold shops and if you are into buying a ring or a pendant it is highly recommended that you buy here. The gold ornaments in Thailand are 23k a little purer than the Indian standard of 22k for gold jewellery.
Food in Thailand – Do you get vegetarian food in Thailand?
Thai food for the first time traveler from India especially the vegetarian traveler can be a challenge. Most Thai food has some form of meat. Here are a few that are totally vegetarian dishes. Try some sweets, try the Thai spring rolls they are stuffed with glass noodles and veggies, eat a lot of fruit and go to pure vegetarian Indian restaurants. If you are not a vegetarian and if that’s not an issue the world opens up for you. Some popular Thai food pictures below.
Does your Indian mobile phone and SIM card work in Thailand?
Yes your phone will work in Thailand, all GSM phones are usable in Thailand. If you have an airtel SIM card it will connect to local AIS network in Thailand and will work, the charges that Airtel levies are very heavy, charges in excess of 100 INR per minute. Just not worth it when you can get a free SIM at the airport. Read my post on mobile phones in Thailand
10 Things an Indian must do in Thailand
1.Get a traditional Thai massage – There are literally thousands of places to get a massage.
The traditional Thai massage will relax your edgy Indian nerves after getting out of crowded India.
Ease into a holiday mood with a good traditional Thai massage for an hour. Drink lots of cheap green teas available everywhere in Thailand. You can get them from a 7-eleven or other conveniences.
2. Visit a Wat – Buddhist temple – visit a Wat, spend some time there, meditate and understand why a country so far from India has embraced Buddhism. What are its values and teachings? Take in the serenity of the temples and the amazing mannerisms of the local Thai people.
3. Ride an Elephant into the mountains surrounding Chiangmai. Your average Thailand tour package may not give you all the elephant ride information. Read more about Elephant rides. The breath taking experience of going through pristine mountainous terrain on an Elephant with a Mahout is an experience you cannot miss.
Do you fancy being close to a real tiger and petting it as well. Thailand can make that happen. There are a number of venues to do that, My favorite is the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang mai. You can be with an adult Tiger or a cub play with it and take pictures.
5. Scuba diving in the Islands – Learn scuba diving and dive into some of the best dive spots in the world. Its very affordable at 2500 bahts a dive. You can also do a certificate course in diving at the Island. Try Koh (thai for island) Samui, Koh Phi Phi (my favorite) and many other islands in southern Thailand.
6. Learn to cook a Thai meal – One of the best things you could do while in Thailand, improve your culinary skills in a fun filled day at a cooking school. Get a chance to meet other enthusiasts. It’s a wonderful activity for a family.
7. Visit Madame Tussauds wax museum in Bangkok. Well you don’t have to go to London to do that. See all your favorite stars at the Madame Tussaud’s Bangkok
8. Eat loads of Thai food – You must try the local regulars like Pad Thai, Pad ka pao, Pad seiuw, Khao Pad and the papaya salad called Somtam. Also the sticky rice. I have never seen sticky rice in India. In Thailand it is eaten with barbequed chicken and is called KHAO NIAW a favorite in northern Thailand.
9. Visit Kanchanaburi and take pictures on the river Kway bridge. Kanchaburi also has a tiger temple where monks look after orphaned tigers quite a site.
10. Take a Thai train – I found it quite amusing to travel by a Thai train in the AC sleeper class. It was fun and distinctly different from the Indian train experience. You’ll love it.
The real cheap tour packages are still expensive because they include somebody’s profit in your price.
_ The author of this post lives and works in Thailand and is an Indian.
Do Thai people like Indians?
The answer lies in yes anybody would like another human who is well mannered and polite to say the least. Many Thai I would say know little or not much about Indians. Some may have heard of Bombay or Delhi in Bangkok and otherwise they have very little understanding of India or Indians in general. The language barrier makes it even more difficult. Few Thais speak English and almost no Indian speaks much Thai. The communication is limited.
The cultural ties are a different story altogether. They are Buddhists and definitely have many common cultural traits. Visiting Thailand from India is like time travel culturally speaking. The ancient Indian values and even the traditional Thai clothes are very similar to the ancient Indian clothes. The Thai hair style of topknot was common in ancient Indian kingdoms. The practice of meditation, the eternal quest for mastery over the mind and respect for other humans has to be experienced to understand the point I’m making here.