Thailand, also known as the land of a thousand smiles. This place will creep into the corners of your heart and despite the language barrier will make you feel like you have come ‘home’. If laying on silky white beaches sipping real coconut water, Island hopping, and on the odd occasion visiting a temple and drinking copious amounts of watermelon smoothies is your idea of a holiday then this is definitely for you.
Another plus is that South Africans don’t need a visa if you are staying for 30 days (travelling by air) or less. Please note that in the more touristy towns you are bound to bump into at least four South African honeymooners, a few Durbanites and a bachelor who wants to celebrate his last days of freedom. The number one reason South Africans love Thailand is because of the exchange rate. The Thai baht is better on our pockets than the Euro or Dollar has ever been.
If you wondering when to travel to Thailand, November – February is usually categorised as the best time to visit. While June – October sees heavy rainfall and cooler temperatures and when we went (October) the humidity even during monsoon season was so intense that I don’t think I would have survived high season.
It seems that tourists still flock to the Andaman sea, west of Thailand , with Phuket , Krabi and Ko Phi Phi continuing to be on top of the list. With crystal blue water that make your pictures look like you have been photo-shopped in it , it’s no wonder why.
If however you are looking for a more quiet experience, with less tourists and fireworks you need to visit Koh Samui where you can find spots of complete isolation.
While you there don’t forget about Bangkok even if just for a few days, no trip to Thailand is complete without visiting the Capital city. This is where we visited The Grand Palace, also where I slid into the temple when it rained and questioned why no one knew marble and rain do not mix. Home to floating markets and some of the best sushi haunts as described here.
The memories that I hold dear to me will always be the unplanned adventures like quad biking up to see Big Buddha after eating myself sick at the cashew nut factory, pinning money on the ‘tree’ for blessings from the monks in return. Taking what I thought would be a 15 minute trip on a speedboat to Islands *names I have now forgotten * which actually took more than an hour , and then stopping in the middle of the ocean to go snorkeling and feed the fish with bread bought on the shore.
Running into a school friend one day just newly wed, comparing our experiences and me saying well I haven’t really eaten anything foreign , I remember him saying’ you don’t want to come back home and realise that because you played it safe , you will never be able to answer people when they ask what the food is like‘ after that I ate from street vendors, I ate the weird and found the wonderful.
Discovering a ferry close to our hotel in Bangkok one day and deciding to go exploring without our guide, we paid, settled down for our journey of discovery and within five minutes we reached our destination, we didn’t realise we had just paid for the ferry to take us to the other side of the river bank.
I cant wait to go back as there is so much exploring to do still, islands undiscovered and sunsets yet unseen. Thailand would be my number one suggestion to someone travelling for the first time. The perfect destination if ever there was one.
Happy travelling and as always if you need help planning your trip I would be happy too.