If you want to go travelling but have no idea where to start, this post is for you. This is going to be a list that can be applied to any location, but with examples from my travels around Thailand.
There are so many different styles of travel and budgets, so the first step would be working out where you fit in. Do you have a really tight budget? What are your priorities? Would you be able to manage in shared accomodation it is that unsuitable for you? Ask yourself these questions before you start looking.
Where you stay will influence quite a large amount of your trip. If you are travelling alone, it may be best to book yourself into a dorm in a hostel to meet others. If you would prefer privacy or would find it difficult to share a living space with strangers, then you would need to look at hotels and be prepared to spend a bit more. Some hostels also have private rooms.
With hostels you really need to consider the safety aspects. Is there anywhere to lock away my valuables? Is it in a safe and easy to access location? Have you read the reviews to check that it’s secure? Make sure you do your research.
Another thing to consider is the bathroom situation. In my hostel in Bangkok, there was a toilet on each floor and shower cubicles downstairs that the entire hostel shared. Whereas in Chiang Mai, there is a bathroom with a shower for each dorm room.
Just another thing to think ahout, toilets in Asia often don’t allow you to flush toilet roll and you have to just put it in a bin (there isn’t always a bin and there isn’t always toilet roll). They also have little hoses next to the toilets here to clean yourself. If this is sounding a bit too much for you, maybe consider a hotel. I haven’t stayed in a hotel in Thailand but I’m presuming the bathrooms would be a bit more westernised.
When travelling around a country you have to think about what is the best way to get around. In most cities, taxis are the most expensive form of transport and should be avoided when possible. That’s why you have to be careful when looking at the location of your accomodation. Walk where possible to get a chance to explore your surroundings, but if you are staying somewhere with a subway system, that can be a cheap way to get around longer distances (which I found most convenient in Tokyo and Seoul).
Taxis and tuk tuks in Thailand (and other Asian countries) tend to overcharge tourists and will often approach you in the street asking where you are going. It’s generally best to avoid them. My hostel in Bangkok recommended an app called Grab, which is basically like Uber and is more reasonably priced. You can get a taxi or a motorbike taxi around (my motorbike taxi experience was a little bit scary as I didn’t have a helmet!!).
In Thailand, you can get a bus, train or a flight to Chiang Mai with varying prices. The cheapest would be a bus, which takes 12 hours and costs around 600 baht. This is the equivalent of £13 or $18. This is a 12 hour overnight bus journey where you are provided with food. You have a lot of legroom, a reclining seat and are given a blanket. It was generally a really positive experience until my bus broke down and we were stranded for 3 hours, but I know plenty of people who have made that journey without problems.
Make sure you research all your transport options for your destination and make a decision based on your travel style. If you would rather pay more to be comfortable, then go for it. Everyone has their own way of travelling and one way isn’t better or worse than any other.
Some people like to travel with a full itinerary and some people like to be spontaneous. It depends on your travel style and what works best for you. I find it best to make a list of what I want to do and work out what my priorities are.
If a journey requires a pre-booked ticket I might plan it a couple of days in advance, but I otherwise like to keep my plans flexible. As long as I can fit in my list of priorities into the days I have in each location. For example, my day trip to Ayutthaya was a priority and I researched it beforehand, so I booked a trip on my first day in Bangkok for the following day.
A tip for working out an itinerary would be to speak to people in your hostel or ask advice at your hotel. Find out what they are doing and you may find things you haven’t even considered. On my last day in Bangkok, I went to Chatuchak market with my roommates and had a wonderful day on a spontaneous group venture. It was a place on my ideas list that I hadn’t had time for, but it was suggested by one of my roommates. A couple in the room had no plans that day so decided to come and one guy had no itinerary at all and was just winging it every day.
Based on your travelling style, your itinerary and your priorities, you can start to work out a budget. It really varies from speaking to people. Some people want to allow £20 spending money a day, some people think it’s too expensive to spend £10 entry into a temple. Some people may spend £100 on clothes shopping during their travels and others may only buy a few cheap souvenirs from a market. Doing a bit of research about what you want to do can help you come up with how much spending money you need.
I hope this post helped anyone trying to plan a holiday and if anyone has any questions I’ll be happy to answer. Any more suggestions for blog posts about travel are welcome!