Getting to Thailand
We'll start by saying what someone told us before we came to the Thailand. It's not easy, but it's definitely worth it. Now we can only speak from the perspective of a small-town American boys, but by comparison, South East Asia truely is another world.
The sights, the sounds, the smells, everything about Bangkok is in chaotic harmony. It's something we wish everyone could experience, even just for a week or so. However getting to Thailand involves 20 plus hours in the air, in addition to who knows how much terminal time. Factor it all in and we are talking damn 30 near hours of travel! Suffice to say destination Thailand is not your one-tank weekend trip.
That being said, travel arrangements will be tricky, but certainly not insurmountable. The good news is, if you are from the USA, Canada or UK, you don't need a tourist visa to visit Thailand. Adding to the good news, as of October 2016, most nationalities that are visa exempt are eligible for a free tourist visa. Getting the free tourist visa is recommended if you plan on staying in Thailand more than 60 days. You will however need a valid passport with at least 90 days reaming, and a few open pages. You can use the tool below to determine if your nationality is required to have a travel visa to enter Thailand.
Timing is very important, make sure to leave enough time between your flights. We know your thinking, "thank you captain obvious". Well, what happens when some douche nozzle at the TSA decides to single you out because you have a funny face, and final destination Thailand is most notorious for sex and drugs? Maybe your connection gets bumped because, well, God just doesn't have anything better to do that day. Our point is, leave at least 2.5 hours between connections. Yes, it's gonna add time to your trip, and you will likely have to take the first flight out of your hometown that morning. Trust us, it's better than the headaches and extra money to re-book a flight, or spend the next 12 hours of your life waiting for the next bird outta Dodge. Keep in mind the time changes/overnight aspect of your flight when booking your connection to Bangkok. Meaning when you book your connecting flight from China, Japan, S. Korea or wherever...it will likely be the next day from when you started. Make a note of that when booking the return as well. Captain obvious say's you're welcome BTW.
Now seeing as you're embarking on a journey around the globe, you will need to choose your route. Having flown from the USA to Bangkok and back several times, we can tell you that there are no non-stop flights to Thailand from the mainland US. Your options are to fly out of a major international airport and then connect to Bkk; typically through Japan, South Korea, Dubai or China. By which point your brains will be fried monkey nuts from two or three airports and eight or nine time zones. Make sure to hydrate, keep the meals light and crap on the ground if possible (not literally on the ground you retard...this is Asia, not India). This is another reason why a certain someone named Captain Obvious mentioned, leaving 2.5 hours between connections. Trust us, you don't want to be in the plane's crapper at 30,000 feet when a rough patch of turbulence hits...let's just say things can get messy real quick my friends.
Our next piece of advice is to spend the extra couple hundred dollars and fly with a good carrier. We, like many people, aren't high-rollers, but we would like to point out we have had great results with Thai Airways and heard good things about Cathay Pacific. Unfortunately, as of November 2015 Thai Airways no longer flies to the US. Though chances are they will have a connecting flight in one of the Asian countries you will land before Thailand. They are part of the Star Alliance with United Airlines and Air Canada so you might be able to pair Thai. We promise the extra leg room, free drinks, yummy food, new movies and games are worth it if it's in your budget. Often times because the airfare for these providers is on average$100-$200 more, these planes are not full and you will have an empty seat in your row. Twice we got lucky and had the whole row to ourselves. Currently your cheapest economy option is about $800, this will vary based on your location. You will likely be on a Boeing 777 or an Air Bus 380. The Airbus is roomier and nicer, but the 777 is nice too. It's especially nice on one of the premier carriers.
If you are still reading that's great! You must really want to come here and see what all the fuss is about. Well lets recap real quick. You woke up at 2:00 am to catch the 5:30 flight out of your hometown. You probably didn't have time to finish breakfast or whatever it was you were doing in that airport bathroom. At some point you were likely interrogated, groped or barked at by someone from the TSA. And it's been 18 hours since your last shower and good night's sleep. Congrats your almost to the land of milk and honey...el dorado. One more flight to go! By they way, travel tip right here. Incheon airport, in S. Korea, provides free showers and beds on the second floor. Don't forget kids, you should always remember to bring a towel.
When you arrive in Thailand you will typically land at Suvarnabhumi Airport. You will be disoriented, bewildered and adrenalized. You are in a different world a different time zone. Far removed from where you were yesterday. Chin up soldier, you made it. Now you better hope your crap made the connection in Japan or wherever and prepare to spend some time in line at immigration. Oh you thought because you have a 30-day visa on arrival the boys and girls at immigration were gonna let you march into the kingdom and give you the keys? It's not that easy, but don't worry, just follow the signs (yes they are written in some form of English) and look for the really long line. Don't for get to smile for the camera!
After that's over, it's a good idea to change currency at the airport as there is no fee to do it there. The best rates are at the two stands on the bottom floor heading toward the Airport Rail Link. As we write this blog, the exchange is about 34 Baht to the dollar. To make it easy, just remember 100 baht is roughly three bucks, 500 is about $15, and 1000 baht is about $30. I'm sure you math scholars can handle that. Real quick on the topic of money. Be mindful of how you treat money in Thailand. Every bill and coin has the King's image on it and is that alone is considered sacred. So try not to crumple it up in your pocket or step on it of you drop it. Most likely no one will say anything if you do, but you may get some harsh looks. So let's try not to upset the natives within our first hour of arrival. Remember there's a lot more of them than you.
Finally, after all that rigmarole you can make your way to the first floor, get a cue ticket at the vending machine outside and walk to the number taxi that matches your ticket. Now if you were smart, you got a hold of us at All Thai Girls before your trip and we will be waitig for you with a cold drink, something to eat and most importantly piece of mind. Our representatives speak both English and Thai. You won't have to be bothered with the frustration of the simple tasks turned impossible due to the language barrier. We will have secured your accommodation near public transit, filled up your train cards and provided you with a map filled with points of interest. However buying a package is not necessary. All the information you need to "get here" is available on this website. Remember, try to go with the flow, don't get angry when people don't understand you, or you don't understand them. At the begin of this article we mentioned a quote from one of our friends. So we will end this with another quote from that same friend, "Relax, you're in Asia".
Extra travel tips Thailand:
1. Plan ahead by a year or at least 8 months. Book early to save money and in the meantime before booking get a credit card that rewards you with miles. We saved close to $400 on travel through our rewards program. That's a big deal when the flight is about $800-$1,200. Use the flight search below to find the best prices.
2. Check the model of plane you will be traveling and go to www.seatguru.com to find the best seats. Also go to http://www.airportterminalmaps.com to familiarize yourself with your connecting airport.
3. Pack light. Most everything you will want and need is here in Bangkok and cheaper than in the states. Certainly much cheaper than paying extra baggage fees. The airlines on this side of the world gouge your eyes out for more than 15 kgs of luggage.
4. Don't lose your departure slip! Sometimes the officer does not staple it in your book. Whatever you do don't lose this paper, you will need it anytime you visit immigration or depart the country. We remember an unfortunate experience of forgeting it when dealing with immigration. We will spare you the details but let me repeat. DON'T LOSE YOUR DEPARTURE SLIP!
5. Be conscious of current events and aware of your surroundings. We're not saying this to frighten or cast doubt, but there are some things you should consider. S. Korea has North Korea, the Middle East has ISIS. Japan has Earth quakes and China is...well...China. And the US has managed to piss off most everyone we mentioned and a few more. Don't stress, just stay informed on these issues by checking out our News section, and as the Thai's say..."Don't think too much".