(2/7) Thailand – How I Saved $600+
Once you’re in Asia, booking on budget airlines is quite cheap. Air Asia, JetStar and Scoot (previously Tiger Air) are probably the most popular budget airlines. Instead of using points for flights, I paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I used google flights to search fares. Tip: Bangkok has 2 airports and they’re about the same distance from where I was staying. In my case, it was cheaper to fly out of DMK instead of BKK airport. Pre-pay for your baggage because they will for sure weigh your suitcase AND carry-on bag.
Vietjet Air – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) –> Bangkok (BKK) $114.50
Park Plaza Hotel Bangkok- $81/night
Saved $144 from a hotels.com voucher
When Complaining Is Necessary
So let’s get to how I saved $600.00. To begin, I had a voucher for $144 from hotels.com from a previous stay in Valencia, Barcelona. The room that I had booked looked NOTHING like the pictures I saw online. It was a complete dump and I NICELY complained to hotels.com and in return they issued me a voucher. I used that voucher for my 2 night stay in Bangkok so I only paid $45.90.
Then in Phuket I booked a 4 night stay at the Sugar Marina Surf Hotel. I had 4 free nights from hotels.com totaling $382. During the first night the hotel experienced rolling blackouts and eventually we lost power for 10 hours. That meant no AC in this heat, I couldn’t charge any of my electronics, no wi-fi, I had to shower in the dark…and the list goes on, so I NICELY complained to hotels.com and for the inconvenience they ended up comping the entire stay and crediting me back my 4 free nights.
I don’t like to take advantage or complain unless I have a really good reason, and I’ve barely had any incidences through hotels.com even though I book lots of rooms with them, so I think that’s the reason why they were so generous since they value their clients.
Overall I had a much better experience in Thailand than I did in Vietnam. It was definitely a step up. People actually use crosswalks and there are less scooters, but the traffic is still terrible. Not to worry though because if you read my blog about the pre-plan, you know that Uber and Grab work here and getting around on scooters is faster and quite thrilling.
2 days in Bangkok was not enough time, especially because our flight was delayed. I wish I had stayed an extra day here.
The last time I visited Phuket I wasn’t able to take any of the island tours due to bad weather, so I decided to go back. Phuket disappointed me in so many ways and the number 1 reason was the increased amount of tourism. My suggestion is skip Phuket and instead check out other parts of the country, such as Chiang Mai.
Exchange Rate: 1USD = 31.24 Baht
Always carry some cash on you especially for food stalls. Skewers are fairly cheap and most are less than $1USD. I’m obsessed with Thailand’s papaya salad and mango salad.
In Thailand people drive on the left side of the road.
If you like spicy, just remember their version of spicy is extra f*ckin spicy to us.
Uber is automatically connected to your credit card. GRAB in this country accepts cash payments only. I tried linking my credit card up to GRAB and it did not work, however it did work in the next country, Singapore. I used GRAB Moto for most of my trips and they were no more than 100 baht. Most riders carry an extra helmet, but sometimes you’ll run into ones that don’t. Good luck and hold on tight.
Tip: Select Uber “Taxi” or GRAB “TAXI” – It might be a bit more expensive but there are more cars available.
I wasn’t able to buy alcohol at a convenience store until after 5pm.
Tipping Etiquette – not expected but is highly appreciated. To learn more details click here.
1st Stop: Bangkok (BKK) – February 20 – 22
- Average Temperature: 90 degrees and humid
- SIM Card: 299 Baht ($9.56USD) 3 gb and after that it begins to slow down. When you
exit baggage claim, turn right and near door #7 you will see a booth with an automated machine. You will need your passport to buy this SIM. T-mobile worked fine here.
- Transportation To Hotel: 331 Baht ($10.59USD for a 1.5hr ride). I always launch both Uber and GRAB to see what is cheaper. From our my hotel to DMK airport I used Uber and the airport tolls were included 456 Baht ( $14.60USD)
Things To Do
- Get a massage – the best price I found was 250 Baht ($8USD) for an hour. I’m sure there are cheaper places but this particular location was close to my hotel convenient for me.
- Platinum Shopping Mall – I don’t like shopping at regular malls because it’s all the same stores everywhere. At Platinum there are over 1300+ boutiques and clothes are fairly cheap.
- Free Bangkok Tours on Tuesdays & Thursdays
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – $29USD – I didn’t have time to do this
- Visit the 3 top temples:
- Talad Neon Night Market
- Terminal 21 Shopping Mall – Food court – a LARGE variety of food vendors. Meals are $1-$2. Super cheap.
2nd Stop: Phuket (HKT) February 22 – 26
I chose to stay in Kata beach because I wanted it to be quieter and more relaxing. Well, I definitely regret staying in that area because after a couple days I found it quite boring. Not only that, if I wanted to get to Patong Beach (30 min) there were no metered cabs and you would be stuck paying a fixed rate of 500 baht ($16USD) to take a Tuk Tuk.
- Transportation from airport to hotel. This is a tricky one because everyone will bombard you and try to negotiate a price with you. They’re all trying to rip you off.
- Using the GRAB/UBER app would be 1150 baht ($36USD)
- People quoting you – 1000 baht ($32USD)
- Metered Taxi – 690 baht ($22USD) BEST OPTION. When you exit the airport, find this booth and tell them where you’re going. They will flag down a red/yellow metered taxi for you. This was the price for going to Kata Beach. Going to Patong Beach should be even cheaper. Be sure to get the contact number of your driver because it’s impossible to flag down a metered taxi near your hotel. My hotel tried to overcharge me for my ride back to the airport.
You can also call this guy: “Mr. O.” +6661-1704984 – Call 3-4 hrs in advance.
- If you’re really on a budget, there is a shared minivan from the airport to Kata beach for 200 baht ($6.39USD) per person.
- You can rent a motorbike for 130 – 150 baht ($4 – $5USD) Keep in mind that everyone drives on the left side of the road, and you’re “supposed” to have an International Driver’s License. For more information on how you can get your International Driver’s License, click here.
Things To Do
- Phi Phi Island Tour – 1500 baht ($48UD) – Places you get to go to: Maya Bay, Loh Samah Bay, Viking Cave, Pileh Cove, Monkey Beach. I found that booking this online was cheaper than waiting to book it when you get here. Fair warning – It’s really overcrowded and I didn’t have too great of an experience. **As of March 28, 2018, Maya Beach is temporarily closed due to extensive coral reef damage. Read article here.
- Pha Nga Bay Tour – 1900 baht ($61USD) Phang Nga – Panak Island, Limestones Cave, Hong Island, James Bond Island, Lawa Island. I wish I did this tour rather than the Phi Phi Island Tour because I heard this was less crowded.
- Pad Thai Shop – The best food I’ve had on the island. Open everyday except Fridays and the average meal is 50 baht ($1.60USD)
- Bangla Road in Patong Beach – the most popping street in Phuket. The people here are pretty aggressive on trying to get you to watch the “Ping Pong Show.” I won’t explain what that is as it is quite inappropriate but I’ve seen it before and there’s definitely weird shit going on. Just don’t get ripped off! Know what you’re paying before you enter the establishment.
- Lighting a sky lantern – If you head do the beach at night time, you’ll find locals selling sky lanterns and I’ve always wanted to light one and release it. Don’t pay more than 100 baht ($3.20USD) for this.
Till next time Thailand! Stay tuned for my next blog about traveling to Singapore.