Tips for travelling from India to Thailand was exactly what I googled, back when I discovered I was travelling to Bangkok for the first time. I was excited, for this was my first time living in a foreign country all alone.
A country that’s safe, cheap, travel-friendly, and in close proximity (to India) – what more does one want? If you’re still faced with an ocean of doubts, let me tell you all the useful tips for travelling from India to Thailand, especially if its your first time.
Since I was going to be living alone in Thailand for 7 months, I was faced with a whole new set of questions. – ” What are my go-to places for when I crave Dal Makhani ?” “What are safe places to travel solo” etc etc. My current blog is an endeavour to help my fellow Indians with their first trip to Thailand and answer all questions.
Tips for Travelling from India to Thailand
Whether you’re travelling for a day, for a week, for a month, or for a year, I will make an effort to share with you all the tips that I learnt during my first time in Thailand.
I hope that my 7 month long experience in Thailand helps all my fellow Indians plan an efficient and cost effective trip.
Here are my top 18 tips for all first time travellers to Thailand.
|1.Carry both cash and card while visiting Thailand|
Carry both cash and card while travelling to Thailand. Although carrying cash is more convenient., you should carry a card too, to be on the safer side. If you use an ATM, there will be some extra fees, including a 200 baht charge from the Thai bank, plus the domestic bank charges for the foreign exchange.
|2. Travel between March and September to save money|
If possible try to plan your Thailand trip between March to September. Reason being that during this time, you can travel on a shoestring budget. Not only will you be able to save a large amount of money during this time but also stay for a longer time.
|3. Avail visa on arrival if your trip is less than 15 days|
Thailand offers some good news for all travellers whose duration of stay is less than 15 days. And that is Visa on Arrival (VOA) for all Indian travellers. Thailand’s economy runs majorly on tourism and thus, the country ensures a hassle-free visa process for a number of countries including India.
|4.Carry your VOA fee in Thai Bahts (THB) only|
Remember that you need to pay your VOA (Visa on Arrival) fee in Baht only. So, If you haven’t carried bahts along with you, you could get it exchanged at booths in the customs hall. However, the rates would be relatively higher and it wouldn’t be a good idea to exchange all your money there. So just exchange the VOA fee at the airport.
|5. Get the bulk of your money exchanged at ‘Super Rich’ Exchange Service|
Once you have paid your VOA at the airport, move outside the airport and look for the nearest ‘Super Rich’ Exchange service. You will get a better exchange rate here as compared to exchange at the airport. Super Rich is one of the most popular money exchange services in Thailand.
|6.Try carrying a multi currency Forex Card|
In Thailand, each time you withdraw money using a Forex card, you’ll be charged a fee of 220 THB and the maximum limit to withdraw at a time is 25,000 THB. This is a great option if you already hold a multiple currency Forex cards. You could also swipe your card wherever possible to avoid withdrawing again and being charged the fee.
|7. Give a shot at street food especially in Bangkok|
As a first time traveller to Thailand, you have got to taste the street food there. It is delicious, well prepared and flavourful. Most vendors prepare meals using fresh ingredients and thousands of locals consume it on a daily basis. The street food across Bangkok is 100% safe in terms of hygiene.
|8. Enjoy cheap beer at the Night Markets|
If you’re into beer and don’t mind an occasional drink, just venture off to any night market across places in Thailand and buy yourself some good beer. It will prove to be super cheap and quite tasteful.
|9. Get access of authentic Indian food in some specific areas|
Areas where you’ll find clusters of Indian restaurants in Bangkok are Pratunam, Little India or Phahurat, and Silom. Must-visit restaurants in these areas are Saras, Anmol Indian Food, Chennai Kitchen and Charcoal.
|10. Don’t order vegetarian food without checking it first|
At most eating places across Thailand, if you order vegetarian food, you almost always end up being served food that has tad bits of meat and fish. This is because being vegetarian in Thailand translates to not eating chunky pieces of meat. Other things like oyster sauce, chicken garnishing, and fish oil are deemed to be okay. So always check your meal before consuming.
|11. Don’t freak out if you receive your shopped goods unpacked|
Ever thought of travelling to a foreign country with almost nothing packed? Well, with Thailand, you can. No kidding. Everything out here starting from bags to shoes to clothes to electronics to cosmetics to cameras is so cheap, that you’ll hardly regret your decision. So don’t worry if your stuff is unpacked.
|12. Keep your knees and shoulders covered at places of worship|
One of the very crucial tips for travelling from Thailand to India is to remember one standard rule: always cover your shoulders and your knees. The most cautiousness you need to display with respect to clothing in Thailand is for when you visit temples. You really do not want to offend the locals in their place of worship, by not dressing appropriately.
|13. Try being a part of a Full Moon Party|
One of the most popular nightlife experiences in other parts of Thailand are the Full Moon Parties at Koh Phangan. These parties are lit, flashy and so much fun. Try to plan your trip around dates when you can be a part of Full Moon parties.
|14. Don’t assume every massage parlour to be sexual|
Just because you’re in Thailand and getting rubbed on with a soothing massage does not mean at all to assume that the massage has a sexual connotation. Yes, Thailand is big on sex tourism but there are legit places for that and not every massage parlour provides it.
|15. Take metered cabs only|
Metered cabs are found across most cities in Thailand especially Bangkok. Make sure that you use metered cabs only when it comes to transport and not ordinary cabs. Else, there will be times when the cab driver pitches 200-300 THB for a mere 10 Km drive.
|16. Respect all elderly Thai locals immensely|
Hierarchy is given extra importance in Thailand. Social status and respect for the elders are prioritised here. Therefore, one of the very essential tips for travelling from India to Thailand would be to respect all elderly locals at all times.
|17. Avoid touching anybody’s head in Thailand|
Touching anybody’s head is seen as hugely offensive in Thailand and therefore do not indulge in that sort of social behaviour. Else, you will be looked down upon badly by people.
|18. Learn basic Thai phrases if you plan to stay for a long duration|
You do not want the language to become a barrier in your Thailand trip. Thus, one of the tips for travelling from India to Thailand is to try to learn and memorise some of the important Thai phrases. Sawatdii means Hello. Sabaidii mai means how are you? Sabaidii means I’m well. Mai sabaii means I’m not well.
A huge part of the Thai economy sustains itself from travel and tourism. So overall, Thailand is a really easy country to travel to even if its your first time. However let me dive deep into every possible kind of tip that might help you in this strange but nice Asian country.
Visa tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Decide the nature of your visa in time
For Indian travellers, two kinds of visa exists – 1) Visa on Arrival (VOA) in case your stay is limited to less than 15 days in Thailand. You can procure this visa from the airport itself 2) Standard Visa in case your stay is more than 30 days in Thailand. For this visa, you’ll have to apply before hand at the Royal Thai Embassy. Its offices lie in 3 Indian metros – Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata.
Thailand Visa on Arrival (VOA) Fee
Documents Required for Thailand Visa
A valid passport, VOA application form, photographs, confirmed return tickets, proof of accommodation, and proof of sufficient funds to support your trip.
Must be 4*cm
In a general scenario, all you need to do is show up at the airport with your passport, a few passport photographs, and 2,000 THB. In case you want to extend your stay beyond 15 days, you can get the same done at the Immigration Bureau.
Currency exchange & withdrawal tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Avoid exchanging or withdrawing money at the airport
The first thing that comes to mind when planning a visit to Thailand is the money issue. Where do I get my money exchanged? What’s the scene with Forex cards? What are Forex card charges in Thailand? Should I exchange money before I travel to Thailand? Should I just withdraw in Thailand instead? Let me answer all these questions for you.
At the Airport
To start with, remember that you need to pay your VOA (Visa on Arrival) fee in baht only (in cases that it isn’t waived off). If you haven’t carried bahts along with you, you could get it exchanged at booths in the customs hall. However, the rates would be relatively higher and it wouldn’t be a good idea to exchange all your money there.
After your visa formalities, you could head to B Floor and visit one of the many currency exchange booths to get better deals.
Outside the Airport
If you’re looking out for the cheapest rates, simply get it done outside of the airport (one of the most crucial tips for travelling from India to Thailand). Super Rich is one of the most popular money exchange services in Thailand.
Alternatively, you could carry a Forex card along with you and simply withdraw at the ATM. Every time you withdraw, you’ll be charged a fee of 220 THB and the maximum limit to withdraw at a time is 25,000 THB.
Money tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Make a reasonable budget plan
As you might have guessed by now, Thailand is extremely cheap as a travel destination. This is one of the principal reasons why it is one of the most visited countries in South East Asia. This particular section will give you a better idea of how much you’d be roughly shelling out for basic necessities while travelling in Thailand.
Return airfare from India to Thailand can cost as little as 7,000 THB if booked at the right time.
A meal by the street: 50 THB
A meal in an inexpensive restaurant: 200 THB
Dining at a high-end restaurant: 400 THB+
A night’s stay in a hostel: 250 THB+
Fancier hotels and resorts: 1000 THB+
A bottle of mineral water (1.5 litres) at the supermarket: 15 THB
Domestic beer (0.5 litres) at the supermarket: 50 THB
Starting fares in cities: 35 THB
Additional kilometre: 10 THB
Fares in most towns: 300 THB per day
Price per litre: 30 THB
As you can see, planning a trip to Thailand on a budget is very much possible. So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets right away, and explore the land of smiles.
Packing tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Pack clothes that don't make you uncomfortable
Overall, you do not have to worry much about how you dress in Thailand. There aren’t any straight-up rules to prohibit anything, but there certainly are unsaid rules about what’s more acceptable and what’s not.
Firstly, considering the fact that most of Thailand experience hot temperatures, it would be a good idea to carry the Bermudas, shorts, cotton shirts, polo t-shirts and summer dresses.
Thailand will also repeatedly offer you the opportunity to take a dip in clear waters at beaches or waterfalls. Make it a point, thus, to always carry a set of swim clothes with you.
The most cautiousness you need to display with respect to clothing in Thailand is for when you visit temples. You really do not want to offend the locals in their place of worship, by not dressing appropriately.
One of the tips for travelling from Thailand to India is to remember one standard rule: always cover your shoulders and your knees.
Collared shirts and shorts that come at least to the knee. Pants would be most preferred.
Tops that cover the shoulders and pants or skirts that are at least knee-length.
In case you’re visiting the North of Thailand, make sure you carry a jacket or two, for temperatures could drop.
Itinerary tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Explore more offbeat locations near Bangkok
While most popular itineraries and tours and travels companies target Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Krabi, Thailand is much more than just that. I made sure that during my 7 months in Thailand, I explored a lot of offbeat places especially around Bangkok.
|Places around Bangkok|
Ayutthaya – a city of ruins
Kanchanaburi – a treasure for history lovers
Erawan – an hour’s drive from Kanchanaburi; magical waterfalls.
Koh Si Chang – a utopian little island not many know of.
Koh Samui, Similan Islands, Koh Lipe – beaches with bluer waters, whiter sands, and lesser crowds.
Chiang Mai – known for its beautiful treks.
Pai – gorges, waterfalls and hot springs amidst gorgeous greens.
Khao Yai – miles and miles of greenery, waterfalls, wildlife, and camping opportunities.
There are thousands of other beautiful destinations in Thailand that are cheaper, and not as commercialised.
Accommodation tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Bunk in backpacking hostels or homestays
Since I was going to stay in Thailand, across places for so many months, I had to bunk myself in a budget stay. What could be better than a backpacking hostel ?
It makes me happy to share with you all that backpacking hostels are super clean, safe and fun across Thailand. Not only do you connect with so many people there but also save a huge amount of money.
In Bangkok, I stayed at the YES KAOSAN BACKPACKING HOSTEL. Not only was I super comfortable but made a lot of friends as well.
Food tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Dig the right eateries across Thailand
On my first night in Thailand, I was clueless. And hungry. Having no knowledge of food apps and delivery services, I simply decided to go for a walk. All this while, I was of the assumption that Mumbai (my hometown) is exploding with street food.
Street Food in Thailand
No matter what part of Thailand you are in, street food will be found in abundance. “Do they never cook at home?” I couldn’t not wonder. I’d walked barely a kilometre, and passed stalls selling all kinds of food – fried rice, noodles, sausages, sautéed veggies, Thai Rotis, fresh fruits, fruit juices, coffee, etc. Just a short walk made me witness a new cuisine altogether – in terms of looks, taste, aroma and fragrance.
International Cuisine in Thailand
I’m simply going to assume that a trip to Thailand necessarily means a trip to Bangkok for all. While trying out authentic Thai food is fun, there’ll definitely be days that you’ll want to play it safe. You’re going to want to eat food you’re familiar with, and food you don’t have to think twice before ordering. Bangkok’s got your back there.
No matter what you’re craving: Spanish paella, Italian spaghetti, Mexican burritos, Indian biryani or Middle Eastern hummus – you’ll be sure to find it in Bangkok’s finest restaurants.
One of the most crucial tips for travelling from India to Thailand is to explore apps like Dineout for any discounts and offers.
Thailand’s Night Markets
Instagram boasts of numerous colourful photographs of night markets in Bangkok. These markets are almost like a bright, vibrant maze of stalls selling all things under the sun – shoes, bags, clothes, wallets, belts, lighters, car parts, and lots of food. Make sure you visit one of these to grab some great food and some cheap beer.
Finding Indian Food in the Land of Smiles
10 days into Thailand, I found myself craving Indian food. I was sure of the fact that Bangkok has a number of Indian restaurants, but was blown away to see how many.
No matter what your budget is, you can enjoy a wholesome Indian meal in Bangkok. Areas where you’ll find clusters of Indian restaurants in Bangkok are Pratunam, Little India or Phahurat, and Silom.
There’s a total of 2 branches in Bangkok, and their wide range of dishes will leave you confused as hell. Rajasthani thalis, chaat, dosas, kachoris, vada pav, classic dal and roti; you name it, they have it.
Price Range: 200-300 THB per person on an average.
Anmole Indian Food
Imagine typical cheap thali-type restaurants in commercial office areas in India? Those are the exact vibes you’ll get once you enter this little food joint. Food’s as cheap as it can get, and you cannot miss its delicious (unlimited) vegetarian thali.
Price Range: 99 THB for the thali.
Located in Silom, this little restaurant is run by an old South Indian lady, who almost made me feel like I was being fed by my own mother. The crispy Rava masala dosa was probably one of the best I’ve had in my life.
Price Range: 200 THB per person on an average.
If you’re in the mood to spend some bucks, head to Charcoal, a fine-dine Indian restaurant. They also have a great variety of wines in addition to the delicious and authentic Indian food.
Price Range: Minimum 300 THB per person on an average.
In addition to these restaurants, there are hundreds of more you could choose to explore. If there’s a gem you manage to find, leave it in the comments section at the end of the blog.
Also keep in mind that you won’t find Indian restaurants across all of Thailand. Bangkok is an exception because it caters to a huge Indian population.
What’s for Vegetarians in Thailand?
On navigating my way through one of the local markets in Thailand, I was convinced that Thailand is blessed with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. I told myself that even in the worst of situations, I could survive by munching on bread and fruits.
Doable? Not really. You cannot possibly live on just that for months. Well, at least I can’t. The very next day, I found myself awkwardly pointing out at meaty things at a street-side stall, trying to tell the lady in her late 60’s all the things I do not eat.
The reason why I did that, and not just use Google Translate was because of the Thai conceptualisation of Vegetarianism. Being vegetarian in a number of Asian countries would translate to not eating chunky pieces of meat. Other things like oyster sauce, chicken garnishing, and fish oil are deemed to be okay.
I nervously waited for my food to come. I was soon ushered to a wooden table with a low wooden stool. A steamy plate, heaped with rice and sautéed veggies made it to my table. It was delicious, and I do not remember the last time I felt fuller – both physically and emotionally.
Tips for Travelling from India to Thailand as a Vegetarian
|A Mobile Application|
Download “Happy Cow,” an application that helps you look for vegetarian and vegan restaurants in your vicinity. It is available for free on Android devices and at a nominal cost on Apple.
Always keep an eye out for Thai desserts being sold on the streets and in night markets. You generally do not have to worry about meat being present in these cases, and it’s certainly a good change.
|A Vegetarian Festival|
Generally celebrated in the month of October, this vegetarian festival is practice all across Thailand. Most restaurants and convenience stores even offer a wider range of vegetarian food items over these 10 days.
|The Vegetarian Symbol|
Instead of the universal green symbol, look for the Thai symbol implying “vegetarian.” You can google it to see what it looks like.
Vegetarian food can certainly be found and consumed in Thailand. You simply need to be more alert, and less picky.
Transport tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Use metered cabs, ferries and buses more
Commuting from point A to point B is relatively simple and cheap in Thailand. While in Bangkok, you will have endless transport options to choose from.
Metered cabs can be found all across the city quite conveniently.
Tip: Make sure that the cab is a metered one, and that the driver is not charging you a fixed rate.
There were times that we’ve been pitched 200-300 THB for a mere 10-kilometre drive. Say no, or look for another cab in that case.
Alternatively, you could download the Grab App on your smartphones – a substitute for Uber/Ola in Thailand. I personally find them to be more expensive, but they could prove to be a convenient option at times
Tip: You can also opt for the motorbike taxi, not just for the experience but to cruise past the unending traffic in Bangkok.
In case you’re travelling alone and do not wish to spend on cabs, Bangkok also offers a BTS Skytrain in the Sukhumvit and Silom areas. These are hard-core tourist areas, thus making it a reliable and economical option to commute especially for tourists.
Additionally, an underground MRT subway intersects the BTS at multiple points, offering commuters greater convenience in terms of reaching their destinations.
Bangkok also has a well-connected network when it comes to buses.
The first-ever bus that I took in Bangkok, cost me a mere 7 baht. Yes, that’s right. Google Maps are pretty helpful to get information on buses, or you could simply ask the locals.
Lastly, ferries run along the Chao Phraya River, transporting thousands of people on a daily basis. They are a great and pocket-friendly option.
You must take the ferry at least once, just for the experience.
I’ve caught some of the most beautiful sunsets while on these rides, and these ferries are undoubtedly a blessing during peak hours.
For long-distance travel, you can opt for 1) Trains 2) Mini Vans/Buses. Although trains are cheaper, the buses are faster and also more popular.
Safety tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Don't venture into lonely places and deserted beaches
If you’re travelling solo, try not to catch so much attention to yourself by being rowdy or rude. Respect the place and its people. The more polite you’ll be the more the locals will help you out in times of need. If you’re travelling in a group, don’t end up misbehaving with the locals at any point in time. Not even during your visit to any nightclub.
Your safety lies in your own hands especially in the way you behave. People in general around Thailand are very hospitable and so don’t mess with them. Instead try being a part of their community.
Party tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Buy booze from 7 Elevens if you want to go party
Bangkok equates wild partying in most people’s heads.
It’s true. On a Tuesday night, I headed to one of the ‘happening areas’ of Bangkok at night. Trust me when I say this, I haven’t even seen Saturday nights back in Bombay (my hometown) as lit. Happy hours, live music, good food, and great crowds in almost each and every bar lined the street.
Some of the must-visit streets in Bangkok:
A backpacker’s hub, cheap bars and clubs.
A quieter and calmer version of Khao San.
|Sukhumvit Soi 11|
Some great bars, great cocktails, great live music.
Multiple streets with artsy cafes and wonderful bars.
Here, there’s something for everyone
What’s best is that Thailand’s nightlife is not just restricted to Bangkok, but also to North and South Thailand. No matter what part of Thailand you’re headed to, nights won’t be boring.
One of the most popular nightlife experiences in other parts of Thailand are the Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan. I had the opportunity to be a part of one such kickass full moon party arranged by a local agent. I was new in the place so I needed an agent to fix me up. You too can go for it. It was quite the value for money.
Massage tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Do not spend more than 300 THB on a Thai massage
It’s possible that you’re a little sceptical about getting the massage done, even though you really want to. A number of questions could be baffling you – do I keep my clothes on? What if the massage is too harsh and causes pain? Will it be in an enclosed room?
In most parlours, you will be given a set of loose, comfortable and clean clothes. While it is generally optional to change into it, you will only have a better experience if you do.
Next, and also the most important, in case you find the massage to be too harsh on your body, you need to ask them to be gentler. Everybody has a different body, and you being vocal about what feels good and what doesn’t will not only help the masseuse but also yourself.
|Full body Thai massage in average parlours|
|Oil massage in average parlours|
|Full Body Thai massage in luxury parlours|
500 THB +
Thai massages sometimes have an assumed sexual connotation. That can make massage. Well, interesting and awkward. To avoid such encounters or services you do not desire, stay out of the shady areas or just make things clear right at the start.
Social tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Follow the unspoken social etiquette in Thailand
Travelling to a country that’s as culturally-rich as Thailand might require some homework. You do not want to engage in any behaviour or gesture that is considered rude by the locals. One of the most important tips for travelling from India to Thailand is to do some prior research on the subject.
So, read on to find out what you must do and what should be avoided –
1.Being confrontational, and overtly honest and critical might not be taken too well by Thais.
2.The Thai national anthem is played at 8 am and 6 pm in some public places. It would be great if you could show respect by standing still for those 2-3 minutes.
3.Cover your head and shoulders when visiting religious or sacred places.
4.Talking about the King or politics openly isn’t appreciated.
5.Whenever you enter someone’s home, remove your shoes unless specified otherwise.
6.The word khun is added before the first name as a symbol of respect.
7.Touching someone’s head is the last thing you’d want to do.
Must-Know Thai Phrases for gaining respect socially
You do not want the language to become a barrier in your travels. One of the tips for travelling from India to Thailand is to try to learn and memorise some of these important Thai phrases.
How are you: Sabaidii mai?
I’m well: Sabaidii
I’m not well: Mai sabaii
No: Mai chaii
Thank you: Khob khun
Sorry: Khot hort
I don’t speak Thai: Pood thai mai dai
Note that Thai is a difficult language to learn. You do not need to get intimidated if you don’t seem to remember the words right. However, do give it a shot. The locals will be pleased to hear you say a word in Thai.
Shopping tips for travelling from India to Thailand
Top Tip: Save money by saying NO to packings
There have been times that I’ve come back home handed because there were just so many options. (PS: doesn’t happen to all, I’m just a bad shopper.)
Must-visit markets/malls in Bangkok:
The biggest weekend market in the world; you can buy anything and everything at dirt cheap prices out there.
The Platinum Mall
Imagine floors and floors of shoes, bags and clothes.
Rod Fai Market
Seen those colourful Instagram photographs of night markets, hustling with tourists, locals and vendors selling all kinds of stuff?
Need to buy cameras? Laptops? Mobile phones? Chargers? Spare parts? Head to MBK.
Out of all the south-east Asian countries I’ve visited, Thailand is undoubtedly my favourite. Contrary to popular belief, Thailand is much more than just pretty beaches – mountains, hikes, treks, waterfalls, national parks, it has it all.
Despite having spent 7 months in this beautiful country, I could not manage to see all that I wanted to. I guess that’s the reason why it keeps calling out to me – over and over again. I hope that these tips for travelling from India to Thailand prove to be useful to all of you curious travellers out there.
Happy Wayfaring 🙂
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