Oh Thailand, there is nowhere quite like it. If there is one thing you can count on it is that you will always leave with stories to tell. A common story you will hear is how people get from point A to point B. If you are like us, blind faith and budget friendly (read: cheap) alternatives is what you tend to turn to.
The best way to get the most out of your vacation is to travel smart. How do we do this? Layovers! We get two trips for the price of one.
So you know how at home travel agents are these big corporate businesses in a mall with four walls, chairs and you leave with a bunch of documentation confirming all of your purchases. Ya, not in Thailand. Booking your travels in Thailand is a bit more casual with small cubicles of people telling you to leave your bag with them and the promise that a bus will come pick you up at a certain time to take you where you need to go.
On our most recent trip Myles and I booked from a travel agent in Bangkok that told us to be back at 5:00 pm for a bus that leaves at 6:00 pm. We were told the overnight bus will take us to a pier in the south of Thailand and arrive for 6:00 am and that the ferry will depart at 7:00 am to take us to Koh Tao for a 9:00 am arrival.
While sleeping on the bus we woke up to someone screaming “Koh Tao, Koh Phanagan get out”. Obeying our orders we wiped the sleep from our eyes and stumbled down the stairs to see our bags lying on the ground. Before we could ask what time it was or where we were the bus pulled out of the driveway and left.
Looking at our watch we saw that it was only 2:00 am. With no idea where we were but with water in sight we agreed to accept that we just arrived early and all would work itself out. Making friends with the few other people that were in our same boat we were able to watch the most spectacular sun rise while playing in the ocean. In the end we got to Koh Tao, no harm no foul. Just a lot of blind faith.
A taxi is a common way to get around a big city in Thailand. Before you hop in be sure you are on the same page as the driver as to cost. A flat rate is normally a bad idea, insisting on the meter is almost guaranteed to get you a lower rate even in rush hour.
When organizing for a taxi to pick you up at a later date it is typically for an agreed upon price. In our case it was in Phuket and we were trying to organize a taxi to take us to the airport at 5:00 am the next morning. Like two very responsible adults we were on a midnight hunt for what we knew would be our last iced coffee in Thailand.
We just happened to stumble on a man in the street that said he was a taxi driver. Good enough for us we put all our trust in this man, told him where we were staying and hoped like hell that come morning time he would be there.
Myles had all the doubts constantly telling me: “There is no way that guy is going to come tomorrow. We are for sure going to miss our flight.”. I would respond with a simple “Thailand has never let me down before”.
The next morning, after checking out of our hotel our taxi driver showed up. He happily greeted us with a smile in the most blinged out van I had ever seen.
We had no idea what we were in store for.
Let’s just say he was a wild driver. While watching fast and the furious he was weaving through traffic as fast as his van could go. Literally, he had a limiter that would beep if he went too fast. Not only did he get us there, but we got there in half the time. Let’s just say one of us was on the edge of her seat. Only in Thailand.
The rules are simple here, there are only two. The first, rates should be agreed upon before starting your trip. The second, keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle and hold on for dear life!
My personal favourite way of exploring the country. At around $8 CAD for 24 hours you can’t beat the price. Renting a scooter gives you the ultimate freedom to go anywhere and everywhere. You will also fit in with the locals (everyone scooters in Thailand). While the driving in Thailand is admittedly crazy, once you get used to it you realize that it is incredibly organized form of complete chaos.
Keep in mind that according to Thai law you should have an international scooter license in order to drive one. With that being said, no one listens to that law. If you do get caught in a road block or get pulled over for whatever reason don’t worry. You will just be forced to pay the cops off.
When scootering around Phuket we got caught in a road block. A mere $20 CAD payoff later and we were free to go. We were given a note that said we no longer had to pay if we fell into anymore trouble.
There is one catch: crashing the bike. If you crash your bike the fees they will charge you are astronomical. We traveled with a friend who crashed his bike and had to pay 16,000 THB ($640 CAD) for a few scratches and a broken mirror. Ouch. Be sure to take a video of the bike before you rent. This way you can protect yourself. You will have proof of the condition when you return the bike.
Thailand is one wild ride no matter which form of transportation you choose. With trust and some common sense you are bound to leave smiling and with a great story to tell.
Have you ever been to Thailand? If so I am sure you have stories, share them below!