Thailand checks all the must-have boxes for backpackers; affordable, beautiful, safe, and never, ever cold. You might have seen photos of the white-sand beaches and bustling streets and frollicking elephants and mouth-watering food. It may be hard to believe, but there's so much more to experience.
While the Land of Smiles certainly deserves every ounce of credit for all of these things, it remains a world away from the where many of us call home. So before your Thailand tour begins, we thought we’d mention a few things to keep in mind before you arrive to help avoid any unexpected surprises.
What to Expect From The Weather
Thailand is smack dab in the middle of one of the warmest, most humid climates on the planet. That’s the whole point, right? Warm weather and perfect beaches. But what you don’t see in those glamorized photos tagged with #wanderlust and #paradise, is how hot it can actually get here. It sits just atop the equator and temperature rarely dips below 25 ºC (77 ºF). While it will be hot year-round, there is a rainy season - from July to October - when it will rain almost daily but usually just in short, heavy spurts.
So in short, you will be hot, sweaty and sticky. Luckily, we planned accordingly here at BTT. Your transport and accommodation is all AC’d (aside from the night train, one night camping in Erawan National Park, and the floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park), you can swim in nearly every stop along the way, and we think you’ll agree no one wants to spend a week at the beach without a bit of warmth and sunshine! Read more on what to expect from the weather.
Along with these balmy conditions comes all the furry, slimy, slippery creatures you’d expect to find in a region with jungle-like climate conditions. Geckos, ants, frogs, mosquitoes, crickets, moths, and cockroaches; the chances are you will see them all along the way. For some, this is no problem and only adds to the excitement. Others may not be so keen on unwelcomed visitors. Aside from the mosquitoes, the others will all leave you alone and after your first couple days you will realize this is just part of life in this part of the world. Rather, it’s all part of the experience!
Stay Connected But Have Fun
As with the AC, you will have access to wifi at most places during the tour. You have plenty of time to upload all those incredible photos and videos and keep in touch with everyone back home. Just know that the wifi in Thailand is unpredictable. So when or if a case of spotty wifi strikes, don’t fret! Use this time to talk with your travel mates and get to know one another. You only have a limited amount of time with them and it would be a shame to look back and regret spending most of your time thumbing through your phone
For Your Mate’s Sake
Three weeks sounds like a long time but it flies by. The best way you and your group can make the most of your time is to keep track of time. The wake up times are reasonably late because we know this is your holiday and some nights may actually end quite early in the morning. The main point: Try to be on time as this could lead to less time enjoying activities which is unfair to the rest of the group.
If you’re not feeling up for an activity or just want some extra rest, no problem! Just let us know so everyone else doesn’t end up waiting for a group member that has no intention of joining. Remember, this is your tour and your time to do with as you please but try not to eat into everyone else’s time along the way.
One more note on being a good roommate: please don’t flush toilet paper or anything else down the toilet. We will make sure to remind everyone about this when we first meet and do our introductions but this can result in some rather messy situations if this is ignored. The plumbing in Thailand is not what it is western countries and septic tanks are basically non-existent. Toilets will clog and messes will be made if this does occur. There will be bins next to every toilet and though this might seem a bit odd for newcomers, using them will save from overflowing toilets and the need to call maintenance or move rooms.
You have 23 meals included in your tour. Many of these meals are breakfast that will be a simple yet filling Western style meal of eggs, toast and coffee. Breakfast is served until 9:30 or 10AM most days providing one more reason to rise and shine to prepare for your day.
For foodies, Thailand is second best to none. You can eat like royalty without ever spending more than £5GBP / $7USD per day on lunch and dinner - perfect for travellers on a budget! Not only will you get the chance to sample a variety of Thai specialties throughout your BTT tour, you will also learn how to make your own traditional Thai dishes.
Reasonably, your first question might be: “But is it safe to eat on the street?” Our best advice is to use caution. Don’t eat food that looks like it has been sitting for long periods of time, wasn’t good fresh in front of you or meat that has been sitting in direct sunlight. And it goes without saying, don’t ever drink water from the tap. Water served in restaurants or by street vendors will be clean but it is never a bad idea to go with bottled water purchased from 7Eleven - found on nearly every street corner in the country.
Our staff eats street food almost daily but our bodies are also used to the natural enzymes and proteins found in the food in this part of the country. Actually, we prefer this to a sit down restaurant. It is fast, cheap, and authentic. And not to worry, Western food is almost always an option and there are plenty of opportunities to get the familiar tastes of home whenever the desire strikes.
Full Moon Party, Optional Extras
We offer two optional extra activities during your tour and your tour guide will offer you more during your free time. Do not feel pressured to join either of these activities. We provide the option but it’s completely up to you. The Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan and rock climbing in Krabi. Many of our tour members choose to go to the Full Moon Party with our tour guide and on our buses for a price of 3000THB (£60 / $85USD). Included in this price is transport from Krabi on the west coast of Thailand across the mainland by luxury bus to the pier, all boats, transport to Haad Rin Beach where the party is held and entrance fee to the party itself. Then, the return trip back to Krabi. We understand many travellers are on a tight budget so if you’d like to seek an alternative way to get to the Full Moon Party, a quick Google Search will provide much of the information you’ll need - and we’re always here to help.
There might be days on the tour when you don’t get as much sleep as you’d like, that hangover just won’t go away or a bout of homesickness sets in, but try to stay positive! Positivity breeds positivity and vice versa. We are all about open-mindedness and good times here at BTT and that is more challenging when one group member or a small group divides the group with grumbles and moans.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be a few unexpected surprises along the way or that you shouldn’t let us know if there is a problem - we want this to be your best three weeks ever and will do everything in our power to make that happen. But, in the end, none of these surprises will ever outweigh the experiences you will have here, the places you’ll go or the incredible people you’ll meet if you meet each day with a smile and an open mind.