I've decided 2014 is the year I actually bite the bullet and do some proper travelling. My plan is to head over to Thailand for 4-5 weeks after I finish my degree in May (looking like end of May/start of June to July), and I have a couple of things that I certainly want to do, but beyond that I'm stuck. I should point out this is day 1 following my decision to do this trip, so I do have a lot more research to do!
My budget is up to £2000. I definitely want to get a Sak Yant tattoo at Wat Bang Phra (about 30 odd miles NW out of Bangkok), and I would really like to get my PADI OW certificate in Koh Tao. I appreciate they are some way apart! I'll be travelling alone.
Could y'all give me any pointers/ guidance on what else to do? Love food and wouldn't mind some cooking lessons if you've got recommendations? Where do you wish you had gone the first time round? Is £2000 even a realistic budget for 4-5 weeks?
Good for you for making the decision to travel.
Your budget should be fine. If you assume maybe Â£600 for your return flight, Â£300 for the Padi course, and Â£100-120 for insurance and possibly a visa (as you'll need to get a visa if you want to stay more than 30 days in Thailand, or do a visa border run) and that will leave you a daily budget of Â£30-31 (assuming 5 weeks), which is perfectly adequate for decent budget accommodation, food, sightseeing, local transport, and a few drinks.
In terms of what to do, you'll be spoilt for choice, and you've got sufficient time to explore a decent chunk of country. Your research will undoubtedly throw up tonnes of ideas - have fun!
Yeah, sounds real good to me. I think your budget is okay, your initial itinerary is fine and after Tao there is a lot of choice.
The most COST effective way to reach Tao is train it to Chumpon (an overnight sleeper will also save a night's accommodation) and hop on a ferry to Tao. Lomprayah's bus/fast catamaran is probably almost as cheap but many people find sleep difficult on buses.
The cheapest AIRCRAFT/FERRY way is also via Chumpon. A relatively new outfit which Google will find no problems is flying into Chumpon. Chumpon is a lot closer to Tao than Samui.[/fred]
However Bangkok Air and other carriers into Samui have more flights and Lomprayah tends to have a coach waiting at the airport for free transport to the pier. My last trip to Tao this July I took advantage of that although I flew in from Phuket, not Bangkok.
After Toa I'd be jumping on a ferry for Ko Nangyuan. This island is big enough to offer a beach for anyone from party animals to those seeking the laid-back. Tell me what you are interested in and I can make suggestions.
Um, suggesting Phangan seems NOT "a lot of choice" as suggested above. Well it actually is because there are so many beaches. But if A LOT means islands you could always move on to Samui (which despite the naysayers has some nice locations) OR head to the Andaman. Railay/Ao Nang/Krabi is easiest followed by Phuket, Ko Jum. Ko Lanta and Ko Phi Phi in that order.
In no particular order...
- Keep things simple - don't plan every day of your trip.
- Know that each time you travel to a new destination it will take the better part of a day.
- Don't be afraid to eat the street food.
- Drink, have fun, but keep your wits about you.
- Bring cash, debit card and a credit card - stash $100 in the bottom of your backpack for any emergency.
- Learn how to say 'thank you' and 'please' in Thai.
- Put everything you think you need to take in your backpack a couple of days before - then take out 1/3 - and leave it at home.
- Stay positive and keep smiling.
- Respect local customs.
- Bring some extra cash for the diving. After you get your open water it is highly likely that you'll want to do some more dives. Depending on where you are - plan for $70-$100US per day.
- Have travel insurance!
And...try to enjoy every moment because the time will fly by!
Just want to add one more thing:
Why you wanna do your OWD on Tao? Tao is diving industry, lots of people come fast and go fast. From what I have heard not really good for individual treat.
I did my SSI OWD in Ao Nang . LOts of nice and not overcrowded diving spots, good diving schools and individual courses. We were 2 and had one instructor. So we had a very individual course and it was not overexpensive.
So google a little about Ko Tao and maybe you will head for diving to Ao Nang and area :-)
Thanks so much for the quick replies! I'm really pleased my budget seems reasonable- I think that was probably my biggest worry starting off. I'm meant to be writing an essay right now, so naturally I'm going to start doing my research on Thailand instead. A couple of friends have recommended a load of places to check out too, so I'm going to sift through all of that before tentatively putting an itinerary up on here in a few days. Great advice on making sure I leave enough time for travel- probably something I would have underestimated. I think that's why I'm just visiting one country this time- I wanted to make sure I had the time to really see it and enjoy myself along the way. I'm just after an easy life!
@freiburger If I'm honest, PADI would be my personal choice over SSI. Nothing against SSI at all, I had genuinely never heard of it before your post, and I've always had it in my head that when I start getting my diving certs, it would be through PADI. Also, from a quick 30 min read up online last night, Koh Tao seems to be a reasonably decent, reasonably priced place for beginners to learn. Of course there are a few negative comments, but so far they are outweighed by positive ones. However that's the whole reason for me joining Travel Fish- to gain guidance and insight from people who have been there and done it. I'll have a look at Ao Nang and other areas and see what feels right!
Thanks all for the reassurance and useful advice so far!