Is 2 Months In Thailand Too Long For A First Time Traveller To Asia?
Written by Jaillan Yehia
Savoir Solves is a new section where I answer readers and friends travel questions and dilemmas.
This week the question is from friend and reader Andrea, from Vancouver, Canada, who has booked her first trip to Thailand and is feeling apprehensive. She asks whether 2 months is too long to spend in Thailand.
Travel Question About Travel in Thailand, from Andrea of Vancouver, BC:
‘I was planning to go to Southeast Asia next year for a month and booked flights to Thailand – but I accidentally booked for 2 months instead of 1 – I’m not sure how that happened! I was already worried about going to Asia alone and now I’m wondering, is 2 months in Thailand too long for a solo female traveller?
My first instinct on hearing you have 2 months in Thailand planned is excitement – and jealousy. I’ve spent long periods of time in Southeast Asia as a single female traveller myself, and usually found that I’ve wanted to extend my stay, so I’d like to put your mind at rest straight away and say no, I don’t personally think 2 months in Thailand is too long.
Thailand has the most developed tourist infrastructure in Southeast Asia, and while it’s totally natural to be nervous about going somewhere new and far away, especially somewhere with a totally different culture, I am confident that you’ll find travelling in Thailand to be far easier than you may expect – and the last thing you will be is bored.
Tourism in Thailand is booming – according to the latest figures the Land of Smiles welcomed over 32 million foreign tourists last year and the number of people choosing to holiday in Thailand is on the rise – so you’re not the only person to have decided that being surrounded by stunning Buddhist temples, delicious street food and paradise beaches sounds like a good way to spend a few weeks.
I’d also urge you to resist the temptation to micromanage your itinerary – during the research phase it can be tempting to plan every single day, out of a fear of the unknown, but the freedom to go with the flow and head wherever the mood takes you is a powerful thing – and I’ve found nowhere is this more enjoyable than in Southeast Asia.
You’ve told me that you’re older than the average backpacker so I would advise mixing up stays in small boutique hotels with well-designed hostels – it’s often possible to book a private room in a hostel so that you get the best of both worlds and have privacy and the chance to meet like-minded travellers if you’re feeling sociable. That being said travelling totally solo in Thailand is considered to be very safe.
Thailand is fully geared up for tourists and often represents great value for money to Western visitors, so you’ll find that your Canadian dollars go a long way there, meaning that two months in Thailand shouldn’t be too much of a stretch if you’re savvy with your cash. Make sure you look for the best Thai baht exchange rate for your cash spending, and make use of special credit cards designed for foreign spending to maximise your money, as well as getting a local sim card. You definitely don’t want to stay on a canadian data plan in Thailand for 2 months!
Once the more expensive elements of your trip like the flights and travel insurance are taken care of, staying on in Thailand for an extra week or two can be done on a minimal budget so maybe your accidental booking of the extra month was serendipitous?
There’s a pretty well-trodden path for backpackers in Thailand and you may want to head to some of these spots – or frankly, you may want to avoid them, this depends on your preference. The full moon party scene is certainly not for everyone. But even if you’re not a city person you’ll want to spend at least a couple of days exploring Bangkok’s attractions like the Grand Palace, and the ultra modern side of the city.
Even if you just spent your two months in Thailand seeing the ‘highlights’ you’d be pushed. Let’s say you spent a week in Phuket, Koh Samui, Chang Mai, Chang Rai, a few days in Bangkok and then picked a couple of other places that suit your interests – for example Kanchanaburi to see The bridge over the River Kwai, Ko Tao if you’re keen to try world class diving, or a national park if you are after some jungle scenery. As you can see it would be easy to spend the entire time exploring the country, to say nothing of the 2600 km of coastline.
But I would really recommend that you use Thailand as a base to explore more of Southeast Asia as it’s your first time in the region.
There are plenty of cheap flights available from Thailand to neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam as well as farther afield to Indonesia, Taiwan or Sri Lanka, and each of these nations has something totally unique to offer. Airlines like Nok Air and Bangkok Airways make air travel in Asia accessible, and with the advance notice you have to plan flights, you can look out for special offers and promo fares which can be an absolute bargain.
You may also find it easier to get away from the ‘scene’ in Thailand by visiting some of the countries that tend to attract a different crowd and it’s well worth dipping your toe into a handful of countries to see which you feel an affinity for, so you can start planning your next trip to Southeast Asia. And I suspect you’ll book for 3 months next time – on purpose.
If you have experience travelling in Thailand do add a comment with your experiences or tips to help Andrea out!
And if you have a travel question or dilemma and would like me to answer it simply email [email protected] with Savoir Solves in the subject line.
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