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soc.culture.thai Travel FAQ
Section - T.6) General observations and recommendations

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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 1994 08:59:01 -0800 (PST)
From: Putnam Barber <>

> What's the local currency converted to US dollars?

Thai baht are stable at a little over 25 to the US$.

[Editor's Note: In mid-1997, the Bank of Thailand floats exchange rates for
 the Baht currency. The "mid" rates for forex can be found at the URL ]

> What's the normal price to pay for a room?

In Thailand, rooms can range from 60 baht to several thousand. 
The key variables are (1) air-con or not, (2) bathroom (and style thereof)
or not.  We have had the best luck staying in 20+ year-old poured concrete
hotels near the centers of towns and taking the non-air-con room with a
private bath. These usually cost 150 to 250 baht per night (outside of
Bangkok) with one bottle of water, two towels (thin) and a roll of toilet
paper, maybe the tiniest bar of soap you ever saw.  You sometimes need to
ask for one or another of these 'amenities'.  The "Lonely Planet Travel
Survival Guide - Thailand" lists one or more of this style hotel in nearly
every city. 

> How's the food? Good/bad, expensive/cheap?

There's every imaginable choice.  Sold from carts.  Sold from 
open-air storefronts.  Sold in outdoor garden restaurants.  Sold in 
air-con restaurants with menus in English, Chinese and Thai.  When you 
feel brave, go to the open-storefront restaurant where police, 
military or bank people are eating.  When you feel cautious, look for a 
food court in a department store -- they serve basically the same food, 
but in a place with much more visible surface sanitation and (usually) 
air conditioning.  The food courts I saw worked with coupons.  You buy 
them at the door and pay the food vendor (there are usually several).  
Any unused coupons can be redeemed where you bought them (I 
think).  Air-con restaurants are cold, and usually quite expensive, and a 
nice break from the hustle of the street.

    The street vendors specialize.  Noodles _or_ rice, seldom both.  One 
kind of meat or fish, sometimes two.  You make your selection by choosing 
which cart to go to depending on the food you prefer.  I recommend chicken 
with noodles in a thin soup and banana fritters.  

    Most things to eat in Thailand are quite inexpensive.  A signal 
exception is beer, which costs 45 baht a (large) bottle in small stores 
and can be up to 100 baht ($4) in restaurants.  I'm amused to say that in 
my notes from our recent trip there are many days where beer is nearly 
half of our total day's expenses -- :-)  .

> Any nice places to stop by on the way? 

Lots.  There are too many wonderful places to have much fun trying to
cover 'all' the territory in a short time.  It depends what you like.  I
suggest the "Lonely Planet" (or another detailed) guide as a good pre-trip
read.  And best is choosing one or two places to stay for 2-3 nights and
days before moving on if you have to.  I love wandering the streets and
markets of Thai cities -- each has a different character which takes a
while to see under the bustle, the 'coke' signs, and the crowds of
minibikes and pickups.  The countryside is harder, there aren't very many
places to stay, transport takes flexibility and creativity (sometimes
something close to courage, too).  The distances can be quite surprisingly
long.  There are though lots and lots of buses and wonderful helpful
people.  Plus taxis are surprisingly cheap and people sometimes use them
for very long trips (I saw one from Bangkok with a couple in the back a
few kilos outside Buriram, nearly 500 K from 'home'!). 

Of course, some people go to Thailand to spend time on beautiful beaches 
at relatively low prices.  That's a very sensible thing to to do.  The 
beaches are beautiful.  The prices are relatively low.  After some time 
there, though, I've come to enjoy the communities more and more.  I guess 
I'd encourage everyone to save a little time for exploring one of the 
cities outside of Bangkok.

From: Alan Cooper (
Date: Unknown

     I recommend avoiding resort/tourist areas during holidays. We visited
     Phuket, Phi Phi, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan last month during the New
     Year holiday. It was *very* crowded and difficult to find lodging,
     transportation (plane, train, bus or boat). Prices (especially in
     Phuket) were inflated 2-3X. At the dock in Surat tourists were being
     warned not to go to the islands (Koh Samui & Phangan) if they didn't
     have prearranged lodging.

     On the other hand, holidays are a good time to tour Bangkok. Fewer
     people and less traffic.

     Something I've seen no mention of on SCT is drug use in resort areas.
     I realize that this is part of the attraction for some but others are
     looking for places to take families. They should be advised that this
     sort of thing goes on.

     At the resort where we stayed on Koh Phangan an employee was openly
     selling marijuana to mostly young foreign guests. These guests would
     then smoke it every chance they got including in the restaurant during
     breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other Thai and foreign families staying
     there agreed that this made it a not very desirable place for a family
     holiday and would not come back. The owner was aware that there was
     more profit to be had from vacationing families vs. young foreigners,
     but apparently did not see the connection between their promotion of
     marijuana use and discouraging family vacations. I wish they would have
     at least advised discretion and not allowed marijiuana smoking in the

     Only once did I see someone suggest to a tourist that they put out
     their joint. A waiter at a dockside restaurant on Koh Phangan pointed
     out to a table of tourists that a policeman was nearby and smoking
     marijuana was inadvisable. The tourists got the message.

     Towns along he Mekong river between Ubon and Nong Khai have always been
     favorites of mine. Mukdahan has a thriving riverfront tourist market
     with lots of goods from from Laos, China and Vietnam. The (rebuilt)
     temple at That Phanom has a well organized museum with many signs in
     English as well as Thai. I don't remember there being any museum when I
     first visited That in 1973. Nakhon Phanom remains relatively untouched
     by tourism. There is a new tourist-class hotel, the Mae Nam Kong Grand
     View which may mark the beginning of change, but Nakhon Phanom remains
     a great place to sit and watch the river.

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