Read this before booking your trip to Thailand 🐘❤️✈️
While I was in Thailand so many people had questions about the overall trip that this blog post was a must for me to do in order to save you all from making any mistakes + planning accordingly.
Travel Docs: you don’t need a visa to travel to Thailand, but if you plan on having a layover for over twenty four hours in another country please research their visa policies. Make sure to bring a color copy of your passport since you're required to carry one at all times while in Thailand. I say make a copy so that you can leave your passport in the hotel while exploring and don't lose it. While Thailand is beautiful who wants to end up getting stuck in Thailand and having to buy a whole new flight? Not I!
Necessary Items: when packing make sure to bring Asian electrical adaptors since none of your US electrical items will fit in their Asian plugs. Bring a back up battery since your cell phone will be searching for service the whole time and will be drained before you leave your hotel. Also there’s really no CVS or Sephora stores at every corner to shop at so all your toiletries and makeup must come with you. You can also bring with you some snacks to throw in your bag or bring down to the pool if you’re not trying to order a full meal every time.
Flight: weflew from New York’s JFK into Shanghai and then took a second flight to Phuket. Our China Eastern flight to Shanghai was my longest flight I've ever taken at fourteen hours long. While it was wide body plane which was 10 seats across, the seats were very small. The overhead compartments on the other hand were huge AND we got breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. The second flight from Shanghai to Phuket was about four hours long in a smaller Shanghai Air plane.
Layover: make sure you want to visit the city where your layover is. There's plenty of options such as as Shanghai, Dubai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, but make sure that when booking your flight the layover gives you enough to time to make your next flight because the airport at Shanghai is HUGE and it can easily take you a good hour plus to get to your next terminal. Also, make sure your layover is not too long, we picked an 11 hour layover to explore and felt like it was a total waste of time. We had a layover in Shanghai and the cultural differences made us a target to folks who had have never possibly seen black or brown people. We were harassed the entire time for photos, our personal space was invaded like non other and many event touched our braids without asking. And we all know, touching the hair is a big NO-NO!
Money Exchange: I exchanged my US dollars at the airport in Phuket and later saw exchange places and ATM machines all over town. The exchange rate $1 for 30 Thai Bahts, so be ready to use your math skills when trying to calculate your purchases. Your US credit cards will work, but most establishments won't accept US dollars. Just take enough cash with you to exchange or you can also use an ATM which will dispense in Thai Baht.
Accommodations: we stayed in what I can say was the nicest looking hotel when I searched online: Kalima Resort & Spa. The building was clean and appeared new. The Thai staff was friendly and you can get an amazing view of the city and the ocean. Their infinity pool is like non other I've ever experienced and the hotel food is comparable to a restaurant. The hotel allows you to bring down bottles to the pool area, so hit up Duty Free for some liquor.
Tipping: local service people are extremely grateful for tips, but they don't come off pushy or aggressive towards demanding of a tip. Some people I spoke to told me they make $10 a week, so a couple of dollars will put a smile on most wait staff and cab drivers' faces.
Time Difference: you will be a whole entire day ahead at some points, so if you're big into social media, make sure to only post at night once back in the hotel room. This way people back home aren't sleeping and miss all your amazing photos. When you're awake, America is sleeping.
Internet: my hotel and all restaurants I visited had WiFi and I really didn’t feel like I struggled with phone service will there. My LTE service was spotty most of the time, so don't really depend on your carrier to come through.
TV/Radio: I watched no television or listened to radio while I was in Phuket. Most music I heard was played in taxi cabs and it was always traditional Thai music. Definitely download some playlists that you can play without wi-fi + bring a portable speaker.
Food: the food in Thailand was the best part of the trip. All meals I consumed there were A1 thanks to the freshness and it being non-GMO. Even the food from our hotel was amazing. If you’re foodie this place will be heaven for you. I would recommend not eating from street vendors if your stomach is not built like that. Go crazy with the fresh fruit and juices tho.
Restaurants: while we had a list of top restaurants to hit, we ended casually popping into local spots to eat. We did do sit-down dinners at Blue Elephant which is an award winning restaurant housed inside a palace and Sizzle Rooftop which has the most breathtaking view and the food was amazing. The also have fast-food joints like Burger King, McDonald's, KFC, Dairy Queen and Haagen Dazs.
Clubs/Bars: there are TONS of clubs and bars in Patong Beach which do stay open very late. No need to buy any club tickets in advanced or do bottle service, you can walk into a spot as long as you buy drinks. If you're a Hip Hop head, make sure to hit up Sugar or Gossips. There are also tons of "sex shows" which are held inside strip clubs. While I refused to go to the "sex shows" I was told by friends who did go that it was a waste of money and it was more on "circus freak" side show and in no way erotic of sexy. If you're a curious little freak, then go for it!
Beaches: the beaches in Phuket and Patong Beach are absolutely beautiful. The water is clear, sand is soft and the water was comfortable temperature wise. If you visit the beach in the city, you will be able to rent Jet Skis, Parasail and even rent a wooden boat.
Taxis: there’s no Uber or Lyft in Phuket, but grabbing a cap is absolutely no problem. Cab drivers are all over the place and your hotel or restaurant can easily grab one for you. I personally opted to use the same driver every day and just planned ahead with him to drive our group around. For full days of touring and sightseeing, Alli would charge us about $100 for the entire day. I'm talking waiting while we bathe in pools, visit elephants or eat dinner.
Tours: we booked most of our tours through Expedia and got to see Phuket’s beautiful beaches on boat, visit an elephant sanctuary, the temples, Big Buddha and Tiger Kingdom. All these tours and activities can be booked while you're in Phuket but be sure to book the day before since they need notice to arrange that early morning pick up.
Locals: the locals are very humble and quite nice. They depend on tourism heavily, so they go the extra mile to make sure you feel welcomed, respected and served. The locals are all over the streets working as street vendors, club promoters or tour liaisons, so you will come into contact with them on plenty of occasions.
Safety/Crime: the entire time I was in Phuket I felt safe and had zero worries for my safety. Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me, but it felt quite comfortable despite being a foreign country which is bustling with activity.
Shopping: there are tons of pop up street shops and everything will be relatively cheap. We planned on visiting their traditional floating markets but most of them have been closed down or only open on Sundays.
I could literally write pages about my trip to Phuket, but I will leave you with this: this trip is more of experience and can be taken to hit the reset button in your life. You will find yourself deep in thought and actually absorbing the life around…LIVING.
Check out some of my IG travel posts below: