Travelers can visit Thailand any time of the year, with no notable "off-season". The least popular season for travel is the rainy or 'monsoon' season which runs from July to October. This time of year is typically characterized by consistent afternoon downpours which can lead to flooding, particularly along the Western coastal areas. Travelers visiting in September and October tend to gravitate towards the Andaman Coast (Phuket, Krabi, & surrounding areas). June and July are most popular in the Gulf of Thailand (Surat Thani, Koh Samui, & surrounding islands). Shoulder season for visitors runs from April through June and is markedly hotter and drier. The beaches tend to also be less crowded. High season runs from November through March, with peak season rates being imposed over the holidays and through New Year's.
2. What are the accommodations like?
In each location, we strive to use charming accommodations that are locally owned and characteristic of the area. These range from charming, family-run bed & breakfasts to luxurious, boutique hotels. Most accommodations have private baths, hot water and clean, comfortable rooms except in instances where noted, such as a homestay or village hiking trip. We strive to also find hotels in good locations, whether that be walking distance to main attractions, or out of the city if it is consistently noisy. Larger hotels are used in metropolitan areas as typically these are the only available options.
3. Do I need a converter/adapter for the electricity?
Thailand generally uses 220 volt, 50hz electricity. They use types A, B, and C power sockets. It is recommended to bring a converter or to purchase one upon arrival. One will likely be needed to adapt the plug shape for any device you bring. Some high end hotels provide converters, but just to be safe travelers should bring their own.
4. Are meals included?
Most breakfasts and lunches are included for yourselves as well as your guide throughout the trip. You will occasionally need help translating the menus, therefore the guide will typically eat with you unless you specify a different arrangement. The majority of dinners are not included since Thailand is such a "foodie" destination. With so many options, we find travelers appreciate the opportunity to decide what they want to try for dinner. Your guide can definitely give suggestions during the trip or our local office can arrange dinners before your tour if preferred. Dinners are included in special scenarios, such as culinary programs, remote trekking trips, or tour portions located in remote floating bungalows.
5. What are the tour guides like?
Our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and Thai, and some speak other hill tribe dialects as well. Our tour leaders are all certified & licensed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Also, all are trained in First Aid & CPR. Many were born and raised in the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. Some specialize in specific adventure activities as well, such as hiking. All of our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
6. What type of transportation is used?
Our Thailand tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans/cars, internal flights, etc. We use a mix of private/public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transportation in each area. Occasionally, we may include non-typical transportation modes (tuk-tuk, bicycle, kayak, motorboat, etc.) for short distances to give travelers a sense of local flavor. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
7. What type of food is typical of Thailand?
Thai cuisine, which has become world-renown, places great emphasis on attention to detail when it comes to appearance and taste. Ingredients that add health benefits are common, and dishes are prepared with strong aromatic components and spices. It is not uncommon for a mix of tastes to exist in one dish, ranging from salty, sweet, tangy, bitter, to spicy or sour. Rice is used as a main starch, whether served as grain rice or rice noodles. It also provides the base for many desserts. Thailand is a fantastic destination for foodies or those looking to try new tastes or learn a new way of cooking. Our tour leaders are always willing to try to accommodate different palates, such as children who may not be very adventurous or adults who are!
8. Are these trips suitable for kids?
Yes! In fact some of the best family travel opportunities in all of Asia are found in Thailand. Certain trips may be more suited to younger ages than others, and your Trip Planner can help advise you in this respect. Some tours minimize travel and drive time and maximize in-country activity that will keep even the younger minds engaged. We are also happy to customize an option that mixes various components to create a trip that will appeal to your entire family. To make family tours easier, we often recommend having a private group and guide, though families with well-behaved children are welcome on our group departures as well. We have special private tour rates for families - please ask your trip coordinator if you are interested.
9. What is the typical age range on the Thailand tours?
Typically, ages range from 15 to 65, however we have seen children as young as 6 and the "young at heart" as old as 90 on our trips!
10. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Absolutely! Our Thailand tours tend to attract a great mix of solo travelers, families, friends, etc. We can often match you up with another group traveling on one of the set tours, or one with a more customized twist so long as it lines up with your dates and budget. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
11. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in international flights.
12. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
A driver will be there to greet you at your arriving airport holding a sign with your name on it. You will be taken directly to your hotel the first night. If travelers do not want this transfer, we recommend the BTS Skytrain which runs from Suvarnabhumi Airport to many areas in downtown Bangkok. Also, you can opt to take a taxi transfer on your own, though we do not advise it since many taxi drivers do not speak English. If utilizing taxi services, it is important to make sure you choose a metered taxi.
13. Are there any discounts available?
Absolutely! We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
14. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely and are ultimately dependent upon the traveler's satisfaction. For full day tours we suggest $8-$10 per day for your guide and $4-$5 per day for a driver. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
15. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Thailand tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. Booking early (3 months or more recommended, 6 months in advance for peak season dates) is especially important for travelers visiting during the height of the high season to ensure that first choice hotels are still available. Further, we usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available. We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last-minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice hotel may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip planner can recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting!
16. Are tour dates flexible?
YES. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed online. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as hotels and a guide are available.
17. Can I extend or change my stay?
Absolutely! Give us a call for suggestions in the region. We can easily arrange for extensions to other Southeast Asia destinations such as neighboring Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
18. What should I pack?
You will receive a detailed packing list after you book your tour. Since the climate varies depending upon locations and season, it is difficult to offer many generalizations. Comfort is the rule and fancy clothes are not necessary for any of our Thailand tours.
19. How safe is Thailand?
Thailand is a relatively safe country both in the rural countryside as well as in larger cities. As always, travelers need to be aware of their surroundings and use common sense when venturing out at night, but crime rates in general are very low, particularly against tourists. The most common issue reported are pickpockets when visiting crowded marketplaces or shopping areas. Be wise and keep your possessions hidden under your top layer of clothing to prevent anything from being stolen.
20. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is generally NOT safe to drink anywhere in Thailand. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, & restaurants, and hot water (boiled to make it safe to drink) or hot tea is generally offered with a meal at a restaurant. Travelers can also use bottled water when brushing teeth, just as an extra precaution.
21. Can I use US dollars or do I need local currency? What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?
Generally USD is not accepted in most establishments in Thailand outside of main cities. Thai Baht (THB) are the only way to pay in Thailand. Upon arrival, you should plan to exchange your money at a bank. The airports and hotels generally will give you a worse exchange rate. Avoid exchanging money on the street. A currency converter such as, www.oanda.com/currency/converter/, is helpful for getting the latest exchange rates. If you need assistance or have questions, your guide is your best resource and will point you in the right direction.
22. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?
Credit Cards are widely accepted in larger cities, but traveler's checks are not. Cash is recommended for travel to more rural areas and can be easily obtained at ATMs in larger cities.
23. Can I use my cell phone?
Yes, so long as your carrier has not locked your phone and it is possible to operate on their network. You should contact your phone carrier to find out if your phone will work properly. Many travelers buy a local SIM card in Thailand - these are cheap & easy if you have an unlocked phone. It is advised to also double check your international calling rates with your provider.
24. Do I need a visa/passport?
US citizens do not need to apply for a visa in advance. Travelers only need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. An arrival/departure card is then filled out on arrival for US citizens. Non-US citizens are advised to contact their local consulate for entry requirements.
25. What immunizations are recommended/ required?
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Thailand. A yellow fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from another country with risk of yellow fever. This vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in the destination with yellow fever risk. Travelers must bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Malaria, and Rabies preventatives are also loosely recommended depending on where you plan to travel in Thailand. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site.
26. What time zone is Thailand?
Thailand is in the Indochina Time Zone, or UTC+07:00.
27. Is travel insurance recommended?
Absolutely!!! We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked page for more information.