Thailand

Visa
When flying in, citizens of most countries are granted a free visa on arrival. Depending on your country it will be for either 30 or 15 days. When coming to Thailand by land, most tourists are granted only 15 day visas.
Food
Thailand is full of chefs who work on the street. I like street food a lot because you can watch and control which ingredients are used rather than guess later. It’s also cheap. However, beware that food catered to locals may be very spicy :)
Vegetarian food is not difficult to find although fish sauce is used very often. “Mang sah wee laht” is one way to say vegetarian food in Thai.HappyCow is great site for finding veggie places throughout the world.

Bangkok
For tourists arriving to Bangkok for the first time I recommend staying in the Khousan Road area. This is the most touristy part of Bangkok and has a ton of guest house options, travel agents, bars with familiar food, internet cafes, shops and foreigners!

If you want a recommendation on where to stay, My House GH on Rambaturi Rd has private rooms with a window (but shared bathroom) for only 160 Baht. If you’re arriving late at night, most GH wont charge you for the night if you arrive after 4am. If you’re looking for something nicer, Sawasdee is another alternative.

There is a tourist bus running from the airport to the Khousan Road area every half hour and it costs 150Baht, but I forget where to find it. A taxi to Khousan costs about 230Baht before the additional charges of the expressway. Make sure the driver uses the meter.

A few guesthouses and restaurants in the area offer free wifi. My favorite was Ethos café, a vegetarian café behind Burger King with really good banana-coconut shakes and peaceful vibe! There are two other vegetarian cafes on the same alley, Number One and Mai Kaidee.

All together I spend over 2 months in Thailand. In the north, I visited Chiang Mai, Pai, Chiang Rai, Mae Sai and Chiang Kong (from where I crossed into Laos and took the slow boat to Luang Prabang). In Chiang Mai I recomendJulie’s GH because of it’s comfy cheap rooms, helpful staff and popular common room. Unfortunately they don’t accept reservations and are almost always full. One way to get in is to book a trekking tour through them and they’ll reserve a room for you when you’re back.

The best vegetarian restaurant is in Chiang Mai. It’s called Khun Churn and does an amazing lunch buffet for 80 Baht. And don’t forget to visit theMosquito musuem nearby.

Trekking is a popular activity in Chiang Mai and usually includes elephant riding. I didn’t like the elephant riding because I was distraught by the condition of the elephants. The whole process also felt extremely touristy and boring. I thought the elephants I saw in Pai (a small very chill mountain town3 hours north of Chiang Mai, very popular with foreign residents of Thailand) were treated better and visitors were allowed more intimate experiences with them.

Chiang Rai is a quaint little town in the northwest of Thailand in what is known as the Golden Triangle (linking Thailand with it’s neighbors – Laos & Burma) in honor of its opium producing history. From here it’s another 2-3 hours to Mae Sai, a small town on the border with Burma. Most travelers come to this town only to cross the border and return (to renew their Thai visa). They have a nice night market and street foot massage parlors that cost only 70Baht (approx. $2) for a great foot reflexology massage.

Chiang Kong is another border town, separated from Laos by the Mekong. It’s a popular border crossing among travelers interested in trekking in the north of Laos or going south via the slow boat to Luang Prabang.

In the south of Thailand, I’ve been to Raileigh beach (near Krabi, Andaman Sea, famous for its mountain climbing and very popular with backpackers), Ko Chang (island near Cambodia, popular with Thai tourists) and Ko Tao (small island famous for its diving).

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