Thailand: Island Paradise
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
For the most up to date entry requirements for this tour, please visit here: https://www.efultimatebreak.com/entry-requirements?tour-code=THLB
Travel Documents & Tour Preparation
- Travel Documents: In order to enter Thailand, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry. A Visa is NOT required for Thailand unless you plan to stay for longer than 30 days.
- Travel Insurance: While Travel Insurance is not required to enter Europe, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers here.
- Travelling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan so you can stay connected while on the road. While free Wi-Fi may be available, it won’t be everywhere nor as strong as we are used to. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Join the Facebook group: Your trip’s private Facebook group will open roughly 60 days prior to departure and is something you won’t want to miss. It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. You’ll receive an email inviting you to join. If you’re having trouble joining, give us a call at 800-766-2645.
- Complete you pre-tour checklist: this can be found in your account.
Health & Safety
Vaccinations and Health Precautions
When traveling to an exotic destination, vaccinations or health precautions other than your routine vaccinations may be required or recommended. Consult your primary care physician or local travel clinic at least 60 days prior to departure for the most up-to-date recommendations or requirements by the CDC (Center for Disease Control). While you're in Thailand, keep these additional tips in mind to stay healthy:
- Drink bottled water only, avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they're cooked, washed, or you can peel them (like a banana)
- Bring a small first aid kit that may include antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, etc.
- If you have daily medication, make sure you have enough for each day of the tour plus some, in case of delays
- Be wary of sun exposure as the sun can be especially strong in Thailand
Staying Healthy while Traveling
There’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, we recommend bringing a refillable water bottle!
- Be Prepared: The most prepared travelers will bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
Safety while Abroad
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi and always have cash on hand.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411.
Money & Tipping
The local currency in Thailand is the Thai baht. Read on for more must-knows about money and tipping on your trip!
- When exchanging money before the trip, better rates are usually found overseas, but it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
- Cash is king in Thailand, but you should take debit and credit cards with you to withdraw cash at local banks as needed.
- You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but be wary of fees
- Budget around $60-$80 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities
- A 10% tip or less at restaurants or for taxis is common on Thailand, so try to carry small bills (in USD or baht) with you
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $88 - $132 at the end of the trip. For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of each experience.
Note: Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (recommended 27" x 21" x 14”), but note that years of customer feedback tells us the lighter you pack, the better; Aim for one piece of luggage no more than 30lbs, plus a smaller backpack or purse for carry-on. Pro tip: You should feel comfortable managing your own luggage without assistance. See more packing tips below:
- A light jacket or rain-wear, or a warmer jacket for winter
- A shawl or layer to use when visiting temples or other religious sites where bare shoulders / legs are not permitted
- A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers for long days of sightseeing
- Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen
- 1-2 pairs pants, shorts, or skirt
- 1-2 long skirts or dresses for female travelers
- 2-3 shirts / t-shirts
- 1 dressier outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat (optional)
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Passport, Visa
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- Adapter / Converter – type “A”, “B”, “C”, or “O” plugs. Or, a staff favorite is the universal adapter and a voltage converter (if you plan on using your own hairdryer)
Note: When visiting temples or religious sites, you must have appropriate clothing that covers your shoulders and falls below the knees. Entrance may be denied if you do not abide by these requirements.
Arrival Information & Transportation
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
Pro Tip: Travel from the U.S. to Asia is a lengthy process (20 – 30+ hours travel time total), so prepare for your long flight. Download movies ahead of time, bring that book you’ve been meaning to read, and get some sleep! When flying, we suggest occasionally getting up to stretch, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated!
Arriving in Bangkok
Congratulations! You’ve landed in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, and a place filled with ancient shrines and vibrant streets. We can’t wait for you to dive in! Before you arrive, your Tour Director or Trip Consultant will communicate on Facebook or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group! Once you arrive in Bangkok it will be mid-late afternoon.
Meet Your Tour Director and Fellow Travelers
Your Tour Director will also tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.
Transportation in Thailand
Transfers between cities and countries are via private bus or internal flights, and these transfers can take anywhere between 2-6 hours. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where necessary. Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. Prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.
Note: Small ferry rides between islands are included in this tour. If you are prone to sea-sickness or motion-sickness, we recommend bringing Dramamine!
Phone, Internet, and Electronics
We recommend purchasing an international data plan from your cell phone provider for this trip. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or use a personal hot spot with your carrier. See more details about connectivity while in Asia:
- Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches.
- For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter.
- Finally, remember that WiFi is not available in the safari vehicles; more reason to take in the views around you!
- Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
Note: In Thailand, you’ll need type “A”, “B”, “C”, or “O” adapters / converters. Or, a staff favorite is the universal adapter and a voltage converter (if you plan on using your own hairdryer).
Language & Local Life
Thailand is exotic, tropical, and extremely historic. What more could you want?! As you prepare to spend time in this warm and glittering destination, here are some expert tips to help you understand the ins and outs of Asia, and feel like a true local:
- Head and Toes: In Thailand, the head is considered a sacred body part, and the feet are the least. Out of respect, never touch anyone in the head and never point at anything with your feet.
- Stray Dogs: Or, soi dogs, are street dogs in Thailand. You will see many of these in Thailand, and be aware that many carry fleas or rashes. It may be tempting to care for the dogs, but remain vigilant if you do so!
- Begging: You may see monks begging, especially in busy cities like Bangkok. However, Monks are not allowed to beg for money or food so if you see this, it means this person is posing as a monk.
- Toilet Paper: It’s a good idea to bring a small container of tissues or toilet paper with you in case you’re faced with a squat toilet or a bathroom without amenities you’re used to.
- Shoes: You will likely be asked to remove your shoes in certain homes, restaurants, or temples. It is a rule of etiquette to abide by this request.
- Street Food: It’s safe, and it’s delicious! Try to stick with vendors that have a long line to make sure you’re getting the best of the best.
- Nightlife: From Bangkok to the beaches, you’re sure to find some fun nightlife in Thailand. While Thailand is very safe, we still recommend using the buddy system, and only using licensed taxis to get around.
- GrabTaxi: This is basically Thailand’s version of Uber. You can use this app to order a taxi, and it’s a safe and reliable way to get around!
- Monkeys: You’ll see a lot of monkeys and they may seem cute, but they’re actually quite rude and sometimes aggressive. They may try to grab your belongings looking for food, so keep a strong hold of your stuff if you see a monkey nearby!
- Bartering: Especially at the markets, if something doesn’t have a visible price tag you should try to barter! A good starting point is half the cost the merchant suggests.
Speak the Language
The official language of Thailand is Thai. While it may feel awkward at first, attempting the local language goes a long way when navigating a city and interacting with people. Practice these basic phrases to get started:
- Hello = Swasdi (sah-wat-dee)
- Goodbye = La kxn (lahn-khohn)
- Please = Kruna (kah-roo-nah)
- Thank you = Khx khxbkhun (kop-koohn)
- Pardon me = Yk thos hi chan (kah-tooht)
- Yes = Chi (chai)
- No = Mi chi (mi chai)
- Cheers = ganbei (gan-be)
Food, Drink & Free Time
Wine and Dine
Guaranteed to put your town’s local Thai place to shame, prepare to dive into a fusion of ancient tradition and modern practices that is the gastronomical paradise of Thailand. Read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.
- Guay Teow: AKA, noodle soup. This is one of the most popular Thai dishes and you can find it almost everywhere.
- Som Tam: Or spicy papaya salad, som tam hails from Northeastern Thailand and is another popular dish. A classic som tam is usually shredded green papaya, tomatoes, carrots, peanuts, dried shrimp, beans, lime, and pleeenty of chillies.
- Tom Kha Gai: Similar to tom yum, this is a chicken in coconut soup and offers a lower-spice opportunity to taste all the flavors of tom yum.
- Laab: A “salad”, but really it’s a mixture of meat or mushroom and mint; NOT recommended for those with low tolerance to spice.
- Pad Thai: You know this one… When in Rome, right?
- Pad See Eiw: A thick noodle dish, pad see eiw consists of wide rice noodles stir-fried in dark soy sauce mixed with chicken, pork, or beef plus Chinese broccoli or cabbage.
- Khao Pad: Fried rice. A fan favorite
- Panang: Or, Thai curry. This is a bit milder than other curries in Thailand, which is what makes it so popular.
- Kai Jeow: One of the simpler dishes of Thailand, this is an omelette usually served on rice with sweet chili sauce. A great way to start the day!
- Kao Niew Ma Muang: Mango and sticky rice. Just the dessert you needed!
Note: Chopsticks are a staple of Asian cuisine and culture. Attempting to use chopsticks instead of western cutlery will earn you some respect with the locals, but be wary of using chopsticks to point at someone, poke at food, or play them like musical instruments - these are all signs of disrespect.
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.