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 this page.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
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.
- Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
- Traveling 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.
- Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Free Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
- Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
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 canceled 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! Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app! Once you arrive in Bangkok it will be mid-late afternoon.
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!
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: We recommend bringing 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.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Thailand. However, we recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and vaccine / entry requirements.
While you're in Thailand, keep these additional tips in mind to stay healthy:
- Consult your doctor or healthcare provider at least 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry / vaccine requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.
- Drink bottled water only. Avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth or showering.
- Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables UNLESS they’re cooked, washed in clean water, or peeled.
- Take proper care with sun exposure. The sun is very strong in some of the areas you are visiting.
- Public restrooms in Thailand can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.
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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
For weight and size restrictions please refer to your airline’s website. Flight information will be available 30 days prior to departure in your online account. Below you'll find some critical packing information and suggestions.
- The most important piece of advice we can give you: Pack light! Your international airline ticket does include a checked bag, but years of customer feedback tells us a carry-on is the way to go. You may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot, so make sure you are comfortable carrying everything you bring yourself.
- You've probably heard the hacks about rolling clothes and using packing cubes a million times, but there's a reason for that! It really does help.
- If you choose to pack all of your toiletries, don't bring your regular-sized bottles from home. Offload some of that into travel-sized containers.
- Choose your luggage wisely. We recommend a roller carry-on bag and a backpack as your personal item.
- Choose shoes carefully as well. They're some of the bulkiest items you can pack, so we recommend a good pair of walking shoes and a pair of climate-appropriate shoes (boots or sandals depending on the destination and time of year). We also recommend a pair of closed-toe water shoes if your itinerary has any water activities.
- Make a packing list of must-haves and stick to it. If you have a little extra space in your bags once all your must-haves are packed, then consider adding in a few nice extras.
- Unfortunately, luggage can get lost. It’s a painful situation no matter what, but here are tips to ease some of the hassle:
- DO NOT put important medications in a checked bag. If your luggage is lost, this could become a dangerous issue.
- Even if you put most of your clothes in a checked bag, put a couple outfits in your carry-on along with your toiletries.
- If you are forced to check you carry-on at the gate, be sure to remove essentials and valuables before handing it over.
- Carefully review TSA restrictions when packing. There are a number of items not allowed in your carry-on and liquids have certain restrictions.
- Check out the local weather; we haven't figured out how to control the weather yet so best to be prepared and plan accordingly.
- Don't forget: Outlets overseas can differ from the US, so be sure to pack the right power adapters/converters!
Budget around $60-$80 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.
Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.
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.
- 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 bus drivers, we recommend tipping $2-3 per day 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.
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: Sawasdeeka (female) / Sawasdeekrub (male)
- Goodbye: La korn
- Please: Karuna (kah-roo-nah)
- Thank you: Khob khun ka (female) / Khob khun krub (male)
- Pardon me: Kor thod
- Yes: Chai
- No: Mai chai
- Cheers (for drinking): Mod kaew
Note: Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!
Thailand is 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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.
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.
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.