Need some tips to travel to Thailand with a family? And a view on the costs? Just read this blog then.
July or August ?
We traveled between mid-July and early August, an ideal time, even though in the middle of the rainy season. But we hardly noticed it. Apart from a few rain showers in Bangkok, we enjoyed sun in the north and south. Just carefully check the type of season when planning your trip. In summer, choose the islands in the Southeastern Gulf (such as Ko Tao, Ko Samui, …) and stay away from Phuket.
General travel itinerary
- Make sure your itinerary is well-balanced and coordinated, especially if you want to visit a lot of places. The distances in Thailand are large, so you don’t want to lose too much time in between.
- Allow sufficient time to travel to and from the airport/ferry, … We booked an overnight hotel in Surat Thani near the ferry. This gave us a quiet evening before departure and no rush in the morning.
- Check the departure times of the ferries upfront and make sure you have sufficient margin should your boat trip be followed by a flight. In the rainy season, some ferries do not depart or depart later and you do not want to miss your connection. So take a backup of at least 24 hours. In short: don’t book a ferry on Monday evening if you have to catch a flight on Tuesday morning.
- Travel light. Provide easy but strong suitcases. We traveled with 2 large travel bags and a backpack for each.
- Buy a local SIM card.
- Provide enough chargers for the electronic stuff. You are always short anyway.
- Eat in real Thai restaurants. Just check whether the place is filled by locals, then it should be OK. Just don’t eat raw vegetables, go for a curry or other warm dish.
- Keep in mind that the Thai alphabet completely differs from ours and often, especially in typical Thai restaurants, the menu is exclusively in Thai. Some minivan drivers don’t speak English either. So one solution: Google Translate.
Intercontinental and domestic flights
- Book your intercontinental flight well in advance (about 10 months) so you have the most advantageous prices, especially if you travel during the holiday periods
- We book our international trips through a travel agent, Connections. We are very satisfied with their service. Booking through a travel agent has one major advantage: in the event of a change in flight(s), it is up to them to find a solution.
- Book your domestic flight together with your intercontinental one if you want to combine them (eg in our case Brussels – Bangkok – Chiang Mai/ Ko Samui -Bangkok-Brussels). This may be slightly more expensive, but there are 2 major advantages: you only have to check in your luggage once (it will be forwarded automatically) and in the event of a change in flight hours, your travel agent will find a solution for you.
- For domestic flights, pay close attention to the maximum baggage allowance. You can usually take more kilos in a larger suitcase on an intercontinental flight, but that is not always the case with a domestic flight. Your ‘intercontinental’ luggage must therefore also be taken on domestic flights, preferably without having to pay extra. So provide an extra travel bag to repack if necessary.
- Book your domestic flight well in advance. You then know the exact date and hour and can easier plan the rest of your trip.
Trains, ferries and minivans
- Train or flight? The price is more or less the same. We chose both to alternate. Flights are fast and comfortable, trains are slower but also comfortable and offer a completely different experience, really pleasant for children. If you have a lot of time, you can also travel by train during the day to enjoy the scenery.
- Book your train journey well in advance. There are not many first class carriages and these are often booked up fast.
- Carefully choose the train. There are sometimes several trains on a route at certain hours and the quality can differ considerably. So read reviews ! On the Chiang-Mai – Bangkok route we took train number 10, which was very modern and comfortable. Train no. 14 would be a different story …
- Book your ferry well in advance. The ferries to the islands fill up quickly, especially in high season. We met a few travelers who wanted to book locally and were unable to get to certain islands.
- Check the location of your ferry departure. In Surat Thani are two docks, one easier to reach than the other. We found the transfer via the Tapee pier (Lomprayah) very easy.
- Minivans are reasonably priced and a very comfortable way to travel. You negotiate the route and price upfront. The driver drives you around and waits until your visit is finished. Most minivans are also very comfortable, we even had one with ‘free wifi’. When negotiating the price, make sure you discuss the costs petrol and an overnight stay for the driver. Mostly, the latter is included in the price.
- If you book a minivan and intend to do excursions, you don’t need to be picked up by the excursion organization, which can reduce the price a bit (you already paid your driver for the transport).
The costs for a trip to Thailand with 2 adults and 4 children add up, in particular if you want to travel large distances and include domestic flights, train journeys and ferries.
You can economize by
- Starting and ending your trip in the same airport
- Traveling more locally. You can for example choose to go to Bangkok and the Kanchanaburi area in combination with the islands on the south of Bangkok. Or stay in the north. No need for ferries and domestic flights then.
- accommodation: 2 500 €
- intercontinental flights 4 900 € (including a domestic flight with Bangkok Airways between Bangkok – Chiang Mai on day one and Ko Samui-Bangkok on the last day)
- domestic flight Air Asia: 326 € (incl. luggage up t 20 kg per person – 11 280 THB)
- train journey Chiang Mai – Ayutthaya (1st class): 330 € or 11 788 THB, (1598 THB per adult, 1398 THB per child as of 12 years, 1329 THB and 1129 THB per child below12 years)
- ferry Surat Thani – Ko Tao: 112 € or 4 000 THB (800 THB per adult, 400 THB per kind below 12 years)
- ferry Koh Tao -Ko Samui: 110 € or 3 900 THB (750 THB per adult, 450 THB per kind below 12 years)
- 3 day minivan Ayutthaya – Kanchanaburi – Bangkok: 200 € (1 800 THB per day + 500 THB per night + 30 THB/liter/petrol)
- meals: 2000 €