|Ko Phi Phi||$456|
|Ko Pha Ngan||$685|
When you book airline tickets to Thailand – officially the Kingdom of Thailand – expect modern day Eden. Thanks in part to the breathtaking ocean views and waterfall landscapes shown in the movie The Beach, the country witnessed a wave of tourism as more travelers booked flights to Thailand in an effort to find paradise in Southeast Asia. The beaches are as stunning as promised: predominantly white sand, an abundance of palm trees, coral reefs, fish and sparklingly clear turquoise waters. However, you’ll find there is more to see than just the wonderful beaches. Flowing with natural beauty, ancient temples, a bustling nightlife and royal palaces, Thailand is quite possibly the land where dreams come true.
The country is made up of natural regions including the mountainous and forested north; the rice fields of the central plains; the farmlands of the northeast; and of course, perhaps most famously, the tropical islands and long shorelines of the south. Within each of these regions, there is much to explore. Book a cheap flight to Thailand and get your thrills in bustling Bangkok (located in the central plains region), the capital and most popular city that mixes the past and present, where ancient palaces and temples reside alongside modern skyscrapers. Along with the notorious red light district, other famous attractions in Bangkok include a number of beautiful Wats (temples), the amazing street markets where everything under the sun can be purchased at reduced prices, trips by boat along the Chao Praya River, and gigantic city parks such as Lumpini. Chiang Mai epitomizes the appeal of northern Thailand. Set among lush rainforest and mountains, the city dates from the 13th century. Shopping and sightseeing are popular activities (there are more than 300 churches) but the town is also the perfect base from which to explore the mountainous northern region. Or, you want to take a journey to one of the many diverse small towns and villages scattered across the vast country.
Perhaps the country’s greatest wealth, however, is its people. Thailand is made up of Thai, Chinese, Malay and minority groups including Mons, Khmers and hill tribes, all who co-exist side by side. They are known for their love of family and their hospitality, and are friendly and gracious to travelers. They also stage some mesmerizing festivals including the “Bun Bang Fai” Rocket Festival; the Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival and International Candle Carving Competition which marks the start of Buddhist Lent; and the Illuminated Boat Procession.
A ride through the countryside offers breathtaking views while tropical beaches serve as a resting spot for five-star resort travelers. Take comfort in a beachfront bungalow or motorbike through the mountains – as soon as you step off your flight to Thailand you’ll find the options are endless. There are villages, towns, resorts and accommodations to suit every type of traveler, be it with a laid-back backpacker-vibe and plenty of cheap diving to high-end, pristine spa resorts set on private coves. If you are planning on taking a trip to Southeast Asia’s premiere destination, here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip to Thailand.
Thailand’s climate differs between the north and the south. In northern and central Thailand, it’s very hot and dry from March to June, with April being the hottest month; May to November is dominated by the southwest monsoon, and is when the region sees its heaviest rainfall; and from November to February, its cooler but dry. In the south, it rains intermittently all year long across the region, as the wet season does not run at the same time on both the east and west side of the peninsula. On the west coast of southern Thailand, rain is heaviest from April through October, and on the east coast of southern Thailand, the most rain falls between September and December. Overall, southern Thailand receives a greater amount of rain than northern and central areas of the country over the course of the year.
The weather does vary around Thailand but generally the dry, cool climate months of November through February are the best time to visit when both temperatures and humidity are lower and the seas are at their clearest for diving and snorkeling. This also coincides with the peak tourist season, particularly over the Christmas/New Year period, when many foreigners visit to escape the cold back home and flock to Thailand’s array of beautiful beaches where various water based activities await. By March and April things have started to heat up considerably and the mountainous north gets busy with locals escaping the soaring temperatures in Bangkok, which can be quite unbearable. You may want to avoid traveling to certain parts of Thailand from March to May. However, with the skies still relatively dry, this is a good time to visit the southern beaches if you want to escape the heavy crowds of foreign tourists (though you may see a lot of Thai’s vacationing here to escape the stifling temps in cities like Bangkok, etc.).
Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is a popular reason why travelers book flight tickets to Thailand. It has a wide range of hotels that cater to every beach goers budget, from bungalows to luxury resorts. These fill up during Phuket’s peak season (November to April, when its drier) so plan and book your flight tickets and accommodations well in advance to avoid disappointment. On the opposite coast, Ko Samui offers scuba diving, parasailing, forest and hill treks, as well as a lively nightlife. January to April is the best time to visit weather-wise, and the island is particularly busy around Christmas, and July and August see a surge as well. Ko Pha Ngan just to the north is famous for its full-moon beach party and is most crowded from December to March, as well as August.
The “wet” season months of May through October caused by the southwest monsoon see frequent downpours and high temperatures that keep many visitors away.
September and October tend to be the wettest months, with some roads becoming impassable, particularly in the mountainous regions of the north. The rain comes and goes however, meaning you will still get some clear, sunny patches, and if you want to avoid the majority of tourists and get the best flight deals, this is a great alternative period to travel, if you don’t mind the wet weather.
Generally, you will get the best flight deals to Thailand year round if you book as far in advance as possible. November to February is the best time of year to book a flight to Thailand as temperatures are cooler than the summer months yet still very warm, and the skies are typically dry. The cool season however is also the busiest season so forward planning is essential to find cheap flights to Thailand as well as accommodations. If you don’t book well in advance (at least a few months’ time), you’ll often find that flight prices are quite high and hotels are fully booked during this time.
Some months are incredibly expensive regardless of when you book so if you are on a tight budget it might be best to opt for the off season. You’ll have to deal with wetter weather but it’ll also be a lot easier to find cheap flights to Thailand and you can still enjoy hot temperatures. If you have the luxury of flexibility, then you’ll find the cheapest flights to Thailand by simply comparing each month and a certain part of the country. You’ll also want to take into account any festivals that might be going on as this will increase the cost of flights to Thailand, although you will get to immerse yourself into the culture better.
Flying from the United States to Thailand takes between eighteen and twenty-eight hours, depending on the airport you depart from as well as the length and number of stopovers. No airlines fly nonstop between the United States and Thailand; some of the quickest routes take you through Seoul, Korea or Osaka, Japan. Don’t forget that, if you’re crossing the Pacific Ocean, you’re also crossing the International Date Line, which affects both your departure and arrival times on your outward bound flight as well as on the trip home.
Delta, American and United Airlines all fly to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, as do dozens of international carriers. Among the largest airlines flying to Thailand are Air Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and ANA, the largest airline in Japan.
Thailand lies in the tropics, so you need to pack for warm to hot weather at almost any time of the year, but bring a light jacket because air conditioning can be very strong indoors and even on the bus. A tropical climate means you also need a light rain jacket and umbrella, as well as insect repellent. If you’re headed to the beach (and if going to Thailand, you should be headed to the beach!), don’t forget sunscreen and, of course, your bathing suit. You may also want a sarong to toss on as a cover-up or to provide a little extra coverage in more conservative parts of the country. In Thailand, you can expect to have to take your shoes off frequently when you enter temples, massage parlors, people’s homes, or even restaurants, so pack some slip-on shoes that are easy to take on and off.
There are multiple international airports in Thailand, including Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) (also referred to as Bangkok International Airport) and Phuket International Airport (HKT). Here are a few tips for getting to where you need to go from each of these two airports.
Prior to 2006, Don Mueang International Airport was the sole international arrival point for the Bangkok area. In 2006, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, also known as Bangkok International Airport, opened and has since displaced it in this regard (and has inherited its airport code, BKK, which belonged to Don Mueang prior to Suvarnabhumi commencing international flights), while Don Mueang International Airport has become a low cost carrier and domestic hub. The new airport is located about 20 miles away from the city center of Bangkok, while Don Mueang is around 19 miles away.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is divided into two international terminals and a domestic terminal, all linked by a free shuttle bus service. Airport buses link Bangkok’s airport with the city center along multiple different routes that stop at a number of major hotels and landmarks. They depart from just outside the Terminal 1 arrivals hall and take around fifty-sixty minutes. If there is a group of you, there are shuttle buses which run certain fixed routes as well. Bangkok Airport’s Rail Link offers two lines into the city with travel times starting at around fifteen-twenty minutes on the Express Line to Makkasan station. This is the quickest and most convenient mode of ground transportation into the city, though you may still need to do some additional traveling depending on where you are going in Bangkok exactly. Taxi is the most expensive route into the city, but will drop you directly at your hotel door. There are either metered or unmetered taxis available, but if you opt for the unmetered service, be sure to negotiate your fare before departing the airport. The drivers are notorious at overcharging so make sure you agree on a price before you get in. The journey should take around twenty-forty minutes, depending on your destination. Lastly, if you are brave, you could always rent a car.
If you are flying into Phuket International Airport in the south of Thailand, there is an hourly airport bus into Phuket Town (thirty minutes) that departs from 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM. This is the cheapest option (and probably the easiest) and tickets can be bought from a counter on the ground floor. If you are heading to Patong (forty minutes), Kata or Karon Beach (one hour), there are also minivans that will drop you directly at your hotel and tickets can also be bought from counters inside. The fastest but more expensive way from the airport is by metered taxi which depart from a stand outside the main airport terminal, but you may need to ask the driver to turn the meter on to avoid being charged an inflated price. If there are a couple of you traveling you can split the fare and make it more worthwhile. If you are a confident driver, then you can rent a car from the airport. This is a great choice if you plan to drive around different parts of Thailand but if you’re just going to go to your hotel then it might be more of an inconvenience.
After you’ve gotten to where you need to go, Thailand’s trains are comfortable, frequent, and on time; although a bit slow, it’s a great way to see the country. Thailand’s buses are very fast (don’t watch the road), well serviced, and air conditioned. If you’re pressed for time, catch a flight. Thailand has regional airports, and convenient domestic Thailand flights are easy to find. Transportation in a city or resort is typically a taxi, tuk-tuk, rickshaw, pickup, or hired car and driver. Taxis are usually metered in a city; make sure the meter is turned on. Always negotiate the fare for a tuk-tuk or rickshaw before you set out. Bangkok’s public transportation can get you around town. Chiang Mai in northern Thailand doesn’t have buses or taxis, but has lots of covered pickups (songtaos) and tuk-tuks. You can hail a songtao and their fares are reasonable. Many travelers rent motorcycles and bikes in Chiang Mai, but make sure to drive defensively. Avoid driving in Thailand yourself if you can, both cars and motorbikes. Thais drive on the left side of the road, usually at breakneck speeds even around blind corners, and aren’t fussy about driving laws.
Thailand offers a rich blend of world-class beaches and natural attractions, cultural and religious sites to make your jaw drop, and wild nightlife. Don’t miss the stunning Grand Palace in the heart of Bangkok. Cultural exploration can take you away from the big cities as well; if you have the chance to, visit a floating market by riding in a small boat as you weave between stilt houses and through narrow canals to shop. Buddhist temples abound throughout the country, with some of the most spectacular being the ceramic-covered Wat Arun and the elephant shrine at the 13th century Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
As for that nightlife? Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road is well-known as one of the wildest streets in the world, so sit back at one of the many bars and watch all the action around you, little of which is safe to discuss at work. Nightlife continues away from Bangkok as well, including at Koh Pha Ngan beach, where thousands of revelers show up each full moon ready to party. After a full day of sightseeing, indulge yourself in a decadent Thai massage, which melts your pressure points and leaves you feeling both relaxed and rejuvenated.
Thailand’s natural beauty is breathtaking, and nowhere is this truer than at Koh Phi Phi, a beach you may recognize from James Bond movies. The beaches and high-end resorts of Phuket are also among the world’s best; while you’re there, don’t miss the caves and lagoons of Phang Nga Bay. Thailand’s beauty also resonates at Khao Yai National Park, where, when you’re not marveling at waterfalls, you might be spotting bears, elephants and gibbons. Finally, where else in the world can you swim in a river with elephants and ride on their backs? Don’t forget your camera when you head to Mahawangchang Elephant Trekking Camp.
If you’re flying out of Thailand, Cheapflights can help get you to your next destination without breaking the bank. The majority of carriers that fly in to Thailand also fly out of Thailand. Thai Airlines, China Airlines, EVA, Cathay Pacific, Delta, and United Airlines are among the most popular.
Thailand boasts 38 commercial airports, with 6 International Airports that include:
You can find terrific flight deals for popular routes from Thailand at https://www.cheapflights.com.sg, https://www.cheapflights.com.my, https://www.cheapflights.com.ph, or https://www.cheapflights.com.hk.
There are many different ways to navigate to an airport when flying out of Thailand, depending on the airport from which you’re leaving. In Bangkok, the Airport Rail Link provides train services on an elevated track, including an express route to the airport. You can also avail of Bus and taxi transport to various airports, just be sure to negotiate the taxi fare before you get in.
Once you choose a destination and departure city, be sure to check out our Thailand airport guides for detailed travel information and helpful tips.
(prices quotes are from London)