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Last October 2016, Anna and I had our first international travel together. We were considering Japan though we lacked time to prepare so we decided to choose any country in Southeast Asia, which would also eliminate the visa processing part. We also considered Malaysia but finally ended up with Thailand.

    Travel and Arrival

    As the trip was a bit rush, we had very little preparation. Fortunately, someone from college was currently in Thailand at that time and I was able to get some quick tips and ideas.

    The NAIA Terminal 1 looking a lot better (at least the ceiling and the lights).

    We left Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) at around 2 pm. The flight took almost 3.5 hours from Manila to Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK).

    Manila Bay!

    Suvarnabhumi Airport: Money Exchange 

    The first thing you can do once you are out the terminal is to exchange your cash. There is a money exchange booth immediately outside the gate and it would be convenient to take care of this as soon as you can, plus, you would need some baht to buy local SIM card later on (optional, but recommended).

    We had 600 USD with us and was exchanged for 19,896 Baht.

    Thailand Tourist Visa for Philippines Passport Holder

    As mentioned, there is no need for us, Pinoys, to apply for a tourist visa when going to Thailand and we are permitted to stay up to 30 days. The visa is granted upon arrival.

    The airport immigration booths are quite far from the terminals. But once there, the process was a breeze and you're stamped in no time. (The triangular Thailand stamp really stands out!)

    Baggage Reclaim

    The 'ART FOR SUVARNABHUMI' in the baggage reclaim area makes a good backdrop for your first Bangkok Selfie.


    Claiming the first selfie.

    Tourist Internet SIM

    After getting our bags, next thing we did was to get Internet SIM cards, to have communication with our families back home (if you don't want to go 'roaming'). We got ourselves two 'dtac Happy Tourist SIM' for 299 Baht each which offered 7 days unlimited Internet.

    Airport Rail Link

    One awesome feature of BKK is the Airport Rail Link. Super convenient. The line provides a link directly from the airport and has 8 stations. Just imagine if we have this in NAIA, the convenience it will provide to thousands of travelers including overseas workers like us.

    Train coins used in the Airport Rail Link

    The last station is Phaya Thai where our hotel is near to.

    When we were on the train already and I was able to check my email, I found out that the payment I made for the hotel was rejected! We were given until 6 pm that night to confirm whether we would be coming or not.

    We reached the last station at around 5:30 pm, Phaya Thai, which is quite near the hotel where we booked.

    At Phaya Station

    Houses along the rails. Parang Maynila lang.

    Taxis and Precautions

    We went down from the station and hailed a taxi. A common tip from other travelers about the taxi fare in Bangkok is not to get one that asks for price higher than 50 Baht. The first that we hailed asked for 70 Baht. Quite a rip off since the hotel isn't too far.

    One taxi agreed for 60 Baht which we thought was fair enough (still far from the flag down rate), considering that it was rush hour and we needed to get to the hotel before 6 pm. The driver was old and friendly, knew English, and we were surprised to learn that he had Filipino friends (at marunong mag-Tagalog!) back when he was still working in Saudi Arabia! And so we were a little thrilled to tell him that we, too, work in Saudi!

    We made in in time and was able to check-in, but we had to pay in cash.

    Apparently, there's an actual note inside the elevator of the hotel that says (sic):

    When you take a taxi, take a photo of the number of the cab, remember the color of the taxi. The taxi's number can usually be found on the stickers on the windows or metal plates attached to the doors. No need to negotiate the fare as all taxis in Bangkok are now metered. (Starting fee of 35 baht). If he insists on giving you a fixed fare, instead of using the meter, it's best to find another cab. Taxis standing by in front of hotels are usually suspicious.

    Overall Itinerary

    We were actually in Thailand for five days, from October 18th up to 22nd, but only 3 whole days were spent for the actual trips outside and within Bangkok.

    As this was our first travel outside the Philippines, we didn't want to pressure ourselves trying to 'make it the best' and be stressed by too much planning.

    As an overview, this is how or where we spent our time in Thailand.

    Thailand Day 1: Travel, Arrival, and First Thai Food Dinner

    ✔️ Travel and Arrival
    ✔️ First Dinner along Phetchaburi Road
    ✔️ Checking of Available Tours

    Thailand Day 2: Floating Market and Animal Parks

    ✔️ Day Tour to Samphran and Damnoen Saduak
    ✔️ Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
    ✔️ Damnoen Saduak Chang Puak Camp
    ✔️ Royal Handicraft Center
    ✔️ Lunch at the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo
    ✔️ Elephant Show
    ✔️ Watch the Crocodile Wrestling
    ✔️ Travel back to hotel
    ✔️ Night Food Trip
    ✔️ Stroll at MBK Center 

    Thailand Day 3: Temples

    ✔️ Day Tour in Ayutthaya
    ✔️ Wat/Chedi Phukao Thong
    ✔️ Reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam
    ✔️ Wat Mahathat
    ✔️ Wat Phra Si Sanphet
    ✔️ Lunch at (supposedly at the Floating Palace but it was being used by the Royal Family and relatives so we instead eat at) the nearby eatery
    ✔️ Bang Pa-In Palace
    ✔️ Night Food Trip

    Thailand Day 4: DIY Bangkok Tour

    ✔️ DIY Tour Around Bankok
    ✔️ Wat Pho (Wat Pho complex is quite big on its own that without a tour guide, you will really don't mind the time)
    ✔️ Lunch at The Gate Restaurant
    ✔️ Tha Tian Market
    ✔️ Thai Wang Alley
    ✔️ MBK Center (dinner and buying of souvenirs)

    Thailand Day 5:

    Travel to airport (Flight at 7:40 am!)

    Like any other international flight, we tried to be there by 4:30 in the morning, so imagine how early we needed to get up.)

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