I don’t really need to tell you that Thailand is a great holiday destination. You already know that. But I can tell you about what to expect/do if you are planning to visit this beautiful country from the UAE.
Here are 8 important things you should know if you are traveling to Thailand from the UAE:
The word “visa” might cause severe stress for most Arabs *cough* Trump’s Muslim travel ban *cough*. But you don’t need to worry about your Thailand visa if you are an Arab expat in the UAE, because you are “most likely” welcome.
I’m Syrian and I got my visa in one day! Iraqis need more than a week though, so beware. You NEED to make an online appointment and visit the embassy in AbuDhabi or Dubai.
There are so many options but the fastest and most direct one is Emirates (what else, right?). If you book early you can get your ticket for as little as 2,000 dirhams ($544), which is a great value (unless you want to travel business class, in which case we totally dislike you! #snob).
The direct flight takes about six and half hours from DXB airport to Bangkok.
Fun fact: you don’t need to be a millionaire to visit Thailand because it is a rather cheap country (especially when compared to Dubai).
Let’s just put it this way: an average, midrange massage in UAE will cost you no less than 300 dirhams. But in Thailand an excellent massage in a 4 star hotel right on the beach with the cool breeze blowing in your hair and the calming sound of waves in your ears will cost you… are you ready? 60 dirhams! And that’s even considered an expensive one.
Exchange rate: One dirham is almost 10 Thai Baht.
Well, yes that depends on your budget, but you can still stay in beautiful 4 or even 5 star hotels for a fraction of the price you pay in UAE’s hotels. The average price for a night in a 4 star hotel is 350 dirhams. Hostels are a popular option but they are not for the faint hearted, especially if you are used to the luxurious and spotless UAE hotels!
Tip: make sure to read the reviews carefully before you book any hotel because pictures and descriptions can be very deceiving! Also, the earlier you book the better rate you get, so don’t leave it till last minute.
Here are my picks for great, tried and tested hotels:
- Chiang Mai: Sibsan Resort
- Phuket: Cassia Phuket
- Koh Phi Phi: Nice Beach Hotle
- Krabi: Aree Tara Resort
- Koh Samui: The Intercontinental
- Koh Tao: Chintakiri Resort
5. Where to go
Thailand has plenty to offer from rich culture to wonderful nature to exciting adventures. If you are into calm and quiet sanctuaries, then Chiang Mai in the north is ideal with its majestic mountains, stunning nature and peaceful surroundings.
If adventure and fun are what gets you going, then head to Phuket, where you can enjoy water sports, zip-lining (longer and more thrilling than the XDubai one), elephant trekking and exciting nightlife.
Beach bums who just want to relax, tan and switch off can stay in Koh Samui and Koh Tao.
6. Time management
You don’t want to be spending your holiday planning how to hop from one island to the other and booking tickets! So make sure to book all your internal flights in advance. I strongly recommend that you book your domestic flight along with your Dubai Bangkok flight.
Also, allow enough time to travel between different cities. I’d say that you need at least a week if you want to visit more than one city. Domestic flight delays are very common in Thailand, as well as losing luggage, so be prepared.
7. What to eat
A decent Thai dinner in a nice restaurant in Dubai will cost you no less than 500 dirhams. But what if I told you that you can gorge yourself on fresh, authentic Thai food for as little as 60 dirhams?
Streetfood in Thailand is a must try as well as the home cooked meals in the houses turned restaurants. You can’t leave without trying the famous and addictive green papaya salad, the delicious green curries and the coconut ice cream with salted peanuts!
Save your dirhams and shopping energy for Thailand because there are so many amazing things to buy, from clothes to bags to trinkets and souvenirs. A nice beach hat in Dubai Mall could cost you around 80 dirhams, but you can get the same one for 10 dirhams in the market at Koh Phi Phi.
If you’ve lived in UAE for too long, then you probably forgot the art of bargaining. You’ll need it for shopping in Thailand, (although the locals don’t really like it and some might shout at you if you bargain too hard #truestory).