So you’ve decided that the Land of Smiles is the destination for this year’s holiday. Tropical, easy on the pocket, great food, what’s not to like? And of course to make the best of it, you go when things are happening-Flower Festival in Chiang Mai, Songkran in northern Thailand, New Year, the Lantern Festival. Right? Wrong. I’ll tell you why.
1. More expensive.
Accommodation in Chiang Mai during peak times is at a premium. Hotels in hot spots like Bangkok and Pattaya will be full up. You could ask for the best suite and tell them you’re a millionaire, but if they haven’t got it, they haven’t got it. If you do manage to squeeze in, be assured that on New Year’s Eve you aren’t going to get that last remaining room for chips. You can threaten to take your business elsewhere or tell them that so-and-so hotel is giving you a much friendlier rate, and the receptionist will shrug and wish you luck. They can sell the room to someone else, after all. It’s a supplier’s market.
2. Last-minute decisions.
We’ve all been there! You were too busy arranging birthday parties for the kids, your client wanted this job done right now, things piled up and you lost track of time. Before you know it, it’s just a day before you board the plane and head for the tropical warmth of Southeast Asia. Oops. You forgot to book a hotel. Now all there is left is a bunch of run-down bed and breakfast and guesthouses. Cheap, sure, but do you really want to spend your holiday in those? You deserveÂ better. Travel at off-peak months and you’ll find yourself in luxury three-to-four-stars hotels at almost the same price you’d have paid for dilapidated guesthouses during Flower Festival.
3. Crowds, crowds, crowds.
Those charming street markets sure looked great on the postcards until you’re there and realize you are another tuna in a tin can. Want to know a secret? They’ve got street markets all the time! The same goes with many year-round events and festivals. Look up your destination and do a little research. You’re bound to find any number of fairs. Plus, the tiger farm or the elephant camp you’ve always wanted to see? Yup, that’s also open round the year, and what’s more you won’t be rubbing shoulders with so many tourists. No reason to put up with long baggage collection waits, either.
4. Airfare deals, bargain flights.
Budget travel is the key. Take a look at Thai Airways or do a general search for flights to Thailand, and you’ll find great packages and cheap flights. Some won’t let you cancel and/or change your dates, but if you’ve already got everything organized, that shouldn’t be any trouble.
5. More flexible.
Need to extend your stay a day backward or forward at the hotel? Can’t. The day before you arrive, or the day after your intended check-out, is already packed. The receptionist will apologize and tell you they’d have loved to let you stay on, but they simply don’t have the space. You will have to lug your suitcases around town in a rented car or worse, a tuk-tuk, and you won’t have anyone to blame but yourself. Traveling in off-peak months and want to extend your stay? They’ll probably give you a room upgrade or a discount for the privilege.
The best months to do all this are May to September. Weather in Thailand during this time of the year is on the hot side with a bit of rain here and there, but if you’d wanted wintry, you’d have stayed home, right? Besides, you can always duck into a cafÃ© for some iced drinks and air-conditioning. And with all the travel budget you’ll be saving-along with everything else I’ve listed right here-the climate isn’t going to bother you for long.