Best time to Travel to Thailand–Off-peak!

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 deserve 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 café 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.

Joanne Chong works in Business Development as an expert at the Empress Hotels Group, a family of Chiang Mai luxury hotels providing the best value for three/four-star accommodation suited for Chiang Mai holidays and long-stays, convention facilities and fine dining in Chiang Mai’s city center.

Buddhist Monks in Thailand

Here in Thailand it’s a tradition for men to ordain as monks for 3 months before getting married, however some are busy with their careers and only ordain for a week or two.

Buddhist Culture

Most peoples round southeast Asia have a lot of respect for their parents and elderly which is something that is dying out in Western culture.

In addition, Thai people really respect Buddhist monks because they lead simple lives and practice the Buddha’s teachings. Another reason the monks are so revered is because their meditation practice can lead to enlightenment which is considered the highest achievement of all.

Karma

Buddhists believe in the concept of karma, which in short means that every good action will reap good fruit sometime in the future while every bad action will reap bad fruit.

So, one of the most beautiful things you can do in Buddhist culture is to sponsor a monk which means offering him a robe, alms bowl and other necessities – this is usually done by the parents. The good karma of such a sponsorship is believed to be immense.

Men become monks for various reasons, however only a minority of the monks in Thailand have a genuine interest in the Buddha’s teachings. Most of them ordain to honor their parents.

Buddhist Monasticism

The monks set out on alms round just after sunrise. This is not viewed as begging in Buddhist countries but rather as a opportunity for the community to offer food to the honorable monks.

Offering foods to the monks is believed to make for very good karma.

The monks generally chant Buddhist scriptures 3-4 times a day, spend time studying and meditating. Life in a monastery is really monotonous with the same schedule and foods almost everyday. A few times a month they may chant at funerals and other religious ceremonies.

When I was a junior monk in Thailand, we swept leaves in the temple grounds every afternoon which is a meditation in itself. If you’re interested in meditation, monasteries offer plenty of inspiration and support.

All the best!

Thai Monks

Intro to Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is an amazingly diverse city to visit. Not only are there the ultra-modern offices, hotels and shopping malls dotted all over the city, but in stark contrast to this landscape are around 400 ancient cultural temples. Even though they look a little out of place in the city, they’re still so stunningly beautiful you just can’t help but look at them.

As you roam the streets of Bangkok, you’re likely to find citizens dressed in modern business clothing you’d expect in most places of the world, but you’ll also see Buddhist monks in traditional saffron robes too. This kind of cultural diversity is a part of what makes Thailand so unique.

As with many other large Asian cities, Bangkok is frequently congested with heavy traffic and people everywhere. The balmy tropical weather sees most of Thailand at a warm average annual temperature of around 28 degrees Celsius (around 83 degrees Fahrenheit) although in the warm season the high humidity can make it feel much warmer. Monsoon season, although still warm, can bring driving rain and electrical storms that are second to none.

Many of the local people are very aware of the value of tourists with a Western appearance and they are very clever about trying to hustle and convince tourists about taking their particular tour or visiting their business. They’re generally well-meaning though and you’ll find that the vast majority of Thai people are very polite and well-mannered.

Keep in mind that charges for taxis are not the same everywhere you go. A good example of this are the cab stalls inside the international airport terminal. They’ll offer you a ride to anywhere you need to go, but you might find they’re more expensive than the taxis sitting outside waiting for general fares. The cabs outside your hotel are the same. Take a walk a minute away from the hotel lobby and you’ll find general cabs that charge much less.

If you’re brave, try a ride on a three-wheeled tuk-tuk. In such busy traffic, these can be a little nerve-wracking at first, but they are definitely worth the experience at least once during your trip to Bangkok. 

There’s plenty of public transport in the city too, including buses and river taxis that can get you around via the river canal system. The river taxis are a great way to get around at the same time as getting a great view of the city.

During your visit to Thailand you should be aware of some general etiquette rules that you’ll need to follow. Always remember that the Thai Royal family is highly revered, so never make any comments that could be construed as even slightly negative about the monarchy.

You’ll also need to adhere to dress-code when entering sacred temples. It is mandatory to remove your footwear before you enter any of the temples anywhere across the country. You’ll also need to wear long pants or a sarong or long skirt inside the temples. This means that shorts and sleeveless tops are not permitted. However, you’ll find plenty of light-weight clothing to suit our needs while you’re visiting.

Images, likenesses, statues and even postcards of Buddha are sacred throughout Thailand, so if you plan to take a photo of yourself climbing on a Buddha statue, this could be seen as highly disrespectful. Similarly, public displays of affection between men and women are seen as improper, so take it back to your room! Of course, if public displays of ‘affection’ are your thing, then you might enjoy the notorious red light and adult entertainment district of Patpong.

The city of Bangkok is definitely worth exploring for a few days before you head off to some of the stunningly beautiful parts of Thailand. If your visit to Thailand is only a part of your total visit to Asia, then Bangkok airport offers great flight connections to most other Asian destinations, so it makes the city a great central location for your vacation.

Written by Sampson Zelder on behalf of Airline-Booking.com – travel search engine for finding the best Thailand travel deals on the internet from the number one travel discount experts.

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