Going travelling? Here’s advice on efficient packing

Going travelling? Here’s advice on efficient packing

When you’re packing a small bag for a long trip, it can feel like the hardest level on Tetris! You want to make sure you have everything you’ll need, but without over-packing and ending up having to pay, either in extra charges from the airline or in back pain!

We’ve given you a sneak peek into our packing lists before, but here are some of our top tips on packing your own things efficiently.

Pre-plan

It’s so easy to pack too much, too little, or in some cases, just things you’ll never end up wearing. Make sure you check the weather forecast so you know what sort of things you should be packing, and also consider your itinerary.

If you’re planning lots of hikes, make sure you have the correct equipment, but if you’re also planning a fancy dinner or two, you’ll need dressier clothes as well. Make a list and tick off as you go so you can be sure you’ve got everything you need.

Going travelling? Here's advice on efficient packing

Go mini

Travel-sized versions of your toiletries will save a lot of space in your suitcase and will ensure you can take them in hand luggage. For those that can’t be bought in those sizes, you can invest in some reusable travel bottles and decant your larger bottles into them. Make sure you put them in zip-top bags to avoid the devastating shampoo explosion! You should also be able to buy things such as a mini hair dryer or flat iron if you need to take those along with you.

Double up

If space is tight you don’t want to be packing one full outfit (or more!) per day. Think about things that can be re-worn and styled differently. For example, you could layer things for a different look, or dress something up or down depending on the shoes and accessories. This is even better if you have washing facilities where you’re staying as you can make a few items last a lot longer.  

Going travelling? Here's advice on efficient packing

Cover your gadgets!

Good travel insurance will cover your gadgets, so if you’re planning on taking your tablets, cameras or laptops with you, it’s a good idea to look into what cover you can get. A trip will cost you a whole lot more if you end up losing your expensive bits of technology on the first day!

It’s best to limit the number of gadgets you take with you; consider what tech can be utilised in different ways, such as using your phone as a camera. Make sure you wrap up anything fragile in your clothes when packing, too.

Roll, don’t fold!

It has been proven that you can fit more in your case or bag if you go for a tightly rolled method, rather than folding your clothes. The other benefit to this is that your clothes won’t get those deep fold lines that often come from sitting in a case for a while.

So these are just some of our top tips on how to pack efficiently! Whether you are backpacking around the world or just going on a business trip, you can apply these and make the most of your space. We’ve certainly found that it’s a skill we get better at each time we do it! If you’ve got any tips for packing, please leave them in the comments.

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5 Best Sri Lanka Surf and Yoga Retreats

The south of Sri Lanka is a perfect tourism destination, especially if you like surfing and yoga.  Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats are a great option, especially if you enjoy all-inclusive, no-worries travel.  With many different surf and yoga retreat options, it can be hard to decide which retreat to book.  Here is our guide comparing the 5 best Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats!

Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat:

best sri lanka surf and yoga retreatsOffering all-inclusive week-long surf and yoga retreats based in Weligama, these retreats are held at an amazing colonial villa in the jungle near the town.  Included are four surf lessons, eight yoga practices, breathwork meditation sessions, two daily meals with private chefs, a cooking class, and charity give-back days.  They also take you on a safari through Udawalawe National Park which is packed full of wild elephants and other beautiful creatures.  A great value for seeing a lot without needing to plan anything.  We also like how everyone starts and finishes the experience together, allowing you to make deep, lasting friendships.

Website: weligamasurfyogaretreat.com

8-day package price: $1,500 USD

Our review with pictures!

Surf & Yoga Mirissa:

best sri lanka surf and yoga retreatsWeeklong packages include six surf sessions, six yoga classes, one massage, and daily breakfast.  A bonus is the friendly local owners and delicious Ahimsa Vegan Cafe (extra cost but worth it) located on the property. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, quietly nestled away from the main road.  Other packages and longer stays are available on their website.  Less all-inclusive but better for more independent travelers.

Weeklong package price: $555 USD

Wesbsite: www.surfnyogamirissa.com

Our detailed review with pictures!

Soul & Surf:

best sri lanka surf and yoga retreats
Photo Credit: The Australian

For a more luxury option, enjoy Soul & Surf’s new and modern rooms and beautiful swimming pool.  Included in a one-week stay are three meals per day, seven yoga sessions, ten surf outings, two meditation sessions, a guided SUP adventure and more.  Great if you want to spend your time relaxing in one place; the downside is that it’s a little off the main drag.  Oh, and the swimming pool is a nice bonus.

Weeklong price: ~ $1,500 USD for a shared room – $2,500 for a luxury private room.  Check their website for options and availability.  Prices lower in off season (May-November).

Website: www.soulandsurf.com

Sunshine Stories:

best sri lanka surf and yoga retreatsMade for the more serious surfer crowd, Sunshine Stories retreats include many different types of training to take your surf to another level.  Included in their packages are seven breakfasts, five lunches and dinners, ten yoga sessions, five surf lessons, a variety of surf classes and video feedback, a temple visit, and your own surf video.

Weeklong package price: $899 USD for a shared room in their villa.

Website: sunshinestories.com

Camp Poe:

best sri lanka surf and yoga retreats
Photo credit: camppoe.com

Located in Ahangama, Camp Poe is a boutique oasis which offers luxury safari tents or bungalows for accommodation.  They also have a swimming pool and honestly some of the best yoga teachers on the island.  Their packages include seven breakfasts, five dinners, five surf lessons, surf theory, five yoga classes, and included tea and unlimited water.

Weeklong package price: from $699 USD for private tent.  Cheaper shared tents also available.  More action-packed deals are also available with twice the surfing, more yoga, and included photo & videos.  Check their website for other price options.

Website: camppoe.com

All of the best Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats include transport to the surf spots and surfboard rentals.   Check their website for more exact itineraries and lists of optional add-ons.  Keep in mind that the weather is best in the south of Sri Lanka between November and April, and prices are higher during this season.  If you are looking for the best budget Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats, consider coming in the off season to save and enjoy less crowds.

Also, don’t forget about our all-inclusive Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreat this September with Bigger Life Adventures!

Like this article about the best Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats?  Check out our article on how to navigate Sri Lanka’s many transportation options!

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Sri Lanka transportation – a guide to how to travel the island

Traveling to Sri Lanka? Landing in Colombo can be overwhelming but doesn’t have to be.  Travel in Sri Lanka can be stress free if you know how to get around.  Whether you are headed for your next big surf trip or just to soak up the beach sun, study our ultimate Sri Lanka transportation guide to best enjoy this Indian Ocean island paradise.

Sri Lanka transportation – a guide to how to travel the island

Train:

etienne-boulanger-406361-unsplash

The Sri Lanka train system is old-school and can range from dreamy rides through the mountains with a whole car to yourself, to being packed in like sweaty sardines, unable to sit for hours.  The most iconic ride is between Ella and Kandy, which takes you through incredible mountain and tea plantations views and Horton Plains National Park.  It is perhaps the most beautiful train ride in the world.  You can start east of Ella if you want to ride over the Nine Arch Bridge, or just hike there from Ella town to get your picture.  Trains are separated into first, second, and third classes.  First class tickets can be bought online and you get a guaranteed seat.  Second and third class are similar and you can purchase them at the ticket office no more than 15 minutes before the train arrives.  You might get a seat, you might not.  Once on a packed train we sat in the doorway with our legs out the side of the train the whole journey.  Despite sore butts from sitting on the floor the whole way, it was a great way to enjoy the scenery!

Bus:sri lanka bus transportation

Local buses go everywhere in Sri Lanka.  If you are traveling for a long time and/or on a budget, this is your best bet.  Find the blue signs along the road which signify stopping points; they are every few hundred meters.  Be prepared to jump on while the bus is still moving!  The ticket sellers will sometimes try to over-charge you.  Once inside hold on for dear life, as the drivers are notoriously psychotic and get paid by the trip, not by the hour.  Bus fare in Sri Lanka are around 20 LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) for a short trip or near 200 LKR from Colombo to the south coast (~5hrs).  For busing to/from Colombo, check out the special section in the bottom of the page.  Throw your backpacks in front by the driver or in the storage space in the rear, depending on how helpful/hurried the ticket guys are at the moment.  Buses are by far the most popular form of Sri Lanka transportation with the locals, so ride them at least once for the experience.

Tuk tuk:

Tuk Tuk sri lanka

These three-wheeled motorized rickshaws are a Sri Lankan transportation staple and you will find them all over the island.  They are fun to zoom around in, but the drivers are pushy and you always have to ask the price up front and negotiate; just please don’t be a dick because the price is 50 LKR higher than you’d like.  A good tourist’s tuk tuk fare is 75 LKR per kilometer, but expect to pay more late at night.  They have room for three people but will sometimes let you take more (for a tip) and generally have room for your luggage.  Check out the Tuk Tuk Safari that we did, which featured the nicest tuk tuk we’ve ever seen!  In Colombo there is a great app called Pick Me that you can use to summon your tuk tuk rides.

Motorbike:

motorbike sri lanka transportation

Buses and tuk tuks get old fast, and sometimes you just want t stop and get a coconut (or an ice cream).  Renting a motorbike is a nice change of pace and lets you explore more remote and off-the-beaten-path destinations.  Prices range from 800-1200 LKR per day.  In our opinion, this is the most fun type of Sri Lanka transportation.  Technically you need an international drivers license, along with your home country’s ID, and a special permit only obtainable in Colombo.  Most tourists who rent motorbikes do not have all or any of these documents, so just expect to pay a fine if you are stopped by the police.  Watch out for police roadblocks in every town.  We generally see them coming and hide behind the car in front of us.  The police aren’t trying to work too hard, and won’t chase you.

Taxi:

Taxis are useful in Colombo, or if you are on a quick trip/higher budget.  A trip from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport to the south can cost between 7,000 and 12,000 LKR so be sure to do some negotiating.  If you have a hotel reserved, have them arrange a taxi for you, as they will get a better price and your ride will be waiting on your arrival.  If you need a ride to/from specific places, post sometime on one of the Sri Lanka traveler Facebook groups and many taxis will message you with deals.  Uber is a good option, but only works in Colombo.  Taxis don’t normally have signs in Sri Lanka, because they are usually are just some dude with a Prius.

Getting to/from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport:

Keep in mind that Sri Lanka only has one international airport, located in Colombo.  Most travelers choose to skip Colombo or leave it until the end of their trip, after getting more comfortable with the country.  Leaving the airport is one of the most expensive parts of travel in Sri Lanka.  There are several options to get you where you need to be:

Bus – When walking out the main exit during daytime hours, you will see a blue bus directly in front of the exit.  This takes you to the main bus station (150 LKR – 1hr) near the Colombo Fort and train station.  This main bus station is for local buses which depart to all parts of the island for a very cheap price.  However, if you’re headed to the south we’d recommend taking the highway bus to Matara (500 LKR – 2hrs) which is air conditioned and gets you there in half the time of the local bus. These nicer buses leave from a different bus station called Maharagama in south Colombo.  They depart every 15 min or so when full.  There are also highway buses directly to Galle, although they leave less often than the Matara buses. To get to Maharagama either take a bus from the local bus station, or taxi/Uber straight from the airport (45 min, recommended).

Taxi – If you are only in Sri Lanka for a short time and your first stop is outside Colombo, we recommend just taking a taxi straight from the airport to your destination.  Set it up with your hotel in advance to save money and have someone waiting for you.  Keep in mind that if you are arriving late at night or early in the morning, taxi or Uber might be your only option for getting anywhere.

Tuk tuk – if you are spending the night in nearby Negombo, you can take a tuk tuk to your destination.  The tuk tuks are not allowed into the airport pickup area but you just need to walk across the street to flag one down.

Sri Lanka transportation is easy, however sometimes it can be crowded and hot.  We call it “character building” as my favorite athlete Alex Honnold would say.  Just keep your cool and everything will be fine!  What’s to worry, if all else fails while traveling Sri Lanka, you’ve still got your Chevrolegs and your thumb!

Don’t want to worry about anything while traveling in Sri Lanka?  Check out our upcoming Sri Lanka Surf & Yoga retreat through Bigger Life Adventures!  We take care of everything so you can focus on the fun!

Enjoy this post about Sri Lanka transportation options?  Check out our archives for other guides and helpful advice for travelers all over the world!  And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our Youtube Channel!

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Sak Yant – Thailand’s Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

As soon as we arrived in Thailand we started noticing people’s traditional tattoos.  After a few internet searches, we learned more about the “Sak Yant” as they are called– magic bamboo tattoos.  Sak Yant are beautifully designed and come with a blessing, their goal to grant protection and to give strength to the bearer of the tattoo.  The sacred tattoos are given by Buddhist monks, or ex-Monk tattoo masters called Ajarns.  The Ajarns dedicated their lives to learning the ancient art, passing the traditions down to their apprentices.

Our Sak Yant Experience in Ayutthaya

After the initial research we put in, we were turned off by the whole “free tattoo in the temple thing” as from the accounts we first read the process seemed crowded and rushed, with questionable sterilization practices.  We searched for a more personable experience, and that is when we found Where Sidewalks End Travel.  WSE’s owner Ian has spent years traveling all over Asia looking for the best Ajarns masters of the art of Sak Yant.  He now offers the most authentic Sak Yant experiences for travelers by providing a translator/guide and making sure participants really understand the purpose of the tattoos they are getting.

On the morning of our appointment, our guide, Coco, picked us up at our hostel and we took a taxi to Mo Chit Bus Terminal in Bangkok.  From there we took a mini van for the 1.5 hour journey north to Ayutthaya.  We chose to go to Ayutthaya because of the amazing things we had heard about Ajarn Wao, the sak yant master there, and his psychic abilities.  He seemed like the best choice and we trusted him to use his mastery to help us decided on the right sak yant tattoos for us.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

Once in the city, we stopped to buy marigold wreaths as an offering.  After getting the flowers we jumped into a tuk tuk that would take us to the samayant” the studio/temple where the ceremony would take place.  After driving past the temples of the old Thai capital, we arrived and were welcomed upstairs into the sacred space.

The room was open with many windows.  At the far end was a tiered altar containing many images of the Buddha, Ganesh (the elephant god and god of art), and other sacred figures.  Incense burned in the corner and the master’s apprentices sat patiently at the side of the room.  While we waited for Ajarn Wao, our guide Coco told us some guidelines to follow in order to be respectful.  These included never pointing your feet towards the altar and walking with bent knees, aiming to never walk taller than the Ajarn.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
The altar in the samayant, with images of Ganesh (the elephant god), Hanuman (the monkey king), Lersi the Hermit, and the Buddha.
sak yant ayutthaya
9 sticks in incense each for good luck.
Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
9 sticks of incense burn for each of us.

When Ajarn Wao entered the room, we kneeled at the front and lit nine sticks of incense each, nine being the most lucky number in Thailand.  We then presented our marigold wreaths which were hung on the altar.  Carrie decided to go first, since she had more tattoo experience.  Through our translator Coco, Carrie answered questions about her birth-date, along with a few details about some struggles she has had and her desire to be more mindful in her life.  Ajurn Wao made a chart in his notebook, which he used to explain her future and recent past.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
Carrie’s age timeline.
Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
The needles and equipment.

Carrie’s Sak Yant Experience:

Carrie’s tattoo was decided; she would receive a tiger to protect her and give her strength.  The tiger would be depicted looking over its shoulder at her past, which was difficult but would make her stronger.  In the future her enemies will become jealous of her strength and success, and will try to take it from her, the Ajarn said.  But in the end she will overcome, emerging stronger than ever.  Thus that tattoo was also a reminder to stay in the moment, to not worry about the future.

Tiger Sak Yant
The basic outline
Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
Starting Carrie’s protective tiger Sak Yant.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

Sak Yant Tiger Ayutthaya Sak Yant Tiger Ayutthaya Sak Yant Tiger Ayutthaya

Ajarn Wao worked fast, but Carrie’s tattoo was large and it took nearly an hour.  It was amazing the precision of his needle strikes.  After he wiped the ink away, intricate patterns were revealed.  As he went he was constantly uttering blessings, his mantras calming.  After a few more blessings were added, the tattoo was finished.

But Ajarn Wao wasn’t done.  He wanted to give Carrie a special additional oil sak yant tattoo, invisible but still powerful.  Our guide said that this was very rare.  Carrie agreed and soon a design formed on her upper back out of small bits of blood.  The oil yant would fade over the next few days, but it’s lucky magic would remain.

Invisible Oil Sak Yant
Invisible Oil Sak Yant
Invisible Oil Sak Yant
The finished oil yant — it disappeared in a few days.

Zach’s Sak Yant Experience: 

As it was my turn the calmness left me and my palms became sweaty.  I sat in silence with plans to share about some of my struggles, my idea that I was my own worst enemy.   I knelt before the Ajarn and before I could speak a word, he said to me (translated through Coco) “You need to decrease your ego.  Try to think before speaking.”  This was shocking because ego was what I already knew to be a problem and exactly what I had planned to bring up.

He then figured out the meaning of my birthday.  In the Chinese calendar, I am born in the year of the rabbit.  However, Ajarn Wao based his predictions on the Thai calendar.  Under these dates, I was born in the year of the snake, and on Saturday, the day of the snake.  This double snake made me very powerful, but my biggest enemy was my ego.  The Ajarn then asked me about what I wanted to share, and I exclaimed that everything had already been said.  I felt as if Ajarn Wao could see into my soul, which was scary but also calming in a way, as understanding your weaknesses is the only way to truly overcome them.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
Ajurn Wao deciding which Sak Yant will help me the most.

My tattoo was to be a blessing, with an emphasis on a chicken.  The chicken would distract the snakes (my ego) and help bring my consciousness away from my ego’s control.  It would help me to listen and think more before speaking, allowing me to choose the right words at the right time.  After a blessing I bent forward, away from the master who began inserting the inked stick into my back.

Traditionally given with sharpened bamboo, present day Ajurns use sharpened steel poles called “khem sak”.  At first it was just a few pricks, but soon I could feel the sharpness grind against my spine.  My knuckles turned white and sweat poured down my face.  I was warned that the placement would be difficult, and I was given a mantra to repeat when it got rough.  I noticed that the others present felt my anguish and my reaction was laughter which engulfed the room.  Soon I was able to relax myself and I became numb.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
The more pain, the more power.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

Sak Yant Tattoo Ayutthaya

sak yant

I noticed the apprentices, who where holding me still, stand and the sak yant sacred tattooing was finished.  Ajurn Wao splashed me with cool water and a flood of energy flooded by body.  I felt a great power come over me, as if I was new.  A smile spread over my face as gold leaf was rubbed into the blessed tattoo.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
A blessing with gold for luck.

Sak Yant Tattoo Ayutthaya

Finshed

After we were both finished we thanked Ajurn Wao and presented our donations to him for his services.  He told us that in our relationship we needed to stop trying to one-up each other, to listen more and let things go.  He was spot on again!  This man has real wisdom.

Sak Yant Tattoo Ayutthaya Sak Yant Tattoo Ayutthaya

We chose this experience because of the reputability of WSE Travel.  Other options include going to a temple where the tattoos are given in exchange for an offering.  In these places you will wait in line and receive a tattoo for very cheap, but it may be rushed and you will miss the personal experience.  While the needles at the temple are sterilized, they are dipped into the same ink from person to person.  Theoretically this could spread diseases and even though our research never found any confirmed cases, we decided that it wasn’t for us.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
A tiger and a temple.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

This was hands down one for the greatest, most spiritual experiences of our traveling lives, and the lessons we learned have immeasurable value.  WSE’s Sak Yant tattoo experiences are definitely not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for and this is a lifetime commitment.  With their inside knowledge and their commitment to sustainability and making sure the sak yant tradition continues in Thailand, WSE was the obvious choice for us.  They also offer experiences in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Chiang Rai, and Sukhothai along with ink-less blessings in Bangkok. We’ll write an update on our tattoos and how they are affecting our lives soon!  Do you think Ajarn Wao’s predictions will come true?

Would you get a sacred tattoo to help you on your life journey?

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Enjoy this post about the Sak Yant Experience – Getting sacred tattoos in Ayutthaya, Thailand? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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Thai Smiles – A Guide To What NOT To Do in Thailand

Thailand is a land of respect and “non-confrontational culture” where losing your cool is frowned upon and everything revolves around keeping a smile on your face.  This is a list of what NOT to do in Thailand!  Follow it if if you want to keep those Thai Smiles on the local’s faces.  Mistakes happen, but trying goes a long way in keeping the locals on your side!

What NOT To Do in Thailand – A Guide to Thai Smiles

1 – Disrespect The Royal Family:

A Guide to Thai Smiles - What NOT To Do in Thailand

The Thai Monarchy is all-powerful in Thailand.  As a foreigner, you shouldn’t voice any opinions about the King unless they are very positive.  You should always give the Royal family your utmost respect.  This includes not staring at posters of the King, standing up in the theater when the pre-movie film about the King is played, and standing still at 8am and 6pm when the national anthem is played over every speaker in Thaialnd.

2 – Get Upset:

Getting visibly angry or annoyed is considered bad form in Thailand.  Keeping that Thai smile on your face is the best way to get the most out of a bad situation.  Thai culture is based on respect and it goes both ways.  It isn’t always easy, especially when you come from a place like the United States where you get upset with people every day.  Test it out the next time you are about to lose your cool; a little respect goes a long way.

3 – Leave Your Shoes On:

what not to do in thailand

Going into someone’s house or business usually requires you to take off your shoes.  Thai people (and most Asian countries) think that shoes are super gross.  If you see shoes at the front door, leave yours there too.  It’s handy to wear sandals everywhere, making the removal process a lot easier.

4 – Ride the Elephants:

thai smiles - don't ride elephants

Elephants belong in nature, not cooped up as vehicles for your enjoyment.  Most of the elephants that are ridden were taken from their mothers as babies, broken of their animal spirit and destined to miserable lives in cages.  DO NOT RIDE elephants, EVER.  Also, many of the elephant “sanctuaries” are just zoos where the animals are treated very poorly for the enjoyment of uneducated tourists.  There are several places in Thailand that have more ethical sanctuaries, however these are a small majority and in general you must question the reason that any elephant is not in the wild.

5 – Eat Shark Fin:

no shark fin soup - thai smiles

Many places in Bangkok, especially Chinatown, serve shark fin.  When the sharks are caught, their fins are cut off and the rest of the fish is thrown back into the sea.  This is a very wasteful and unethical practice.  Sharks are one of the most important parts of the ocean ecosystem and when their population declines it reeks havoc on all aspects of sea life.  World fish populations are in drastic decline throughout the world, reduced by more than 50% since 1970.  Keeping the top predators alive and thriving is the best way to support healthy marine environments.

6 – Touch the Monks:

what not to do in bangkok thai smiles dont touch monks

Monks should be treated with the utmost respect.  Never should you touch a monk, and always give them space in a crowded situation.  Most transportation systems have special seats for monks so they can avoid contact with others.  This is especially important for women.  A woman touching a monk can bring the monk great shame and hurt his standing among the other monks.  Women should also never hand anything directly to a monk, but instaed hand it to a man first who then hands it to the monk.  Your best bet is to giv them as much space as you can to avoid awkward situations.

7 – Dress Inappropriately in the Temple:

A Guide to Thai Smiles - What NOT To Do in Thailand

Temples throughout Thailand and Asia in general are places of modesty and should be treated with respect.  Men and women should wear pants below the knees, while women should always cover their shoulders and chest.  Ignoring these rules is extremely disrespectful and puts a bad face on tourists.  Also, the images of the Buddha should never be used in appropriate ways.  The Buddha should never be displayed in a bar, or put on your body in the form of a tattoo.  If you have a Buddha tattoo and it is visible when entering Thailand, Thai customs agents can deny your entry into the country and permanently ban you from entering the Kingdom.

8 – Display Affection in Public:

no kissing in thailand - thai smiles - what not to do in thailand

Thai people are very modest in public and couples should avoid displaying affection on the streets.  Holding hands is frowned upon, while kissing with tongue in public is illegal.  Keep your hands to yourself and save the smooching for your hotel room.

9 – Shake Hands:

thai smiles from mcdonalds

Shaking hands is a very western thing.  Asians are very clean people and dislike spreading germs through touch.  Opt instead for the classic Thai wai.  Many Thai people will wai you and this should generally be returned.  Do this by placing your hands like a prayer at your chest and bowing your head until your nose touches your finger tips.  Don’t wai people of lower social status than you, as this is embarrassing to everyone around you.  This includes waiters, service people, and anyone who is obviously younger than you.   Don’t forget those Thai smiles with your wai!!!

10 – Point at People:

Pointing at things or especially people should is considered extremely rude in Thailand.  This is especially true when pointing with your feet. Use your head to direct attention in a certain direction.

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There are more things that could have been added to this list.  For instance, it’s bad luck to whistle at night, don’t dress sloppy, and don’t push too hard for the best deal.  The most important thing is to always keep those Thai smiles on your face and things will work out just fine!

Enjoy this post about what NOT to do in Thailand – a guide to Thai smiles? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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How To Get Around Bangkok, Thailand – A Guide For Travelers

Figuring out how to get around Bangkok, Thailand can be overwhelming at first.  Navigating the big city can seem impossible, until you figure out the different transportation systems.  The options are many and all have their time and place and ideal use.  Taking advantage of the right method can save you time, money, and headaches.

HOW TO GET AROUND BANGKOK

how to get around bangkok

1 – Taxi

Metered taxis can be the cheapest way to get around the city.  They are best when the roads are less busy (before 7 am), midday (10am-2pm) and after 8pm.  Taxi’s should always be running the meter.  If the driver offers you a price upfront then move on to the next driver because he’s trying to rack up the price.  They usually will only do this during rush hour when the meter price isn’t worth it for them to drive you.  At these times it’s best to take another mode of transport anyhow because it could take you hours to drive a few miles.  Sometimes the taxis around the very touristy areas will also refuse to use the meter.  If you just walk a couple blocks out of the super touristy area you should be able to find a taxi not trying to scam you.

Uber is another decent option.  They are usually a little more expensive than the meter taxis but you get a set price in advance.  You need a Thai phone number to do this, as the drivers usually like to call you in advance.  Set yourself up in front of a 7 Eleven to make it easy for the driver to understand.  Just say “Farang 7 Eleven” and they can usually find you.  Your hostel can usually help you talk to the driver as well.  You can use the code zackm5528ue to get 50 Baht off of your first ride.

Grab is an app like Uber, but more popular in Asia.  Most of the metered taxis also run this app.  It is usually a little cheaper than Uber and a good option during busier traffic times when the drivers don’t want to run the meter.  Same as Uber, they will usually call you so be prepared to communicate with someone who has rudimentary English skills.  Most taxi drivers at least know basic English though, so don’t fear.

how to get around bangkok

2 – Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuks are little motorized rickshaws that are on every street corner in Bangkok.  Slightly more expensive than the metered taxis, tuk tuks are SUPER FUN to zoom around town.  The price starts at about 100 Baht for a 10 min ride and you always have to negotiate to get a decent deal.  Ask your hostel before you start for a fair price.  They hold three people comfortableyand up to six if you want to get super cozy with your friends after a night out.  They are best to use at night for bar hopping when it’s cooler and you care less about the lack of A/C.  Keep in mind that you will get wind in your hair and the dust from the street may irritate your eyes a little, but it’s totally worth it for the experience.  Everyone who comes to Thailand has to take a tuk tuk at least once.

There is also a really cool app called Tuk Tuk Hop.  It’s like Uber for tuk tuks, and takes you around the historic temple area of the city.  You pay a set price and get unlimited rides for the day.  It’s really nice because you don’t have to negotiate or search for vehicles.  Check out our article HERE for more information about this app.

how to get around bangkok

3 – Moto-taxi

Mototaxis are the scariest way to travel in Bangkok.  The drivers are crazy and you might spend the whole time praying that you live to see the next day.  However, during rush hour this is sometime the ONLY WAY to get places because the mototaxis will cut between the traffic.  Look for the guys with orange vests and the price usually starts at 50 Baht and foreigners usually have to negotiate.

how to get around bangkok

4 – BTS, MRT, ART (Skytrain, Metro, Airport Rail)

The train system is by far the easiest and safest way to get around.  It goes to most of the most popular Bangkok neighborhoods and get your their fast.  You can pay as you go or purchase a re-loadable card for 100 Baht.  The hard part about the trains is that there are three different systems and each has it’s own top-up card.  Also when transferring between lines you usually have to leave one station and navigate around a corner to the other.  Use the trains during rush hour or on weekends when the roads are clogged up.

how to get around bangkok
Bangkok BTS, MRT, and ART Map

how to get around bangkok

5 – River Boats and Canal Boats

River Boats – The best way to get to the temples from central Bangkok.  Just take the BTS to Saphan Taksin station and walk down to the Chao Phraya River.  There are several options of boats that can take you across to Wat Arun for around 50 Baht as well as a free boat at night to the Asiatique Market.

how to get around Bangkok map
Chao Phraya River Boat Map

Canal Boats – These boats cruise through the small canals in central Bangkok.  This is the best way to get from the BTS to the Golden Mount and Khao San Road.  The boat is a 9 Bahtt flat free and cuts your travel time in half over the bus, even more at rush hour.  Buuuuuut, the downside is that these boats stop running at 7pm.

how to get around Bangkok map
Bangkok Canal Boat Map

how to get around bangkok

6 – Bus

Public buses run all over Bangkok and are the cheapest form of transport.  They are pretty much useless during rush hour, so keep that in mind.  They also are not air conditioned but have open windows.  Just wait at the bus stop, get on and sit down.  Someone will come around to collect your money.  The best way to figure out which buses go where is with Google Maps– it’s usually accurate enough.

how to get around bangkok

7 – Songthaew

These are pickup trucks with bench seats installed in the truck bed.  Less common in Bangkok, they are very popular in Chiang Mai and other cities throughout Thailand.   They usually have a set route and a cheap price.  Just flag them down, hop in, and pay at the end.

how to get around bangkok

8 – Bicycle

Bicycling in Bangkok can be downright scary when traffic is crazy.  However, cycling around the temples at night can be an amazing experience.  Check out the Bangkok Night Bike Tour put on by Grasshopper Adventures.  Also, biking is the best way to get around Bang Krachao, the “green lungs” of Bangkok.  Take a whole day to explore this neighborhood and escape from the grind of city life without going too far from the urban center.

how to get around bangkok

9 – Walking

Walking is always our favorite way to get around.  You see more and interact more with the local people.  Some nice places to walk in Bangkok include Lumphini Park, Chatuchak Market, and Khao San Road.  Use the maps.me app listed below for nice downloadable maps to show you how to get around Bangkok by foot.  There is also a free walking tour by Take A Walk BKK once a week.  Check their Facebook page for more info.  Note that if you walk more than two blocks by choice, Thai people will laugh at you in a lighthearted way.  The concept of walking by choice for exercise or sightseeing is pretty foreign here.  Thai people jump on moto-taxis to go two blocks!

Other Useful Advice

Maps.me – The most useful app for world travelers.  Just download the country map of wherever you are going then you are all set once you arrive.  It navigates you around without using data.  The app picks up location data from pinging WiFi signals, giving you constant location updates in towns and cities.  It’s very handy to make sure the taxi driver is taking you in the right direction, or just for general exploring of a new city.  This is the app we use the most while traveling, don’t skip it.

Sim Card – Get yourself a Thai number.  You can pick one up at any 7 Eleven for 49 Baht then just top it up 100 Baht at a time to keep yourself connected in case of emergency.  If you phone is locked you can get it jailbroken at many phone repair stores for a cheap price, or just buy an old used phone to use as a travel phone.

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7 Ways To Be A Better Traveler – Positive Impact Tourism

Many of us go traveling without any real purpose or direction.  This can be great but sometimes our travel can cause harm to the local economies, environments, and people.  Being mindful about how your travel affects others can make a real positive difference, especially in the developing world.   Here is our list of 7 ways that Positive Impact Tourism is important when you’re on the road.

1) Dress Like the Locals:

If you travel to a Muslim or more religious country, you don’t necessarily have to wear a hijab or dress to your ankles.  However, you might consider ditching the crop top and short shorts for a more conservative approach.  This is especially important when entering temples and other religious sanctuaries.

2) Understand Local Customs:

Before you embark on your trip, take a moment to Google “how to be polite in __________”.  This will go along way to encouraging the local people to not hate you.  For instance, in Thailand it is very impolite and unheard of to get visibly upset or mad at someone.  Keeping your cool can go a long way to having a more positive traveling experience.

3) Avoid Businesses Profiting Off of Animals:

Playing with the elephants, petting tigers, feeding the monkeys.  These things all sound mighty fun but these businesses are profiting off of keeping wild animals in cages.  These places are sad and there are few that should be supported.  Spend your money in National Parks where the wildlife is wild and will eat you if you try to pet it.

4) Reduce Waste Along Your Journey:

Carry a reusable bag and water bottle on your travels.  When you go shopping, insist that they put your purchases into your reusable bag.  Also, many hostels have drinking water stations so refilling your bottle can save a lot of money along with reducing waste.  Try to avoid plastic bottles in general, as usually you have an option to purchase soda in a can.  Refusing plastic straws is also a great way to help the environment as single use straws are very destructive.  Check out these bamboo drinking straws which are reusable and make you look super educated when you use them.

5) Eat At Local Restaurants:

When you go to a new country and immediately go straight to McDonalds, you are being a very bad tourist.  Eating at the local establishments keeps the money you spend in the community.  Skip Starbucks and drink the local coffee.  It will be cheaper and you won’t look like a total douche.  Spending your money the right way is one of the most important parts of positive impact tourism.

6) Volunteer The Right Way:

Stick to volunteering on farms or at hostels to extend your stay.  Many “voluntourism” options create more harm than good.  Make sure to do your research especially if it involves elephants or orphans.  Make sure your work is having a long tetm positive impact before you begin your stay.  Here is an article from the Huffington Post about “voluntourism” and the “white savior complex” and how terrible it is for third world nations.  One of our favorite Instagram stars, Barbie Savoir, sums up the problem pretty well through her clever satire.

7) Learn The Language:

Locals understand that most travelers can’t speak their language.  However, it’s really easy to pick up a couple words to make yourself a more polite traveler.  Learning “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” in every country you visit can earn you a lot of respect and smooth over awkward situations.  Do not just show up and start yelling at everyone in English.  Bad Tourist!!!

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