In deference to the wishes expressed by some Ghumakkars, I devote this concluding part to practical issues for the visitors viz. expenses, practical tips etc. Most of these have already been covered in previous posts and here it is more of a compilation job with some amplification on a few issues. I have basically given the figures of all major/recurring expenses.
Once again, let me reiterate the Indian Rupee to Thai Baht conversion rates (and the fact that they are March 2012 rates and has changed thereafter) as follows –
1 Thai Baht (1 THB) = 1.6 INR (Indian Rupee).
This is the biggest drain on budget, hence being discussed first. We bought Del-Bkk-Del Indigo ticket @ INR 14,000/- each (total airfare, 14000 x 3 = INR 42,000/-). Currently, similar rates are available in Indigo for Feb/Mar 2013, if booked now.
Another option would be to explore Kolkata – Bangkok option. Kolkata being almost at midpoint between Delhi and Bangkok, there is a substantial drop in fare, if taken ex-Kolkata. For e.g. Thai airways fare for Feb 2013 currently available is as follows:- Del – Bkk (return) – INR 22,000/-, Kol – Bkk (return) – INR 13,000/-
Indigo does not yet have Kol-Bkk flights. But Kolkata offers other ingenious options viz AirAsia, Bangladesh Airlines, etc.
Do remember that airfares depend on a large number of variables. Basic rule remains that the sooner you buy, you stand better chances for a good deal. Explore various air-travel portals (Makemytrip.com, yatra.com, Travelocity.com etc) to get an idea of the going rate. Find out the applicable charges if you were to change or cancel the tickets.
This would normally be the second biggest expense, if one is looking at an approx 7-days rental. In Part 2 of this series, I have covered in detail about procedures, expenses and what/how issues. At a basic cost of THB 900/- per day and an additional zero-liability insurance cost at THB 200/- per day, my total expense was approx INR 14000/-. Though I did not keep a record of the petrol expense, I would roughly put it at approx INR 9000/-.
Car hiring charges for 7 days = INR 14,000/-
Petrol expenses for 2000 kms = INR 9,000/-
Total expense on gaadi = INR (14,000 + 9,000) = INR 23,000/-
For purpose of planning expenses, one may also factor-in toll charges. In my case, toll road was restricted to Bangkok – Chonburi sector and charges varied between THB 50-100. The highways north of Bangkok all the way till Chiang Mai were totally toll-free.
Points that you should keep in mind before taking over the car are –
1. Do a thorough visual inspection. Any scratch/dent/damage marks are to be brought to the notice of renters.
2. Check state of tyres, as well as stepni. Take a drive and look for any issues which you would like to clarify before driving away.
3. Get details of emergency service/ numbers. Be clear about who and how to tackle issues of defects etc. midway.
4. Some people advise taking a few snapshots on your camera, especially of dents/damages/ such issues which could be a point of contention later on.
As I have said before, Thailand hotel charges are comparable to Indian rates. All our charges in Homestays were well below THB 1300/- per day. My budget for stay had shot up thanks to Baiyoke Hotel (Bangkok), where rate came to approx INR 7000/- per day.
Expense on stay in Homestays/ B&Bs = THB 1300/- x 7 days = THB 9,100/- = approx INR 14,500/-
Expense of INR 28,000/- on stay in Baiyoke Hotel (04 days) is being discounted here.
Total expense on stay room = THB 1300/- x 11 days = THB 14,300/- = INR 22,800/-
Keep aside approx INR 2500/- per head for the visa. If you avail Visa on Arrival, charges would reduce marginally.
Total expense on VISA (for 3) – INR 7,500/-
A dhaba thali on the highways (Part 5) would cost you some THB 50-75 per head. Lunch for 3 at mid-range restaurant in Chiang Mai would cost THB 400-500/- . At an average, for a three member family, it would suffice to leave aside THB 300 for a major meal and perhaps THB 200 for other tit-bits.
Food expense @ 500THB per day (for three) for 11 days – 500 x 11 = THB 5,500/- = INR 8,800/-.
Related expenses include water (THB 15-25 a one-litre bottle). The GH/Home-stays usually provide unlimited complimentary water. Big hotels are thriftier and would usually fix it to 02 bottles a room a day. On such occasions, apart from putting water vending machine (Part 6) to good use, another option would be to buy the 5-litre dispense type bottle for some THB 60-70/-. Such bottles are usually available in 7/11 and other such departmental stores. Hotels/ homestays usually provide a coffee making machine and standard tea/coffee pouches with sugar. Milk powder may not be automatically available, though.
Fee at tourist sights are something which may add up to a large amount, if it is not factored-in. This is one aspect where visitors should be very careful in planning stage. Find out the sight visiting fee, etc and accordingly plan your visit.
Bangkok and central parts of Thailand generally follows the weather pattern of Kolkata/ East India. Best period for visit would therefore be winters, followed by the period succeeding winter months. Monsoons are harsh and last year’s flooding scene remains fresh in our memories. Sundry expenses/ daily use stuff cost almost same as what things would cost in India. Some standard prices (out of my memory) are as follows:-
Water bottle (1 ltr) – THB 15-30/-
Daab (tender coconut) – THB 15/- (in Chiang Mai) to THB 60/- (Bangkok)
500 ml Singha beer – THB 50-70/-
Milk (1 litre) – THB 40/-
Coke 0.5 ltr bottle – THB 25/-
Airfare Del-Bkk return (14000 x 3) INR 42,000/-
Car hiring charges (7 days) INR 14,000/-
Petrol expenses (approx 2000 kms) INR 9,000/–
Stay – THB 1300/- a room, for 11 Days = THB 14,300/- = INR 22,800/-
Visa (for 3) INR 7,500/-
Food @ 500THB per day (for three) for 11 days – 500 x 11 = THB 5,500/- = INR 8,800/-.
TOTAL (expense for a family of three, while hiring a car for 7 days and all and sundry inclusive) INR 1 Lakh (approx) :-)
So here it is. A stay for 11 days for a family of three (one child) would be around 1 L. The prices above are obviously tentative, but they are aimed to provide a rough idea. And yes, I have not included shopping. For further details, as and when any Ghumakkar decides on the plan, please do contact me. I will endeavour to provide any information that I have access to. So go ahead and enjoy your share of Amazing Thailand. Believe me, it is worth it……….