It’s no secret that I love Thailand. I simply love it and that’s that.
As with any place though, after being here for a while, I do start to become settled in the familiar or desensitized to things that used to surprise me. You know how you never actually go to an activity or attraction in your home town because it’s always there and you could (theoretically) go any time? The same thing happens when you’re living abroad – you start to not explore as much or fully make the most of where you’re located. While I’ve certainly made my way around the country and experienced some of its best parts, there’s still so more to see and do.
I recently was invited to go on a trip visiting some provinces in central Thailand by campervan. I had no idea what to expect and was intrigued. I had never been to the regions we’d be visiting, parts of Samut Songkhram and Ratchaburi just west of Bankok, and had never seen a camper/trailer/RV anywhere in the country. Giant, multicolored, double decker tourist buses? Yep. Families of five (plus a dog!) balanced on one motorbike? Normal. Campervan? Nope, now that’s just plain weird.
The reason I had never seen a campervan in Thailand is because there’s only one company in the country offering them, and they’re relatively new at that. Started just two years ago, Campervan Thailand now rents out three sizes of campervans you can take out on your own or enjoy with your own personal driver and guide. Exploring on your own would certainly be an adventure, but the team at Campervan Thailand was able to put together a trip and experience far more interesting, and on an incredibly local level, than anything I could have ever done on my own.
For two and half days I experienced places and activities I had had no idea about before. I hate the term “off the beaten track” when it comes to traveling, but throughout this trip, I felt like I was getting a unique look into the country’s traditions and culture that most foreign tourists aren’t exposed to.
Local markets where we bought and taste tested whatever we wanted…and actually had someone close by who could explain what we were trying (after we dodged a train)…
…small shops seemingly in the middle of nowhere where craftspeople are still creating Thai goods in the traditional ways…
…biking through mango, pomelo and mangosteen orchards…
…seeing how clay pots are still thrown and decorated by hand…
…learning how fisherman will glide over the mudflats harvesting clams and live up above the water in the Gulf of Thailand…
…and spending the night in unique places mostly frequented by Thais, not foreign travelers.
The trip sparked a new desire to get out there and discover more.
It was also just a lot of fun – Campervan Thailand ran a smooth operation and everyone was easy and enjoyable to be around. Our guides knew what they were talking about and were attentive and helpful without being overbearing.
What was also surprising was how comfortable and safe I felt the whole trip. Sure, safety should obviously be a priority, but anyone who’s spent time in Southeast Asia will have stories of rides and drivers from hell. I’ve been in minivans careening down the wrong side of the road toward oncoming traffic, had drivers with coolers of partially drunk Changs in the passenger seat, and am rarely in a vehicle where there’s a working seatbelt – what would the ride in the back of the camper be like? Our driver was incredible – friendly, focused, calm, professional and excellent at driving. In fact all of the drivers seemed great (I was in a caravan with three campers) always talking to each other via radio and never making any close calls. My driver had to brake pretty quickly once as a motorbike pulled in front of him on the highway but he had everything totally under control. The drivers were also good about helping make sure the camper stayed clean, was locked when we were away from the vehicle and prepared accordingly.
The whole team was on point taking care of our group and anticipating our needs – I felt well taken care of (and the bed in the camper was more comfy than my one at home…).
If you’re interested in learning more about renting a campervan in Thailand, I think it’d be a great option particularly for people who have already spent some time here and want to experience something totally different, check out the company’s website, www.campervan-thailand.com. (From the first page click on the blue box in the upper right hand corner to enter the site, you can then choose from English or Thai).
Per day prices to rent the vehicles are found on their website, starting at 6,000 baht per day, however if you want to do a longer trip or hire a guide and driver you’ll need to contact them directly as all packages and program are tailored specifically for the customer. They can be reached by the company’s:
Some things to keep in mind:
Angela and Chris, from Tieland to Thailand, recently wrote about their experience with the company as well and gave a thorough breakdown on what it was like traveling in the camper along with other information you should know before you get started. You can check it out here.
Note: I was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and TBEX Asia 2015, but all experiences and opinions are my own and sleeping in the camper really was more comfortable than my own bed…
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
New places are always calling my name...
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