When you think of Thailand, what comes to mind?
Maybe gleaming golden Buddha statues in chalk white temples. Or idyllic beaches with karst cliffs edging bays full of clear blue water with a white sand rim. Or spicy street food on a steamy Bangkok soi…
How about campervans? No?
I have rented campervans for family vacations in Hawaii and New Zealand, and loved the experience of driving wherever we wanted and camping near the beach.
But Thailand? It’s so easy to get around Thailand, whether by train, bus, minivan, songthaew, taxi, scooter, or tuk tuk. And nice hotels are cheap and easy to find.
But then again… there’s the waiting for the transportation. The stress of sitting powerless in the back of a stinky, sweaty minivan as the driver swerves across the center line around a blind curve.
And then again… wouldn’t it be nice not to have to lug a suitcase or backpack from one hotel to the next in the steamy heat of Thailand?
Wouldn’t it be great to stash your bags in a nice air conditioned campervan, and let the very considerate and safe driver be responsible for getting you where you want to go, when you want to go there?
Campervan Thailand is a new company with a fleet of shiny new RVs available for rental by the day, week or month. Their smallest camper sleeps 4, while the largest can sleep up to 8. They include air conditioning, bathroom and shower, sound system, microwave and refrigerator, and the beds are some of the most comfortable I have come across in my travels. In fact, when I recently traveled with a group of bloggers in the campers and we were given the option of sleeping in a hotel one night, we all chose to sleep in the vans.
The smallest camper rents for $200 per night, the largest for $400 per night, with discounts available for weekly and monthly rentals. Though the rental price of the campervans is not cheap, it could make sense for a group traveling together, especially if you’d like to get far off the beaten tourist path.
You can drive the campervan yourself with an international driver’s license, and the company will give you a 30-minute lesson on how to drive. But unless you are comfortable reading Thai road signs, you might want to hire a driver.
On a recent trip, our driver not only drove us carefully and safely (which means a lot in Thailand) from central Bangkok into the countryside, he assisted us out of the camper on arrival at our destination, kept watch over the locked van while we toured around, and when he converted the benches to beds in the evening, he also turned on the air conditioner to cool down the van for us. It would be well worth the additional $50-70/per day for these conveniences. (The driver sleeps in a tent near the camper overnight.)
The infrastructure for RVs in Thailand is minimal; there are no campgrounds with power and water hookups like those you would find in the US or Australia, and very few campgrounds overall. Instead of chain campgrounds like KOA or Top Ten, Campervan Thailand works with a network of small hotels or guesthouses with space available for campers to park. The hotels charge a small fee for use of their power and water hookups and use of their facilities. These hotels are charming, small, and offer a glimpse into native Thai culture.
On our recent trip, one hotel brought in a masseuse to perform traditional Thai massage for us. Another invited us to participate in a very special Thai tradition of making a morning offering to a monk who paddles down the river every morning collecting donations.
As in other countries, one of the greatest benefits of RV-ing is being able to go wherever you want, whenever you want. If you need help figuring out where to go and how to get there, the staff at Campervan Thailand will assist you in developing an itinerary.
On our trip, we explored the Samut Songkram and Ratchburi regions southwest of Bangkok, where we
- joined clam-diggers in the mud in Klong Kone
- took in a traditional shadow-puppet show at Wat Khanon,
- visited Chok weavers in Baan Koo Bua,
- watched local potters craft their wares in Ratchburi,
- made flower garlands from a special clay in Amphoe Bang Khonthi,
- and shopped in local markets in Mae Klong and Photaram.
Campervan Thailand will deliver their RVs to any major city in Thailand, so you can explore anywhere from the mountains to the coast (though there is a 500km per day limit on how far you may drive the campervan). Our friends from Tieland to Thailand include lots of detail about renting a campervan in Thailand on their blog. And you can read more about my adventure on Huffington Post.