Backpacking Switzerland with mom
By: Nipapan Poonsatiansup, CFP® Dependent Financial Planner
When talking about 'Swiss' or Switzerland, it is a dream country of many people as well as the dream country of the author as well. Besides it’s a dream country, the reason for choosing to visit Switzerland is Swiss is a very small country and impartial. Probably it has a high security and has a great train system makes it easy to travel. Also, there are Thai people who live there that I know this gives you peace of mind. At least if something happens, we know who to contact. Because it just 2 of us I and my mother who does not know English at all. When choosing to travel with just I and my mom, a safety is the first concern.
We decided to go to Swiss for 15 days because of 'Swiss Pass'. Swiss Pass is a train ticket for the Swiss National Rail Network (SBB CFF FFS), Post Bus services that run to various cities with unlimited number of times throughout the country. It is also available for buses, trams, lakes cruise ships or mass transit systems in major tourist destinations. We can also use the Swiss Pass to visit museums located in more than 400 cities without paying a cent. (Ask before the visit).
And if you plan to go up to the mountain, it can be used as a discount on the purchase of train tickets, cable car in various routes. You will get a discount of 25 - 50% to save a lot of money traveling.
When you want to travel to Switzerland by your own, Swiss Pass is a 'must-have'. It has 4 days, 8 days, 15 days, 22 days and 1 month. The author chooses 15 days because it is the number of days that fit with the plan. Buying from a tour agency in Thailand is probably cheaper. (Check promotion)
For the air ticket, in the first place, I intended to redeem miles. Fortunately, Thai Airways has a promotional ticket, so I purchased form Thai Airways because it’s direct flight for the more convenience.
If you want to travel to Switzerland or other European countries, you need a Schengen visa. The visa must be completed before departure. If you plan to go to many European countries, apply for the Schengen visa from the country that you will stay for a longest time.
For this trip, the author only goes to Switzerland, then applied for the Schengen visa from the Embassy of Switzerland. The Embassy of Switzerland in Thailand has granted TLScontact the right to inform and advise the public about the visa process for Switzerland. Including the receipt of documents to apply for a visa, charging fees and returning passport to the applicant at the end of the consideration period. We can apply for a visa at both the Embassy of Switzerland and TLScontact. However, applying for a visa at the embassy may take a longer time.
You can find more information about the visa application at the website and www.ed.admin.ch/bangkok and https://ch.tlscontact.com/en/BKK/index.php?l=en
One of the main proofs for visa requirements is the travel insurance with the coverage limit is not less than 30,000 euros or 1,500,000 baht. It must also cover expenses for hospital treatment and return due to injury or medical reasons. The coverage covers the journey from the outbound until the day of return. Before buying a travel insurance Check the list of insurance companies approved in Thailand.
Typically, a Schengen visa for tourism can stay in Schengen countries for up to 90 days. You can apply for Single Visa (Single Visa) or Multiple Visa (Multiple Entry however, the combined duration is less than 90 days within 6 months.)But most embassies will not issue the visa much longer than the travel insurance cover period. Therefore, you should buy travel insurance a bit longer than a real trip plan, in case of emergency.
Accommodation in Switzerland is not difficult to find because tourism is already focused. Each of them will have a standard of cleanliness and safety. However, the price of accommodation seems to be more expensive than other European countries because Switzerland is a high-living -cost country in the world. So, booking for a long time before traveling is something that should be done. Because the price is cheaper and can choose the desirable location. When booking through the website, we need a credit card to confirm the reservation. They will not charge until we check in. Unless a reservation is non-cancelable and non-refundable. So before booking, do not forget to read the terms and conditions.
Swiss travel plans do not require frequent accommodation changes. Should stay in large cities only 2-3 cities. The author chose to stay at Bern, Interlaken and Winterthur average about 5 nights per city and costed around 5,000 - 6,000 Baht per person per night. By staying in the city, we can take a day trip the neighboring towns and get back easily.
To have a fun Swiss trip, watching weather forecasts is a must. On the same day some areas may have thunderstorms, but the other area is sunny and clear. Especially, if you want to get up to the mountain, watching weather forecasts is very important. If the weather is bad with a cloud, you will be able to see a beautiful scene at the top of the popular mountain. The train or cable to the top of mountain is expensive (even with a discount from Swiss Pass, it is still expensive, such as train ticket to Jungfrau. After deducting the discount, it still cost around five thousand baht.) So, planning a trip to Switzerland must be quite flexible. The plan can be adjusted depending on the weather.
Also remember to check that the city we want to go close on Sunday or not? Because Sunday is considered a Swiss weekend. The shops will be closed, some boats will be closed, and buses run fewer trips. If you do not want to get disappointed, plan carefully for Sunday.
15 days will be either short (There are many that have not been there yet.) or long. (Because the last day I missed Thailand and Thai food.) Summarize the highlights of the attractions that have gone as follows.
Bern (Swiss) is the capital of Switzerland and a bear is symbol. Located near the center of the country and its train junction that make the trip to other cities very convenient. The old town is very beautiful. When coming to Bern, do not forget to visit the ancient fountain because it is the most beautiful in Switzerland. Especially the ornament on top of the pole above the colorful fountain. These fountains have been around since the Middle Ages around the 14th - 15th centuries. The ponds are connected by natural spring water to the ponds for the villagers to drink. Even today, people use the plumbing system, the city kept these springs. The tourists have the virtue to drink cool water from the fountain at any time. Important attractions of Bern include the ancient gates Kafigturm, Clock Tower Zytglogge, Einstein house and City Hall and Bear Garden.
Lausanne (Lausanne) is a city that is very familiar to the Thai people. It is the city that His Majesty Ananda Mahidol and His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej lived and studied here with the Princess Srinagarindra and her goddess Galyani Vadhana in the years 1933 - 2451. Lausanne is located next to Lake Geneva. There is the Lausanne-Ushsche port for water transport, there are boats that can get to Geneva, Vevey, Montreux and Evian in France. The author can cruise Lake Geneva to Lausanne, Vevey and Evian. The atmosphere and scenery are very beautiful. In addition, the main attraction in Lausanne is the Olympic Museum. Thai Sala Chalermprakiet is in Park du Dondon and Lausanne old town.
Luzern has been a major tourist center of Switzerland for long time. It's a must-visit city. Whether it is the cultural and natural beauty of the lake and the mountains surrounding the city. It is a hub for rail transport. No matter where you are in Switzerland, you can start from Lucerne. We can start walking in the old town. You will see the ancient wooden bridge, Kapellbrucke, where the walkway on the bridge is made of wood. The roof is covered with red clay tiles. The balcony is decorated with colorful flowers. When walking across this bridge should walk across to the shore. Because the view from the bridge is beautiful. Tourist attractions in the city of Lucerne are numerous, such as monument lions whine. Glacier Park and Glacier Museum.
Interlaken is a small town but famous. It located between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. On a clear day, you can see famous Jungfrau as a backdrop. Tourist use this town as a base to travel to small hillside villages with beautiful nature. The first thing to do after checking in at hotel in Interlaken is to inquire about the weather because we had a plan to visit several mountains. As mentioned before the train ticket to the top of the mountain is relatively high price. We should choose the best day that has a best weather. The famous mountains are Schilthorn and Jungfrau. The author had a chance to go to Jungfrau. The Jungfraujoch station is named as the highest railway station in Europe. It is in a tunnel at an altitude of 3,453 meters. Jungfrau summit is covered with snow all year round so it’s not difficult for us to go to experience snow. At the station, which is like a mountain cave, there is a tourist center, a restaurant and a souvenir shop. There is also other interesting place, the Ice Palace, as an exhibit site for ice sculptures. And we can also walk out of the station to the snow and touch the white snow. So fun to take pictures here.
Saint Moritz is known as the oldest ski resort in the world. It is the most popular and luxurious resort town in the world. For those who visit this city, are not only skiers or winter sports but also many noble millionaires. That why many luxury resort hotels and brand name stores have opened branches in this city. Moreover, Saint Moritz also famous for its mineral water or natural hot springs. Most tourists like to stay in this city in the winter. In summer, people also come to visit but not bustling. So, the hotel accommodation usually lowers the price in summer. Getting to St. Moritz in June to July, the summer of Switzerland. (Even in summer the weather is still cool because the city is in the valley.) We can get nice hotel at the good price. Really worth it!
If you like nature, travel to Switzerland will not be disappointing. Because of the nature of the grasslands, mountains, snow, glaciers, lakes and the beautiful old town. People's way of life is simple and discipline. The public transport system is well linked and very timely. Although the author has visited and stayed in Switzerland for 15 days, if I have chance, I will go back to Switzerland again. Oh! Forget about the cost of this trip, two of us all inclusive (but not shopping) is about 200,000 baht. The cost is almost half the tour group price. So, if we plan a trip well, the dream trip to Switzerland is not too far to reach it.