.One of the most travelled countries in the region, Thailand has long been labelled as the gateway to Southeast Asia and the perfect place to begin any adventure.
Travel tips for Thailand
Known as the ‘Land of Smiles’, the local Thai people will welcome you into their hearts, and you’ll be sure to leave Thailand longing to return.
However, while travelling in Thailand does mean that you’ll be following a well-beaten tourist path, like any foreign country, there are tips, rules and regulations that should be followed to make sure you have one of the best Thailand tours.
Read on for some of our travel tips for Thailand.
1. Make sensible food and drink choices
Now, this doesn’t mean you should steer clear of street food – one of the most excellent parts of travelling through Thailand is indulging in its local cuisine. That means chicken skewers and Thai iced tea from street vendors, pad thai eaten while sitting on plastic chairs and tiny tables, and so much more!
However, you can make sensible choices when it comes to enjoying the local food and drink. Be mindful of buying street food from places that don’t seem to be getting a lot of foot traffic. This may mean the food has sat out for longer and could make you ill.
Nowadays, the advice of ‘avoid ice in your drinks’ is misguided in Asia since almost every vendor uses filtered water for ice. However, if you want to be particularly safe, you could avoid this.
And another one of our travel tips for Thailand – if you plan to party while you’re there, which would be hard to avoid given the reputation for nightlife that it has, then make sure you drink responsibly. To prevent the effects of cheap local alcohol, stick to bottled beer but remember it is strong in Thailand. Pass the 6% Chang!
2. Be mindful of the dress code
While not as conservative as other Southeast Asian countries, Thai people generally cover their skin when out and about. To respect the culture, you should do the same. Covering up is especially important when entering temples or religious buildings. You should cover your knees with loose clothing, such as a long skirt or trousers, and also your shoulders, in these places.
Carrying a sarong around with you will serve you in an array of situations in Thailand. You can cover yourself from the harsh midday sun and wrap your shawl around your shoulders or legs in temples.
Not only is adhering to a dress code necessary in Thai temples, but the temperatures can also drop as you travel to different regions. Having extra clothes will therefore never be a bad thing. In the north of Thailand during certain times of the year, it can get rather chilly, especially at night.
3. Be aware of scams
Scams are inevitable in almost every part of the world, and Thailand is no exception. In Thailand’s main tourist areas, there are a few common scams and tricks that are worth watching out for to make sure they don’t ruin your day or trip.
Like for the most part, Thailand’s smiling locals and laid-back atmosphere are great, but it can also lure travellers into a false sense of security, leaving them open to being scammed. It’s essential to maintain a good level of distance and scepticism and to read up on the most common scams – fake jewellery, gem shops, taxis without meters, tickets to shows, and more.
As a general rule of thumb, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it will be. Walk away.
4. Repel those mozzies
Another pesky nightmare that could put a dampener on your trip is falling victim to blood-sucking mosquitoes. Not only do they commonly spread diseases like dengue fever, but they also leave you with incredibly itchy bites which can make you miserable.
To avoid coming back from your trip with more than just happy memories, wear insect repellent every time you go out, even in the day, as dengue mosquitoes bite in daylight hours. If it’s possible, wear long trousers and long-sleeved tops to protect yourself further.
5. Read up on and respect Thai culture
Make sure you do some research into Thai culture before visiting the country.
As a Buddhist country, Thai people consider the head to be the most sacred part of the body and the feet, the least sacred. You should be mindful when talking to some to avoid touching their head or using your feet to point to anything. Using your feet to communicate is considered disrespectful. Similarly, pointing your feet at someone or putting your feet up on a chair can also be regarded as impolite.
Thai people also react badly to losing face, so make sure to stay calm and collected in every situation to avoid getting yourself in trouble. Yelling or shouting in public is a no-go, you can be firm but make sure to remain calm and keep a smile on your face.
Thailand has strict lèse-majesté laws in place, which means that no one (not even Thais) can criticise the government or the monarchy. The monarchy is highly respected in Thailand, so be careful when handling money with the king’s face on it – never stomp on coins or notes to stop them flying or rolling away.
One final thing to note is that Buddha images are highly regarded in Thailand. Be mindful when buying souvenirs and if possible, avoid any Buddha souvenir.
6. Cash is king
Thailand is very much ruled by cash. You should make sure you have enough cash on you as your credit card can be pretty useless in certain places such as markets and restaurants.
Luckily, ATMs are widely available. But if you plan on heading somewhere a little more remote or to a small island, make sure to take plenty of cash with you. Sometimes if the ATM breaks, you’ll be stuck.
It’s also important to remember that most tour operators, when booking transport between regions or day trips, will only take cash. Make sure to keep a selection of smaller notes in your wallet as many stores and taxi drivers will often not have change.
In higher-end hotels, restaurants and malls, you’ll have no issue using your credit card.
7. Learn some Thai words and brush up on your negotiation skills
Nothing will make a Thai person smile more than hearing a few words in Thai come out of your mouth. In Thailand, making an effort to speak the language goes a long way in facilitating a friendly reception. It is worth the effort to learn some Thai in preparation. Don’t worry, nobody is expecting you to speak fluent Thai, but carrying phrasebook or a translation app will help you in several situations.
Beginning a conversation in Thai at a market or vendor stall may also help with negotiating. Haggling or bartering is so common that it is almost expected in non-food markets in Thailand, and it is the best way to get a deal on any souvenirs you hope to take home with you.
Similarly, when getting into a tuk-tuk, you will also have to negotiate a price before you ride.
8. Make wise footwear choices
This tip is two-fold. One is that when exploring Bangkok you will be on your feet a lot, so wear comfy footwear. The second part of this tip is that in Buddhist culture, it is very common to be asked to remove your footwear when entering temples, buildings, shops, homestays and more.
Having shoes or sandals that you can easily slip on and off will help you a lot. Trust me, lace-up shoes are a nightmare in Thailand.
9. Be wary of animal tourism
Animal attractions are rife in Thailand, so you must be aware of this and do your best to avoid them. Riding elephants and snapping selfies with tigers are big no-nos. These animals are often systematically tortured for years to perform for the tourist crowd. It is crucial you don’t support animal attractions in Thailand so the demand reduces and the cruelty stops.
On this note, elephant sanctuaries are very popular in Thailand. However, you must do your research to make sure the sanctuary you choose is legitimate. Some sanctuaries offer a chance for you to take part in elephant bathing instead of riding. However, this activity often involves torture methods to ensure the elephants behave with tourists so avoid these as well.
10. Go slow and enjoy the journey
With so many beautiful destinations to visit packed into one country, it can be tempting to get out of Bangkok as soon as you land. Instead, slow it down and take a day or two to settle into the country in the capital. It’s important you don’t try to cram too many stops into one trip as you’ll face burnout.
Slow down and you’ll be rewarded by learning more about the country.
Give yourself one of the best Thailand tours possible by following these simple travel tips for Thailand and making sure to read up on the country before you go.