Thailand Travel Tips – the Land of Smiles
One of the most visited countries in the world, Thailand has been the gateway to South East Asia for many kinds of travelers. Adventure enthusiasts head to Krabi, digital nomads go to Chang Mai and party travelers head to Koh Phangan. In 2018 over 38 million tourists visited the county to enjoy its gorgeous beaches, delicious food, learn more about its exotic culture and visit historic temples.
The “Land of Smiles” as Thailand, is nicknamed because of its extremely friendly and laid back people, is definitely a destination that should be on your travel bucket list. If you’re already planning a visit to Thailand here are some tips to make your trip more enjoyable.
Travel Tips for Thailand
Thailand eVisa and Embassy Visa
Passport holders of many countries enjoy visa exemption when they enter Thailand. Others can apply for a Thailand eVisa to speed up the process. I have an Indian passport and I have visited Thailand twice. The first few times I applied for the visa directly from the embassy, but later I realized I unnecessarily wasted time when there’s an option of obtaining en eVisa.
Currency, ATMs and Cash
The currency of Thailand is Bhat (THB, ฿). Current rate is 1 USD is about 30 Baht. You can withdraw money directly from the ATMs at Bangkok‘s Suvarnabhumi airport after you land. Withdraw enough because there is a surcharge of 150 Thai Bhats per transactions. Moreover, as you go sightsee it will be easier if you have cash on you to pay for tuk tuks, taxis and food.
Don’t Take Selfies With A Tiger
Animal tourism is big in Thailand. Many tourists include a visit to the tiger temples, where tigers are on display to pose with tourists, in their itineraries. If this is part of your travel plans when in Thailand we suggested crossing it out.
What you may not be aware off is these animals are mistreated and neglected. From the time they are born the tigers are separated from their mothers, confined to small cages and subjected to harsh training. I am sure you would want to encourage this form of cruelty to animals just to get a selfie for your Instagram page.
Also while in Thailand avoid riding elephants, another big attraction for tourists. These animals are also mistreated.
Brush Up On Your Negotiation Skills
If you want to save money during your trip bring your “A” game for negotiating. In Thailand markets haggling over prices with sellers is part of the buying process. If you want the best deal for a souvenir don’t pay the first price given to you. Give a counter offer and bargain until you both arrive at an agreeable price.
Negotiating for prices is not only done in the markets around Thailand. You can negotiate transport fares with tuk-tuk or taxi drivers, accommodation rates or even tour prices. Don’t forget your smile when you negotiate!
Learn a Few Thai Words
English is widely spoken in most of the popular tourist destinations in Thailand like Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. However, as you move around you may encounter problems communicating with locals.
Learn some basic Thai phrases, especially “thank you”. Women can say “kup kun kaa” and men can say “kop kun khap”. For easier communication use translation apps or phrasebooks. Also, it may be wise to ask a hotel receptionist, for example, to write down for you in Thai addresses to destinations you intend to visit. You can show this information to bus conductors and taxi drivers for them to assist you to get there.
While packing for your trip to remember to choose the right clothing. I advise that you carry clothes that reach your knees and cover your shoulders. This is because many cultural sites and major museums don’t allow people they consider dressed inappropriately on the premises. You don’t want to offend anybody with your dressing so avoid wearing see through clothes and leave your beachwear for when you get to the beach.
When packing also remember to add a pair of sandals. You’ll be visiting many temples and sacred places and will be required to constantly remove your shoes. Sandals will be easier to take off than a pair of boots.
Visiting Bangkok? Be Sure to Carry Earplugs
Thailand can get noisy especially some areas in Bangkok so earplugs will come in handy. If you want to avoid the noise be sure to check online reviews to see if the hotel and area you’ll be staying is noisy or not.
Watch Out for Scammers
Unfortunately, many tourists have been conned while enjoying their vacation in Thailand. Bangkok, for example, has a well-developed network of scammers who sell fake jewelry and non-existent tour tickets. Many travelers get scammed in Bangkok’s Pat Pong street when they decide to watch the infamous “ping pong show”.
Given how friendly and laid-back locals are you can easily fall for these scams. So if someone tries to sell you something and the deal sounds too good walk away. Be particularly careful when dealing with tuk-tuk drivers who are known to scam tourists.
Avoid Talking About The Royal Family
While traveling around the country you’ll see pictures of the Royal family adorned in many places and by the time you leave, you will be very familiar with the faces of the monarchy.
The Thai royal family is revered for it has united the country during tough times. Because of this, any negative talk about the monarchy is prohibited. Engaging in such talk can land you in a Thai prison. So only speak of the Thai royal family if you have something positive to say.
Don’t Touch Anyone’s Head and Watch How You Use Your Legs and Hands
Thais consider the head to be the most sacred part of the body. Touching someone’s head is, therefore, consider disrespectful and should be avoided. Talking of body part also avoid pointing at anything using your feet. Feet are considered the least sacred part of the body and using them to communicate is also considered disrespectful.
During interactions with locals always use your right hand to make payments, wave etc. Using the left hand will not be taken well as the left hand is what Thai people use in the bathroom.
Thai Red Bull
Red Bull is much stronger in Thailand as compared to many countries. If you like mixing your alcohol with Red Bull, then you need to be very careful in Thailand because it will hit you like it never did before. It is called Krating Daeng and is much cheaper in Thailand (usually 20 – 30 Bhats) than rest of the world.
Drinking in Thailand
Drinking in Thailand can be quite affordable if you drink local brands. Beer lovers will love Chang and Singha and whiskey drinkers will enjoy Sangsom. I personally prefer Chang over Singha. The alcohol content in Chang sometimes varies, depending on how lucky you are (hehe).
The best place to buy alcohol is Seven Eleven because they won’t sell you spurious bottles. We once had suspiciously cheap Thai buckets on Haad Rin roadside (Full Moon area), which ended up making us very sick and giving one of us a blackout. The same happened with many other travelers that I met. Click here to read my post about how I hated the Full Moon Party and drinking in Haad Rin.
Mai Pen Rai
You’ll hear this Thai phrase mentioned frequently during your trip. Translated to English it means “don’t worry” or “everything is ok.” The phrase Mai pen rai is a true representation of the Thai people who are easy going and resilient. While out on your Thailand adventures have the Mai pen rai attitude and nothing will stop you from enjoying yourself.
Be sure to remember these tips as you travel to Thailand and I hope you have an amazing trip in the Land of Smiles.