Exotic beaches, magnificent landscape, rich culture, friendly locals, & historic temples; the hot reasons for travelling to Thailand are endless. We have gathered here the top 11 essential tips to make your trip an effortless journey. Follow it to the end to get to know Thailand from a different angle.
- Malaysia-Thailand Border
Both Malaysia and Thailand are the most impressive destinations of Asia when planning an itinerary on budget. The enchanting landscape, inviting locations, and appealing cultural value make it hard to make a final choice.
But guess what, you can visit both of these countries with one Visa. The border between the two countries can be crossed without a guide and a visa. Check out this guide to cross the border between Malaysia & Thailand effortlessly.
- Get to know the local culture
Accustoming oneself to the local culture and norms of Thailand will create convenience in mingling with local people. Thai people add ‘Pee’ before the name to respectfully address someone and add ‘Wong’ to address someone younger. Do not say words of disrespect for any member of the monarch as you might end up in jail for an illegal act.
It is considered disrespectful to touch the head of a person or even a statue of Buddha as the head is considered the most important part of the body. Similarly, feet are considered the dirtiest part so refrain from pointing your feet towards anyone or a statue of Buddha.
- Learn snippets from the Thai language
Thai people understand English considerably, but it is always better communication when you talk with them in Thai. Learn the common phrases that you might need to initiate a dialogue. For example, learning Thai versions of snippets like Hello, excuse me, thank you, what is the cost, where is the XYZ place, and can you speak English etc. will lower the communication barrier with local people.
- Maintain the dress code
The hot and humid climate of Thailand urges you to pack summery, cool, and short-length clothes. Such attire is best for everyday walk, a beach, and visiting destinations other than temples, and religious places.
Temples require men to cover their knees (Pants preferred) and wear dress shirts with full sleeves. So, make sure to buy a pair of pants when you travel (find some here for big and tall individuals). Whereas, women are expected to cover their shoulder, knees, and cleavage. A scarf or bandanna might serve the purpose to cover the shoulders. Unbuttoned or sleeveless shirts are considered immodest (irrespective of gender) when visiting a temple.
- Carry the Cash
Moving around in Thailand with enough cash in pocket saves you from a lot of awkward situations. Hotels, shopping malls, and some restaurants do accept card payments yet the majority of shops and street hopping still operate on cash payments.
Be it Tuk Tuk, taxis, songthaew, shopping in local outlets, or feasting on some street food, Thai Baht (Thailand currency) will be your ultimate saviour. But how much cash is enough? Our advice is to keep as minimum as possible, as scams and thefts can easily rip you off of your money.
- Reconsider renting a bike
Many travel guides recommend renting a bike for a swift and speedy itinerary in Thailand. However, getting to know about the downside of it encourage you to not rent a bike. Busy roads and dangerous paths (blind curves, hilly areas, slopes) can prove hazardous for an inexperienced individual. That’s why it’s important to know your rights, such as the rights after a hit and run bicycle accident, for instance. If you are ever involve in a bike accident, I recommend you to have a look and read this article.
Riding a bike often require you to show an International driving permit or Thai license (which rental companies won’t tell you). There are no documented riding laws in place to guide the riders. Rental companies keep your passport as an identity which you must not do at any cost. Bikes are not repaired very often and can end up causing damage to the rider (either financial or physical).
- Learn to Haggle
Prices are not very much fixed in local markets and transport systems of Thailand. Get to know about the average prices of transport, shops, markets, and other services in the town and then negotiate the prices.
Here are some haggling tips to settle for the best price in the market.
Show your disinterest in the item to convince the seller that you are not much interested and he will automatically agree to a lower price. Don’t jump into the equation by telling your preferable price. Instead, let the seller open the dialogue with a price quote and then haggle around it. And finally, start from a lower price than you actually want to pay and slowly build upon it.
- Sunscreens are a must
The use of sunscreen is ever more compulsory when travelling to a hot and humid country like Thailand. Exposure to an excessive amount of sunlight can burn or tan your skin along with internal skin damage.
SPF 30 and SPF 50 are recommended options for using sunscreen in Thailand. Waterproof sunscreens are also an option when you are heading on a beach trip. Keep re-applying them every few hours to ward off the damaging rays.
- Insect Repellants
Outdoor hikes, close spaces, and your accommodation are the places where insects and mosquitos will be ready to bite and infect you. Dengue cases have been on the rise in Thailand in past few years. Insect repellants are the most effective armour against such bugs and pathogens.
Local insect repellants are not much effective and foreign products are sold at inflated prices. The best solution is to keep a repellant in your packing list. Keep applying this on your skin every few hours to enjoy a safe and healthy trip.
- Beware of drinking & gambling
Drugs are completely prohibited in Thailand. Be very mindful of using, supplying, or buying the drugs as it can result in the death penalty. Gambling is illegal except at the National Lottery (supported by the government) or the betting on horses in treks. Refrain from gambling dens if you want to avoid jail and fine.
Drinking is permissible for people above the age of 20. Many bars don’t strictly enforce however, you must oblige to the ruling to stay safe than sorry. Drinking in temples, public parks, petrol stations, offices, pharmacies, and educational institutes is strictly prohibited.
- Say NO to Tap water
Drinking tap water in Thailand can end up in diarrhoea thus ruining your entire trip. Thailand is considered a hotspot for traveller’s diarrhoea with the causative factors of food, water, alcohol, sanitary conditions, and other etiologies.
Some simple tips to avoid it include eating freshly prepared food, refraining from reheated foods, not eating shellfish, and avoiding ice in drinks. Drink boiled or filtered water to feel healthy and enjoy your trip to the fullest.