Hassle-free travel is not always easy to come by. With these tips, however, tourists can take on the Land of Smiles like a pro. Here, 30 things you should know before visiting Thailand.
Use a meter
If you take a taxi in Bangkok, be sure the driver is using a meter. It is against the law for them to not use one in the capital. If a taxi driver says they do not use a meter, simply thank them and wait for a different one.
Except on a tuk-tuk
Tuk tuks do not use meters. You can barter to get a better price, however.
Master the ‘wai’
Thai people greet each other using the ‘wai,’ which is essentially a slight bow with one’s palms touching one another. Do not shake a locals hand unless they make the motion to do so first.
Careful what you drink
Do not drink water from the faucets in Thailand. Instead, stick to bottled water and use refill stations to stock up.
Choose street food wisely
Street food is normally safe in Thailand, but just to be sure, make sure you are eating things that have been grilled, fried, or cooked … preferably in front of you. You do not want to eat food that has been sitting out for too long!
Have proper temple attire
When visiting a temple, be sure to dress modestly or bring an article of clothing to cover both your shoulders and your knees. You will not be able to enter specific temples if you are showing too much skin.
Take your shoes off … sometimes
Take your shoes off when entering any religious structure or a Thai’s home. It is disrespectful to keep them on.
Know how to hail a taxi
To hail a taxi or tuk-tuk, put your palm out facing the ground and move your fingers forward and backward, almost like you are shooing them away.
Know when to tip
Tipping is normal for beauty services, for example, a massage or hair service. It is not necessary to tip at restaurants or street side stalls, though many luxury restaurants will have a tip included in the bill.
Do not touch anyone’s head or point your feet
Do not touch anyone’s head while traveling through Thailand. It is considered extremely disrespectful. By the same token, do not point your feet towards any person or religious statue in Thailand. Just as the head is considered the most sacred body part, the feet are considered the most disrespectful. This includes putting your feet up while you are traveling, for example, sitting at an airport.
Do not touch monks
Do not touch any monks. There are some temples that have monk chats where visitors can sit down and talk to a monk and inquire about their lifestyle. Chat away, but keep your hands to yourself.
Weather affects where you can travel
Traveling down south during the monsoon season is not recommended. The region is prone to flooding, and who wants to be on a beach when there is torrential downpour?
Do not talk about the monarchy
There are very strict lese-majeste laws in Thailand. It is best not to talk about the monarchy and royal family when traveling through the country as you could face time in prison for doing so.
Pack for the heat
Be wary that Thailand is normally a very hot country. Temperatures at their highest have exceeded 44°C, and it is important to pack light clothing to accommodate these conditions.
Do not bring playing cards
Leave the card games at home, as it is illegal to have more than a certain number in a deck due to strict gambling laws.
Leave your e-cigarette at home
E-cigarettes are illegal in Thailand, and smokers could face years of imprisonment for lighting up.
Do not lose face
Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles. The people are wary to ‘lose face,’ or show when they are angry or uncomfortable by something. Be wary of this and try not lose face if you can help it, either.
Be sure to have all of your vaccinations prior to traveling to Thailand. There is no better way to ruin a trip than with a good case of dengue. The CDC recommends certain vaccinations for those traveling to Thailand. Check the entire list, here.
Elephants are not for riding
Do not ride any elephants. Ever. There are a few sanctuaries around Thailand that offer ethical experiences where visitors can go and interact with Thailand’s national elephant in a moral way.
Bug spray and sun screen are essential
Stock up on the bug spray and sunscreen during your travels. These can both be purchased once in the country, and diligence in putting it on is key to avoid getting eaten alive or burnt to a crisp while traveling.
Be wary of where you take selfies
Do not take any selfies with tigers, monkeys found on the beaches or streets of Thailand, or any other wildlife for that matter. Keep the selfie-taking for places like Khao San Road.
A little cash goes a long way
The cost of living and traveling in Thailand is very low. Entire meals can be purchased for less than $1, beer is dangerously affordable, and visitors can find accommodation options for as little as $3 a night. Be sure to save money before traveling to the Kingdom, but just be aware (and excited) that a little cash can go a long way.
Do not take pictures with booze
Do not take any pictures of yourself drinking alcohol in Thailand and post them online. It has recently been made illegal to do so.
Thailand is a fairly conservative country, so try to keep the public displays of affection to a minimum.
Keep your clothes on
On this same note, remained clothed for the majority of your stay. Swimsuits are acceptable on the beach, not in restaurants or the local 7/11 convenience store. Thailand does have a tropical climate seemingly perfect for going topless, but the locals will surely not appreciate it.
Respect the Buddha
Theravada Buddhism is the main religion practiced in the country. Many of tourists feel inspired to explore this religion while visiting, and often times a visitor or two leaves with a tattoo of a Buddha. This is considered very disrespectful. It is also recommended to not purchase any Buddha image souvenirs.
Bring your own toilet paper
Many of bathrooms do not have toilet paper in Thailand. Instead, they use a funny alternative to a bidet: the bum gun. If the thought of cleaning yourself with a hose of sorts does not sit well, be sure to bring tissues with you wherever it is you go. Many toilets are also simply holes in the ground, which are known as squat toilets.
There are a lot of street dogs
There are a lot of stray dogs in Thailand. They are normally friendly, but some have been treated so poorly by humans they have become aggressive. Many visitors get a rabies shot before coming to the country, as well. This is something just to be aware of as the dogs are often times in terrible condition and is incredibly hard to witness.
Be wary of scams
Though most locals are happy to interact with tourists, others view visitors as an opportunity to make a baht or two. Avoid any tuk-tuk drivers or tour guides who offer to take you to a tailor or gem shop. Those visitors heading to the main temples in Bangkok, especially Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Arun, should be wary if a local tells them that the structures are closed for the day. Chances are the temples are open and that person is lying in hopes of taking you elsewhere … for a price, of course.
Get ready for the best trip of your life
This may quite possibly be the best trip of your life! We are totally biased as we love Thailand, but a trip to the Land of Smiles is certainly going to be a memorable one. If you need any tips on building an itinerary, please reach out to us and we will help any way we can!