Travel Tips for Thailand I Wish I Knew

The internet is full of travel tips to all sorts of places, and I guess, this blog isn’t any different. My parents continually looked up tips to help me abroad here. We’re a family accustomed to Europe, not Asia.

Videos continually said you have to cover your shoulders and knees all the time. You can’t wear short shorts. No see through shirts. They don’t use chopsticks here. The Thai are always friendly. It’s easy to get around. Taxis will try to rip you off. It’s extremely cheap in Thailand.

And the list goes on and on…

Some of what the videos said were right, but a lot of it was wrong.

Thailand is relatively cheap, but not as cheap as everyone makes it out to be. Sometimes your coffee will cost as much as a pair of pants.

Monthly salaries here are extremely low while everyday things are extremely expensive.

I’m going to explain some things I wish I knew before I came over here. Things such as customs, what to pack, and what to know.

Packing

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It’s hard to know what to pack and not pack. A good rule of thumb is to have a bit of everything.

According to videos online Thai culture requires you to cover up at all times. This means shoulders and knees need to be covered. When you go into a temple you have to cover up down to your ankles and sometimes elbows.

Reality: Covering up is mostly for temples, government facilities, and work. When going around town, you can wear pretty much anything… within reason. Shorts and a tank top are perfectly fine.

During the mourning year for Thailand, you need to wear black and white for work. If you’re going around town you can wear whatever colors you want.

Always be prepared to have some toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you. They don’t always have them available or even a place for you to wash your hands.

Here is a list of items I would bring with me if I got a re-do.

  • Shorts
  • Light T-Shirts
  • Shower materials for a week
  • Toilet paper (I used tissue)
  • Body wipes
  • Feminine wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Water bottle purifier
  • Flip flops / Sandals
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Bugspray
  • Snacks (in case you get caught up somewhere and can’t get food)
  • Shower shoes
  • Quick drying towel
  • Malaria Pills
  • Medicine
  • NyQuil
  • Bathingsuit
  • External battery pack
  • Unlocked phone
  • Deodorant
  • Umbrella

Helpful Tips

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Thai’s are relatively good on personal space compared to other Asians, such as Chinese. They are very nosy though. It’s not them being rude, but it’s just part of their culture. Thais are generally close to their friends and family unlike Europeans.

In Thailand here are a few things to expect:

  • They either use mopeds or cars to get everywhere. Walking around isn’t seen as normal like in Europe.
  • Things are generally more expensive than you’d think.
  • The markets aren’t always cheaper, and are sometimes more expensive.
  • Big market days tend to be on Wednesday and Saturday
  • There are certain colors for each day of the week
  • Milk tea is a big thing
  • Private schools are highly respected
  • People will look at you funny and try to rip you off since you’re a foreigner
  • People can be sweet, but are like every other country and have some rude people
  • There are some rules for the highway, but for the most part you just drive.
  • There are barely any crosswalks so be ready to walk in the middle of traffic
  • The air will be different and you can feel the particles (especially if you have allergies)
  • People wear face masks if they’re sick of working outside
  • People will always be in your business and want to know every little detail
  • You can bring your own alcoholic drinks into some restaurants
  • It’s easier to pull money out of ATM’s than to bring cash and exchange at a bank
  • You can find a 7-Eleven almost anywhere
  • When entering the country, make sure to keep your departure card you received from immigration in your passport until you leave.
  • Be ready to eat and drink all the time
  • Most meals are shared. You’ll order something you want, they’ll bring the plate out, and everyone eats it.

Do’s and Dont’s

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  • Always say kráp (if male) or kâh (if female) after phrases so that you’re polite
  • Never disrespect the royal family
  • Don’t eat anything that isn’t cooked until you’re accustomed to their food
  • Never point with your feet
  • Never touch a Thai’s head
  • Don’t point
  • Be respectful
  • Don’t drink the water unless it’s bottled
  • Wear shoes in most of the showers
  • Use bug spray at night
  • Eat with a spoon and not a fork
  • Women aren’t allowed to talk or sit next to a monk
  • Greet people using the Wei
  • Take off shoes before entering temples, houses, and certain restaurants

Culture

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Thailand is a tropical country and most of it is jungle. A lot of items are grown in various parts of Thailand such as rice in the central part and bananas in the north.

The government here is much like that of England. The King is highly respected and it’s seen as disrespectful and rude to talk of the royal family in any negative light.

Currently, the country is in mourning for their king. A year ago today, he died and the country has spent the past year mourning. To show this, people wear black and white out of respect.

Streets are filling with yellow flowers to show the people’s love for the King. The yellow flowers are associated with Monday, the day the King was born on.

People line the streets and stand for hours waiting to see the funeral procession occurring today. The entire country is shut down for the most part out of respect. The people love their King like the people of England love their Queen.

Thais show a lot of national pride, which is something that seems to wane in other countries. They are a culture rooted in traditions and honor them as much as possible.

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Most of the country is Buddhist, and you’ll find temples everywhere you go. People will sell flower garlands on the streets or near temples which can be put in your car, room, or used as an offering at a temple. The main color right now is yellow since it’s associated with the previous King.

Thai people are all about being close and in a sense, “in each other’s business.” It’s not seen as rude for them, but a normal part of their culture.

You’ll see people selling items in markets or from their scooters. Education is highly respected and many pay for private schools.

Beauty in this culture is seen as thin, white, educated, and with big eyes. I noticed the fixation on being white when I went to the lotion section of the store. In the U.S. a lot of our lotions try to make the skin tanner, but in Thailand they try to make the skin whiter.

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The Thai language is very tonal. One word can have several different meanings based on different placements of tones within the word. In order to be polite, say kráp (if male) or kâh (if female) after phrases; especially when saying hello or thank you. The language is also nasally and you have to open your mouth more.

When they write, there are no spaces between the words. A space is sometimes used for a new sentence or a new paragraph.

Seasons in Thailand go from hot, to hot and rainy, to fucking hot. There’s never a cold season, and the rain is always there.

Currently, central Thailand is experiencing some flooding from the rivers coming from the north. Sing Buri, where I am right now, is having some of the streets flood since the river is so high.

Overall, Thailand is an interesting experience. They are strict on some rules and lenient on others. You’ll see things you never expected such as ancient ruins, crazy monkeys, temples, and architecture.

 

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