Friday 1 May 2015

Travel Tips for Thailand

 1. Thai people are extremely friendly and smile a lot... even if they are angry, they smile. They will greet you by putting their hands together at about chest height and bowing their heads, it is polite and respectful for you to do the same

2. No matter what time of year you travel take sunscreen...and then pack another tube!   You will need it and it's really expensive to buy once you are there. They obviously rely on tourists forgetting to pack it. You can buy deodorant for $1AUD but a small tube of sunscreen will cost you around $20AUD!

3. Be prepared to be asked if you want a Tuk Tuk/Taxi/Massage about 10 000 times a day! While they were not as pushy as in Vietnam it was still a little difficult to walk down the street in peace, with some of them even following you asking where you are going.

4. If you do decide to take a Tuk Tuk, negotiate the price before you get in and if you take a Taxi, make sure they use the meter. 

5. A foot massage is not just a foot massage! I got several foot massages while I was there and it always included a short neck and shoulder massage at the end. They are amazing and so cheap (tip: Bangkok and Chiang Mai are about the same price, Phuket was slightly more expensive)

6. Barter and never pay the first price. At the street markets it is customary to barter and they are quite used to it and expect it. This also applies to tours, in Phuket I booked day island trips through the Guest House where I was staying and got them a fair bit cheaper than they were advertised online.

7. You will more than likely get ripped off - get over it! It will probably only be a couple of bucks that I am sure they will need more than you do. Most people on our tour were duped at one point or another, I paid 150 baht (about $6AUD) for 2 singlet tops only to find them for 80 baht down the road. No point getting cranky about it, I didn't shop around as much as I should have!

8. Don't expect to do anything before 10am, but you can do almost anything until midnight! It's a sleepy start in Thailand and most touristy places don't start opening until around 10am.

9. There are 7-11 stores EVERYWHERE! I admit to being a little shocked how many 7-11 stores there were in Thailand! In some cases, don't worry if you miss one because chances are there will be another one a hundred metres down the road!

10. Most restaurants will have both Thai and Western food, ordering Thai food is cheaper and quicker. This may seem obvious but important to remember if you are in a hurry and/or on a budget.

11. Tip... Tipping is not generally customary in Thailand but it is something you should consider if you have received great service and it's polite to leave some small change in restaurants, anywhere from 20 to 50 baht is enough ($0.80 - $2.00AUD)

12. Carry travel tissues and hand sanitizer with you everywhere! Just because there is a toilet, doesn't mean there will be paper and/or soap or that they will be clean. Trust me you are not going to want to be caught out on this one!

13. Be prepared to squat. If you are travelling outside the major cities chances are you'll stop at a 'happy stop' somewhere along the way and in these areas Western toilets may be hard to come by. Also be warned that generally the floor will be wet and you may struggle to hold your bag and your pants to stop them getting wet while trying not to fall over, chances are you'll probably pee on your shoe! Enjoy the experience! 

14. Nowhere is 5 minutes and everywhere takes longer than it should. Like most countries in SE Asia, the traffic is horrendous and it can take a long time to get where you need to be. For example, my accommodation in Phuket was about 45km from the airport yet it took just over an hour and a half to get there when I arrived. Allow PLENTY of time to arrive anywhere but don't always expect to leave on time. One of our trains on my tour was an hour and forty-five minutes late.

15. There are plenty of places to get laundry down on the streets. Like most places it's really expensive to get your laundry done at hotels however there are plenty of shops that offer a laundry service that may charge you any where between 30-50 baht per kilo ($1.20 - $2.00AUD), it will usually take about 24 hours but you can get it quicker, and ironed, if you are willing to pay a little more.

16. When considering what to pack for Thailand make sure you include clothes that cover your knees and shoulders as this WILL be required for you to enter any of the the many magnificent Temples in the country. Don't think you can get away with not dressing appropriately, you will be turned away. Some of the bigger Temples may offer you a sarong or skirt to wear if you 'forget'. If you want to attend the Grand Palace in Bangkok and want to wear pants, they will need to go all the way to your ankles and not be too tight. Also bear in mind that many of the Temples you will visit are 'working Temples' in that you will more than likely see people giving offerings and praying to Buddha...So don't be a dick, BE QUIET! I was a little shocked at how loud, rude and full on some tourists were whilst in these places of worship.

17. Take off your shoes, there are many places in Thailand where you will be expected to take off your shoes. Most common places will be Temples but massage parlors will also request you remove your shoes before entering as well.

18. Forget the Credit Card. There were very few places, restaurants, shops etc, that accepted cards. Thai Baht is the currency used and you are better off having cash on you than relying on using your card. I got caught out one day at a restaurant with not having enough cash on me and the restaurant not having any card paying facilities so had to do a dash to an ATM, good thing there were plenty around. 

19. Pack 2 pairs of togs, especially if you head down to Phuket you are going to need an extra set of togs!

20. Don't do back to back day tours while visiting Phuket. I booked two separate day tours out to islands near Phuket one day after the other. Big mistake...huge! It's quite a trek out to some of the islands and you spend a lot of time getting on and off the boat, walking, swimming etc and they are really long exhausting days. Best, if you can, to give yourself a day in between so that you are not falling asleep on the boat on the second day and missing the beautiful scenery!

Do you have any travel tips for Thailand?

Please share them in the comments below!

Linking up with With Some Grace for FYBY, A Brit and a Southerner for Weekend Wanderlust and Chasing the Donkey for Sunday Traveler

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