If you’ve never been to Thailand, you’re in for a cultural treat! Travelling across the world to discover a new country is an exciting adventure, albeit a daunting one for some travellers. A bit of research beforehand is always a good idea, so check out these tips for travelling to Thailand before you go.
What to pack
The first think you should know about Thailand is that it’s very hot… at least to British standards. Expect to sweat and if you’re backing, expect to sweat even more. The last thing you or anyone wants to do is carry a heavy backpack in incredible heat. Pack lightly; you’ll want to have lots of room in your bag for souvenirs and new clothes you’ll inevitably buy over in Thailand.
Pack the right toiletries. It’s a given that you should bring a full set of shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner and hands creme but you should also pack hand sanitiser (lots of it), napkins or tissues and some anti-diarrhea tablets, plus some multivitamins. Most Thai restaurants don’t have napkins, and while street food is incredibly safe to eat, your stomach might not always agree with it. Finally, don’t forget the insect repellant, or you’ll be the Thai mosquitos’ new favourite treat!
Only drink bottled water
The heat is definitely something a lot of Western travellers struggle with in Thailand. Staying hydrated is really important if you don’t want to be sick during your trip. Before you run to the street fountain, remember that Thai water isn’t as safe as it is back home. Only drink bottled water!
Enjoy the street food
Some of the best and safest food to eat in Thailand is from street vendors. It’s also a really good sign if a particular vendor has a queue, then you know it’s good! Most vendors won’t speak English, so just point to what you’d like. Most meals will cost between 30-50 baht (60p-£1).
A few notes on culture
Part of the fun of travelling around the world is discovering new cultures. Thailand is no exception but if you want to avoid offending the locals, it’s a good idea to read up on their culture before you go. Personal hygiene is meticulously adhered to in Thailand, so showering every day, sometimes twice is common practise. Stick to clothes made of natural fibres, as synthetic ones tend to hold odours more. A few quick tips on Thai culture:
- Smile, Thai people are really friendly and it’s always polite to return the smiles
- Never point at anyone’s feet
- Dress appropriately (see more tips below)
- Never, ever, ever, mock the Royal family!
- Hail a cab with your arm angled pointing down
It’s important to dress conservatively when visiting temples, despite the heat. Women in particular should wear long skirts or trousers and have their shoulders covered. Sandals also shouldn’t be worn. As a general rule, “more covered than not” will be appreciated but Thais are getting more and more used to under-dressed foreigners in popular places like Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Samui. As we mentioned above, natural fibres like silk, linen and cotton will be your best friends.
Showing up on flights to Bangkok and just “winging it” isn’t really a good idea. Make sure you buy/print/download maps of your destinations before you go. Photocopy your passports and visas and have a general outline of your trip in mind. For example, where you want to go, what you want to see.
Been to Thailand? What other tips would you give first-time visitors?