Few destinations seem as mysteriously exotic as Thailand still does, whether you’re venturing to vibrant Bangkok, exploring the palaces of historic Ayutthaya, or checking out one of the country’s infamous party islands. In fact, when visiting Thailand, you’re bound to experience sights and sounds, unlike anything you’ve ever known before. Yet, with all that unfamiliarity, conducting a bit of research before you get on that plane can be enormously helpful later. It pays — often literally — to understand the customs and way of life of the locals, as much as possible, before you venture into that colorful but unfamiliar land, as a guest.
Thailand Travel Tips | A First-Time Traveler’s Guide
The country is anything but uptight; so, you won’t need to remember a lot of Thailand travel tips. But it’s helpful to know both the potential pitfalls and the enormous rewards that come with traveling in Thailand. Among the few basics to keep in mind are:
DO pass up the chain restaurants in favor of local flavors
Dining options in Thailand are much more nuanced and varied than anything you’ve experienced in an American Thai eatery. Yes, the menus can be intimidating when they’re not translated, especially when certain delicacies (like live seafood), might offer more culinary adventure than you’d bargained for!
But, while there are no customs that frown upon you passing up truly exotic dishes, it would be a shame to pass up Thailand’s vibrant culinary scene, altogether. The country’s street food is second to none, with vendors offering some of the most interesting food on the continent. At night, they set up chairs and tables, turning the pathways between major city streets into long, enchanting, open-air restaurants.
DO keep an eye on the time
By law, alcohol sales are prohibited during certain periods, often in blocks of several hours at a time, each day. Double-check the local regulations before setting out to buy beer, wine, and hard liquor. If you don’t plan ahead, making a market run to stock your hotel room bar or holiday rental can be a frustrating experience — especially if you were planning to entertain.
DON’T lose your focus when you’re making your way through traffic
The hustle and bustle of Thailand can be pretty exciting, but it also carries significant risk for pedestrians and drivers alike. Current estimates are 80 people die each day on Thailand streets. For Western tourists, the risk is especially great, given our unfamiliarity with the many unusual vehicles, which wend their way through city streets — from three-wheeled tuk-tuks to mopeds driving against the traffic. These, along with animal carts and scooters, suddenly veering onto the sidewalks to get around traffic jams, make both walking and driving perilous.
Thailand’s streets have been rated as the most congested in the world. If you’re in one of the busier areas and are on foot, the best way to proceed is to use as many of the overhead walkways as possible. Not only will you make better time, but you’ll avoid being hit by the many vehicles, which fail to watch out for pedestrians as they cross the street.
DON’T ignore local customs
While it’s totally fine to show a little skin while you’re hanging out by the pool, going into public places requires more covering up than you may be used to, at home. Bare knees and bare shoulders are frowned upon, when entering historic sites, for example.
And although tourists will be forgiven for not always knowing certain daily rituals, it’s much more polite to understand them ahead of time. (For example, it’s impolite to walk around or keep talking, when the national anthem is played each evening, at 6 p.m.)
DON’T forget to bring extra cash on your daily excursions
If you just quickly glanced at the price of admission for prime tourist destinations, you might miss the fact that there are two different prices — one for locals, and one for tourists. You may consider it justifiable for locals to enjoy a better price, or you may feel somewhat taken advantage of. In either case, that is just how things are done in Thailand. In some instances, the extra charges for foreigners can be steep; so doing some research to learn these sorts of Thailand travel tips will save you considerable agitation (or even embarrassment) at the door.
Looking for more Thailand travel tips? Watch this video from PsychoTraveller, and find out how much it will cost you to explore the Land of Smiles!
Thailand is one of the best places a wanderer can explore. The Land of Smiles can exceed one’s expectation and not a single iota of doubt that it will disappoint. Simply follow these Thailand travel tips listed above, and for sure, this particular corner of the world that is superbly relaxing and culturally stimulating will leave nothing but smiles on your face. Have a safe trip!
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