17 Travel Tips for Thailand

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17 Travel Tips for Thailand

I lived in Thailand for six months as an English teacher, and traveled all across the country while I was there. While I might not be a travel expert, I have plenty of tips and advice to share that will make your trip even more enjoyable! 

  • Bring plenty of bug spray! The mosquitoes there are no joke, and you will get bitten constantly. As much as you might dislike it, the best working sprays are the ones with 50%+ DEET, save yourself the misery and invest in a couple of bottles. Also, use Tiger Balm on your bites to help soothe them. Literally the best thing ever. You can buy a canister at any 7/11 or bring it with you. 
Tiger Balm
  • Do yourself a favor and learn some Thai. Especially numbers, places, directions and food! Learning numbers will help with bargaining at the markets, and with taxi/tuk tuk drivers. Bangkok might be an international city, but not everyone speaks English. Drivers will appreciate the effort, and you'll have the confidence that you are going to the right place. As for food, learn how to say a few dishes: pad thai, som tum (papaya salad), tom yum (shrimp soup). Also learn how to ask for fish (pla), chicken (guy), rice (cow) and fried rice (cow pod). Not every restaurant will have an English menu, so unless you want a mystery dish, be prepared to ask for something you know. 
  • Don't be afraid to eat street food! Thai street food is famous for a reason. It is delicious and cheap! You can find anything from chicken on a stick, fried chicken, pad thai, jok, and desserts for usually around $1. If you are worried about getting food poisoning, the hospitals in Thailand are very cheap and accommodating, and the doctors usually speak English
thai street food
  • Always tell your taxi driver that you want the "meter" rate. If they try to bargain with you instead of using the meter, you are going to get ripped off.
  • Whenever you get money exchanged or from the ATM, always get change for smaller bills. Thai money comes in coins and bills, and the bills range from 20-1000 Baht. If you ever have 1000 Baht bills go to a 7/11, buy something and get change. 1000 Baht bills are pretty useless, taxi/tuk tuk drivers will hardly ever have change for them, and the vendors at markets won't either. You don't want to be pulling out 1000 Baht if you are paying for a 35 Baht item.
  • 7/11's are the best! You can get all the essentials there, and they are on every corner in Bangkok. The toastie sandwiches are delicious.
  • Dogs are everywhere, and they aren't friendly. Because Thailand is a Buddhist country, they don't believe in neutering dogs. Which results in a massive stray dog problem. You will see them everywhere, and they will bark and chase after you. If you get bit go to a hospital immediately. 
thai stray dogs
  • Be prepared for the heat. You can't really prepare yourself for the heat and humidity in Thailand, but I recommend bringing a fan, a hat, and a reusable water bottle. 
  • Get air conditioning when you can. Depending on where you go, your hotel or hostel might not have air conditioning in every room. They always have fans, but I recommend paying the extra bucks for A/C because the nights can get pretty hot and uncomfortable, even with a fan. 
  • The beds are hard. Thai's like their beds firm. And when they say firm, you might as well be sleeping on the floor. If you like soft beds you can ask to look at the room before you pay and test the bed, but good luck on finding a soft one. 
  • Do not drink the tap water. I say this from personal experience! Buy large jugs of water at the store or 7/11 to refill your water bottle with and to cook with. The water is fine to shower in or wash dishes, but drinking it will not be pleasant afterwards.
  • If you go to the temples dress appropriatelyTemples won't allow you to go inside if you are wearing short shorts or a tank top. Wear something that covers your shoulders and your knees. You can carry a light-weight, long sleeved button down shirt, and a skirt or light-weight pants with you to cover up with while in the temple. Some temples will provide covers to wear, but not all.
temple attire
  •  Always have toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you. The bathrooms hardly ever have toilet paper or soap in them, and half the time they are squattie potties. So be prepared! 
  • Travelling around Thailand is pretty cheap, but do your research. You can take buses, vans, trains, and planes all over Thailand for very cheap. Vans and buses are the most popular option, but also take the longest and can be crowded and uncomfortable. If you are doing an overnight trip, pay extra for a VIP bus ticket. You will get air conditioning, blankets to sleep with and maybe some snacks. Trains offer different levels of tickets as well. Again, pay extra for the air conditioned car, especially if its overnight. And don't sleep with the window open! The mosquitoes will come in and terrorize the entire car. 
thai bus
  • Massages are totally worth it. You can get an hour long massage for less then $10. Thai massage is deep tissue, and can get pretty painful. Don't be afraid to tell them to go lighter. A massage always feels fantastic after a day of walking around town.
  • Lady boys are real, and they are beautiful. You will probably encounter lady boys in every bar or club you go to, and most of the time you can't tell if they are male or female. Even Thai's can't always tell. Here's a tip: If you are talking to an attractive girl and are worried that she might be a lady boy, ask her how old she is. Say you don't believe her and ask to see her ID. The ID will always say whether they are male or female, whether they look it or not.
  • Lastly, do not ride the elephants. Many parks and cities have elephants that you can pay to ride around. These elephants are forced to carry very heavy seats on their backs, that can cause blisters and infections. Instead, visit a nature park like Elephants World in Kanchanaburi, or Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, where the elephants are free to live and wander, and you are able to feed, bathe and play with them.
Do you have any tips or advice from your travels? Post them in the comments!

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