Thailand has become one of the most coveted tourist hotspots and when you take a look at their customs and their sacred sites, you will long to go there as well (not to mention the forgiving climate). Yet before you make the stride, let us share a few things with you that might ease your trip. Here are the top six things to know before visiting Thailand.
Yes, we know how atmospheric these little vehicles can get and how they lure foreigners to them but there are a few things to know about them – specifically about their drivers. Always, and we repeat, ALWAYS make sure that you agree upon a price before starting the ride. This is because these tuk-tuks are the most notorious pirate-cabs that you can find in Thailand. They will often “forget” to discuss prices prior to starting the trip and expect you to pay sky-high amounts at the end of them. If you fail to submit to their extortion attempts, they will make a fuss and try to guilt-trip or shame you into succumbing. Stay adamant and be smart – always haggle efficiently before the trip. Also, unless you know what you are doing, we recommend that you avoid the “tours” that these people will indubitably offer you. Why? Because they will only take you to predetermined destinations such as clubs, shops or stalls of people they have agreements with and reap commissions off your purchases later. Keep a clear head and all will be well!
2. Begging monks:
This is extremely important because most people do not know this: monks are not allowed to beg. Thus, if you happen to run across a child or a man clad in an orange robe and begging, assume that it is just a crook after your goods. Do not fall prey to the puppy eyes of the child versions of these because they are often “run” by older extortionists. Chances are that you are not going to be feeding them but buying vodka for their alcoholic elders.
We are perfectly aware of the fact that many people visit Thailand for their curries and unparalleled spices but there is a double edge here that must be taken into consideration. Like in India, nobody can guarantee that the food that you are about to purchase from a local stall is healthy. Chances are that your stomach will need to adjust to the local cuisine, so do not bombard it right away with the heaviest stuff. Keep it cool and only take chances when things look and smell clean (the smell of the food can often give away how fresh it is so do not be ashamed to take a whiff). If something feels off, feel free to walk away – no harm done. Yes, Thailand is not as dangerous food-wise as India, but we still have to draw your attention to it. Take chances but keep a clear head at all times!
4. Toilet paper:
This might seem like an obvious one but it is better to be safe than sorry. Like most parts of Mumbai, Delhi and even Hanoi, Thailand also suffers from the lack of toilet paper in restrooms. Also know that most Thai people use the crouching position to do their business – thus you will find more “squatties” than actual toilets. Be prepared!
Thailand is a place where most people are laid back and friendly. For this particular reason, it is nice for backpackers to learn a couple of words that demonstrate the fact that they are making an effort to adhere to the standards of the local customs. The Thai people greatly appreciate such things and nothing can be compared to a smile of a local. The “wai” word is the general “hello” there but we recommend that you also bow a bit and attach your palms to one another. Oh, and if you happen to be the practitioner of the “don’t worry, be happy” way of life, we are happy to tell you that the locals also have a saying with a similar meaning: “Mai Pen Rai.”
This is a bumpy one for the political status of Thailand is not exactly stable. For this particular reason, we recommend that you research how things are over there just days prior to your trip – this can save you a lot of headache. Also, be sure to respect the Royal Family in all conversations for the Thai people revere them greatly.
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Thailand and how did it affect the overall feel of your trip? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back for some interesting updates from time to time.