Thailand is the one of the top backpacking destinations in the world. Offering affordable accommodations, adventure expeditions and exposure to a beautiful culture. It also offers easy access to the rest of Southeast Asia via plane, train, ferry or bus. There is no better place to begin your Adventure!
There are a few things worth mentioning in order to make your trip the most epic adventure to the land of smiles.
1. Always bargain and never take the first price: Bargaining for goods is a daily practice in Thailand. Don’t be afraid to counter their offer. You may surprise yourself and get up to 90% off from the original asking price.
2. Avoid the tourist traps: Foreigners are generally willing to pay more. Therefore the tourist areas are more expensive. Often these areas lack culture and don’t give you a true insight in to what Thailand is really about. Talk to locals, read books, and don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path.
3. Think like a local: Look for the restaurants or food carts that are full of locals. Take public transportation instead of a private taxi. You will save money and immerse yourself into the culture.
4. Drink like a local: Many locals go to their neighborhood market for a six-pack of Chang beer and enjoy it on the beach. You will pay three times, or more, for a beer in a local pub or restaurant.
5. Get a Thai sim card: You can get a local sim card at any market or 7-eleven for less than 100 baht. Data for you phone is very cheap. For 2gb of data it will cost you around 300baht. This will allow you to call locally and check your e-mail quickly all for a great price.
6. Learn the basics of the Thai language: The Thai culture is very warm and friendly. Almost every one who walks by you says “ Sa-wat-dee (hello).” Learn hello, please, and thank you. It will get you a long way with the Thai People.
7. Rent a motorbike: This is the best and cheapest way to get around Thailand. You can rent one for about 100baht a day. Gas is cheap and you will fit right in with the culture. Make sure to get an international divers license and wear a helmet at all times.
8. Eat Street Food: Eat where the locals do! The food carts on the street are often the most popular places to eat with the locals. It’s cheap and delicious. You can get a meal for less than 10 baht!
9. Be prepared to pay more than the locals: As unfair as it sounds, it’s part of traveling. Many places not just Thailand have two prices listed. One for locals and one for foreigners. Don’t be offended if you encounter this as this is how they make a living. Not to mention, it’s still much cheaper than most places.
10. Avoid using tour operators: With Thailand becoming a popular travel destination it is no surprise that there is a tour desk on every corner and hotel. Try to avoid taking the prepackaged deals and do a little research your self by talking to locals, reading through some guide books and utilize the power of the internet. You will be surprised how much money you will save.
11. Visit Temples: Buddhism is a huge part of the Thai culture. There are 100’s of beautiful temples that are open to the public to visit. A small fee of around 100 baht normally gets you in. Be sure to be respectful and dress appropriately when in the temples.
12. Don’t disrespect the King: The worst thing you can do is talk ill of the royal family, particularly the King. You will get arrested or worse beat up if you bad mouth the King in public. Even in the public movie theaters a song and video is played prior to the movie as a tribute to the King. Every one is required to stand to honor the king.
13. Visit a lady boy show: “SAME – SAME or NO SAME – SAME?” Lady boys are a big part of the Thai culture. Three genders are widely accepted as a way of life throughout the country. I assure you your stomach will be sore from all the laughs during the show. If you want to avoid being the center of attention I suggest you don’t sit in the front.
14. Visit the Beaches: Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches. White sand and blue water. Best of all it’s free!
15. Don’t overstay your visa: You may arrive on a 30 or 90 day visa, but be sure not to lose track and overstay your visit. You can be fined up to 500 baht per day, or even worse be banned from the country.
16. Don’t argue with the locals: Thai have a deep belief in “reputation” or “street cred”. There is no point in pushing the envelope and making a Thai person mad enough to defend their reputation. Best practice is to avoid confrontation. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t have a problem as most Thai people are very friendly and warm. Their culture has a reputation of being very hospitable.
17. Don’t use the word Buffalo: I know this sounds strange. But trust me, you don’t want to be that guy or gal who says buffalo in Thailand. Buffalo is used to describe a person who is stupid or moronic.
18. Don’t eat raw vegetables: If you want to make sure you don’t get sick, avoid raw veggies. Only eat cooked veggies. Often times the fertilizer used in other countries, including Thai land, are much different than US standards. I made the mistake of getting a salad while my husband got McDonalds (after two weeks of traveling South-East Asia we needed something different), and let’s just say the raw veggies didn’t agree with me. The bathroom was all I saw for the next few days.
Traveling in Thailand is no different than any other destination. Common Sense goes a long way. Most people would agree that Thailand is a magical place. This traveler couldn’t agree more!