February 1st, 2017
The Do's and Dont's of Thailand
Thailand appeals to the best of all five senses, and is a place that everyone should visit at least once. Of course, there are some guidelines that you need to follow while there. Consider this list of dos and don’ts your definitive guide to Thailand.
Do: Plan for Unpredictable Weather
Research the time of year that you plan to visit Thailand and you’ll see one of two seasons mentioned—wet or dry. But pack for both because Thailand’s unpredictable climate always leads to a mix of rain and sunshine. If you’re going to be outside for an extended period, bring at least one poncho and, most importantly, a bag that can handle all seasons.
Don’t: Stop Eating
As long as alcohol isn’t involved, plan on every meal costing less than $5. Whether you’re starting the morning with coffee, having some afternoon fat noodles, or enjoying mango sticky rice for dessert, you will never have a bad meal in Thailand. The only thing you have to worry about is the water. Stick to bottles (no tap) and you’ll be safe from the scary Bangkok Belly (digestive issues like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and cramps).
Do: Head North
Phuket, other coastal beauties, and the delightfully chaotic Bangkok are what many people think of when they picture a dream Thai vacation. Head north to Chiang Mai—and surrounding cities like Pai and Chiang Rai—where you’ll find mountains and valleys filled with picturesque views. You’ll also find some of the country’s most gorgeous temples. Travel around the country by train, make time to visit the historic Sukhothai province, and don’t forget that nice, comfortable travel pillow.
Don’t: Support Exploitation
There are responsible ways to engage with animals, but elephant rides are among the most unethical, even though they are heavily marketed. So definitely avoid those. Asian elephants are an endangered species and there are claims that some are illegally captured for this type of tourism. Also, in order to tame the elephants so they let humans ride them, trainers must abuse them, according to PETA. On a similar note, the famous Tiger Temple tourist attraction in Kanchanaburi, was shut down in 2016 by the Thailand Wildlife Conservation Office due to illegal trafficking in tiger parts.
Do: Show Respect
Learn to smile and practice some basic Thai phrases for “hello” and “thank you,” and show people that you’re making an effort to fit in. Another thing to consider is your appearance, and although the weather may call for skimpier clothes, remember that Thailand is a conservative country. Dress appropriately for all situations, especially when visiting official or religious buildings. Also, you don’t have to return the Wai (hands clasped together as in prayer) to everyone, but it’s always a good habit to form when encountering Thai people who are in similar or higher standing than you.
Don’t: Trust Everyone
You’ll hear at least once that “today is a holiday,” which is why X attraction that you want to see is either closed or open for a much higher-than-advertised price. No such holiday schedules exist and you should steer clear of anyone who tries to convince you otherwise. Feel free to avoid the tuk tuks who don’t run their meter and try to overcharge foreigners. You’ll also find the occasional pickpocket who didn’t realize that you came prepared with a money belt.
Do: Pamper Yourself Daily
After eating some of the world’s most delicious food and seeing some of the most beautiful places imaginable, you’ll need some time to kick back and relax. Recover from Thailand’s awesomeness with at least one massage per day. Prices range from just a few dollars for some very tough love—think a soothing knee in the back—to a little more cash for a nice spa retreat. If you prefer 24-hour pampering, book a five-star hotel for a fraction of the cost in your home country and brag about it to all of your friends.
I hope you enjoy your time in the Land of Smiles! What else would you add to this list?
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own research and use your best judgment.
Photo Credits: Christina Riley
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by Duke Stewart
Duke Stewart is a recovering American expat who writes about life through travel—and wants you there with him—through captivating stories and guides at Travel Through Life. In the meantime, you can follow his adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.